French Negative Pronouns

Pronoms négatifs

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French negative pronouns, sometimes called indefinite negative pronouns, are very similar to French negative adjectives and negative adverbs, in that they are made up of two parts which surround the verb.

Negative pronouns negate, refuse, or cast doubt on the existence of the noun that they replace, and can be the subject, direct object, or indirect object of a sentence.

   Personne ne me connaît ici.

   No one knows me here.
   (personne is the subject)

   Je ne vends aucun des livres.
   I'm not selling any of the books.
   (aucun is the direct object)

   Il ne pense à rien.
   He's not thinking about anything.
   (rien is the indirect object)

Word order

In simple tenses, the negative pronoun surrounds the verb, as in the above examples. With compound verbs and dual-verb constructions, the first and second word of most* negative pronouns surround the conjugated (first) verb:

   Je n'ai rien vu.
   I didn't see anything.

   Je ne veux pas acheter un seul des livres.
   I don't want to buy a single one of the books.

*The exceptions are personne and aucun, which place ne in front of the conjugated verb and the second word after the main verb.

   Je n'ai vu personne.
   I didn't see anyone.

   Je ne veux acheter aucun des livres.
   I don't want to buy any of the books.

Test on negative pronouns

French negative pronouns

ne... aucun(e) (de)*none (of), not any (of) 
ne... nul(le)no one
ne... pas un(e) (de)*not one (of)
ne... pas un(e) seul(e) (de)* not a single one (of)
ne... personneno one
ne... quiconqueno one   (learn more)
ne... riennothing, not... anything   (expressions with rien)
*These pronouns must always have an antecedent. In addition, because they express a quantity, en must be used when these pronouns are the direct object of the sentence.

   Aucun de mes amis n'est venu.
   None of my friends came.

   Mes amis ? Aucun n'est venu.
   My friends? None came.

   Mes amis ? Je n'en ai vu aucun.
   My friends? I didn't see any of them.