Easy Learning French

Demonstrative pronouns: ce, cela/ça, ceci, celui - Easy Learning Grammar French

What is a relative pronoun?
What is a demonstrative pronoun?
In English a demonstrative pronoun is one of the words this, that, these, and those used instead of a noun to point people or things out, for example, That looks fun.

1 ce

  • ce is usually used with the verb être (meaning to be) in the expressions c’est (meaning it’s, that’s), c’était (meaning it was, that was), ce sont (meaning it’s, that’s) and so on.
C’est moi.It’s me.
C’était mon frère.That was my brother.
Ce sont eux.It’s them.
Tipce becomes c’ when it is followed by a part of the verb that starts with e or é.ce becomes ç’ when it is followed by a part of the verb that starts with a.
Ç’a été difficile.It was difficult.
Note that after c’est and ce sont and so on you have to use the emphatic form of the pronoun, for example, moi instead of je, eux instead of ils and so on.
C’est moi.It’s me.
  • ce is used:
  • with a noun or a question word to identify a person or thing
Qui est-ce?Who is it?, Who’s this/that?
Ce sont des professeurs.They’re teachers.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?What’s this/that?
C’est un ouvre-boîte.It’s a tin-opener.
  • with an adjective to refer to a statement, idea and so on that cannot be classed as either masculine or feminine
C’est très intéressant.That’s/It’s very interesting.
C’est dangereux.That’s/It’s dangerous.
Ce n’est pas grave.It doesn’t matter.
  • for emphasis
C’est moi qui ai téléphoné.It was me who phoned.
Ce sont les enfants qui ont fait le gâteau.It was the children who made the cake.

2 cela, ça and ceci

  • cela and ça mean it, this or that. Both refer to a statement, an idea or an object. ça is used instead of cela in everyday, informal French.
Ça ne fait rien.It doesn’t matter.
Écoute-moi ça!Listen to this!
Cela dépend.That/It depends.
Je n’aime pas cela.I don’t like that.
Donne-moi ça!Give me that!
Tipça and cela are used in a more general way than il and elle, which are usually linked to a noun that has already been mentioned.
Alors, ma nouvelle voiture, elle te plaît?So, do you like my new car?
Ça te plaît d’aller à l’étranger?Do you like going abroad?
  • ceci means this and is not as common as cela and ça. It is used to talk about something that has not yet been mentioned.
Lisez ceci.Read this.
  • ceci is also used to hand or show someone something.
Prends ceci. Tu en auras besoin.Take this. You’ll need it.

3 celui, celle, ceux, celles

  • celui and celle mean the one; ceux and celles mean the ones. The form you choose depends on whether the noun it is replacing is masculine or feminine, and singular or plural.
Singularceluicellethe one
Pluralceuxcellesthe ones
  • celui and its other forms are used before:
  • qui, que or dont
‘Quelle robe préférez-vous?’ – ‘Celle qui est en vitrine.’‘Which dress do you like best?’ – ‘The one in the window.’
Prends ceux que tu préfères.Take the ones you like best.
celui dont je t’ai parléthe one I told you about
celui qui est proche de la fontainethe one near the fountain
  • celui and its other forms can be used with de to show who something belongs to. In English, we would use ‘s.
Je n’ai pas d’appareil photo mais je peux emprunter celui de ma sœur.I haven’t got a camera but I can borrow my sister’s.
Comparez vos réponses à celles de votre voisin.Compare your answers with your neighbour’s.
  • You can add the endings -ci and -là to celui and its other forms to emphasize the difference between something that is close to you and something that is further away.
  • use -ci for something that is closer to you
  • use -là for something that is further away
this, this one
that, that one
these, these ones
those, those ones
On prend quel fromage? Celui-ci ou celui-là?Which cheese shall we get? This one or that one?
Ces chemises ont deux poches mais celles-là n’en ont pas.These shirts have two pockets but those have none.
Key points
  • ce is often found in the expressions c’est, ce sont and so on.
  • ce is also used:
  • to identify a person or thing
  • to refer to a statement, idea and so on that cannot be classed as either masculine or feminine
  • for emphasis
  • cela and ça mean it, this or that; ceci means this, but is not as common.
  • celui and celle mean the one; ceux and celles mean the ones. They are often found with the endings -ci and -là and are used to distinguish between things which are close and things which are further away.

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