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Ce/cet/cette and ces = this/that and these/those (demonstrative adjectives)

In English, this and that (and these and those) have an associated proximity: this/these tend to be things nearer than that/those.
However, in French, on their own, ce/cet/cette can mean either this or that, and ces can mean either these or those - it just depends on context.

Look at these examples:

Cette fille est belle.
That girl is beautiful.

Ces hommes sont méchants.
These men are mean.

Ces femmes sont méchantes.
These women are mean.

Cette is used with feminine singular nouns
Ces is used for all plural nouns (masculine and feminine)

Cases with masculine singular nouns

Ce garçon est intelligent.
That boy is smart.

Cet homme est beau.
This man is handsome.

Cet arbre est très sinistre.
That tree is very sinister.

Ce is used with masculine singular nouns starting with a consonant; whereas cet is used with masculine singular nouns starting with a vowel or mute h
-> This is to make pronunciation easier!

Note that it doesn't apply to feminine nouns starting with a vowel or mute h, as cette doesn't pose any pronunciation issue!

 

See also Celui, celle, ceux, celles = the one(s) (demonstrative pronouns) and Ce, cet, cette, ces [duration] -là / -ci = that/those or this/these [duration] (demonstrative adjectives)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Cette aventure était amusante !
This adventure was fun!


Cet homme est beau.
This man is handsome.


Cet arbre est très sinistre.
That tree is very sinister.


Ces femmes sont méchantes.
These women are mean.


Cette fille est belle.
That girl is beautiful.


Ces hommes sont méchants.
These men are mean.


Ce garçon est intelligent.
That boy is smart.



Ces citrouilles sont tellement grandes !
These pumpkins are so big!


Q&A

Harsha

Kwiziq community member

18 May 2018

2 replies

But in that case when avanture beginswith a vowel why not cet instead of cette

Chris

Kwiziq community member

18 May 2018

18/05/18

Hi Harsha,


ce -- the pronoun to use with male nouns starting with a consonant.
cet --for male nouns starting with a vowel.
cette -- for female nouns.


L'aventure is a female noun, so you need to use cette.


-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

21 May 2018

21/05/18

Hi Chris, you say "ce -- the pronoun ..."


Should 'ce' be a 'demonstrative adjective' (and not a pronoun) as discussed in this lesson?


Thanks Stewart

Harsha

Kwiziq community member

18 May 2018

0 replies

Why is it" cette avanture but not cet avanture when it starts with a vowel

Bhairavi

Kwiziq community member

27 February 2018

2 replies

What do we use with feminine nous which start with a h or a, e, I, o, u

Chris

Kwiziq community member

27 February 2018

27/02/18

Hi Bhairavi,


There are no special feminine forms to be used before a word starting with a vowel. They exist for the masculine version simply for the sole reason to make the whole conglomerate easier to pronounce (to French tongues) because of the two vowels which would otherwise follow each other. The feminine versions are pronounced ending in a consonant, hence there's no need for a special version.


Ce oiseau (here the two vowels e-o would clash), so it has to become
Cet oiseau (the intervening t provides a nice transition).
Cette amie (the "e" at the end is not pronounced, therefore there is no vowel clash).


-- Chris (not a native speaker)

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

27 February 2018

27/02/18

Bonjour Bhairavi !


Thank you for this interesting question.


I've decided to add a note and examples to the lesson to address that excellent point :)


I hope that's helpful!


Bonne journée !

Marilyn

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2017

3 replies

Why isn't "cet" used with singular feminin nouns that begin with a vowel or mute "h"?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

30 September 2017

30/09/17

Bonjour Marilyn,

Good question! Cette is the feminine demonstrative adjective, no matter what the noun begins with.

The adjective "cet" is used for reasons of euphony in front of masculine nouns that begin with a vowel or mute h, simply because it's too difficult to say the hiatus in, for example, "ce homme" or "ce étudiant." Ce becomes cet to make these phrases easier to pronounce: cet homme, cet étudiant.

Feminine nouns don't have this problem: cette + vowel / mute h doesn't have that difficult-to-pronounce hiatus, so there's no reason to change the spelling to cet (which is pronounced identically): cette étudiante.

Marilyn

Kwiziq community member

30 September 2017

30/09/17

Thank you I understand

Harsha

Kwiziq community member

18 May 2018

18/05/18

Thank you I understand now

William

Kwiziq community member

18 August 2017

1 reply

Present or Past Tense

Why are there different tenses? Past tense in English but present tense in French.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 August 2017

19/08/17

Bonjour William,
If I am understanding your question correctly, the answer will have to do with syntax structure difference. There are several instances where French syntax is nothing like English syntax. A French teacher that I had loved to tell the class that «French is not simply English translated into French». By that she meant that one cannot simply translate an English sentence into French on a word-for-word basis, phrasing is different as is adjective placement and a couple of other differences.
J'espère que cela vous aiderait.

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