I am a native French speaker, and learning English got me wonder about this question.

Since there are only two English articles that I am aware of ("a" and "the"), is there something else people used for plural nouns?

In French, it's "les", but does or did English have something equivalent?

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    I think, for the plurals, we should use either a definite article or zero article. – Cardinal Jun 13 '17 at 19:14
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    No, English has no plural form of the definite article. Interested readers might enjoy this question at our sister site ELU. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '17 at 19:27
  • English and French are different: la, l', le, les are all the or nothing; Apples are good for your health. – Lambie Jun 13 '17 at 20:09
  • It seems Old English did have some plural articles, but these fell out of use many centuries ago. Also, for historical interest, in Middle English "you" was actually the plural (and more formal) second person pronoun, more or less equivalent of the French vous. – Andrew Jun 13 '17 at 21:49

The short answer is no. I don't think even the Old English had something like that.

There is though "an" as another one for you, but no "les" equivalent exists.

  • Since an is descended from one, it can only be singular. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '17 at 19:28
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    OE didn't have a distinct definite article at all; it employed the demonstrative in many contexts where we would use the today, and that was inflected for number and case, and in the singular for gender. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 13 '17 at 19:40
  • Why would one even get into OE or whatever here? The equivalent meaning in context of LES is THE. Or nothing. Just a plural noun. It all depends on the sentence. – Lambie Jun 13 '17 at 20:10
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    @Lambie Because OP asks "does or did English have something equivalent" – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 13 '17 at 21:31
  • @StoneyB For me, this is one of those taking-the-piss questions as the Brits say. And the question does not say: does or did. And even if it did, any person who learns English learns straight away (in the first lessons?) that English doesn't have masculine, feminine and plural forms for adjectives and determiners. Come on. – Lambie Jun 14 '17 at 15:17

The article "The" typically doesn't take on a number the way a noun would. The article "A", however, usually refers only to a singular noun:


The paper was burned.
The papers were burned.

A paper was burned.

It would be incorrect to say:

A papers were burned.

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