"He is only a child."
Translation:Ce n'est qu'un enfant.
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"Il est" and "elle est" are replaced with "c'est" when they are followed by a modified noun = determiner + noun.
- it is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
- she is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
- he is + modifier + noun = c'est + modifier + noun
- they are + modifier + noun = ce sont + modifier + noun
Modifiers can be articles (un, une, des, le, la, les), demonstrative adjectives (ce, cet, cette, ces), possessive adjectives (mon, ton, son, ma, ta, sa, notre, votre, leur, mes, tes, ses, nos, vos, leurs), numbers (un, deux, trois...), indefinite adjectives (quelques, certains...).
Beware: this is valid with modified nouns not with adjectives or adverbs, before which you will keep the personal pronoun "il, elle, ils or elles".
This is a typically French way of speaking about "only one thing". As if you are saying "He isn't anything, but a child", which actually means the same as "He is only a child". For example, if you want to say "I (will) take only one rose", you can say "Je ne prends qu'une rose" (which translates more literally as "I am not taking anything but a rose").
Well, for me it means, that "Il est" is absolutely useless in French, as you can always say "C'est", but only sometimes "Il est". It is very strange for me, because if there is "he" form in given language, it should have the priority before a more general phrase, which in this case is "C'est". I don't know any language in which you CAN'T say "he is", but you have to say "it is" when speaking about a male human being. And I'm not saying about a situation in which one of the forms is more common, but the "he" form is incorrect. It is one of the reasons, why French is so confusing for me :) The rules are in many cases much more complicated, even more than in such a difficult language as Polish. :)
That is not quite right.
- "he is" = il est
- "it is" = il (or elle) est
- when "he is" or "it is" (or she is)" is followed by a modified noun (determiner + noun), the form changes to "c'est".
3) Exceptions of exception:
- when the modified noun is complemented by an adjunct (noun of noun or dependent clause), you can keep "il est" (or elle est)
- when the modified noun has a meaning of a "(unique) status", you can use "c'est" or "il est" (or elle est).
Il est + any adjective:
- il est grand, il est beau, il est fort
Il est + profession:
- il est médecin, il est architecte, il est plombier (plumber);
Il est + "status nouns" used without an article:
- il est témoin; il est élève à Paris; il est victime de son succès
Il est + modified noun + adjunct = c'est... or:
- il est le seul ami que j'ai;
- il est le président de la république française;
- il est le professeur idéal pour de jeunes enfants;
- il est l'artiste le plus doué de sa génération;
- il est celui que tout le monde admire
A modified noun is a noun preceded by a determiner that modifies it.
determiners or modifies are:
- articles (definite / indefinite): le, la, l', les / un, une, des
- numbers: un, deux, trois...
- demonstrative adjectives: ce, cet, cette, ces
- possessive adjectives: mon, ma, mes, ton, ta, tes, son, sa, ses, notre, nos, votre, vos, leur, leurs
- indefinite adjectives: quelques, plusieurs, certains