As we were taught that for indefinite articles, in negation they change to de. In the sentence - J’habite pas dans une jolie maison, there is no change of une to de. Why is that?

  • 6
    Saying that in French "indefinite articles, in negation [ ] change to de" is not correct because it is grossly oversimplified. Where did you read that? Let's compare *je n'ai pas de chat" with *ce n'est pas un chat, c'est un chien".
    – None
    Mar 7 '20 at 13:20
  • J'habite dans une maison moche...
    – jlliagre
    Mar 7 '20 at 19:49
  • It all depends what you want to negate... Is your hous ugly or do you live in an appartment (which might be nice or not) ?
    – Laurent S.
    Mar 9 '20 at 9:23

In your example there shouldn't be any change in my opinion.

The sentence you provided becomes in negation: Je n'habites pas dans une jolie maison.

There is a possibility for a change here but you need to double check:

J'ai une jolie maison -> je n'ai pas de jolie maison

What changes for sure is 'des'. It changes to 'de' when it precedes a descriptive adjective - Adjectif qualificatif.


Elle a DES cheveux becomes elle a DE beaux cheveux

Il donne DES conseils becomes il donne de bons conseils

I hope this helps.


  • I am just wondering how natural " je n'ai pas de jolie maison" sounds...
    – user22700
    Mar 9 '20 at 14:58
  • I used this sentence to reason with the example in the question. It's open for debate :-) Mar 11 '20 at 10:55

You want the negation of the sentence "J'habite dans une jolie maison". Obviously the negation is not "Je n'habite pas dans une jolie maison" but

"La maison dans laquelle j'habite n'est pas une jolie maison ".

It is indeed clear that the emphasis in the first sentence is about the qualification of your house as "jolie" (nice), thus if you want to negate that very sentence, you should put the negation on that qualification. Of course, you do not want to say that you do not live anywhere, but that the place in which you live turns out (maybe) to be fine but not nice.

  • 2
    I'm sorry but as a native "Je n'habite pas dans une jolie maison" could perfectly be the negative. Although there's still some ambiguity possible (e.g. you live in an appartment and not in a house), that's a possibility.
    – Laurent S.
    Mar 9 '20 at 9:40

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