Pronouns are the spine of many languages. Each English and French have this in frequent. Their major perform is to interchange nouns or noun phrases and remove repetition in each speech and writing. As soon as context is established, pronouns step in to maintain issues flowing shortly.
Take the next: As a substitute of “Jack ran” in English, we’d say “He ran.” “Jack’s backpack”, could be “his backpack,” and “I went to faculty” turns into “I went there.”
In French, there are a lot of several types of pronouns, every of which depends on the place they fall in a sentence. Should you’re considering shifting past merely memorizing phrases and phrases, understanding every kind of pronoun will help you higher improvise in dialog. Plus, it truly makes dialog simpler—your sentences will likely be less complicated, shorter, and much much less repetitive. You’ll have the ability to say extra with far much less!
Under, we’ll check out pronoun sorts and supply detailed examples of every. Should you’re desperate to be taught grammar guidelines in a enjoyable setting—with out the memorization—Rosetta Stone has all the tools you need to take your French to the next level. You’ll put together for real-life conversations with uniquely immersive learning activities and get immediate feedback on your pronunciation in each lesson!
What are French pronouns?
Pronouns exchange nouns and remove repetition. Not often greater than 2-3 letters, they’re quick and candy phrases. Probably the most troublesome half about French pronouns is figuring out them in speech, since they’re single syllable phrases and simply mix into longer sentences. Chances are you’ll even be tempted to gloss over them when studying or writing in French, however be warned! Pronoun utilization can completely make or break a sentence.
There are French topic pronouns which are simply recognizable:
- il / elle / on
And there are different pronouns it’s possible you’ll be acquainted with like:
- son / sa / ses
It’s essential to keep in mind that French pronouns are used as rather more than replacements for topics and objects. That’s why there are 15 sorts! French pronouns, like their English counterparts, signify nouns in all the kinds a noun takes in a sentence, whether or not that be as a topic, object, possessor, an “all people”, or a “no one”.
The 15 several types of French pronouns
There are 15 several types of pronouns, which implies there are 15 completely different ways in which nouns/pronouns might be positioned in a sentence. You may even see some repetition between the precise pronouns used—me is each a direct and oblique object pronoun—however the perform is completely different.
Mastering pronouns takes apply, so don’t count on to know this complete record in your first learn! Making errors in real-life conversations is one of the best ways to commit pronouns to reminiscence. It’s going to all come extra naturally than you suppose!
Private pronouns in French
There are two classes to which the assorted units of French pronouns belong: private and impersonal.
A private pronoun is a pronoun used to designate an individual (animals included). In English, we’d use you, I, me, you, she, or her.
French grammar provides loads of methods to signify the particular person in query with out endlessly repeating their identify every time we want to converse of them. We’ll first have a look at the completely different units inside the broad class of non-public pronouns, starting with topic pronouns.
French topic pronouns
A topic pronoun is one that’s used as a topic in a sentence. The topic of a sentence is the noun that produces the motion of the verb. Take this instance:
I walked to the shop at this time.
“I” is the topic engaged within the verb “walked”. Right here’s one other one:
Il va au supermarché. = He goes to the grocery store.
Right here, il, or “he” is the topic that engages within the verb va (go). Discover how the English translation is “he” and never “him.” “Him” is an object in English, moderately than a topic. Understanding these distinctions in our personal language helps us perceive them higher in one other.
Word the excellence within the following examples:
On est responsable de tous les dégâts.
You (impersonal, hypothetical “one”) are answerable for all of the damages.
In French on could imply the impersonal or hypothetical “one” or “you”, as within the sentence “one (you) ought to wash one’s (your) palms after utilizing the restroom.” It might additionally perform as “we” and “they”.
Ils font trop de bruit! = They are making an excessive amount of noise!
French direct object pronouns
Direct object pronouns are, as their identify suggests, pronouns which are used as direct objects in a sentence. An object is the noun that receives the motion of the verb. “Direct” signifies that there are not any prepositions or different objects that come between it and the verb. Take this instance:
I like her.
Her is a direct object, as it’s the receiver of the act of “loving” and has no different objects to compete with that additionally obtain this motion. In French:
L’ (lowercase l’) is the thing. The total pronoun is la to match the grammatical gender of the direct object, however we’re utilizing the contracted model right here to remove the side-by-side vowels (la aime).
You is perhaps questioning why the thing comes earlier than, moderately than after, the verb. It is a main distinction between English and French. In English, objects come after the verb, in French, they arrive earlier than it. So, our brains should suppose a bit of in another way about sentences.
It’s needed to notice that sure verbs in French robotically render sure pronouns as direct objects. For instance, within the sentence:
Je le cherche. = I’m in search of him.
In English “him” is an oblique object. However in French, the verb “chercher” doesn’t have a preposition after it, so any object that receives its motion is direct.
French direct object pronouns
|le/la/les||It (masc./fem.); they|
Je les adore. = I like them.
Word how the gender of the noun that les represents doesn’t have an effect on its kind. Whether or not it’s a bunch of masculine or female nouns, all of it will get grouped into les.
Tu m’étonne! = You shock me!
As all the time, when the phrase that follows begins with a vowel, we remove the vowel on the finish of the pronoun and exchange it with an apostrophe.
French oblique object pronouns
Oblique object pronouns are like direct ones, solely they aren’t the first to obtain the motion of the verb. These pronouns are objects that additionally obtain a verbs motion, however share it with others. In some circumstances, these are objects which are merely preceded by a preposition.
I’m giving him the journal.
Him is the oblique object as a result of, “journal” is the direct object (the “first in line” if you’ll) of the verb “giving”. “Him” is an object coming after the one straight receiving the motion of the verb, and is thus an oblique object.
Let’s check out this instance in French now.
Je lui donne le journal.
Discover how the identical rule performs out for the direct object (le journal) and the oblique object (lui, “him”). Word that on this instance, donner is considered one of a number of verbs wherein the preposition à is all the time in-built or implied. In that sense, the thing pronoun will all the time be oblique when used with this verb.
Check out the desk beneath for an inventory of French verbs which have à in-built!
French oblique object pronouns
|leur||them (each masc./fem.)|
French verbs ending in à
|assister à||to attend|
|demander à||to ask|
|dire à||to say|
|écouter à||to pay attention|
|écrire à||to put in writing|
|jouer à||to play|
|obéir à||to obey|
|manquer à||to overlook (somebody/sth.)|
|penser à||to suppose (about s.o./sth.)|
|plaire à||to please|
|réfléchir à||to replicate on s.o./sth.|
|répondre à||to reply to|
|ressembler à||to resemble|
|réussir à||to succeed|
|téléphoner à||to name (through phone)|
- Je lui parle du live performance. = I’m speaking to him concerning the live performance.
- Nous leur enseignons l’histoire mondiale au lycée = We educate them World Historical past in highschool.
French prepositional object pronouns
Along with the pronouns within the earlier part, there may be one other group of pronouns that perform with prepositions as oblique objects. These are referred to as prepositional object pronouns. They’ll solely be oblique objects and, as such, are all the time preceded by a preposition.
He’s talking to me! = Il parle à moi!
The moi right here shouldn’t be the identical as the topic pronoun je for it’s the object of the verb parler, and in addition essentially preceded by the preposition à so as to join the motion of the verb parler to its object of moi. Word how this identical sentence could possibly be rephrased with the prepositional object as an oblique object pronoun from the desk within the final part.
Il me parle. = He’s talking to me.
The prepositional object pronoun moi right here has modified its function within the sentence to signify the noun in query as an oblique object as an alternative. That is distinctive to French and, as you possibly can see, doesn’t translate into English.
Within the desk beneath, you’ll discover that a few of our private prepositional object pronouns are the identical ones we’ve beforehand seen as topic, direct object, and oblique object pronouns, like nous and vous.
- Les filles sont déçues parce qu’il à rien dit à elles du changement. = The ladies are dissatisfied as a result of he didn’t say something to them concerning the change.
- Il a finalement répondu à nous après trois jours! = He lastly responded to us after three days!
French reflexive pronouns
Should you’ve reviewed the pronoun sorts above, you need to have a strong grasp on what a topic and object is in a sentence. Understanding that is key to wrapping your head round reflexive pronouns!
Reflexive pronouns are object pronouns whose topic is similar as the thing it represents. One other method of describing them could be as object pronouns that replicate their topic. For instance:
He talks to himself rather a lot. = Il se parle beaucoup.
Discover how, for one, the thing “himself” or se in French refers back to the identical noun as “he” does within the sentence. We wouldn’t be content material in saying:
Il lui parle. = He’s speaking to him.
Right here, the oblique object pronoun lui or “him” doesn’t talk the that means of the topic il (him) speaking to himself. The that means is misplaced! That’s why we’ve reflexive pronouns.
French reflexive pronouns
Once more, you’ll discover sure repetitions from earlier classes of pronouns. That is par for the course.
|te||your self (casual)|
|vous||your self (formal) yourselves (plural|
French reflexive verbs
Just like how sure verbs have the built-in preposition of à, rendering their object pronouns oblique, there may be additionally a set of verbs which are all the time or largely used with reflexive pronouns. It’s common apply to specific these verbs within the third particular person singular type of “S’ + infinitive verb”.
|s’amuser||to have enjoyable|
|s’appeler||to name (oneself)|
|s’asseoir||to take a seat|
|se baigner||to swim|
|se coucher||to fall asleep|
|se dépêcher||to be in a rush|
|se lever||to rise|
|se passer||to occur/to happen/ to go|
|s’occuper||to deal with/occupy oneself with|
|se réveiller||to get up|
- Je m’appelle Tom. = My identify is Tom. (actually, I name myself Tom.)
- Ils se baignent dans la mèr. = They’re swimming within the ocean. (They themselves are swimming within the ocean.)
Impersonal pronouns in French
The second class of pronouns are impersonal pronouns, which discuss with normal objects and individuals moderately than any particular one like “you” or “them.” As a substitute, impersonal pronouns is perhaps the English equal of phrases like “these/these” and different instances as pronouns of place like “right here/there”. Different instances they could perform as possessive pronouns like “his” or “their”. As with our private pronouns, we are going to start with the topic set first.
Impersonal French topic pronouns
Impersonal topic pronouns in French are grammatically the identical as their private pronoun counterparts, in that they perform as topics that “provoke” the verb in a sentence. Nonetheless, as their identify suggests, they’re impersonal. So, moderately than the usual je, tu, and il/elle/on we’ve ce and il to designate impersonal expressions or verbs that haven’t any agent.
It is important to do the dishes. = Il faut faire la vaisselle.
On this sentence, the verb falloir (to be essential to….) shouldn’t be being initiated by any particular person, factor, or actor who’s answerable for the verb (what’s known as “company”). The topic pronoun Il (it) doesn’t signify any particular particular person or factor answerable for its verb.
- Il pleut. = It’s raining
- C’est absurde! = That is absurd.
- Qui est à la porte? = Who is on the door?
You’ve in all probability already come throughout ce with out even noticing it, because it’s featured in lots of sentences that include the contraction ce + être = c’est.
French adverbial pronouns
The 2 French adverbial pronouns are y and en. They every substitute nouns that may be adopted by a preposition. As all the time, these pronouns are positioned earlier than the verb of which they’re an object.
Let’s check out the pronoun y. You’ll use y to interchange a noun and its previous preposition when that noun follows any of those 4 prepositions:
Y represents nouns of place, particularly those who somebody goes to or spending time at. There’s one quite common exception although! Y is all the time used with penser (as in, pondering about one thing) attributable to the truth that penser is all the time adopted by à.
Now, let’s check out the pronoun en. You’ll use en to interchange a noun and its previous preposition when that noun is adopted by:
Since there’s just one possibility, this one is kind of simple to recollect! En represents somebody or one thing that’s from someplace. It might exchange nouns of place like “right here” or “there.” It may also be used as an alternative choice to “about,” as in, “We have been speaking concerning the climate.”
Keep in mind that French makes use of completely different prepositions than English—there isn’t all the time a direct translation between them. We might say, “I take into consideration…” however the French would say, “Je pense à,” utilizing the à preposition that sometimes interprets to “to,” “at,” or “in.”
All this to say, pay particular consideration to those guidelines. Translating straight from English can result in incorrect grammar!
Additionally word that we cannot use y or en to interchange our oblique object pronouns. As an example, we cannot say J’y écris as an alternative of J’écris à lui (I’m writing to him).
Seek the advice of the desk of verbs ending in de for a whole record of verbs which are suitable with the preposition en.
French adverbial pronouns
|y||To ,at, in (someplace/one thing)|
|en||of, from, about (someplace/one thing)|
- –Tu vas chez lui cet après-midi? = Are you going to his home this afternoon?
- Oui, j’y vais. – Sure, I’m going there.
- Il y a trop de règles! J’en suis fatigué! = There are too many guidelines! I’m uninterested in them!
French verbs ending in de
|avoir besoin de||to wish|
|avoir envie de||to need|
|jouer de||to play (an instrument)|
|penser de||to consider (opinion)|
|profiter de||to benefit from/benefit from|
French relative pronouns
Right here is the place we are going to really want our information of what a topic and an object is, in addition to verbs in French which have the in-built prepositions of à and de. These will assist us use the relative pronouns of que, qui, dont, où, and lequel. The desk beneath offers their English translations in addition to what prepositions these pronouns can comply with in a sentence.
In English we would say:
Nonetheless, in French we’d say one thing nearer to “to whom are you talking?”
- A qui est-ce que tu parles?
|French||English||Prepositions (when used)||Use|
|qui||who/which/that||Used after à, de, pour, chez, and avec||As in oblique object (often simply folks).|
|que||who/whom/which/that||As a direct object. Adopted by a pronoun or noun (by no means a verb).|
|dont||that/of which||To switch an object or an individual when de is included or following a verb with de.|
|où||the place/when||To discuss with a spot of location or in time.|
|lequel||Sur avec dans pour||lequel (M.S.)laquelle (F.S.)lesquels (M.Pl.)lesquelles (F.Pl.)|
|auquel (à + lequel)||à||auquel (M.S.)
à laquelle (F.S.)auxquels (M.Pl.)auxquelles (F.Pl.)
|duquel (de + lequel)||de||duquel (M.S.)
de laquelle (F.S.)
desquels (M.Pl.)desquelles (F.Pl.)
Right here’s an inventory of examples that use every relative pronoun:
- Le magasin qui vient d’ouvrir était soudainement fermé. = The shop that simply opened was out of the blue closed.
- A qui appartient ce portefeuille? = Who does this pockets belong to?
- La voiture que tu as acheté est belle! = The automotive (that) you obtain is gorgeous!
- La maison dont je m’occupe est en bon état. = The home that I’m taking good care of is in good situation.
- Le jour où tu es venu nous rendre visite était très spécial. = The day (when) you came visiting us was very particular.
- C’est la maison dans laquelle j’ai grandi. = That’s the home I grew up in. (actually “….the home wherein I grew up.)
French indefinite pronouns
In French we use indefinite pronouns equally to English. That’s, to discuss with individuals, locations, or issues with out saying precisely who or what they’re. For instance:
You need to use them if you would like, however sure ones don’t work.
Tu peux les utiliser, mais certains ne fonctionnent pas.
In French there is no such thing as a further phrase wanted to strengthen a pronoun just like the “ones” does for “sure ones” in English. The pronoun alone will do. It should in fact agree in quantity and adjective with the noun which it describes although, because the desk beneath particulars.
|un autre||une autre||d’autres||d’autres||different|
|quelque selected||–||–||–||one thing|
|personne (ne + V. + personne/ personne + ne + V.)||nobody/no one|
Check out how they’re utilized in a sentence:
- Il s’en fout d’autres et c’est pourquoi il n’a personne pour l’ aider. = He doesn’t care about others and that’s why he has nobody to assist him.
- Regardes! Il n’y a personne! = Look! There’s nobody (right here)!
- Toutes sont très intelligentes! = All (the ladies) are very clever!
French possessive pronouns
Possessive pronouns are ones that point out possession by somebody or one thing, corresponding to mine, his/her/its, ours, theirs, and so forth. There’s extra complexity to this in French than in English although. As we’ll see beneath:
Her cellphone isn’t working. = Son transportable ne marche pas.
In French, the “his/her” pronoun indicating possession adjustments kind in response to the gender of the thing possessed, moderately than the gender of the possessor. So, within the instance above the “her” within the sentence truly takes the masculine singular pronoun son, attributable to transportable being a masculine noun.
Examine the desk beneath, and ensure to recollect to choose the suitable pronoun based mostly on:
- Who or what possesses the thing (i.e. whether or not you’re talking within the 1st, 2nd, or third particular person)
- The gender and variety of the possessed object
|M.S.||F.S.||Pl.(gender irrelevant in plural)||English|
- Bonjour David! Est-ce que tu as reçu ta valise? = Hi there David! Did you obtain your suitcase?
- Je m’appelle Kimberly et j’y ai laissé mes feuilles. = My identify is Kimberly and I left my notes right here.
- Son idée est excellente! = His/her thought is great!
When the phrase following the possessive pronoun begins with a vowel, we revert again to the masculine kind within the case of singular objects. As within the final instance “Son idée est excellente”, idée is in truth a female noun, however the truth that it begins with the vowel -E makes us use the masculine singular pronoun of son.
French demonstrative pronouns
If we consider possessive pronouns as being made up of an adjective that possesses a noun (the adjective being the “your” or “her” describing the possession of the noun they possess) then we are able to consider demonstrative pronouns in the same method.
Demonstrative pronouns are made up of an adjective describing a noun, although it’s an adjective describing “this (one)” or “that (one)” explicit factor that’s both “right here” or “there”. It might additionally simply imply the equal of “one” in English.
- Which novel would you prefer to buy? I’ll purchase this one.
- Quel roman est-ce que tu voudrais acheter? J’achète celui-ci. (gender settlement with the masc. roman)
Listed here are a number of extra examples:
- En ce qui concerne la maison idéale, je cherche celle qui a assez d’espace pour les gamins.
- In regards to the preferrred home, I’m in search of one with sufficient area for the youngsters.
- Où sont les pommes? Tu te rappelles celles que j’ai achetées! Tout à l’heure?
- The place are the apples? You keep in mind those that I purchased earlier?
Word that with celui and ceux it may be used alone with -ci (this one) or là (that one) on the finish.
French indefinite demonstrative pronouns
Indefinite demonstrative pronouns carry out the same perform to the particular ones within the part above, nonetheless, they don’t describe particular person, explicit issues. As a substitute, they perform as “this” and “that”. There isn’t any plural kind, as they describe issues that aren’t often quantifiable.
C’est délicieux = It’s scrumptious!
Sure, that’s the identical “ce” that we are saying as an indefinite topic pronoun, now showing as an indefinite demonstrative pronoun!
- Cela n’est pas le bon second pour discuter de ça. = That’s not the appropriate second to debate that.
- Est-ce que tu as entendu ceci? = Did you hear that?
French unfavorable pronouns
Unfavorable pronouns are ones that negate different pronouns. For instance, the negation of “somebody” or “everybody” is “nobody”. The negation of “the whole lot” is “nothing”.
None of my colleagues are coming. = Aucun de mes collègues ne vient.
- Rien n’est unattainable. = Nothing is unattainable.
- On le cherchait, et on ne l’a trouvé nulle half. = We looked for him and willn’t discover him anyplace (OR “…discovered him nowhere”)
Discover how the construction might be both:
- unfavorable pronoun + ne + verb
- ne + verb + unfavorable pronoun
French interrogative pronouns
Lastly, our interrogative pronouns! These are comparatively easy in comparison with earlier classes, and serve to deal with interrogative, or, query pronouns. Merely put, they’re there to ask “who” and “what”.
What are you doing? Tu fais quoi?
Quoi is usually casual. Within the sentence above, the formal phrasing could be “Qu’est-ce que tu fais?”. Quoi may also be used by itself in a sentence like when one says “What!?” in response to not listening to, understanding, or desirous to consider one thing.
- Qui est-ce que tu aimes? = Who do you want?
- Que sais-je? = What do I do know?
Essential French grammar ideas to recollect
As we’ve seen all through these examples, there are numerous French grammar guidelines to remember when making use of our information of pronouns. These embody gender, quantity, and ritual.
Making use of gender guidelines to pronouns
As all the time, we should keep in mind the gender and singularity or plurality of our nouns. Pronouns are not any exception to this.
Once we possess a ebook, we should keep in mind its gender so as to use the right pronoun of “son” (masc.) moderately than “sa” (fem.).
If we’re restating the identical phrase like “automobiles” in a sentence and never desirous to repeat this phrase time and again, we have to use the topic pronoun “elles” as a result of “automobiles” is female and plural.
Formal and casual pronouns
The distinction between formality and informality in French is one which applies to all manners of speech, together with pronouns. You’ll have to maintain this in thoughts when utilizing:
- fundamental topic pronouns (tu, vous)
- reflexive pronouns (te, vous)
- possessive pronouns (ton, ta; tes, votre, vos)
- direct and oblique object pronouns (te, vous)
- prepositional object pronouns of (toi, vous)
Figuring out when to omit pronouns
In contrast to in Spanish, you’ll not often see pronouns omitted in French. Since French verb conjugations typically sound or look comparable, it could make communication fairly troublesome. For instance, if somebody have been to say:
(Tu) cherches quoi? = What are (you) in search of?
It could be troublesome to know whether or not the speaker is asking “What are you in search of?” or asking “What’s he/she in search of?” because of the pronunciation of (tu) cherches and (il/elle) cherche being equivalent.
The one time one omits pronouns is within the crucial tense of giving a command.
- Donnes-moi le ball! = Give me the ball!
- Allons-y! = Let’s go!
Is there a neater technique to keep in mind French pronouns?
As acknowledged firstly, studying pronouns is sophisticated. Nonetheless, it’s essential to not over analyze them or concern your self an excessive amount of with the specifics of every rule. The extra publicity you get, the better it’s to demystify them.
Wish to keep away from muddling your method by way of French grammar? Rosetta Stone will help you increase your French information quick—with out the tedious memorization. Every lesson pairs phrases, photographs, and audio so you possibly can be taught French in a fun, immersive environment. Plus, Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent function will help you good your pronunciation out of your very first lesson!
Written by Micah McCauley
Micah McCauley is a present freelance contributor to Rosetta Stone with years of expertise educating French to non-native audio system. His profession spans the U.S., France, and China. He’s presently a scholar and affiliate teacher of French and Francophone Research. He enjoys composing music, touring, and studying Spanish in his free time.