THE French Demontrative Adjectives And Pronouns - Talk in French
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French Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns

French Demonstratives Adjectives Pronouns: The complete lesson

Reading time: 4 minutes Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

“Demonstratif” may sound like such an overbearing and intimidating lesson, but trust me, this is among the easy ones.

This lesson comes in two parts:  the first part will cover demonstrative adjectives while the second part will talk about demonstrative pronouns.

PART 1. DEMONSTRATIVE ADJECTIVES

As previously discussed in the lessons about French adjectivesadjectives are words that describe or give further information about a noun. Demonstratives do that too.

Simply put, demonstrative adjectives are used to point out something and indicate a specific noun. In English, these are the words: this, that, these, and those.  (example, this gum, that troll, these jars, those unicorns)

In French, the word ‘ce’ covers the entire demonstrative adjectives. This will, however, change its form depending on the kind of noun it is referring to. 

  • For singular masculine, we use ce, or cet for words that begin with either a vowel or an h.
  • For singular feminine, we use cette

Both ce and cette can refer to ‘this’ or ‘that’, and it is usually understandable which one the speaker is referring to, based on the context.

  • For the plural masculine, we use ces
  • The same with plural  feminine, it is also ces. Remember, there is no “cettes”.

Ces can refer to either ‘these’ or ‘those’, regardless of the distance of the noun being pointed out.

Important items to remember when using ‘ce’:

  1. ce always comes BEFORE the noun it is referring to, no matter what its form is.
  2. If the speaker wants to specify exactly which noun he is referring to in relation to its distance from the said noun, -ci or -la  is added at the end of the noun. -ci points out the item’s nearness to the speaker, -là to mean that that it is far from him.

Examples:

Prends cette valise-ci. (Take this case.)

Est-ce que tu reconnais cette personne-là? (Do you recognize that person?)

And that’s it for the demonstrative adjectives.

Now we move on to the second part.

Part 2. DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

The function of a pronoun is to replace the noun that it is referring to. The demonstratives this, these, that, and those can be used to do the same. For example, we say, ”that was so much fun!” or “this is what I’ve been waiting for all my life!”, and “these are awesome!”

French demonstrative pronouns work the same way, except that they have to agree with the nouns they’re replacing, and a different set of words are used and not the same ones as the demonstrative adjectives.

Here are the different demonstrative pronouns:

1.       ce

Ce goes together with the verb être which means to be.  

c'est(it's or that's)c'est moi! (it's me!)
c'était(it was, that was)c'était mon frère. (that was my brother.)
ce sont(it's, that's)ce sont eux (that's them.)

  • ce becomes c’ when it comes before a verb that begins with either e or é.
  • ce becomes ç’ when it comes before a verb that begins with a. 

Ce is used in the following 3 instances:

  • To identify a person or thing, either in a statement or with a question word. (Qui est-ce? Who is it? Ce sont eux. That’s them.)
  • To go with an adjective that refers to an idea or statement that cannot be classified as masculine or feminine. (C’est dangereux! That’s dangerous!)
  • To put an emphasis on the statement. (Ce sont les enfants qui ont fait le gâteau. It was the children who made the cake.) 

2.      cela, ça, and ceci

Cela and  ça both mean it, this, or that, and could refer to either a statement, an idea, or an object. The difference between the two is that  ça is the less formal one and often appears in everyday speech.

Cela dépend. It depends.

Ça ne fait rien. It doesn’t matter. 

Ceci is not as commonly used as cela and  ça. Its uses are: to refer to something that hasn’t been previously mentioned, or to show someone a certain thing.

Lisez ceci. Read this.

                Prends ceci. Take this. 

3. celui, celle, ceux, celles

Celui means the one, and the rest are the different forms you use when referring to its feminine and plural forms. 

celui– masculine singular
celle– feminine singular
ceux – masculine plural
celles – feminine plural

celui and its different forms are used in the following cases: 

  • Before qui, que, or dont. (Celui dont je t’ai parlé. The one I told you about.)
  • Before prepositions like à, dans, etc. (Celui proche de la porte. The one near the door.)
  • With de to show that it belongs to someone.
  • With the endings -ci and -là to indicate how far something is from you. Like the demonstrative adjectives, -ci is added to mean it is closer, -là if it is farther. (celui-ci ou celui-là? This one or that one?) 

Here’s a QUICK RECAP OF THE TOPIC: 

  • Demonstrative adjectives are used to point out something and indicate a specific noun.  In English, these are the words: this, that, these, and those. In French, we use ce and its different forms namely ce (or cet), cette, and ces.
  • Demonstrative pronouns take the place of a noun. These are the words ce, cela, ça, and ceci, and celui.
  • The other forms of celui are celle, ceux, and celles.

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About the Author Frederic

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Twitter and Google +

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