James asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 5 years ago

What does il ne veut mean?

Does it mean he wants or he does not want

like in this sentence

3. Il ne veut travailler

2 Answers

  • Tangi
    Lv 7
    5 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Unless it's (very) literary, it has no meaning on its own in modern French.

    In literary or archaic French, "Il ne veut travailler" alone means "He doesn't want to work".

    However, if there's something after, it can make more sense like "Il ne veut travailler que le matin" (He only want to work in the morning) or "Il ne veut travailler pour personne" (He doesn't want to work for anybody/He wants to work for nobody)

    Negations in modern standard French are in two parts.

    Before the verb, there is the negative particle "ne" and after the verb, the negative adverb corresponding to the type of negation you're using.

    For example :

    - il ne veut pas travailler = he doesn't want to work (ne...pas = no/not)

    - il ne veut plus travailler = he doesn't want to work anymore (ne...plus = not anymore)

    - il ne veut jamais travailler = he never wants to work (ne...jamais = never)

    - il ne veut travailler que le matin = he only wants to work in the morning (ne...que = only)

    - il ne veut pas encore travailler = he doesn't want to work yet (ne...pas encore = not yet)


    That's how it is in standard French today but it was not always like this.

    The basic negation (today ne...pas) used to be like in the other Romance language, that's to say without a negative adverb. So "He doesn't want to work" would be "Il ne veut travailler".

    The other negative adverbs were used (not always the same way) but "pas" wasn't. Soon, it became a "cool" thing reinforce the negation like "Il ne marche pas" (He doesn't walk a step), "il ne boit goutte" (He doesn't drink a drop), "Il ne voit point" (He doesn't see a dot).

    It became the normal way to make a negation but eventually died. However, the use of "pas" (step) and "point" (dot) as an adverb of negation stayed. So "He doesn't want to work" would be "Il ne veut pas travailler" or "Il ne veut point travailler". And to a lesser extent "goutte" (drop) and a few others.

    "Point" died and "pas" became the only negative adverb for the basic negation. Today, "goutte" is still used in the set expression "n'y voir goutte" (to not see anything).

    So in modern French "He doesn't want to work" is "Il ne veut pas travailler".

    However, language evolve and in modern colloquial French (very common to the point of being used in political speech), the "ne" is dropped so instead of "Il ne veut pas", it's "Il veut pas". Instead of "Il ne veut plus", it's "Il veut plus".

  • Silver
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    It means he does not want, because 'ne' is before the verb (in the case, the verb is 'vest'). Normally the word 'pas' is also included after the verb, but sometimes 'pas' is left out - even though leaving it out is not proper grammar.

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