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Using le, la, l', les before nouns when generalising (definite articles)

Look at these general statements:

Il déteste le café.
He hates coffee.

La vie est compliquée.
Life is complicated.

Il déteste l'alcool.
He hates alcohol.

J'adore les concombres!
I love cucumbers!

 

In English, we drop the when talking abouts things in general, but notice that in French, when talking about things in general or abstractly, you must use le, la, l', or les (the definite article). 


ATTENTION: Whereas partitive articles du, de la, de l', des and indefinite articles un, une become de or d' in negative sentences [See Du, de la, de l', des all become de or d' in negative sentences (partitive articles) and Un, une become de or d' in negative sentences (indefinite articles)], this rule doesn't apply to definite articles le, la ,l' or les which remain the same in negative sentences:

On n'aime pas la musique classique.
We dont like classical music.

Elle n'aime pas les bonbons.
She doesn't like sweets.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'adore les concombres!
I love cucumbers!


Elle n'aime pas les bonbons.
She doesn't like sweets.


J'adore la France!
I love France!


La nourriture est chère.
Food is expensive.



Elle aime le chocolat!
She loves chocolat!


Le vin blanc me donne des maux de tête.
White wine gives me headaches.


J'adore les toiles d'araignées
I love spider webs!


On n'aime pas la musique classique.
We dont like classical music.


Les plantes produisent l’oxygène.
Plants produce oxygen.


Il déteste l'alcool.
He hates alcohol.


Il déteste le café.
He hates coffee.


Ils cherchent le bonheur.
They seek happiness.


La vie est compliquée.
Life is complicated.


Micro kwiz: Using le, la, l', les before nouns when generalising (definite articles)
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Q&A

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

26 September 2016

1 reply

des maux de tête

Maux is the plural of mal? When do we use maux instead of mal? I thought headache is mal à la tête. How come à/aux is not even in the sentence? Thanks.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Bonjour Johnny !

Here it's a difference of usage of the noun "un mal" (an ache).
In the expression "J'ai mal à la tête.", you're using "mal" without an article, similarly to the expression "avoir pitié de" (to have pity for). You're literally saying "I have ache to the head.".
When you're using the expression "des maux de tête" (literally: head aches), you're using the plural of "mal", which is "maux". It's just another way to say "headache" in French.

I hope that's helpful !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

3 September 2016

2 replies

Why is "de" necessary in, "Les plantes produisent de l'oxygène?"

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

5 September 2016

5/09/16

Bonjour Susan !

In this sentence, it's because we're considering that oxygen is not a countable thing (i.e. "Plants produce some oxygen."), therefore you need to use the partitive article, i.e. de l' .
However, I agree that in this case, plants produce oxygen in general, therefore it would be more accurate to say : "Les plantes produisent l'oxygène.".
Thanks to you, I edited the example.

Merci et à bientôt !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

5 September 2016

5/09/16

Bonjour Aurélie! Thank you for your very thorough answer. À bientôt! s.

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

3 June 2016

1 reply

Meaning of 'le'

I'm sure you've heard this a million times already, but if "il déteste le café" is "he hates coffee" then how does one say "he hates the coffee?"

Prateek

Kwiziq community member

3 June 2016

3/06/16

he hates the coffee is "il déteste le café". It is the same in this case.
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