Ceci, cela = this, that (demonstrative pronouns)

Demonstrative pronouns ceci (this) and cela (that) refer to an idea or indefinite expression.

Ceci is the contraction of ce + ici (=this), whereas cela is the contraction of ce + là (=that).
Here are the different ways to use ceci and cela.

Ceci or cela

1. Distance

As in English, ceci (this) refers to an object closer to the speaker and cela (that) to a more distant object. 

Tiens, range ceci dans le tiroir !
Here, put this away in the drawer!

Ceci marche avec des piles, mais pas cela.
This works with batteries, but not that.

2. Notions

When referring to a notion, ceci (this) introduces the notion whereas cela (that) refers to an idea already mentioned.

L'environnement est une cause importante. Je comprends cela.
The environment is an important cause. I understand that.

N'oubliez jamais ceci : l'adjectif s'accorde toujours avec le nom.
Never forget this: the adjective always agrees with the noun.

Cela dit, il est quand même un très bon ami.
That said, he's still a very good friend.

ATTENTION: ceci/cela versus ça

In everyday, less formal speech, ceci and cela are commonly replaced with ça.

Tiens, range ça dans le tiroir !
Here, put this away in the drawer!

J'ai toujours détesté ça !
I've always hated that!

N'oubliez jamais ça : l'adjectif s'accorde toujours avec le nom.
Never forget this: the adjective always agrees with the noun.

Fixed expressions such as that said (cela dit) can never become ça dit.


Ceci and cela

Note that when you use ceci and cela together as contrasting elements, you cannot replace them with ça.

1. Distance

When using both ceci and cela in the same sentence, ceci refers to what's closest to the speaker and cela to what's farthest from them.

Ceci m'appartient, cela t'appartient.
This belongs to me, that belongs to you.

J'ai toujours détesté ça !
I've always hated that!

Ceci, dans ma main, est un stylo, et cela, sur la table, est un crayon à papier.
This, in my hand, is a pen, and that, on the table, is a pencil.

2. "Former/Latter"

When referring to notions, ceci refers to the latter idea (closer to the second part of the sentence) and cela the former idea (farther from the second part).

Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela.
Doing my homework or sleeping, I prefer the latter rather than the former.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela.
Doing my homework or sleeping, I prefer the latter rather than the former.


J'ai toujours détesté ça !
I've always hated that!


Cela dit, il est quand même un très bon ami.
That said, he's still a very good friend.


Ceci, dans ma main, est un stylo, et cela, sur la table, est un crayon à papier.
This, in my hand, is a pen, and that, on the table, is a pencil.


J'ai toujours détesté cela !
I've always hated that!


L'environnement est une cause importante. Je comprends cela.
The environment is an important cause. I understand that.


Ceci marche avec des piles, mais pas cela.
This works with batteries, but not that.


Tiens, range ça dans le tiroir !
Here, put this away in the drawer!



Ceci m'appartient, cela t'appartient.
This belongs to me, that belongs to you.


Tiens, range ceci dans le tiroir !
Here, put this away in the drawer!


N'oubliez jamais ça : l'adjectif s'accorde toujours avec le nom.
Never forget this: the adjective always agrees with the noun.


N'oubliez jamais ceci : l'adjectif s'accorde toujours avec le nom.
Never forget this: the adjective always agrees with the noun.


Q&A Forum 5 questions, 17 answers

DiegoC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

There seems to be a mistake in this lesson

Note: when they are both used, ceci usually refers to the 'former' and cela the 'latter' idea.


It is the other way round, I think.

Asked 2 weeks ago
ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour !

I think the error is in the example which corresponds to this rule ->

Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela.

Doing my homework or sleeping, I prefer this rather than that.

Here, ‘ceci’ should be associated with the former option- Faire mes devoirs and ‘cela’ with the latter idea - Dormir.

Earlier, I had reported via “Report Issue” button but it seems no correction has been made.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I think Diego is correct, ceci should be "the latter". Every other source seems to define ceci /cela in that way. Also, in the example, it's natural to assume that I prefer sleeping to doing homework. Note that dormir and ceci are highlighted in bold to show that they correspond.

I wonder if the example has already been changed - didn't it used to say "the latter" rather than "this"? It doesn't really make sense now, there's no way in English to know what is meant by "this" and "that".

DiegoC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

My reasoning is that "ceci" points to the "closest" option (the latter), and "cela" to the furthest option (the former), as in proximity within the phrase.

Agreed with Alan that "this" and "that" don't really make sense for this particular sentence.

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour à tous !

If you view Madame Cécile’s answer in the following link then she states that “ if you have 'this' and 'that' , 'ceci' will always be the first example and 'cela' the second.”

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/questions/view/query-regarding-ceci-cela-ca#Answer-10450

So, ceci should be the first one “faire les devoirs” and cela, the second one “dormir”

There seems to be a mistake in this lesson

Note: when they are both used, ceci usually refers to the 'former' and cela the 'latter' idea.


It is the other way round, I think.

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Sumesh C1Kwiziq community member

Elle pourra partir plus tôt : je lui ai promis ________.

In the above question the answer is cela,. Can it is alternatively written as " je le lui ai promis "

Asked 3 weeks ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Sumesh,

Yes, you could say-

'je le lui ai promis'

but if the quiz question was testing 'ceci, cela' the system will only accept the latter.

I hope that helps!

Elle pourra partir plus tôt : je lui ai promis ________.

In the above question the answer is cela,. Can it is alternatively written as " je le lui ai promis "

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Query regarding ceci/cela/ça

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

In a quiz, I was given the following sentences->

1. Ils sont riches. J'ai lu ________ quelque part. 

(They're wealthy. I read that somewhere.)

Now, the correct answer was cela/ça. Though I got it right but I would like to ask why “ceci” is inappropriate.

2. Elle pourra partir plus tôt : je lui ai promis ________. (She will be able to leave earlier: I promised her that.)

Here, too I would question whether “ceci” is acceptable or not.

3. ________  sera prévu. (It will be taken care of. )

The accurate answer is “Ce” but why can’t one use “Ça/Ceci/Cela” .

Merci beaucoup pour votre aide.

Je vous souhaite une bonne journée.

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Shrey,

This (ceci) and that (cela/ça) have an element of distance just as 'here' (ici) and 'there' ()  but in temporal terms, so in No1 & No 2 of your examples I would have used, 

ça

If No 3  was in a different tense it would be -

C'est prévu ----> C'était prévu -----> Ce sera prévu ( using 'ce')

but you would use ça for the following -

'Ça/Cela a été prévu' for the sake of euphony.

But interesting question, nevertheless!

 

 

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

Je voudrais vous remercier pour votre réponse.

I would just like to know what exactly do you mean by “temporal terms” which brings a distinction between ‘ceci’ and ‘cela’. 

I request you to explain this with two or three examples which would surely enhance my learning.

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Madame Cécile ! 

Sorry for posting another follow-up to my query but I only desire perfection which I have been acquiring since a long time from teachers at Kwiziq and hence asking a related question.

These two sentences are from the lesson-

1.L'environnement est une cause importante. Je comprends cela.

This sentence highlights the fact that the environment is an important cause. The speaker then confirms by mentioning that he is understanding the above said line. This depicts a  sense of ‘distance’ between the thoughts of the speaker.

2.Ceci est essentiel donc soyez attentifs à la leçon.

This sentence highlights that the concept that the professor is teaching at the very moment is crucial and hence one must draw attention towards the lesson.

Madame, is my understanding correct as per what you were trying to explain ?

Merci beaucoup et À bientôt !

CécileKwiziq team member

Sorry, Shrey, I meant to come back to you earlier ...

To answer your first query, what I meant is that just as in English if you have 'this' and 'that' , 'ceci' will always be the first example and 'cela' the second and in relative distance in space or time, 'ceci' will be nearer than 'cela'.

Having said that ( or should it be this!), when they are used on their own the distinction is much more vague just as in English and there will be some exceptions to this rule.

The interpretation of your examples sound correct to me...

Bonne continuation!

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Madame Cécile !

I am posting a follow-up to my question as I wasn’t convinced with the opinions in the following link and thought it would be best to consult my mentor than to assume what is correct-

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/questions/view/there-seems-to-be-a-mistake-in-this-lesson

In your previous response you mentioned ->

Just as in English if you have 'this' and 'that' , 'ceci' will always be the first example and 'cela' the second and in relative distance in space or time, 'ceci' will be nearer than 'cela'.

Now, in the example which is quite frequently put up on the forum-

Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela.

Doing my homework or sleeping, I prefer this rather than that.

Here, ceci should be the first one “faire les devoirs” and cela, the second one “dormir” according to your explanation which mentions-

Ceci-first example  

Cela-second example 

I just reviewed the lesson and went through the updates and this example has been put up in a different way against my understanding.

Have I misinterpreted something which you wanted me to understand the other way ?

Merci encore et Je vous souhaite une bonne journée!

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Shrey ,

In the case of ceci/cela meaning the former/latter what Aurélie says is that the word used nearest to the verb will be replaced by 'ceci' and the furthest by 'cela', so in this example dormir is 'ceci' and 'faire mes devoirs' is cela .

I know it is a bit odd but you would probably just say:

Je préfère dormir que faire mes devoirs 

or 

Je préfère dormir à faire mes devoirs

Hope that helps!

Query regarding ceci/cela/ça

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

In a quiz, I was given the following sentences->

1. Ils sont riches. J'ai lu ________ quelque part. 

(They're wealthy. I read that somewhere.)

Now, the correct answer was cela/ça. Though I got it right but I would like to ask why “ceci” is inappropriate.

2. Elle pourra partir plus tôt : je lui ai promis ________. (She will be able to leave earlier: I promised her that.)

Here, too I would question whether “ceci” is acceptable or not.

3. ________  sera prévu. (It will be taken care of. )

The accurate answer is “Ce” but why can’t one use “Ça/Ceci/Cela” .

Merci beaucoup pour votre aide.

Je vous souhaite une bonne journée.

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SallyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I thought that "Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela." meant "I prefer the latter (dormir) rather than the former (devoirs)"

But the Note says that ceci means former and cela means latter.  Which is correct?

Asked 7 months ago
ClaireA1Kwiziq community member

Yeah, I could have sworn that ceci was the latter and cela was the former. 

SallyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

If we are correct, then the Lesson is incorrect and should be changed.  If we are incorrect, then some textbooks need to be changed!

DiegoB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It is the other way round, indeed: cela (former) / ceci (latter). Same as with -ci / -la in https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/pronoun-type/pronoms-demonstratifs-demonstrative-pronouns. It definitely makes sense, the former being "further" than the latter somehow.

Sally asked:View original

I thought that "Faire mes devoirs ou dormir, je préfère ceci plutôt que cela." meant "I prefer the latter (dormir) rather than the former (devoirs)"

But the Note says that ceci means former and cela means latter.  Which is correct?

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LukasC1Kwiziq community member

Cela étant dit = That being said?

One of the test questions was to translate "That being said" to French. Is "Cela étant dit" a correct translation? It was not accepted as such, but some web searching shows that at least other people think that one is correct in addition the official answer "cela dit".
Asked 2 years ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
"Cela étant dit" is certainly grammatically correct. I suspect, however, that it sounds very stilted and unnatural to French ears. I have encountered "cela dit" but have never heard someone use "cela étant dit".

-- Chris (not a native speaker).
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Lukas, Je suis d'accord avec Chris. J'ai utilisé «cela dit» et je l'ai aussi entendu usé.
LukasC1Kwiziq community member
Thanks to you both! I became a little bit wiser :)

Cela étant dit = That being said?

One of the test questions was to translate "That being said" to French. Is "Cela étant dit" a correct translation? It was not accepted as such, but some web searching shows that at least other people think that one is correct in addition the official answer "cela dit".

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