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The circumstancial complement in French

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What is the CC in French ? 

The circumstantial complements (French: les compléments circonstanciels) are words or group of words and indicate in which circumstance the action takes place: at what time, in what place, in what way, for what purpose, for what cause, with what or by what?

It completes the verb and can be deleted or moved. 

There are many categories of circumstantial complements: 

  • The circumstantial complement of time
  • The circumstantial complement of place.
  • The circumstantial complement of way.
  • The circumstantial complement of purpose
  • The circumstantial complement of consequence
  • The circumstantial complement of means. 

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The circumstantial complement of time in French

The circumstantial complément of time (French: le complément circonstanciel de temps) is abbreviated CCT and makes the understanding more precise

  1. situate an action at a specific moment
  2. indicate the duration of an action
  3. express the repetition of an action

To find the CCT, you most often ask these questions after the verb or the complement: 

  • Quand ? (When ?)
  • Pendant combien de temps ? (How long ?)


Je rentre demain matin.Je rentre quand ?(I am leaving tomorrow morning) 
Pendant deux ans, j'ai vécu en ItalieJ'ai vécu en Italie, pendant combien de temps ? (I had lived in Italy for two years)
Les enfants partiront à l'école quand tu seras làLes enfants partiront à l'école quand ?(The kids will leave for school when you'll be here)

The circumstantial complement of place in French

The circumstantial complement of place (French; le complément circonstanciel de lieu) is abbreaviated CCL and indicates where the action happens.

To find the CCL, it is most often to ask the question after the verb and the complement. 

  • Où ? (Where ?)


En France, je suis très célèbreJe suis très célèbre où ? (In France, I'm very famous)
Samantha a dû partir chez sa mèreSamantha a dû partir où ?(Samantha had to leave her mom's)
Pierre est venu me voir à l'écolePierre est venu me voir où ? (Peter came to see me at school)

The circumstantial complement of way in French

The circumstantial complement of way (French: le complément circonstanciel de manière) is abbreviated CCM and indicates how the action takes place

To find the CCM, it is necessary that you ask these questions after the verb and the complement. 

  • Comment ? (How ?)
  • De quel facon ? (How ?)
  • De quelle manière ? (How ?)


Il mange au restaurant en criantIl mange au restaurant comment ?(He eats at the restaurant by yelling)
Les enfants jouent bruyammentDe quelle manière joue les enfants ? (The children play loud)
Nous attendons la série avec impatienceNous attendons la série comment ? (We are waiting for the show eagerly)

The circumstantial complement of purpose in French

The circumstantial complement of purpose (French: le complément circonstanciel de but) is abbreviated CCB and expresses the objective that someone intentionally wishes to achieve or, on the contrary, avoid.

To find the CC de but, is it necessary that you ask these question after the verb or the complement: 

  • Pourquoi ? (Why ?)
  • Dans quel but ? (For what ?)
  • En vue de quoi ? (For what ?)
CC de butQuestionsTranslations
Marie révise sa leçon parce qu'elle veut avoir une bonne noteMarie révise sa leçon pourquoi ? (Marie is revising her lesson because she want to have a good mark)
Je viendrai plus tard pour le discours de ton pèreJe viendrai plus tard dans quel but ?(I will come later for your dad's speech)
Il s'entraîne chaque jour afin de devenir le meilleurIl s'entraine chaque jour en vue de quoi ?(He practise every day to become the best)

enlightenedThe CC de but is usually introduced by prepositions like: pour, en vue de, afin de, dans l’intention de and many others.  

The circumstantial complement of consequence in French 

The circumstantial complement of cause (French: le complément circonstanciel de conséquence) is abbreviated CCC and expresses the result of an action

 This complement is used as the result of the cause which is also a circumstancial complement that indicates what happens first. 

To find the CCC, it is necessary that you ask these questions after the verb and the complement:

  • Avec quel résultat ? (What results ?)
  • De manière à obtenir quel résultat ? (In order to get what ?)
  • Pour quel résultat ? (For what ?)


CC de cause CC de conséquenceQuestionsTranslations
Ils étaient trop malades pour aller à l'écoleIls étaient trop malades pour aller l'écoleIls étaient trop malades avec quel résultat ?(They were so sick to go to school)
Ta soeur a couru au point d'avoir fait tomber son téléphoneTa soeur a couru au point d'avoir fait tomber son téléphoneTa soeur a couru de manière à obtenir quel résultat ?(Your sister ran to the point of dropping her phone)
Je préfère dire la vérité à en perdre mon travailJe préfère dire la vérité à en perde mon travailJe préfère dire la vérité pour quel résultat ?(I prefer to tell the truth even if I lose my job)

The circumstantial complement of means

The circumstantial complement of means (French: le complément circonstanciel de moyen) is abbreviated CC de moyen to avoid the same abbreciation as the CCM. It indicates the tool, the utensil, the part of the body, the instrument, the means of displacement used to accomplish the action.

To find the CC de moyen, it is necessary that you ask these questions after the verb and the complement:

  • Par quel moyens ? (How ?)
  • Avec quoi ? (With what ?)


CC de moyenQuestions Translations
Je me rends à l'aéroport en métroJe me rends à l'aéroport par quel moyen ?(I am going to the airport by metro)
Versez 2cl de lait en remuant avec l'aide d'une cuillère en boisVersez 2cl de lait en remuant avec quoi ?(Pour 2cl of milk stirring with a wooden spoon)
Mon ami a réparé sa voiture avec la nouvelle batterieMon ami a réparé sa voiture avec quoi ?(My friend repaired his car with the new battery)

The position of a CC in French 

To recognize a circumstantial complement, we must find a group of words that we can delete or move.


Le lundi, les étudiants vont à l'université. (On monday, students go to college)

  • "le lundi" can be deleted, which is a CCT 
  • It can also be moved:

Les étudiants vont à l'université le lundi

Therefore, a circumstantial complement follow the verb or a complement. There can be two circumstantial complements in the same sentence

Je vais à l'école demain. (I am going to school tomorrow)

  • "à l'école" is a circumstantial complement of place (CCL)
  • "demain" is a circumstantial complement of time (CCT)
  • The CCT can be also deleted. 

The grammatical category of a CC

The grammatical nature of a circumstantial complement can be

  • a noun
  • a pronoun 
  • an adverb
  • an infinitive verb
  • a gerund
  • a proposition
NounLa nuit, je me sens seuleCCT(At night, I feel alone)
PronounJ'aimerais partir avec eux à ParisCC de moyen(I would like to go with them in Paris)
AdverbMarchez discrètementCCM(Walk slowly !)
Infinitive verbMangeons sain pour avoir une meilleur santéCCB(Let's eat healthy for a better health)
GerundIl marche en chantantCCM(He walks by singing)
PropositionNous resterons jusqu'à ce que tu ailles mieuxCC de conséquence(We will stay until you get better)


  1. Multiple choice questions about the CC in French
  2. Multiple choice questions about the CC course in French

Multiple choice questions about the CC in French

Multiple choice questions about the CC course in French

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