French negative sentences explained + free grammar exercise at the end.

You might like being positive but… sometimes you have to use negative sentences. That’s what this post is about!

Learn all the different variations of negative sentences in French: how to form them, their meaning, and the mistakes not to make. 

Forming a negative sentence is a basic and necessary skill and part of basic French grammar. It’s part of the DELF A1 french grammar syllabus and something you must master if you want to pass the exam or simply speak French naturally. 

The Basic French Negative Sentence

Affirmative and negative sentences in French are not so different. And I must say… they are actually easier to form than in English (oops). 

When learning French grammar, one of the first things you will learn is how to convert positive sentences to negative in French. 

An affirmative sentence follows the pattern: 

S + V + O 

Subject verb object

To convert it to the negative form, you simply add ne before the verb and pas after. 

S + ne + V + pas + O 

Ils sont gentils. 
They are nice.


Ils ne sont pas gentils.
They are not nice. 

Careful! When the verb start with a vowel, “ne” becomes “n’ “

Je n’aime pas cet endroit. 
I don’t like this place. 


When the tense is composed of two parts (temps composé), the ne… pas will be placed in between the auxiliary, aka the first part of the verb.

Je ne suis pas allé chez lui hier. 
I didn’t go to his place yesterday. 

Other French negative sentence structures. 

There are many other versions of this simple structure and you can express many ideas by just learning this French grammar point. 

Ne… rien – nothing

Il n’y a rien dans cette ville.
There is nothing in this city.

Elle ne t’a rien dit?
She hasn’t told you anything?

Ne… jamais – never

Je ne suis jamais allé en France.
I have never been to France. 

Je pense qu’elle n’a jamais pensé à ça.
I think she has never thought about this. 

Ne… plus – not anymore

Désolé, mais on ne veut plus te voir ici.
Sorry, but we don’t want to see you here anymore. 

Tu ne me dis plus rien!
You don’t tell me anything anymore!

Ne…aucun – none, not any

Elle n’a aucun ami dans cette ville… c’est triste.
She has no friends in this city… it’s sad. 

Vous n’avez aucune idée de ce qui s’est passé!
You have no idea what happened!

Ne… personne – no one

Il n’y a personne!
There’s no one!

Je ne connaissais personne à cette fête.
I didn’t know anyone at that party. 

Ne … que – only

(I’ll admit, this one is weird…) 

Je ne veux qu’une chose… c’est rentrer chez moi.
I only want one thing… it’s to go home. 

Sarah ne veut que travailler… Il faut qu’elle se repose.
Sarah only wants to work… She needs to rest. 

Learn French with movies – Lingopie 

learn French with lingopie

How to sound French? Skip the “ne”. 

In spoken French, natives often skip the “ne” when using these structures. If you want to sound more natural, you can simply drop it. But be careful! Only the “ne”, not any of the other words.

J’aime pas ça!
I don’t like this!

Je vis plus chez mes parents depuis cinq ans.
I haven’t lived with my parents’ for five years.

French grammar exercise – Negative sentences examples

Translate these sentences from English to French (comment your answers below)

    1. I never go there. 

    1. She is not my friend anymore… 

    1. These children don’t drink enough water!

    1. I only eat out once a month. 

    1. I didn’t know you were coming today. 

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