This is what I suggest:
c'est un homme = he is a man
c'est une femme = she is a woman
c'est une personne = this is a person (no clue as to whether it is a man or a woman)
In French, if you refer to "une personne", until you specify that this is a "he" or a "she", you must use "elle" and agree on adjectives, even if the person is a man, simply because the word "personne" is always feminine.
That's interesting. I would assume "person" would be a masculine word since we commonly refer to the human race as "man" in English.
@spearer, megadread, CBrown, Sethulu, Yashowardhani, willis.tine : please follow this link and read carefully:
Once it is done, you should be able to admit "c'est/ce sont" as a typically French construction that you have to learn with the following solutions for "c'est une personne":
"he is a person" "she is a person"
Thanks for the link, but I'm still confused; The article says: il est is for "describing a person" or an "unmodified noun" C'est is for " describing a situation" or a "modified noun" or a proper name
Surely that suggests this should be
il est une personne?
I'm still not sure why c'est une personne is specifically He's a person Rather than She or it...
I must admit that the article needs thorough reading to be fully understood.
Please forget about "describing a situation" for a moment and focus on people.
If you are given the following English expressions, where we are talking about a human being, with a descriptive noun, or a noun + an adjective, or a proper name:
he is a person
she is a nice person
he is a good man
she is Mary
he is my best friend
she is a good student
they are my parents
they are my friends Mary and Tom
ALWAYS start your translation with "c'est" (or "ce sont for the last two").
W"hat about "It is no one", or "It is nobody", since "personne" also translates as "nobody"? For example, in English, if someone comes to the door who is selling something, or someone is there who you don't want to answer to, you might say, "It is nobody".
Only "ne... personne", as a negative construction can mean "nobody".
"ce n'est personne" = it is nobody.
Beckie, obviously you need support on the basics. I advise you go to two sources:
on this site, go to the "discussion" page and type your search on the right side: as you are new here, chances are that most of your questions will have received a response already.
Try this website and search for explanations: http://french.about.com/od/expressions/a/impersonal.htm
Why is it assumed to be he? I translated as "this is a person" & it was accepted. But I didn't know a gender could be assigned. Could someone clarify. Thanks!
Imagine there was a noise in the bushes. Someone asks "Is it a dog?" You could respond, "No. It's a person."
Also, at the birth of a baby, one can usually ask "What is it?" Answer, "It's a boy/girl."
When personne = nobody, it is NEUTRAL. For example, Personne n'est parfait. Not parfaite. This personne (=nobody) is functioning quite differently than personne (=person) which is definitely feminine.