Lesson 11 – Negative Sentence Structure

Leçon 11 – Negative Sentence Structure

  • Verbs are made negative by placing ne in front of the verb, and pas after it.
    • Je ne travaille pas. Donc, je sors. – I’m not working. So, I’m going out.
  • Ne becomes n’ before a vowel.
    • Je n’aime pas écouter cette musique. – I don’t like listening to this music.
  • Note the similar negative constructions ne + verb + jamais meaning never and ne + verb + plus meaning not anymore, no more.
    • Tu n’invites plus – You don’t ask Caroline out anymore.
    • Ce n’est pas la peine. Elle n’accepte jamais. – It’s not worth it. She never accepts.
  • Ne + verb + personne means no one, and ne + rien means nothing.
    • Vous cherchez quelqu’un, monsieur ? – Are you looking for someone, sir?
    • Non, madame. Je ne cherche personne. – No, ma’am. I am not looking anyone.
  • J’entends un bruit. – I hear a noise.
  • Moi, je n’entends rien. – I don’t hear anything.
  • Personne and rien may be used as subjects, then they precede the verb and are followed by ne.
    • Rien ne change ici. – Nothing changes here.
    • C’est vrai. Personne ne déménage. Tout reste comme avant. – It’s true. No one moves out. Everything remans just as it was before.

Positive and Corresponding Negative Words

Encore, toujours = Still   /   Plus = no more

Encore, advantage = more   /   Plus = no more, not anymore

Quelquefois = sometimes   /   Jamais = never

Toujours = always   /   Jamais = never

Souvent = often   /   Jamais = never

Quelqu’un = someone, somebody   /   Personne = no one, nobody

Quelque chose = something   /   Rien = nothing

Quelque part = somewhere   /   Nulle part = nowhere

Other negative sentence structures

  • Aucun(e) with the meaning no, not any precedes a noun. Ne precedes the verb.
    • Tu crois qu’il va rentrer ? – Do you think he’s coming back?
    • Je n’ai aucune idée. – I have no idea.
  • Ce cours est très difficile. – This course is very difficult.
  • C’est que le professeur ne nous donne aucun exemple. – That’s because the professor doesn’t give us any examples.

Note that aucun(e) is always used in the singular.

  • Aucun(e) + noun or aucun(e) des + plural noun may function as the subject of a sentence. Ne precedes the verb.
    • Aucun ami n’accepte son invitation. – No friend accepts his invitation.
    • Aucun de ses amis n’accepte son invitation. – None of his friends accepts his invitation.
  • Ni… ni… means neither… nor… Like aucun(e), personne, and rien, it may either follow or precede the verb. Ne precedes the verb in both cases. When ni… ni… refers to the subject of the sentence, a plural verb is used.
    • Je ne vois ni Philippe ni Marie. – I don’t see either Philippe or Marie.
    • Ni Philippe ni Marie ne sont là. – Neither Philippe nor Marie is here.
  • (Ni)… non plus is used to mean neither or not either in a sentence where the French equivalent of nor does not appear.
    • Philippe n’est pas là. – Philippe isn’t here.
    • (Ni) Marie non plus. – Neither is Marie. (Marie either.)
  • Je n’aime pas le professeur de mathématiques. – I don’t like the mathematics professor.
  • Moi non plus. – Neither do I.
  • Ne + verb + guère means hardly.
    • Il n’est guère – He’s hardly happy.

Ne… que

  • Ne… que means only. Ne precedes the verb and que precedes the word or words emphasised.
    • Suzette aime la musique classique ? – Does Suzette like classical music?
    • Non, elle n’écoute que des chansons populaires. – No, she only listens to popular music.
  • Tu veux aller à Avignon par le train ? – Do you want to take the train to Avignon?
  • Je ne voyage qu’en voiture. – I travel only by car.
  • Ne… pas que means not only.
    • Il n’y a pas que le travail. Il faut vivre aussi. – Work isn’t all there is. You have to live too.
  • Il n’aime pas que la physique. Il adore la géographie aussi. – He doesn’t only like physics. He loves geography too.

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