Why not Je suis *un* professeur?

May 1, 2012


if you say 'je suis un professeur qui aime ses élèves' the article is mandatory, though, because it means that other teachers may not like their students.

June 30, 2012

Since you are stating your profession, the article is dropped.

June 20, 2012

When using “Il est”, “Je suis” to describe what one one is, you do not use a definite article. But if you use “C’est”, you will need to use one.

For example: Je suis étudiant Il est étudiant

C’est un étudiant Ce sont des étudiant

June 13, 2012

c'est un étudiant, ce sont des étudiants => it is correct "des étudiants" plurial => "s"

February 1, 2013

I think 'ce' would also become 'ces' because of the plural nature of the noun...happy to be corrected :)

July 15, 2013

Nope! ;) « Ce sont » is the right plural form of « C'est » (contraction of « Ce » and « est »). Don't ask me why, I have no clue… But I would say that « C'est » and « Ce sont » are quite particular, those expressions are frozen, it is the normal way to describe something in general. It is particular because « ce » is the subject by itself here (not being a demonstrative linked to a noun). E. g. « Ces chats sont blancs » (Those cats are white), the subject is « chats » and « ces » just add demonstration to this sentence.

But, there are some common “frozen” expressions in French (C'est, qu'est-ce que…)

July 15, 2013

You can do the same in German: "Ich bin Student" (I am a student). As if the "being that noun" is treated like an adjective.

May 9, 2012

This is even more confusing because the capital S shows that this is a noun, and not an adjective.

July 26, 2018

If you think about it, English is the exception, most languages have no article.

May 31, 2012

In Arabic, you say "ana talib" without the article as well, i.e. "I'm a student". "Ana at-talib" is "I'm the student" as one would expect. It's funny, it really seems like English is an exception here...

June 13, 2012

In French when you talk about a profession you do not use the article. Then you say: Je suis professeur./ Je suis médecin. etc

August 3, 2012

Germans use this form also. JFK's famous statement "Ich bin ein Berliner" should have been "Ich bin Berliner." There was a famous pastry called the Berliner, so what he really said was "I am a jelly donut." They loved him so much they still cheered.

May 24, 2013

the indefinite article is dropped when stating one's profession.

May 1, 2012

Well, it's easy to me understand this because portuguese works this way as well. Articles has this power to determinate vagueness or exceptionality. For example, in portuguese: "Eu sou um professor" (i am a teacher) "um" express exceptionality and there should be more in this statement: → "Eu sou um professor com experiência" (i am a teacher with experience). So now we know that you're no longer a regular teacher and gave a sense for the use of "um" ('un' in french). On the other hand, If there was no need to specify, you should not use "um": → "Eu sou professor". So the statement is complete, we know now that you belong the qualification of a regular teacher. :)

January 29, 2013

Very interesting, though does this apply to French as well?

February 24, 2013

I believe yes. The user @tfebrey just confirmed that spanish works this way as well. Now we need a french speaker to attest this in french: → Je suis un professeur avec expérience. → Je suis professeur. → Je suis un professeur expérimenté. → "Je suis professeur avec expérience." (wrong?)

February 27, 2013

All good to me, except the last one: "je suis un professeur avec expérience"

  • je suis un honnête professeur (adjective before noun)
  • je suis un professeur qui aime lire (+ relative clause)

Now a bit tougher: - il est professeur de chinois (he is a Chinese teacher) - c'est un professeur de chinois (he is a Chinese teacher) - c'est un professeur chinois (he is a Chinese teacher)

February 27, 2013

C'est literally translates to "it is", so c'est un professeur de chinois or c'est un professeur chinois both have un because the literal translation is "it is a ...". However c'est is also used in some cases instead of il or elle.

Now the first two - il est professeur de chinois and c'est un professeur de chinois - both mean he is a teacher and he teaches Chinese. The last one - c'est un professeur chinois - means he is a teacher of Chinese origin (or background).

As for the adjectives, I believe an article is used to distinguish between the indefinite quality or definite quality of the adjective. Example: Je suis un honnête professeur or je suis un professeur brun versus je suis l'honnête professeur or je suis le professeur brun.

For relative clauses (qui aime lire or avec expérience), I'll ask a native Parisian friend of mine.

June 13, 2013

can somebody explain this more comprehensively? I'm sensing that there's more explainable difference in the meaning of each 'he is a Chinese teacher' translation

April 18, 2013

@Kwillsen Not exactly, the first two sentences have the same meaning (though « Il est » and « C'est » cannot replace one another in every sentence, in this one they mean the same).

So the thing left is « professeur de chinois » or « professeur chinois ». The first is the exact translation of « teacher of Chinese », meaning that his teaching competence is Chinese language (« de » creates a link between « professeur » and « chinois », not between « il » and « chinois », so this « de » adds information to « professeur »). The second possibility, « professeur chinois » is only two adjectives, they both add information to the subject (« Ça » (c'est)). So « C'est un professeur chinois » means that he is both a teacher and a Chinese person. But a teacher from China can teach other subjects than just Chinese. E.g. « C'est un professeur chinois de mathématiques » : He is a math teacher from China. Although, in oral language, we tend to separate information, we would be likely to say something like « C'est un professeur chinois, il enseigne les mathématiques » (He is a teacher from China, he teaches math) or « C'est un professeur de mathématiques qui vient de Chine » (literally: He is a math teacher who comes from China).

July 15, 2013

he is what I was taught formally (grew up in Quebec)

il est professeur de chinois = he is a chinese teacher (you leave off the un/une) il est professeur des chinois = he is a teacher of the chinese il est le professeur = he's the teacher (specific i.e. of this class we are in right now) c'est le professeur = it's the teacher

if you throw the 'un/une' in, it will sound like you are saying 'one teacher' as opposed to 'a teacher'.... which is fine if that is actually what you are trying to say. i.e. He is one teacher... what do you expect him to do.

As for the original question.... probably because some king or pope decided to do it that way 800 years ago. That's the way it is in French (or any other language) try not to get too caught up in the why.

June 6, 2013

As with most language related questions relating to "why...?" it is just the way it is. Language is somewhat arbitrary in its nature. It is probably bad advice to say both are acceptable. Don't use the article...

June 12, 2012

@rickymay - aren't there no articles anyway in languages like Chinese and Japanese?

September 5, 2012

I just started studying Chinese, so this may not be entirely accurate, but: They do have indefinite articles, so you could form the sentence "I am a teacher" (我是一个老师), but it would definitely not be the correct way to say "I am a teacher". I'm not sure if it would have a different meaning or just be wrong though.

December 16, 2013

However, you would say "Je suis un bon professeur." You use the article when there is an adjective.

December 18, 2012

Just in case you happen to learn Spanish in Duolingo too: "Yo soy __ profesor" but "I am a teacher". While I am not qualified to answer your "why?" I would still like to point out that looking at related languages one might have an "oh...THAT'S how they do it!" moment that helps you connect the dots. ;)

May 17, 2012

Hah, this was actually very useful. Thanks!

January 16, 2013

Technically Spanish does use the indefinite article when stating one's profession.

P.S. I don't take spanish with Duolingo. I'm a native in Castillian Spanish

May 9, 2013

I've noticed that a number of languages treat professions as an adjective

June 1, 2012

We do this in Portuguese and I was trying to explain the lack of article (which seems so natural to us), but couldn't come up with the idea... It's exactly what you said! We sometimes use the profession as though it's an adjective.

February 12, 2013

For some reason, you don't use articles with professions.

June 8, 2012

As it's been said, both are acceptable, but saying "Je suis professeur" emphasizes the profession while saying "Je suis un professeur" is centered on you as a person and doesn't focus as much on your profession.

June 8, 2012

I'm agree with Meteor. If you are talking about your profession, you must say 'Je suis professeur', but if you want specify your own features, you must say - for example : 'Je suis un professeur qui aime son travail', ... (I'm not a native speaker of Frech, neither of English, as you can see...)

June 24, 2012

I am a teacher : "Je suis professeur" I am a math teacher : "Je suis un professeur de mathématiques"

June 24, 2012

Why is it different when the profession has a specialism?

January 21, 2013

the rule is that the French drop the article when the profession is alone, but as soon as the profession is qualified (with an adjective), the article comes back

je suis professeur je suis un professeur heureux

However, specialised teachers usually say "je suis professeur de mathématiques (d'anglais, de biologie...)"

January 21, 2013

That's really interesting. I didn't know that before. Merci beacoup!

January 21, 2013

hanks. this helped

February 16, 2013

Professions, if unmodified, are often treated as adjectives, not nouns. So, like the sentence "I am small," where small carries no article, it is "I am professor." However, if the profession is modified, "I am a good professor" or "I am a professor who loves his students," the article must be used: "Je suis un bon professeur" ou "Je suis un professeur qui aime ses élèves."

August 30, 2012

As with all languages, the sentence structure and grammar rules vary. In French, there is a grammar rule of NO indefinite articles when stating one's profession. Why? Just how it is. A French person would aptly ask why iEnglish puts indefinite articles when stating one's profession. You could go ahead and do it anyway, you'd be understood, but it may mark you as a non-native speaker.

January 18, 2013

It's just one of those rules that don't have to make any sense. We have a ton of them in English!

January 29, 2013

In Spanish the article is generally left out unless the profession is modified. So you would say - "Soy profesor" -- but when modified -- "Soy un profesor experimentado.

February 24, 2013

You don't use an indefinite article with professions in French unless there's an adjective used with it like je suis un bon professeur.

May 8, 2013

If one is stating their profession, the article is dropped. This is also true when it comes to being an only child, it's grammatically considered a profession (ex. Je suis fille unique) Hope this helped :)

May 19, 2013

When it comes to occupation, we don't have to use the article.

May 22, 2013

I took French for 8 years and am just doing refreshers on here. We were taught that you never include the indirect article when talking about an occupation. As far as an explanation, we were not given one. I just assumed that's the way it is. You want to remember that you should not try to directly translate from one language to another. You can't always directly translate from one to the other because the translation won't make sense.

July 14, 2013

the indefinite article"un" can be omitted when referring to profession.

August 27, 2013

With être followed by a profession or identification you don't use the noun market/articl.

September 5, 2013

Short answer, occupations CANNOT use the indefinite article. This is the same in Spanish. Exception though if you add an adjective, such as He is a good professor, then you need it. Otherwise, it's I am professor in Romance languages.

November 4, 2013

"Je suis professeur." is correct.

November 20, 2013

the indefinite article is dropped when stating one's profession

November 30, 2013

Nobody mentioned "Je suis avocat" (I am a lawyer) vs. "Je suis un avocat" (I am an avocado). :P

December 9, 2013

Ah ah !

December 9, 2013

I like that one!!

September 26, 2016

If you happen to know Portuguese, Spanish and other romance languages you will also see that we don't use the indefinite article unless you are focusing on you. Please Note: online translations will show the indefinite article, though.

June 12, 2012

Yeah, FYI, it's the same in Mandarin. You say 我是老师 (I am a teacher) and 我是学生 (I am a student) without an article. :)

June 26, 2012

Same applies for languages (Je parle anglais = I speak English). You wouldn't say "I speak the English".

July 4, 2012

@rl2240 - quite right so, but you can say "je parle l'anglais" (languages are masculine, so "je parle le chinois").

July 5, 2012

If you are using c'est you drop the article, if you are using il/elle you stick with the article. So, if you were to say he is a teacher, you could also say "il est un professeur".

July 10, 2012

Why not Je est fille?

December 20, 2012

The conjugation of the verb "être" is: je suis, tu es, il/elle/on est, nous sommes, vous êtes (singular polite and plural), ils/elles sont.

December 20, 2012

Also, even if it was Je est, not Je suis, you would need to change it to J'est.

May 19, 2013

As a Spanish teacher myself, I need to support LaGueule's comment. In Spanish is incorrect to say "I am a teacher" but "Soy maestra/profesora". Many use it incorrectly, but grammatically speaking any (indefinite or definite) article is dropped.

March 1, 2013

thank you very much

March 22, 2013

et bien moi je suis un professeur

April 3, 2013

Je suis professeur Je suis un professeur d'anglais Am I on the right track?

April 11, 2013

you are almost there:

je suis professeur

je suis un bon professeur

je suis professeur d'anglais

je suis un bon professeur d'anglais

April 11, 2013

its nice but a introduction and sheets could make the reader understood better.

May 4, 2013

Is it correct to say je suis le professeur?

May 9, 2013

the same happens in spanish (my lenguage). You say "soy profesor" and not "soy un profesor"

May 12, 2013

the un is not necessary

June 16, 2013

bonjour, you can write "un" if you are a man, but if you are a women you cannot write "un", you have to write "une" because this is the female article. salut'

July 24, 2013

both is right. depends of the context

August 15, 2013

why un livre, not une livre?

August 17, 2013

They do not have the same meaning, some words totally change their meaning if you change their gender.

Un livre: "a book" Une livre: "a pound" (both the currency and the mass)

August 17, 2013

Oh. Now I get it. Thanks!

August 19, 2013

Bonjour!!!! Une question pour vous- Comment pouvons-nous déterminer si un verbe doit être conjugué au passé avec Etre ou Avoir?

October 8, 2013

Bonne question ! The rule is that "avoir" is the basic auxiliary to build a compound tense. But, of course, there are lots of exceptions:

October 9, 2013

Merci beaucoup!!! Well, there are around 18 etre verbs. So, is there a simpler way to learn these? Or are there any short forms?

October 9, 2013

I don't know, that is not the way I learnt French... sorry.

October 9, 2013

Dr & Mrs Vandertramp - fill in one of the movement verbs for each letter. For example d - descendre, r - retourner, etc.

October 9, 2013

Merci!!! One more question, is repartir an etre verb?

October 10, 2013

Yes it is.

October 10, 2013

un usually refers to something indefinite. For example, a cat, a dog. There's not an exact dog or cat. However if you say Je suis le professeur, you are saying "I am the professor" which is saying that you are the professor you are talking about. Like the cat, the dog. There is an exact object. Hope this made sense!

October 23, 2013

je suis un professeur, it means any professeur but if i speak about my self it has to be without un

October 28, 2013

un means one, and je suis means I am, so would you say I am a professor, or I am one professor?

December 8, 2013

I think that "one" is not necessary with a single subject (you cannot be 2 professors anyway).

December 9, 2013

because you don't use 'a' with professions

December 17, 2013

because it will be longer that way

January 12, 2014

professeur is feminine

January 16, 2014
  1. It does not sound right! 2. If you say someone's profession you must use a DEFINITE article which in this case is "le."
January 28, 2014

Non, pas du tout : professions are introduced without any article after state verbs (être, devenir...)

January 29, 2014

ok i am giving you a lingot

March 9, 2014

Nice, thanks!

March 9, 2014

Actually in Spanish we don't really use the ''yo'' its just ''soy profesor'' o ''soy un profesor'', but the second one is more commonly used when you are answering a question or specifying something. Adding this because of the discussion about spanish

August 20, 2014

Except that "soy un profesor" is grammatically incorrect. No articles used for professions unless with qualifiers, like "good".

August 21, 2014
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