Ne ... pas grand-chose = Not much (negation)

Look at these negative sentences:

Hier je n'ai pas fait grand-chose
Yesterday I didn't do much

Paula ne pense pas grand-chose de l'environnement
Paula doesn't think much of the environment

In French, to say not much, we use the expression ne/n' ... pas grand-chose (literally "no big thing").

Note that you can also use pas grand-chose on its own:

Tu as fait quoi ce weekend? - Pas grand-chose.
What did you do this weekend? - Not much.

BUT

You can never use grand-chose to express much, this exists solely as a negative expression.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Hier je n'ai pas fait grand-chose
Yesterday I didn't do much


Tu as fait quoi ce weekend? - Pas grand-chose.
What did you do this weekend? - Not much.


Paula ne pense pas grand-chose de l'environnement
Paula doesn't think much of the environment


Q&A

David

Kwiziq community member

27 June 2018

4 replies

Why can "they do not have much to read" not be translated as " ils n'ont pas beaucoup à lire"? Why must it be "grand-chose" instead?

Google Translate allows it.

This page offers it in several examples:: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-french/much

It seems they are equally valid alternatives.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 July 2018

11/07/18

Hi David,

Yes you can say " Je n'ai pas beaucoup à lire" but you are more likely to hear "Je n'ai pas grand-chose à lire".

Hope this helps!

David

Kwiziq community member

11 July 2018

11/07/18

Alright, that is good to know. However it is one of the frustrating things in using Kwiziq (and also Lingvist, but not so much on DuoLingo) that you have to learn to give back what the examiner wants, rather than other correct answers, since only one possible correct answer will be accepted.

John

Kwiziq community member

31 July 2018

31/07/18

I think the meaning is a little difference. Please let me know if I'm wrong.

"Je n'ai pas beaucoup à lire" to me means I don't have a lot of homework this week. My boss didn't ask me to go over a lot of cases. So I don't have much to read this week.

"Je n'ai pas grand-chose à lire" makes me think you walk into the doctor's office, and there are only junk magazines to read. You don't have much to read around here.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

4 August 2018

4/08/18

Hi John,

I think you would say " Il n'y a pas grand-chose à lire" in the case of the doctor's surgery as it is a general comment.

The difference between 'pas beaucoup' and 'pas grand-chose' is the same as 'not much' and 'hardly anything', in my opinion.

Dory

Kwiziq community member

29 December 2017

4 replies

Why is it grand-chose and not grande-chose?

Jim

Kwiziq community member

30 December 2017

30/12/17

Because grand-chose in an adverb and not a noun.

Dory

Kwiziq community member

1 January 2018

1/01/18

Thanks for your reply Jim and happy new year!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

28 February 2018

28/02/18

Hi Dory,

I can see your point since "chose" being feminine the logical deduction would be that "grand" should be "grande".

However, the expression "pas grand-chose " is always like that. Apparently in olden French it would have been spelt "grand'chose" which normally indicates there's a letter missing but in modern French we just accept the expression is "grand-chose" and don't bat an eyelid!

Hope this helps!

 

 

Dory

Kwiziq community member

2 March 2018

2/03/18

Thanks Cécile, that's helpful. Does the same go for grand-mère?

Jason

Kwiziq community member

13 December 2016

1 reply

Using grand-choose instead of beaucoup

First, thanks for the great lessons. This is the most flexible and best online solution I've found, and I've been really impressed by this q n a forum. That said, when do you use grand-chose vs beaucoup?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 December 2016

13/12/16

Bonjour Jason ! Actually, you can never use "grand-chose" on its own to express "much". I've realised the lesson phrasing was a bit confusing on this one, and thanks to you, I've now clarified this. Merci et à bientôt !

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

find your French level

Share the love!

I'll be right with you...