I was under the impression that one used an article, e.g. un homme aux yeux bleus (or un homme au parapluie, for that matter). But I see that it's not always the case: as a somewhat random example, my dictionary defines a "satyre" as "une divinité de la terre, être à corps humain, à cornes et à pieds de bouc." As another example, CNRTL includes: "Cet enfant d'une extrême beauté, aux yeux bleu vif, aux cheveux blonds bouclés, à teint délicat..."

Is there a rule for when to include the definite article?

Edit: looks like this question is along the same lines.

  • Yes, but also aux yeux, aux cheveux, and yet à teint, even thought I've also seen au teint. Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 22:27
  • 1
    Yeah, I understand that--my point is, why is there an article (aux) for yeux and cheveux, but not for teint? Likewise, why is there no article for corps, cornes, and pieds? Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 23:39
  • Good point there, I see it now. I find à teint surprising personally, whereas I find everything else pretty normal. It's possible à adds a property to what precedes, whereas with the article would make it a composition of sorts? Interesting stuff, thanks!
    – user3177
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


The form with the article is more "intense", and is used to mark a distinction:

  • une couturière aux doigts de fées (an uncommon gifted seamstress)
  • une couturière à doigts de fée (one of many gifted seamstresses)

In the exemple above, I would think that the author emphasizes that the beauty comes more from the eyes and the hair than from the fair skin.

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