Leaving Cert French Grammar: Negations

To the “ne pas” and beyond!

All (or most) French learners are familiar with using “ne” and “pas” to create negation in French.

Il ne mange pas: He doesn’t eat

Je ne veux pas aller : I don’t want to go.


However, there are other negative constructions that are just as easy to create but much more impressive.


Ne…. Rien Nothing
Ne….Que Only
Ne…Jamais Never
Ne… Personne Nobody
Ne… Ni… Ni Neither….Nor


The key in conquering these is in remembering to not use “pas” in the sentences. 

“Ne…rien” “ne…que” and “ne…jamais” act in the same fashion as “ne” and “pas”, with “rien” or “jamais” replacing the “pas.”

Je ne bois que l’eau: I only drink water

Le gouvernement ne fait rien pour résoudre ce probleme: The government doesn’t do anything to resolve this problem

Les irlandais n’agissent jamais ensemble : Irish people never act together

We can either use “Ne..Personne” in the same fashion as above (with “personne” replacing “pas”) or instead make “personne” the subject (the person/ thing doing the action) in the sentence.

Elle ne parle à personne: She doesn’t speak to anyone(remember “parler” is followed with an “à”– see more on this here).

Personne ne prends la responibilité:  Nobody takes responsibility (« Personne » becomes the subject in the sentence).

With « ne…ni…ni » we can use it as below, or place the « ni…ni » first and follow it with a « ne. »

Ni les parents ni les écoles ne savent la solution : Neither parents or school know the solution

Je ne joue ni au foot ni au basket :I don’t play neither football or basketball


Test yourself here.




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