Don't use un, une when stating 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 stating 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


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.


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.


Q&A Forum 13 questions, 21 answers

AndreaA2Kwiziq community member

Use an indefinate article or not

My wife is a doctor:  Can this  be translated as 1)  " Ma femme est une médecine  . OR  2) Ma femme est médecin . Could you please let me know which one (if any) is correct, and an accompanying explanation would be appreciated.   Thanks 

Asked 1 month ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Andrea,

You would say -

Ma femme est médecin 

Ma femme est  'docteure'  

( this was changed in 1993 to feminize trades and professions which previously only had male forms)

La médecine is the science and practice of Medicine.

It cannot be used as a profession.

Hope this helps!

Use an indefinate article or not

My wife is a doctor:  Can this  be translated as 1)  " Ma femme est une médecine  . OR  2) Ma femme est médecin . Could you please let me know which one (if any) is correct, and an accompanying explanation would be appreciated.   Thanks 

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PeterA2Kwiziq community member

Love the lesson. My only issue with the title itself, maybe it should be 'You don't have to say un or une when stating someones profession'

Asked 6 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Peter !

Thanks for that suggestion : we love it!I've now updated the lesson title accordingly :)

Merci et bonne journée !

Love the lesson. My only issue with the title itself, maybe it should be 'You don't have to say un or une when stating someones profession'

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SamiA0Kwiziq community member

Professeur

I can use the word(  professeur) as masculine and feminine.

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Je suis d'accord avec vous Sami, personnellement je dirais -

'Je suis Professeur de français '

mais beaucoup de mes amies profs tiennent à mettre le -e à la fin ...

Les temps changent et on doit apaiser les lobbies féministes...

 

 

Professeur

I can use the word(  professeur) as masculine and feminine.

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SamiA0Kwiziq community member

Grandsons

How can I say in French? My grandsons are active.

Asked 8 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Mes petits-fils sont très actifs. 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Mes petits-fils sont très actifs. 

Grandsons

How can I say in French? My grandsons are active.

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JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Is it correct to conclude as below? Nous/Vous/Je/On/proper noun + article + adjective modified noun

Asked 9 months ago
JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I continue my complete question here:

Is it correct to conclude as below? 

1) Nous/Vous/Je/On/proper noun + article + adjective modified noun

2) c'est + article + adjective modified noun (to replace il/elle)

3) ce sont + article + adjective modified noun (to replace ils/elles)

Is it correct to conclude as below? Nous/Vous/Je/On/proper noun + article + adjective modified noun

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HalouiA0Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

How ??

Can we say vous êtes mauvais professeur or vois êtes un mauvais professeur???

Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

In this case you would use the second version, with the article. 

HalouiA0Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Oo okey merci.

How ??

Can we say vous êtes mauvais professeur or vois êtes un mauvais professeur???

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MeganA1Kwiziq community member

Je veux être (une) avocate

Is un/une needed if I say I want to be a certain profession? Also is it needed for past tense? (Il était (un) professeur, for example)
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Je veux devenir astronaute. -- I want to become an astronaut. 

Il est dentiste. -- He is dentist. 

There usually is no article needed. 

Je veux être (une) avocate

Is un/une needed if I say I want to be a certain profession? Also is it needed for past tense? (Il était (un) professeur, for example)

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FrancesB1Kwiziq community member

typing accents

which letter do I hold to type in the required accent?
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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. 

typing accents

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

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NabeelC1Kwiziq community member

Je suis un élève

Is it correct or should be considered as a profession like étudiant ?
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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 !

ClaudiaA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Hello, I know this is a cultural thing and no one can argue against it but really ... being a student is a profession? I don't think that I'd get too far posting on a resumee that I am a Student as a profession. You don't have to answer, this is me venting. :)

Je suis un élève

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

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ShrutiA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

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. 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Shruti,

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

--  Chris. 

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

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LisaC1Kwiziq community member

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 !
Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member
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.)
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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
RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
The lesson should mention that being a student is considered a profession because generally one might think a profession is something done after one has received an education.

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 !

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AndyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
AndyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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 !

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.

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AdvikaA1Kwiziq community member

Pierre est avocat

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Très bien. :-)

Pierre est avocat

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