The use of pronouns is very similar to the English ones.
We basically use them to avoid the repetition of a noun or a noun phrase in a sentence.
- Personal pronouns
- Similar direct and indirect object pronouns
- Direct object
- Indirect object
- Pronoun Y
- Pronoun EN
1. Learn French Personal Pronouns
The personal pronouns -also called subject pronouns- are as follows:
je (I), tu (you), il (he), elle (she), on (one, people, we), nous (we), vous (you), ils (they), elles (they)
- Je changes to j’ before a vowel or a silent -h:
► J’habite à Paris.
- Tu is used when talking to a friend, relative or a young person:
► Tu es charmante.
- Vous is used to talk to one person more formally, or to more than one person:
► Vous êtes charmante, madame.
► Vous êtes charmantes, les filles!
- On is used with the il/elle form of the verb and can mean one, people or we. In spoken language on replaces the pronoun nous:
► On y va! (Let’s go!)
► Quand on a faim, on mange! (When one is hungry, one eats!)
- The pronouns il, ils, elle, elles refer to people, animal and things:
► Ta nouvelle maison, elle te plaît? (Do you like your new house?)
- When refering to two poeple, one male and one female, ils is used:
► Annette et Antoine vont au cinéma = ils vont au cinéma (they are going to the cinema)
2. Direct and Indirect Object Pronoun
Pronouns immediately precede the conjugated form of the verb.
The pronouns me (me), te (you, familiar), nous (us), vous (you, formal or plural) can be used as both direct and indirect object pronouns.
Direct: Il me voit (he sees me)
Indirect: Il me parle (he talks to me)
Direct: Elle te regarde (she is watching you)
Indirect: Elle te répond (she replies to you)
Direct: Il nous comprend (he understands us)
Indirect: Il nous donne le livre (he gives the book to us)
Direct: Je vous regarde (I am watching you)
Indirect: Je vous parle (I am talking to you)
Me becomes m’ and te becomes t’ before a vowel or mute -h
Il t’écoute (He is listenig to you)
Je t’aime (I love you)
3. French pronoun: Direct Object
The third person direct object pronouns are as follows:
le, la, l’ and les.
► Je le prends. (I take it.)
► Je la regarde. (I am looking at her.)
► Je l’ai! (I’ve got it!)
► Je les mange. (I eat them.)
4. French pronoun: Indirect Object
The third person indirect object pronouns are lui (to him/ to her) in the singular and leur in the plural.
They refer only to people and there is no gender differentiation.
Je parle à Annette. =Je lui parle.
Je parle à Antoine. =Je lui parle.
Je parle à Annette et Antoine. =Je leur parle.
5. The French Pronoun Y
► The pronoun y (there) replaces a phrase telling the name of a place:
Je vais à la piscine (I am going to the swimming pool) = J’y vais.
Elle est sur le lit (She is on the bed) = Elle y est.
► Y is also used to avoid repeating a noun or a phrase introduced by à:
Il répond à la lettre (he replies to the letter) = Il y répond.
Tu penses à Paris (you’re thinking of Paris) = Tu y penses.
6. The French Pronoun EN
The pronoun en replaces a noun introduced by de.
En is very often used with expressions of quantity and refer only to things.
Vous mangez de la viande (you eat meat) = Vous en mangez.
Vous buvez du vin (you drink wine) = Vous en buvez.
Vous achetez des fraises (you buy strawberries) = Vous en achetez.