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What are demonstrative adjectives, you may ask? While the term may sound scary, we use them all of the time. Demonstrative adjectives are adjectives that “demonstrate” or point out a particular noun. In English, these include this, that, these, and those. In French, there are only four adjectifs démonstratifs: ce, cet, cette, and ces.
As with most adjectives in French, they must agree with the noun in number and gender. This explains the four different forms of ce that you see above. Depending on the context, these can mean either “this” or “that.”
Ce is the masculine singular form that is used directly before a noun that begins with a consonant.
Cet is the masculine singular form that is used directly before a noun that begins with a vowel or a silent h.
Cette is the feminine singular form that is directly used before all feminine singular nouns.
Ces is the plural form for both genders. (There is no cettes form of the demonstrative adjective; it just doesn’t exist!)
Let’s look at some examples:
Prends cet argent. (Take this money.) Notice how the cet is used because argent is a masculine noun that begins with a vowel.
Ces livres sont très interessants. (These books are very interesting.)
Cette voiture est jolie! (That car is pretty!)
Cet homme est très intelligent. (That man is very intelligent.) Notice how homme begins with a silent h (un h muet).
Ce texte est assez court. (This text is short enough.)
Sounds easy, right? Demonstrative adjectives are pretty straightforward. However, there are still a couple of things to keep in mind:
Can you think of a sentence in French that uses one (or more!) of these demonstrative adjectives? If you want to make it even more complicated, include a –ci or –là ending.