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I am curious as to whether English had any plural articles like in French with "les" and "des".

  • There are plural pronouns like them, these, and those, which can almost function like an article: Look at those cars over there. However, the those in that case gets classified as an adjective, not an article. That might be the closest thing English has, though. – J.R. Sep 25 '15 at 13:13
  • The articles in Old English en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Old_English/Articles – rogermue Sep 25 '15 at 15:52
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Depending on your point of view, you could say that it has one now: the definite article "the" can be used with plural nouns, although the same form is used with singular nouns.

But if you don't accept that as a real example, you can go back to Old English, where the definite article had not only a different form for the plural, but different forms for three genders and four or five cases. (These forms were not just used as articles in Old English, but also as demonstrative adjectives and pronouns; some of the forms are no longer used as articles but survive as modern English demonstrative adjectives or pronouns. Some of the history of this development is given at the end of the following page: Middle English Morphology.)

The situation with the indefinite article is different; it seems there never was a plural form. The reason why is covered in this question: Why is there no plural indefinite article?

  • But don't we have a plural indefinite article now? A reasonable percentage of the uses of some are as a plural/uncountable indefinite article. (Can I have some cookies? Can I have some milk?) Or maybe the right answer is: we don't have one because some fills the need for one. – Peter Shor Sep 25 '15 at 14:08
  • Is "some" technically an article? Hmm, I'll have to look that up. It's definitely a determiner. It doesn't seem to appear in most lists of articles, though. Is there a difference between articles and determiners? – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 14:12
  • According to miltonaut, the difference is that "this/that/those/these also do double duty as demonstrative pronouns and can therefore standalone. Their physically demonstrative aspect sets them apart from the/an/a, which must precede a noun to function within a sentence. The two groups provide/indicate different types of information." But, by this criterion, it would seem that Old English had no articles! I wonder if that can be right. – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 14:15
  • The French definite articles are identical in form to the 3rd-person accusative pronouns; but then again it is true that a French definite article cannot stand on its own as an independent noun phrase (the accusative pronouns are pretty much always set in a fixed position relative to the verb). – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 14:19
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    you're right. But maybe that means the right answer should be: because some (usually /səm/) is not considered an article. – Peter Shor Sep 28 '15 at 18:57

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