Negative phrases in French
What is a negative phrase in French ?
A sentence is negative when it denies something.
How to form a negative phrase in French ?
Negation is expressed with ne in combination with:
- plus means "encore" in the affirmative form
- jamais means "toujours" in the affirmative form
- rien means "quelque chose" in the affirmative form
- personne means "quelqu'un" in the affirmative form
- aucun means "pas un seul" in the affirmative form
|Use||Negative form||Affirmative form||Translation|
|Ne... pas||Je ne veux pas aller au cinéma||Je veux aller au cinéma||(I do not want to got to the cinema)|
|Ne... plus||Elle ne l'aime plus||elle l'aime encore||(She doesn't love her anymore)|
|Ne...jamais||Ils ne sont jamais partis en vacances||Ils sont toujours partis en vacances||(They never went on holidays)|
|Ne... rien||On n'a rien mangé||On a mangé quelque chose||(We ate nothing)|
|Ne... personne||Tu n'as vu personne ?||Tu as vu quelqu'un||(You saw nobody ?)|
|Ne... aucun||Il ne connait aucune fille||Il connait pas une seule fille||(He knows no girl)|
- ne...ni...ni for two or more linked negations means "et" in the affirmative form
- sans means "avec" in the affirmative form
- ne...que which is a restriction
|Use||Negative form||Affirmative form||Translation|
|Ne...ni...ni||Paul n'est ni jeune, ni beau, ni intelligent||Paul est jeune, beau et intelligent||(Paul isn't young, nor beautiful, nor smart)|
|sans||Il sort sans son imperméable||Il sort avec son imperméable||(He goest out without his raincoat)|
|Ne...que||Julien n'a que cinq ans||(Julian is only five years-old)|
"ne" becomes a "n'" in front of a vowel
When the second negation becomes subject
|Negative form||Affirmative form||Translation|
|Personne ne parle||Quelqu'un parle||(Nobody is talking)|
|Rien ne marche||Tout marche||(Nothing is working)|
There can be many negations in a sentence
- Tu ne comprends jamais rien. (You never understand something)
- Il n'y a plus personne. (There is not anybody)
The placement of negations in French
The negations enclose the conjugated verb like a sandwich.
- For simple verbs
Ne + verb + pas / plus / jamais / rien...
- For compound tenses
Ne + auxiliary + pas / plus / jamais / rien... + past participle
- Il ne boit pas. (He doesn't drink)
- Il ne fait rien. (He does nothing)
- Tes parents ne sont pas descendus. (Your parents didn't come down)
- Je n'ai pas fait mon devoir pour demain. (I didn't do my homework for tomorrow)
1) Pronouns are placed between the "ne" and the conjugated verb
- Il n'en a pas bu. (He hasn't drink it)
- Je ne lui ai pas parlé. (I haven't talked to him)
- Ils ne leur ont rien fait. (They did nothing to them)
2) With compound tenses, "personne" and "aucun" which are placed after the past participle
- Nous n'avons vu personne. (We saw no one)
- Il n'a trouvé aucun logement. (He found no housing)
3) The negations directly precede a negated infinitive
- J'avais l'idée de ne pas venir. (I had the idea to not come)
- Il a l'intention de ne plus le voir. (He intend to not see him anymore)
- Il espère ne jamais le revoir. (He hopes to never see him again)
Reflexive verbs have a different position for the negation
Ne + reflexive conjugated verb + pas / plus .....
- Nous ne nous laverons pas ce soir. (We will not get a shower tonight)
- Je ne m'enfuierai pas cette fois-ci. (I will not run away this time)
- Ta soeur ne s'attardera pas sur cette machine. (Your sister will not linger on this device)
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