Les adverbes de négation

Adverbs of negation in French are always coupled, however this has become less likely in spoken French as I, and others, have discussed in the Disappearance of 'ne' in French. In written French, it is a must. The 'ne' must always be coupled with a partner to form an adverb of negation.

For example:

    Pseudo_Intellectual n'achète jamais ses armes pour les jeux de Donjons Gradeur Nature.
    Pseudo_Intellectual never buys his boffer weapons for LARPs.

    Cette épée courte ne fesse¹ que 2 de dommage.
    This short sword hits but 2 of damage.

    Je ne vous verrai plus jamais aux rencontres 2600.
    I'll never see you at the 2600 meetings.

    Sapristi! Je n'ai guère le temps d'aller rencontrer achan et p_i.
    Drats! I do not have time to go meet achan and p_i.

Except for that last example where 'guère' is employed, in spoken French, you may subtract the 'ne' (subsequently, n') from all of the above examples while still retaining the same meaning. 'Guère' is exempt from this rule, because it is almost always used in literature. I've seldom (if never) heard anyone use this in speech, however I believe that if you did use it without the 'ne', you'd still achieve the same meaning as with it.

¹"fesse" is French slang for 'hit'. Its origins come from its original noun meaning: ass. Kicking ass == hit. A widely used term in LARPs ;)

Thomas Miconi: Nicely done!

Ideas were taken from a brief conversation in the Chatterbox.

Addendum :

  1. Je ne vous verrai plus jamais aux rencontres 2600 : I will never see you any more / again at the 2600 meetings

      "Plus" is not a negation adverb : it simply means "more". The "ne..plus" construction is the direct counterpart of the English "no more", "no .. any more", etc.

  2. Cette épée courte ne fesse que 2 de dommage : (Uh ?)

      Closest possible translation : "This short sword only spanks 2 of damage". While the word "spank" may be used metaphorically in familiar English, just in the same way as "beat", the verb fesser has no such abstract meaning (in fact, the very use of this verb is deprecated).

  3. Sapristi! Je n'ai guère le temps d'aller rencontrer achan et p_i : Drats ! I hardly have time to go meeat achan and p_i

      Guère means hardly. Although it is scarcely used in colloquial speech, it is much more common than the plainly antiquated Sapristi- which you should only use if you really want people to look at you as if you were a talking platypus.

  • ne...pas - not. Je ne comprends pas l'italien. - I do not understand Italian.
  • ne...plus - no more. On n'y va plus. - We don't go there any more.
  • ne...rien - nothing. Vous n'avez rien. - You have nothing.
  • ne...aucun(e) - not one. Non, nous n'avons aucune banane aujourd'hui. - No, we have no bananas (not a single banana) today.
  • ne...jamais - never. Je n'ai jamais fini mon projet. - I never finished my project.
  • ne...personne - no-one. Je n'ai vu personne. - I saw nobody. (Personne is really a pronoun, but forms negative phrases in the same way as the others, which are adverbs.)
  • ne...que - only. Je ne vois qu'un chien. - I only see a dog.
  • ne...point - not at all. (literary) Et ils lui demandèrent: Quoi donc? es-tu Élie? Et il dit: Je ne le suis point. (John 1:21) And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.

Thanks to thbz for his help.
One more thing. With ne...que and ne...aucun(e), the que or aucun(e) must directly precede the noun that it is limiting, whereas the rest of the adverbs must directly follow the conjugated verb. Usually this isn't an issue, but it comes up most commonly in the passé composé (direct past tense).

Je n'ai pas vu un chien - I did not see a dog.
Je n'ai vu qu'un chien - I saw only one dog.
Je n'ai vu aucun chien - I saw no dogs.

In the first example, the plus follows the conjugated helping verb avoir, while in the second two examples, it precedes the noun, with or without the article.

As Tiefling demonstrated, personne, while it is technically an adverb, acts more like a direct object, in that it directly follows the operative verb, even if that happens to be a past participle. Thus, in his example, personne follows vu, the past participle of voir.

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