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  5. "Ce n'est rien de sérieux."

"Ce n'est rien de sérieux."

Translation:It is nothing serious.

December 14, 2012



Why is there a de before the sérieux? Thanks :D


it is idiomatic, I can't find any specific reason for that structure, except that it works like "aucun de",which translates to "none of" or "not one of" or "not any of"

  • aucun d'entre eux n'est mon ami

  • rien de sérieux ne peut arriver


generally when rien is followed by an adjective, the structure is:

rien + de + adjective


rien de pareil / rien de tel - nothing like it
Rien de neuf- nothing new
Rien d’intéressant - nothing interesting
Rien de bon - nothing good
Il n’y avait rien d’intéressant dans le magasin. - There was nothing interesting in the store.
je ne cherche rien de précis - I am not looking for anything specific
il n'a rien dit de nouveau - he didn't say anything new
presque rien d'autre - almost nothing else

and when rien is followed by a passive infinitive the structure is:

rien + à + passive infinitive


n'avoir rien à se mettre - to have nothing to wear
je n‘ai rien à faire. - I have nothing to do
Je n'ai rien à ajouter. - I do not have anything to add.
Je n'ai rien à cacher. - I have nothing to hide
il n’y a rien à voir ici. - There is nothing to see here
il n'ya rien à acheter - there is nothing to buy.
rien à déclarer - nothing to declare


Could it be because of the structure," il est + adjective + de/a+ infinitive" where de is used for dummy subject.

In the example that you gave, "aucun d'entre eux n'est mon ami", what does n'est stand for? Also, why is there no pas?

In "rien de sérieux ne peut arriver", why is there no "pas".


Remember that French negatives work in tandem: "ne" + another word.

Therefore, "rien... ne" and "aucun... ne" work exactly as "ne... rien" and "ne... aucun", the only change is that "rien" and "aucun" are subjects in the first case and objects in the latter case.

In the sentence "ce n'est rien de sérieux", there is a real subject (= this/that is nothing serious), but there is no matching impersonal structure, contrary to other cases like "il est utile" de vs "c'est utile à". We cannot compare these cases because "rien" is not an adjective.

However, "rien + à + infinitive" is possible, when "rien" is an object.

  • Je n'ai rien à faire = I have nothing to do


Hopefully Sitesurf will reply. Meanwhile...

There is no infinitive in the sentence we are studying. The only verb is etre, which is conjugated. (est)

In the "aucan" example, "est" is the verb of the sentence. There is no "pas" in this sentence or the next one because there is a different negative construction instead: aucan/rien as the subject of the sentence, which then requires "ne" before the verb. "None of them is my friend." "Nothing serious can happen."

If we added a "pas," it would create a double negative, which is impossible: None of them isn't my friend/Nothing serious cannot happen.


May i know why there is a "ne" before "est" in your above example of "aucun d'entre eux n'est mon ami"?

I've seen the term "n'est" used in other phrases as well where there is no second word of the negation (e.g. "ne...pas" or "ne...plus"). Is there a standalone use of "n'est"?



In French, negatives come with 2 words:

  • ne... pas
  • ne... plus
  • ne... jamais
  • ne... rien
  • ne... aucun
  • ne... personne

Right now, I can't find an example with "n'est" as a standalone.



Does the phrase "it's nothing serious" have the same meaning with the phrase "it's not serious at all"?


In English, adding "at all" makes it much more emphatic.


it's not serious at all would be: c'est n'est pas serieux du tous


I read this as It is not nothing serious, which in english would mean, It is serious. Is n'est rien just a sentence structure one must memorize?


There are many expressions containing "rien" : http://french.about.com/od/expressions/a/rien.htm


Thank you! By the way, your comments have been so helpful. Thanks for doing what you do! It really makes a big difference.


Am pleased to be useful. :-)


So rien means nothing, or ne........ rien means nothing? In English a double negative would mean a positive statement. So deux fois rien is next to nothing, trois fois rien is next to nothing, is there un fois rien, which should really be next to nothing...


Ne...rien is not a double negative. All French negative constructions use ne along with another word (the most common is ne...pas). Ne doesn't mean anything on its own, it's more like a signal for something coming up later in the sentence.


"ne" means "not" and "rien" means "anything", so it would be not anything, which you could shorten to nothing.


It's easy to be fooled that every time you see "ne," it's already a negation. But it's not really that, "ne" doesn't really mean anything on it's own, it's more like an alert that something is coming up (usually after the verb), but that something could be pas/rien/jamais/plus/personne/aucun, etc...including que, which means "only" - so that one is not really negative at all.

Sometimes very tricky if there are a lot of words between the "ne" and the other word - you can be thinking the whole time that it will be pas or some other negation, and it turns out to be "que!" So the sentence doesn't turn out to mean what you were thinking it would...


Double negatives like this are common in French (and also in Spanish). They do not work like math to make a positive.


This is not a double negative.


It looks less "double" now that I've read your helpful explanation of "ne" meaning nothing on its own. I was interpreting "N'est" to mean "It is not." Thanks for clarifying.


My pleasure. I think most people struggle with this. I know that for me, I really have to watch the tendency to think negation as soon as I see "ne," because sometimes you have another five words and then you come to the other half of the construction, and it is "que!"And so if you are thinking in the negative, you have to rethink the whole thing because "ne...que" is not really a negation.


there is nothing serious - should be wrong ?


"there is nothing serious" would be "il n'y a rien de sérieux", which is a more general statement than it/ce


Would this be 'It isn't anything serious', while 'C'est rien de serieux' translates to 'It's nothing serious'?


"rien" without "ne" is incorrect French.

ce n'est rien de sérieux = either "it is not anything serious" or "it is nothing serious"


Ce n'est qu'une blessure superficielle.


what's wrong about "it is not serious at all"?


"At all" isn't a part of the original sentence. Also, the difference between "it's nothing serious" and "it is not serious at all," tweaks the meaning slightly. There's more emphasis when you add "at all," but I suppose it really doesn't matter.


Would " It isn't serious" be translated the same way?


It isn't serious is a simple negation = ce n'est pas sérieux, il n'est pas sérieux, elle n'est pas sérieuse.


Ok thanks a lot, not only for this answer but also for all your great help here! Another question: Would "Ce n'est pas de sérieux." be also something possible?


No, this does not work.

But "ce n'est pas du sérieux" is colloquial to mean "ce n'est pas du [masculine noun] sérieux" - with variants in meaning: work, relationship, behavior...


Something interesting/seeking clarification: the indefinite article "de" follows a negative, right?


After negation, "de" replaces the indefinite and partitive articles (un, une, des, du, de la). But in this case it is because rien is followed by de when there is then an adjective (also true for quelque chose). Rien de spécial, quelque chose de sérieux, etc. De is also used in expressions of quantity - assez d' argent, trop de travail, beaucoup d'amis, etc.


So how would I say, "It is nothing too serious"? ... "Ce n'est rien trop de sérieux"?


Yes, or "ce n'est rien de bien sérieux".


Pourquoi pas there is nothing important??


I translated as "It's nothing serious" but it rejected that and said the correct solution was "It is nothing serious".


"It's nothing serious" is accepted.


So, please avoid non required contractions.


Why "there is not anything serious" is wrong?


Please back translate: there is not anything serious = il n'y a rien de sérieux.


Can somebody explain to me why Ce is used here rather than, il or elle, is it because it is an abstact concept?

Would it ever be appropriate to use Il n'est rien de sérieux?


Yes, this "ce" is abstract. The sentence describes a situation rather than a precise thing.

If it were a precise thing, already mentioned before, I think we would change the construction:

  • (cette maladie) - elle n'a rien de sérieux = there is nothing serious about it


is there a 'de' before serieux because the sentence is impersonal?


"rien de + adjective" is idiomatic and "de" does not need to be translated.


So I have to add n' before est even if write rien in a negative sentence?


All negatives have "ne": ne... pas, ne... plus, ne... jamais, ne... rien, ne... aucun, ne... personne


I said It's not at all serious. How does this differ?


Can't we translate it like 'This is not something serious' ?


I don't think so. Nothing is not the same as not something. And something is quelque chose. Ce n'est pas quelque chose de sérieux?


This one speaks trop vite. It is impossible to hear what's being said.


If you translate it "not at all" it's easier. Why "at"?


Is it wrong to translate as "it's not serious at all"??????


"Ce n'est pas sérieux du tout."

Rien means nothing: It's nothing serious. Of course the meaning is similar, but yours requires a different set of French words.


'This is nothing of seriousness' should be accepted, as that is the literal translation.


I have heard the sentence, It is nothing of consequence. I have not heard nothing of seriousness. I am with DL on this one.


Here is the definition of the word 'seriousness': https://goo.gl/Eu6y5y In the definition, it gives the sentence: "we are aware of the seriousness of the situation", which is a fantastic example of why it would be grammatically correct.


Why isn't there any "pas" in the sentence?


"rien" replaces "pas".

French negatives come in two words: "ne" + pas/plus/jamais/rien/aucun/personne

Therefore "ne... rien" means "not... anything" or "nothing".


Poor female pronunciation of sérieux

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