Variable Negative Pronouns

French negative pronouns
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Pronoms négatifs

There are two different types of negative pronouns.

  1. Invariable negative pronouns
  2. Variable negative pronouns, explained here

Par exemple…

Nul n’est prophète en son pays.   No man is a prophet in his own country.
Aucune des filles n’est arrivée à l’heure.   None of the girls arrived on time.

Characteristics of variable negative pronouns

  1. Used in place of negative adjective + noun
  2. Have two parts: the word ne, which precedes the verb, and one or more words which follow the verb
  3. Require either de + noun or the adverbial pronoun en
  4. Are always singular
  5. Must agree in gender with the negated noun

French variable negative pronouns

ne… aucun(e) (de)   none (of), not any (of)
ne… nul(le) (de)   no one, none of
ne… pas un(e) (de)   not one (of)
ne… pas un(e) seul(e) (de)   not a single one (of)

  Is there a strange sense of déjà vu? That’s because variable negative pronouns take the same forms as negative adjectives. The difference is that when they are adjectives, there’s no de: the adjective goes directly in front of the noun to negate it. Compare:

Pronoun   Adjective
Aucune des filles n’est venue.   Aucune fille n’est venue.
None of the girls came.   No girl came.

Using variable negative pronouns

When the pronoun is a direct object, it requires either the preposition de plus a noun, or an antecedent replaced by the adverbial pronoun en.

Je n’ai lu aucun de ces livres.
Je n’en ai lu aucun.
  I haven’t read any of these books.
I haven’t read any of them.
Il n’a pas écrit une seule lettre.
Il n’en a pas écrit une seule.
  He didn’t write a single letter.
He didn’t write a single one.

 Related lessons

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French negative pronouns

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