In the following sentence over Duolingo French course:

J'ai une autre voiture, mais elle est bleue.

This is the translation from the following English:

I have another car, but it is blue.

I typed in "c'est bleue" and got wrong.

I think it is clear that ce points to une autre voiture, so I can use it to point to it.

So I wonder, why is ce not correct in this sentence and it must be elle?


2 Answers 2


The reason is that "ce" does not express a grammatical gender, whereas "voiture" is feminine. "ce" is a demonstrative pronoun for things to which a gender is not defined, that is saying for things that are neither masculine nor feminine, as in French those two are the only genders nouns can have. When you have a sentence such as the following there is only one gender the antecedent can have.

  • -- Il m'a dit qu'il allait à la plage demain.
    -- Ce n'est pas vrai, il ne te dit pas la vérité!

The antecedent of "ce" is "il va à la plage demain"; you can call that what you want, an assertion (une assertion), a fact (un fait), even an answer (une réponse); therefore it is considered as having no gender although we don't bother much with that in grammar.

If you want a demonstrative pronoun for "voiture" you must use a feminine one, that is either "celle-là" or "celle-ci".

  • How about when the predicate is a noun phrase? Is "J'ai une autre voiture, mais elle est un(e)..." the only possibility, or would "J'ai une autre voiture, mais c'est un(e)..." be possible?
    – sumelic
    Jan 15, 2019 at 8:17
  • @sumelic You can use the second possibility; the first is not used: "j'ai une autre voiture mais elle est une voiture bleue"; although it is what you expect from the point of view of grammar in general (that is not specially French) you just don't say that this way in French. Only "j'ai une autre voiture mais c'est une voiture bleue"; there is evidently a problem of antecedent here and it seems to me it can't be anything but "autre voiture"; therefore this principle cannot apply; (next field)
    – LPH
    Jan 15, 2019 at 8:58
  • @sumelic the principle is not quite clear to me; it seems that in this case "ce" would not be the pronoun but what is called a "particule" a part of speech I do not know ; "c'est" would be "une locution de mise en relief", see the TLFi at "ce"
    – LPH
    Jan 15, 2019 at 9:00
  • I thought I remembered that "c'est un(e)" would be used in such a case, but I became uncertain when I read your answer. Perhaps you could mention this as an exception to the principle that " 'ce' is a demonstrative pronoun for things to which a gender is not defined"? There are some previous questions about this use of ce: french.stackexchange.com/questions/26629/…, french.stackexchange.com/questions/14645/…
    – sumelic
    Jan 15, 2019 at 9:01
  • @Tsundoku I don't get the idea in your correction; why get rid of the word "neutral"? It is the translation of "neutre" and "ce" is called "pronom démonstratif neutre" in the TLFI. Il s'agit bien du genre neutre, défini, par exemple, dans le dictionnaire de l'Ac..
    – LPH
    Sep 6, 2020 at 14:30

With "être + adjective" (or a noun that adopt an adjectival syntax for this particular construction, like with occupations), il(s)/elle(s) is used when the subject is 1. a Noun phrase or an independent pronoun and 2. specific.

In all other cases, ce is used: infinitive (se réveiller, c'est dur), subordinate clauses (que tu te soies réveillé, c'est bien), quantified NP (Quatre repas par jour, c'est beaucoup), partitive NP (des chips, c'est pas nourrissant) generic definite NP (l'hiver, c'est fatigant - that is, winter in general, rather than the particular winter we're in) and so on.

It has nothing at all to do with gender.

In the case of sentence in the question, we could rephrase it as "J'ai une autre voiture, mais cette autre voiture est bleue". Since "cette autre voiture" is both a noun phrase and specific, we have to use one of the +specific +NP pronoun, with the right number and gender agreement, that is to say, elle.

  • Do you consider "ce" as a demonstrative pronoun in "se réveiller, c'est dur", "que tu te soies réveillé, c'est bien", "Quatre repas par jour, c'est beaucoup", "(des chips, c'est pas nourrissant"? Are the antécédents "se réveiller", "que tu te soies réveillé", "Quatre repas par jour", "des chips"? Isn't rather this word what in the TLFi is called "une particule déictique ou base d'incidence"?
    – LPH
    Jan 15, 2019 at 20:05

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