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Get Acquainted with French Pronouns – Add Flow to your Sentences


It’s time to learn an essential component of French grammar – Pronouns. As you’re well-aware of the definition in English, let’s recall it one more time so that we’re all on the same page.

Any word that substitutes the name of a person, place, thing or an entire phrase is a Pronoun.

Since French has many tributaries that branch out from the main word, let’s look at them for French lesson adventure you won’t forget!

Personal Pronouns

Not only do they come instead of the ‘who’ or ‘what’, but they also agree with the two components when they replace them.

1. Personal Subject Pronouns

These are the most basic pronouns which majorly contribute towards conjugation. We know that a sentence is made up of ‘subject’ and ‘object’ These act on the subject positions.

English MeaningSubject Pronoun
You (Formal/Plural)Vous


Michelle se repose car elle est fatiguée (Michelle is resting as she is tired)

2. Stressed Pronouns

Their purpose is to place emphasis on the speaker or whoever is being spoken for. Where are they specifically used?

  • If a sentence possesses more than one subject

Vous et moi devrions regarder un film ensemble
(You and I should watch a film together)

  • Positioned after prepositions

Tu es assis derrière elle (You are sitting behind her)

  • Positioned after C’est / Ce sont

C’est nous qui t’avons oublié (It’s us who forgot you)

  • During comparisons

Becca est plus douce que lui (Becca is sweeter than him)

  • For interrogation

J’y vais, et vous? (I’m going, are you?)

  • For showing possession

C’est leur chat (This is their cat)

From all these examples let’s curate a table for stressed pronouns.

English PronounsFrench PronounsUsage
MeMoiFirst person singular
YouToiSecond person singular
Him/Her/SelfLui/Elle/SoiThird person singular
UsNousFirst person plural
YouVousSecond person plural
ThemEux/EllesThird person plural

3. Reflexive Pronouns

As the name suggests, these pronouns can be said to behave like reflexes in a language. Before we look at the table for ease, remember that reflexive pronouns agree with the subject as they are employed with reflexive verbs.

English MeaningReflexive Pronoun
I amJe me
You areTu te
He is / She isIl/Elle se
We areNous nous
You areVous vous
They areIls/Elles se

Il s’habille maintenant (He’s getting dressed now)

4. Direct Object Pronouns

These terms usually impact the ‘who’ or ‘what’ of the verb. So, the direct object is substituted by the direct pronoun. Remember to always have the pronoun agree with the gender and number.

English MeaningFrench MeaningUsage
MeMe/m’First singular person
YouTe/t’Second singular person
He/Her/ItLe/La/L’Third person singular
UsNousFirst person plural
YouVousSecond person plural
ThemLesThird person plural

Tu as vu la robe en premier, mais je l’achète (You saw the dress first, but I’m buying it)

5. Indirect Object Pronouns

The way to distinguish this from the previous one is to remember that indirect object pronouns also replace person or object but only those that are before a preposition.

English MeaningsFrench Indirect Object Pronouns
To meMe/m’
To youTe/t’
To him / To herLui
To usNous
To youVous
To themLeur
To themselvesSe/S’

Elle leur donnera les clés (She will give the keys to them)

* If you carefully observe, the third person singular and plural of direct and indirect pronoun are the ones which are mostly different. Remember to not jumble up the two.

To know more about object pronoun, click here.

Impersonal Pronouns

While personal pronouns agree with the subject, these do not. Sometimes just knowing one definition can help identify the other opposite in French!

6. Relative Pronouns

When a sentence is without a subject it’s known as a dependant clause while when it has a subject, it’s termed as main clause. The pronouns that act as conjunctions between these two parts are known as relative pronouns.

  •  Qui (like ‘who’)

Elle voudrait quelqu’un qui croit en elle
(She would like someone who believes in her)

  • Dont (Whose / That)

Whenever a sentence has object that follows ‘de’, this pronoun is used.

Le noir est la seule chose dont j’ai peur
(The dark is the only thing that I’m afraid of)

  • Lequel/Laquelle/Lesquels/Lesquelles (Which)

Used in place of an indirect object that comes after a preposition.

Quelle pomme veux-tu? Laquelle veux-tu?
(Which apple do you want? Which one do you want?)

  • (Where)

Used in substitution of a place.

Où se trouvent les toilettes?
(Where is the bathroom?)

  • Que (That)

In a sentence with direct object in the dependant clause, this pronoun is employed.

C’est la bague qu’il a donnée
(That’s the ring that he gave)

7. Indefinite Pronouns

A way to go wild with pronouns is using this concept where pronouns can be subject within a sentence, preposition or an object of a verb. Let’s look at a few:

English MeaningsFrench Meanings
somethingquelque chose
each onechacun(e)
everyonetout le monde

Je ne vois rien (I don’t see anything)

* ‘rien’ is the indefinite pronoun

8. Adverbial Pronouns

  • Y

The formula for the pronoun ‘y’ is that it substitutes:

à + noun

* There are two instances that uses this pronoun –

a) substitute a place (common)
b) inanimate objects

J’étudie à Berlin -> J’y étudie
(I study in Berlin) -> (I study)

* The pronoun comes before the verb, in conjugation.

  • En

The formula for the pronoun ‘en’ is that it replaces:

de + a noun / a phrase

*There are two instances that uses this pronoun –

a) quantities (countable/ uncountable)
b) Partitive Articles (de, du, de la, de l’, des)

Il écrit deux lettres -> Il en écrit deux
(He writers two letters) -> (He writes two)

Il vient du magasin -> Il en vient
(He comes from the shop) -> (He comes)

9. Impersonal Subject Pronouns

Under this there are two words which are used in French – ‘ce’ and ‘il’. The first one is usually used in informal instances and both are substituted for impersonal pronoun ‘it’.

C’est fait (It is done)

All of this could be quite overwhelming but with patience and practice, you will soon be a Master Pronoun. The French tutors will help you to achieve your goal. See you in the next chapter!

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