It's easy to overlook the importance of little articles—but don't make that mistake! Take some time to review the basics.
The French articles
Articles—small words typically classified as adjectives—generally (but not always) indicate the gender and number of the noun or pronoun that follows. For this reason, articles are often referred to as “noun markers.” The table below shows the articles that are used in French.
The definite article (le, la, l', les
) is used with nouns in a general sense while the partitive is used to express some or part of something:
- Nous aimons le pain. (We love bread.)
- Donnez‐nous du gâteau. (Give us some cake.)
Use un or une when speaking about one portion or serving and use an adverb or noun of quantity or the partitive ( de, du, de la, de l', des) to express amounts:
- Un pain, s'il vous plaît. (A bread, please.)
- Une tranche de pain, s'il vous plaît. (A slice of bread, please.)
- Du pain, s'il vous plaît. (Some bread, please.)
Use ce ( cet) or cette to express “this” or “that” item and use ces to express “these” or “those.” Use the tags ‐ci (here) or ‐là (there) to be even more specific:
- Je préfère ce pain‐ci. (I prefer this bread.)
- Donnez‐moi ces pains‐là. (Give me those breads.)
Contractions with articles
The following prepositions contract with articles in French: