Definite/Indefinite Articles - Rules

I've got a uni quiz which requires filling in the blanks with the correct definite and indefinite articles. I know what they are but am struggling a little with when exactly to use which ones. I know there are certain rules like you omit an article after you say "I speak (insert language)" - "Je parle francais" not "Je parle le francais".

I've had a feedback note that just says "chiffre" (number/figure) for an article in this sentence:

Le gendarme explique à Daru qu’il lui faut amener le prisonnier arabe au commissariat de Tinguit, un autre village à un jour de marche de l'école.

In particular this section, with the article "un" (before jour): un autre village à UN jour de marche de l'école.

Can anyone tell me the rule that "chiffre" might be referring to? The teacher put a reference page to our textbook but I cannot see ANYTHING - maybe because I have a newer edition?

Edit: the only thing I'm able to change in this exercise is the article un (to another type of article). The text around it is fixed. I just need the rule for this note in the feedback.


April 4, 2018


Hello Claudibird,

in French, when you say "un" ,that could be two things : - an indefinite article like "a/an" in English or a number meaning a quantity like "one" : " un jour de marche" = only one day ; that's the same things when you write with letters. - a part of a written number : "j'écris le nombre douze(12) avec les chiffres un(1) et deux(2) " "chiffre" is that is written in mathematics language, a part of a number. In your instance : "un" ( before village ) could be replace by " l'" = l'autre village. But "un" ( before jour) is a quantity ( you could use two or three ...)

I hope I was clear ... If someone else would say another thing...


April 4, 2018

I suppose it means that when "un" represents the number one, you can't miss it out, as in "un jour de marche" = "a day's walk / one day's walk", but it's a bit difficult to say without knowing what the mistake was.

You CAN say "Je parle le français", however, to say "I can speak French", and it's the normal form. A search suggests that "Je parle français" , which I have heard, is used to mean "I speak in French", but I find it's more common to say "Je parle en français".

April 4, 2018

I realised I made a mistake, it's not the article before village, it's the article before jour - "un jour de marche de l'ecole"

April 5, 2018

And in the quiz you completed it with "le jour"? What was your answer which prompted the teacher to write "Chiffre"?

April 5, 2018

The feedback the teacher writes is automatic, it remains the same whatever response i give. It's to prompt us to check the textbook for special uses or omissions of articles, grammar rules we may have forgotten etc.

I've tried "la" (which I realise now is incorrect - the gender is masc.) and "un". I will try again with le and see how that goes.

April 6, 2018

OK, so that confirms that you must put "un jour", because it means "one day", even if you can also so "a day" in English in this situation. Where the article represents the number one, you must put "un" (masculine) or "une" (feminine). Another example would be "un autre village à une semaine de marche de l'école" = "another village a week's walk from the school". It means ONE week's walk, not two, or three. It's a quantity, not just an article.

Incidentally, "à un jour de marche" means "a day's walk away", but "away" is not really necessary in the English sentence.

April 6, 2018
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