Negative Adjectives

French negative adjectives
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Adjectifs négatifs

French negative adjectives are used to negate or refuse nouns. Like other negative structures, negative adjectives – also called indefinite negative adjectives – have two parts.

Par exemple…

Nous n’y voyons nul mal.   We don’t see any harm in it.
Je n’ ai aucune idée.   I don’t have any idea(s).

Characteristics of negative adjectives

  1. Used in place of an article, not with one
  2. Have two parts: the word ne, which precedes the verb, and one or more words which precede(s) the noun.
  3. Must agree with the negated noun in gender

French negative adjectives

ne … aucun(e) no, not any
ne … nul(le) no, not any
ne … pas un(e) no, not one
ne … pas un(e) seul(e) not a single

  Though all negative adjectives mean essentially the same thing, there is a grammatical difference between them:

+ Ne … aucun can be used with any kind of noun.

+ Ne … nul can be used only with collective and uncountable nouns, like water and happiness.

+ Ne … pas un (seul) can be used only with countable nouns, like teachers and flowers.

Par exemple…

Je ne connais aucun avocat.
Je ne connais pas un avocat.
Je ne connais nul avocat.
  I don’t know any lawyers.
Nous n’y voyons aucun mal.
Nous n’y voyons nul mal.
Nous n’y voyons pas un mal.
  We don’t see any harm in it.

  Pay attention to word order when negative adjectives negate the subject of a sentence: the adjective must stay with the noun, and ne has to stay with the verb.

Par exemple…

Aucun étudiant n’a réussi à l’examen.   No student passed the test.
Nulle eau n’a été trouvée ici.   No water has been found here.

  When a sentence with an indefinite article is negated with a negative adverb, the article changes to de. This is not the case with un in the negative adjective ne … pas un (seul) – it remains unchanged and creates a stronger negation.

Par exemple…

Negative adverb   Je ne vois pas de chat.   I don’t see any cats.
Negative adjective   Je ne vois pas un chat.   I see no cat, I don’t see a single cat.
Quiz: Negative adjectives

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French negative adjectives
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