Tag Archive | Negative Words

Indefinite Words & Expressions

This is actually a part 2 from a post I did a few months ago.

When an indefinite or negative word or expression is followed by an adjective, the preposition de is placed between them. The adjective is always masculine singular.

  • quelqu’un/personne d’intelligent | someone/no one intelligent
  • quelque chose/rien de délicieux | something/nothing delicious
  • Quoi de neuf ? | What’s new?
  • un je ne sais quoi de fascinant | something fascinating

The phrase d’autre translates else with quelqu’unquelque chose personnerien, and quoiquelqu’un/quelque chose/rien d’autre (someone/something/nothing else), Quoi d’autre ? (What else?). Note also ailleurs (elsewhere) and nulle part ailleurs (nowhere else). De followed by a masculine singular adjective is also used after qu’est-ce qu’il y a and ce qu’il y a.

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de plus amusant pour les enfants que le guignol ? | What is more fun for children than a puppet show?

The word chaque means each. The corresponding pronoun (each one) is chacunchacune.

Avez-vous apporté quelque chose pour chaque enfant ? | Have you bought something for each child?

Oui, j’ai un cadeau pour chacun. | Yes, I have a gift for each (one).

The word tout has several uses in French. As an adjective it has four forms: touttoutetoustoutes.

🔵 When it directly precedes a singular noun, it means every.

  • Tout enfant doit aller à l’école. | Every child must go to school.

This is similar in meaning to tous/toutes + definite article + plural noun.

  • Tous les enfants doivent aller à l’école. | All children must go to school.

🔵 Tout/Toute + definite article + singular noun means all the, the whole. Compare tout la ville (the whole city) with toute ville (every city).

🔵 Tout/Toutes les + number:

  • Il vient tous les trois mois. | He comes every three months (every third month).
  • Prenez. C’est pour tous les deux. | Take it. It’s for both of you.
  • Nous sommes sortis tous les quatre. | All four of us went out.

🔵 Tout as a pronoun means everything.

  • J’espère que tout va bien. | I hope everything is all right.
  • Tout est en règle. | Everything is in order.

🔵 Tous as a pronoun (final s is pronounced) means everyone. It is followed by a plural verb when it is the subject of the sentence.

  • Ils sont tous revenus. | They all came back.
  • Tous on demandé de vous voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

🔵 Tout le monde + singular verb is the most common way to express everyone. To express the whole world, French uses le monde entier.

  • Tout le monde a demandé de te voir. | Everyone has asked to see you.

Have a great week, tout le monde !

A la prochaine…

Courtney

Advertisements

Negatives – Indefinite Words & Expressions

Continuing from last week’s post on Negatives.

Many English indefinite expressions begin with the word some. They are often the positive counterparts of negative words.

  • quelquefois – sometimes
  • quelqu’un – someone, somebody
  • quelque chose – something
  • quelque part– somewhere

The word some before a noun is expressed in French either by the partitive article or by quelques, which is more emphatic.

Je n’ai que quelques mots à vous dire. | I only have a few words to say to you.


Vous trouverez quelques idées intéressantes dans cet article. | You’ll find some interesting ideas in this article.

The pronoun some when used emphatically is rendered by quelques-unsquelques-unes. The pronoun en will also usually appear in the sentence.

As-tu acheté des journaux français ? | Did you buy any French newspapers?

J’en ai acheté quelques-uns. | I bought some/a few.


As-tu acheté des revues françaises ? | Did you buy any French magazines?

J’en ai acheté quelques-unes. | I bought some/a few.

When some is the subject of the sentence and means “some people”, its French equivalent is certains. It often occurs in conjuction with d’autres (others).

Certains appuient cette nouvelle loi, d’autres sont contre. | Some support this new law, others are against it.


To express someone/somewhere/something or other, etc., French uses je ne sais plus the appropriate interrogative word.

  • je ne sais qui – someone or other
  • je ne sais quoi – something or other
  • je ne sais où – somewhere or other
  • je ne sais comment – somehow
  • je ne sais quel + noun – some + (noun) or other
  • je ne sais quand – sometime or other
  • je ne sais pourquoi – for some reason or other
  • je ne sais combien – I’m not sure how much/many

Examples:

Nicolette est allée je ne sais où aujourd’hui. | Nicolette went somewhere or other today.

Oui, le dimanche elle va rendre visite à je ne sais qui à Lille. | Yes, on Sundays she goes to visit someone in Lille.


Il s’est sauvé de l’accident je ne sais comment. | Somehow or other he saved himself from that accident.

Quelle chance ! Cette tragédie a fais je ne sais combien de victimes. | What luck! That tragedy caused I don’t know how many deaths.


Any in the sense of “it doesn’t matter which one” is expressed in french by n’importe followed by the appropriate interrogative word.

  • n’importe qui – anyone
  • n’importe quoiquoi que ce soit – anything
  • n’importe où – anywhere
  • n’importe comment – anyhow
  • n’importe quel + noun – any + noun
  • n’importe lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles – whichever one(s), any one(s)
  • n’importe quand – at any time
  • n’importe combien – any amount, no matter how much, how many

Qu’est-ce que tu veux manger ? | What do you want to eat?

N’importe quoi. | Anything.

Et où est-ce que tu veux aller après ? | And where do you want to go afterwards?

N’importe où. | Anywhere.


Note that the English word any and the words it appears in (anyone, anything, anywhere) are translated by negative words in French if the sentence is negative, and by indefinite words and expressions if the sentence is positive.

Est-ce qu’il en sait quelque chose ? | Does he know anything about it?

Non, il n‘en sait rien. | No, he doesn’t know anything about it.


Allez-vous quelque part cette semaine ? | Are you going anywhere this week?

Non, nous n‘allons nulle part. | No, we’re not going anywhere.


Sometimes when the English word any is used in a negative sentence, its French equivalent is one of the expressions with n’importe. The word “just” often appears before “any” in the English sentence in this case.

Je ne vais pas offrir n’importe quoi. | I’m not going to give just anything as a gift.


Nous ne voulons pas passer le temps avec n’importe qui. | We don’t want to spend time with just anyone.


I hope you all don’t mind me posting a day early. I’m actually going to be out of town, and will be travelling on my usual posting day and just wanted to get a weekly post out to you sooner rather than later. 🙂

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Negatives

With most words there is usually an opposite, or a negative. Read below to review these types of words for French.

Positive

Negative

encore, toujours still plus no more
encore, davantage 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

Some additional pairs of corresponding positive and negative expressions:

Positive

Negative

déjà ever jamais never
déjà already pas encore not yet
soit…soit/soit…ou either…or ni…ni neither…nor
ou or ni neither, nor

In both simple and compound tenses, ne precedes the conjugated verb and the negative word usually follows the conjugated verb.

Est-ce que tu a déjà été en Belgique ? | Have you ever been to Belgium?

Non, je n‘y suis jamais allé(e). | No, I’ve never been there.


Nous passerons l’été soit à Nice, soit en Espagne. Et vous ? | We’ll spend the summer either in Nice or in Spain. How about you?

Nous ne partons ni dans le Midi, ni à l’étranger. Nous travaillons cet été. | We won’t be going either to the south of France or abroad. We’re working this summer.


More than one negative word can be used in a sentence: ne…plus jamais or ne…jamais plus (never again), ne…plus rien (nothing else, nothing more), ne…plus personne (nobody else, no one any more), etc.

Il n‘y a jamais personne ici. | There’s never anyone here.

C’est qu’il n‘y a plus rien à faire. | That’s because there’s nothing more to do.


Negative words can also stand by themselves.

Connais-tu beaucoup de monde ici ? | Do you know a lot of people here?

Personne. | No one.


Qu’est-ce que vous cherchez ? What are you looking for?

Rien. | Nothing.


Both ne and the negative words pasrienjamais, and plus precede and infinitive. Personne, however, follows an infinitive.

Je vous conseille de ne pas aller. | I advise you not to go there.


Il m’a dit de ne jamais revenir. | He told me never to come back.


On passe la journée à ne rien faire. | We spend the day doing nothing.


Je préfère ne voir personne. | I prefer not to see anyone.


After the word que, French uses negative words.

J’ai l’impression que Christophe est plus paresseux que jamais. | I have the impression that Christophe is lazier than ever.

Vous vous trompez. Il travaille mieux que personne. | You’re mistaken. He works better than anyone.


Before adjectives, nouns, pronouns, or adverbs, non or pas is usually used. Non is more formal, pas is more colloquial.

Tu es éreinté ? | Are you exhausted?

Pas/Non éreinté. Un peu fatigué. | Not exhausted. A little tired.


Il travaille mardi, pas/non jeudi. | He’s working Tuesday, not Thursday.


If there’s anything you would like to see on the blog, please leave me a comment. I’ll be doing a part 2 to this, so look for that next week! For those that do leave me comments, I apologise for any length of time it takes for me to approve them. I thought about removing the comment screening, but I’ve been receiving a lot of spam comments lately, so it must stay the way it is, sadly.

I hope everyone has a great week!

A bientôt !

Courtney