1

A colleague just asked me about a file on my computer, and I answered him that the file is not a virus, but I'm doubting if I did it correctly.
Let's compare with the sentence "There are no viruses":

English Dutch French
There are no viruses Er zijn geen virussen Il n'y a pas de virus
It's not a virus Het is geen virus "Ce n'est pas un virus." OR "Ce n'est pas de virus."

I went for the first choice, but I'm afraid it might be an anglicism.

Which one is right?

1 Answer 1

3

The first sentence is right. Orally, that would more likely be: C'est pas un virus while the first one would be Y'a pas d'virus.

The second sentence ("être pas de virus") just doesn't work.

What would be possible:

Ce ne sont pas des virus. (There are things, but they are not viruses.)

Ce n'est pas du virus. (Colloquial, taking virus as uncountable.)

9
  • Do you have some "official" reference?
    – Dominique
    Feb 22, 2023 at 15:36
  • 1
    @Dominique you can check in any grammar how negation is formed. C'est un virus. -> Ce n'est pas un virus. However, il y a (=there is) is a somewhat special grammatical structure: il y a -> il n'y a pas de.
    – Roger V.
    Feb 22, 2023 at 21:25
  • Il n'y a pas un virus is also possible but can be ambiguous (pas un virus, mais trois !) while pas de virus is not ambiguous.
    – jlliagre
    Feb 22, 2023 at 23:53
  • How does “ce ne sont pas des virus” mean ‘there are things, but nothing like viruses’? Wouldn’t it just be ‘these aren’t viruses’? Feb 23, 2023 at 0:54
  • 1
    Ah, okay – I misunderstood, then. I would phrase that as ‘there are [some] things, but they’re not viruses’, since ‘nothing like’ means ‘completely dissimilar to’ (≈ il y a bien des trucs, mais ils ne sont absolument pas comme des virus). Feb 23, 2023 at 12:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.