Spoken French Rules – Drop the “ne”

Do you say Je ne sais pas ?
Or Je sais pas ?
Or even faster in spoken French, J’sais pas ?

If you’re using the full “ne… pas” in a French conversation, you will sound formal and stilted.
Use this one simple tip instead, to sound more friendly in French – and speak like normal everyday French people!

C’est parti !

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1) Drop the “ne” – the basics

In French, we make negative sentences by adding ne… pas around the verb.
For example:
Je sais. = I know. (The “s” in “sais” is silent.)
Je ne sais pas. = I don’t know. (The “s” in “pas” is also silent.)

When speaking though, in an everyday conversation with friends or when buying bread or whatever, French people very, very often drop the “ne”. We just don’t say it.

So it becomes: Je sais pas. = I don’t know. (colloquial everyday French)
Or, when speaking fast (in everyday French), it becomes: J’sais pas / Chais pas.

This is NOT something we’d ever write down, but that’s the way it’s actually pronounced in real life.

Congrats! That’s the basics of it. Just drop the “ne” of “ne… pas” in spoken French.

2) Drop the “ne” – second example

Let’s try that again with: J’ai compris. = I understood. (silent “s” + nasal “on”)

So, you only need to add “pas” after the verb: J’ai pas compris. = I didn’t understand.

The formal way is: Je n’ai pas compris. = I didn’t understand. (with “ne”)

Did you notice? French language doesn’t like the sounds “uh” and “ah” together, so the “e” at the end of “Je” / “Ne” becomes an apostrophe before “ai.”
Je + ai → J’ai
Ne + ai → N’ai

3) Drop the “ne” – “tu” and “on”

In the second person, it makes:
Tu as compris. = You understood.
Tu n’as pas compris. = You didn’t understand. (with “ne”)
Tu as pas compris. = You didn’t understand. (everyday French)
T’as pas compris. = same thing, even more colloquial!

With “on” (= colloquial “we”) :
On a compris. = We understood.
On n’a pas compris. = We didn’t understand.
On a pas compris. = We didn’t understand. (colloquial)

With la liaison, the “n” between “on” and “a” gets heard. So in that case, dropping the “n” makes no difference with the pronunciation.

4) Drop the “ne” – “ne… plus”, “ne… jamais”

ne… plus” = not anymore (the “s” is silent) :
Je ne sais plus. / Je sais plus. / Chais plus. = I don’t know anymore.

ne… jamais” = never (the “s” is silent) :
Je ne sais jamais. / Je sais jamais. / Chais jamais. = I never know.

Je sais jamais où est la liaison. = I never know where to make the liaison.

Dropping the “ne” is part of the tricks of fast spoken French in everyday life. French people can drop letters, syllables, or even small words like this, just so they can speak faster.

Learn more with other lessons about speaking everyday French:

How to use La Liaison properly (Rules + Examples)
French Grammar: How to say “Plus”
French Accent Tips for English Speakers

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

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