Categories: French Vocabulary

Sans vs Sans que

Sans vs Sans que

“Sans” + noun, pronoun, infinitive means ‘without’ + noun, pronoun, gerundive
“Sans que” + subjunctive means ‘ ‘without’ + gerundive

1. Sans

Il est parti sans dire un mot (infinitive) : He left without a word.
Une semaine sans rien faire (infinitive): A week doing nothing (the subjects are the same in the two parts of the sentence).
I came in without seeing him: Je suis entré sans le voir (the subjects are the same in the two parts of the sentence).
Sans rire: without laughing.
Elle est partie sans ses chaussures (noun): She left without her shoes (or barefoot).
Je préfère y aller sans lui (pronoun): I prefer to go without him.

We also use “sans” to translate noun-less:
To be fatherless (to have no father): être sans père.
To be homeless: être sans abri.

And also for noun-free:

Sugar-free: sans sucre.
Trouble-free: sans problème.
Stress-free: sans stress.


Sans ça, sans quoi: otherwise.
Il me rend mon argent, sans quoi j’appelle la police: He gives my money back otherwise I call the police.
(we can also say: sinon or autrement)

2. Sans que

The subjects in the two parts of the sentence are not the same.

Elle est venue sans que je le sache: She came without my knowing (we use the subjunctive because of the possessive ‘my’ and the gerundive)
Je suis entré sans que personne (ne) me voie: I came in without anybody seeing me (anybody+gerundive)
Elle l’a fait sans que j’aie besoin de lui dire: She did it without me (my) having to tell her (or him).


Sans que ça se voit: without noticing, hidden, seamless
Je l’ai fait sans que ça se voit: I did it without its noticing.

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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