Ce vs Celui vs cette etc

I'm still very new to French and was wondering what the difference between these words are.

Ce, celui, cette, ceux, celle, celles

And any others I may have missed.

March 24, 2016


[deactivated user]

    Ce = "This" for masculine nouns

    Cette = "This" for feminine nouns

    Cet = "This" for masculine nouns that beggin with a vowel

    Celui + -ci or -là = Pronoun that replaces a singular masculin noun

    Ceux + -ci or -là = Pronoun that replaces a plural masculin noun

    Celle + -ci or -là = Pronoun that replaces a singular feminine noun

    Celles + -ci or -là =Pronoun that replaces a plural feminine noun

    March 24, 2016

    Thank you, very helpful!

    March 24, 2016

    Thank you so much!

    March 24, 2016

    These can be a bit confusing since in English, we don't really have different words for these despite the fact they are technically three different pieces of grammar and are covered by either "this", that", "those", "these", or "the one(s)".

    The first and easiest are the demonstrative adjectives (ce, cet, and cette). These are the same as when you use "this" or "that" in front of a noun in English.

    « ce chat » ("This/that cat")

    « cette femme » ("This/that woman")

    You can also use the suffixes -ci and -là with them to denote proximity like the difference between the English "this" and "that". Differentiating proximity isn't as common in French as in English, and is only used if you really want to bring attention to the difference between this thing and that thing.

    « Je n'aime pas ce chat-ci, j'aime ce chat-là » ("I don't like this cat, I like that cat")

    Indefinite demonstrative pronouns (ce, ceci, cela, and ça) refer to either a situation or an unnamed/unclear object. « ce » as a pronoun is only used with « être » (or verbs paired with it, like « devoir » or « pouvoir ») « ceci » and « cela » are rarely used in spoken French, but mean "this" and "that", respectively. In spoken French, they are almost always replaced with « ça ».

    « J'aime bien ça » ("I like that"), « c'est bon » ("That's good")

    Variable demonstrative pronouns (celui, celle, celles, ceux) refer to a previously mentioned object, and are usually expressed in English with "this", "that", "those", "these", or any of these or "the" followed by "ones" (e.g. "these ones", "the ones"). They have to agree with the original noun in gender and number, with « celui » and « celle » being the singular for masculine/feminine respectively, with « ceux » and « celles » being their plural counterparts. They are typically used to connote uniqueness of this specific instance of the noun, so have to be followed by something that sets this noun apart. This can be a dependant clause with "qui", the suffixes « -ci » and « -là », or with prepositions like « de ».

    « Quel chat aimes-tu ? Celui qui court ou celui qui dort ? » ("Which cat do you like? The one that's running or the one that's sleeping?")

    « Je n'aime pas celle-ci, j'aime celle-là » ("I don't like this one, I like that one")

    They're also used to replace the English apostrophe + s to connote ownership:

    « C'est celui de mon fils » ("That's my son's")

    It'll take a while for all of these to sink in (especially the difference between indefinite and variable demonstrative pronouns), but as you keep practicing, they'll start to make sense.

    March 25, 2016

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive comment!

    March 25, 2016

    I feel like this is the single hardest part of the language to learn!

    March 15, 2018
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