Don't mix them up: "C'est" vs 'Il est'

Using French expressions "C'est" and "Il est" can be tricky because both expressions describe and introduce things and people. However, there are some rules which can help you choose the right one!

First of all, note that "c'est" is "ce" combined with "est" (the conjugation of the verb être/ -to be). It means "it is", "this is", and "that is".

"Il est" means "he is" and "it is" depending where you use it.

When and how to use "C'est"?

1) C'est is used to describe a situation or to give an opinion. It's used with an adjective:

C'est ennuyant! (That's boring!)

Montréal? C'est magnifique! (Montreal? It's magnificent!)

***This adjective is always masculine.

2) C'est is used to identify who or what someone or something is. It's followed by a noun or proper names.

C'est la maison de Paul (This is Paul's house)

C'est une voiture (This is a car)

C'est Marguerite (It's Marguerite)

***Except proper names such as Marguerite, the articles are required for nouns: la maison de Paul, une voiture, etc.)

When and how to use "Il est"?

1) Il est refers to someone or something previously mentioned. It's followed by an adjective:

Il est jeune (He's young) 

Il est chou (He is cute)

2) Il est describes the person's nationality, occupation or religion (no article is required):

Quelle est sa profession? (What is his job?)

Il est étudiant (He's a student)

Quelle est sa nationalité? (What's his nationality?)

Il est italien (he is Italian)

Fill in the blank 

Fill in the blank with "c'est" or "il est".

1) _______ une bouteille.

2) Tom? ____ sympha.

3) Qui est-ce? _____ moi.

4) Chris? _____ intelligent.

5) Quelle est sa profession? ______ acteur.

6) Apprendre le français? _____ amusant.

7) Paris? _____ beau. 

8) Quelle est la nationalité de Jean? ______ allemand. 

9) ____ un cahier; ___ est très utile.

10) ___ le chien de Kate.

Check answers

1) C'est

2) Il est

3) C'est

4) Il est

5) Il est

6) C'est

7) C'est

8) Il est

9) C'est / Il est 

10) C'est


Check out my book Don't mix them up to learn the differences between the most confusing French word pairs

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