Tag Archive | C’est vs. Elle est

C’est vs. Il Est

This week in versus, I give you C’est vs. Il Est.*

The distinction between c’est and il est (it is/it’s) has been known to cause problems more often since there is a discrepancy between what is seen as proper style writing and informal. Colloquially, French ops more toward using c’est rather than il est, whereas in written French maintains the distinction.

Il/Elle is used if “it” is the subject of the verb other than ȇtre, and refers to a noun previously mentioned.

  • Voici notre jardin. Il n’est pas très grand.
  • This is our garden. It’s not very big.
  • Voici la photo. Elle n’est pas très bonne.
  • Here’s the photo. It’s not very good.


C’est is used if “it” is the subject of ȇtre and is indefinite – meaning, it does not refer to a specific noun or pronoun previously mentioned.

“It is” + noun (preceded by article/numeral/possessive, demonstrative, indefinite, or interrogative adjective) = ce + être

  • Ce sont les nouveaux livres.
  • These are/They’re the new books.
  • C’est mon premier boulot.
  • It’s my first job.


“It is” + pronoun = ce + être

  • C’est toi !
  • It’s you!


“It is” + adverb (of time/place) = ce + être

  • C’est maintenant qu’il faut l’acheter.
  • It’s now that you need to buy it.


“It is” + preposition = ce + être

  • C’est avec regret que je vous écris.
  • It is with regret that I write you.


“It is” + conjunction = ce + être

  • C’est parce que vous travaillez à l’Hôtel de Ville que je vous demande service.
  • It’s because you work at City Hall that I’m asking you for a favour.


“It is” + adjective = ce + être if the adjective is the last word in the sentence, or is followed by à + infinitive (example: “it” refers back to an earlier item).

  • Il fait froid, c’est vrai.
  • It’s cold, it’s true.
  • Je ne sais pas ce qu’il décidera. C’est difficile à prévoir.
  • I don’t know what he will decide. It’s hard to predict.


ALTHOUGH, “it is” + adjective = il + être if the adjective is followed by a subordinate clause / de + infinitive (example: “it” refers forward to an item to follow.)

  • Il est vrai que je n’ai pas terminé tout le travail.
  • It’s true I haven’t finished all the work.
  • Il est difficile d’oublier ses mots.
  • It is difficult to forget his/her words.


Have a great week, my dear readers! As always, your feedback is appreciated, so thank you!


Merci à vous !



*This is a requested lesson. All requested lessons are given priority no matter where I am in the teaching process.