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 oranges de Californie coûtent moins cher que celles de Floride. Oranges from California are cheaper than the ones from Florida.
Ce roman est trop court, et celui-là est trop long. This novel is too short, and that one is too long.

Characteristics of 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

    Masculine  Feminine
this one, that one   celui celle
these, those    ceux 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 acheté deux cafés ; celui-ci est décaféiné. I bought two coffees; this one is decaffeinated.
Je ne peux pas décider entre cette voiture et celle-là. 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 idée, 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 trouvé 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…

Voilà celui dont je t’ai parlé. 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 “à” 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 drôle, de t’imaginer avec une autre
    J’peux pas être à 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 à dire que j’suis l’unique… est-ce que c’est ça être utopiste?

    The lyrics are from the song “Homéostasie Crânienne,” by Ingrid St-Pierre.

    • lkl 18 July 2016 / 9:35

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