C’EST vs IL EST

C’EST and CE SONT are followed by determined nouns  

Using the French expressions c’est and il est can be problematic because they mean the same thing,  but they are not interchangeable.  Which one to use completely depends on grammar, and not on meaning.  You’re going to be surprised at how easy it is to learn a few rules, and then you can master this tricky grammar topic.



Look for “determiners” like:  un, une, de la, du, des, mon, ma, mes, ce, cette, etc.

Le chienThe dogC’est le chien de ma soeur.It’s my sister’s dog.
Une FrançaiseA French womanC’est une Française qui chante cette chanson.It’s a French woman who sings this song.
Mes affairesMy belongingsCe sont mes affaires que tu vois sur la table.It’s my belongings that you see on the table.

C’EST and CE SONT are followed by a proper noun or a disjunctive pronoun.

JenniferC’est Jennifer. C’est elle.It’s Jennifer. It’s her.
FrançoisC’est François. C’est lui.It’s François. It’s him.
Tristan et CharlotteCe sont Tristan et Charlotte. Ce sont eux.It’s Tristan and Charlotte. It’s them.

DISJUNCTIVE PRONOUNS

JEC’est MOI – It’s me
TEC’est TOI – It’s you
ILC’est LUI – It’s him
ELLEC’est ELLE – It’s her
NOUSC’est NOUS – It’s us
VOUSC’est VOUS – It’s you
ILSCe sont EUX – It’s them
ELLESCe sont ELLES – It’s them

C’EST and CE SONT are followed by dates

Mon anniversaire?My birthday?C’est le 23 mars.It’s March 23.
La fête?The party?C’est le week-end prochain.It’s next weekend.

C’EST and CE SONT are followed by adjectives for non-specific things, and the adjective will always be masculine and singular.

Comments in general, personal opinions, collective opinions

Descriptions of people and things in general

BeaubeautifulC’est beau!It’s beautiful!
ChaudhotC’est chaud!It’s hot.
*Note that this is not in reference to the weather which would be Il fait chaud.

IL / ELLE EST and ILS / ELLES SONT are followed by an adjective when you refer to a specific person or thing.

sympaniceElle est sympa.She is nice.
tristesadIl est triste.He is sad.
marrantfun / funnyIls sont marrants.They are fun / funny.
FrançaisFrenchIl est Français.He is French

IL / ELLE EST and ILS / ELLES SONT are followed by professions

*Note that in French you don’t need UN or UNE before a profession in French.

professeurteacherElle est professeur.She is a teacher.
médecindoctorIl est médecin.He is a doctor.
musicienmusicianIls sont musiciens.They are musicians.

Determiners: Forms of TOUT

Determiners:  Possessive adjectives

Determiners:  Definite, indefinite, and partitive articles

Determiners:  Demonstrative adjectives



Here’s what’s included in the full course:

Video tutorial – 5 minutes
Video support guide – PDF
Practice exercise – 27 sentences – multiple choice
Challenge exercise – 50 sentences – multiple choice
Challenge cards for printing – the same sentences as in the exercise
Challenge cards for online use – one per page – the same as in the exercise


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