French Word of the Day

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013


nothing, anything

Used with the present tense:
J’ai mal à l’estomac. Je ne mange rien.
I have a stomach ache. I’m not eating anything.

Used with the passé composé:
Je te jure, je n‘ai rien dit.
I swear to you, I said nothing.

Used as the subject of a sentence:
Rien n‘était prêt à manger.
Nothing was ready to eat.

Within a sentence, ne…rien surrounds the verb just like ne…pas and ne…plus. Unlike those examples, however, it also can be used as the subject of a sentence. Additionally, it can be used as a one-word reply to a question:

  • Vous n’avez rien mangé? (You didn’t eat anything?)
  • Rien! (Nothing)

Our example is one of several negative expressions in French. To see more common examples, click here.

Test yourself on today’s phrase and others about negation in French here.

Vocabulary Section: Negatives, Word of the Day