What’s the Difference Between Celui, Celle, Ceux, Celles?

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Celui, celle, ceux, and celles are pronoms démonstratif (demonstrative pronouns). The closest equivalent meanings to these in English are “the one”, or “the ones”. Here are some examples on how to use them!

What’s the Difference Between Celui, Celle, Ceux, Celles?
Featured article photo: Québec City, Québec by Rich Martello (Unsplash License)

In English, celui, celle, ceux, and celles mean “the one” or “the ones”. For example, when you want to say something like, "This is the one that I prefer", you would say "C'est celui que je prefère."

The key to determining whether to use celui, celle, ceux, and celles lies in recognizing whether you are referring to masculine or feminine words, and also whether you are referring to something in singular or plural terms.

Let's explore some examples with these four demonstrative pronouns.

Celui → Masculin singulier

  • Entre ces deux résultats, c'est celui que je prefère.
    = Between these two outcomes, this is the one that I prefer.

Celle → Feminin singulier

  • La valise que je recherche est celle avec un ruban vert.
    = The suitcase I am looking for is the one with a green ribbon.

Ceux → Masculin pluriel

  • Ceux qui veulent faire du football, peuvent le faire.
    = The ones (Those) who want to play football can do so.

Celles → Feminin pluriel

  • Pour notre activité, les femmes sont celles qui doivent chanter.
    = For our activity, the women are the ones who need to sing.

-ci, -là

You might recall here: What's the Difference Between Ce, Cette, Cet, and Ces? that you may use -ci to emphasize that an object is physically near to you and -là to describe that an object is physically far from you. For instance, you may say cet homme-ci to say "this man here" and cet homme-là to say "that man there".

So what's the relevance to celui, celle, ceux, and celles?

Turns out we can also attach -ci and -là to these four demonstrative pronouns and give them the same effect! For example:

  • Fini celui-ci et nous passerons à celui-là.
    = Finish this one (here) and we will move on to that one (there).

... + de / des / d'

We can also use celui, celle, ceux, and celles to show possession. This happens when they are followed by either de / des / d'.

Take a look at this example:

  • C'est la voiture de mon père.
    = This is my dad's car.

    If it is clear that we are talking about la voiture, we may instead substitute it for celle (because la voiture is a feminine noun). We may express it this way:

    = C'est celle de mon père.

Another example:

  • Les uniformes des Cassandra sont blancs. Ceux d'Angelique sont noirs.
    = Cassandra's uniforms are white. Angelique's are black.

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