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Learning French pronouns is the first step to being able to communicate effectively in French. After that could come everything else, but it will always depend on whether you know how to use pronouns or not.

If you ever wondered what pronouns are, this is the answer: they are classes of words that are used to name the noun without naming it. In other words, they are used to refer to people, things, or animals without having to repeat the main way of calling them.

In French, there are 12 types of pronouns. But this should not be a cause for concern – much less for native English speakers – because they are simple and quite logical.

Below, we will review all the pronouns that fall within these 12 classifications.

Pronoms Sujets: Personal French Pronouns

When we talk about personal pronouns, we refer to those that replace the subject in a sentence, or those that refer to persons.

In English – Male – Female.

I – Je – Je.

You – Tu – Tu.

He/She – Il – Elle.

Us – Nous – Nous.

You (plural formal) – Vous – Vous.

They – Ils – Elles.

You (singular formal) – Vous – Vous.

The French pronoun on

This pronoun literally means “I” to refer to “oneself”: “I have to do things by myself in order for them to turn out well”. However, in French it has another quite common usage: “We”. In fact, no French people use the nous (we) in informal conversations, they use on.

So when you speak French, avoid saying nous like us. Better use on.

Example:

On les atteignons – We caught up with them.

Pronoms disjonctifs: Emphasis Pronouns

These pronouns serve to let us know who performs the action in a sentence.

They are as follows:

English – Male – Female.

To me – Moi – Moi.

To you – Toi – Toi.

To him/her – lui – Elle.

We – Nous – Nous.

You – Vous – Vous.

Them – Eux – Elles.

You – Vous – Vous.

Self – Soi – Soi.

Pronoms complémets d’objet direct: Direct object pronouns

These serve to avoid repeating the noun on which the action falls. In other words, if you knock on the door, it is the door that receives the action.

Example:

Juan knocks on the door.

(Juan is the subject. Touching is the action. What Juan touches is the direct complement)

There is a formula for identifying the direct object:

Subject + verb + what/whom? = direct object.



These are your pronouns:

English – Male – Female.

Me – Me – Me.

You – Te – Te.

Him / her / it – le – la.

Us – Nous Nous

You (plural + plural formal) – Vous – Vous.

Them – Les – Les.

You (singular formal) – Vous – Vous.

Pronoms complémets d’objet indirect: Indirect object pronouns

When we speak of indirect object pronouns, we refer to those that are used to replace the noun that performs the action.

If the questions to be answered when we speak of the direct object are “what/to whom?”, those answered by the indirect object are “to whom/for what?”.

There is also a formula for identifying the indirect object:

Subject + Verb + direct object + to whom or for whom? = indirect object.

Example:

John + gives + a gift + to whom? = to his mother.

These are the pronouns:

English – Male – Female.

Me – Me – Me.

You – Te – Te.

Him / her – Lui – Lui.

Us – Nous – Nous.

You (plural + plural formal) – Vous Vous

LThem – Leur – Leur.

You (singular formal) – Vous – Vous.

Pronoms réfléchis: Reflexive pronouns

If we talk about reflexive pronouns, we are referring to those that are used when someone does something by himself.

Example:

Je me souveniens – I remember.

These are your pronouns:

English – Male – Female.

I – Me – Me.

You – Te – Te.

He / she – Se – Se.

We – Nous – Nous.

You (plural + plural formal) – Vous – Vous.

They – Se – Se.

You (singular formal) – Vous – Vous.

Pronoms relatifs: Relative pronouns

These pronouns allow us to describe nouns in a more precise way, since they allow us to add information to them.

Let’s look at some examples of sentences with and without relative pronouns.

No relative pronoun:

This bag is very nice.

With relative pronoun.

The bag that I bought is very nice.

You may have noticed that the example with the relative pronoun provides more information.

In the sentence “The bag ‘that’ I bought is very nice, the relative pronoun is the ‘that’, because it introduces more information about it.

That “which” varies according to the following cases:

English – Male – Female.

That – Que – Que.

Who – Qui – Qui.

Which – lesquels – lesquelles.

Which – lesquels – lesquelles.

Where, when – Où – Où.

The pronoun dont in French

Many people have difficulty with this relative pronoun, so we put it aside.

Dont is equivalent to the English words “Whose, Of which, Of whom, From which, From whom, Including”

Example:

This is my colleague that I told you about.

C’est mon collègue dont vous aves vu.

Pronoms indéfinis: Indefinite pronouns

These help you replace almost any pronoun so you don’t repeat it. They are an excellent opportunity to use different vocabulary depending on what you want to say.

English – Male – Female.

Another – Autre – Autre.

Certain one, some, a few – Certain – Certaine.

Each one- Chacun – Chacune.

Several – Plusieurs.

Something – Quelque chose – Quelque chose.

Someone – Quelques-uns – Quelques-unes.

Oneself – Soi – Soi.

One – Tel – Telle.

Everything – Tout – Toute.

Everyone – Tous – Toutes.

One, a – Un – Une.

Pronoms possessifs: Possessive Pronouns

When we talk about possessive pronouns in French, it is basically the same as when we talk about them in English: mine, yours, his, hers….

English – Male – Female.

Mine (singular) – Le mien – La mienne.

Mine (plural)- Les Miens – Les Miennes.

Yours (singular) – Le tien – La tienne.

Yours (plural) – Le tiens – Les tiennes.

His/hers/theirs/its (singular) – Le sien – La sienne.

His/hers/theirs/its (plural) – Les siens – Les siennes.

Ours (singular) – Le nôtre – La nôtre.

Ours (plural) – Les nôtres – Les nôtres.

Yours (singular) – Le vôtre – La vôtre.

Yours (plural) – Les vôtres – Les vôtres.

Theirs (singular) – Le leur – La leur.

Theirs (plural) – Les leurs – Les leurs.

Yours (formal, singular) – Le vôtre – La vôtre.

Yours (formal, plural) – Les vôtres – Les vôtres.

Pronoms interrogatifs: Interrogative pronouns

There are three interrogative pronouns in French: qui, que and lequel.

How to use the French interrogative pronoun qui

Qui means who in English.

When used as an interrogative pronoun, it is followed by est-ce or by an inversion of the verb and the personal pronoun.

Example:

English: Who do you love?

French est-ce: Qui est-ce que tu aimes?

French inversion: Qui aimes-tu?

How to use the interrogative pronoun que in French

Which translates as what.

If it is the subject, it is always followed by est-ce qui.

If it is the object, you can choose to continue with est-ce que or with an inversion of the verb and the personal pronoun.

Example:

English: What does he say?

French est-ce: Qu’est-ce u’ll dit?

Inversion: Que dit-il.

How to use the interrogative pronoun lequel in French

Lemuel translates as “which one”.

Example:

Which is your home?

But lequel serves to replace the noun like any other pronoun.

So when using lequel, you will not ask “Which is your house”, but “Which is yours”?

Example:

English: What is your car?

French without lequel: Quelle voiture best la tienne?

French with lequel: Laquelle est la tienne?

Now the different variants:

English – Male – Female.

Which – Lequel – Laquelle.

Which – Lequels – Laquelles.

Pronoms demonstratifs: Demonstrative Pronouns

They are the ones we use to refer to something close to or previously mentioned.

English – Male – Female.

This one – Celui – Celle.

These ones, which (of these) – Ceux – Celles.

This – Ce – Ce.

This – Ceci – Ceci.

That – Cela – Cela.

It, that – Ça – Ça.

The pronoun en

This is an adverbial pronoun that has no specific translation in English and can be used to replace a thing or to talk about quantities.

Using the pronoun to replace things

English – French – French with the pronoun en.

I am afraid of spiders – J’ai peur des araignées – J’en ai peur.

Using the pronoun en to talk about quantities

If someone says they have five pairs of shoes, and you want to tell them you have ten pairs without unnecessarily saying it’s about shoes (because you know what they’re talking about) by using the pronoun en.

English: I have 10 pairs of shoes.

French without en: J’ai dix pares de chaussures.

French with en: J’en ai dix.

The pronoun y

This pronoun is used to replace places and things.

The pronoun and to replace places

English: I went to France.

French without the pronoun y: Je sus allée en France.

French with the pronoun y: J’y six allée.

The pronoun and to replace a thing

English: I think about you.

French without y: Je pensé à toi.

French with y: J’y pense.

How to learn all the pronouns in French

Self-study is not a good idea even when you are in a French-speaking country. It is really important to take classes so that you can deal academically with the different circumstances of everyday life and understand their nature.

That’s why we offer you the French programs we have at Lingua Language Center.

We are located in several major cities in South Florida, USA, and we also have a state-of-the-art online pedagogical system that covers all the variables that occur in the classroom.

Make French your next language with Lingua Language Center. Just write to us. We are waiting for you.