Personal pronouns are when a person or people are the subject or object in a sentence i.e. when I, you or someone else does something.
Subject Personal Pronouns
|tu||you (on your own)|
|vous||you (group) OR you (polite form for one person)|
|ils/elles||they (elles indicates an all-female group)|
In French 'on' is used a lot, whereas in English it sounds a bit archaic to say one goes to a café to eat lunch and we'd be more likely to say we go to a café to eat lunch.
Object Personal (Direct and Indirect) Pronouns
Direct pronouns replace a noun. Indirect pronouns replace a noun that is normally instruduced by a preposition. For example je demande à ma mère (I demand of my mother) becomes je lui demande (I ask her). Whereas je demande la permission de sorti (I ask the permission to leave) becomes je la demande (I ask it).
Both can be used at the same time, for example je demande à ma mère la permission de sorti becomes je la lui demande (I ask it of her)
|French Direct Object||French Indirect Object||English||Example|
|Singular||me||me||me||Sarah m'aime (Sarah loves me)|
|te||te||you||Sarah t'aime (Sarah loves you.)|
|le/la||lui||him or it / her or it||Sarah l'aime. Sarah lui a donné le chat. (Sarah loves him/her/it - you will know which one from the context.) Sarah gave him/her/it the cat.|
|Plural||nous||us||Sarah nous aime (Sarah loves us.)|
|vous||vous||you||Sarah vous aime (Sarah loves you)|
|les||leur||them||Sarah les aime. Sarah leur a donné le chat. (Sarah loves them. Sarah gave them the cat.)|
Note that leur is used for people and animals, whereas y is used for inanimate objects. For example 'I respond to them' where the 'them' is some people is je leur réponds but if the 'them' is some questions then the French is je y réponds
Be careful with aimer; 'Je t'aime' means 'I love you' as opposed to 'Je t'aime bien' which means 'I like you'!
|These indicate that the person is doing the action to themselves. Some also change the meaning.|
|Singular||me||(to) myself||Je me lave. (I wash myself.)|
|te||(to) yourself||Tu te laves. (You wash yourself.)|
|se||(to) himself/herself/itself||Elle se lave. (She washes herself.)|
|Plural||nous||(to) ourselves||Nous nous lavons. (We wash ourselves.)|
|vous||(to) yourselves||Vous vous lavez. (You wash yourselves.)|
|se||(to) themselves||Ils se lavent. (They wash themselves.)|
Stressed Personal Pronouns
|Singular||moi||me||Sarah a un cadeau pour moi (Sarah has a present for me)|
|toi||you||Sarah a un cadeau pour toi (Sarah has a present for you)|
|lui/elle||him/her||Sarah a un cadeau pour lui (Sarah has a present for him)|
|Plural||nous||us||Sarah a un cadeau pour nous (Sarah has a present for us)|
|vous||you||Sarah a un cadeau pour vous (Sarah has a present for you)|
|eux/elles||them (elles for an all-female group)||Sarah a un cadeau pour elles (Sarah has a present for them)|
These stressed pronouns are used when the sentence explains who something is being done to, for example using one of these preopositions avec (with), par (of, by), pour (for), sans (without), contre (against) or chez (at the house of).
As you will already have found out, the word order in French is different from that in English. Below is the order in which object pronouns normally occur , before the verb, where there are more than one of them in a sentence:
Note that y and en are included in the table for completeness but are not personal pronouns. If you haven't covered them yet you can find out about them at rapidefrench.com/grammar/22/
e.g. He gives some to her is Il lui en donne, and He didn't give some to her is Il ne lui en a pas donné