N'est-ce pas

French expressions analyzed and explained

Expression: n'est-ce pas ?

Pronunciation: [nes pa]

Meaning: isn't it? aren't you?

Literal translation: is it not?

Register: formal

Notes: The French expression n'est-ce pas is what grammarians call a "tag question" or "question tag" - a word or short phrase tagged on to the end of a statement, turning it into a yes or no question (albeit one the speaker is pretty sure s/he knows the answer to).

In English, tag questions often consist of the verb from the statement combined with "not." In French, however, the verb is irrelevant; the tag question is just n'est-ce pas.

The English tag questions "right?" and "no?" are similar in usage, though not register: they are informal, whereas n'est-ce pas ? is formal or, in informal speech, ironic. The informal French tag question equivalent is non ?

   Vous êtes prêt, n'est-ce pas ?
   You're ready, aren't you?

   Elle est belle, n'est-ce pas ?
   She's beautiful, isn't she?

   Nous devons partir bientôt, n'est-ce pas ?
   We have to leave soon, don't we?

   Il a fait ses devoirs, n'est-ce pas ?
   He did his homework, didn't he?

   Ils peuvent nous accompagner, n'est-ce pas ?
   They can come with us, can't they?


mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "N'est-ce pas." ThoughtCo, Oct. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/nest-ce-pas-1371313. Lawless, Laura K. (2016, October 9). N'est-ce pas. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/nest-ce-pas-1371313 Lawless, Laura K. "N'est-ce pas." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/nest-ce-pas-1371313 (accessed February 22, 2018).