Personal Pronouns

Introduction

We can use personal pronouns to replace a previously-mentioned noun, talk about ourselves, or talk about or to other people.

J'ai une copine. Elle est très gentille et je l'aime beaucoup. J'ai une guitare et j'adore lui chanter des chansons. Vous ne les aimez peut-être pas mais elle seule ne les oublie pas:

Même quand il pleut, tu es mon soleil et tu me rends heureux.
Oh oui! Pour moi tu es l'amour de ma vie.
Nous nous aimerons pour toujours. Oh oui!

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Forms

personpersonal pronoun
(weak form)
personal/
object pronoun
(strong form)

direct
object
pronoun

indirect
object
pronoun
object pronoun
(strong form)
singular 1st person je moi me / m’ me / m’ moi
2nd person tu toi te / t’ te / t’ toi
3rd person (m) il lui le / l’ lui lui
3rd person (f) elle elle la / l’ lui elle
plural 1st person nous nous nous nous nous
2nd person vous vous vous vous vous
3rd person (m) ils eux les leur eux
3rd person (f) elles elles les leur elles

Usage

Le pronom personnel (personal pronoun)

The personal pronoun takes the position of the subject (who/what is performing the action) in the sentence.

Example:
J’ai une copine.I have a girlfriend.
Je chante des chansons.I sing songs.

French differentiates between weak forms and strong forms of personal pronouns. The weak form is used when the personal pronoun is associated with a verb.

Example:
Elle est très gentille.She is very nice.

The strong form is used when the personal pronoun stands alone. It is used for emphasis and also known as the stressed personal pronoun. We use the strong form of the personal pronoun in the following situations:

  • the pronoun is used alone (without a verb)
    Example:
    Qui chante des chansons? - Moi.Who sings songs? - Me.
  • the pronoun is particularly emphasised (often after c’est)
    Example:
    Lui, il est très gentil. / C’est lui qui est très gentil.He is very nice.
  • the pronoun comes after que in a comparison
    Example:
    Ma copine est plus jeune que moi.My girlfriend is younger than me.
  • the pronoun is separated from the verb by the words seul, même, an adjective or a clause
    Example:
    Lui seul n’oublie pas mes chansons.He’s the only one who won’t forget my songs.

Le pronom personnel objet (object-pronoun)

The object-pronoun takes the position of the object (who/what is the direct receiver of the action) in the sentence. We differentiate between direct, indirect, and strong-form object-pronouns.

Direct object-pronoun

The direct object-pronoun replaces the noun that comes directly after the verb without being separated from it by a preposition.

Example:
J’aime Anne. Je l’aime.I love Anne. I love her.
Vous aimez les chansons. Vous les aimez.You like the songs. You like them.

Indirect object-pronoun

The indirect object-pronoun replaces the noun as well as the preposition à, which indicates the indirect object.

Example:
J’ai chanté des chansons à ma copine. Je lui ai chanté des chansons.I sang songs to my girlfriend.
I sang her songs.

Strong-form object-pronoun

The forms of the strong-form object-pronoun are identical to those of the strong-form personal pronoun. The strong form of the object-pronoun is used after a preposition.

Example:
J’écris des chansons avec elle (= ma copine).I write songs with her (= with my girlfriend).

The preposition à is an exeption. Only some verbs that are followed by à are used with the strong-form object-pronoun, most of them however are used with the indirect object-pronoun.

VerbTranslationExample
avoir affaire à qn to deal with sb. Vous avez affaire à un expert. Vous avez affaire à moi. You are dealing with an expert. You are dealing with me.
avoir recours à qn to turn to sb. Pierre est avocat. Tu devrais avoir recours à lui.Pierre is a lawyer. You should turn to him.
faire attention à qn to be careful with sb. Les enfants d’Anne sont entre de bonnes mains, la baby-sitter fait toujours très attention à eux.Anne’s children are in good hands, their baby-sitter is always very careful with them.
penser à qn to think of sb. Je pense à toi tous les jours.I think of you every day.
s’habituer à qn to get used to sb. Après trois ans de colocation, je m’entends bien avec Yannick. Je me suis habituée à lui.After three years of living in the same flat, I get along well with Yannick. I got used to him.
s’intéresser à qn to be interested in sb.

Tu t’intéresses à elle ? Si tu veux, je peux te la présenter.You are interested in her? If you want I can introduce you to her.

songer à qn to think of sb. Mes amis m’ont manqué lorsque j’étais à l’étranger. J’ai souvent songé à eux.I missed my friends when I was abroad. I often thought of them.
tenir à qn to care about sb. Je ne veux pas qu’il parte. Je tiens beacoup à lui.I don't want him to leave. I care about him very much.
s'adresser à qqn to speak to sb. Je vais aller voir M. Dupont. Je m'adresse toujours à lui si j'ai des questions.I'll go and see M. Dupont. I always speak to him when I have questions.
se fier à qqn to trust in sb. Je ne fais confiance à personne. Je ne me fie qu'à moi.I don't trust anybody. I only trust in myself.