How to Negate Indefinite Articles (un/une become de/d’)

how to negate indefinite articles

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In this French grammar lesson, you will learn how to negate indefinite articles.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • how to negate indefinite articles in French
  • exceptions to the rule
  • how negations of indefinite articles are used sentences
  • how you can quiz yourself on how to negate indefinite articles
  • how you can download Anki files for how to negate indefinite articles

Please refer to the French A1 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about this fits in French A1.

By the end of the lesson, you will know all about how to negate indefinite articles!

Table of Contents

How to Negate Indefinite Articles

In this section I am going to explain how to negate indefinite articles (un and une) in French.

  • In a negation, indefinite articles (un and une) become de or d’ (in front of a vowel or mute h)

J’ai un vélo, mais je n’ai pas de voiture.

I have a bicycle, but I don’t have a car.

Il a un bureau, mais il n’a pas de chaise.

He has a desk, but he doesn’t have a chair.

Nous avons un bateau, mais ils n’ont pas de bateau.

We have a boat, but they don’t have a boat.

Vous avez un chat ? Je n’ai pas de chat.

Do you have a cat? I don’t have a cat.

Vous n’avez pas de guitare ?

You don’t have a guitar?

Please note that in French, the number 1 (un/une) is the same as a/an (un/une).

  • So, if you use the number 1 in a negation, then you don’t have to change un/une into de/d’

Je n’ai pas un frère, mais deux.

I don’t have one brother, but two.

Je n’ai pas une montre, mais deux.

I don’t have one watch, but two.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are only two expections to this rule.

  1. You don’t change du/de la/de l’/des to de or d’ in negations with the following verbs 
  • avoir l’air
  • devenir
  • demeurer
  • être
  • paraître
  • rester
  • sembler

These are called verbs of state.

There’s no need to memorise them all.

The most important ones are être (to be) and devenir (to become), as they are the verbs most often used in French.

être

Il n’est pas patient.

He is not patient.

être

Ils ne sont pas gentils.

They are not kind.

devenir

Elle ne va pas devenir amie avec vous.

She’s not going to become friends with you.

  1. Definite articles (le, la, l’, and les) do not change in negations.

J’ai les billets. Je n’ai pas les billets.

I have the tickets. I don’t have the tickets.

Definite articles are not partitive articles, but I wanted to have this in here to make sure you don’t make any mistakes with them.

Examples Sentences on How to Negate Indefinite Articles

The final section of this lesson on how to negate indefinite articles is about seeing the negations in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on how to negate indefinite articles through examples.

J’ai un vélo, mais je n’ai pas de voiture.

I have a bicycle, but I don’t have a car.

Je n’ai pas un frère, mais deux.

I don’t have one brother, but two.

Je n’ai pas une montre, mais deux.

I don’t have one watch, but two.

Tu n’as pas de manteau.

You don’t have a coat.

Il a un bureau, mais il n’a pas de chaise.

He has a desk, but he doesn’t have a chair.

être

Il n’est pas patient.

He is not patient.

devenir

Elle ne va pas devenir amie avec vous.

She’s not going to become friends with you.

Nous avons un bateau, mais ils n’ont pas de bateau.

We have a boat, but they don’t have a boat.

Vous avez un chat ? Je n’ai pas de chat.

Do you have a cat? I don’t have a cat.

Vous n’avez pas de guitare ?

You don’t have a guitar?

être

Ils ne sont pas gentils.

They are not kind.

Quiz Yourself on How to Negate Indefinite Articles

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

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.

Anki File for How to Negate Indefinite Articles

It is important to do the Anki exercises for this lesson so that you can better 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. This is recommended as you will have every lesson that you need. You shouldn’t miss out on the complete learning experience!

You can also choose to just get the Anki File for French A1 Negations. This only has the negations for French A1.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or if you don’t know what Anki is, then please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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