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French Language – Negation Posted by on Mar 28, 2009 in Grammar

In the French language, there are different ways to be negative…to express negativity.  Perhaps the most common is when you want the sentence to be negative.  In that case, you place ne before the main verb and pas after it.  Or, if you want to say that you never do something, you place ne before the main verb and jamais after it.  Here are some examples:

Je ne sais pas.  (I don’t know.)
Elle ne mange pas de pain. (She doesn’t eat bread.)
Vous ne voulez pas de vin ?  (You don’t want any wine?)
Je ne fais jamais de vélo.  (I never ride a bike.)
Il ne boit jamais de lait.  (He never drinks milk.)
Ils ne sortent jamais la nuit.  (They never go out at night.)

To express negation towards a noun or noun group (as opposed to the verb in the above cases), you do the following:
Tu veux de l’eau?  Non, pas de l’eau, du vin.  (No, not water, wine.)
Tu viens en train?  Non, pas en train, en voiture.  (No, not by train, by car.)
Tu veux manger quelque chose ?  Non, je ne veux rien.  (No, I don’t want anything.)
Tu entends quelqu’un ?  No, je n‘entends personne.  (No, I don’t hear anyone.)

To express negation towards an adverb, you do as follows:
Elle le voit toujours.  Non, elle ne le voit plus.  (No, she doesn’t see him anymore.)
Tu as déjà essayé ce vin?  Non, pas encore.  (No, not yet.)

Finally, you can use the negative form to express some kind of restriction:
Je ne travaille que le matin.  (I only work mornings.)

OK.  No more being negative.  Il faut être positif!

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