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.


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.


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)


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


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


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


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.

 Posted by at 7:26 pm