French Demonstrative, Indefinite Pronouns

 

1) Demonstrative pronouns:

These words in French are used in place of things/persons/concepts/places that are pointed to.  Their English equivalents are:

this/these and that/those.

Grammatically, demonstrative pronouns stand in for the combination (noun + demonstrative adjective).

Masculin singulier Masculin pluriel Féminin singulier Féminin pluriel
Celui /this one Ceux /these/those ones Celle /This one Celles /these/those ones

Whereas in English, demonstrative pronouns remain invariant, in French they vary with gender and number.

Examples:

Je voulais emprunter la voiture.  Celle qui étais garée au bout de la rue. / I wanted to borrow the car.  The one parked at the end of the street.

Il voulait m’emprunter $10 000, ce qui me semblait excessif. / He wanted to borrow $10,000, which seemed excessive.

In addition to the pronouns in the table above, a neutral demonstrative pronoun also exists: ce.

Ce is used mostly in combination with être, and other “fixed expressions”  (ce dont/ this…which, ce que/ this…that) as a grammatical presentation device.

Examples:

C’est un chat. / This is a cat.

Ce sont les amis dont je t’ai parlé. / These are the friends whom I spoke to you about.

Demonstrative pronouns can be reinforced with the addition of -ci (here)  and -là (there) (celui-ci, celui-là, celle-ci, celle-là,  ceux-ci, ceux-là)

Example:

Celle-ci est arrivée en retard. / This one here arrived late.

Celui-là, on ne peut pas lui faire confiance. / This one there cannot be trusted.

The reinforced neutral forms of ce are : ceci, and cela.  Note that there is no accent on the a of cela.

Simple:         Ce n’est pas possible. / This is not possible.

Reinforced:   Ceci n’est pas possible. / This here is not possible.

2) Pronoms indéfinis

Indefinite pronouns refer to and stand for vague/incompletely/indefinite known objects/persons/categories.

a) Simple Forms

Note that each of the following pronouns is variable in number and gender. (m =masculin, f=feminine, s=singular, p=plural).  Some can be used for all numbers and genders, others are specific.

Aucun(e) / no one

Autre(e)(s) / mostly other-thing)

Autrui / only other-person

Certain(e)(s) / some

Chacun(e) / each

Même(s) / same

Nul(le)(s) / none

On / some, it

Personne / no one

Plusieurs / many

Quelqu’un(e) — Quelques un(e)(s) / someone — some people

Qui / who

Quiconque / anyone

Rien / nothing

Tel(le)s / such

Tout(e)(s) / all

Un(e)(s) / ones

Examples:

Beaucoup de gens jouent à la lotterie. Certains la gagne.  / Many people play the lottery.  Some win it.

Personne ne peut traverser le pont. / No one can cross the bridge.

Rien ne va plus. / Nothing is going well.

b) Locutions (short conventional expressions) with indefinite pronomial values (ie can be used as indefinite pronouns):

Autre chose / other thing

Dieu sait qui/quoi/où/lequel… / God knows who/what/where/which one…

Grand-chose / almost nothing

Je ne sais combien / I don’t know how much

La plupart / most

N’importe qui/quoi/où/lequel… / whoever/whatever/whereever/whichever…

On ne sait qui/quoi/où/lequel… / No one knows who/what/where/which one…

Peu de chose / little

Quelque chose / something

Qui de droit / to whom it may concern

Qui/quoi/… / who, what, where…

Qui/que/où  que ce soit / who/what/where…soever

Tout le monde / everybody

Examples:

Je ne sais combien de soldats sont passés par ici. / I don’t know how many soldiers passed through here.

Tout le monde se repose à Thanskgiving. / Everyone rests on Thanksgiving.

3) Some adverbs can also be used as indefinite pronouns

Assez / enough; Autant / as much; Beaucoup / much, many; Davantage / more; Guère / few, little; Peu / little; Tant / so much , so many

Examples:

Vous en savez assez pour passer l’examen. / You know enough to pass the exam.

Il y en a autant que je voulais. / There is as much as I wanted.

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