Negative Adverbs

French negative adverbs
Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

Adverbes négatifs

Negative adverbs turn affirmative statements and questions into negative statements and questions. The most common English negative adverb is the word "not," but French is a little more complicated – quelle surprise !  😉

Par exemple…

Nous sommes prêts.
Nous ne sommes pas prêts.
  We’re ready.
We’re not ready.
J’aime le café.
Je n’aime pas le café.
  I like coffee.
I don’t like coffee.

 There are two main differences between French and English negative adverbs:

1. The French adverb has two parts: ne, which precedes the verb, and pas (or another word or phrase, see below), which follows it. When the verb is inverted, pas follows the subject pronoun.

2. In English negation, the helping verb "do" must be added to most verbs (learn more). This is not the case in French: if there’s one verb in the affirmative, there’s just one verb in the negative. Likewise, if there are two verbs in the affirmative, as in compound tenses/moods and dual-verb constructions, there are two in the negative.

When there are two verbs, ne and pas (or another word/phrase) go around the first (conjugated) verb, followed by the past participle or infinitive.

Par exemple…

Il a mangé.
Il n’a pas mangé.
  He has eaten.
He hasn’t eaten.
Veux-tu sortir ?
Ne veux-tu pas sortir ?
  Do you want to go out?
Don’t you want to go out?

 However, when there’s just an infinitive being negated, ne and pas stay together in front of it.

Par exemple…

Je t’ai dit de manger.
Je t’ai dit de ne pas manger.
  I told you to eat.
I told you not to eat.
Il espère voir l’accident.
Il espère ne pas voir l’accident.
  He hopes to see the accident.
He hopes to not see the accident.

When a partitive or indefinite article is negated, that article is replaced by de, similar to how English changes "some" to "any."

Par exemple…

Je veux du pain.
Je ne veux pas de pain.
  I want some bread.
I don’t want any bread.
Avez-vous un stylo ?
N’avez-vous pas de stylo ?
  Do you have a pen?
Don’t you have a pen (any pens)?

Learn more: Negative de

 Informally, ne is often dropped in spoken French – learn more.

Par exemple…

Je ne sais pas. Je sais pas.   I don’t know.
Il n’est jamais à l’heure. Il est jamais à l’heure.   He’s never on time.

French negative adverbs

ne … pas du tout   not at all
Il n’aime pas du tout l’école.   He doesn’t like school at all.
ne … pas encore   not yet
Je n’ai pas encore mangé.   I haven’t eaten yet.
ne … pas non plus   neither, not either
Elle n’aime pas non plus le voyage.   She doesn’t like traveling either.
ne … pas toujours   not always
Tu n’as pas toujours raison.   You’re not always right.
ne … aucunement   not at all, in no way
Nous n’en sommes aucunement responsables.   We are in no way responsible for that.
ne … guère   hardly, barely, scarcely
Vous n’avez guère mangé.   You hardly ate anything.
ne … jamais   never
Ils ne sont jamais en retard.   They’re never late.
ne … nullement   not at all, absolutely no
Je n’ai nullement l’intention de t’aider.   I have absolutely no intention of helping you.
ne … nulle part   nowhere
Tu n’as nulle part où aller ?   Don’t you have anywhere to go?
ne … plus   no more, not any more
Nous ne voulons plus de drame.   We don’t want any more drama.
ne … point   not (formal/literary equivalent of ne … pas)
Il ne fut point blessé.   He wasn’t wounded.
ne … que   only
Les trois sœurs n’ont qu’une chambre.   The three sisters have only one bedroom.

 Related lessons

Learn Spanish En español

Learn Italian In italiano

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

French negative adverbs

Questions about French?

 Visit the Progress with Lawless French Q+A forum to get help from native French speakers and fellow learners.

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.

Leave a Reply