Here and There

Here and there in French
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Ci et là

French has two opposing families of words that indicate location:

  1. The ci family, with meanings related to "here"
  2. The family, with meanings related to "there"

These base units are found in a variety of words:

adverbs of place   ici  
prefixes   ci-   là-
suffixes   -ci   -là
demonstrative pronouns   ceci   cela (ça)
presentatives   voici   voilà

For detailed information about the grammar behind these word pairs and how to use them, click the above links. This lesson is about the difference between the two families.

The ci family of words indicate closeness: here, this one, these, etc., while the family is about distance: there, that one, those … at least in theory.

 In reality, French speakers tend to favor regardless of the location in question.

Par exemple…

English   Literal French Colloquial French
I’m here.   Je suis ici. Je suis là.
Here’s your book.   Voici ton livre. Voilà ton livre.
I don’t like this.   Je n’aime pas ceci. Je n’aime pas cela (ça).

 When the speaker wants to make a clear distinction, they use the two words together.

I’m here and he’s there.   Je suis ici et il est là.
Here’s your book and there’s mine.   Voici ton livre et voilà le mien.
I don’t like this, I prefer that.   Je n’aime pas ceci, je préfère cela.

Ci and are also found together in two adverbial locutions:

  • de ci de là – here and there, this way and that
  • par-ci par-là – here and there; now and then, from time to time

 Related lessons

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Ci vs là - French here and there

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