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    French Object Pronouns – How to Use these Tricky Words

    In language, nouns are words that represent people, place, thing or an idea. The interesting part is that there are words which can be used to substitute these nouns. One such case is of object pronoun that replaces nouns which have been affected by verbs. Let’s dive in so called French Object Pronouns.

    French Object Pronouns, French Object Pronouns – How to Use these Tricky Words
    By Michelle
    7 December 2019
    French Object Pronouns, French Object Pronouns – How to Use these Tricky Words

    French Grammar French Lessons

    French Object Pronouns – How to Use these Tricky Words

1.  Pronoms objects directs (Indirect Object Pronoun): takes place on nouns (people or things) which are affected by the action of the verb.
2. Pronoms objects directs (Direct Object Pronoun):  takes place on nouns (place or things) which receive the action of the verb.

Two other theories work along with object pronouns.

  • Les pronoms réfléchis (Reflexive Pronouns): These (me, te, se, nous etc) are essential when we narrow down on double object pronouns (these could be two object pronouns, reflexive pronouns or even adverbial pronouns).
  • Pronoms adverbiaux (Adverbial Pronouns): ‘En’ substitutes the partitive articles (de, du, de la, d’, de l’, des) that come before a noun of place or quantity. On the other hand, ‘Y’ replaces prepositions of place (à, en, au, aux etc) that come before a noun.

Don’t be ‘Tense’, It’s Simple: Simple and Compound Tenses

Object pronouns are placed before the verb, no matter which tense it is.

Elles vont nous aider (They will help us) – Simple
Elles nous auraient aidé (They would have had helped us) – Compound

Dealing with Duality: Dual-verb constructions

Since there are two verbs, remember that the object pronouns will still go before the verbs but in this case right ahead of the second verb.

Elles doivent nous aider (They must help us)

Wait, There’s an Exception: Affirmative Imperative

The object pronoun will always come after the verb.

Fais-le! (Do it!)

Positioning Double Object Pronouns

The double object pronouns have a fixed routine which relates with the verb construction.

  • Other than adverbial, reflexive, affirmative imperative and object pronouns, the rest all other pronouns are placed before the verb in all tenses and moods.

Words Order Table

Il nettoie la vaisselle avec son ami – Il la nettoie avec lui
(He cleans the dishes with his friend) – (He cleans it with him)

* According to table, le comes before lui

  • By now, it won’t come as a surprise when you’re told that affirmative imperative is written in a different way. The pronoun follows the verb and are marked by hyphens.

Words Order Table

Dis-le-lui-y (Say it to him there)

* Observe the table and find the order in the example

Is That Direct or Indirect Object Pronoun?

These rules will help you understand the distinction.

  • If a noun precedes either à or pour (not in cases of ‘on behalf of’), then there is placement of indirect object.

Vera a réalisé une performance pour son père
(Vera did a performance for her father)


Vera lui a réalisé une performance
(Vera did him a performance)

  • If there’s a noun (person) preceding any other preposition, then object pronoun can’t be employed instead of that noun.

Elle a chanté la chanson de Jeanne (She sang Jeanne’s song)


Elle l’a chantée (She sang it)

* de Jeanne is altogether eliminated

  • If a noun doesn’t have a preposition before it, then it’s a direct object.

Il a déchiré le papier (He tore the paper)


Il l’a déchiré (He tore it)

  • If a preposition is written after a thing than you can’t replace that thing with an object pronoun.

Elle l’a bu pour le marathon (She drank it for the marathon)

*le marathon can’t be replaced.

Even though it’s believed that converting from English and learning French will be easy but it’s full of speed breakers. There could be instances where French sentences might need prepositions while the English ones don’t and vice versa. The same goes for direct and indirect – what could be indirect object pronoun isn’t necessarily so in English. In some cases, prepositions aren’t even mentioned but implied. To know more about French prepositions, click here.

So, don’t blindly convert but be a bit mindful.

This topic will barely take you an hour to master as opposed to spending the same time on social media. Next time, you can construct perfect compound tenses and woo your online French friends. Connect with our online French tutors. See you next chapter!

Quiz: Test your knowledge of French Object Pronouns!

French Object Pronouns, French Object Pronouns – How to Use these Tricky Words

French Object Pronouns

1 / 4

“Yasmine regarde le chien et puis elle le caresse” means

2 / 4

“La femme nous apprend beaucoup de choses” means

3 / 4

Which of the following could «Tu lui réponds.» mean ?

4 / 4

How would you say "François doesn’t talk to her anymore." ?

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