3 May 2000 Articles Determiners, in L'Huillier, Advanced French Grammar

presentation of L'Huillier's work, by Corry Shores

[Subsection headings are my own]

Monique L'Huillier

Advanced French Grammar

1. Framework

1.1 Parts of Speech

1.1.4 Determiners Articles

Articles determine the gender and number of nouns. 

Articles fall under three types:

(i) definite articles (le, la, l', les)

When a speaker uses a definite article, that means she can identify that specific referent. We might think of the referent as the "object in the world" that the word refers-to.

For example:
Passez-moi le livre qui est sur la ta ble.
Pass me the book that is on the table.

(ii) indefinite articles (un, une, des)

The speaker might also just be indicating that a set of referents exists. However, in this case she "extracts one or several elements from that set, without identifying them." (8a)

For example:
J'ai acheté des oranges.
I've bought [some] oranges.

(iii) partitive articles (du, de la, de l')

We use partitive articles fro uncountable nouns.

For example:
Voulez-vous du fromage?
Would you like [some] cheese?

Which article-type we choose depends on whether it is:
1) concrete or abstract; or,
2) countable or non-countable.

We discuss this further in chapter 23.

L'Huillier, Monique. Advanced French Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
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