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Definite articles

The definite articles are le (masculine singular), la (feminine singular), and les (masculine and feminine plural). The singular forms contract to l’ when preceding a vowel or an unaspirated “h” (watch for certain set exceptions: le does not contract before the numeral onze, for example.) The definite article agrees in number and (for the singular forms) in gender with the nouns they modify (see Nouns):

le livre
la voiture
les arbres

The definite article is used to refer to specific objects, people, and events which have been defined by the speaker or the context:

Voici le livre que j’ai acheté. (Here’s the book I bought.)
Le chat est sur le toit. (The cat is on the roof.)
Il a dit qu’il apporterait l’argent. (He said he would bring the money.)

It is also used to refer to general categories or to abstract concepts. It is frequently used after verbs expressing opinion.

La vérité n’est pas toujours agréable à entendre. (The truth isn’t always nice to hear.)
Je n’aime pas les animaux. (I don’t like animals.)
Le temps fuit. (Time flies.)

The definite article is used before days of the week only to indicate a recurring or habitual action:

Le mardi, les musées sont fermés. (On Tuesdays the museums are closed.)
Le samedi, je fais la grasse matinée. (On Saturdays I sleep in.)

The definite article is used with dates:

Je suis né le 16 juin 1980. (I was born on June 16, 1980.)

The definite article is used with names of countries and with titles:

La France est dix-sept fois plus petite que les Etats-Unis. (France is seventeen times smaller than the United States.)
Le président Mitterrand a accompli deux mandats. (President Mitterrand completed two terms.)

The definite article can contract with the prepositions de and à:

de + le = du
de + la = de la
de + l’ = de l’
de + les = des

à + le = au
à + la = à la
à + l’ = à l’
à + les = aux


On m’a déjà parlé du problème. (They already spoke to me about the problem.)
Elle va voyager aux Antilles. (She is going to travel to the West Indies.)

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