Ce/cet/cette and ces = this/that and these/those (demonstrative adjectives)

In English, this and that (and these and those) have an associated proximity: this/these tend to be things nearer than that/those.
However, in French, on their own, ce/cet/cette can mean either this or that, and ces can mean either these or those - it just depends on context.

Look at these examples:

Cette fille est belle.
That girl is beautiful.

Ces hommes sont méchants.
These men are mean.

Ces femmes sont méchantes.
These women are mean.

Cette is used with feminine singular nouns
Ces is used for all plural nouns (masculine and feminine)

Cases with masculine singular nouns

Ce garçon est intelligent.
That boy is smart.

Cet homme est beau.
This man is handsome.

Cet arbre est très sinistre.
That tree is very sinister.

Ce is used with masculine singular nouns starting with a consonant; whereas cet is used with masculine singular nouns starting with a vowel or mute h
-> This is to make pronunciation easier!

Note that it doesn't apply to feminine nouns starting with a vowel or mute h, as cette doesn't pose any pronunciation issue!

 

See also Celui, celle, ceux, celles = the one(s) (demonstrative pronouns) and Ce, cet, cette, ces [duration] -là / -ci = that/those or this/these [duration] (demonstrative adjectives)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ce garçon est intelligent.
That boy is smart.



Ces citrouilles sont tellement grandes !
These pumpkins are so big!


Cette aventure était amusante !
This adventure was fun!


Cet homme est beau.
This man is handsome.


Cet arbre est très sinistre.
That tree is very sinister.


Ces femmes sont méchantes.
These women are mean.


Cette fille est belle.
That girl is beautiful.


Ces hommes sont méchants.
These men are mean.


Q&A Forum 10 questions, 21 answers

IbrahimA0Kwiziq community member

when to use ses

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

If you want to know how to use the possessive adjective ‘ses’ , take a look at the following Kwiziq lesson -

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/common-mistakes-with-mon-ma-mes-ton-ta-tes-and-son-sa-ses-possessive-adjectives

 Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Ce/cet/cette/ces are demonstrative pronouns, as the lesson explains. Your question is in regard to ses, which is a posessive pronoun. Can you clarify what exactly you are aksing?

FrankA1Kwiziq community member

Ces is aposessive pronoun and in some cases can be used as a demonstrative pronoun as the lesson rightly explains. Ces can be use to signify a group of people or things and in most cases for plural/ more one thing or person

when to use ses

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KayA1Kwiziq community member

When to use Cecil, cela

Asked 8 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Kay ,

If you take a look at the following lesson you will see that 'ceci' and 'cela' are demonstrative pronouns and are not attached to a noun as are, ce/cet/cette and ces -

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/using-ceci-and-cela-to-say-this-and-that-demonstrative-pronouns

Hope this helps!

When to use Cecil, cela

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AdielA1Kwiziq community member

Can "these" ever be translated as "ce" as opposed to "ces" in French?

What is the proper way to translate: "These are good family times" in French? Google Translate and Duolingo have it as "ce sont de bons moments en famille" but isn't "these" supposed to be "ces"? Confused! Please help!
Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

You use ces when it relates to an easily identifiable noun. In the example you quote, "these" relates to a more vague and general time rather than a concrete noun.

Ce sont de beaux temps. -- These are good times.
Ces vacances étaient merveilleuses. -- This vacation was marvelous.

AdielA1Kwiziq community member
Thank you. Would you be able to tell me if "these" is a demonstrative pronoun or demonstrative adjective? And also, would you be able to elaborate or point me towards a more technical explanation on why "these" can be translated as "ce" in certain cases?  
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
If followed by a noun, "ce/cette/ces" is a demonstartive adjective and agrees in number and gender with the noun. If followed by a verb (often times "est" or "sont") it is always "ce".

Can "these" ever be translated as "ce" as opposed to "ces" in French?

What is the proper way to translate: "These are good family times" in French? Google Translate and Duolingo have it as "ce sont de bons moments en famille" but isn't "these" supposed to be "ces"? Confused! Please help!

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BharadwajA1Kwiziq community member

Why we say in French, “cette école “. Why it is not “cet école”? Because you école start with a vowel.

Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
The noun école is feminine (une école). That's why it requires the feminine version of the demonstrative pronoun: cette école.

Why we say in French, “cette école “. Why it is not “cet école”? Because you école start with a vowel.

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PaulineB1Kwiziq community member

Frustrating - not able to progress due to too long a period between being able to take further quizes.

How can I work towards a Silver Star on a specific area when the Kwizbot will not allow me to take any further quizzes for what looks like more than 8 days since the last quiz taken ?

It looks like when I take a few quizzes I am then hamstrung against making further progress for far too long a period of time.

Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member

Hi Pauline - instead of using the microkwiz on the lesson pages, either kwiz against your dashboard recocommendations list (assuming it contains this lesson), or use the "add to notebook" buttons to save the lessons you want to practise and then kwiz against your notebook(s).

There are no limits on normal kwizzes, only lesson microkwizzes (they weren't meant to be used for serious practice, and KwizBot doesn't intelligently pick questions for them so we have to limit people retaking them and seeing the same few questions instead of the fulls set available for the lesson - but since people seem to like using them in this way, we are looking at improving them soon).

Kwizzing against notebooks or levels or your recommendations on your dashboard is the best way to use Kwiziq for now.

Hope that helps!

PaulineB1Kwiziq community member

Yes, that helps. 

Bute where would I find an overview on how to best use Lawless Progress ?

So far, it seems to be trial and error and asking questions when frustrated.

BeverleyB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I'm not quite sure what your problem is.  All the information you need is available on the website.  If you've taken the full assessment, you'll be informed of your level and can work to imptove on that level, or any other level, with the recommended lessons followed by kwizzes.  Just "Choose your own adventure".  

When I subscribed, I started with the full assessment "Test Your French Against the CFER Standard".  When I read the results I saw that I had many gaps at all the levels.  I began by learning the lessons needed to fill the gaps in my knowledge starting with level A1.  I regularly did the kwizzes at that level until I was assessed at 75%, after which I started on the gaps at Level A2 and repeated the process.  I continued systematically with this method, moving up the levels, whilst returning from time to time to the earlier levels to improve my scores.  It worked. Trial and error won't ever work.

If you have not subscribed as a premium user and are limited to ten kwizzes a month, it is essential to be systematically moving up the levels, otherwise you create gaps in your knowledge.  Also, I would avoid the micro kwizzes because some of them have a few as three questions and they are counted in your total of kwizzes taken.

I hope this helps

Frustrating - not able to progress due to too long a period between being able to take further quizes.

How can I work towards a Silver Star on a specific area when the Kwizbot will not allow me to take any further quizzes for what looks like more than 8 days since the last quiz taken ?

It looks like when I take a few quizzes I am then hamstrung against making further progress for far too long a period of time.

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HarshaB1Kwiziq community member

But in that case when avanture beginswith a vowel why not cet instead of cette

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Harsha,

ce -- the pronoun to use with male nouns starting with a consonant.
cet --for male nouns starting with a vowel.
cette -- for female nouns.

L'aventure is a female noun, so you need to use cette.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

StewartC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Chris, you say "ce -- the pronoun ..."

Should 'ce' be a 'demonstrative adjective' (and not a pronoun) as discussed in this lesson?

Thanks Stewart

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Yes, I guess the correct term is demonstrative adjective. -- Chris.

But in that case when avanture beginswith a vowel why not cet instead of cette

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HarshaB1Kwiziq community member

Why is it" cette avanture but not cet avanture when it starts with a vowel

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Harsha,

Question already answered correctly by Chris .

Why is it" cette avanture but not cet avanture when it starts with a vowel

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Bhairavi A0Kwiziq community member

What do we use with feminine nous which start with a h or a, e, I, o, u

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Bhairavi,

There are no special feminine forms to be used before a word starting with a vowel. They exist for the masculine version simply for the sole reason to make the whole conglomerate easier to pronounce (to French tongues) because of the two vowels which would otherwise follow each other. The feminine versions are pronounced ending in a consonant, hence there's no need for a special version.

Ce oiseau (here the two vowels e-o would clash), so it has to become
Cet oiseau (the intervening t provides a nice transition).
Cette amie (the "e" at the end is not pronounced, therefore there is no vowel clash).

-- Chris (not a native speaker)

AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Bhairavi !

Thank you for this interesting question.

I've decided to add a note and examples to the lesson to address that excellent point :)

I hope that's helpful!

Bonne journée !

What do we use with feminine nous which start with a h or a, e, I, o, u

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MarilynA2Kwiziq community member

Why isn't "cet" used with singular feminin nouns that begin with a vowel or mute "h"?

Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Marilyn, Good question! Cette is the feminine demonstrative adjective, no matter what the noun begins with. The adjective "cet" is used for reasons of euphony in front of masculine nouns that begin with a vowel or mute h, simply because it's too difficult to say the hiatus in, for example, "ce homme" or "ce étudiant." Ce becomes cet to make these phrases easier to pronounce: cet homme, cet étudiant. Feminine nouns don't have this problem: cette + vowel / mute h doesn't have that difficult-to-pronounce hiatus, so there's no reason to change the spelling to cet (which is pronounced identically): cette étudiante.
MarilynA2Kwiziq community member
Thank you I understand
HarshaB1Kwiziq community member
Thank you I understand now

Why isn't "cet" used with singular feminin nouns that begin with a vowel or mute "h"?

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Present or Past Tense

Why are there different tenses? Past tense in English but present tense in French.
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour William, If I am understanding your question correctly, the answer will have to do with syntax structure difference. There are several instances where French syntax is nothing like English syntax. A French teacher that I had loved to tell the class that «French is not simply English translated into French». By that she meant that one cannot simply translate an English sentence into French on a word-for-word basis, phrasing is different as is adjective placement and a couple of other differences. J'espère que cela vous aiderait.

Present or Past Tense

Why are there different tenses? Past tense in English but present tense in French.

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