Ne pas + infinitive

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

17 January 2018

6 replies

Ne pas + infinitive

What is the difference between "ne touchez pas" and "ne pas toucher"? This verb is just an example. I think it was at a fuel station they had a sign that said: Ne pas fumer. Why is ne pas sometime in front of the infinitive and other times around a conjugated form of the verb?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

17 January 2018

17/01/18

In French, an infinitive cannot stand between "ne" and "pas" (or plus, jamais, rien, etc.). However, "touchez" isn't an infinitive but the 2nd person plural of the verb "toucher". Therefore you will find it between "ne" and "pas". Don't be fooled by "touchez" and "toucher" being pronounced practically the same. They are different beasts. So: Ne le touchez pas! -- Don't touch it! On nous a averti de ne pas le toucher! -- We were warned not to touch it! -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

17 January 2018

17/01/18

Thank you for your answer but I'm not sure you understood my question. Either that or I'm not understanding your answer. If you see a sign at the fuel station that says: Ne pas fumer, instead of ne fumez pas, why is that? Ne fumez pas is a command, Do not smoke! So why is it written Ne pas fumer? I assume it to mean the same thing but don't understand the different usage.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

18/01/18

Ne pas fumer! -- No smoking. Ne fumez pas! -- Do not smoke. The first is used as a general command directed at no one in particular, whereas the second would need to be addressed to a specific person or group of persons. Does that address your question better? -- Chris

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

18/01/18

Yes, thank you. That is what I wanted to know.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

18 January 2018

18/01/18

If I may add - For formal instructions ( consignes in French ) we use the infinitive , e.g. Ne pas fumer , ne pas monter sur les chaises, ne pas cracher, ne pas se pencher par la fenêtre ( you will see this on a train - don't lean out of the window ) . The infinitive is also used in recipes , instruction manuals etc. , rather than the imperative used in English .

Cameron

Kwiziq community member

18 January 2018

18/01/18

Thanks, it makes sense to me now. Is there a lesson here on Lawless that covers this? I have looked and I have done every lesson at least once and I don't remember seeing it anywhere.

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