I know most of the time an article is always needed in French.

There are a couple of exceptions like: profession and nationality. Je suis canadienne. Je suis cuisinier.

Why do we drop the article when it comes to speaking languages?

Je parle le français. / Je parle français. Je ne parle pas le français. Je ne parle pas français.

1 Answer 1


In je parle français, français is used adverbially (like say Il voyait rouge) so doesn't require an article. Other examples of such usage are:

  • Je m'habille français.

  • Je mange français.

  • J'achète français.

  • Je roule français.

Je parle le français is however possible and correct and so is je parle en français (which has a slightly different meaning).

This specific usage has expanded to other expressions like:

Il s'habille italien.
Elle mange bio.

With être, it is no more an adverbial usage so there is agreement with the subject. The lack of article is standard:

  • Je suis ingénieur.

  • Tu es française.

  • Ils sont bouddhistes.

  • How is it adverbially? Is it adverbially in English? Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 11:21
  • No sure about what you are asking. Français is not an adverb but is used here as if it were one. Whether it would be in English or not is irrelevant.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:28

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