1

How do you say something like "Is Charles not here" in French? Do you say "Charles n'est pas ici?" or for the sentence "Is she not there", "N'est pas elle là"? The second example sounds wrong, and I want to know a way to say that in French.

2

Charles n'est pas ici?

This is correct, but we would say "là" instead of "ici", which is smoother.
Note there is a "liaison" on the "s" of "pas" before "ici".

N'est pas elle là

Indeed, this is not correct, you should say:

N'est-elle pas là ?

Note there is a "liaison" on the "t" of "est".

  • Still, "Charles n'est pas ici ?" sounds a bit weird. I would rather employ "Charles n'est pas là ?". – Emmanuel M. Apr 6 '16 at 9:43
  • @EmmanuelM. Isn't "Is Charles not here" as weird as in french ? (compared to "Is Charles not there") – Random Apr 6 '16 at 9:46
  • @Random: No, in English "Is Charles not here?" is perfectly normal. – ruakh Apr 14 '16 at 21:30
  • @ruakh Ah, thank you. Good to know. Actually, in french, this structure only works with a pronoun: "N'est-il pas là ?". – Random Apr 15 '16 at 7:26
2

In English to my ear these three sentences have slightly different connotations:

  1. "Is Charles here?" - simple question of fact
  2. "Isn't Charles here?" - surprise
  3. "Is Charles not here?" - puzzlement or even suspicion, asking for verification that he really isn't here.

I would therefore translate them as follows:

  1. "Is Charles here?" - Charles est-il ici?
  2. "Isn't Charles here?" - Charles n'est-il pas ici?
  3. "Is Charles not here?" - Charles n'est-il vraiment pas ici? (literally "Charles is he really not here?")

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