FR: une poste / la poste

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Gijoe, May 31, 2013.

  1. Gijoe Senior Member


    I was wondering why you don't say une poste while the gare can be said with une.

    What is the logic behind?

  2. atcheque

    atcheque mod errant (Fr-En, français, čeština)

    Česko (2009)
    français, France

    Can you give a context, an example, please?
    I can say Y a-t-il une Poste dans ce quartier ?
  3. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    It's quite simple: la poste (note the definite article) is first and foremost an administration/service, not an office. (By the way, in English, you say “post office.”) We often say poste to refer to a particular post office by metonymy (especially when used with the definite article), but otherwise it is not a place, contrary to gare.
  4. Gijoe Senior Member

    Thank you very much both of you.

    This material, however, is for teaching places, and the context from the beginning mentions of la -

    il y a un parc, derriere le parc, il y a la poste
    devant la poste, il y a une gare
  5. atcheque

    atcheque mod errant (Fr-En, français, čeština)

    Česko (2009)
    français, France
    Franchement, la gare serait correct aussi ;]
  6. janpol

    janpol Senior Member

    France - français
    Je vais chercher mon ami à la gare >> l'emploi de "la" suppose qu'il y en a une seule dans la ville. S'il y en a plusieurs, je nomme celle ou je me rends : je vais à la gare Saint Lazare / de Lyon/ du Nord etc... si je prends l'exemple de Paris.
    Je vais à la poste. En général, il n'y en a qu'une sauf dans les grandes villes.
  7. binhle410 Senior Member

    Hello all, I have a question

    does the use of une here make sense ?
    Or is it some kind of idiomatic that we must use le,la,les in these cases ?

    (1) Elle va à une poste.

    Merci bien d'avance
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2013
  8. Michelvar

    Michelvar quasimodo

    Marseille - France
    French from France

    what is your original English sentences? Your sentences are correct, but I'm not sure they mean what you want to say...
  9. binhle410 Senior Member

    I am trying to differentiate between 2 things
    (1) Elle va à la poste
    (2) Elle va à une poste

    In the first one, does it mean that she is going to a specific post ? or does it mean that she is sending some packages at the post office
    -> it is sure to use the post office's services

    and does (2) means that she is simply going to a post and she may go there to meet a friend not to send any packages ?
    -> she may or may not use it ?
  10. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    In sentence #1, a specific post office it typically implied, usually the one where the person usually goes or the one closest to her location. You may however not conclude what she will do there; you only know that she is going there.

    Sentence #2 suggests the person is going to the first post office she will find, but the phrase sounds a bit weird and I don't think any native would say it.
  11. Chimel Senior Member

    Well, actually it's pretty much the same for many other names of places. I can say "Je vais à la boulangerie" even if there are many in my town (but I usually go to the same or at least I know which baker's shop I mean). So in both cases, we would say "elle va à la poste".

    But there is indeed something particular with poste. While we would say "Pardon, où est-ce qu'il y a une boulangerie près d'ici?", it is not very natural (although quite correct) to ask: "Où est-ce qu'il y a une poste?" The most common way is: "un bureau de poste". Don't ask me why... ;)
  12. binhle410 Senior Member

    Janpol, Chimel, you guys have 2 different opposite ideas, how do we rectify this ?
  13. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member


    I think Maître Capello's answer was pretty clear. The mail service of France is called La Poste. The article is on the logo and its website is

    * If I need to mail something and go to the nearest post office (the post office in my town), then I'll say Je vais à la Poste (which is just like saying I'm going to the Post Office in English).

    * You could also say Je vais au bureau de poste (au = à le) but it's not very common. It makes me think of an English-to-French translation. For instance, if a movie or a book took place in an English-speaking country (USA, Canada,...) then it would make sense to translate Post Office as bureau de poste :thumbsup: If the movie takes place in North America, translating Post Office as La Poste won't sound faithful to the original setting, because La Poste doesn't exist in North America (it would be like translating Peter as Pierre. We don't do that anymore). Thus, bureau de poste would be suitable.

    * If I'm going to a further post office (a post office that is not my town of residence), then I still have the same two options: Je dois aller à la Poste de Gardanne (for instance) or Je dois aller au bureau de poste de Gardanne.

    * If there are several post offices in that town, then it gets a little more complicated. I could use la or une, but not the same nouns:

    — As I said before, the name of the service is La Poste. Thus, une Poste sounds very awkward. I think this is sloppy French. On the other hand, you can say Je dois
    ..;;;.....aller à la Poste de or à Paris, even if there are several offices. When you use la, you consider the whole mail service of the city of Paris. It amounts to saying I'm
    ...;;;....required to use the mail service of Paris, no matter which post office you go to.

    — Yet again, if there are several post offices in that town, then you can say la Poste de Paris but not le bureau de poste de Paris. While la Poste is general, a post
    ...;;; de poste is an individual location. Saying le bureau de poste would imply there is only one post office in the city. On the other hand, you could say :

    .................a. Je dois aller à un des bureaux de poste de Paris,
    .................b. Je dois aller à un bureau de poste à Paris,
    .................c. or Je dois aller à un bureau de poste de Paris.

    I hope it helps!
  14. Chimel Senior Member

    Janpol's view and mine are not opposite, but complementary, I think. I fully agree with him:
    but as he didn't explain what to say when there are several post offices in the same town, I've just pointed out that "un bureau de poste" is better than "une poste" in that case.

    Oddmania's explanation is still more complete. I would just write "je vais à la poste" instead of "la Poste" with capital P in these examples. But if you speak of the institution itself, than of course: "La Poste va engager/licencier 600 personnes".

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