French Language Blog

Les Adjectifs Démostratifs (Demonstrative Adjectives) Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 in Grammar, Uncategorized

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 thisthatthese, and those. In French, there are only four adjectifs démonstratifs: cecet, 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:

  1. If you want to further specify which noun you are referring to, you can add –ci or –là to the end of the demonstrative adjective. For example, ceci est un stylo (this is a pen). If you are speaking about something farther away, instead of -ci add -là. For example, celà est un style (that–over there–is a pen).
  2. Don’t get confused between ces and ses and ce and se. This is hard, especially orally, because they sound exactly the same!  Se is a pronoun form included in reflexive verbs (for example, il se demande, means “he asks himself”). Ses, on the other hand, is a plural possessive adjective meaning his or her (for example, il a pris ses livre avec lui means “he took his books with him”).

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.


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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!