Français II/Leçon 2 - Starting to understand the French pronoun

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Français II

Lessons in Français II

Et on continue...


Prior Learnings[edit]

Let's review what we know. In the previous lesson, we convered the French perfect tense. You've had the chance to review its formation, and to form it yourself in some simple sentences.

Remember...[edit]

  • With the verb family -ER, take the stem, add .
  • With the verb family -IR, take the stem, add -i.
  • With the verb family -RE, take the stem, add -u.
  • ...never forgetting to use the present indicative tense of 'avoir' as your auxiliary verb


Et maintenant on commence...[edit]

The concept of a noun should, by now, be familiar. A noun allows us to name a thing.

What, then, is a pronoun?

  • Consider the following sentences...

On Tuesday I walked the dog. Then I fed the dog, then I washed the dog. The dog was happy about this because the dog was then clean and the dog was full of food, since I had fed the dog

  • And...

On Tuesday I walked the dog. Then I fed and washed him. He was happy because he was clean and full of food, since I'd fed him earlier.

Most native English speakers would agree that the second, shorter sentence sounds more natural. This is because pronouns are used.

A pronoun replaces a noun in a sentence[edit]

A pronoun means that we need not repeat a noun several times in a sentence.

We will be dealing with four French pronouns in this section, le, la, les, and l'. These can mean him, her, it, or them.

l' is used instead of la or le when the following words begins with a vowel or a non-aspirated h. Don't forget that there is, for the most part, no equivalent for the neutral pronoun it in French, hence, it is either traduced by la or le depending on the gender of the noun in French.

To sum-up the use of each pronoun, here is a table:

French English
le him/it
la her/it
l' him/her/it
les them


Often, the best way to understand how they work is to 'see them in action'. Therefore, consider the French, then look at the English:

  • Je vois le chien. I see the dog.

We now want to say that we stroke the dog, without mentioning le chien. How? The French is:

  • Je le caresse. I stroke him/it.

Note word order. Literally, this means, I him stroke. However, this is the word order that is appropriate and correct in French:

  • (Je/Tu/IL/Elle/On/Nous/Vous/Ils/Elles) - PRONOUN - VERB


Some examples for the use of the other pronouns are provided bellow:

  • Je lave la table. => Je la lave. (I clean the table)
  • J'aime le chien. => Je l'aime. (I like the dog)
  • Je nourris les chiens. => Je les nourris. (I feed the dogs)