French Transitive Verbs

French Transitive Verbs Always Take a Direct Object Noun or Pronoun

A red heart with 'je t'aime' written inside against blue and white stripes on textured paper
'Je t'aime.' French transitive verbs like this take a direct object. Keith Getter/Getty Images

A transitive verb takes a direct object, either stated or implied, to complete its meaning. The verbs prendre (something),  étudier (something) and donner (something) are all transitive because they require something to receive their action. An intransitive verb, on the other hand, doesn't need, and can't take, a direct object to complete its meaning. In fact, intransitive verbs may never have any kind of object.

Direct Objects

Direct objects are the people or things in a sentence that receive the action of the verb. To find the direct object in a sentence, ask who or what is the object of the action.

   I see Pierre.
   Je vois Pierre.
   Who do I see? Pierre.

   I'm eating the bread
   Je mange le pain.
   What am I eating? Bread.

French Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns are the words that replace the direct object so that we don't say, "Marie was at the bank today. When I saw Marie, I smiled." It's much more natural to say, "Marie was at the bank today. When I saw her, I smiled." French direct object pronouns include:

  •    me / m'   me
  •    te / t'   you
  •    le / l'   him, it
  •    la / l'   her, it
  •    nous   us
  •    vous   you
  •    les   them

Note that me and te change to m' and t', respectively, in front of a vowel or mute HLe and la both change to l'.

French direct object pronouns, like indirect object pronouns, are placed in front of the verb.

   I'm eating it.
   Je le mange.

   He sees her.
   Il la voit.

   I love you.
   Je t'aime.

   You love me.
   Tu m'aimes.

Note that when a direct object precedes a verb conjugated as a compound tense such as the passé composé, the past participle should agree with the direct object.

Also, if an object (a person or thing) is not preceded by a preposition, it is a direct object; if it is, in fact, preceded by a preposition, then that person or thing is an indirect object.

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Lawless, Laura K. "French Transitive Verbs." ThoughtCo, Aug. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/transitive-verb-french-1369078. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 19). French Transitive Verbs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/transitive-verb-french-1369078 Lawless, Laura K. "French Transitive Verbs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/transitive-verb-french-1369078 (accessed January 17, 2018).