Contractions

French contractions
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Formes contractées

Contractions occur when two words are combined into one, sometimes with a distinctly different spelling. In English, contractions like "I’m" and "won’t" are optional and indicate informality. In French, however, les formes contractées are required, regardless of the register you’re speaking or writing in.

There are two similar groups of words that contract in French.

Definite articles

Le and les contract with the prepositions à and de into articles composés, but la and l’ do not.
    Compound article  
No contraction
à + le
à + les
au
aux
à + la
à + l’
à la
à l’
  de + le
de + les
du
des
de + la
de + l’
de la
de l’
   
Potential French mistake Only definite articles contract with à and de. The direct object pronouns le and les do not contract.
Je continue à les utiliser.   I continue using them.
  Il m’a demandé de le trouver   He asked me to find it.
   

Lequel

The le and les forms of lequel also contract with the prepositions à and de to create formes composées.
    Compound article  
No contraction
à + lequel
à + lesquels
à + lesquelles
auquel
auxquels
auxquelles
à + laquelle à laquelle
  de + lequel
de + lesquels
de + lesquelles
duquel
desquels
desquelles
de + laquelle de laquelle

Fixed French contractions

en + les   ès   licencié ès lettres Bachelor of Arts degree
vois + ci   voici   voici la voiture here’s the car
vois + là   voilà   voilà le vélo there’s the bike

 Two words joined by dropping one or more letters and adding an apostrophe are called elisions.

 Related lessons

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French contractions
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2 Responses

  1. laurel 27 February 2018 / 2:32

    is there a test or quiz for article contractes

    • lkl 27 February 2018 / 12:14

      Yes, at the end of the lesson under “Think you’ve mastered contractions?”