Ne ... ni ... ni = Neither ... nor (negation)

Whereas in English you have three ways to express the negation - not either… or / neither… nor… / not... or... - in French, you only use ne... ni... ni...

Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I haven't watched either Dexter or Breaking Bad.

Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I have neither watched Dexter nor Breaking Bad.

Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I haven't watched Dexter or Breaking Bad.

Here are more examples:

Je ne veux ni chanter ni danser.
I neither want to sing nor dance.

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.
He wants neither wine nor water.

ATTENTION:

When using ni, you omit the article after niunless you're talking about general things and using le, la, l', les.

 

You can also use the expression "nimore than twice.

Il n'ni frères ni soeurs ni cousins.
He has neither brothers nor sisters nor cousins.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I haven't watched either Dexter or Breaking Bad.


Je ne veux ni chanter ni danser.
I neither want to sing nor dance.


Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I haven't watched Dexter or Breaking Bad.


Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.


Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.
He wants neither wine nor water.



Je n'ai regardé ni Dexter ni Breaking Bad.
I have neither watched Dexter nor Breaking Bad.


more than twice


Il n'ni frères ni soeurs ni cousins.
He has neither brothers nor sisters nor cousins.


Q&A Forum 12 questions, 21 answers

MelisaA2

Poor example

Like everyone else, I find this lesson very confusing, and I think it is because it's using a very poor example of when to use articles. I believe the translation is incorrect. 

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

If this example is talking about specific cheese and specific milk, then the English translation should be, "I like neither the cheese nor the milk." But that is not what you have here. The translation you give is general, not specific. It really makes the whole lesson contradictory and confusing.


Asked 1 month ago

I'm not sure, but I think the translation is correct. Some of the discussions in the Q&A seem wrong to me, and these add to the confusion. I believe there is a difference between aimer and manger, so you use the definite article with aimer but not manger. That is why you say:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.  I like neither cheese nor milk.

but

Je ne mange ni pommes ni poires.  I eat neither apples nor pears.

In the (rarer) cases where you would use a definite article in English to refer to some specific cheese or apples, the sentence with aimer wouldn't change, but the second sentence would become:

Je ne mange ni les pommes ni les poires. I'm not eating either the apples or the pears.

I would like to see a native speaker comment on this.

Melisa asked:View original

Poor example

Like everyone else, I find this lesson very confusing, and I think it is because it's using a very poor example of when to use articles. I believe the translation is incorrect. 

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

If this example is talking about specific cheese and specific milk, then the English translation should be, "I like neither the cheese nor the milk." But that is not what you have here. The translation you give is general, not specific. It really makes the whole lesson contradictory and confusing.


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Confused about when to use definite article

Bonjour,

I've read the comments but I'm still confused.  On a test question, I was marked wrong for writing "Je n'aime ni les pommes ni les poires" when asked to translate "I eat neither apples or pears".  

This seems to me like a general statement and not referring to specific apples or pears, so why would the only accepted answer be "Je n'aime ni pommes ni poires"?

Merci.

Asked 6 months ago

Confused about when to use definite article

Bonjour,

I've read the comments but I'm still confused.  On a test question, I was marked wrong for writing "Je n'aime ni les pommes ni les poires" when asked to translate "I eat neither apples or pears".  

This seems to me like a general statement and not referring to specific apples or pears, so why would the only accepted answer be "Je n'aime ni pommes ni poires"?

Merci.

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Doubt in forming negative with ni....ni

Bonjour Madame Cécile,

I am facing a difficulty in forming the negative of the following sentence-

"J'aime jouer du piano et de la guitare"

Now, the negative would be as-

"Je n'aime jouer ni du piano ni de la guitare."

Here, will the articles du and de la remain or will they get removed? Because in the lesson it is stated that All articles except the definite articles will be omitted.

But I think jouer du piano and jouer de la guitare are fixed expressions in French so there should be no change in their structure.

Please confirm Madame.

Merci d'avance 

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Varsha,

 You are correct - Well done!

 

Merci Beaucoup Madame Cécile 

Doubt in forming negative with ni....ni

Bonjour Madame Cécile,

I am facing a difficulty in forming the negative of the following sentence-

"J'aime jouer du piano et de la guitare"

Now, the negative would be as-

"Je n'aime jouer ni du piano ni de la guitare."

Here, will the articles du and de la remain or will they get removed? Because in the lesson it is stated that All articles except the definite articles will be omitted.

But I think jouer du piano and jouer de la guitare are fixed expressions in French so there should be no change in their structure.

Please confirm Madame.

Merci d'avance 

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When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

I know this has been asked before, but I'm having trouble determining when to use definite articles when talking about things in general. The two examples in the lesson seem to contradict each other:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.

Why is is "le fromage/le lait" in the first example, and simply "vin/eau" in the second one? According to the English translations for each, both sentences seem to refer to the items in general.

Thanks!

Asked 10 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait. -- This refers to a specific situation. The speaker declines cheese and milk at this specific instance.

Je ne veux ni vin ni eau. -- This is a general statement. The speaker doesn't want either wine or water. No matter what.

Hi Chris.

Thanks for your reply. It makes sense. The answers provided in the lesson are ambiguous when it comes to determining the general vs specific cases:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.
I like neither cheese nor milk.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.
He wants neither wine nor water.

There is nothing in either answer specifically calling out the general nature. If anything, the first construction suggests the speaker generally dislikes cheese and milk, although it uses the definite article— the opposite thing your post explains. Is this a wrong example?

Thanks
S

Thanks Sagar, for the kind words.

I agree that the English translation is a bit misleading.

Thanks, Chris!

When to use definite articles with ne...ni...ni?

I know this has been asked before, but I'm having trouble determining when to use definite articles when talking about things in general. The two examples in the lesson seem to contradict each other:

Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait.

Il ne veut ni vin ni eau.

Why is is "le fromage/le lait" in the first example, and simply "vin/eau" in the second one? According to the English translations for each, both sentences seem to refer to the items in general.

Thanks!

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Ne Ni Ni in the quiz question is grammatically incorrect.

Neither is one of two things. Therefore the question in the quiz was grammatically incorrect.` I like neither the guitar, nor the violin, nor the piano` is not phrased correctly.
Asked 11 months ago

Hi James,

I think you are a bit to restrictive. Rudyard Kipling wrote:

"But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!"

The neither..nor..(nor).. construct seems to have been extended to stand for one and only one choice out of several offered, not just two.

Thanks, I was thinking of the literal meaning of `neither`. I recall that once, as a schoolboy, I got detention for using neither as a negative option for one of three things.

Ne Ni Ni in the quiz question is grammatically incorrect.

Neither is one of two things. Therefore the question in the quiz was grammatically incorrect.` I like neither the guitar, nor the violin, nor the piano` is not phrased correctly.

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Ne......ni..........ni

Please help me clarify the usage on the indefinate article in this context:

Is it the same as in English; I don't like the wine or the cheese (when offered both) Je n'aime ni le vin ni le fromage.

and, I don't like wine or cheese (in general) Je n'aime ni vin ni fromage

Thanks.

Asked 1 year ago

Hi Paul,

yes you are right: without the definite article it becomes a general statement.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Ne......ni..........ni

Please help me clarify the usage on the indefinate article in this context:

Is it the same as in English; I don't like the wine or the cheese (when offered both) Je n'aime ni le vin ni le fromage.

and, I don't like wine or cheese (in general) Je n'aime ni vin ni fromage

Thanks.

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How to say

How do we say: "she doesn't talk to me nor to them"? "Elle ne ni me ni leur parle"? I'm really doubting myself here lol
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

"Elle ne parle ni à moi ni à eux."

It is parler "à quelqu'un" and you need the stress pronoun (moi and eux) because it comes after a preposition.

-- Chris. (not a native speaker)

How to say

How do we say: "she doesn't talk to me nor to them"? "Elle ne ni me ni leur parle"? I'm really doubting myself here lol

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SueC1

neither the oysters nor the fish

In the lesson it says to omit the article unless talking abot general things in which case you would keep the article. ok. But then the discussion below suggests that the article is kept for specific item ie these specific oysters and not oysters in general. I am confused please clarify further.thank you
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1
ni l'un ni l'autre, This appears to be a situational response. If you are discussing with friends likes and dislikes about seafood, then ni les huitres ni le poisson; however, if in a restaurant and one is given a choice of specific dishes, then ni huitres ni poisson.
SueC1
This is what I figured but is not the impression given from the discussion following the lesson
RonC1
At times, it is difficult to fully understand a lesson on line and I find Laura's lessons quite useful and easy to understand. However, when I become stumped, I try other sites and here is one that I learned of through a French teacher of mine several years ago: http://laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/neg4.html Perhaps that will be beneficial for you. Bonne chance!

neither the oysters nor the fish

In the lesson it says to omit the article unless talking abot general things in which case you would keep the article. ok. But then the discussion below suggests that the article is kept for specific item ie these specific oysters and not oysters in general. I am confused please clarify further.thank you

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Comment introduissez?

Comemnt introuduit ça avec < ne..ni..ni > 1.Nous n'avons reçu aucune lettre, aucun fax, aucun appel téléphone. 2.Il n'y a pas de pommes, pas de poires, pas de raisins. 3.Il n'était pas présent à la réception, le directeur, non plus. 4.Ce n'est pas autorisé, ce n'est pas toléré non plus. Introduisez, SVP !
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Crystal ! In general, to complete this exercise, you will need to replace the negative words "pas"/"aucun" with "ni". Remember that "ni" won't keep "de" afterwards, and also applies to the negated elements (in the case 3, the negated elements are "il" and "le directeur", therefore you need to say "Neither him nor the director...") I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Comment introduissez?

Comemnt introuduit ça avec < ne..ni..ni > 1.Nous n'avons reçu aucune lettre, aucun fax, aucun appel téléphone. 2.Il n'y a pas de pommes, pas de poires, pas de raisins. 3.Il n'était pas présent à la réception, le directeur, non plus. 4.Ce n'est pas autorisé, ce n'est pas toléré non plus. Introduisez, SVP !

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AurélieKwiziq language super star

Nick asked: "Why is "Non, il n'a pas vu Paul ou Sam" incorrect?"

Isn't there a subtle difference between "No, he hasn't seen Paul or Sam" vs "No, he has seen neither Paul nor Sam"?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Nick !

I agree that in English you could indeed use either "No, he hasn't seen Paul or Sam" or "No, he has seen neither Paul nor Sam" with very little alteration of meaning, however in French, the correct way to express this idea of "multiple negated elements" is by using "ni...ni...".

I hope that's helpful!

Merci et à bientôt !

DanielA2
Shouldn't you change the english sentence into "No, he hasn't seen neither Paul nor Sam"? I made the same "error" answering because I didn't feel I need "ni... ni..." here.

Nick asked: "Why is "Non, il n'a pas vu Paul ou Sam" incorrect?"

Isn't there a subtle difference between "No, he hasn't seen Paul or Sam" vs "No, he has seen neither Paul nor Sam"?

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Articles

Not to belabour Stuart's question but, does this mean that technically "Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait." means "I like neither the cheese nor the milk.", referring to a specific cheese and milk versus categorically.
Asked 2 years ago
Bonjour Kathy, Yes, with the articles, the sentence is referring to a specific cheese and milk. Cheryl
D'accord, merci !

Articles

Not to belabour Stuart's question but, does this mean that technically "Je n'aime ni le fromage ni le lait." means "I like neither the cheese nor the milk.", referring to a specific cheese and milk versus categorically.

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Why are vin et eau without articles, yet le fromage et le lait are with?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Stuart ! It depends on the meaning of the sentence: If you say "neither the wine nor the water", then it will be "ni le vin ni l'eau"; however, if you mean "neither wine nor water" in a more general context, then you will use "ni vin ni eau". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
I am really confused! In the lesson above, it says "Also note that when using 'ni', you omit the article after 'ni', unless you're talking about general things and using le, la, l', les." But here you are saying '"neither wine nor water" in a more general context you will use "ni vin ni eau"' (without the articles). What am I missing? Or am I being obtuse? Thank you for your help! Terri

Why are vin et eau without articles, yet le fromage et le lait are with?

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