Indefinite articles

The French indefinite articles (les articles indefinis) agree both in number and gender.  French has 3 indefinite articles:

un, is used with masculine nouns (ex. un homme, un discipline, un peu..)

une, is used with feminine nouns (ex. une gloire, une personne, une femme…)

des, with plura nouns (ex. des hommes, des femmes, des miracles…)

* Both un and une mean a or an. De translates some in english. When un, une, and des are followed by ne…pas, they change to de (ex.  John 1.27, je ne suis pas digne de delier la courroie de ses souliers)

Definite Articles

French has four definite articles which translate simply as “the” in the english language.  The french definite articles must agree in gender and in number.  Here they are:

Le, is used with masculine nouns ( ex. Le temoignage, le prophete, le maitre…)

La,  is used with feminine nouns (ex.  la bible, la lumiere, la parole…)


L’, is used before a singular noun (ex. L’enfant, l’anglais, l’ange). You also use l’ if the noun begins with a vowel sound.


Les, is always use before plural nouns (ex. les choses,  les siens, les Juifs…)


A good question to ask…?


How does one know which nouns are masculine and which are femine?

This is a difficult question to answer. However, the generally rule is that nouns that refer to males are masculine (le garcon), whereas, those that refer to females are feminine (la fille). For now, you just have to learn the definite article that goes with each one.

John 1:6-8

Today Let’s walk through John 1:6-8.  Here is the translation in French

1.6 Il y eut un homme envoyé de Dieu: son nom était Jean.  
1.7 Il vint pour servir de témoin, pour rendre témoignage à la lumière, afin que tous crussent par lui.
1.8 Il n’était pas la lumière, mais il parut pour rendre témoignage à la lumière.  
était  (was);  it is the past tense [imparfait in French] form of the verb être = to be

vint (to come) ; from “venire.” Passe simple indicative 3rd person singular. This particular tense in French is called “passé simple” and is used in literary works.

servir  (to serve); present indicative infinitive. 2nd group verb with an “ir” ending.

rendre  ( it is best to translate this verb as “to come” in the context of John bearing witness about Jesus)

crussent (to believe), subjunctive mood indicative 3rd person  plural. The little phrase “afin que” (so that…)  tells us the verb is  the  subjunctive mood.

parut (to appear/to bear). Passe simple indicative 3rd person singular. This particular tense in French is called “passé simple” and is used in literary works.  



homme (man/human)

Dieu (God)

Nom (name)

Jean (John)

témoin (witness)

témoignage (testimony)

lumière (light) 

un (a).  Article indéfini (indefinite article)
la (the), the feminin of « le » (definite article)

envoyé ( sent). Here “envoyé”  functions not as a verb per se but as an adjective.  Thus,  

            the phrase “un homme envoyé » is adjectival.

tous (all), the plural form of “tout”

  Adverbs /prepositions/conjunctions 

de (of)

pour (for)

afin que (so that…)

par (by)

mais (but)

à (to)

Additional comments:
son nom (his name). “Son” is a possessive adjective meaning “his”. Its gender is masculin and number is singular