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.

No contraction
à + le
à + les
à + la
à + l’
à la
à l’
de + le
de + les
de + la
de + l’
de la
de l’

 Exceptions: Contractions with proper nouns

Only definite articles contract with à and de. The direct object pronouns le and les do not contract.

Par exemple…

Je continue à les utiliser.   I continue using them.
Il m’a demandé de le trouver   He asked me to find it.


The le and les forms of lequel also contract with the prepositions à and de to create formes composées.

No contraction
à + lequel
à + lesquels
à + lesquelles
à + laquelle à laquelle
de + lequel
de + lesquels
de + lesquelles
de + laquelle de laquelle

Contractions figées (Fixed contractions)

en + les ès   licencié ès lettres Bachelor of Arts degree
il + elle iel   Mon pronom est « iel ». ~ My pronoun is "they."
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.

 French Contractions Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on some of these French contractions with a fill-in-the-blanks exercise:

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take this test. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

Learn Italian In italiano

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French contractions

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