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French demonstrative pronouns - celui, celle, ceux

Demonstrative pronouns (French: les pronoms démonstratifs) usually stand alone and do not attend a noun. In general they are commonly used instead of a noun to point out certain people or things. 

In the French language we can differ between:

  • Demonstrative adjectives (les adjectifs démonstratifs) which accompany the noun and are placed in front of it. 
  • Demonstrative pronouns (les pronoms démonstratifs) which stand alone and replace the noun. 

Use of the demonstrative pronoun

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The simple form

  Masculine Feminine
Singular celui celle
Plural ceux celles

The simple form (French: les formes simples) is used if:

1. the demonstrative pronoun is followed by a relative pronoun.

In this context it can mean the one, the ones, he (she) who, these or those. 

  • Celui qui travaille ici est mon ami. (The one who works here is my friend.)
  • Cette fille est celle qui rit toujiurs. (This is the girl who always smiles.)

2. the demonstrative pronoun is followed by de.

In this connection it intends to show posessions.

  • La bicyclette de Pierre et celle de Marie. (Peter's bicycle and Mary's.)
  • Le pantalon qui est dans l'étagère est celui de Sarah. (The pants which is lying in the shelf is Sarah's.) 

enlightenedPlease note that ce is always used in the singular fotm. even if the following verb is used in the plural form. 

Compound demonstrative pronouns

  Masculine Feminine
Singular celui-ci celle-ci
  celui-là celle-là
Plural celles-ci
  ceux-là celles-là

The compound form (French: les formes composées) is being used if the simple form cannot be used. 

To differ between this one, that one and these, the additional suffixes -ci (this) and là (that) are being applied. 

  • J'aime celui-ci. (I like this one.)
  • J'aime celle-là. (I like that one.)
  • Celle-ci est ma voiture. (This one is my car.)

enlightenedCelui-ci can be replaced by ce dernier and celui-là by le premier. 

  • Ce dernier est médecin et le premier est homme d'affaires. (The latter is a doctor and the former is a businessman.)

Indefinite demonstrative pronouns

The indefinite demonstrative pronouns refer to a whole word group or sentence. In French we differ between the following three different indefinite forms: ce, ceci, cela (ça) 

Ce (c') is mainly used with the verb être but sometimes also with the verbs aller, devoir and pouvoir. 

It's used with the verb être:

1. before a noun that is modified.

  • Regardez cet homme. C'est un grand pianiste. (Look at this man. He's a great pianist.)
  • Qui est cette fille? C'est ma soeur. (Who is this girl? She's my sister.)

2. before a proper noun.

  • Voilá un jeune homme. C'est Pierre Andrion. (There is a young man. It's Pierre Andrion.)

3.before a pronoun.

  • J'ai trouvé ce paquet. Est-ce le vôtre? (I found this package. Is it yours?)

4. before a superlative.

  • Ce sont les meilleures cerises de la ville. (These are the best cherries in the city.)

5. before an infinitive.

  • Le probleme c'est de savoir où commencer. (The problem is to know where to begin.)

6. before an adverb.

  • C'est maintenant ou jamais. (It's now or never.)

7. as a neuter subject.

  • Il est vrai que deux et deux font quatre. Oui c'est vrai. (It's true that two and two are four. Yes it's true.)

enlightenedNote that ce is used to represent something that has preceded whereas the pronoun il is used to announce something that follows.

The indefinite demonstrative pronouns ceci and cela (ça) are being used to replace an indefinite expression or an idea. Ça is utilized for a more familiar and informal style. Cela is used when the expression has already been metioned while ceci aims to introduce the expression. 

  • Ceci est bon. Vous avez bien réussi. (This is good. You have succeeded well.)
  • Vous avez réussi. Cela est bon. (You have succeded. That is good.)

enlightenedKeep in mind that like celui-ci and celui-là, ceci refers to the closest thing mentioned and cela to the farthest thing. 


Fill in the blank exercise about the indefinite demonstrative

Drag and drop about the simple and compound demonstrative pronouns

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