In French, nouns are usually preceded by articles....
The indefinite article, un/une, is used exactly like the English indefinite article- a/an. It is used when referring to a single instance that is a part of a group that consists of many entities. For example 'a doorknob' is a single instance of the 'doorknobs' group which consists of everything that is called a doorknob.
|un oiseau||a bird|
|un acteur||an actor|
|une actrice||an actress|
|une blatte||a cockroach|
Plural Indefinite Articles
The plural indefinite article, des, is used when referring to more than a single entity. It is not used, however, when general statements are made about a group - statements that are meant to refer to all the entities that make up that group. This is the role of the definite article as we shall soon see. In English, note that in the same situation no article is placed before the noun.
The definite articles, le, la, les, are basically equivalent to English the. Anytime the is used in English, a definite article will surely be used in French. In some cases, however, French will use a definite articles when English uses no article at all.
This includes times when a group of nouns is referred to in its entirety. For example when blanket statements are made about all cockroaches, all humans, or all cars.
...and when a noun is referred to in a general sense (for example a statement that refers not to a particular war but to war in general).
| La guerre est horrible.
War is horrible.
Il faut cultiver l'amour, et eviter la haine et la colère.
J'aime la cuisine chinoise.
Il aime l'été plus que l'hiver.
Le basket est notre sport préféré.
Names are not usually preceded by articles. However the definite article almost always precedes the names of countries except when it follows the prepositions en and de.
la France, l'Égypte, les États-Unis, la Chine
Je vais en France.
Whenever the definite articles le or les follow the prepositions à or de, the preposition and article fuse together.
|le||au||du, de l'|
|la||à la||de la, de l'|
A partitive article consists of the preposition de followed by a definite article (du, de la). It is frequently used before a singular noun that represents something that can be divided into smaller parts like liquids, wood, food, etc.
Je bois du vin rouge pour le dîner. Marie boit de
I drink red wine during dinner. Mary drinks beer.
Coupez nous du bois pour le feu.
Cut us some wood for the campfire.