All the pronouns

Subject pronouns

There are many types of pronouns in French. Let’s start with the subject pronouns you have already used when conjugating verbs.

Je -  I

tu  - you (singular familiar)

il -  he, it (masculine)

elle -  she, it (feminine)

on  - one, we, they, people

nous -  we

vous -  you (singular formal and all plurals)

ils  - they (masculine, or mixed masculine and feminine)

elles  -  they (feminine)

The third-person pronouns apply to people, animals, or things.

Bertrand est chirurgien.

Bertrand is a surgeon.

Il est chirurgien.

He is a surgeon.

Les trois soeurs jouent dans le salon.

The three sisters are playing in the living room.

Elles jouent dans le salon.

They are playing in the living room.

Le chat est assis sur la chaise.

The cat is sitting on the chair.

Il est assis sur la chaise.

It is sitting on the chair.

La ville est très polluée.

The city is very polluted.

Elle est très polluée.

It is very polluted.

Remember that there are two ways of saying you in French. Use tu and its verb forms to talk to friends, family members, children, and animals. Use vous when you are addressing a stranger or someone you don’t know well, or to maintain a certain degree of distance or respect. Note, however, that the contemporary trendis toward familiarity, especially among peers. It all depends on the setting and the crowd. However, it’s always a good idea to let thenative French speaker initiate your first exchange with tu.

The pronoun on has several meanings. It may mean one, we, or they depending on how it is used. On can replace an indefinite person.

On voudrait tout réussir.One would like to succeed in everything.

On ne peut pas penser à tout.One cannot think of everything.

On means people in general.

It often refers to habits and customs of a culture.

En France, on boit du vin.In France, one drinks wine.

Au Japon, on boit du saké.In Japan, one drinks sake.

In informal conversation, on takes on the meaning of nous.

On va au cinéma cet après-midi?

Shall we go to the movies this afternoon?

Julien et moi, on passe toujours nos vacances en Corse.

Julien and I, we always spend our vacation in Corsica.

Another informal use of on replaces the pronoun tu.

Ah, on s’amuse ici!

So, we are having fun here!

Alors, on se promène au lieu de faire ses devoirs!

So, we are taking a walk instead of doing our homework!

On can also replace a passive voice in English.

Ici, on parle anglais.

English is spoken here.

On n’a pas encore trouvé de solution.

A solution has not yet been found.

Direct object pronouns

Another type of pronoun is the direct object pronoun (le pronom objet direct). In English there are seven direct object pronouns: me, you, him, her, it, us, them. Note that in French there are twoforms of the direct object pronoun you: the informal te and the formal or plural vous. English distinguishes between a direct object pronoun that replaces a person (him or her) or a thing (it);in French le, la, les can replace both people and things. Les refers to both masculine and feminine. Me, te, le, and la become m’, t’, and l’ before vowels and mute h.


  me (m’) -  me                         

 te (t’)  - you (familiar)          

le (l’)  - him or it (masculine)   

  la (l’) -  her or it (feminine)


nous  - us

vous  - you (plural or formal)

les  - them (masc. and fem.)

Pronouns allow speakers to avoid being repetitious, to make communication more efficient, and to link ideas across sentences. An object is called direct if it immediately follows the verb withouta preposition. The direct object pronoun replacesthe direct object noun. In French, the direct object pronoun agreesin gender and number with the noun it replaces. Note that theFrench direct object pronoun precedes the verb. In a sentence with auxiliary or compound verbs, the direct object pronoun precedesthe verb to which it directly refers. The direct object pronouncan replace a noun with a definite article (le, la, les), with a possessive adjective (mon, ton, son, etc.), or with a demonstrativeadjective (ce, cet, cette, ces).

L’artiste chante la chanson.

The artist sings the song.

L’artiste la chante.

The artist sings it.

Quentin appelle son ami.

Quentin calls his friend.

Quentin l’appelle.

Quentin calls him.

Il prend la décision.

He makes the decision.

Il la prend.

He makes it.

L’infirmier soigne ses patients.

The nurse takes care of his patients.

L’infirmier les soigne.

The nurse takes care of them.

Il m’appelle.

He is calling me.

vous remercions.

We thank you.

Elle t’invite.

She invites you.

Ils nous accueillent.

They greet us.

In a negative sentence, the direct object pronoun also comes immediately before the conjugated verb.

Nous n’acceptons pas l’offre.

We do not accept the offer.

Nous ne l’acceptons pas.

We do not accept it.

Ils ne comprennent pas la question.

They do not understand the question.

Ils ne la comprennent pas.

They do not understand it.

Elle ne suit pas les directives.

She does not follow the directions.

Elle ne les suit pas.

She does not follow them.

In the interrogative form, when using the inversion, the direct object pronoun comes immediately before the verb.

Connaissez-vous ce dentiste?

Do you know this dentist?

Le connaissez-vous?

Do you know him?

Approuvez-vous sa décision?

Do you approve of his decision?


Do you approve of it?

Aimez-vous les chansons de Brel?

Do you like Brel’s songs?

Les aimez-vous? Do you like them?

Emmenez-vous les enfants au cirque?

Are you taking the children to the circus?

Les emmenez-vous au cirque?

Are you taking them to the circus?

When an infinitive has a direct object, the direct object pronoun immediately precedes the infinitive.

Pouvez-vous contacter le journaliste?

Can you contact the journalist?

Pouvez-vous le contacter?

Can you contact him?

Il doit finir son article.

He must finish his article.

Il doit le finir.

He must finish it.

Je vais lire tous les documents.

I am going to read all the documents.

Je vais tous les lire.

I am going to read all of them.

Nous venons de voir son nouveau film.

We just saw his new film.

Nous venons de le voir.

We have just seen it.

In the passé composé and other compound tenses, the direct object pronoun is placed before the auxiliary verb. The past participle agrees in number and gender when the direct object precedes the verb.

Le journaliste a pris les photos.

The journalist took the pictures.

Le journaliste les a prises.

The journalist took them.

Le comptable avait trié tous ces papiers.

The accountant had sorted all these papers.

Le comptable les avait tous triés.

The accountant had sorted them all out.

Le pompier a éteint les flammes.

The fireman extinguished the flames.

Le pompier les a éteintes.

The fireman extinguished them.

Le guitariste a joué ses morceaux favoris.

The guitarist played his favorite pieces.

Le guitariste les a joués.

The guitarist played them.

In the affirmative imperative, the direct object pronoun follows the verb. Me (m’) and te (t’) change to moi and toi. Remember to link the verb to the pronoun with a hyphen. In the negative imperative, the direct object pronoun remains before the verb.

Appelez Jacques!

Call Jacques!


Call him!

Rendez les clés à Antoine!

Give the keys back to Antoine!

Rendez-les à Antoine!

Give them back to Antoine!Achetez ces fleurs!

Buy these flowers!


Buy them!

N’éteins pas la lumière!

Do not turn off the light!

Ne l’éteins pas!

Do not turn it off !

N’appelle pas Caroline si tard!

Do not call Caroline so late!

Ne l’appelle pas si tard!

Do not call her so late!

Invitez-moi à la soirée, s’il vous plaît.

Please invite me to the party.

Indirect object pronouns

Now that you have mastered the pronom objet direct, let’s take a look at the pronom objet indirect(indirect object pronoun).

In English there are five indirect object pronouns me, you, him, her, us. As always, French distinguishes between an informal you (te) and a formal or plural you (vous). The French indirectobject pronoun does not, however, distinguish gender; lui and leur replace both masculine and feminine nouns. In French, the indirect object pronoun replaces only animate indirect objects(people, animals). Inanimate ideas and things are replaced with the indirect object pronouns y and en, which will be discussed later in this chapter. Let’s look at the indirect object pronouns:


me (m’)  - me  

 te (t’) -  you (familiar)

lui  - him, her


Nous -  us

Vous -  you (formal or plural)

Leur -  them (masc. and fem.)

The object is called indirect when the verb is controlled by a preposition (parler à, répondre à, écrire à, etc.).The indirect object pronoun is placed before the conjugated verb and before avoir in the compound tenses. Although the past participle agrees in gender and number with the preceding direct object, the past participle never agrees with an indirect object pronoun. The indirect object pronouns me and te become m’ and t’ before vowels and mute h. Make sure to distinguish between leur, the indirect object pronoun, and leur(s), the possessive adjective.

Tu parles au journaliste.

You are talking to the journalist.

Tu lui parles.

You are talking to him.

Tu réponds à Andrée.

You answer Andrée.

Tu lui réponds.

You answer her.

Vous écrivez à l’agent.

You write to the agent.

Vous lui écrivez.

You write to him.

Vous expliquez la situation aux clients.

You explain the situation to the customers.

Vous leur expliquez la situation.

You explain the situation to them.

Elle nous enverra une confirmation.

She’ll send us a confirmation.

Je vous donnerai un jour de congé.

I’ll give you a day off .

Il me rendra le livre demain.

He’ll return the book to me tomorrow.

Ils t’apporteront des fleurs.

They’ll bring you some flowers.

In the interrogative or negative, the indirect object pronoun is placed immediately before the verb.

Lui as-tu parlé de ce livre?

Did you talk to him about this book?

M’avez-vous envoyé un courriel?

Did you send me an e-mail?

Vous fournit-il de bons produits?

Does he provide you with good products?

Leur avez-vous envoyé les révisions?

Did you send them the revisions?

Elle ne nous envoie jamais rien.

She never sends us anything.

Tu ne m’apportes que des mauvaises nouvelles.

You only bring me bad news.

Vous ne lui avez pas dit la vérité.

You did not tell him the truth.

Ils te prêteront leur voiture.

They’ll lend you their car.

Indirect object pronouns in the imperative

In the affirmative imperative, the indirect object pronoun follows the verb. Me (m’) and te (t’) become moi and toi. Remember tolink the verb to the following pronoun with a hyphen. In thenegative imperative, the indirect object pronoun remains before the verb.

Téléphone-moi demain matin!

Call me tomorrow morning!

Prêtez-lui votre dictionnaire!

Lend him your dictionary!

Apportez-nous de nouveaux accessoires!

Bring us new props!

Envoyez-leur le script!

Send them the script!

Ne lui donnez rien!

Don’t give him anything!

Ne nous téléphonez pas si tard!

Don’t call us so late!

The pronoun y

Y is an indirect object pronoun that precedes the verb. It usually replaces an inanimate object(thing or idea). The object replaced by y is considered indirect because it is preceded by a preposition,usually the preposition à, but sometimes sur.

Elle répond à l’annonce.

She answers the ad.

Elle y répond.

She answers it.

Ils s’habituent à cette ville.

They are getting used to this city.

Ils s’y habituent.

They are getting used to it.

Nous pensons à la situation.

We are thinking about the situation.

Nous y pensons.

We are thinking about it.

Tu t’intéresses à cette pièce?

Are you interested in this play?

Tu t’y intéresses?

Are you interested in it?

In the passé composé and other compound tenses the indirect object pronoun y is placed before the auxiliary verb. Note that the past participle does not agree in gender or number with the indirect object y.

Ils ont réfléchi à cette question.

They thought about this issue.

Ils y ont réfléchi.

They thought about it.

Nous avons répondu à vos questions.

We answered your questions.

Nous y avons répondu.

We answered them.Il a renoncé à sa carrière.

He gave up his career.

Il y a renoncé.

He gave it up.

Je n’ai pas goûté à cette sauce.

I did not taste this sauce.

Je n’y ai pas goûté.

I did not taste it.

The pronoun en

En is an indirect object pronoun that precedes the verb. It usually replaces an inanimate object(thing or idea) preceded by de.The pronoun en immediately precedes the verb, except in theaffirmative imperative where it follows the verb.

Nous nous occuperons de tous les détails.

We’ll take care of all the details.

Nous nous en occuperons.

We’ll take care of them.

Elle ne se souvient pas de cette histoire.

She does not remember this story.

Elle ne s’en souvient pas.

She does not remember it.

Avez-vous peur de sa réaction?

Are you afraid of his reaction?

En avez-vous peur?

Are you afraid of it?

In the passé composé and other compound tenses the indirect object pronoun en is placed before the auxiliary verb.Note that the past participle does not agree in gender and number with the indirect object en.

Il a parlé de sa nouvelle idée à Théo.

He talked about his new idea to Théo.

Il en a parlé à Théo.

He talked about it to Théo.

Elle s’est chargée de cette affaire difficile.

She took care of this difficult business.

Elle s’en est chargée.

She took care of it.

Je me suis approché des remparts.

I came closer to the ramparts.

Je m’en suis approché.

I came closer to them.

Tu t’es débarrassé de toutes ces choses inutiles.

You got rid of all these useless things.

Tu t’en es débarrassé.

You got rid of them.

The order of object pronouns

When a direct and indirect pronoun appear in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first, unless the directand indirect pronouns are in the third person, in which case thedirect object pronoun comes first.


me (m’)

te (t’)       +     le, la, l’, les



Elle te donne le rôle.

She gives you the part.

Elle te le donne.

She gives it to you.

Nous vous envoyons le contrat.

We are sending you the contract.

Nous vous l’envoyons.

We are sending it to you.

Vous nous montrez les costumes.

You show us the costumes.

Vous nous les montrez.

You show them to us.

Il m’offre la bague de sa mère.

He gives me his mother’s ring.

Il me l’offre.

He gives it to me.

If the direct and indirect pronouns in the third person are combined, the direct object pronoun comes first.


le (l’)

la (l’)        +    lui, leur


J’envoie la lettre au rédacteur.

I send the letter to the editor.

Je la lui envoie.

I send it to him.

Elle tend le document au médecin.

She hands the document to the doctor.

Elle le lui tend.

She hands it to him.

Nous offrons ce livre aux participants.

We give this book to the participants.

Nous le leur offrons.

give it to them.

Nous montrons la route aux touristes.

We show the road to the tourists.

Nous la leur montrons.

We show it to them.

In the passé composé and other compound tenses, the direct object pronoun is placed before the auxiliary verb. The past participleagrees in number and gender with the direct object whenthe direct object precedes the verb.

Il a écrit ces articles.

He wrote these articles.

Il les a écrits.

He wrote them.

Elle a fait ces tartes délicieuses.

She made these delicious pies.

Elle les a faites.

She made them.

J’ai envoyé les lettres.

I sent the letters.

Je les ai envoyées.

I sent them.

Tu as mis ta nouvelle chemise.

You put on your new shirt.

Tu l’as mise.

You put it on.

When en is combined with an indirect object pronoun, it is always in second position. The past participle does not agreein number and gender with en (nor does it agree with any otherindirect object pronoun).

Elle lui a offert des fleurs.

She gave her some flowers.

Elle lui en a offert.

She gave her some.

Il leur a donné des explications.

He gave them some explanations.

Il leur en a donné.

He gave them some.

Nous lui avons prêté de la farine.

We lent him some flour.

Nous lui en avons prêté.

We lent him some.

Tu nous enverras des photos.

You’ll send us some pictures.

Tu nous en enverras.

You’ll send us some.

Disjunctive pronouns

There are many ways to use disjunctive pronouns, also known as stressed or tonic pronouns.

Moi -  me

Toi -  you

lui  -  him

elle -  her

nous -  us

vous -  you

eux  - them

elles  -  them (féminine)

The disjunctive pronouns can be used to add extra emphasis to a thought.

Lui, c’est un grand musicien!

He is a great musician!

Moi, je déteste les lentilles!

I hate lentils!

Lui, il est toujours contre tout!

He is always against everything!

Elle, c’est vraiment ma meilleure amie!

She is really my best friend!

Disjunctive pronouns are used after c’est or ce sont in order to stress identification. In this case, they are used where Englishwould use intonation.

C’est moi qui ai trouvé la solution.

I found the solution.

C’est lui qui a raison.

He is right.

C’est toi qui dois aller les chercher.

You have to go pick them up.

Ce ne sont pas eux qui pourront le faire!

They won’t be able to do it!

You’ll find disjunctive pronouns in conjunction with another subject.

Bruno et moi, nous allons à Tokyo.

Bruno and I are going to Tokyo.

Lui et sa mère, ils sont toujours d’accord sur tout.

He and his mother always agree on everything.

Toi et ta collègue, vous avez gâché la soirée!

You and your colleague spoiled the party!

Elle et Michel, ce sont les meilleurs voisins.
She and Michel are the best neighbors.

Disjunctive pronouns are also used as one-word questions or answers when there isn’t a verb present.

Qui était absent hier? —Moi!

Who was absent yesterday? —I was.

ne veut pas travailler le dimanche? —Nous!

Who does not want to work on Sundays? —We don’t!

Elle aime le chocolat. Moi aussi.

She likes chocolate. So do I.

Elle n’aime pas le bruit. Moi non plus.

She does not like noise. Neither do I.

The disjunctive pronouns can also be used to solicit an opinion or ask for a contrasting piece of information.

Lui, il est pharmacien. Et elle, qu’est-ce qu’elle fait?

He is a pharmacist. And what does she do?

Moi, je pense que cette décision est absurde. Et toi, quelle est ton opinion?

I think this decision is absurd. And what is your opinion?

Eux, ils ne dépensent jamais un centime! Et lui, est-ce qu’il est moins radin?

They never spend a cent! Is he less cheap?

Elle, elle a toujours de la chance. Et lui, a-t-il la même veine?

She is always lucky. Does he have the same luck?

You’ll see disjunctive pronouns used after a preposition.

Qu’est-ce qu’il a contre eux?

What does he have against them?

Cet employé travaille pour nous.

This employee works for us.

Vous allez chez eux ce soir?

Are you going to their place tonight?

Il n’achète rien sans elle.

He never buys anything without her.

Disjunctive pronouns are also used with être to indicate possession.

À qui est cette écharpe? —C’est à moi!

Whose scarf is it? —It’s mine!

À qui sont ces gants? —Ce sont à lui!

Whose gloves are these? —They are mine!

C’est à toi? —Non, ce n’est pas à moi!

Is it yours? —No, it’s not mine!

You can use disjunctive pronouns to make comparisons.

Caroline est plus intelligente que lui.

Caroline is brighter than he is.

Il court plus vite que toi.

He runs faster than you do.

Ils sont aussi riches qu’elle.

They are as rich as she is.

Elle n’est pas aussi douée que vous.

She is not as gifted as you are.

You can use disjunctive pronouns with -même (-self) to reinforce the pronoun.

Elle rédige tous ses discours elle-même.

She writes all her speeches herself.

Écrivez-le vous-même!

Write it yourself!

C’est lui-même qui l’a dit.

He said it himself.

On est soi-même conscient de ses propres erreurs.

One is aware of one’s own mistakes.

Disjunctive pronouns are used with certain verbs when the indirect object is a person.Compare:

Je parle de ce film.

I am talking about this film.

J’en parle.

I am talking about it.


Je parle de ce metteur en scène.

I am talking about this film director.

Je parle de lui.

I am talking about him.

Je pense à ce livre.

I am thinking about this book.

J’y pense.I am thinking about it.


Je pense à cette photographe.

I am thinking about this photographer.

Je pense à elle.

I am thinking about her.

Tu as besoin de cet avocat.

You need this lawyer.

Tu as besoin de lui.

You need him.

Nous parlons de nos enfants.

We are talking about our children.

Nous parlons d’eux.

We are talking about them.

Fais attention à cet homme!

Watch out for this man!

Fais attention à lui!

Watch out for him!

Il a peur de son professeur de chimie.

He is afraid of his chemistry teacher.

Il a peur de lui.

He is afraid of him.

Nous tenons à nos amis.

We are attached to our friends.

Nous tenons à eux.

We are attached to them.

Elle songe à son fils.

She is thinking about her son.

Elle songe à lui.

She is thinking about him.

If a reflexive verb is followed by an animate indirect object (person, animal), the disjunctive pronoun is used and placed after the verb.

Nous nous intéressons à cette candidate.

We are interested in this candidate.

Nous nous intéressons à elle.

We are interested in her.

Elle s’est débarrassée de cet employé incompétent.

She got rid of this incompetent employee.

Elle s’est débarrassée de lui.

She got rid of him.

Il ne veut pas s’occuper de vos enfants.

He does not want to take care of your children.

Il ne veut pas s’occuper d’eux.

He does not want to take care of them.

Nous nous méfions de ce consultant.

We do not trust this consultant.

Nous nous méfions de lui.

We do not trust him.