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 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.


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.


more than twice


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


Q&A

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

4 replies

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!

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

11/10/18

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.

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2018

11/10/18

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Thanks Sagar, for the kind words.

I agree that the English translation is a bit misleading.

Sagar

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

12/10/18

Thanks, Chris!

James

Kwiziq community member

17 September 2018

2 replies

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.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2018

24/09/18

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.

James

Kwiziq community member

24 September 2018

24/09/18

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.

Paul

Kwiziq community member

2 May 2018

1 reply

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.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 May 2018

3/05/18

Hi Paul,

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

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

harris

Kwiziq community member

17 November 2017

1 reply

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

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 November 2017

17/11/17

"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)

sue

Kwiziq community member

9 April 2017

3 replies

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

Ron

Kwiziq community member

10 April 2017

10/04/17

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.

sue

Kwiziq community member

11 April 2017

11/04/17

This is what I figured but is not the impression given from the discussion following the lesson

Ron

Kwiziq community member

11 April 2017

11/04/17

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!

crystal

Kwiziq community member

18 March 2017

1 reply

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 !

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

20 March 2017

20/03/17

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 !

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 September 2016

2 replies

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"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 September 2016

14/09/16

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 !

Daniel

Kwiziq community member

8 September 2017

8/09/17

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.

Kathy

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2016

2 replies

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.

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2016

24/08/16

Bonjour Kathy, Yes, with the articles, the sentence is referring to a specific cheese and milk. Cheryl

Kathy

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2016

25/08/16

D'accord, merci !

Stuart

Kwiziq community member

19 July 2016

2 replies

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

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

21 July 2016

21/07/16

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 !

Terri

Kwiziq community member

30 June 2017

30/06/17

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

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level

Why not share the love?!

Let me take a look at that...