Could you tell me if we always use the same construction when there's a negative:

J'ai un stylo. Je n'ai pas de stylo

J'ai le temps. Je n'ai pas DU temps/LE temps or ALWAYS de temps?

C'est une voiture du papa. Ce n'est pas une voiture du papa?

In what meaning can we use it? And which article?


2 Answers 2


The construction depends on the article.

With a "defined" article (le/la/les) the article doesn't change

J'ai LE temps --> Je n'ai pas le temps.

J'ai LE moral --> Je n'ai pas LE moral.

< C'est LA voiture de mon papa --> Ce n'est pas LA voiture de mon papa.

With an "undefined" article (un/une/des), the article becomes "de" ("d'" in front of a vowel)

J'ai UN stylo --> Je n'ai pas DE stylo.

J'ai vu DES oiseaux --> Je n'ai pas vu D'oiseaux.

With a "partitive" article (du/de la), the article becomes "de"

J'ai acheté DU pain --> Je n'ai pas acheté DE pain.

Choosing the article in the positive sentence is another question. In your exemple you wouldn't say "du papa" alone because "du = de le" in this case but it is undefined ("du papa de Marie" would be correct because you define whose father it is).


It is almost the same construction each time: pronoun + "ne" + verb + "pas" + rest of the sentence.

If the verb starts with a vowel, you wxill use "n'" instead of "ne". For example you do not say "je ne ai pas de voiture" but "je n'ai pas de voiture".

"Pas" can be use for almost all negative sentences, but there are other words if you want to be more precise:

  • "ne ... plus", which means "not anymore, no more". Example: "Je n'ai plus de lait." means "I don't have milk anymore." (thanks Cédric Bourgot)
  • "ne ... jamais", which means "never". Example: "Je ne vois jamais sa voiture" means "I never see his car."
  • "ne ... personne", which means "nobody" or "anybody". Example: "Je ne vois personne dans la salle" means "I do not see anybody in the room" or "I see nobody in the room".
  • "ne ... rien", which means "nothing" or "anything". Example: "Il ne mange rien" means "he eats nothing" or "he do not eat anything".
  • "ne ... guère", which means "hardly". Example: "Je ne pense guère qu'il soit honnête" means "I hardly think that he is honest".
  • "ne ... ni ... ni ...", which is the same as "... neither ... nor ...". Example: "Ce n'est ni Pierre, ni Jacques qui ont volé le crayon." means "It is neither Pierre, nor Jacques who stole the pencil".

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