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Thread: FR: "ne" without "pas" - "ne" explétif / "ne" littéraire

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    FR: "ne" without "pas" - "ne" explétif / "ne" littéraire

    hello,
    I have come across the use of 'ne' without any other word to complete the negation (like pas, plus, rien, jamais, etc) and i was wondering what it means. I vaguely remember reading somewhere, perhaps years ago, that it can be used for formal writing and it does not negate the sentence, but I am not sure. Any help would be appreciated.
    Merci beaucoup!!

    'il ne saurait exiger la communication d'un projet de status...'
    It is in reference to the formation of a french corporation.

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one. See also:
    FR: plus <adjectif> que + (ne) (le) - "ne" explétif & pronom
    FR: avant que (ne) - "ne" explétif après les conjonctions suivies du subjonctif
    FR: savoir, pouvoir, oser, cesser - "ne" without "pas" in negative
    FR: "pas" without "ne" - omitting "ne" in casual negation
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 31st January 2014 at 6:50 PM. Reason: note

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    Re: 'ne' without 'pas'

    It has exactly the same meaning as "ne saurait pas".

    "Ne saurait _" is a formal, idiomatic expression that you may translate to "cannot".
    Last edited by panzemeyer; 20th June 2006 at 12:32 PM.

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    Re: 'ne' without 'pas'

    I add that we never use 'pas' with 'savoir' in this kind of sentence, where the meaning is that the personn can't do the what come after "saurait" (here, "exiger").

    I hope I'm clear.

    Florian
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 23rd September 2012 at 2:42 PM. Reason: unnecessary quotation of previous post removed to save space

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    This may help. As others have said, it depends on the context.
    http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa011901L.htm
    http://french.about.com/library/weekly/aa011901e.htm


    The site above contains a link indicating that it's not necessary to use the "pas" with the conditional form of savoir, as others have suggested or said.
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 23rd September 2012 at 2:43 PM. Reason: idem

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    I've tried making sense of the other postings concerning "ne" and the "ne expletif" but I can't figure out what applies to the case I'm looking at. To my understanding the expletive form "Ne" is not a form of negation? Is this correct? Is my sentence below an example of the "ne expletif"?
    Here's the case I'm unsure about:

    "Je ne pein mes tableaux de si riche peinture,
    Et si hauts arguments ne recherche a mes vers..."

    Sorry for the lack of accents. I'm assuming the "ne" here isn't negating anything?

    Thanks!

    And I forgot to add, just FYI, this is taken from the context of Du Bellay.
    Last edited by jann; 19th July 2008 at 5:43 AM. Reason: consecutive posts merged

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    Re: "Ne" without "pas" in literature

    In this context (the poem of DuBellay) these "ne" are poetic form of negation.
    Like in the first rhymes : Je ne veux point (here "ne ... point" = "ne ... pas")

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    Re: "Ne" without "pas" in literature

    Ah! So assuming it is not a "ne expletif", whenever he uses the "ne" by itself it is a (literary) form of a negation?

    Example: "I don't paint my canvases with such rich paint"

    Thank you so much, I was wondering why nothing was making sense.

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    "ne..." negation without "pas"

    I came across this when searching for an address in Pagesjaunes.com:
    "Nous ne pouvons vous fournir de réponse pour l'une des raisons suivantes..."
    Can someone explain why there is no "pas" in the "ne..." phrase? Am I correct in my understanding that this would not be spoken this way (the tenancy is to drop the "ne" and keep the "pas")?

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    Re: "ne..." negation without "pas"

    Quite a recurrent question.
    In formal sentences, you can omit "pas" with 4 verbs (as stated here):
    "pouvoir, savoir, oser, cesser"
    but we haven't been able to know why

    And quite funnily, in colloquial speech, that would be the other way round, omitting the "ne" & keeping the "pas":
    "je sais pas"


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    Re: "ne..." negation without "pas"

    I just found (in my Grevisse ) that with those verbs, "ne" can be omitted if and only if followed by an infinitive (most cases, in fact, but...).

    So "je ne sais !" is wrong (you wouldn't say it, would you?): you have to say "je ne sais pas !". Then you're back to the regular colloquial form "je sais pas !" where you omit "ne"

    En espérant juste avoir fait avancer le Schilimibimili... ibimimibili... mbilic
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 23rd September 2012 at 2:43 PM. Reason: unnecessary quotation of previous post removed to save space
    Ceux qui ne savent rien en savent toujours autant que ceux qui n'en savent pas plus qu'eux.

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    Re: "ne..." negation without "pas"

    je ne sais s'il compte venir... c'est incorrect ?

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    Re: Grammar: "ne..." negation without "pas"

    Je me doutais bien qu'il faudrait que je tourne la page...

    Donc, toujours selon M. Grevisse, savoir est un cas un peu (voire très) particulier :

    1 s'il signifie l'incertitude, « pas » est facultatif ;
    2 s'il signifie la (mé)connaissance, « pas » est obligatoire(e.g. il ne sait pas lire) ;
    3 s'il est au conditionnel, comme équivalent de « pouvoir », « pas » est une faute (ex.: il ne saurait pas venir plus tôt) ;

    En résumé :

    « je ne sais [pas] s'il compte venir » => cas 1 => « pas » facultatif => OK

    Ouh que ça fait du bien de retrouver son brave Grevisse
    Ceux qui ne savent rien en savent toujours autant que ceux qui n'en savent pas plus qu'eux.

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    FR: ne without pas - ne explétif et ne littéraire

    I'm not able to understand the "ne"'s in french without the pas/que/plus/etc. coming after! Does that make sense? For example,

    L'élément subordonné ne peut exister seul.

    Would that be the same as "L'élément subordonné ne peut pas exister seul." If so, any rhyme or reason as to why they left out the "pas"? This next phrase, I don't understand:

    Il est plus adroit que je ne le croyais.

    Is the "ne" required in this last sentence? Why is it any different than "que je le croyais"? Oh i feel like i'm losing my head, can anyone give me any simple tips on to when to just use the "ne" without the "pas" before i go crazy?!!

    merci mille fois en avance à tous!

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    Re: FR: ne without pas

    L'élément subordonné ne peut exister seul.
    Would that be the same as "L'élément subordonné ne peut pas exister seul."
    Correct. Leaving off the "pas" has a sort of literary/formal effect, but it is only possible with a few verbs. I believe it's called the ne littéraire and you can read about it here.

    Il est plus adroit que je ne le croyais.
    Is the "ne" required in this last sentence?
    This is the ne explétif. It is not a negation, and there are only a few set expressions that must/may use it, so it's really quite simple. You can read more on the ne explétif here. I'm sure there must be a few forum threads too...

    Does that help?
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 21st August 2012 at 3:05 PM. Reason: thread merged

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    Is this "ne explétif" always optional based on the register? Could you say "tu comprends plus que tu parles" rather than "tu comprends plus que tu ne parles"?
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    I was taught that it's de rigueur in formal situations and more careful writing, but in spoken/informal/general use, it's left out.

    I remember using the ne explétif with a friend once online, and he responded "Mais tu viens d'utiliser le ne explétif avec moi ?" He's from Quebec though. I've seen my friend in southern France use it with me, but he also uses the passé simple sometimes

    It can be used with all verbs, but it's not the verb that determines its presence... it's the grammatical situations presented in the link DearPrudence gave.
    Corrigez mes fautes et faites des suggestions si possible

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    Is this "ne explétif" always optional based on the register? Could you say "tu comprends plus que tu parles" rather than "tu comprends plus que tu ne parles"?
    Does your example say You understand more than you speak?
    I'm not sure to understand what it means!

    Anyway, the ne explétif can be used in such a sentence, yes.
    Absence de contexte = Texte de sens abscons !

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    Does your example say You understand more than you speak?
    I'm not sure to understand what it means!
    Yes, exactly - someone who sits there understanding much of what is said but who lacks the confidence or ability to speak as well as they understand - why does it not work as I put it? Edit - would "tu comprends plus que ce que tu ne parles" be better?
    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    Anyway, the ne explétif can be used in such a sentence, yes.
    Yes, I know - my question is whether it can be omitted in such sentences.
    Last edited by timpeac; 31st July 2007 at 2:33 AM.
    ‘If a chap can’t compose an epic poem while he is weaving a tapestry, he had better shut up.' William Morris.

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    Quote Originally Posted by timpeac View Post
    would "tu comprends plus que ce que tu ne parles" be better?
    No, your first go was better, I just didn't get it, because opposing understand and speak didn't seem that logical to me at first glance.

    And actually, I would keep the ne in the sentence in normal speech as well as in formal one. My problem is that I can't say is this ne is explétif or not: there's a kind of a negation about speaking, in this sentence. And the verb being subjunctive rather indicative indicative rather subjunctive makes this case even more different to the opening sentence! Tough question...
    Last edited by Maître Capello; 23rd September 2012 at 2:50 PM. Reason: quote trimmed to save space
    Absence de contexte = Texte de sens abscons !

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    Re: Avant que je ne parte...

    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    My problem is that I can't say is this ne is explétif or not: there's a kind of a negation about speaking, in this sentence. And the verb being subjunctive rather indicative makes this case even more different to the opening sentence! Tough question...
    I'm puzzled. If you were refering to timpeac's example "tu comprends plus (le français)/que tu ne (le) parles"... I don't see a subjunctive, but rather a comparative que followed by indicative. And I would say that the ne is indeed expletive.

    imho, it is the same structure as tu écoutes plus que tu (ne) parles/nous écrivons mieux que nous (ne) parlons. It seems to be different in France, but Quebecers have no problem whatsoever omitting this ne.
    Last edited by Nicomon; 31st July 2007 at 5:13 AM.

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