A pronoun is a word that stands for a noun.
For example, instead of saying the woman in the red dress danced,
one says “she danced”. It makes things simpler.
Here, “she” is an subject pronoun, (you can think of it as the active
pronoun, as it is doing the action) and subject pronouns in French
operate pretty much like in English:
I You He She We You They (all girls)
Or, instead of saying:
I saw the woman with the red dress dance,
you can say: I saw her dance.
This is an object pronoun. Think of it as a passive pronoun,
as it does not do the action but is the object of the verb.
English Object Pronouns
In English, an object pronoun follows the verb: The people see her.
In French, object pronouns come before the verb:
Les gens la voient.
Here are some questions and answers about pronouns:
Do you know this man? I know him.
Have you seen this actress? I saw her.
"I did" or "I do". They repeat the verb with the pronoun: Je l'ai vue.
In English, the object pronouns me, you, him, her, us, you, them
sometimes really mean “to me”, “to you”, “to him”, etc..... usually
with verbs like “ to give”, “to say”. EX: I gave her . In English, the
“to” appears when there is a double pronoun: I gave it to her
“donner"and “dire”, and differs only in third person where
“to him” and “to her” become “lui” (instead of le and la), “ to them”
becomes “leur” (instead of les). It usually replaces “à”+noun.
Here are some examples:
Je lui ai dit: I told him/her.
Vous leur offrez un verre de vin: You offer them a glass of wine.
Also in English you find ME, YOU, HIM, HER, US, YOU, THEM
after words like “with, after, and, for," etc...EX: For me, with them
In French, after those words, pronouns differ from the indirect forms
in the following manner:
MOI replaces ME and TOI replaces TE
LUI becomes ELLE for feminine but remains LUI for masculine
NOUS and VOUS remain NOUS and VOUS
EUX replaces LEUR for masculine or mixed
ELLES replaces LEUR for feminine
These pronouns are disjunctive pronouns, but think of them as
“preposition pronouns” as they mostly follow prepositions:
Elle est venue chez moi: She came to my house.
Il est plus gentil qu'elle: He is nicer than her.
-Without a verb:
Who? Her Qui? Elle
-After « Etre » (to be)
Qui est-ce? Ce sont eux
Who is it ? It’s them.
-For emphasis and multiple subjects:
Me, I need glasses: Moi, j’ai besoin de lunettes.
Elle et lui sont allés au marché: He and she went to the market.
Je ne lui parle pas: I don't speak to him / her.
Je ne l'ai pas oublié: I did not forget him.
only when it is not a negative sentence- This is the only time the
pronoun comes after the verb in French. Also, ME becomes MOI and
TE becomes TOI
EX: Dis-lui la réponse: Tell him the answer.
Donnez-moi une plume: Give me a pen
Tais-toi : Shut up
Ne lui dis pas la réponse: Don't tell him the answer.
Ne me parle pas: Don't speak to me
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In English, a thing is usually replaced
by the pronoun « it », both as an active
(subject) or passive (object) pronoun.
Have you seen this movie? I saw it.
Was it serious? It was.
IT as a subject (active).
Because in French all objects are either
masculine or feminine, IT as a subject will
be IL for a masculine object
ELLE for a feminine object.
Avez-vous vu ce film? Je l’ai vu.
Etait-il sérieux ? Non, Il était drôle
In the plural, it’s THEY in English,
“ILS” or “ELLES” in French:
Où sont les clés ? Elles sont sur la table.
Where are the keys? They're on the table.
IT as an object (passive) pronoun.
Again in French, IT as an object pronoun
will be LE for a masculine object
LA for feminine objects,
just as if they were people.
Connaissez-vous l’hôtel Prince ?
Je le connais.
Voyez-vous la mer ?
Je la vois.
IT as an idea
IT as an idea will be
ça as a subject (active) pronoun,
le as an object (passive) pronoun.
It works: ça marche.
I know it: Je le sais
However, "ça" becomes "ce"
in front of the verb "être" (to be)
It”s true: C’est vrai.
Ce will also be used instead of "il" and
"elle" (also "ils" and "elles") with "être"
if followed by a noun,
except for professions:
It’s a man: C’est un homme
but also :
He’s a man : C’est un homme
(This is an adjective)
(there’s a noun)
He’s a teacher: Il est professeur
(exception: this is a profession)
THIS and THAT.
"This" and "that" in french are "ceci"
"cela", but cela contracts to "ça" which is
used much more frequently,
and becomes "ce" in front of "être".
Did you see this? Tu as vu ça?
I saw it : Je l’ai vu (see « it » above).
I want that: Je veux ça.
This is good! ça, c’est bon!
(this, it is good, to distinguish from
" it’s good": c’est bon!)
more often than "Nous" to express "We".
On travaille: We are working.
"On" can also mean "they" (meaning
On parle français en France.
They (people) speak French in France.
Or it can mean someone, one :
On ouvre la porte:
Someone is opening the door.
It's the context which decides the
third person singular, like "il" "elle" and
"ça", even when it means "we". Think of
it as "the group".
Y replaces "à + noun" and is found much
less than EN.
For one thing, it can only replace things,
not people. For people, one uses an
indirect pronoun (see above)
Pensez-vous à ce beau cadeau?
Are you thinking of this beautiful gift.
I am thinking of it.
Parlez-vous à votre voisin?
Je lui parle.
Do you speak to your neighbor?
I do (I speak to him)
In most cases, the noun is a location,
and Y thus can mean "there":
Allez-vous à Paris? J'y vais
Restez-vous à l'école. J'y reste.
Are you going to Paris? I am (going there)
Are you staying at school? I am.
Y often expresses location and destination,
and sometimes "à" is replaced by another
word expressing location or destination:
Dinerez-vous chez elle? J'y dinerai.
Will you have diner at her house. I will.
Serez-vous En France? J'y serai.
Will you be in France? I will.
Demeurez-vous dans cette ville?
Do you reside in this town? I do
When it does not express location or
destination, Y is used with a very limited
number of verbs which are followed by à+
object: Réflechir à, s'opposer à, s'habituer à
Vous habituez-vous à cette belle vie ?
Je m'y habitue.
Vous opposez-vous à cette guerre?
Je m'y oppose.
There are a few idiomatic expressions with
Y, the most important one being "Il y a".
"Il y a" (literally "it has there") means
"there is" or "there are" and establishes
existence , presence.
Il y a des gens assis dans le jardin.
There are people sitting in the garden.
Not to be confused with "C"est" "Ce sont"
(it is, they are) which qualifies:
Ce sont mes amis: They are my friends
| Les pronoms
"EN" et "Y"
|The pronoun "ON"