C'est, ce sont = this is, these are (demonstrative pronouns)

Remember that in sentences it is/they are ... + article/determinant (un, une, le, la, les, des...) + noun/pronoun, you will use c'est or ce sont instead of il/elle est or ils/elles sont.
See C'est vs il/elle est: Saying it is

Now look at these examples:

Est-ce ta trousse? - Oui, c'est la mienne.
Is this your pencil case? - Yes, this is mine.

À qui sont ces livres? Ce sont mes livres.
Whose books are these? These are my books

C'est ma maison.
This is my house.

Ce sont mes maisons.
These are my houses.

 

Note that ce is used with the verb être as follows: in its singular form, c'est, means it is /this is /that is, and in its plural form, ce sont, means they are /these are /those are.  

Both forms are used to refer to a thing or a person (i.e. a girl, a table, a house, ...), and they agree in number (singular or plural) with the thing they refer to. 

BUT

When c'est is followed by an adjective or an adverb on its own, you NEVER use ce sont, even if the thing referred to is plural:

C'est pratique, les ciseaux.
They're practical, scissors.

Et leurs anniversaires ? - C'est bientôt !
What about their birthdays? - They're soon!


Note that if c'est is followed by an adverb AND a noun, then the noun is the one that matters!

Ce sont bientôt les vacances!
It's almost the holidays!

 

ATTENTION:

It is worth noticing that the first rule is not always followed rigorously by French speakers. You could indeed hear them using c'est when they should use ce sont:

Ce sont bientôt les vacances!
It's almost the holidays!

C'est bientôt les vacances!
It's the holidays soon!

However, they will never use ce sont for c'est !

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Ce sont mes maisons.
These are my houses.


Ce sont les amis de mon frère.
These are my brother's friends.


À qui sont ces livres? Ce sont mes livres.
Whose books are these? These are my books


Est-ce ta trousse? - Oui, c'est la mienne.
Is this your pencil case? - Yes, this is mine.


C'est bientôt les vacances!
It's the holidays soon!


Et leurs anniversaires ? - C'est bientôt !
What about their birthdays? - They're soon!


Ce sont bientôt les vacances!
It's almost the holidays!


C'est pratique, les ciseaux.
They're practical, scissors.


C'est ma maison.
This is my house.


Q&A

MARIA

Kwiziq community member

25 June 2018

1 reply

In the sentence " J' utilise ces tomates. Ce cont les dernières". Why can't we say "elles sont les dernières" since we talk about specific tomatoes?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

27 June 2018

27/06/18

Hi Maria,


You could say:


"J'utilise ces tomates, elles sont très mûres, ce sont les dernières de la saison."


(I am using these tomatoes, they are very ripe , the last ones of the season.)


You cannot say, elles sont les dernières de la saison.


Hope this helps!

MARIA

Kwiziq community member

25 June 2018

1 reply

Bonsoir!

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

26 June 2018

26/06/18

Bonjour Maria, vous avez une question?

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

18 April 2018

1 reply

Can you use Ceux sont to mean Ce Sont?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

18 April 2018

18/04/18

Bonjour CrystalMaiden!


The answer is no, you would never say "ceux sont" in French :)


Bonne journée !

Rene

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2017

1 reply

Confused.

In previous lesson: use c'est for general things (la soupe, c'est délicieux=(drinking)soup is delicious), il, elle for specific things: la soupe, elle est délicieuse=the (specific) soup is delicious. I just don't know how to fit c'est pratique, les ciseaux, c'est ma maison, and c'est bientôt les vacances info the "general format". Can you help?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

21 October 2017

21/10/17

Bonsoir à nouveau,
I am uncertain about your continued confusion with the c'est and ce sont demonstrative pronouns. Here is something from the lesson that may help:
«Note that ce is used with the verb être as follows: in its singular form, c'est, means it is /this is /that is, and in its plural form, ce sont, means they are /these are /those are. »
Here is a link to another site that could possibly help clear up the confusion:
https://www.tolearnfrench.com/exercises/exercise-french-2/exercise-french-3555.php
Bonne chance.

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

3 replies

Are you saying you use ce sont before a pronoun also?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

17 October 2017

17/10/17

Bonjour Cheryl,
I am quite uncertain of the meaning of your question. C'est and ce sont are both demonstrative pronouns. Would you be so kind as to clarify the meaning of «before a pronoun»?
Merci,

Cheryl

Kwiziq community member

18 October 2017

18/10/17

It's ok I've worked it out myself - I think!. It's only C'est when it's a adjective or adverb. Pronouns like miennes would still be Ce sont???

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2017

19/10/17

It would, e.g., be "Les valises, ce cont les miennes." I hope that was your question.

-- Chris. (not a native speaker)

Ajit

Kwiziq community member

20 July 2017

1 reply

It is bit confusing.

" Qui est cet homme? Does that not refer to a specific person? The why not "ill est? "

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

20 July 2017

20/07/17

Hi Ajit - I think you're referring to a different lesson (when to c'est versus il/elle est?). If so, that's explained here:
/revision/grammar/when-to-use-cest-or-il-est-elle-est-to-say-it-is

When referring to a specific person, you always used "C'est...".

Hope that helps.

Susan

Kwiziq community member

10 February 2017

2 replies

Reviewing this, I find I'm confused anew. From the earlier lesson:

Tu aimes mon pull ? -Oui, il est très beau. But above: À qui sont ces livres? Ce sont mes livres. Since the books under discussion are specific, why would one not say, Ils sont mes livres?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 February 2017

10/02/17

Bonjour Susan !

This is the case 1 explained in the following lesson:
https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/when-to-use-cest-or-il-est-elle-est-to-say-it-is

"1. c'est in sentences "it/he/she is + a/the/my... + thing/people"
If "it/he/she is" is followed by un/une/le/la...(any form of article / determinant) - it is a beautiful dress / she is a nice person - then you will use c'est. "

À bientôt !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2017

12/02/17

Tnx, as ever, for your help.
What I'm finding confusing is what appears to be a conflict between the two rules. You say: mon pull, and il est (because its specific, not general), but you also say, ces livres and ce sont (also specific, not general). Other than that the first being singular and the second, plural, what is it that makes these two examples different?
I've read and re-read both lessons on this, and I'm still, unfortunately, missing the point (not that that hasn't happened before). I hope you will clarify further.

Ivo

Kwiziq community member

19 December 2016

1 reply

When do you use "Cela est" instead of "C'est"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

20 December 2016

20/12/16

Bonjour Ivo !

You never really use "Cela est" as the contraction "c'est" is done for pronunciation reasons: it's just easier to say "c'est", no one ever say "cela est" :)

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Nazanin

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

1 reply

Finally again i didnt get when il/elle and when c'est?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 October 2016

14/10/16

Bonjour Nazanin ! Here is a link to the actual lesson on "c'est versus il est/elle est" :
/revision/grammar/when-to-use-cest-or-il-est-elle-est-to-say-it-is 

Please have a look at it, and let us know if you're still struggling with this concept, and what bothers you specifically, and we'll be happy to try and clarify it for you :)

À bientôt !

Jim

Kwiziq community member

10 October 2016

5 replies

Ces sont versus ce sont

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

11/10/16

What is your question? It is either "ce est -->c'est" or "ce sont". There is no "ces sont" meaning "they are" as far as I know. But, mind you, I am not a native speaker...

-- Chris.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Just to clarify, here is an example as I understand it:

(1) Les pommes sont fraîches. Ces pommes sont fraîches.
(2) Les pommes sont fraîches. Ce sont fraîches.

In the first example "ces" is a demonstrative pronoun and needs to agree in gender and number with "pommes". In the latter example "ce sont" is a fixed phrase meaning "they are" as a whole.

Hope that helps, -- Chris.

Jim

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Thanks Chris,
The system for entering a question is a bit awkward because when I tried to add detail to my question the system closed my request and that is why no details were logged.
Laura on her Forum has answered me and your reply corresponds to that from Laura so thank you for taking the time to help I appreciate it.
Kind regards,
Alan

Chris

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Understood.
Do you also find that the answering of questions is not so much in the focus of kwiziq? I have asked a couple of questions here which never got a reply. And I see other's having the same problem. Is Laura's forum better in that respect?

-- Chris.

Jim

Kwiziq community member

11 October 2016

11/10/16

Hi Chris,
In fairness, they don't have a lot of staff and they are in the process of constant development as I understand it. I have a point about the use of "pour" in future usage acknowledged as valid but not yet addressed because of time constraints.
The thing about Laura's Forum is that there are some very knowledgeable members who are willing to help and I do get answers there.
Regards,
Alan

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