Personal Pronouns: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary

Every French Personal Pronoun, Plus Word Order and Examples

Woman walking through a rapeseed field, Valensole, Provence, France
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A personal pronoun is a pronoun that substitutes for and agrees with a noun, i.e., the grammatical person it represents. It is one of two main kinds of pronouns: personal and impersonal. 

All French Personal Pronouns: 'Pronoms Personnels'

The following table summarizes the five types of personal pronouns in French. An explanation of each type and links follow this table.

Subject Direct Object Indirect Object Reflexive Stressed
je me* me* me* moi
tu te* te* te* toi
lui se lui
nous nous nous nous nous
vous vous vous vous vous
les leur se eux

*In the imperativeme and te sometimes change to moi and toi.

Word Order Is Important

In all verb tenses and moods, except the affirmative imperative, the object, adverbial, and reflexive pronouns always go in front of the verb and must be in the order shown in the table here. Note that the adverbial pronouns y and en work in conjunction with the object pronouns:
Y replaces à (or another preposition of place) plus a noun.
En replaces de plus a noun.

Word Order for Most Tenses and Moods, Except Imperative.(Pronouns go before the verb.)

  • me/te/se/nous/vous
  • le/la/les
  • lui/leur
  • y
  • en

Word Order for Affirmative Imperative.(Pronouns go after the verb.)

  • le/la/les
  • moi(m')/toi(t')/lui
  • nous/vous/leur
  • y
  • en

Subject Pronouns: 'Pronoms Sujets'

A subject is the person or thing that performs the action of the main verb in a sentence. The subject pronoun replaces that person or thing

   PierreIl travaille.
PierreHe is working.

   Mes parentsIls habitent en Espagne.
   My parents / They live in Spain.

   La voiture / Elle ne veut pas démarrer.
 The carIt won't start.

In verb conjugation, verbs change form for each subject pronoun. This means it is essential to know subject pronouns first, before learning how to conjugate verbs

Direct object Pronouns: 'Pronoms Objets Directs' 

Direct objects are the people or things in a sentence that receive the action of the verb. A person or thing not preceded by a preposition is a direct object. French direct object pronouns, like indirect object pronouns, are placed in front of the verb.

   J'ai acheté le livre.
I bought the book.

   Je l'ai acheté.
I bought it.

Indirect Object Pronouns: 'Pronoms Objets Indirects'

Indirect objects are the people or things in a sentence to whom or what, or for whom of what the action occurs. A person preceded by the prepositions à or pour is an indirect object. Indirect object pronouns are the words that replace the indirect object, and in French they can only refer to a person or other animate noun. 

   J'ai acheté un livre pour Paul.  
   I bought a book for Paul. 

   Je lui ai acheté un livre.
I bought him a book.

Note that the indirect object pronouns me and te change to m' and t', respectively, in front of a vowel or mute H. Like direct object pronouns, French indirect object pronouns are usually placed in front of the verb. 

Reflexive Pronouns: 'Pronoms Réfléchis'

Reflexive pronouns are a special kind of French pronoun that can only be used with pronominal verbs. These verbs need a reflexive pronoun in addition to a subject pronoun, because the subject(s) performing the action of the verb is the same as the object(s) being acted upon. Notice how French reflexive pronouns translate to English:

   Nous nous parlons.
   We're talking to each other.

   Lève-toi !
   Get up!

   Ils se sont habillés.
   They got dressed (they dressed themselves).

   Cela ne se dit pas. 
   That isn't said.

Stressed Pronouns: 'Pronoms Disjoints'

Stressed pronouns, also known as disjunctive pronouns, are used to emphasize a noun or pronoun that refers to a person. There are nine forms in French.

   Fais attention à eux.
   Pay attention to them.

   Chacun pour soi.
Every man for himself.

   Il va le faire lui-même.
   He's going to do it himself.

French stressed pronouns correspond in some ways to their English counterparts, but they are very different in other ways. English translations sometimes require different sentence structures altogether. 

Additional Resources

French pronouns
Impersonal pronoun

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Personal Pronouns: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). Personal Pronouns: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Personal Pronouns: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).