C&039est vs. Il Est In French – StoryLearning

    When you learn French, you realize that it is similar to English in many ways. but there are also many differences, sometimes even when saying the most basic things.

    An example is expressing “is” in French, and sometimes even something as simple as this can cause problems.

    To help, in this post I’ll go into detail about how to use c’est vs il est in French, explaining the main differences so you always feel confident using the correct one.

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    c’est vs. il est in french: summary – differences between french and english

    in English, choosing between ‘he’ or ‘she’ and ‘it’ is determined by whether you are talking about a person or a thing. for people (and some animals), we use ‘he’ or ‘she’, but for everything else, we use ‘it’.

    However, in French, it doesn’t work that way.

    in French, all nouns are either masculine or feminine, and il and elle are used with non-human things as well as people.

    At the same time, French has several other pronouns that have no direct equivalents in English.

    one of them, ce, is used with the verb être (to be) to make c’est in the present tense – as well as ce sont in the plural and ce sera, ce serait etc. in other times.

    c’est is often translated into English as ‘is’, but the important thing to remember is that in French, choosing ce isn’t determined by whether you’re talking about a person or a thing.

    rather, ce is a neutral or impersonal pronoun often used to talk about things that have no obvious grammatical gender.

    at least that’s the theory, but in practice the best way to understand it is to look at examples to see how things work in different sentences. so let’s do it now.

    Être + adjective + of/that

    Here’s how to use French adjectives with être and de/que. think of the English phrase “it is dangerous to play with fire”.

    in this sentence, “it” does not refer to anything specific, it is used impersonally. in French, it can be expressed like this:

    • il est dangereux de jouer avec le feu (it is dangerous to play with fire)
    • in French, the pronoun il is used, and it works like ‘it’ in English. il does not refer to anything specific, it is used impersonally.

      here are some more examples:

      • il est intéressant d’apprendre des langues étrangères (it is interesting to learn foreign languages)
      • il est difficile d’en apprendre plusieurs (it is difficult to learn several)
      • in these examples, the adjective is followed by de and then the infinitive. however, you can also make sentences with que, like this:

        • il est préférable que tu viennes (it is preferable that you come (lit. ‘that you come’)
        • il est dommage qu’il ne sache pas (it’s a pity I don’t know)
        • however, with all these sentences, you can also use the c’est form, like this:

          • c’est dangereux de jouer avec le feu (it is dangerous to play with fire)
          • c’est dommage qu’il ne sache pas (it’s a pity I don’t know)
          • The il est version is more elegant or formal and is a better choice for writing, but in informal spoken French, you’ll often hear the c’est form, so it’s okay to use it when speaking.

            describing events, actions or states

            When describing events, actions, or states, you should always use the c’est form. here are some examples:

            • il va oublier, c’est sûr (he will forget, for sure)
            • (in this sentence, ce refers to the ‘action’ of forgetting).

              • je ne peux pas te le dire, ce serait trop facile (I can’t tell you, that would be too easy)
              • (here, ce serait, in the conditional tense, refers to the ‘action’ of telling you.)

                • ils vont se marier bientôt, ce sera une grosse fête (they are going to get married soon, it will be a big party)
                • (this is an ‘event’, we’re talking about ‘your wedding’).

                  • c’est moche, le temps aujourd’hui (the weather is bad today (lit. it is ugly, the weather today)
                  • (This sentence is very typical of spoken French. c’est is used to refer to the “state” of the weather.)

                    The important thing to remember is that when talking about events, actions, or states, only the c’est form is possible; you cannot use il est for sentences like these.

                    describing general classes of people or things versus specific examples

                    When describing people or things, il est and c’est are possible, but the meaning is different. if you use c’est, it means you’re speaking in general, while il est is used to refer to a specific instance of that thing. look at these sentences:

                    • c’est froid, la mer (the sea is cold)
                    • elle est froide, la mer (the sea is cold)
                    • in English, the translation is the same, but in French, there is a difference. in the first sentence, you are making a general statement about the sea being cold; You are not talking about a specific sea, you are just saying that the sea, in general, is cold.

                      however, in the second sentence, you are talking about a specific sea at a specific time. maybe you’re at the beach and you just dipped your toes in to check the temperature, and if the water is cold, you could say elle est froide, la mer!

                      (You could also say la mer est froide, but this type of sentence inversion is a common feature of spoken French.)

                      here are some more examples:

                      • c’est mignon, les chatons (kittens are cute). kittens as a general class.
                      • il est mignon, ce chaton (this kitten is cute). this particular kitty.
                      • c’est bon, le café (the coffee is good). coffee in general.
                      • il est bon, ce café (this coffee is good). this particular cup of coffee.
                      • c’est bon, la bière (beer is good). beer in general.
                      • elle est bonne, cette bière (this beer is good). this particular beer.
                      • note that the masculine form of the adjective is always used with c’est: the adjective does not “agree” with feminine or plural nouns.

                        Also, in this type of sentence you use c’est and not ce sont, even with plural nouns (such as chatons), to describe things in general.

                        telling time and other temporal expressions

                        when telling time, you should use il est; using the c’est form is incorrect.

                        • il est 5 heures (it’s 5 o’clock)
                        • il est midi (it’s noon)
                        • with the words tôt (early), tard (late) and temps (time), you should use il est:

                          • il est trop tôt
                            • (it’s too early)
                            • il est déjà assez tard
                              • (it is already quite late)
                              • il est temps d’y aller
                                • (it’s time to go)
                                • but with other time expressions, including days, dates, months, and seasons, you should use c’est:

                                  • c’est lundi
                                    • (it’s Monday)
                                    • c’est septembre
                                      • (it is September)
                                      • c’est le 8 septembre
                                        • (it is September 8)
                                        • Twitter Grammar Pack

                                          Être followed by anything that is not an adjective

                                          when être is followed by something other than an adjective, things are a bit easier, because the simple rule is to use ce. There’s one major exception to this, as we’ll see in a moment, but if you stick to this rule, you won’t go far wrong. here are some examples:

                                          • c’est le mien
                                            • (it’s mine)
                                            • c’est mon uncle
                                              • (is/he ​​is my uncle)
                                              • c’est un désastre
                                                • (it’s a disaster)
                                                • c’est ce que j’ai dit
                                                  • (it is/that’s what I said)
                                                  • ce sont des aigles
                                                    • (they are eagles)
                                                    • c’était hier qu’il a appelé
                                                      • (it was yesterday that he called)
                                                      • ce sera le facteur
                                                        • (that will be the postman)
                                                        • talking about jobs

                                                          The main exception I just mentioned is when talking about jobs, in which case il est (or elle est when talking about a woman) is used. here are some examples:

                                                          • il est professor
                                                            • (is a teacher)
                                                            • il est programmer
                                                              • (he is a programmer)
                                                              • elle est journalist
                                                                • (she is a journalist)
                                                                • elle est programuse
                                                                  • (she is a programmer)
                                                                  • As you may notice, in French, there is no article before work. in English, we say ‘he is a teacher’ or ‘she is a journalist’, but in French, we don’t use a or join.

                                                                    However, there is another way to express this. You can also use c’est to say what someone’s job is, in which case you do need the item, like so:

                                                                    • c’est un professeur
                                                                      • (is a teacher)
                                                                      • c’est un programmer
                                                                        • (he is a programmer)
                                                                        • c’est une journale
                                                                          • (she is a journalist)
                                                                          • c’est une programuse
                                                                            • (she is a programmer)
                                                                            • when saying someone’s work in this way, there is little difference in meaning between the form il est/elle est and the form c’est. however, if the work is modified, you must use the c’est form, like so:

                                                                              • c’est un bon professor
                                                                                • (he is a good teacher)
                                                                                • c’est une journale célèbre
                                                                                  • (she is a famous journalist)
                                                                                  • c’est un traducteur qui parle manyieurs langues
                                                                                    • (he is a translator who speaks several languages)
                                                                                    • nationalities

                                                                                      when saying someone’s nationality, the easiest way is to use the form il est/elle est, like this:

                                                                                      • il est allemand (he is german)
                                                                                      • elle est thaïlandaise (she is Thai)
                                                                                      • as you can see, the pattern is the same as with jobs and there are no articles. the only difference is that, technically, the words for nationalities are adjectives, while the words for jobs are nouns.

                                                                                        just like for jobs, it’s also possible to express the same thing with c’est – and just like with jobs, when you use this form, you also need to add the item, like so:

                                                                                        • c’est un allemand (it’s german)
                                                                                        • c’est une thailandaise (she is Thai)
                                                                                        • There isn’t a huge difference in meaning here: the difference between il est allemand and c’est un allemand is similar to saying ‘he’s german’ or ‘he’s a german’ in English.

                                                                                          However, there is a grammatical difference, because technically, with the c’est form, nationality words are nouns.

                                                                                          It may not seem so important to make this distinction, but you may have noticed that with the form il est, nationalities are written with a lowercase first letter, while with the form c’est, they are written with a capital letter. first letter.

                                                                                          This is because, in French, nationality adjectives are not capitalized, but nationality nouns are, so this is something to pay attention to when writing.

                                                                                          finally, and again, just like for jobs, when nationality is changed in any way, you mustuse the c’est form, like so:

                                                                                          • c’est un allemand riche (he is a rich German)
                                                                                          • c’est une thaïlandaise que je connais depuis des années (she is a Thai woman I have known for years)
                                                                                          • c’est vs. il est in French: translation tips

                                                                                            To finish, here are a couple of tips to help you decide whether to choose il est or c’est when speaking French.

                                                                                            c’est vs il est in French followed by an adjective alone

                                                                                            when être is followed by a single adjective, both c’est and il est are possible, but the meaning is different. check out this example that shows how it works:

                                                                                            • c’est dangereux (it’s dangerous)
                                                                                            • il est dangereux (he is dangerous)
                                                                                            • in the former, the meaning is impersonal. without any context, we don’t know what we’re talking about, but we can imagine that it’s some kind of dangerous situation like walking near the cliffs: “it’s dangerous (walking near the cliffs)”.

                                                                                              in the second, however, we’re talking about something specific. without additional context, we can guess that it’s probably a person, and we’re saying that it’s dangerous.

                                                                                              c’est to present something, il to talk about it from then on

                                                                                              when you introduce a noun, you usually use c’est, but then you use il/elle to describe it (because it describes it using adjectives). here are some examples:

                                                                                              • c’est ma voiture, elle est neuve
                                                                                                • (this is my car, it’s new)
                                                                                                • c’est un chien méchant, il est dangereux
                                                                                                  • (he is a bad dog, he is dangerous)
                                                                                                  • c’est un vieil appareil, il est dangereux
                                                                                                    • (it is an old machine, it is dangerous)
                                                                                                    • The second and third examples also show how il est can be used with animals or things, not just people.

                                                                                                      a final word on c’est vs. il est in French

                                                                                                      In this post, I gave you a broad overview of how to use c’est vs il est in French. however, please note that native speakers may not always follow these rules.

                                                                                                      so, for example, you might hear them use c’est when, based on what we’ve seen here, il est seems more appropriate.

                                                                                                      The best thing you can do is keep your ears open and copy what native French speakers say, because when you’re learning a foreign language, that’s almost always your best guide.

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