French Pronouns Part 1: Subject and Object Pronouns

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  • Created by: M Toynbee
  • Created on: 07-10-15 09:16

Introduction

A pronoun is a word which replaces a noun. Every pronoun refers to a noun called the antecedent. In French there are a variety of types of pronouns:

  • Subject pronouns
  • Direct object pronouns
  • Indirect object pronouns
  • Reflexive pronouns
  • Emphatic/Disjunctive pronouns
  • Adverbial pronouns
  • Demonstrative pronouns
  • Indefinite pronouns
  • Interrogative pronouns
  • Negative pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Relative pronouns

This is a dizzying list but we will look at each type in some detail and break down the names!

Subject pronouns

The subject of a sentence is the noun which performs the verb. An example in English (the subject is highlighted in italics) is "The cat sat on the mat."

A subject pronoun replaces a subject, such as "It sat on the mat." In French, there are personal and impersonal subject pronouns.

The personal subject pronouns are:

  • 1st person singular: je (contracting to j')
  • 2nd person singular: tu
  • 3rd person singular: il, elle, on
  • 1st person plural: nous
  • 2nd person plural: vous
  • 3rd person plural: ils, elles

The impersonal subject pronouns are ce and il. We use all these pronouns in exactly the same way as in English:

  • Je joue au foot chaque jour.
  • Est-ce que vous irez en centre-ville demain?
  • J'espère qu'il fera beau.

Using the impersonal pronouns ce and il is a complicated minefield so we won't worry about the difference here.

Direct object pronouns

The direct object of a sentence is the noun on which the verb is performed, as in "I threw the ball."

Direct objects are replaced by direct object pronouns: "I threw it." Direct objects are not normally accompanied by a preposition. The direct object pronouns are:

  • 1st person singular: me (contracting to m')
  • 2nd person singular: te (contracting to t')
  • 3rd person singular: lela

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