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Personal pronouns: direct object - Easy Learning Grammar French

What is a direct object pronoun?
A direct object pronoun is a word such as me, him, us and them, which is used instead of the noun to stand in for the person or thing most directly affected by the action expressed by the verb.

1 Using direct object pronouns

  • Direct object pronouns stand in for nouns when it is clear who or what is being talked about, and save having to repeat the noun.
  • I’ve lost my glasses. Have you seen them?
  • ‘Have you met Jo?’ – ‘Yes, I really like her!’
  • Here are the French direct object pronouns:
me (m’)menousus
te (t’)youvousyou
le (l’)him
lesthem (masculine and feminine)
la (l’)her
Ils vont nous aider.They’re going to help us.
Je la vois.I can see her/it.
‘Tu aimes les carottes?’ – ‘Non, je les déteste!’‘Do you like carrots?’ – ‘No, I hate them!’
  • Note that you cannot use direct object pronouns after a preposition like à or de, or when you want to emphasize something.
Tipme changes to m’, te to t’, and le/la to l’ in front of words beginning with a vowel, most words beginning with h, and the French word y.
Je t’aime.I love you.
Tu m’entends?Can you hear me?
  • In orders and instructions telling someone to do something, moi is used instead of me, and toi is used instead of te.
Aidez-moi!Help me!
Assieds-toi.Sit down.
  • le is sometimes used to refer back to an idea or information that has already been given. The word it is often missed out in English.
‘Ta chemise est très sale.’ – ‘Je le sais.’‘Your shirt’s very dirty.’ – ‘I know.’

2 Word order with direct object pronouns

  • The direct object pronoun usually comes BEFORE the verb.
Je t’aime.I love you.
Les voyez-vous?Can you see them?
Elle ne nous connaît pas.She doesn’t know us.
  • Note that in orders and instructions telling someone to do something, the direct object pronoun comes AFTER the verb.
Asseyez-vous.Sit down.
  • In tenses like the perfect that are formed with avoir or être and the past participle (the part of the verb that ends in , -i or -u in French), the direct object pronoun comes BEFORE the part of the verb that comes from avoir or être.
Il m’a vu.He saw me.
  • When a verb like vouloir (meaning to want) or pouvoir (meaning to be able to, can) is followed by another verb in the infinitive (the ‘to’ form of the verb), the direct object pronoun comes BEFORE the infinitive.
Il voudrait la revoir.He’d like to see her again.
Puis-je vous aider?Can I help you?
Key points
  • The French direct object pronouns are: me (m’), te (t’), le/la (l’) in the singular, and nous, vous, les in the plural.
  • Except in orders and instructions telling someone to do something, the direct object pronoun comes before the verb.

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