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The French Indefinite Articles Un Une Des

What are the French Indefinite Articles? Un Une Des

The French Indefinite Articles: Un – Une – Des are, just like in English, used in a lot of sentences. Which means that you have to master them even as a beginner. The good thing is that they are not very hard to use and follow a few regular and easy rules of French grammar.

To know when to use them properly, you need to know if the following noun is feminine or masculine. Check this rule here for the gender of nouns.

We use indefinite articles to talk about unspecified things or people.

 

Here is the table for the French indefinite articles UN UNE DES: 

UN + masculine noun a / an

UNE + feminine noun a / an

DES + plural noun, masculine or feminine Some 

The French Indefinite articles: un une des

The French Indefinite Article UN

Like said at the beginning, UN is always used for masculine nouns. The pronunciation will slightly change if the noun starts with a consonant or a vowel, as well is the noun starts with a H muet or a H aspiré.

A few examples when the noun starts with a consonant: 

  • Un garçon – A boy 
  • Un chat – A cat
  • Un sac – A bag
  • Un téléphone – A phone
  • Un cactus – A cactus

A few examples when the noun starts with an H aspiré (acting as a consonant):

  • Un hibou – An owl
  • Un haricot – A bean
  • Un hamburger – A hamburger
  • Un hérisson – A hedgehog

Because H acts as a consonant, we don’t add a LIAISON between the article and the noun.

Now when the noun starts with a vowel or a H muet (acting as a vowel):

  • Un appartement – An apartment
  • Un achat – A purchase
  • Un ordinateur – A computer
  • Un hélicoptère – A helicopter
  • Un hiver – A winter

In this case, you can add a LIAISON between the article and the noun with an N sound. Here they are noted in red.

  • Un Nappartement – An apartment
  • Un Nachat – A purchase
  • Un Nordinateur – A computer
  • Un Nhélicoptère – A helicopter
  • Un Nhiver – A winter

If you need to learn more about LIAISONS, check out the video below or The Complete Pronunciation Course.

The French Indefinite Article UNE

The French indefinite article UNE is easier to pronounce than UN because its pronunciation never changes. We always pronounce the letters separately U followed by N, but we don’t pronounced the final E.

The only thing to remember before using UNE in French is that it’s only used with a feminine noun

A few French nouns with UNE:

  • Une idée – An idea
  • Une télévision – A television
  • Une plante – A plant
  • Une montre – A watch
  • Une femme – A woman
  • Une photo – A picture
  • Une balade – A walk 
  • Une feuille – A piece of paper
  • Une girafe – A giraffe 
  • Une couleur – A colour

The French Indefinite Article DES

The French indefinite article DES is use with plural nouns. Just like UN, it also changes pronunciation depending if the following noun starts with a vowel or a consonant, or a H muet or H aspiré. The rule is exactly the same with UN and DES

The good news is that no matter if the noun is feminine or masculine, we will use DES. No need to know the gender to use the plural French indefinite articles. Lucky! 

A few examples when the noun starts with a consonant:

  • Des garçons – Boys
  • Des chats – Cats
  • Des sacs – Bags
  • Des téléphones – Phones
  • Des cactus – Cacti

A few examples when the noun starts with a H aspiré (acting as a consonant):

  • Des hiboux – Owls
  • Des haricots – Beans
  • Des hamburgers – Hamburgers
  • Des hérissons – Hedgehogs

Because H acts as a consonant, we don’t add a LIAISON between the article and the noun. 

Now when the noun starts with a vowel or a H muet (acting as a vowel):

  • Des appartements – Apartments
  • Des achats – Purchases
  • Des ordinateurs – Computers
  • Des hélicoptères – Helicopters
  • Des hivers – Winters

In this case, you can add a LIAISON between the article and the noun with a Z sound. Here they are noted in red.

  • Des Zappartements – Apartments
  • Des Zachats – Purchases
  • Des Zordinateurs – Computers
  • Des Zhélicoptères – Helicopters
  • Des Zhivers – Winters

The French Indefinite Articles UN UNE DES in examples

The French article UN in sentences:

  • Je mange un yaourt – I am eating a yogurt
  • Elle vient d’acheter un livre – She just bought a book
  • Est-ce que tu as un sac pour moi ? – Do you have a bag for me?
  • On a réservé un week-end en France  – We booked a weekend in France
  • Il y a un nouveau magasin dans le centre ville – There is a new store downtown

The French article UNE in sentences:

  • Je vais prendre une tasse de café – I will have a cup of coffee
  • Est-ce que tu as une idée ? – Do you have an idea?
  • Elle a une nouvelle copine – She has a new girlfriend
  • Tu veux une orange ? – Do you want an orange?
  • C’est une belle maison –  It’s a beautiful house

The French article DES in sentences: 

  • Il y a des gens dans la rue – There are people in the street
  • On a fait des achats – We made some purchases
  • L’école a acheté des ordinateurs – The school bought computers
  • On a entendu des hélicoptères – We hard helicopters
  • Il a des gants – He has gloves

Improve your French Grammar

For exercises about French indefinite articles and to learn all the grammar you will need to speak French, check out my French Grammar Course. It includes 200 exercises, 47 video lessons and audio to download. 

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About Dylane

Dylane is the owner & founder of “The perfect French with Dylane”, a YouTube channel and website where she teaches students from all around the world all the aspects of the French language.

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