"cette est" or "c'est?"

A duolingo question was "She is a girl and she is calm." I translated this as "Cette est une fille et elle est calme." It was counted wrong, and the corrected proffered was "C'est une fille et elle est calme." Is this valid? I can understand contracting "ce est" into "c'est," with the two adjacent vowels. But "cette" ends with a pronounced "t" sound. Do we really make cette est into c'est, or do we keep it as is? Thanks

April 4, 2018


The correction is good here.

In reality it's not "Cette est" which is contracting into "C'est".

In french, the main translation for she is "elle" so you can translate "She is a girl" to "Elle est une fille" but if this sentence is totally correct, it's really rare to say that and we use the demonstrative pronoun "Ça" instead of "elle" so the sentence must be "Ça est une fille" and there you have two adjacent vowels so you use "C'est une fille".

"Cette", like "Ce" or "Cet" are demonstrative adjectives so you cant' use them instead of a noun. A pronoun is made to be used instead of noun so you can say "C'est" ("Ça est") but an adjective need to be with a noun. "Cette voiture est...", "Cet enfant est ...", "Ce vélo est ....", but "Ce est", "Cette est" or "Cet est" have no sens and are mistakes.

I hope that it helps you ;)

April 4, 2018

that's not quite true: c'est is a contraction of ce and est, not ça and est

A simple rule of thumb to follow is that ce should be used with être, including in the double-verb constructions pouvoir être and devoir être.
Ça should be used with all other verbs.
However, when an object pronoun comes before être, then you must use ça, not ce. This is relatively rare.
Ça m'est égal.

April 5, 2018

If you want the really detailed rule it's this one :

  • Ce, Cet, Cette, Ces as demonstrative adjectives. They are always followed by a noun. "Ce" is used if the noun is masculin/singulier and doesn't start with a vowel (except Y) or a weak H. "Ce chien", "Ce yéti", "Ce hérisson". "Cet" is used if the noun is masculin/singulier and start with a vowel (except Y) or a weak H. "Cet arbre", "Cet homme" "Cette" is used if the noun is féminin/singulier. "Cette femme", "Cette maison". "Ces" is used if the noun is pluriel. "Ces animaux", "Ces femmes, "Ces hérissons" In all these cases they mean "this".

  • Ce, Ceci, Cela as demonstrative pronouns. "Ce" is used before "être", "pouvoir être" and "devoir être". "Ce sont des enfants", "Ce doit être amusant", "Ce peut être un voleur". Like it takes the place of a noun or a sentence, you need a context to use it like other sentences before or something you show. "Demain, il ira à la piscine. Ce sera une bonne activité". When the verb after "Ce" starts with a "e" you use "C' ". "C'est", "C'était". When the verb after "Ce" starts with a "a" you use "Ç". "Ç'aurait été bien", "Ç'aurait pu être mieux". "Ceci" and "Cela" are the same than "Ce" but they can be used before all the other verbs and in some special cases before "être" too. The difference between "ceci" and "cela" is the same than between "this" and "that". "Ceci est à moi et cela est à toi", "Ecoutez ceci", "Il est en retard, cela m'inquiète".

  • Ça as demonstrative pronoun. "Ça" is technically a contraction for "Cela". It's a word which is not totally allowed when you write a formal text but which is used a lot when you speak (when I say a lot, it's really a lot, french people use it 100 times a day and it's not really well used because it's said instead of cela AND ceci)

So yes, you are totally right, I didn't give the true rule but I like to say that because except in really rare cases, you won't meet "ceci", "cela" and "ce" (as a demonstrative pronoun). You will just meet "Ce" (as demonstrative adjective), "Cet", "Cette", Ces", "Ça", "C' ". So even if my rule is not correct (because it's true that "C'est" = "Ce est" and not "Ça est"), it works in these cases and it avoids the confusion between "Ce" adjective and "Ce" pronoun and the confusion between the meanings and the use of "Ce" (pronoun), "Ça", "Ceci", "Cela" so it's enough for a fluent French.

But I say it again, I agree with you, you have the true rules and if you want to be a master of French or if you want to write some official text, this is the one you need to learn. ;)

April 5, 2018

When the verb after "Ce" starts with a "a" you use "Ç". "Ç'aurait été bien", "Ç'aurait pu être mieux".

it would be ça in that case though (which contracts to ç')

April 5, 2018

No no, it's strange but it's "ce".

April 5, 2018

ok I did some googling and it looks like you are right but it could also be "ça aurait" instead of "ç'aurait"

April 6, 2018
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