French Pronouns

Definition: A pronoun can replace a noun or another pronoun. French pronouns are inflected to indicate their role in the sentence. Pronouns are words that substitute for nouns. French draws them in many places where English does not; as a result, there are many more pronouns in French than there are in English.

Different kinds of French pronouns:
  1. Subject Pronouns

    The subject of a sentence is the person or thing which performs the action. Subject pronouns replace this person or thing. You must understand subject pronouns before you begin conjugating verbs, as the forms of verbs change for each one.
    SINGULAR PLURAL
    Je/j'
    tu
    il, elle, on
    (I)
    (you familiar)
    (he, she)
    nous
    vous
    ils, elles
    (we)
    (you people)
    (they)

    Note: j' (I) is only used when followed by a vowel or mute h.

    Since all nouns are either masculine or feminine, they use the 3rd person subject pronouns which correspond to their gender. Thus il can refer to a male he or a masculine noun it and elle can refer to a female she or a feminine noun it.

    Elles means they when all of the nouns (both people and things) referred to are feminine. If there are any masculine nouns, the subject pronoun defaults to the masculine ils. Ils and elles are pronounced exactly like il and elle.


  2. Direct Object Pronouns

    French language has direct object pronouns, words that replace the direct object. Direct object pronouns take the place of the direct object nouns. While the direct object noun follows the verb, the pronoun is placed in front of it, for example: tu prends l’avion (you take the airplane), tu le prends (you take it).

    SINGULAR

    PLURAL

    me/m'
    te
    vous
    le (l'), la (l')
    (me)
    (you familiar)
    (you formal)
    (him, her)
    nous
    vous
    les
    (us)
    (you people)
    (them)

    Note: Me, te, and le/la change to m', t', and l' in front of a vowel or mute h.

    Examples in French:
    Je le mange. I'm eating it.
    Il la voit. He sees her.
    Je t'aime. I love you.
    Tu m'aimes. You love me.
    Note: When deciding between direct and indirect objects, the general rule is that if the person or thing is preceded by a preposition, that person/thing is an indirect object. If it is not preceded by a preposition, it is a direct object.


  3. Indirect Object Pronouns

    Indirect objects are the people or things in a sentence to/for whom/what or the action of the verb occurs.

    SINGULAR

    PLURAL

    me/m'
    te
    vous
    lui
    (me)
    (you familiar)
    (you formal)
    (him, her)
    nous
    vous
    leur
    (us)
    (you people)
    (them)

    Examples in French:
    Je lui parle. I'm talking to him.
    Il leur achète des livres.
    He buys books for them.
    Je vous donne le pain.
    I'm giving the bread to you.
    Elle m'a écrit. She wrote to me.
    Note: Je le lui donne I give it to him the first pronoun is subject (I), the second pronoun is direct object (le), the third one is indirect object (lui) because it is the one to which the action is occurring.


  4. Reflexive Pronouns

    As we have learned in the verbs section, reflexive verbs express an action that acts upon the subject, and with the reflexive verbs you will find reflexive pronouns, which are placed in front of the conjugated verb
    For example: Je me lave (I wash myself).

    SINGULAR

    PLURAL

    me
    te
    vous
    se
    (myself)
    (yourself familiar)
    (yourself formal)
    (himself, herself)
    nous
    vous
    se
    (ourselves)
    (yourself)
    (themselves)

    Examples in French:
    Nous nous parlons.
    We're talking to each other.
    Ils ne s'habillent pas.
    They aren't getting dressed.
  5. Disjunctive Pronouns

    French disjunctive pronouns (also known as stressed pronouns) are used to emphasize a noun or pronoun that refers to a person. A disjunctive pronoun is widely used (after prepositions, to emphasize nouns or pronouns, after c'est and ce sont, to answer questions)

    SINGULAR

    PLURAL

    moi
    toi
    vous
    lui, soi, elle
    (me)
    (you familiar)
    (you formal)
    (him, himself, her)
    nous
    vous
    eux, elles
    (us)
    (you people)
    (them)

    Examples in French

    1. To emphasize nouns or pronouns (accent tonique)

      Je pense qu'il a raison. I think he's right.
      Moi, je pense qu'il a tort. I think he's wrong.
      Je ne sais pas, moi. I don't know.


    2. After c'est and ce sont (accent tonique)

      Ce sont elles qui aiment Machupicchu.
      They love Machupicchu.
      C'est toi qui étudies l'art.
      You're the one who's studying art.


    3. When a sentence has more than one subject or object

      Carlos et moi jouons au tennis.
      Carlos and I are playing tennis.
      Toi et lui, vous êtes très gentils.
      You and he are very kind.
      Je les ai vus, lui et elle.
      I saw him and her.


    4. To answer questions

      Qui va à la plage?
      Who is going to the beach?
      Lui. He is.


    5. After prepositions (indirect object)

      Vas-tu manger sans moi ?
      Are you going to eat without me?
      Louis habite chez elle.
      Louis lives at her house.
      Ce livre est à toi.
      This is your book.


    6. After que in comparisons

      Elle est plus grande que toi.
      She is taller than you (are).


    7. With words like aussi, seul, and surtout

      Elle aussi veut venir.
      She wants to come too.
      Lui seul a travaillé hier.
      He alone worked yesterday.


    8. With -même(s) for emphasis

      Prépare-t-il le dîner lui-même ?
      Is he making dinner himself?
      Nous le ferons nous-mêmes.
      We'll do it ourselves.


    9. With the negative adverb ne...que and conjunction ne...ni...ni

      Je ne connais que lui ici.
      He's the only one I know here.
      Ni toi ni moi ne le comprenons.
      Neither you nor I understand it.


    10. After the preposition à to indicate possession

      Quel livre est à toi ?
      Which book is yours?
      Ce stylo est à moi.
      This pen is mine.



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