Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More on ne ... que and ne ... pas

My regular readers would know the confusion caused by ne … que, when you are more used to a negative in the form of ne … pas or ne … jamais. (see more at ‘about ne … que’)

Well, from what I read so far, turns out that the French may have the same problem. They therefore devised a wonderful solution round it.
Ask yourself: what causes the confusion?
The answer: the ‘ne’ that precedes a verb, that brings on the anticipation of a ‘pas’ after the verb.
So, what is the ‘ne’ is got rid of. After all, the ‘ne’ doesn’t seem to add any apparent value. And that’s exactly what the French have done, at least in the spoken form of the language.

The following extract is from the book I have grown to love, Complete French.

The structure is: ne + avoi + que + à but in everyday language the ne disappears …
Ils n’ont qu’à … all they need to do … becomes ils ont qu’a … [pronounced isonka]
Tu n’as qu’à … all you need to do … becomes t’as qu’à … [pronounced taka]
Il n’y a qu’à … all that’s needed … becomes y a qu’à … [yaka]

So, to take the sentences I originally used in the previous blog post:

Je parle (hear) français (hear) = I speak French
Je ne parle pas français (hear) = I don’t speak French … becomes Je parle pas français
Je ne parle plus français = I don’t speak French anymore … becomes Je parle plus français

Je ne parle jamais français = I never speak French … becomes Je parle jamais français (hear jamais)
Je ne parle que français = I speak only French … becomes Je parle que français.

Hmm… nice solution.

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