After today’s work and class and several individual questions asked by students, I thought to post this explanation of how articles work in French. It is in addition to the explanation in the book, plus explanations in class. Hope it helps…sometimes you have to look at something from several different angles to understand it, and that it often also takes time, experience, and lots of practice (which includes listening and observing!). I found this at http://www.languageguide.org/french/grammar/articles/ which has a number of helpful resources in French for the beginning student.
In French, nouns are usually preceded by articles….
The indefinite article, un/une, is used exactly like the English indefinite article- a/an. It is used when referring to a single instance that is a part of a group that consists of many entities. For example ‘a doorknob’ is a single instance of the ‘doorknobs’ group which consists of everything that is called a doorknob.
|un oiseau||a bird|
|un acteur||an actor|
|une actrice||an actress|
|une blatte||a cockroach|
Plural Indefinite Articles
The plural indefinite article, des, is used when referring to more than a single entity. It is not used, however, when general statements are made about a group – statements that are meant to refer to all the entities that make up that group. This is the role of the definite article as we shall soon see. In English, note that in the same situation no article is placed before the noun.
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 cockroaches, all humans, or all cars.
…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.
Le basket est notre sport préféré.
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 ChineJe vais en France.
I go to France.
(NOTE: FOR FRENCH 121 at Shoreline, the following (below) is part of chpt 3, but included here for you, but not part of chpt 2 test!)
Whenever the definite articles le or les follow the prepositions à or de, the preposition and article fuse together.
|le||au||du, de l’|
|la||à la||de la, de l’|