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In other words, can one say, e.g.,

Est un avocat.

to mean the same thing as

C'est un avocat.


marked as duplicate by Teleporting Goat, Toto, Jylo, Community Dec 15 '16 at 17:51

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I don't believe "Est un avocat" is a grammatical sentence, although I'm not a native speaker so I can't say for sure. I've never seen a sentence like this.

I would say only "c'est" is possible here.

"Est" and "c'est" are both possible in some circumstances when there is another noun phrase that serves as the subject, but I don't think they are exactly interchangeable because they can give a different feel to the sentence. I can't describe the difference perfectly, but in general "est" has a more formal feel, and "c'est" is sometimes informal (although other times "c'est" is idiomatic and acceptable even in formal writing in this kind of context, according to jlliagre's answer here: La contraction « c'est » peut être après un sujet ?)

For example, "mon frère est un avocat" and "mon frère, c'est un avocat" are both grammatical. Note that you are supposed to write a comma before "c'est" in sentences like this.

Similar question: Why is "c'est" used in this sentence and not "est"?


You can't say "Is a lawyer." in english. In french it's the same, you have to answer the question "Who (is a lawyer)?". In english you would most likely use "he/she" in french we also use the equivalent of "it/this/that" to anwser this question.

Therefore you have three different forms in french:

Il (elle) est avocat(e).

And the one that may look odd to you(?), but is totally fine in french:

C'est un avocat.

It is a composition of "ce" and "est" that has been contracted to "c'est".

In my opinion you should use one of firsts two if your speech focuses on the person, and the third if the focus is on the job itself. For example if a child asks "who is this guy with the strange dress?" this question obviously concerns the job and you should use "C'est un avocat." and not "Il est avocat". Even though the second is correct, it sounds a little strange in this context.


The "c'" of "c'est" is the contraction of "ceci" or "cela" and stands for a virtual subject of the verb. It is a demonstrative one, like "this", "that"... in English.

You can't say "Est un avocat.", as you can't say "Is a lawyer." in English.

However you can have in a litterary context something like:

Dans un bureau sombre était un avocat.

It means "there was a lawyer in a dark office" but with a more narrative tone, like if the camera was zooming from the office to the lawyer. After this sentence one would expect a description of this lawyer and this lawyer to be the protagonist of a story.

Anyway, you can't just remove "c'" and expect the sentence to remain the same.

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