I am missing the point of using "Ce" instead of "Ces", since we use "sont" instead of "est. Can anyone help?
"Ce sont" is the plural of "c'est" - ce does not change the verb form (neutral). What changes the conjugation is the following noun: if singular, you use "c'est"; if plural, you use "ce sont".
- ce n'est pas un mot, c'est un cri
- ce ne sont pas des mots, ce sont des cris.
Generally, negative forms are made with "ne... pas" or "ne... plus", whatever the rest of the sentence.
He means that as metioned in another sentence, in a negative sentence, "des" should be replaced by "de", and this sentence should be written as "Ce ne sont pas de mots."
OK, the rule of "des" becoming "de" is when the noun is an object:
- il dit des mots -- il ne dit pas de mots.
In this case, with verb "être", the function of "mots" in the sentence is not that of an object, but of an attribute.
So "des" is simply the plural of "un":
- c'est un mot (affirmative, singular) -- ce n'est pas un mot (negative, singular)
- ce sont des mots (affirmative, singular) -- ce ne sont pas des mots (negative, plural)
So the object of the sentence is "these" which is a pronoun, and thus does not qualify for the "de" instead of "des" rule in a negative sentence. Is that about right?
Look at the singular: "ce n'est pas un mot"
now the plural: "ce ne sont pas des mots" - "des" is just the plural of "un"
Now add an adjective: "ce ne sont pas de vains mots" - "des" has become "de" because of the adjective.
Now let's make it positive: "ce sont des mots", then "ce sont de vains mots".
You can see now that the fact that the sentence is negative has no effect on the article.
To answer the query that 'these' is the object. Unfortunately not. The sentence has no object. In sentences like these, conjugated with 'to be', what looks like the object (mots) I guess are called 'attributes' in french, but in english I was taught they were called 'subjective completions'.
Thanks Sitesurf, this really helps ! because my textbook said the negative sentence change des into de ! :D
shrinkdad, thank you for explaining what an attribute is!! I was really struggling to understand Sitesurf's post, until finally I came back and reread this discussion. Now I think I get it.
because "this/that/these/those" have to be translated with a demonstrative adjective or pronoun.
So, if you wanted to say "These are not the words," it would be "Ce ne sont pas les mots?"
I looked this translation up, on google, "These are not some words" There were ten, count them ten, times that was used on the entire internet. And there were more words in the sentences EVERY time. It is basically a phrase in a sentence.
It's idiomatic. 'C'est' becomes 'Ce sont' when referring to several things.