Contractions with Proper Nouns

Contractions avec noms propres

French contractions
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In French class, we learn that contractions with definite articles are always required. But it turns out it’s not quite that simple when the article is part of a proper noun, such as a city, title, organization, or surname.

Contractions with cities: required

For cities and communes, such as Le Havre and Les Lilas, the contraction is required.

Par exemple…

Il habite aux Lilas.   He lives in Les Lilas.
Je suis du Havre.   I’m from Le Havre.

 The rules are different for other geographical names like countries and continents.

Contractions with titles of works of art: required

Again, the contraction is required with titles of works of art like Le Mariage de Figaro and Les Lacs du Connemara.

Voici un résumé du Mariage de Figaro.   Here’s a summary of Le Mariage de Figaro.
Il m’a fait penser aux Lacs du Connemara.   He made me think of (the song) Les Lacs du Connemara.

Contractions with companies and organizations: usual

Contractions are not necessarily required, but are usually made with the names of companies and organizations, such as Le Monde and Les Amis de la Terre.

Je travaille au Monde.   I work at Le Monde.
C’est un projet des Amis de la Terre.   It’s a Les Amis de la Terre project.

 Contractions with people: forbidden

However, contractions are never made when the article is part of a person’s surname, such as Le Corbusier or Le Verrier.

Je lis une biographie de Le Corbusier.   I’m reading a biography of Le Corbusier.
J’aurais aimé parler à Le Verrier.   I would have liked to talk to Le Verrier.

 Related lessons

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