French Pronouns Top Ten Questions and Answers

French Pronouns Top Ten Questions and Answers

🎥 Scroll down to watch a video lesson about these French pronouns 🎥

How can you tell the difference between a direct object and indirect object?

Direct objects answer the questions: 

Indirect objects answer the questions: 
What are some common verbs that are followed by À and that take an indirect object?

This is a list of 20 common ones.  Notice that many of these verbs do NOT need an indirect object in English.

acheter Ă  / pour
to buy for…
J’achète des cadeaux pour mes amis.
Je leur achète des cadeaux.

emprunter Ă 
to borrow from…
J’emprunte de l’argent à mon ami.
Je lui emprunte de l’argent.

prĂŞter Ă 
to loan to…
Je prête ma voiture à mon frère.
Je lui prĂŞte ma voiture.

offrir Ă 
to give / to offer to…
J’offre des fleurs à ma copine.
Je lui offre des fleurs.

rendre Ă 
to return something to…
Je rends son livre Ă  Pierre.
Je lui rends son livre.

donner Ă 
to give to…
Je donne Ă  manger aux enfants.
Je leur donne Ă  manger.

vendre Ă 
to sell to…
Je vends des biscuits aux enseignants.
Je leur vends des biscuits.

parler Ă 
to speak to…
Je parle à mon père.
Je lui parle. 

demander Ă 
to ask…
Je demande la permission Ă  mon professeur.
Je lui demande la permission.

dire Ă 
to say to…
Je dis oui à mon fiancé.
Je lui dis oui.

téléphoner à
to call on the phone..
.Je téléphone aux contributeurs.
Je leur téléphone.

Ă©crire Ă 
to write to…
J’écris une lettre à ma grand-mère.
Je lui Ă©cris une lettre. 

sourire Ă 
to smile at…
Je souris aux Ă©tudiants.
Je leur souris.

répondre à
to reply to…
Je réponds à Julie.
Je lui réponds.

souhaiter Ă 
to wish to…
Je souhaite de Joyeuses FĂŞtes aux voisins.
Je leur souhaite de Joyeuses FĂŞtes.

envoyer Ă 
to send to…
J’envoie un courriel à ma copine.
Je lui envoie un courriel.

laisser Ă 
to leave something to..
.Je laisse des devoirs à mes élèves.
Je leur laisse des devoirs. 

présenter à
to introduce to…
Je présente mon fiancé à mes parents.
Je leur présente mon fiancé.

servir Ă 
to serve to…
Je sers de l’eau aux jardiniers.
Je leur sers de l’eau.

raconter Ă 
to tell a story to…
Je raconte une histoire aux enfants.
Je leur raconte une histoire. 
Is LUI both masculine and feminine when used as an indirect object pronoun or are there exceptions to the rule?

When used as an indirect object pronoun LUI can mean HIM or HER and there are no exceptions.
How can you know if ME, TE, NOUS and VOUS are reflexive, direct or indirect pronouns?

REFLEXIVE:  Look at the subject of the sentence.  If the pronoun indicates that the subject is doing something to himself or herself it is reflexive.

DIRECT or INDIRECT: If the subject of the sentence indicates that someone is doing something to someone or something else it may be DIRECT or INDIRECT.  

Here’s how to tell the difference:
Does the pronoun answer WHO or WHAT?  

Does the pronoun answer TO WHOM or FOR WHOM?  
This is why it is a good idea to know which verbs must be followed by À (see # 2).
What is the order to follow when using more than one pronoun in a sentence?

First: ME – TE – NOUS – VOUS
Second: LE – LA – LES
Third: LUI – LEUR
Fourth: Y
Fifth: EN

Download an order of pronouns chart here.
What is the order of pronouns in affirmative commands?

First: LE – LA – LES
Second: MOI – TOI – LUI
Fourth: Y
Fifth: EN
What is the BODY PART rule with reflexive verbs?

Don’t make the subject and past participle agree when using reflexive verbs if the past participle is followed by a direct object (a body part).

Example:  Elle s’est lavĂ© les mains.

Even though ĂŠTRE is the helping verb and the subject is feminine, you don’t need to make agreement.  
Concerning the BODY PART RULE, what if the body part becomes a direct object pronoun?  Do I then make agreement?

Yes.  In that case the direct object (body part) will fall before the past participle and you must make agreement. 

Note that you’re making agreement with the direct object and not with the subject of the sentence.

Example:  Elle se les est lavĂ©es
Are there any tricks to help remembering when to use French pronouns?

Someone does something to me or for me

Someone does something to you or for you

Someone does something to us or for us

Someone does something to you or for you

Means HIM or IT if the object is singular and masculine
Don’t use LE when someone does something TO or FOR a person

Means HER or IT if the object is singular and feminine
Don’t use LA when someone does something TO or FOR a person

Means THEM whether you’re talking about people, animals or things, masculine or feminine. 
Don’t use LES when someone does something to people or animals.

Means HIM or HER, can refer to people or animals.
Use LUI when someone is doing something TO or FOR someone.

Means THEM, masculine or feminine people or animals.
Use LEUR when someone is doing something TO or FOR someone.

Means THERE or IT, can refer to places or things (not people).
Use Y when you have a PREPOSITION followed by a place or thing.
Don’t use Y when the preceding PREPOSITION is any form of DE.


Use EN in the following situations:
DE LA, DU, DES, DE L’, DE, D’ + noun
ANY NUMBER (including UN – UNE) + noun
“I thought LUI could only be masculine.”

When LUI is used as an indirect object pronoun it means HIM or HER.
When LUI is used as a disjunctive pronoun it means HIM and ELLE means HER.


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