What is Gallicism & Connection With Adjective, Adverb In French Explained

A gallicism is a phrase or grammatical construction peculiar to the French language

C'est or Il Est?

When describing people and things with a noun after être in French, you usually can't use the personal subject pronoun like il, elle, ils, and elles. Instead, you must use the impersonal pronoun ce, which can also mean "this" or "that". Note that ce is invariable, so it can never be ces sont.

Impersonal Subject PronounPersonal Subject Pronoun
Singularc'estil/elle est
Pluralce sontils/elles sont

These pronouns aren't interchangeable. The basic rule is that you must use ce when être is followed by any determiner—for instance, an article or a possessive adjective. Note that c'est should be used for singulars and ce sont should be used for plurals.
  • C'est un homme. — He's a man. / This is a man. / That is a man.
  • Ce sont des chats. — They're cats. / These are cats. / Those are cats.
  • C'est la fille. — She is the girl. / This is the girl. / That is the girl.
  • Ce sont les femmes. — They are the women. / These are the women. / Those are the women.

If an adjective, adverb, or both appear after être, then use the personal pronoun.
  • Elle est belle. — She is beautiful. (Or "It is beautiful.")
  • Il est très fort. — He is very strong. (Or "It is very strong.")

As you know, nouns generally need determiners, but one important exception is that professions can act as adjectives after être. This is optional; you can also choose to treat them as nouns.
  • He is a doctor. — Il est médecin. / C'est un médecin.

However, c'est should be used when using an adjective to make a general comment about (but not describe) a thing or situation. In this case, use the masculine singular form of the adjective.
  • C'est normal ? — Is this normal?
  • Non, c'est étrange. — No, this is strange.

Idioms with Avoir

One of the most common idioms in French is the use of the verb avoir in certain places where English would use the verb "to be". This is especially common for states or conditions that a person may experience.

  • Elle a chaud. — She is warm. (Or "She feels warm.")
  • Il a froid. — He is cold.
  • Elle a deux ans. — She is two years old.
  • J'ai peur ! — I am afraid!

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