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I've noticed that in my French practice I never say "il est un" or "elle est une". I would always say either "il/elle est" or "c'est" or "c'est un/une".

So far this does not seem to have caused me to have any problems.

Are there any times when I should be saying "il est un" or "elle est une"?

7

Nowadays, using il est un / elle est une is typical from non native French speakers.

This form is not a grammatical mistake. It sounds archaic but might still be used in formal or literary contexts with the meaning "there is a". It is never required.

See this reply to a question very similar to yours and that explains why c'est un(e) took the lead: https://french.stackexchange.com/a/14729/1109

Are there any times when I should be saying "il est un" or "elle est une"?

Almost: Il est une heure ;-)

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No, it mean the same, my theory for that is simple, as C'est un/une or Il/elle est is shorter to say it get adaopted that way and used a lot more in verbal's form.

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