Pronouns

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Pronouns

Pronouns are words which replace nouns.

For example: The old man could be replaced by he or him.

Pronouns are used all the time to make language more fluent and to stop you having to repeat the same word or name over and over again.

Pronouns change depending if they represent the subject of the sentence, the direct object or the indirect object.

The old man gave his dog a bone.

Subject of the sentence (this was the person who did the 'giving'). 'The old man' in this context could be replaced by he, so he is a subject pronoun.

The subject pronouns are as follows:

English French
I Je
You Tu/Vous
He Il
She Elle
It Il/Elle
We Nous/on
They Ils/Elles

These pronouns work in exactly the same way as the word(s) they have replaced - they go in the same place in the sentence and take exactly the same verb form.

For example: 'Anne déteste la science' will become 'Elle déteste la science'.

The only exception is 'on' which is used the represent 'we'. On is considered masculine singular.

For example: On va à la plage

The old man gave his dog a bone.

Direct object - the object of the 'giving' a bone could be replaced by 'it' so it is a direct object pronoun.

The direct object pronouns in English are:

English French
me me
you te/vous
him le
her la
it le/la
us nous
them les

Some of them may look familiar to the subject pronouns but remember they mean different things.

Direct object pronouns must go before the verb in French so:

I hate Anne Je déteste Anne
I hate her Je la déteste

In the perfect tense the pronoun goes before the form of avoir or être

He saw George il a vu Georges
He saw him il l'a vu (l'a stands for le + a)

The indirect object is the object that receives something. It sometimes has the word to or for attached to it but often in English this is left out.

For example:

  • The old man gave a bone to his dog
  • The old man gave his dog a bone

In the second example above, it is really to his dog so it is still the indirect object, as it would be in a sentence like:

Marie told John a story is the same as Mary told a story to John.

So even if the word to/for isn't actually mentioned but it is still implied, this is the indirect object.

Indirect objects can be replaced by pronouns too:

  • The old man gave a bone to his dog = The old man gave a bone to him
  • The old man gave the dog a bone = The old man gave him a bone

So him/to him are indirect object pronouns.

The indirect object pronouns are as follows:

English French
(to) me me
(to) you te/ vous
(to) him lui
(to) her lui
(to) us nous
(to) them leur

Like direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns have to go before the verb:

I'm talking to Anne Je parle à Anne
I'm talking to her Je lui parle

Again in the perfect tense, the pronoun comes before the first verb:

I talked to Anne J'ai parlé à Anne
I talked to her Je lui ai parlé

Normally it's logical which verbs take an indirect object - talk (to), give (to), etc.

But some verbs take an indirect object in French but not in English.

For example:

téléphoner à to phone
conseiller à to advise
demander à to ask
obéir à to obey
permettre à to allow
plaîre à to please
répondre à to answer

For example: I phoned them = Je leur ai téléphoné

If you have direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns in the same sentence, they both have to go before the verb but the direct object pronoun goes first.

Pronouns

Re-type the following sentences replacing the underlined word(s) with the correct pronoun.

Pronouns
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