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Pronouns

Object Pronouns

Objects:Direct & Indirect

Objects are nouns towards which the action of a verb is directed.  The following verb takes a direct object.

Vous devez apprendre ces règles de grammaire.
You must learn these grammar rules. 


Sometimes prepositions accompany a verb to describe that verb's relationship with its object. When that  preposition is à or at times pour, the object is indirect.

Nous parlons à la foule.
We talked to the crowd.

Cette pollution nuit à l'environnement
This pollution harms the environment.


Sometmes a French verb takes an indirect object, but its English equivalent does not and vice versa. See direct and indirect objects in the verb & object tutorial for examples.

Je cherchais Frank.
I looked for Frank.

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns (shown in the table on the right) always represent direct objects.

Elle m'ecoute.
She listens to me.

Je le mange.
I eat it.

Il nous aime.
He loves us.

Singular Plural
1st person me* nous
2nd person te* vous
3rd person la (Feminine) *
le (Masculine)
les
*me and te become m' and t' and la and le become l' before vowels and mute h (See Elision in the pronunciation guide).

Indirect Object Pronouns

As for indirect objects, if the object is a person or persons then an indirect object pronoun is used.

Nous leur parlons.
We talked to them.

Ils lui ressemblent.
They ressemble him/her.

Singular Plural
1st person me* nous
2nd person te* vous
3rd person lui leur
Direct and indirect object pronouns are exactly the same except for the third person pronouns.

If the object is a nonperson, then y should be used.  
  Object is a person: Object is not a person:
Vous lui répondez. (à elle)
You respond to her.
Vous y répondez. (à la question)
You respond to it.
 
Il est plus facile de prévoir le mal que d'y remédier. 
-- Louis XIV (remédier au mal)
It is easier to anticipate problems than to fix them.

Y can generally be used to replace any expression that begins with any preposition except for de.  (That includes sur, à, dans, devant, and sous, amongst others).  It can't however be used to replace expressions that are equivalent to à faire cela.

J'aime le Midi. I love the south of France.
Nous y allons pour nos vacances. ('y' replaces à la Midi)
We go there for our holidays.

Il y est. He is there.  ('y' replaces dans la maison, en France, etc.)

L'orgueil sort du coeur le jour où l'amour y entre. 
-- Théophile Gautier (entrer dans le coeur)
Pride leaves the heart the day love enters it.

Sometimes, nonpersons are represented by lui.  This is the case when the nonperson is personified in the least bit.  Certain verbs tend to 'personify' nonpersons and generally call for the use of an indirect object pronoun as opposed to y.

En

En replaces expressions that begin with the preposition de.  Like y it almost never is used when the object is a person. For certain verbs, the preposition de precedes the object (see objects preceded by de  in the verb & object tutorial). These objects are usually represented by en.

J'en reviens.  (du Japon)
I return from Japan.

Les moyens qui rendent un homme propre à faire fortune sont les mêmes qui l'empêchent d'en jouir. -- Rivarol
The means that make a man able to make a fortune are the same that prevent him from enjoying it.

Henri IV disait que la plus sûre manière de se défaire d'un ennemi était d'en faire un ami. -- C.-F.-H. Barjavel
Henry IV said the most sure way to get rid of  an enemy is to make of him a friend.


As far as pronouns are concerned, if the object is a person the best you can do is represent him/her with a disjunctive pronoun.

L'ecrivain parle de lui.
The writer talks about him.

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