Negation and Pseudo-negative expressions
This page is still in development, but does have some information ready, so I put it out there. Don't worry: More's on the way.
Negation means to render something negative. In English, we have several negative expressions. Some of these are as follows:
- no one
- not yet
- not any
- no longer
- no where
We use these expression to negate what has been said. See these examples:
I am not going to the store.
We know no one who likes that food!
She has absolutely nothing to wear.
Certain negative words can function as the subject of the sentence:
No one came to the party.
Nothing has happened to change my mind.
In English, you may not use a double-negative.
In French, negatives work in some ways the same, and in some ways, differently. Let's see:
- I am not going anywhere.
- No one has seen us doing anything.
Negatives are formed using "ne" and the appropriate negative expression. The "ne" normally precedes
the verb with the companion negative term following the verb in simple verb constructions.
The most common negative expression is ne...pas, meaning not:
When the verb begins with a vowel sound, ne contracts to n':
- Je ne fais pas ce qu'il me faut. = I am not doing what I have to.
- Mes parents ne sont pas les mêmes qu'ils étaient pendant ma jeunesse. =
My parents are not the same as during my youth.
- Nous n'habitons pas en France. = We don't live in France.
- Elle n'ira pas là où nous voulons. = She will not go where we would like.
Important negative expressions in French
Not = ne...pas
Never = ne...jamais
- Ils n'époussettent pas la salle de séjour. = They are not dusting the living room.
- Les professeurs n'aiment pas que les enfants soient paresseux! = Teachers don't like children to be lazy.
No one = ne...personne
- C'est mon ami. Il ne ferait jamais cela! = That's my friend. He would never do that!
- Nous ne conduisons jamais à l'université sans recevoir une contravention! = We never drive on campus without getting a parking ticket!
Nothing = ne...rien
None/not any = ne...aucun(e)
Nowhere = ne...nulle part
Neither...nor = ni...ni
Certain expressions behave as though they are negative, but actually do not have negative meanings:
In certain circumstances, negative expressions are using as a combined unit.
- ne...guère = barely/hardly
- ne...que = only/but
Last updated: February 13, 2001 at 11:04 p.m. EST