French Articles

Definition: French articles are sometimes confusing for French students, because they have to agree with the noun they modify and because they don't always correspond to articles in other languages. As a general rule, if you have a noun in French, there is generally always an article in front of it.

In French, articles are required on almost every common noun; much more so than in English. They are inflected to agree in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) with the noun they determine, though many have only one plural form (not distinguishing between masculine plural and feminine plural). Many also often change form slightly when the word that follows them begins with a vowel sound.

The following table summarizes the forms of each type of French article.
DEFINITE INDEFINITE PARTITIVE
MASCULINE le un du
FEMININE la une de la
IN FRONT OF A VOWEL l' de l'
PLURAL les des


Note: When you are learning a new vocabulary, learn the gender of each noun by making your vocabulary lists with a definite or indefinite article for each noun, because the articles (as well as adjectives, pronouns, and just about everything else) change according to the gender of the noun.

There are three kinds of articles in French:
  1. Definite articles
  2. Indefinite articles
  3. Partitive articles



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