This page offers a complete guide to French object pronouns. Essentially, object pronouns are words such as it and them (for things) and me, you, us, he, she and them (for people). Keep reading for a detailed explanation with example sentences.
What are the direct and indirect object pronouns in French?
Object pronouns are words which replace nouns. I eat pizza -> I eat it. I look at the lady -> I look at her.
In French, direct object pronouns are used for verbs which aren’t followed by prepositions: Me (me), te (you), nous (us), vous (you), le (him or it), la (her or it), les (them). For example, Je vois le garçon. Je le vois. (I see the boy. I see him).
Indirect object pronouns replace nouns for verbs following by the preposition à (to or at): Me (me), te (you), nous (us), vous (you), lui (him or her) and leur (them). For example, Je parle à la fille. Je lui parle. (I speak to the girl. I speak to her).
Indirect object pronouns y and en are used for inanimate things and ideas for verbs followed by à and de.
Direct object pronouns
|me (m') me||nous us|
|te (t's) you (familiar)||vous you (you plural or formal)|
|le (l') him or it (masculine)||les them (masculine or feminine)|
|la (l') her or it (feminine)|
In language, a direct object is the noun that receives the action of a verb. It’s called direct because there’s no preposition following the verb and preceding the noun.
For sentences expressing “to” or “at” me, you and us with verbs not followed by prepositions, the verb endings must agree with the subject. Here are a few example sentences.
- Je te regarde. I look at you.
- Vous me regardez. You look at me.
- Ils vous regardent. They look at you.
- Nous vous regardons. We look at you.
The following list of common verbs are not followed by the preposition à and thus take a direct object.
- aimer to like, love
- acheter to buy
- écouter to listen
- attendre to wait
- inviter to invite
- comprendre to understand
- prendre to take
- connaître to know
Direct object pronoun for him, her, it and them
In French, the direct object pronoun must agree in gender and number with the noun it replaces. Here are some example sentences with the third-person singular and plural direct object pronouns (he, she, it and them).
- Je regarde le film. Je le regarde. I watch the movie. I watch it.
- Tu regardes la fille. Tu la regardes. You look at the girl. You look at her.
- Je connais Jean. Je le connais. I know Jean. I know him.
- Tu connais Sylvie. Tu la connais. I know Sylvie. I know her.
- Je connais Jean et Sylvie. Je les connais. I know Jean and Sylvie. I know them.
Negation rule for direct object pronouns
To negate a sentence with a direct object pronoun, wrap ne…pas around both the object pronoun and the verb.
- Je ne mange pas le steak. Je ne le mange pas. I don’t eat the steak. I don’t eat it.
- Je ne connais pas Marc. Je ne le connais pas. I don’t know Marc. I don’t know him.
Passé composé rule for direct object pronouns
In the passé composé, the direct object pronoun comes before the auxiliary verb. The past participle must agree in number and gender when the direct object pronoun precedes the verb.
- J’ai mangé le pain. Je l’ai mangé. I ate the bread. I ate it.
- J’ai mangé la pizza. Je l’ai mangée. I ate the pizza. I ate it.
- J’ai mangé les frites. Je les ai mangées. I ate the French fries. I ate them.
Imperative rule for direct object pronouns
In the affirmative imperative, the direct object pronoun comes after the verb with a hyphen. The pronouns me (m’) and te (t’) become moi and toi. In the negative imperative the direct object pronoun stays before the verb.
- Regarde-moi! Look at me!
- Ne me regarde pas! Don’t look at me!
- Mange le pain! Mange-le! Eat the bread! Eat it!
- Ne mange pas le pain! Ne le mange pas! Don’t eat the bread! Don’t eat it!
Direct object pronoun preceding an infinitive
Direct object pronouns preceded infinitives. In the negation, ne…pas gets wrapped around the modal verb and the direct object pronoun precedes the infinitive.
- Je vais manger le gâteau. Je vais le manger. I’m going to eat the cake. I’m going to eat it.
- Je ne vais pas manger la pizza. Je ne vais pas la manger. I’m not going to eat the pizza. I’m not going to eat it.
Indirect object pronouns
|me (m') me||nous us|
|te (t's) you (familiar)||vous you (you plural or formal)|
|lui him, her (masculine)||leur them (masculine or feminine)|
Indirect object pronouns are words used to replace nouns for verbs followed by the preposition à (to or at). For sentences covering “to” or “at me, you and us, there is no difference between the direct object pronoun. Here are some examples:
- Je te parle. I’m speaking to you.
- Vous me parlez. You’re speaking to me.
- Ils vous parlent. They’re speaking to you.
- Nous vous parlons. We’re speaking to you.
The following common verbs are all followed by à and thus take an indirect object pronoun.
- parler à quelqu’un to speak to somebody
- répondre à quelqu’un to answer, respond to somebody
- écrire à quelqu’un to write to to write to somebody
The following common verbs follow a similar format but include “something”.
- donner quelque chose à quelqu’un to give something to somebody
- envoyer quelque chose à quelqu’un to send something to somebody
- expliquer quelque chose à quelqu’un to explain something to somebody
- demander quelque chose à quelqu’un to ask somebody for something
Indirect object pronouns for him, her and them
The indirect object pronouns for him her and the are lui and leur. The word lui looks like it should be masculine only but it also means her. Here are some example sentences.
- Je parle à mon frère. Je lui parle. I speak to my brother. I speak to him.
- Je parle à ma soeur. Je lui parle. I speak to my sister. I speak to her.
- Je parle à mon frère et soeur. Je leur parle. I speak to my brother and sister. I speak to them.
Negation rule for indirect object pronouns
The negation rule for indirect object pronouns is the same as direct object pronouns. Wrap ne…pas around both the indirect object pronoun and the verb.
- Je ne parle pas à Marc. Je ne lui parle pas. I’m not speaking to Marc. I’m not speaking to him.
- Je ne parle pas à Marc et Sylvie. Je ne leur parle pas. I’m not speaking to Marc and Sylvie. I’m not speaking to them.
Passé composé rule for indirect object pronouns
Unlike direct object pronouns, there is no need to make the past participles agree in number and gender when the verb is preceded by the indirect object pronoun in the passé composé.
- J’ai parlé à Marc. Je lui ai parlé. I spoke to Marc. I spoke to him.
- J’ai parlé à Sylvie. Je lui ai parlé. I spoke to Sylvie. I spoke to her.
Imperative rule for indirect object pronouns
In the affirmative imperative, the indirect object pronoun comes after the verb and is hyphenated. Me (m’) becomes moi and te (t’) becomes toi. In the negative imperative, the indirect object pronoun remains before the verb.
- Parle-moi! Speak to me!
- Ne me parle pas! Don’t speak to me!
- Parle-lui! Speak to him!
- Ne lui parle pas! Don’t speak to him.
Indirect object pronouns and infinitives
The same rules at applied for direct object pronouns and infinitives apply for indirect object pronouns. The pronoun comes before the infinitive and ne…pas gets wrapped around the modal verb.
- Je vais parler à Marc. Je vais lui parler. I’m going to speak to Marc. I’m going to speak to him.
- Je ne vais pas parler à Syvie. Je ne vais pas lui parler. I’m not going to speak to Sylvie. I’m not going to speak to her.
Indirect object pronouns y and en
The indirect object pronouns y and en are used to replace inanimate objects (ideas and things). Y is used to replace inanimate objects for verbs followed by à and en is used for inanimate objects for verbs followed by de.
Examples with y
- Je pense à ton idée. J’y pense. I’m thinking about your idea. I’m thinking about it.
- Je réponds à la question. J’y reponds. I’m answering the question. I’m answering it.
- Je m’habitue à la situation. Je m’y habitue. I’m getting used to the situation. I’m getting used to it.
Examples with en
- Je parle de la situation. J’en parle. I talk about the situation. I talk about it.
- J’ai besoin de l’ordinateur. J’en ai besoin. I need the computer. I need it.
- Je me souviens de mes vacances. Je m’en souviens. I remember my vacation. I remember it.
Common expressions and usages of y and en
The indirect object pronouns y and en have many common usages.
Y when used with aller
In association with verb aller (to go), y means there. For example, “Je vais à la banque” becomes “J’y vais” for “I go there”.
Both “Vas-y” and “Allez-y” mean “Go ahead” when telling somebody to speak or move ahead in line, for example.
En when used with vouloir and faire
The verb vouloir (to want) is often followed by “de + noun” when using the partitive article.
For example, “Je veux du fromage” (I want some cheese), “Je veux de la soupe” (I want some soup) or “Je veux des fraises” (I want some strawberries). For all these sentences, “J’en veux” means “I want some”.
The verb faire (to make, do) is followed by “de + noun” as well.
For example, “Je fais du yoga“, (I do yoga), “Je fais de la méditation” and “Je fais des exercises” (I do exercises). For all of these sentences, “J’en fais” means “I do it”.
Double object pronouns
When two object pronouns occur in the same sentence, the rule is for the indirect object pronoun to appear before the direct object pronoun.
The exception to this rule is when there are when both direct and indirect object pronouns appear in the third-person. In this situation, the direct object pronoun precedes the indirect object pronoun.
This can be summarized in the following table:
The following example sentences are indirect object pronoun followed by direct object pronoun.
- Il me donne la pizza -> Il me la donne. He gives me the pizza. He gives it to me.
- Je vous envoie la lettre. -> Je vous l’envoie. I send you the letter. -> I send it to you.
- Il nous dit la vérité. -> Il nous la dit. He tells us the truth. -> He tells it to us.
The following example sentences have both the direct and indirect object pronouns in the third-person.
- Il explique la situation à son ami. -> Il la lui explique. He explains the situation to his friend. He explains it to him.
- Elle offre le cadeau à son fils. -> Elle le lui offre. She offers a gift to her son. She offers it to him.
- Il sert un repas à ses amis. Il le leur sert. He serves a meal to his friends. He serves it to them.
The following example sentences use y and en. When in doubt on the order of the object pronouns, use the table above.
- Elle m’ammène à la plage -> Elle m’y ammène. She brings me to the beach. -> She brings me there.
- Il te donne du fromage. -> Il t’en donne. He gives you (some) cheese. -> He gives you some.
Continue your learning!
Our good friend at Frenchtoday.com, Camille, also covers French object pronouns in detail on her French pronouns post. She has a wonderful approach to picking which pronoun to use based on asking questions.
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French is more strict than English: if the pronoun is a direct object, you have to use 'le', 'la' or 'les', if it's indirect, you have to use 'lui' or 'leur'. I give her flowers every day. and conclude 'The French for 'her' is 'la', I'll write Je la donne des fleurs chaque jour', which is wrong.What is direct and indirect object examples with answers? ›
A direct object is the object in which the verb is acting on. For example, in the sentence “He sold his car,” “car” is a direct object. An indirect object is the recipient of the direct object, as in “The man gave his wife a necklace.” “Necklace” is the direct object, and “wife” is the indirect object.How to know when to use direct or indirect object pronouns in French? ›
- It's a direct object if there's no preposition before it. J'ai acheté le livre. ...
- It's an indirect object if it comes after pour or à. ...
- You cannot replace a person or thing with an object pronoun when it comes after a preposition.
Direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns are placed in front of the verb. Since it is common to have both an indirect and direct object pronoun in a sentence, they will both be directly in front of the verb. In such sentences, the indirect object pronoun always precedes the direct object pronoun.What are the rules for direct object pronouns in French? ›
Direct objects can be replaced by direct object pronouns (me, te, le, la, nous, vous, les), which will agree in number and gender with the noun they replace. Direct object pronouns precede the verb in all sentences except affirmative imperatives. Elle les met. (She puts them on.)How do you use indirect object pronouns in a sentence? ›
- We spoke to the teacher. (To whom did we speak? The teacher. The teacher is the indirect object pronoun.)
- We spoke to him/her. (The pronouns him or her could be used to replace the indirect object here.)
An indirect object answers the question of to whom, for whom, or for what.Can you give me example of direct object? ›
In English grammar, a direct object is a word or phrase that receives the action of the verb. In the sentence The students eat cake, the direct object is cake; the word eat is the verb and cake is what's being eaten.How do you identify a direct object pronoun in a sentence? ›
To check whether a direct object (D.O.) exists in a sentence, and to identify it, ask "what?" or "whom?" about the verb.Where do you put Lui and Leur? ›
Note that in L'Impératif, the direct object pronouns le, la, l', les and the indirect object pronouns lui, leur are placed after the verb with a hyphen in between. ATTENTION: It's often very confusing for students to know which pronoun to use in affirmative commands.
The French direct object pronouns are:
- Me / m' –> me.
- Te / t' –> you.
- Le / l' –> him, it.
- La / l' –> her, it.
- Nous –> us.
- Vous –> you.
- Les –> them.
Indirect objects can only be used in sentences with direct objects. However, a sentence can have a direct object without an indirect object (an example of this is simply saying Embiid passed the ball). Because they rely on direct objects, indirect objects can only be used with transitive verbs.How do I combine IOP and DOP? ›
Indirect Object Pronouns (IOPs)
Usually appear in front of the conjugated verb & always in front of the DOP: (Exceptions are the same as for DOPs: infinitive, progressive, command.) ➢ He buys me them (them = flowers) → Él me las compra. “Me” is the IOP because “me” is receiving the DOP of “las flores”.
- Use the reporting verb such as (say, said to) in its correct tense.
- Put a comma before the statement and the first letter of the statement should be in capital letter.
French Subject Pronouns.
|Il||He or it|
|Elle||She or it|
A direct object receives the action in a sentence, while an indirect object is affected by the action in a sentence.What are the 6 indirect object pronouns? ›
Using me, te, le, nos, os, les (indirect object pronouns)What are indirect object pronouns in French? ›
Indirect object pronouns are the same as direct object pronouns, apart from lui (to him/her) and leur (to them.) The rules about the position of indirect object pronouns are the same as for direct object pronouns, i.e. between the subject and the verb. Where a modal verb is used, between the modal and the infinitive .What is the difference between direct and indirect pronouns? ›
Direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns are often used together in a sentence. Indirect objects are to/for whom (usually a person) and the direct object is the thing involved. When used together, the indirect object pronoun comes first, followed immediately by the direct object pronoun.Can a sentence have an indirect object but no direct object? ›
The general rule is that a sentence cannot have an indirect object unless it has a direct object; however, exceptions do exist. To find the indirect object of a sentence, you must first find the direct object.
A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action done by the subject. An indirect object is a noun or pronoun that receives the direct object in the sentence.How do you answer an indirect question? ›
If your indirect question gets a yes/no answer in the direct form, then we use If/whether after the introductory question or phrase. If it doesn't get a YES/NO answer, then you use the question word that you would use in the direct form.What are 5 examples of object? ›
Objects are identifiable entities that have a set of attributes, behaviour and state. Five examples of objects are car, pen, mobile, email, bank account.What are the rules of direct and indirect object? ›
A direct object is the person or thing that directly receives the action or effect of the verb. It answers the question "what" or "whom." An indirect object answers the question "for what," "of what," "to what," "for whom," "of whom," or "to whom" and accompanies a direct object.What is a direct object pronoun example? ›
The object that directly receives the action of the verb is called the direct object. Bill hit the ball. “Ball” receives the action of the verb “hit.” Sherry reads the book.Is cake a direct object? ›
Cake is therefore the direct object because it is the direct receiver of the action of baking: it was the cake (and not Jason) that was baked. But Jason indirectly received the action of baking because he got the cake, the thing that was baked. Therefore, the word Jason is the indirect object of the verb baked.How do you know which object pronoun to use? ›
Object pronouns are those pronouns that receive the action in a sentence. They are me, you, him, her, us, them, and whom. Any noun receiving an action in the sentence, like these pronouns, is an object and is categorized as objective case.What are the 8 direct object pronouns? ›
What are the 8 direct object pronouns? The eight direct object pronouns are: me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las. These pronouns are used in Spanish to replace nouns used as direct objects in written and spoken communication.Can Lui be used for a girl? ›
Lui is the third person singular masculine and feminine indirect object pronoun.Do I use Lui or Le? ›
Many students confused when to use lui and when to use le as object pronouns. The answer is simple: Use lui for him and her for verbs followed by and le for him only for verbs not followed by à. For example: Je lui réponds.
So, for a COI, lui means him AND her (unlike stress pronouns where lui means him, elle means her). Important: Note that for both object groups, me, te, nous, vous are the same.Which verbs take indirect objects French? ›
- appartenir à (belong to)
- apprendre à (teach)
- donner à (give)
- enseigner à (teach)
- obéir à (obey)
- pardonner à (forgive)
- penser à (think about)
- répondre à (answer)
These are called transitive verbs.What are grammar rules for direct and for indirect question? ›
If the direct question is a “yes or no” question (it has no question word such as what, who, when, where, why, or how), then the indirect question will have if. Direct: Does Tom like Italian food? Indirect: Do you know if Tom likes Italian food?How do you use two pronouns in one sentence? ›
He and I bought a new puppy last week. Me and them took the bus. We took the bus. Notice how in the last example it would sound strange to say they and I, so the best solution is to combine the two pronouns into the single pronoun we.Can a verb have two direct objects? ›
A sentence with a compound verb may have two different direct objects in it. Example: The dog ate the meat and drank some water. The direct object for the verb ate is meat.What is the correct order of a negative sentence with IOP and DOP? ›
The order is subject→IOP→DOP→verb.What are the 5 rules of indirect speech? ›
|Direct Speech||Indirect Speech|
|Present continuous (Subject +is/am/are+V1 +ing+ Object)||Past Continuous (Subject +was/were+V1 +ing+ Object)|
|Present perfect (Subject + has/have+V3+Object)||Past perfect (Subject+had+V3+Object)|
|Past simple (Subject+V2+Object)||Past perfect (Subject+had+V3+Object)|
Direct Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in his own actual words without any change. Indirect Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in our own words. a) Direct: Radha said, “I am very busy now.” b) Indirect: Radha said that she was very busy then.What are the rules of changing direct to indirect? ›
- Remove all the inverted commas and quotation marks.
- Always end the sentence with a full stop.
- The tenses of the verbs inside the quotation marks and commas should be changed.
⤷TIP: Keep in mind that the object pronouns follow the same order as the object in the sentence: direct object → indirect object. La maman chante la chanson à son bébé. → La maman la lui chante.How do you use two pronouns in French sentences? ›
Two pronouns is the limit. The French won't say something like Je le lui y ai donné to mean "I gave it to him there"; instead, they'll reword the sentence to remove one of the pronouns. Je lui y ai donné le livre. I gave him the book there.How do you use Lui and Leur? ›
- Je lui parle. I'm speaking to him (or her)
- Je leur demande où sont les WC. ...
- Tu lui demandes quelque chose. ...
- Il va leur téléphoner. ...
- Je lui téléphone. ...
- Pour calmer mes enfants, je leur lis une histoire.To soothe my children, I read them a story.
A direct object is the person or thing that directly receives the action or effect of the verb. It answers the question "what" or "whom." An indirect object answers the question "for what," "of what," "to what," "for whom," "of whom," or "to whom" and accompanies a direct object.How do you know which object pronoun to use in French? ›
Object pronouns are words which replace nouns. I eat pizza -> I eat it. I look at the lady -> I look at her. In French, direct object pronouns are used for verbs which aren't followed by prepositions: Me (me), te (you), nous (us), vous (you), le (him or it), la (her or it), les (them).What is the correct order of pronouns? ›
When more than one personal pronoun is used with a verb, the order is normally: 3rd or 2nd person before 1st person; 2nd person before 3rd person. She and I do not get on very well. You and he should buy the boat between you. What type of pronoun are I, you, her, they, them, etc.?Is it possible to have 2 pronouns in a sentence? ›
In sentences that use two pronouns or a noun and a pronoun together, it's easy to become confused about which pronoun to use. If you're not sure which one is correct, consider whether it's part of the subject (doing the action) or part of the object (either receiving the action or after a preposition).How do you connect two pronouns in a sentence? ›
Relative pronouns are words used to combine two clauses into one. Besides combining the two clauses, the relative pronoun acts as the subject or object of the verb in the relative clause.What is the difference between direct and indirect object French? ›
When deciding between direct and indirect objects, the general rule is that if the person or thing is preceded by the preposition à or pour, that person/thing is an indirect object. If it's not preceded by a preposition, it is a direct object.What is Io Tu Lui Lei called? ›
In English, the subject pronouns are: I, you, he, she, it, they, and so on; in Italian, io, tu, lui, lei, noi, voi, loro. In English, you're compelled to use the subject pronouns when speaking.