Negative Adverbs

French negative adverbs
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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’s 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)?

  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.

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French negative adverbs
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