Definite Articles

Definition: The definite articles, le, la, les, are basically equivalent to English the. Anytime the is used in English, a definite article will surely be used in French. In some cases, however, French will use a definite articles when English uses no article at all.

This includes times when a group of nouns is referred to in its entirety. For example when blanket statements are made about all things, all humans, or all animals.

Examples in French:
Les blattes vivent dans les murs et se reproduisent prodigieusement.
Cockroaches live in the walls and reproduce prodigiously.

Les baleines sont les animaux les plus grands du monde. Les humains, en comparaison, sont très petits.
Whales are the largest animals in the world. Humans, by comparison, are very small.

Il pense que les voitures sont l'invention du diable.
He thinks that cars are the invention of the devil.
And when a noun is referred to in a general sense (for example a statement that refers not to a particular war but to war in general).
La guerre est horrible.
War is horrible.

Il faut cultiver l'amour, et eviter la haine et la colère.
We must cultivate love, and avoid hate and anger.

J'aime la cuisine chinoise.
I love chinese food.

Il aime l'été plus que l'hiver.
He likes summer more than winter.

Le basket est notre sport préféré.
Basketball is our favorite sport.
Names are not usually preceded by articles. However the definite article almost always precedes the names of countries except when it follows the prepositions en and de.
la France, l'Égypte, les États-Unis, la Chine.

Je vais en France.
I go to France.
Whenever the definite articles le or les follow the prepositions à or de, the preposition and article fuse together.

à de
le au du, de l'
la à la de la, de l'
les aux des

Christine revient demain du Mexique.
Christine returns tomorrow from Mexico.

Pierre parle aux infirmiers.
Pierre is speaking to the nurses.

Olivier revient de l'aeroport. (masculine)
Olivier is returning from the aeroport.

Nous jouons au basket.
We play basketball.

Il désigne un successeur au cas où il meure.
He designates a successor in case he dies.



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