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French Grammar – This and That Posted by on Jul 9, 2009 in Grammar, Uncategorized

Demonstrative articles are a little bit different in French as opposed to English.  And since they are words that you often want to use when speaking, well, I thought we’d discuss them today.  First of all, not only is there a singular and plural form, but there are also masculine and feminine forms. So, that makes it a little more complicated than in English.

Singular THIS (an object that is close to you)
Masculine – ce (but careful… cet is used with a word that begins with a vowel or with a word that begins with a silent consonant!!)
Feminine – cette

Plural THESE (more than one object that is close to you)
Masculine and Feminine – ces

Now, if you want to use THAT / THOSE for objects that are further away, you can either use the same as the translations for this/these or you can use or là-bas like this to insist on the fact that you are talking about objects that are not close to you:
Singular: Ce (masc. noun) là-bas / Cet (noun begins with vowel or silent consonant) là-bas / Cette (fem. noun) là-bas
Plural: Ces (plural noun) là-bas

Here are some examples:
J’aime ce tableau. (I like this painting.)
Cet ami est un bon ami. (This friend is a good friend.)
Cet homme est mon mari. (This man is my husband.)
Pose les livres sur cette table. (Put the books on this table.)

Ces tables sont marrons. (These tables are brown.)
Ces amis vont à la même école. (These friends go to the same school.)
Ces hommes travaillent à Paris. (These men work in Paris.)

J’aime ces tableaux-là-bas. (I like those paintings over there.)

Some other useful expressions using demonstrative adjectives include:
à ce moment-là (at that moment)
à cette époque-là (at that time)
Elle est allée par là. (She went that way.)

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Comments:

  1. Anon:

    Wouldn’t the fourth example be a form of mettre?
    Also, to be speaking specifically of an object near, you use the suffix -ci. Ce, cet, cette, and ces merely mean this, that, these, those, not specifically positioning.

  2. Chanda:

    Hi Anon, Thanks for your comment and interest in the article. ‘Mettre’ would also be possible in the fourth example; I used ‘poser’ which adds that the books are probably already in the person’s hands and they have to put them down on the table. And you are completely right about how to emphasize that you are talking about an object near you. Thanks for the extra information you have added for our readers! Salut!

  3. Stewart:

    “celui-la” is used a lot, meaning “that one there” or even referring to a person.
    “Il est bête, celui-la” or “He’s an idiot”, but it gets pronounced as “suis-la”

  4. kela:

    How do you say “MY GIRLS” in french? We use it in english to refer to our girlfriends.For ex: I’m excited to celebrate my birthday early with MY GIRLS” tonight.

  5. isabellgeller:

    Learning french words and memorizing their meanings is a big taboo for me,finding innovative ways to learn them effectively,came across a site http://www.funnelbrain.com that provides a platform to create flashcards,videos and photos.found this method very effective and interesting.one should Adopt such e-learning platforms for better learning

  6. Chanda:

    Kela,

    Many times with my French friends, they say ‘les filles’ as in their girlfriends. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for. Thanks for you comment!