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les le la ..?

Hey i'm learning french but I noticed that the word "the" has at least three ways of saying it, (le la les or l'__) is there an explanation for this?

March 6, 2018



French is a language where nouns have something called grammatical gender. You can also see this in other related languages like Spanish, Portuguese or Italian.

In French there's two: masculine and feminine, and they dictate what article you'll use as well as the endings for adjectives as well.

For example, the word for apple, pomme is feminine, so "the apple" is la pomme and "an apple" is une pomme. But book, livre is masculine so "the book" is le livre and "a book" is un livre.

For a plural definite article both "le" and "la" become les. So "the apples" will be les pommes and "the books" is les livres.

The "l'" is used when the first letter of a noun is a vowel. So like "orange" which is also orange in French, would use this. This is used regardless if the noun is masculine or feminine. So "the orange" is l'orange. It can also be used as well with words starting with "h" since the "h" is silent in French (but not always). So the word for "man", homme would use this "l'" article: "the man" - l'homme. However, when made plural you use the normal les article: "the oranges" - les oranges, "the men" - les hommes.

This is something important you're going to need to know for French, as you're going to be using articles a lot.


What a GREAT and detailed explanation. Thank you :D


Let us try a different explanation.

The grammar rules of French are different to those of English.

In French, other types of words used in a sentence need to conform to the gender of the noun in the sentence. All nouns are classified as either masculine, or feminine. Even for animate as well as inanimate objects/nouns. They are still classified as being either masculine or feminine.

For the article " the " ( definite, a specific object ) :

la is used for feminine nouns.
le is used for masculine nouns.

For the article " a " ( indefinite ) :

une for feminine nouns.
un for masculine nouns.

There is no article for other types of gender, such as gender neutral. All nouns are classified as either feminine or masculine.

Thus you get :
the apple : la pomme
An apple is a feminine noun in French.

the book : le livre
As "book" is considered a masculine noun in French.

To be able to communicate in French, you will need to learn the classification of all the nouns, as to whether they are feminine or masculine.


"Les" is the plural of "le"/"la"/"l'_". In french, you don't say "I like dogs", but "I like the dogs" ("J'aime les chiens").

"Le" and "la" both mean "the" but are used depending on the object's gender ; that's a grammatical rule nonexistent in English, but which exists in Spanish and French, for example. Thus, "the table" is "la table", and "the desk" is "le bureau".

"L' " is used instead of "le" or "la" when followed by a vowel. "Tree" is "arbre", so "the tree" is "l'arbre" (and NOT "le arbre").


Here is the answer : Click here


La is feminine. Le is masculine and les is plural. When la is used, the noun must be feminine too and same with masculine. Like this: L(a) chatt(e) est noir(e). L(e) chat( ) est noir( ). Les chats est noir.


xXx_Jammy_xXx, I like how you have explained that, except there is a correction you need to make.

In French the other words agree in gender and number with the noun in the sentence.

For where the gender of a group of cats you are talking about are either not know, or are a mixed group of male and female cats, or are all male, you would say:

Les chats sont noirs.

  1. You need to add an s to noir, as you are talking about a plural noun.

  2. You need to change the verb to be correct for the plural .

When you are talking about one cat, you would use, as you have used, 'est . Being the conjugation for il/elle : he/she.
While when you are talking about a group of cats, such as 'Those cats there, they are black." you need to use the conjugation of ills / elles= they.

This is as the verb 'is' in French which is
- être : to be | 3me | wiktionary ; leFigaro
Présent :
. je suis : I am | tu es : you are | il est : he is | elle est : she is
. nous sommes | vous êtes | ils sont | elles sont
'avoir' + été | Passé composé Recent-Current Past | ie. ai/as/a/avons/avez/ont
Also see the verb avoir : to be. Avoir and être and are also known as helping verbs, as they can be used with other verbs to express different nuances of time or mood - see Passé composé.

Where the group of cats are all female, you would use:

Les chattes sont noires.


Thank you so much!! that really explains this to me !! Thank you!

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