Yes, it is possible to double your French speaking skills only by knowing an easy trick.

It is not only a matter of grammar, but also of compensatory strategies, in other words, the way you are using to compensate, for example, vocabulary that you do not yet know. This trick is the negation.

All that you can already say in a positive way (je suis = I am, je veux = I want, je vais = I’m going), you can with the negation say it in a negative way (je ne suis pas = I’m not, je ne veux pas = I don’t want to, je ne vais pas = I’m not going to). That’s 50% more French…

In French, there are several types of negation, but the most important and the easiest is the form « ne … pas ».

How it works ?

It’s not complicated. Just place the word ‘ne’ in front of the conjugated verb and the word ‘pas’ just behind the same conjugated verb. An example :

Je vais à Paris. -> Je NE vais PAS à Paris.
I’m going to Paris. I’m NOT going to Paris

Pay attention to the pronunciation: the ‘ne’ is pronounced [nə] and the ‘pas’ is pronounced [pa] (never pronounce the ‘s’).

Here are some examples in a video:


Pay also attention to the verbs beginning with a vowel or ‘h’. With these verbs, the ‘NE’ loses the letter ‘e’ and gains an apostrophe (‘), so that the pronunciation of French remains fluid. For example :

Il aime les fruits. -> Il n’aime pas les fruits.
He likes fruits. He does not like fruits.

Here are some examples of the « n’ » :


The negation of two indispensable expressions: « c’est » and « il y a ». You can not start learning French without knowing « c’est » and « il y a » (« it is » and « there is »). It is therefore useful to know how these expressions are used in a negation.

c’est -> ce n’est pas
it’s it’s not

il y a -> il n’y a pas
there is there is no

Recognize the right negative sentence with this exercise:


Try the negation with this exercise:


Negation and familiar French:

In familiar French, very often the « ne / n » is not pronounced. In familiar French, instead of saying:

Je ne vais pas au supermarché.
I’m not going to the supermarket.
we’ll say :
Je vais pas au supermarché.



The important thing…

is not to forget the « pas » just after conjugated verb. But then, for you, learners, what can you say? I advise you to learn the normal form of negation (the « ne / n ‘… not »), because this form is neutral, and may be very useful one day in writing or in more sustained conversations.

Negation and opposites: Mastering the negation helps you if you do not know the opposite of verbs. You mean you hate something, but you do not know the word « détester » (to hate)? Use negation: Je n’aime pas (I do not like).

A tool to survive:

The word « pas » can be used as a very useful survival tool.
Description situation: you want to describe something and you don’t know all the words, but you know the opposite. Just use the opposite word with « pas ». For the adjectives: « pas grand » « not tall » (so small), « pas gros » « not big » (so thin), « pas vieux » « not old » (so young), etc. For adverbs: « pas vite » « not fast » (so slowly), « pas gentiment » « not kindly  » (so badly), etc.
Injunction situation (French as could speak Friday with Robinson): pas toucher (not touch), pas faire ça (not do that), pas comprendre (not understand).

Freedom and flexibility: The negation not only helps you to double your French proficiency, but also gives you greater freedom of expression and greater flexibility.