TNs, U04: Plurals 1 (Plurals, Plural Articles, Plural Pronouns & Verbs, Agreement, Tu or Vous)
Many French words have plural forms. Plural nouns and adjectives can be formed by appending an -s to the singular, but remember that this -s is usually silent.
- homme ("man") ⇒ hommes ("men")
- femme ("woman") ⇒ femmes ("women")
- chat noir ("black cat") ⇒ chats noirs ("black cats")
The plural definite article "les" corresponds to the English plural "the". It is the plural of le, la, and l'. It is used with specific nouns that are known to the speaker or to indicate a generality about a plural noun.
- les hommes = the men - or men (in general)
- les filles = the girls - or girls (in general)
The plural article "des" is an indefinite article. It is simply the plural of "un" or "une". This article does not exist in English. It is required in French and means “more than one” when the English noun would have “a” or “an” in the singular.
- Vous êtes une femme. = You are a woman.
- Vous êtes des femmes. = You are women.
Plural Pronouns and Verbs
There are also plural forms for pronouns and verb conjugations. Consider parler ("to speak"):
|I||je||Je parle. — I speak.|
|You (familiar singular)||tu||Tu parles. — You speak.|
|You (formal) singular||vous||Vous parlez. — You speak.|
|He||il||Il parle. — He speaks.|
|She||elle||Elle parle. — She speaks.|
|We||nous||Nous parlons. — We speak.|
|You (plural)||vous||Vous parlez. — You speak.|
|They (any group including a male)||ils||Ils parlent. — They speak.|
|They (all women)||elles||Elles parlent. — They speak.|
Pronouns, adjectives, and articles must agree with their nouns in both gender and number. Consider the examples below and note how the article and adjective change to agree with each noun.
- Masculine singular: Le chat noir — The black cat
- Masculine plural: Les chats noirs — The black cats
- Feminine singular: La robe noire — The black dress
- Feminine plural: Les robes noires — The black dresses
Not all adjectives change forms. For instance, riche is the same for both masculine and feminine singular nouns, and their common plural form is riches.
Tu or Vous?
French has two words for the subject pronoun "you": tu and vous. For a singular "you", tu should only be used for friends, peers, relatives, children, or anyone else who's very familiar to you. In all other cases and also for plurals, the more formal vous should be used to show respect. When in doubt, use vous.
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