LES PRONOMS
 
 

What is a pronoun?
What is the difference between a direct object and an indirect object?
The different French pronouns.
How to find the right pronoun?
Where to put it in the sentence?
How to use double object pronouns?
Try to remember.


 




What is a pronoun?
A pronoun is a word used in place of one or more nouns, and finding the right pronoun in French depends mainly on knowing exactly what you are going to replace.
So the first thing is to be able to recognize the objects in your sentences ; objects being nouns that indicate towards whom or what the action of the verb is directed.

To make it a little easier, we are going to divide the objects into only two main categories :
the direct object or the indirect object.

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What is the difference between a direct object and an indirect object?

Ex : Les étudiants regardent le prof.
  Ex :Il parle à Pierre.
      Il joue de la guitare.
 

Be careful : a direct object in French may be an indirect object in English and vice versa. So when you want to find the right pronoun, always look at your French sentence – don't translate into English !
Ex : Il regarde sa montre (direct object).
      He is looking at his watch (indirect object).
      Il téléphone à un ami (indirect object).
      He is calling a friend (direct object).

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The French pronouns.
 
 
Direct object pronouns
Indirect object pronouns
Stress pronouns
I
me
me
moi
You
te
te
toi
He / She
le / la
lui
lui / elle
We
nous
nous
nous
You
nous
vous
vous
They
les
leur
eux / elles

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How to find the right pronoun and where to put it in the sentence.

Ideally you have to read and listen to enough French to assimilate them, so that it becomes automatic for you !
More realistically you should understand how pronouns work and then always apply the same method to find the right
pronoun and to place it in the sentence.
Even though at the beginning it's going to take you some  time... it is worth it.
 
 

How to find the right pronoun?
 
 

I want to replace a :
The determinant of the object is:
So the right pronoun is :
Examples :

 
 
 
 
 
 

 DIRECT OBJECT

Le, la, les or an equivalent (possessive adjectives (mon), demonstrative adj. (ce))
LE / LA / LES

me / te / nous / vous

Je regarde la mer.

Je la regarde.

Un, une, des

Partitive (du, de la, de l’)

EN
Il mange des fruits.

Il en mange.

Expression of quantity

(numbers, trop de…, un verre de…, etc…)

EN

+

expression of quantity

Il boit trop de vin.

Il en boit trop.

I want to replace a :
The preposition is:
It is :
So the right pronoun is :
Examples :

 
 
 
 
 
 

INDIRECT OBJECT

à
Animate (person, animal, …)
LUI / LEUR

me / te / nous / vous

Il parle à Pierre.

Il lui parle.


 
 

de

Animate (person, animal, …)
DE

+

STRESSED pronoun

Vous parlez de Paul.

Vous parlez de lui.

Inanimated (thing, idea,…)

 

EN

Vous parlez de votre examen.

Vous en parlez.

Other prepositions
Animate (person, animal, …)
PREPOSITION

+

STRESSED pronoun

Il discute avec Jacques.

Il discute avec lui.

EXCEPTION :
This table is to help you find the right pronoun in most cases. But as usual in French, there are some exceptions.
Note the following exception :
Je pense à Pierre. Je pense à lui.
 

How to replace a noun that refers to a place?
There is another category that is important but doesn't fit in the preceeding table because it's neither a direct object
nor an indirect object : it's the nouns that refer to place or location.
Whenever you want to replace a location by a pronoun, you have to check what the preposition is.

Je reviens juste de Paris. J'en reviens juste.
Il revient des Etats-Unis. Il en revient. Nous sommes à Paris. Nous y sommes.
Elle est chez Marie. Elle y est.
Ils sont dans leurs chambres. Ils y sont.
 

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Where to put the pronouns in the sentence?

The French pronouns are always placed BEFORE the verb, whether the verb is in présent, imparfait or passé composé.
Ex: Je lui parle.
      Je lui parlais.
      Je lui ai parlé.
 

There are only two exceptions :

Ex: Je vais aller lui parler. Ex: Parle-lui!
 

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How to use double object pronouns?

The pronouns are always going to be in the same order :
- the first and second person (whether direct or indirect object)
- the direct object third person
- the indirect object third person
- y
- en

It can also be summarized as follows:

   
me(m’)
le
       
   
te (t’)
la
lui
 y
   
Sujet +
(ne) +
+
+
+
 +
verbe+
(pas)
   
nous
les
leur
 en
   
vous
   
moi (m’)
 
 
le
toi (t’)
 
 
la
lui
 y
      Verbe       +
+
+
!
 
les
nous
 en
   
vous
 

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Try to remember.

Learn some short sentences by heart ; it's the easiest way to remember how to use them.
Elle me le donne ; il le lui dit ; nous lui en parlons ; etc…
Je vais lui en parler ; nous allons y aller ; etc...
Donne-le-moi!

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