French: Negatives and using them in the perfect tense, or with infinitives

Some bits of grammar about using negatives in various situations, like with past participles or infinitives. I don't think it's something that you would absolutely need to know, just if you are a bit of a grammar geek like myself ;) Sorry for the amount of times I've used the word 'sandwich' in this, literally couldn't think of a better word haha... Enjoy!!

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Just like in English there are many ways in which to express negatives,
meaning different things. Here are some examples.
French English Example.
ne...pas no/not any je n'ai pas de chien
ne...rien nothing/not anything je n'ai rien vu
ne...que only il n'a qu'un frère neither..nor...not...or je n'ai ni temps ni argent
ne...jamais never/not ever je n'ai jamais visité l'Allemagne
ne...aucun(e) no/not one/not any il n'a aucune idée originale no more/no longer je ne le vois plus
ne...personne no one/nobody il n'y a personne dans la rue
ne...guère hardly/not much elle ne réflechit guère
ne...nulle part nowhere/not anywhere tu ne vas nulle part!
ne...nullement not at all ça ne me plait nullement!
Positioning of negatives around past participles and infinitives
In the perfect tense in french, some negative expressions will 'sandwich' just the avoir
part of the expression, but others will 'sandwich' both the avoir part and the past
Je n'ai rien vu
the 'ne' and 'rien' just goes around the avoir part.
Je n'ai vu personne
the 'ne' and 'personne' go around both the avoir bit and the past participle.
Likewise, in expressions which use infinitives, some negative expressions go together
before the infinitive whereas others 'sandwich' the infinitive.
J'essaie de ne pas faire beaucoup
'ne pas' goes before the infinitive 'faire'.
J'essaie de ne voir personne
'ne' and 'personne' sandwich the infinitive 'voir'.

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Luckily there is a pattern, the same negative expressions which just go
around the avoir verb in the perfect tense are the same ones that go
before the infinitive in infinitive expressions.
'Sandwich' avoir only, go together 'Sandwich' both avoir and past
before infinitive expressions. participle, 'sandwich' infinitives
pas aucun(e)
rien…read more


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