French Articles

In French, most nouns are presented by articles (the ones that are not are instead presented by possessive or demonstrative adjectives). The French Articles can be either: definite, indefinite, or and partitive.

 

1. Definite articles agree with the nouns they are presenting in gender and number. There are 3 in total (masculine singular, feminine singular, and general plural). Examples:

 

Le port (the harbor)

masculine singular

La tasse (the cup)           feminine singular
Les ports (the harbors)

general plural (applies equallyto both masculine and feminine)

Las tasses (the cups)

general plural (applies equally to both masculine and feminine)

 

The special form “L’” is used whenever the article is preceding a SINGULAR noun that starts with a vowel or the letter “h” (regardless of the gender). Examples:

L’infermière (the nurse).
L'historien (the historian).

 

2. Indefinite articles also vary depending on the noun’s gender and number. They are 3, as well (masculine singular, feminine singular, and general plural). Examples:

 

Un port (a harbor)

masculine singular

Une tasse (a cup)

feminine singular

Des ports (the harbors) general plural (applies equallyto both masculine and feminine)
Des tasses (the cups) general plural (applies equally to both masculine and feminine)

 

3. Partitive articles refer to a part of a noun, and not the entirety of it. In this way, they resemble the English quantifier “some”; they are used in replacement of definite or indefinite articles in specific occasions (particularly when discussing food). Example:

 

Je veux un gâteau (I want a cake)          

Indefinite article (“un”) referring to ONE cake.

Je veux le gâteau (I want the cake)

Definite article (“le”) referring to ONE SPECIFIC cake.

Je veux du gâteau (I want some cake) 

Partitive article (“du”) referring to a portion of any cake in the universe.

 

There are also 3  partitive articles in French (masculine singular, feminine singular, and general plural), in addition to the special variation (“de l’”), which is used to precede words started with a vowel or a silent “h”. Examples:

Je voudrais du thé (I would like –some- tea)        

masculine singular (“du”)

Elle mangé de la pizza hier (She ate pizza –some- yesterday)

feminine singular (“de la”)

Je vais boire de l'eau (I will drink –some- water)

(“de l’” preceding a noun that starts wth a vowel)

Ils vont manger des nouilles (They will eat –some- noodles) general plural (“des”)
Ils ont loué des films (They have rented –some- movies) general plural (“des”)

 

*Finally, whenever there is an adverb present in the sentence (perhaps making the quantity more clear but still not implying the totality of the particular addressed noun), the partitive article used will always be “de”:

J'ai acheté beaucoup de fruits (I bought many fruits).
Alex a peu d'amis (Alex has few friends).


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