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French grammar - Genders and the definite articles - le and la

Genders and the definite articles - le & la

All nouns (things and concepts) in French have a gender - either masculine or feminine.

And like the English 'the' - French also uses the definite article. But unlike English, the definite article in French depends on gender (and number).

The definite article le is used for masculine nouns.

And the definite article la is used for feminine nouns.

When the noun starts with a vowel, both le and la contract with an apostrophe to l' and the contracted l' is attached to the noun.

Note that there are no hard and fast rules governing which nouns are masculine and which are feminine. They just need to be remembered.

Le chien est ici.
The dog is here.

chien (m) means 'dog'

le chien is masculine

La vache est là-bas.
The cow is over there.

vache (f) means 'cow'

la vache is feminine

Où est le chat ?
Where is the cat?

chat (m) means 'cat'

le chat is masculine

La gare est loin d'ici ?
The (train) station far from here?

gare (f) means 'station'

la gare is feminine

Le bureau est près d'ici.
The office is close to here.

bureau (m) means 'office' or 'desk'

le bureau is masculine

La poste est assez proche.
The post office is quite close.

poste (f) means 'post office'

la poste is feminine

assez (adv) means 'quite' or 'enough'

Le restaurant est magnifique.
The restaurant is magnificent.

restaurant (m) means 'restaurant'

le restaurant is masculine

Le garçon est en retard.
The boy is late.

garçon (m) means 'boy'

le garçon is masculine

La fille est à l'heure.
The girl is on time.

fille (f) means 'girl'

la fille is feminine

D'où est le monsieur ?
From where is the gentleman?

monsieur (m) means 'gentleman'

le monsieur is masculine

d'où means 'from where'

La madame est d'ici ?
The lady is from here?

madame (f) means 'lady'

la madame is feminine

L'oiseau est là-bas.
The bird is over there.

oiseau (m) means 'bird'

l'oiseau is masculine

Contraction when there are two opposing vowels: le + oiseaul'oiseau

Est-ce l'université là-bas ?
Is that the university over there?

université (f) means 'university'

l'université is feminine

Contraction: la + universitél'université

Non, l'université est ici.
No, the university is here.

non means 'no'