-là Suffix

French suffix -ci
cette voiture-là / celle-là
that car / that one
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Le suffixe -là

Unlike other French suffixes, -là does not create new words, but rather adds additional meaning to the nouns and pronouns it’s added to.

1) Demonstrative adjective + noun + –

French demonstrative adjectives on their own don’t distinguish between "this/these" and "that/those," so you can add – to a noun in order to specify "that" noun / "those" nouns as opposed to "this" noun / "these" nouns.

Par exemple…

Ce restaurant-là est trop cher.   That restaurant is too expensive.
Nous aimons bien cette voiture-là.   We really like that car.
Ces femmes-là sont fascinantes.   Those women are fascinating.

In addition to specifying location/nearness of a noun, – can emphasize "that" in reference to time.

Il ne sortirait jamais à cette heure-là.   He would never go out at that hour.
Je l’ai vu ce dimanche-là.   I saw him that Sunday.
À ce moment-là, je n’en savais rien.   At that time, I didn’t know anything about it.

2) Demonstrative pronoun + –

Similarly, French demonstrative pronouns on their own don’t distinguish between "that/those" and "this/these," so – can be added to them as well.

Par exemple…

Celui-là est trop cher.   That one is too expensive.
Nous aimons bien celle-là.   We really like that one.
Celles-là sont fascinantes.   Those (ones) are fascinating.

When talking about two or more things, the addition of – often indicates physical location. In the above examples, the speaker is talking about things that are visible, so – indicates they are referring to the farther away of the item(s).

 However, the suffix can also be used for "grammatical location": the location of the noun in the sentence relative to the suffix referring back to it. In English, this is expressed with "the former," which is equivalent to –, and "the latter," equivalent to –ci:

J’étudie le français et l’espagnol, et je parle celui-là tous les jours.   I’m studying French and Spanish, and I speak the former every day.
Les pommes et les bananes sont délicieuses, mais je préfère celles-là.   Apples and bananas are delicious, but I prefer the former.

 This can be a little tricky. In English, "former" vs "latter" refers to the position between the two nouns in the sentence: "former" means the first noun and "latter" means the second noun.

In French, however, the suffixes refer to the position between the suffix and the noun it’s referring back to. So – means "there" as in "the noun that is farther away from where I am in the sentence right now" (= former) and –ci means "here" as in "the noun that is closer to where I am in the sentence right now" (= latter).

 Related lessons

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-là French suffix

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