african american girl learning online at a table how to use le. la, l' and les in french at growingupvsadulting

Le, La, L’ and Les — How to Use Definite Articles in French

A lot of people learning French always ask how and when to use the definite articles Le, La, L’ and Les. Today, I will explain what they are, how they work and how to use them.


Pro tip: Always learn French words with their articles. This will save you a lot of work and confusion around the gender of French nouns.

Instead of learning <<Voiture means car>> learn <<La voiture means car>>.

And for words beginning with a vowel or h muet, since learning <<L’église or L’oeuf>>  will not help you figure out the gender of the noun later, use <<Un ou Une>> instead e.g. <<Un oeuf means an egg>>.


What are definite articles (Les articles définis)?

In French, the definite articles Le, La, L’ and Les are used to clearly define a noun, they let you know if it is a masculine or feminine noun and if it is singular or plural.

Par exemple, if a person says <<La fille>>, you can tell he is talking about one girl and if he says <<Les filles>>, you can tell he is talking about more than one girl.

  • Le tells you that the noun is masculine.
  • La tells you that the noun is feminine
  • L’ tells you that the noun begins with a vowel or a mute h (This will be explained in another lesson)
  • Les tells you that the noun is plural

Do we have the basics down? Great. Let’s carry on


Basic rules guiding the use of Le, La, L’ and Les

If there is more than one noun, place a definite article in front of each one e.g.

  • Je parle l’anglais, le français et l’espagnol — I speak English, French and Spanish
  • L’eglise est devant la mosquée — The church is in front of the mosque
  • Donne-moi le portable et l’ordinateur, s’il vous plaît — Please give me the phone and the laptop


If the French prepositions <<à>> ou <<de>> comes before <<le>> or <<les>>, follow the rules of contraction below:


  • à + le = au
  • à + la = à la
  • à + l’ = à l’
  • a + les = aux


  • de + le = du
  • de + la = de la
  • de + l’ = de l’
  • de + les = des


Par exemple, never say <<Il est a le marché>> when you want to say <<He is at the market>>, say <<Il est au marché>>

Other examples:


Nous allons à la maison — We are going home

Je vais à l’école — I am going to school

David et Paula parlent aux étudiants — David and Paula are talking to the students



D’accord, vous avez acheté du pain?– Okay, did you buy some bread?

Je veux manger de la glace — I want to eat some ice-cream

Nous venons de l’hôpital. Papa est malade— We are coming from the hospital. Daddy is ill

J’ai des cousins en France — I have some cousins in France


As we go on, we will learn other ways to use definite articles and how to identify masculine and feminine nouns in French.


I hope you enjoyed this lesson.


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