French For Football/Grammar/Negation

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Standard Negation[edit]

In order to say that one did not do something, the ne ... pas construction must be used. The ne is placed before the verb, while the pas is placed after.


Negation Formation Examples · Exemples de formation de négation
Il est kiné.
Il n'est pas kiné.
He is [a] physio.
He is not [a] physio.
Nous faisons notre possible.
Nous ne faisons pas notre possible.
We are doing our best.
We are not doing our best.
Je joue au foot.
Je ne joue pas au foot.
I play football.
I do not play football.
Vous concrétisez vos occasions.
Vous ne concrétisez pas vos occasions.
You are converting your chances.
You are not converting your chances.

Negation of Indefinite Articles[edit]

The indefinite articles un, une, and des change to de (or d’) when negating a sentence.

  • J'ai une blessure. - I have an injury.
  • Je n'ai pas de blessure. - I don't have any injury.
  • J'ai des blessures. - I have some injuries.
  • Je n'ai pas de blessures. - I don't have any injuries.


  • Simple negation is done by wrapping ne...pas around the verb.
    • Je ne chahute pas. - I do not mess around.
  • In a perfect tense, ne...pas wraps around the auxiliary verb, not the participle.
    • Je n'ai pas chahuté. - I haven't messed around.
  • When an infinitive and conjugated verb are together, ne...pas usually wraps around the conjugated verb.
    • Je ne veux pas chahuter. - I do not want to mess around.
  • ne pas can also go directly in front of the infinitive for a different meaning.
    • Je veux ne pas chahuter. - I want not to mess around.
  • ne goes before any pronoun relating to the verb it affects.
    • Je ne l'ai pas chahuté. - I did not heckle him. (note change in meaning with direct object)
    • Nous ne nous connaissons pas. - We do not know each other.

Negation of Infinitive[edit]

Either the conjugated verb or the infinitive can be negated, each meaning slightly different things.

  • Je n'aime pas marcher. - I don't like to run.
  • J'aime ne pas marcher. - I like to not run.

Other negative expressions[edit]

ne...aucun(e) not any, none, no
ne...jamais never neither...nor
ne...pas du tout not at all
ne...pas encore not yet
ne...personne nobody no longer
ne...guère hardly
ne...que only
ne...rien nothing
  • ne...personne wraps around the entire verb set.
    • Je ne l'ai donné à personne. - I did not give it to anyone.
    • Je ne veux le donner à personne. - I do not want to give it to anybody.
  • requires two objects, either direct or indirect, and comes before them.
    • Je ne l'ai donné ni à mon frère, ni à ma sœur. - I gave it neither to my brother nor my sister.
    • Je ne peux voir ni mon frère ni ma sœur. - I am able to see neither my brother nor my sister.
  • In ne...aucun(e), aucun(e) goes before an object.
    • Nous n'avons aucun problème avec les supporters. Aucun. - We have no trouble with the supporters. None.
    • L'équipe n'a aucune excuse. Aucune. - The team has no excuse. None.
  • Il n'a qu'une idée en tête. - He has only one idea in mind.
  • Je ne peux guère espérer mieux - I can hardly hope for better.


The negative imperative is formed by placing the imperative between "ne" and "pas/jamais/rien/etcetera."

Ne trichez pas! (Don't cheat!) Ne perds jamais espoir! (Never lose hope!)

Spoken French[edit]

Now, the 'ne' sometimes disappears when one speaks. However, it is always used in written French and for formal conversations.

  • Je ne l'ai donné à personne (I didn't give it to anyone)
  • Je ne sais pas (I don't know)


To say not, never or other negative expressions you have to 'sandwich' the negative words around a verb.


  • Il n'y a pas de crise. (meaning: "There is not a crisis.")
  • On ne peut jamais dire jamais. (meaning: "You can never say never")
  • Il n' y a rien à signaler. (meaning: "There is nothing to report")

If " ne " is before a vowel then it changes to " n' ".


This page is based on an original text from French/Grammar/Negation dated 3 November 2008.