French Grammar: Demonstrative Pronouns

French Grammar: Demonstrative Pronouns

French Grammar: Demonstrative Pronouns
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French Grammar: Demonstrative Pronouns
la grammaire française: les pronoms démonstratifs

  • DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS point out (“demonstrate”) specific people, places, and things.
  • DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS agree in number and gender with the noun they replace.


Don’t get Demonstrative Pronouns confused with Demonstrative Adjectives! They look somewhat similar, but have different functions!

Demonstrative Adjectives help to describe and identify people, places, and things. Demonstrative Pronouns help to specify “this one” or “that one” specifically without using the name of the noun being identified. They stand in place of a noun, but still agree in number and gender with the noun they replace.

The French Demonstrative Pronoun has four forms:

celui (masculine singular) : this one / that one / the one

celle (feminine singular) : this one / that one / the one

ceux (masculine plural) : these ones / those ones / the ones

celles (feminine plural) : these ones / those ones / the ones

Just as with Demonstrative Adjectives, Demonstrative Pronouns can be followed by -ci or –là in order to differentiate between “this one” or “that one” and between “these (ones)” or “those (ones)”.

Ce roman-ci est plus intéressant que celui-là.
This novel is more interesting than that one.

Je connais ces femmes-ci, mais je ne connais pas celles-là.
I know these women, but I don’t know those (ones).

A [Demonstrative Pronoun + -ci] and a [Demonstrative Pronoun + -là] can also be used to mean “the latter” and “the former”, respectively.

Bien que Paulette et Paul sont des jumeaux, celui-ci est blond mais celle-là est brune.
Even though Paulette and Paul are twins, the latter is blond but the former is a brunette.

J’étudie le français et l’économie.  Je trouve celle-ci plus difficile que celui-là.
I study French and economics.  I find the latter more difficult than the former.

A Demonstrative Pronoun can be followed by de (or d’, before a vowel or vowel sound) in order to show possession.

Le portable? C’est celui de Jacqueline.
The cellphone?  It is Jacqueline’s.

Les affiches? Ce sont celles de Robert.
The posters? They are Robert’s.

Demonstrative Pronoun can be followed by the Relative Pronoun QUI or QUE (or QU’) to signify “the one(s)”.

Quel sandwich a-t-il mangé? Celui qui était sur la table?
Which sandwich did he eat?  The one that was on the table?

Oui, c’était celui qu’il a mangé.
Yes, that was the one he ate.

Mais c’était celui de mon frère!
But that one was my brother’s!

Ceci and cela are pronouns that are mostly used to indicate something that is being pointed out or referred to.  Both frequently refer to situations rather than to specific nouns.  Ceci means “this”, while cela means “that”.  Cela (usually shortened to ça in spoken French) tends to be used more often than ceci.

Tu as considéré cela?
Have you considered that / this?

Ceci est précisément ce qu’elle veut.
This is exactly what she wants.

Et avec ceci?
Anything else?  (Commonly used in stores; literally, “And with that?”)

Cela suffit, merci. / Ça suffit, merci.
That’s enough, thank you.

J’adore cela! / J’adore ça!
I love that!

Je n’aime pas cela! / Je n’aime pas ça!
I don’t like that!

Ça veut dire quoi?
What does that mean?

Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça?
What is this / that?

Il a été viré.  C’est dur, ça.
He got fired.  That’s a tough situation.

Oui, mais la vie est comme ça.
Yes, but life is like that.


Tu veux cette pomme ou celle-là?
Do you (informal) want this apple or that one?

Je ne veux pas celle-ci; je voudrais celle-là.
I don’t want this one; I would like that one.

Aimez-vous ce manteau ou aimez-vous mieux celui-là?
Do you (formal) like this coat, or do you like that one more?

J’aime mieux celui-là que celui-ci.
I like that one more than this one.


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