French Demonstrative Pronouns - Pronoms démonstratifs

Introduction to French Demonstrative Pronouns

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) refer to a previously-mentioned noun in a sentence. They must agree with the gender and number of the noun(s) they replace:

   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:

I. With a suffix as with 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.

II. In prepositional phrases, 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.

III. Followed by a relative pronoun + 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.

Related lesson: Demonstrative adjectives

English Masculine Feminine 
this, that   celui   celle
these, those    ceux   celles
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Lawless, Laura K. "French Demonstrative Pronouns - Pronoms démonstratifs." ThoughtCo, Jan. 18, 2018, Lawless, Laura K. (2018, January 18). French Demonstrative Pronouns - Pronoms démonstratifs. Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "French Demonstrative Pronouns - Pronoms démonstratifs." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 22, 2018).