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C'est vs Il est

What's the difference between when you use them?

December 11, 2017



From the tips and notes:

When describing people and things with être in French, you usually can't use a personal subject pronoun like elle. Instead, you must use the impersonal pronoun ce, which can also mean "this" or "that". Note that ce is invariable, so it can never be ces sont.

Impersonal Subject Pronoun
Singular → c'est
Plural → ce sont

Personal Subject Pronoun
Singular → il/elle est
Plural → ils/elles sont

These pronouns aren't interchangeable. The basic rule is that you must use ce when être is followed by any determiner—for instance, an article or a possessive adjective. Note that c'est should be used for singulars and ce sont should be used for plurals.

C'est un homme. — He's a man. / This is a man. / That is a man.

Ce sont des chats. — They're cats. / These are cats. / Those are cats.

C'est mon chien. — It's my dog. / This is my dog. / That's my dog.

If an adjective, adverb, or both appear after être, then use the personal pronoun.

Elle est belle. — She is beautiful. (Or "It is beautiful.")

Il est très fort. — He is very strong. (Or "It is very strong.")

As you know, nouns generally need determiners, but one important exception is that professions, nationalities, and religions can act as adjectives after être. This is optional; you can also choose to treat them as nouns.

He is a doctor. — Il est médecin. / C'est un médecin.

However, c'est should be used when using an adjective to make a general comment about (but not describe) a thing or situation. In this case, use the masculine singular form of the adjective.

C'est normal ? — Is this normal?
Non, c'est étrange. — No, this is strange.


Merci madame. Vous m’aidez beaucoup :)

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