Demonstrative Pronouns

French demonstrative pronouns
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Pronoms démonstratifs

Demonstrative pronouns replace a specific noun that was mentioned previously. In French, they must agree with the noun(s) in number and gender.

Par exemple…

Les montagnes d’Asie sont plus hautes que celles d’Europe.   Asia’s mountains are taller than the ones in Europe.
Cet arbre est mignon, mais celui-lĂ  offre beaucoup d’ombre.   This tree is cute, but that one offers more shade.

Characteristics of French demonstrative pronouns

  1. Replace a demonstrative adjective + noun
  2. Agree with the noun they replace in gender and number
  3. Require an antecedent
  4. Must be used in one of three specific constructions

French demonstrative pronouns

    this one / that one   these / those
Masculine    celui   ceux
Feminine   celle   celles

+ The singular adjectives can both mean "this one" or "that one."

+ The plural adjectives can both mean "these" or "those."

+ When the context does not make it clear whether the nouns are nearby or far away, you can attach a suffix to the pronoun.

Demonstrative pronoun constructions

Demonstrative pronouns cannot stand alone, as in J’aime celui or Ceux sont bons; they must be used in one of three specific constructions.

1) With a suffix

Par exemple…

J’ai achetĂ© deux cafĂ©s ; celui-ci est dĂ©cafĂ©inĂ©.   I bought two coffees; this one is decaffeinated.
Je ne peux pas dĂ©cider entre cette voiture et celle-lĂ .   I can’t decide between this car and that one.

2) Followed by a prepositional phrase

Usually starting with de

Par exemple…

C’est une bonne idĂ©e, et j’aime celle de Paul aussi.   That’s a good idea, and I like Paul’s too (literally, "the one of Paul")
J’ai trouvĂ© le livre d’histoire, mais je cherche toujours celui de chimie.   I found the history book, but I’m still looking for the chemistry one.

3) Followed by a relative pronoun

To introduce a clause

Par exemple…

VoilĂ  celui dont je t’ai parlĂ©.   Here’s the one I told you about.
Pour ceux qui sont dans le besoin   For the needy (literally, "for those who are in need")

 Demonstrative Pronouns Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on French demonstrative pronouns with this fill-in-the-blanks exercise:

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French demonstrative pronouns

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3 Responses

  1. Frederic 13 November 2016 / 15:36

    Thank you for the clear post. It’s very common to see demonstrative pronoums followed by the two prepositions “dans” and “Ă ” too.

  2. Kevin Cohen 18 July 2016 / 9:03

    Thank you for the post. What would be a good translation for this use of “celle”?

    Mais ça me fait tout drĂŽle, de t’imaginer avec une autre
    J’peux pas ĂȘtre Ă  la fois celle d’avant et celle d’ensuite
    Et puisque c’est comme ça faut pas que je me vexe pour un titre
    J’me plais Ă  dire que j’suis l’unique… est-ce que c’est ça ĂȘtre utopiste?

    The lyrics are from the song “HomĂ©ostasie CrĂąnienne,” by Ingrid St-Pierre.

    • lkl 18 July 2016 / 9:35

      I’d say “the one”, “the woman”, “the girlfriend” – something like that.

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