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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is-- What are the different ways you can make a negative sentence in French?
Unlike English, negative sentences in French have two parts.
The most basic negative sentences use ne and pas, and put the verb in between them. For example, “I’m going” is Je vais. So, “I’m not going” is Je ne vais pas.
You can make more complex negative sentences by using ne with different negative words.
Let’s go over some examples so you can learn how to make negative sentences in French correctly.
Plus on its own usually means “more,” but, together with ne, the phrase becomes, “no more.” For example, Je ne vais plus means, “I’m not going anymore.”
There are also negative words in French that can be used on their own or with ne. For example, let’s look at this short conversation--
Your friend asks you, Tu fais du ski en hiver? “Do you go skiing in the winter?”
You can respond, Non, je n’y vais jamais. “No, I never go.”
Here, the word jamais meaning “never” is used with ne. Without ne, your response would be, (Non) jaimas), “No, never.”
Another negative word, rien, which means “nothing” can be used by itself or with ne, like in this example--
Your friend asks, Qu’est ce que tu fais aujourd’hui? meaning “What are you doing today?”
If you respond with ne your answer would be, Je ne fais rien (aujourd’hui), “I’m not doing anything (today.)” Without ne, it would be just, Rien, “Nothing.”
One of the most common combinations is ne, pas encore. Encore means “again,” but in Je ne vais pas encore, it becomes, “I’m not going yet.” You can also use pas encore on its own, to say “not yet.” For example, Tu es prêt(e)? “Are you ready?” Pas encore! “Not yet!”
Another good expression is Pas du tout. That means, “Not at all.” On its own, it’s a common response to “thank you.” When someone says, Merci, you can respond, Pas du tout to say, “It wasn’t a big deal,” or De rien, which means, “Not at all.”
Remember, French only uses two negative particles in a sentence. If you use three, the sentence becomes something like the “double negative” in English. For example, if you said, Je ne vais pas jamais, meaning, “I don’t never go,” then that means you do go sometimes.
That wasn’t so difficult, was it?
If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments below!
A bientôt, see you soon!