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Can someone explain this/there (ce, cet, cette, ces, cela, etc.) to me?

I've been trying my best and just can't get it! Can someone explain it in very simple terms to me :)

May 25, 2020



The first four are determiners (a type of adjective used to identify a specific person or thing being indicated or experienced):

  • this car = cette voiture (feminine)

  • this book = ce livre (masculine)

  • cet arbre = this tree (masculine, special case used to avoid a glottal stop when the noun begins with a vowel, like we say "a grape" but "an apple")

  • ces livres = these books (plural, can be masculine or feminine)

cela is different. It is a demonstrative pronoun which English has as well:

  • I like that = j'aime cela

In French that is called a pronom démonstratif and another form of cela is ça. You can say "j'aime ça" instead of "j'aime cela" for example.

To add to the confusion, "ce" can also act as a demonstrative pronoun.

  • These are my brothers = Ce sont mes frères

Note that the English word "these" can act as a determiner (these brothers) or as a demonstrative pronoun (these are my brothers). The French word "ce" can swing both ways as well.


Great explanation, Angus


Thank you for your thorough explanation that also made my head spin just a tad :)


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Merci, Merci, Merci!


It really just takes practice, but here’s a summary.

The words ce, cet, & cette can mean “this” or “that” as an adjective; ce is used with masculine nouns that begin with a consonant, cet with masculine nouns that begin with a vowel, and cette with feminine nouns. (If grammatical gender confuses you, just know that gender is part of a noun like its spelling and its meaning.) And ces is the plural of these.

Also, note that c’est is a contraction of ce+est. In this case it is an invariant pronoun, when the gender and number of the subject is unknown or unimportant.

The last one you asked about was cela: it means “that” as a pronoun. It can be shortened to ça. The pronoun “ceci” means “this”.

Remember those ci (here) and (there) endings. They’ll come up a little later on. Bonne chance !

Timor mortis conturbat me. 2020-05-24


Ce = masculine and word starts with consonant Cet = masculine and word starts with vowel or H - like homme Cette = feminine Ces = Plural

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