Don't use un, une when giving people's professions (zero article)

Look at these equivalent sentences:

Il est avocat.
He is a lawyer.

Marie est avocate.
Marie is a lawyer.

Je suis vendeur dans un grand magasin.
I am a sales assistant in a department store.

Paul est médecin.
Paul is a doctor.

In French we don't say un or une (a) when giving someone's profession. 
We literally say "He is a lawyer", or "She is a doctor." 

Also note: the job description changes if the person is feminine or masculine (see gender of professions)

 
ATTENTION:

 

In French, you always need an article in front of a group including an adjective, and that rule applies to professions:

Lisa est une très bonne vendeuse.
Lisa is a very good sales assistant.

Maurice est un professeur excellent.
Maurice is an excellent teacher.

Vous êtes un mauvais avocat.
You are a bad lawyer.

 

See also Job titles differ depending on whether you're a man or a woman (nouns)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Maurice est un professeur excellent.
Maurice is an excellent teacher.


Je suis vendeur dans un grand magasin.
I am a sales assistant in a department store.


Lisa est une très bonne vendeuse.
Lisa is a very good sales assistant.



Marie est avocate.
Marie is a lawyer.


Je suis président. 
I'm a president.


Il est avocat.
He is a lawyer.


Vous êtes un mauvais avocat.
You are a bad lawyer.


Paul est médecin.
Paul is a doctor.


Q&A

Frances

Kwiziq community member

20 March 2018

2 replies

typing accents

which letter do I hold to type in the required accent?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 March 2018

21/03/18

Use the letter on which the accent appears. So, to type "î" hold down "i" and then type the number corresponding to the desired accent.


-- Chris. 

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2018

29/06/18

Hi Frances, 


If you look at the following page, you will find some information on typing accents -


https://french.kwiziq.com/faqs#span_id_accents_span_How_can_I_type_accents


Hope this is helpful!

Nabeel

Kwiziq community member

11 March 2018

1 reply

Je suis un élève

Is it correct or should be considered as a profession like étudiant ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

12 March 2018

12/03/18

Bonjour Nabeel !


Very interesting question.


Here both could be used, with slightly different contexts.


If you were describing your "professional" situation - i.e. what you do in life - then you would indeed omit the article: 
Je suis pompier, je suis professeur, je suis élève.


However, you could also use Je suis un/une élève in the following contexts:
- if you were mistaken for a teacher, and wanted to contrast your situation:
"I'm a pupil, not a teacher."  -> Je suis un élève, pas un professeur.


- in cases such as "I'm one of his pupils" -> Je suis un de ses élèves.


- if you described what kind of pupil you are:
Je suis un excellent élève.


I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Shruti

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2018

2 replies

Je suis un étudiant. Je suis une étudiante sympathique. C’est correct ?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2018

24/02/18

Hi Shruti,


yes, that's correct. "Étudiant vs, étudiante" is a male vs. A female student. 


--  Chris. 

Chris

Kwiziq community member

24 February 2018

24/02/18

Oh, I see, your question was about the article. I think the lesson explains it pretty well. 


Je suis étudiant. 


Je suis un étudiant studieux. 


-- Chris. 

Lisa

Kwiziq community member

21 September 2017

2 replies

Is student a profession?

I apologize if this gets posted twice -- I had to log in and it disappeared. Question: If I am a professor, I say "Je suis professeur." But if I am a student, do I say "Je suis étudiant." even though it's not exactly a profession? Merci !

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

21 September 2017

21/09/17

Hi Lisa - in this sense it acts like a profession, yes. Don't forget to add -e if you want to make "étudiant" a feminine noun.

However. note that as soon as you were to add detail to this, e.g. if you were describing the sort of student you were, (e.g. adding an adjective) then you would use 'une'. E.g. Je suis un(e) étudiant(e) studieux/-se. This is also the case if you wanted to follow on with "qui ..." for example. (I'm a student that...). In these sentences you're not making using the word to say what you do, rather the detail is what matters and so the article is needed here (I will double check this with Aurélie though.)

Ron

Kwiziq community member

23 September 2017

23/09/17

Bonjour Gruff,
Your explanation is the way that I learned about professions, too. Once an adjective is added as a qualifier/modifier then the article is required. Aurélie will, of course, have THE definitive answer.
Bonne journée

Andy

Kwiziq community member

22 December 2016

2 replies

mon amie Rachel est une très bonne maquilleuse

I noticed in your Week 29 A2 Halloween writing test, the above phrase was given as the correct translation of 'my friend Rachel is a very good makeup artist.' From this, can we take it that a descriptive adjective before a profession requires the whole phrase to take an article? Thanks again.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

22 December 2016

22/12/16

Bonjour Andy !

That's a very interesting remark here, and you are perfectly correct: you will need to add the article when using an adjective in general in French, including with professions.
Thanks to you, I've added a relevant note to the lesson :)

Merci et à bientôt !

Andy

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2016

27/12/16

I've taken it that when a general noun is used almost as a descriptive adjective, no article is required. But if ever the noun is qualified and made a little bit more distinct and individual, an article is needed again.

Thanks again for your help! Between the lessons, the writing tests and your swift replies to any queries, Kwiziq is helping to make all the quite tricky stuff crystal clear!

Bonnes fêtes !

Advika

Kwiziq community member

7 July 2016

1 reply

Pierre est avocat

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

22 July 2016

22/07/16

Très bien. :-)
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