Pronouns replace a noun. For example, there are personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, reflexive pronouns, relative pronouns, and interrogative pronouns.
We use personal pronouns to replace a previously-mentioned noun, talk about ourselves, or talk about or to other people. French differentiates between strong forms and weak forms of personal pronouns.
- Eric chante une chanson. Il chante une chanson pour elle.Eric sings a song. He sings a song for her.
Possessive pronouns indicate possession/belonging. We differentiate between dependent and independent possessive pronouns.
- C’est ma valise.It’s my suitcase. (dependent)
C’est la mienne.It’s mine. (independent)
The reflexive pronouns are me, te, se, nous, vous. We use them with reflexive verbs. Reflexive pronouns always refer to the subject.
- Je me regarde dans le miroir.I look at myself in the mirror.
Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses.
- La police cherche l’homme qui a attaqué la banque.The police is searching for the man who robed the bank.
The interrogative pronouns are qui, que, quoi, lequel, quel. In a question, they replace the noun we are asking about.
- Qui a dit ça ?Who said that?
The demonstrative pronouns include e.g. ce, cet, celui-ci, celui-là. We use demonstrative pronouns to indicate or specify something in particular.
- Quelle voiture voulez-vous acheter, celle-ci ou celle-là ?Which car do you want to buy? This one or that one.
Some of the indefinite pronouns in English are something, nothing, one, someone, anyone. We use them to speak generally (non-specifically) about something or someone. We distinguish between dependent and independent indefinite pronouns.
- Il n’y a aucun problème.There is no problem. (dependent)
- Est-ce que je peux faire quelque chose pour vous ?Can I do something for you? (independent)
The adverbial pronouns are y and en. These are technically adverbs that are used as pronouns.
- Elle va à l’école. Elle y va.She’s going to school. She’s going there.
Elle revient de l’école. Elle en revient.She’s coming back from school. She’s coming back from there.