Using le, la, l', les before nouns when generalising (definite articles)

In French, when generalising, you use the definite articles le, la, l', les.

Learn how to use the definite articles in French when generalising

Look at these general statements:

Il déteste le café.He hates coffee.

La vie est compliquée.Life is complicated.

Il déteste l'alcool.He hates alcohol.

J'adore les concombres!I love cucumbers!
 

In English, we drop the when talking about things in general, but notice that in French, when talking about things in general or abstractly, you must use le, la, l', or les (the definite article).

ATTENTION:

Whereas partitive articles du, de la, de l', des and indefinite articles un, une become de or d' in negative sentences [See Du/de la/de l'/des all become de/d' in negative sentences (French Partitive Articles) and Un/une become de/d' in negative sentences in French (French Indefinite Articles)], this rule doesn't apply to definite articles le, la, l' or les which remain the same in negative sentences:

On n'aime pas la musique classique.We dont like classical music.

Elle n'aime pas les bonbons.She doesn't like sweets.

 

Want to make sure your French sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Les plantes produisent l’oxygène.Plants produce oxygen.
Le vin blanc me donne des maux de tête.White wine gives me headaches.
J'adore les concombres!I love cucumbers!
Il déteste le café.He hates coffee.
On n'aime pas la musique classique.We dont like classical music.
Elle aime le chocolat!She loves chocolat!
J'adore la France!I love France!
La vie est compliquée.Life is complicated.
Il déteste l'alcool.He hates alcohol.
J'adore les toiles d'araignéesI love spider webs!
Elle n'aime pas les bonbons.She doesn't like sweets.
Ils cherchent le bonheur.They seek happiness.
La nourriture est chère.Food is expensive.
Let me take a look at that...