French Negative Expressions
We learned how to make a sentence negative in French. Since then, we’ve been practicing more complex sentences. In this module, we will learn additional ways to negate sentences that function identically to the “ne” and “pas” combination we’ve already learned. Take a look at the model sentence below. Then, review the chart with common negative expressions and compare how they are placed in the example sentences with the model sentence provided.
Model Negative Sentence: Je ne vais pas au bureau aujourd’hui.
I am not going to the office today.
|Negation||Meaning||Example and Translation|
|ne…jamais||never||Je ne vais jamais en France. I am never going to France.|
|ne…plus||no longer / no more||Tu ne bois plus d’eau gazeuse. You no longer drink any soda.|
|ne…personne||no one, nobody/anybody||Il ne voit personne pendant la nuit. He doesn’t see anybody at night.|
|ne…que||only||Nous ne cuisinons que pour notre famille. We only cook for our family.|
|ne…rien||nothing||Après le travail, vous ne faites rien. After work, you do nothing.|
|*ne…ni…ni…||neither…nor||Elles n’achètent ni des jeux ni du maquillage. They don’t buy neither games nor makeup.|
*Notice how nearly all the new negation expressions follow the same pattern as the ne and pas. The “ne” comes before the conjugated verb in the sentence, and the second part of the negation comes after. In the last example (neither…nor), the “ne” comes before the verb and both “ni” parts precede a noun with either a definite or indefinite article.
Negation in the Other Tenses:
So far in our modules, we’ve learned the present tense (le présent), the past tense (le passé composé), the near future (le futur proche), and the simple future (le futur simple). Negation in all of these tenses functions the same way as it does in the present as long as you conjugate the verbs appropriately for the tense you’re using. Below you will find an example negative sentence in each one of these tenses. Play the closest attention to le passé composé (examples 2 and 3). Look at how the conjugated verbs of the sentence are the auxiliary verbs avoir and être. This is why you will see the negation sandwiching those conjugations.
Example 1: Le Présent
Je n’aime plus la glace au chocolat.
I no longer like chocolate ice cream.
Example 2: Le Passé Composé avec Avoir Example 3: Le Passé Composé avec Être
Il n’a jamais vu ce film. Nous ne sommes que sortis le week-end.
He has never seen this movie. We only went out on the weekends.
*Example 4: Le Futur Proche
Vous n’allez pas partir sans moi!
You are not going to leave without me!
Example 5: Le Futur Simple
Ils ne feront rien ce soir.
They will do nothing tonight.
*Notice how in Example 4, there are two verbs in the sentence – allez and partir. When there are two verbs, the negation often sandwiches the first one, as it is the conjugated verb. You will have a question like this in the exercise provided in the module.
Other Useful Negative Words and Expressions:
- ça ne fait rien (it doesn’t matter)
- de rien (you’re welcome)
- jamais de la vie! (never! out of the question! not on your life!)
- pas du tout (not at all)
- pas encore (not yet)
- pas maintenant (not now)
- rien (nothing)
- personne (no one)
Meet one or more times weekly with a dedicated French instructor online at a pace and schedule that custom fits your busy life.
Join an Academy course for course content built on top of leading French curriculum: includes videos, vocabulary, quizzes and certificate.
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.