Les pronoms Introduction • We use pronouns to replace nouns in sentences so that our speech is less repetitive. Example: The dog is called Marta. John likes the dog. John gives a biscuit to the dog. These 3 sentences repeat the word ‘dog’ and ‘John’ several times: this sounds too heavy. We can use pronouns to make it less heavy. Let’s replace the repetitions with pronouns! The 3 sentences above then become: The dog is called Marta. John likes her. He gives her a biscuit. In these sentences, the pronoun he replaces John and the pronoun her replaces the noun the dog. The different kinds of pronouns There are several kinds of pronouns: for now, we will discuss subject pronouns and object pronouns. 1) Subject pronouns: they replace nouns that are used as subjects (the ones that do the action) in a sentence. You already know these very well: Je, tu , il/elle/on, nous, vous, ils, elles In the previous example, John was replaced by the subject pronoun he which is il in French: John aime la chienne, il lui donne un biscuit. 2) Object pronouns: they replace nouns that are used as objects in a sentence. Let’s see again our previous example: John likes the dog. John gives a biscuit to the dog. ‘the dog’ is the object of the sentence and can then be replaced by the object pronoun ‘her’: John likes her. John gives her a biscuit. • Her (and him in the masculine) has two equivalents in French. • Which one you use depends on whether it is a direct object pronoun or an indirect object pronoun: a) indirect object pronouns in French are: me/te/nous/vous (me/you/us/you in English) and lui/leur (him/her/them in English) b) direct object pronouns are: me/te/nous/vous (also me/you/us/you in English) and le/la/l’/les (also him/her/them in English) INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS • Indirect object pronouns replace indirect object nouns. An indirect object consists of the preposition to + animate noun which in French is à + animate noun (a noun referring to a person/a living being). Let’s take again our previous example, but in French this time: John likes the dog. John aime la chienne. In this sentence, there is no à (no to in English) so ‘the dog’ cannot be an indirect object. Now let’s see our other sentence: John gives a biscuit to the dog. John donne un biscuit à la chienne. In this sentence, the object la chienne is preceded by à so à la chienne is an indirect object and can be replaced by lui (both for feminine and masculine nouns): John lui donne un biscuit. Lui is then used to replace to him/to her. Leur is used to replace to them. Indirect Object Indirect Object Indirect Object Pronoun Pronoun Pronoun Masculine Feminine Plural Singular Singular English to him to her to them French lui lui leur Position of the pronouns: Please note the position of the pronoun: John lui donne un biscuit. It is always placed just before the verb. (Note: donne is the verb donner conjugated at the present tense). Attention! 1) à in front of a masculine noun becomes au Example: à + le chien = au chien Let’s look at the following sentence: John donne un biscuit au chien. Here, au chien is an indirect object noun as à is included in au. We can then replace au chien with lui: John lui donne un biscuit. 2) à in front of a plural noun becomes aux Example: à + les chiens = aux chiens So aux chiens is an indirect object noun. As it is a plural noun, it can be replaced with leur: John donne un biscuit aux chiens = John leur donne un biscuit. Entrainons-nous ensemble (Let’s practice together) Replace the Indirect Object Pronouns with LUI or LEUR 1. Le week-end, je rends visite à mon copain. Remember!: The Indirect Object pronouns (LUI/LEUR) replace à + nouns repesenting PEOPLE LUI or LEUR 1. 1. Le week-end, je rends visite à mon copain. à mon copain is singular Réponse: Le week-end, je lui rends visite. LUI or LEUR 2. Pendant les vacances, je rends visite à mes cousins. à mes cousins is plural Réponse: Pendant les vacances, je leur rends visite. LUI or LEUR 3. Tu écris souvent à tes grands-parents. à tes grands-parents is plural Réponse: Tu leur écris souvent. LUI or LEUR 4. Nous demandons des conseils (advice) à notre mère. à notre mère is singular Réponse: nous lui demandons des conseils. Vous avez-compris? • À vous de faire les exercices! (Now it is your turn to do the exercises on your own): see Finalsite for your homework instructions and exercise sheet. • Bonne chance MORE INDIRECT OBJECT PRONOUNS: ME/TE/NOUS/VOUS • Whilst lui/leur are used to replace to him/to her (third person pronouns), me/te/nous/vous are used to replace: me to me (1st person singular pronoun) te to you (2nd pers. singular pronoun) nous to us (1st person plural pronoun) vous to you (2nd person plural pronoun) EXAMPLES • He is speaking to me. Il me parle. • He is speaking to you. Il te parle. • He is speaking to us. Il nous parle. • He is speaking to you (plural). Il vous parle POSITION • You can notice from the previous examples that the 1st and 2nd person pronouns me/te/nous/vous are also placed before the verb (here the verb ‘parler’) like the pronouns lui/leur. • Now let’s see where the pronouns are placed when there is more than one part to the verb in a sentence. How do you know before which part of the verb to place the pronoun? POSITION OF PRONOUNS IN THE ‘FUTURE PROCHE’ • In the ‘future proche’, the verb looks like this: verb ‘aller’ (present tense) + infinitive (first part of the verb) (second part) In this case, the OBJECT pronoun will be placed in front of the INFINITIVE part of the verb. (This is not true for subject pronouns which always come before the conjugated part of the verb)! Example: Here is the verb ‘parler’ conjugated in the futur proche Il va parler Il va te parler • The rule is: When there is an infinitive in a sentence, the pronoun is placed BEFORE the infinitive This is also true when the verb is not conjugated in the ‘futur proche’ but is using an infinitive structure: Example: with the verb ‘aimer’ in the construction ‘aimer + infinitive’ Il aime parler Il aime me parler (He likes to speak) (He likes to speak to me) ENTRAINONS-NOUS! • Est-ce que tu vas nous téléphoner ce soir? Oui, . . . . je vais vous téléphoner. • Est-ce que les étudiants m'écoutent? Oui, . . . . ils t’écoutent. • Est-ce que nous te rencontrons à midi? Non, . . . . vous ne me rencontrez pas. Vous avez-compris? • À vous de faire les exercices! (Now it is your turn to do the exercises on your own): see Finalsite for your homework instructions and exercise sheet. • Bonne chance POSITION OF PRONOUNS IN THE IMPERATIVE • In the imperative, the pronoun is not placed before but AFTER THE VERB. Example: Envoie un message à Paul! Envoie lui un message! • However, in the negative, the pronoun is placed BEFORE THE VERB. Example: N’envoie pas de message à Paul! Ne lui envoie pas de message! POSITION OF PRONOUNS IN THE PASSE COMPOSE • In the passé composé, the pronoun is placed BEFORE THE CONJUGATED PART OF THE VERB, that is, the auxiliary verb ‘avoir’ or ‘être’. Example: 1) J’ai envoyé un message à Paul. Je lui ai envoyé un message. 2) Je n’ai pas envoyé de message à Paul. Je ne lui ai pas envoyé de message.