FR: I'm sorry that I can't help you tomorrow


Senior Member
English (USA)
I've forgotten the mechanics or word placement of making this negative statement in French: "I'm sorry that I can't _______."
For example, would I say:
Je suis désolé de pouvoir pas t'aider demain.
Je suis désolé de pas pouvoir t'aider demain.
Je suis désolé de ne pouvoir pas t'aider demain ...
The presence of "ne" and "pas" sometimes confounds me. What would the correct rule be? Merci!
  • TJB

    Senior Member
    UK / English
    Although in the case of "pouvoir" the "pas" is often omitted:

    "Je suis désolé de ne pouvoir t'aider."


    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    Thanks. Confusing ... any rule or device to help remember when it's the "ne" or the "pas" that can be omitted?
    For a regular indicative negative sentence, it's the "ne" that we drop. «Je (ne) suis pas chinois, je suis japonais.»


    Senior Member
    Germany -> German
    Dropping "ne" should only happen in spoken language.
    Dropping "pas" only happens in written language, as far as I know. The dropping of pas refers to certain verbs only, but I don't exactly know which ones these are. Writing "pas" is always correct. Not writing "ne" is always wrong.