It's from a short story by the Mauritian writer Sailesh Ramchurn:

Il lui fallut néanmoins prendre le dessus, être à la hauteur des espérances... Processus de longue haleine, parcours qu'elle n'aurait accompli sans l'appui des autres.

It's the lack of a 'pas' after 'n'aurait' that caught my attention.

Edit: this question has been linked to a question about the use of ‘ne’ without ‘pas’ when employed with the verb ‘pouvoir’. However, this is a different issue and seems to concern the omission of ‘pas’ on account of the presence of ‘sans’ - as explained by Frank in his answer below. It would be nice to see further examples of this specific - ‘ne’ without ‘pas’ because of ‘sans’ - construction.

  • 1
    Ce n'est pas vraiment une négation, mais ne utilisé pour renforce l'idée positive.
    – Roger V.
    Jul 24, 2023 at 11:38
  • This could also answer the question.
    – None
    Jul 24, 2023 at 11:43
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    Tom - I can generate more examples, but the construction is quite general: il n'aurait su aménager sa maison sans son aide, il n'aurait pu l'atteindre sans monter sur une échelle, il ne l'aurait jamais remarqué sans l'aide d'une longue-vue, il ne l'aurait trouvé sans l'aide du détective ...
    – Frank
    Jul 25, 2023 at 14:33
  • Thank you Frank, that's most appreciated.
    – Tom Adair
    Jul 25, 2023 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


In the negative phrasing ne...sans, the pas is optional, and it is a matter of style whether you insert that pas or not. It can be felt by some that having both pas and sans is redundant, or that ne...sans is "lighter". But both are perfectly idiomatic and grammatically correct. It may be the case that the form ne...sans is somewhat more literary.

The meaning however does not change depending on the presence or absence of that pas. To be clear, in both cases, the meaning is that she did accomplish something, but that she would not have accomplished it without the support of others.

qu'elle n'aurait accompli sans l'appui

that she wouldn't have accomplished without the support

qu'elle n'aurait pas accompli sans l'appui

that she wouldn't have accomplished without the support

Note also that ne...pas is not the only way to negate a sentence in French. One also finds, for example: ne...plus ("not anymore"), ne...jamais ("not ever"). However, for those, you could not add a pas in the middle.


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