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Are ce/cela interchangeable/synonymous with each other.

I thought that ce means this/it and cela/Ça meant that, but duo lingo is saying that ce means both this and that and the same for cela when I hover over the word. So are they the same and is there a rule when to use them, I am just going over the demonstrative lessons now trying to get a better grasp because this is one area of my french that is lacking. Thanks in advance.

September 28, 2017



Ça, Ce, Cela, Ceci, all mean the same thing (that/this/it) but they are all used differently.

In short, Ce is the short form of Cela and Ceci. Cela literally means "that/this" while Ceci usually means only "this". Ce is used before nouns, you don't say "Ça vin", you would say, "Ce vin". Cela and Ceci are a bit more formal but not uncommon. They are this way because là means there and ci kind of means here. Janvier-ci (this january), c'est là-bas (it's over there), est-ce là? (Is it there?) Etc. etc.

Ce changes forms to please Liaison and Gender. Ce for masculine, Cette for feminine, Cet for masculine but starts with a vowel ("cet eau"). Ces is plural.

You also use the Ce family with the verb être = Ce + est = C'est. Ce + sont = Ce sont (I don't think Ce has to be plural here but it could be I guess).

Ça is only used as almost a pronoun with all other verbs. Except, there will be times when you see "Ça y est...". Weird, I know, I barely get it too. Ça va? ;-))

EDIT: "Cet eau" is incorrect. Eau is feminine and I thought it was masculine because eau as an affix is usually masculine. Sorry about that! Let's try instead: "Cet ami." :))

Also, Celui vs. Celle vs. Ceux vs. Celles are similar but different. Celui (ma.) vs Celle (fe.) both mean "that/this one" while Ceux (ma.) vs Celles (fe.) are just the plural forms: "those/these ones."

To make it more clear, I will re-introduce the là vs ci concept. Celui-ci/Celle-ci (this one here), Ceux-ci/Celles-ci (these ones here), Celui-là/Celle-là (that one there), Ceux-là/Celles-là (those ones there).

Et voilà! C'est tout pour maintenant, je suppose. :))


Thanks for you answer, where you say cela and ceci are a bit more formal I remember reading somewhere a little while ago that one you'd use in writing and the other you would only say or something along those lines, do you know of a rule similar to that?

Ah, I remember the rule about Ce + là. I always find it helps to learn the etymology of some words to better understand them, I did not know about ci meaning here but i can see it in ici now, thank you. It's strange but as soon as I saw Ça y est I understood it, I think it's from the lesson about y going in between some words because they wouldn't sound right otherwise or something, it's a bit confusing, thanks again.


Cela is usually in writing. Ceci is common in specifying "this right here". So it's a lot less uncommon. :))


Thanks :) Bonne soirée


Merci à vous aussi, bonne soirée :))


Eau is not masculine. You would say cette eau.


Oh vous avez raison! Merci pour me corriger! Je vais le changer un-p'tit-peu. ^~^`


I haven't gotten that far in French, but I'm guessing they're two different forms of the same word, similar to il/ella.


Ce is the masculine, "ce garcon" and cette is the feminine, cette fille. You use cet when ce comes before a word starting with a Vowel, "cet animal" Cela means that and Ça is a contraction of cela (a shortened version of the same word) I am not sure about the masculine/feminine with cel so you may be right. Ces is the plural used for both masculine and feminine. Hope that explains it a little, sorry it's a bit messy and not formatted.

EDIT: some parts of this may be wrong, this is not my best department by far but it helps you get the general idea.


For the most part, you're right. The whole Cela vs. Ceci vs. Ça vs. Ce is a bit off but you generally understand it. You can see my comment to better understand :)

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