Why does this sentence take an article? The phrase "Je parle francais" doesn't, for example.
There used to be a difference, but now they are pretty much the same, "je parle le français" or "je parle français" are both acceptable, but the latter is more used.
It confuses me that it is "Je parle français" and "Je ne parle pas français" but it is "je ne peux pas PARLER le français" ? Why not "parle" ?
Because you can't use two conjugated verbs next to each other (except with auxiliary verbs). Instead you have to use the infinitive form.
"J'aime jouer avec les enfants." = "I like playing with the kids."
"Je peux mourir demain." = "I can die tomorrow."
You only conjugate the first verb, in this case "pouvoir". The other verb stays unconjugated.
Well, I don't really know what you mean by "implied noun". What matters is the actual noun used. In French, the names of the languages are always masculine.
- "Le français, l'allemand, le russe, le portugais."
But you're right, "langue" is indeed a feminine noun. If you really want to use a feminine word to talk about a language, you can use "langue" with the appropriate adjective behind : "La langue française."
This feels like it should have come a lot earlier in the course - surely being able to explain what languages you can speak is an essential survival skill in language learning?
My mother learned this sentence in the beginning and had to repeat it so often that she ended up pronouncing it perfectly at which point nobody believed her anymore.
A minute ago, I got marked wrong for inserting the article "le" in this sentence: "Je peux parler le français." Now I am being told that the "le" should be in this sentence. Is there no consistency? Maybe this is why I can't speak French!