Learn About French Demonstrative Pronouns (Pronoms démonstratifs)

Woman trying on shoes
"Je ne sais pas si je veux ceux-ci ou ceux-là." (I don't know if I want these or those.). Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

Demonstrative pronouns (this one, that one, the one[s], these, those in English) refer to a previously-mentioned noun in a sentence. They must agree with the gender and number of the noun(s) they replace. The French demonstrative pronouns are:

  • celui - masculine singular
  • celle - feminine singular
  • ceux - masculine plural
  • celles - feminine plural

Each of the four demonstrative pronouns can refer to something nearby or far away.

That is, celui and celle can both mean "this one" or "that one," while ceux and celles can both mean "these" or "those." Your listener can usually tell by the context which you mean, but if you want to stress one or the other, you can use a suffix (see below). Demonstrative pronouns cannot stand alone; they must be used in one of the following constructions:

With a Suffix 

This is similar to demonstrative adjectives, you can distinguish between this one and that one, these and those by adding the suffixes -ci (here) and -là (there).

   Quelle fille l'a fait, celle-ci ou celle-là ?
   Which girl did it, this one or that one?

   Je ne sais pas si je veux ceux-ci ou ceux-là.
   I don't know if I want these or those.

In Prepositional Phrases

In prepositional phrases, French demonstrative pronouns are usually introduced by de to indicate possession or origin:

   Quel film veux-tu voir ? Celui de la France ou celui du Canada ?


   Which film do you want to see? The one from France or (the one from) Canada?

   Je ne peux pas décider entre ces deux robes. Celle de soie est plus jolie mais aussi plus chère que celle de coton.
   I can't decide between these two dresses. The silk one is prettier but also more expensive than the cotton one.

Followed by a Relative Pronoun, Plus a Dependent Clause

   Celui qui a menti sera puni.
   He who / Whoever lied will be punished.

   Ceux qui sont polis recevront un cadeau.
   Those who are polite will receive a gift.

English Masculine Feminine 
this, that   celui   celle
these, those    ceux   celles

You may also be interested in this related topic, Demonstrative adjectives.

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ThoughtCo. "Learn About French Demonstrative Pronouns (Pronoms démonstratifs)." ThoughtCo, Apr. 18, 2018, thoughtco.com/french-demonstrative-pronouns-1368928. ThoughtCo. (2018, April 18). Learn About French Demonstrative Pronouns (Pronoms démonstratifs). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-demonstrative-pronouns-1368928 ThoughtCo. "Learn About French Demonstrative Pronouns (Pronoms démonstratifs)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-demonstrative-pronouns-1368928 (accessed April 25, 2018).