• A negative statement or question is used to say that something is not happening, is not true or is absent.

 

  • In English, a negative statement or question is one which contains no, not, never or nothing.

 

  • Not is often combined with certain English verbs, for example, isn’t, can’t won’t, didn’t, hasn’t.

 

  • In French, if you want to make something negative you use a pair of words, for example, ne and pas which means not.

 

  • In French, the verb goes in the middle of ne and pas in the present tense and any other tenses that just use one word.

 

  • For example: Je ne fume pas (I don’t smoke)

 

  • Other negatives are ne…rien which means nothing, not…anything.

 

  • For example: Ne changez rien (Don’t change anything)

 

  • Ne…personne means nobody, no one, not…anybody, not…anyone.

 

  • For example: Je ne vois personne (I can’t see anyone)

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  • Ne…jamais means never, not…ever.

 

  • For example: Il n’arrive jamais à l’heure (He never arrives on time)

 

  • Ne…plus means no longer, no more, not…any longer, not…anymore.

 

  • For example: Il ne vient plus ici (He doesn’t come here anymore)

 

  • N changes to n’ in front of a word that starts with a vowel, most words beginning with h and the French word y.

 

  • In English, we can use the word did to make a negative statement, for example, I didn’t go to the party. But in French, we cannot do this.

 

  • Non…plus in French is the equivalent to me neither, neither do I and so on.

 

  • For example: Je n’aime pas les pommes. Moi non plus (I don’t like apples. Me neither)

 

  • The French word ne is missed out when negatives are used without a verb to answer a question.

 

  • For example: Qu’est-ce que tu fais aujourd’hui ? Rien (What are you doing today? Nothing)

 

  • In everyday conversation, the French often miss out the word ne. But don’t do this in formal situations.

 

  • For example: Je peux pas venir cette après-midi (I can’t come this afternoon)

 

  • Sometimes you will find two negatives combined.

 

  • For example: Je ne connais plus personne à Paris. (I don’t know anyone at Paris anymore)

 

  • When a verb is in the infinitive, ne…pas, ne…rien, ne…plus and ne…jamais are placed together before the infinitive.

 

  • For example: J’essaie de ne pas rire (I’m trying not to laugh)

 

  • After negative expressions, une, un, des, du, de la, de l’ and des change to de.

 

  • For example: Il ne reste plus de bonbons (There aren’t any sweets left)

 

  • Non means no. It is the usual negative answer to a question. It also equates to not in English.

 

  • For example: Tu veux venir avec nous ? Non, merci (Do you want to come with us? No thanks)

 

  • For example: J’espère que non (I hope not)

 

  • Pas is used when a distinction is made or for emphasis. It also equates to not in English.

 

  • For example: Tu as froid? Pas du tout (Are you cold? Not at all)