Singular French Subject Pronouns Je Tu Il Elle

Singular French Subject Pronouns
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Before you start this lesson, I encourage you to read my "introduction to French subject pronouns" lesson which will answer questions such as "what is a subject pronoun", "how to figure out the subject in French?" "What does the first person plural mean?" and other useful information for you to understand the grammatical jargon French books and teachers use.

Now, let's take a closer look to the singular French subject pronouns.

The French Subject Pronoun for I = Je or J'

Je is the pronoun to use to talk about yourself, when you are doing the action.
Ex : Je suis petite. I am small.

Je is also refered to as the first person of the singular (première personne du singulier).

Je becomes J’ in front of a vowel or an h. This is called elision.

Pronunciation: Je has the « eu » sound, watch out not to say « jay », you need to push your lips forward like a kiss. 
When Je takes elision, it becomes J’. The J’ and the verb are pronounced in one breath, the J sound becomes the first sound of the verb. There is no pause or inhaling to mark the apostrophe, it is silent, the J sound starts the verb.

Ex : J’aime, J’habite, J’utilise, J’organise, J’étudie...

Note: other words related to Je are : moi, me, m’ (meaning me in English) mon, ma, mes (meaning my in English), le mien, la mienne, les miens, les miennes (meaning mine in English).

These are other pronouns or adjectives, I can't explain them in detail now but I am just planting a seed here so you know they are related to Je.

The French Subject Pronoun for You Singular = Tu

Tu is the pronoun to use when you are talking to one person who is doing the action.
Ex : Tu regardes la télévision. Your are watching TV.

Tu is also refered to as the second person of the singular (deuxième personne du singulier).

Tu never becomes t’ (te does).

Pronunciation: the French « u » sound is difficult. It’s close to an English « ee » sound, but lips pushed way forward. It’s a long sound. 

Note: other words related to Tu are : toi, te, t’, ton, ta, tes, le tien, la tienne, les tiens, les tiennes.

Important: Tu is often referred to as the you « informal ». First thing to understand, is that Tu always refers to one person, not a group of people. Then, this person should be someone you are well acquainted with, such as a friend, a family member, or a child. See the detailed lesson on « tu or vous » in my French greetings and politeness masterclass with audio for more info.

The French Subject Pronoun for He and It = Il

Il is the pronoun to use when you are talking about one person masculine who is doing the action.
Ex : Il regarde la télé. He is watching TV.

Il is also refered to as the third person singular masculine (troisième personne du singulier, masculin).

Important: there is no « it » in French. Everything, including objects and animals, has a « gender », shown by the article le or un if we are not talking about a living being.


Ex : Pierre is a man, so when you talk about him, use « il »
Un livre (a book) is masculine, so when you talk about it, use « il ».

My dog Zip is a male, so when you talk about him (it), use « il ».

Pronunciation: although il is short in writing, it’s actually a long sound, do not say
« al », but a long ee sound like an eel. If followed by a vowel, the « L » of the Il will glide and grab the next word. It is not a liaison per se, but it's called a gliding, and the effect is the same.
Ex : Il aime, il habite, il étudie.
In street French, the Il will loose it’s L : we say : « ee » vient quand ? (to say il vient quand ; when is he coming ?). This is not very sophisticated, but very common.

Note: other words related to Il are : lui, le, l’, se, son, sa, ses, le sien, la sienne, les siens, les siennes.

The French Subject Pronoun for She and It = Elle

Elle is the pronoun to use when you are talking about one person feminine who is doing the action.
Ex : Elle regarde la télé. She is watching TV.

Elle is also referred to as the third person singular feminine (troisième personne du singulier, féminin).

Important: there is no « it » in French, everything, including objects and animals, has a gender, shown by the article la or une if we are not talking about a living being.
Ex : Sophie is a woman, so talking about her, use « elle ».
Une radio (a radio) is feminine, so when you talk about it, use « elle ». 
My dog Pixel is a female, so when you talk about her (it), use « elle ».

Pronunciation: although elle is long in writing, it is a pretty short and clipped sound. If followed by a vowel, the « L » sound of the elle will glide and grab the next word. It is not a liaison per se, but the effect is the same.
Ex : Elle aime, elle habite, elle étudie.

Note: other words related to Elle are : la, l’, lui, se, son, sa, ses, le sien, la sienne, les siens, les siennes.

What About "on"?

You are right! There is a French subject pronoun missing in this list - the obscure French subject pronoun "on". The meaning of "on" has evolved from "one" to "we" through the years, and there is a lot to say about "on", so I've written a whole lesson about on, which I invite you to study next.

Voilà, with on, you will know everything about the Singular French Subject Pronouns.

Let's now study the Plural French Subject Pronouns, and then you'll be on your way to the "French Verb Introduction".

If you are serious about learning French, I strongly suggest you find a good French learning audio method. Written French and spoken French are like two different languages, and you need audio - and someone who can not only list the grammar points but explain them well - to conquer French. I suggest you take a look at my own French learning method as well as my article on the Best French tools for the self-learning student.

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Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "Singular French Subject Pronouns Je Tu Il Elle." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2016, thoughtco.com/singular-french-subject-pronouns-1368088. Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2016, February 4). Singular French Subject Pronouns Je Tu Il Elle. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/singular-french-subject-pronouns-1368088 Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "Singular French Subject Pronouns Je Tu Il Elle." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/singular-french-subject-pronouns-1368088 (accessed December 18, 2017).