C’est versus Il est/Elle est: It Is [Explanation + 14 Examples]

c'est versus il est_elle est

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In this French grammar lesson we will discuss c’est versus il est/elle est.

How do you say “it is” in French?

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • c’est versus il est/elle est: describing people
  • c’est versus il est/elle est: inanimate nouns
  • how c’est versus il est/elle est are used in sentences
  • how you can immediately test your knowledge on c’est versus il est/elle est
  • how c’est versus il est/elle est Anki files can be downloaded.

Please refer to the French A1 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar if you are curious about how c’est versus il est/elle est fits in French A1 grammar.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about how to say “it is” in French!

Table of Contents

Describing People

In this chaper of c’est versus il est/elle est we will look at describing people.

C’est and il est/elle est have different rules for this.

Both rules will be given and per rule you will find a few example sentences showing you practical examples.

  1. c’est + any form of article/determiner+ noun

Anytime he/she/it is followed by un/une/le/la/du/mon/ma… (any form of article/determiner) you will use c’est.

C’est le dentiste.

It’s the dentist.

C’est une fille.

It’s a girl.

C’est le beau pompier.

It’s the handsome fireman.

Qui est Paul ? C’est mon oncle.

Who is Paul? It’s my uncle.

  1. Il est/Elle est + Adjective

Anytime he/she/it is followed by an adjective you will use il est/elle est.

Elle est paresseuse.

She is lazy.

Il est fort.

He is strong.

Elle est déterminée.

She is determined.

Il est intelligent.

He is smart.

Things (inanimate objects)

In this chaper of c’est versus il est/elle est we will look at things (inanimate nouns).

Essentialy these are nouns that are not people.

C’est and il est/elle est have different rules for this.

Both rules will be given and per rule you will find a few example sentences showing you practical examples.

  1. C’est for statements and opinions about general/unspecific things.
  1. Il est/elle est for statements and opinions about specific things.

C’est belle.

It’s beautiful. [the art in the Louvre]

Elle est belle.

It’s beautiful. [a specific painting in the Louvre]

In the first sentence, one can say that generally speaking the art in the Louvre is beautiful. There is no specific piece that is being referred to.

In the second sentence, someone is referring to a specific painting in the Louvre.

Faites-vous de la musique ? – Oui, c’est merveilleux.

Do you make music? – Yes, it’s wonderful.

Aimez-vous ma chanson ? – Oui, elle est merveilleuse.

Do you like my song? – Yes, it’s wonderful.

In the first sentence someone is making a general statement about music. Music in general is wonderful.

In the second sentence someone is refering to a specific song.

Aimez-vous le brocolli ? Oui, c’est délicieux.

Do you like brocolli? Yes, it’s delicious.

Aimez-vous le brocolli ? Oui, il est délicieux.

Do you like brocolli? Yes, it’s delicious.

In the first sentence someone is making a general statement about liking brocolli. In everyday life, this person likes brocolli.

In the second sentence someone is having a meal, and is being asked about a specific piece of brocolli.

This part is often tricky to people.

When is something specific and when is it not?

Even for normal French people this can be ambigious sometimes.

Keep these rules in mind and practice.

This will make more sense the more you spend time on learning French.

C’est versus Il est/Elle est in a Nutshell

This is one of the trickiest things you will face in French.

It’s okay if you are not entirely confident after just having read this.

In a nutshell c’est versus il est/elle can be described as follows.

C’est is followed by a noun.

Il est/elle est is followed by an adjective.

If you remember this then you will be correct in most of the cases.

Sentences Overview of C’est versus Il est/Elle est

The final section of this lesson on c’est versus il est/elle est is about seeing them in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on c’est versus il est/elle est through examples.

This section contains all of the previous sentences, neatly organised in one place.

C’est le dentiste.

It’s the dentist.

C’est une fille.

It’s a girl.

C’est le beau pompier.

It’s the handsome fireman.

Qui est Paul ? C’est mon oncle.

Who is Paul? It’s my uncle.

Elle est paresseuse.

She is lazy.

Il est fort.

He is strong.

Elle est déterminée.

She is determined.

Il est intelligent.

He is smart.

C’est belle.

It’s beautiful. [the art in the Louvre]

Elle est belle.

It’s beautiful. [a specific painting in the Louvre]

Faites-vous de la musique ? Oui, c’est merveilleux.

Do you make music? Yes, it’s wonderful.

Aimez-vous ma chanson ? Oui, elle est merveilleuse.

Do you like my song? Yes, it’s wonderful.

Aimez-vous le brocolli ? Oui, c’est délicieux.

Do you like brocolli? Yes, it’s delicious.

Aimez-vous le brocolli ? Oui, il est délicieux.

Do you like brocolli? Yes, it’s delicious.

Test Your Knowledge on C’est versus Il est/Elle est

It’s not enough just to read the article on this subject.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want!

Choose the right answer!____ le beau pompier. [It’s the handsome fireman.]
 
Choose the right answer!____ fort. [He is strong.]
 
Choose the right answer!____ belle. [It’s beautiful.] (the art in the Louvre)
 
Choose the right answer!____ belle. [It’s beautiful.] (a specific painting in the Louvre)
Choose the right answer!Qui est Paul ? ____ mon oncle. [Who is Paul? It’s my uncle.]
 

Anki File for C’est verus Il est/Elle est

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French A1 you can practice every French A1 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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