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Definite, Indefinite, or Partitive Articles
Difficulty Level 1

1) The definite article: le, la, les

Used to introduce a noun or a noun phrase that designates:

  • An element or being already mentioned. Ex. Following the accident, le conducteur (the driver) was taken to the hospital.
  • A specific element or being. Ex. Give me les clés (the keys) that are on the counter.
  • A category of elements or beings in general. Ex. La girafe (The giraffe) is known for its long neck.

The articles ‘le’ and ‘les’ merge with the prepositions ‘à’ and ‘de’ to form ‘au/aux’ and ‘du/des.

• Come see au jardin (to the garden). (‘à le’ jardin)

• I need du sel (some salt). (‘de le’ sel)

2) The indefinite article: un, une, des

Used to introduce:

  • A person or thing not specified. Ex. Une femme (A woman) asked for you.
  • Something not determined by the speaker. Ex. I bought un nouveau livre (a new book).

Note: The article ‘des’ before a plural qualifying adjective or in a negative sentence becomes ‘de’ or ‘d’.

• He has des stylos (pens). => He does not have de stylos (any pens) / He has de vieux stylos (old pens).

3) The partitive article: du, de la, des

  1. Used to talk about:
  • An unspecified quantity (He eats du pain (some bread)).
  • A quality or notion (He has de la patience (patience)).

The partitive article is often used to talk about a certain quantity of an uncountable element.

ARTICLE CHART

SingulierPluriel
Masculinun/le/dudes
Fémininune/lades
Devant voyellel’des

Tips:

To distinguish ‘des’ as an indefinite article and ‘des’ as a contracted definite article, change the noun to singular. If you can replace ‘des’ with ‘un’ or ‘une’, it is an indefinite article.

Examples :

  • J’ai ramassé des coquillages (shells) at the beach. (I picked up un coquillage (a shell).)
  • She is afraid des insectes (of insects). (She is afraid de l’insecte (of the insect).)

Tip: For “du”, if you can replace it with “un peu de” (a little bit of), it is a partitive article.

  • I take du thé (some tea). (I take un peu de thé (a little bit of tea)).
  1. Veux-tu du sucre dans ton thé ?

  2. Les chants des oiseaux me réveillent le matin.

  3. Marc veut acheter des livres pour sa collection.

  4. Elodie a ramené du pain pour le dîner.

  5. Il me faut des outils pour réparer la voiture.

  6. La lumière du soleil est éblouissante aujourd'hui.

  7. Des enfants jouent dans le parc.

  8. J'entends le bruit du vent dans les arbres.

  9. Paul a des idées brillantes pour le projet.

  10. Donne-moi du temps pour y réfléchir.

  11. La beauté des paysages m'a émerveillé pendant le voyage.

  12. As-tu du courage pour affronter cette situation ?

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