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Les articles définis, indéfinis et partitifs

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Les articles définis, indéfinis et partitifs

There are three families of articles.

Definite articles le, la, les (the): used when talking about a specific thing, something already identified, or all of it (in a general sense).
La première fille que j’ai prise dans mes bras. The first girl I held in my arms (that girl there, not another one).
Les légumes sont bons pour la santé. Vegetables are good for the health (all vegetables, health in absolute terms).

Indefinite articles un, une, des (a/an/one, some): used when talking about something unspecified, or a unique quantity of something.
Un avion va plus vite qu’une voiture. A plane goes faster than a car (any plane, any car).
Je voudrais un café. I’d like a coffee (not two coffees).
Maurice fait souvent des cauchemars. Maurice often has nightmares.

Partitive articles du, de la, des (some/any): used for things that you only take a part of, or for uncountable quantities.
Je bois du vin à tous les repas. I drink (some) wine at every meal.
Victor a de la volonté. Victor is willpowered (literally ‘Victor has some drive’).

Note: expressions of quantity (un peu, trop, beaucoup, pas assez, un litre, etc) are always followed by de.
Un peu d’amour. A little love.
Beaucoup de frites. A lot of fries.
Trois cent grammes de beurre. Three hundred grams of butter.
Pas de chance ! Bad luck!

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