Definite Articles (le, la, les)

Definite articles are used as ‘the’ in English. le is used with masculine nouns, la with feminine nouns, les for all plural nouns and l’ for all singular nouns beginning with a vowel or a mute “h”. However, definite articles are frequently used in French where usage is unnecessary or awkward in English. For example, articles are almost always used with:

Abstract or indefinite nouns

e.g. la bonne santé apporte la richesse = good health brings wealth

Names preceded by an adjective and titles

e.g. le Président Obama = President Obama; le pauvre André ! = poor (unfortunate) André!

Names of countries and other geographical regions (does not include towns and cities)

e.g. la Jamaïque est une île créolophone = Jamaica is a creole-speaking island

Names of languages, sports, school subjects

e.g. Elle enseigne la chimie au lycée = She teaches chemistry in high school

Names of body parts and illnesses

e.g. il s’est cassé le bras = he broke his arm

Names of substances, material and food

e.g. le déjeuner était délicieux = lunch was delicious

Plural fractions

e.g. les trois-quarts des étudiants sont présents = three quarters of the students are present

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