15 Types of French Pronouns

By OptiLingo • 8 minutes read

Learn about every type of French pronouns

Learn about French Pronouns

French grammar seems very complicated. And one thing is for certain: there are a lot of different pronouns in the French language. But, the good news is that you can master them quickly. We included everything you need to know about French pronouns, so you can start learning them easily. With this knowledge, you’re just a step aways from French fluency.

What are French Pronouns?

French pronouns are the same as English pronouns. They’re the words that you use to replace nouns. To sound natural in French, you need to use them in everyday speech. Just like you do in English.

There are two main types of pronouns in French: personal and impersonal. However, both kinds have various different types within them:

  • Personal Pronouns:
    • Subject
    • Reflexive
    • Direct Object
    • Indirect Object
    • Prepositional
  • Impersonal Pronouns:
    • Adverbial
    • Demonstrative
    • Subject
    • Indefinite Demonstrative
    • Indefinite
    • Interrogative
    • Negative
    • Possessive
    • Relative
    • Indefinite Relative

These sound like a lot, but don’t worry. They’re easy to learn and differentiate. You can use them very quickly in French conversations. While there seems to be a lot of impersonal pronouns, in fact, most of these categories only have two pronouns associated to them. So you won’t have to learn a lot of new words either.

Personal Pronouns in French

French personal pronouns replace people. Whether it’s about you or the person you’re talking to, or someone outside of your conversation, French has a pronoun for it. French personal pronouns need to be conjugated to fit the different forms of grammatical person.

This table shows all of the personal pronouns you need to know in French:

Subject

Reflexive

Direct Object

Indirect Object

Prepositional

Singular

Je (I)

Me (myself)

Me (me)

Me (me)

Moi (me)

Tu (you informal)

Te (yourself, informal)

Te (you, informal)

Te (you, informal)

Toi (you, informal)

Il (he)

Se (himself)

Le (him)

Lui (him)

Lui (him)

Elle (she)

Se (herself)

La (her)

Lui (her)

Elle (her)

Plural

Nous (we)

Nous (ourselves)

Nous (us)

Nous (us)

Nous (us)

Vous (plural you or formal singular you)

Vous (yourselves or yourself, formal)

Vous (plural you or formal singular you)

Vous (plural you or formal singular you)

Vous (plural you or formal formal)

Ils (they)

Se (themselves)

Les (them)

Leur (them)

Eux (them)

Elles (they)

Se (themselves

Les (them)

Leur (them)

Elles (them)

Pronoun Contractions and Exceptions

In some instances, you will need to combine a pronoun with the beginning of the next word, if that word begins with a vowel or a silent h.

  • He told me that … Il m’a dit que …
  • He told you that … Il t’a dit que …
  • She helped him.  Elle l’a aidé.

You will need to pay particular attention to the type of sentence because the type of sentence determines word order.

  1. In negative sentence, use “ne” before the object – “pas” still follows the verb.
    He is not telling me the truth. Il ne me dit pas la vérité.
  2. Change “me” to “moi” for positive commands. Direct personal pronouns come before indirect or in that kind of sentences.
    Give me that slice of bread Donne-moi cette tranche de pain
    Give it to me Donne la-moi

learn French pronouns easily

Subject Pronouns

These pronouns signal the subject of the sentence. “I”, “you”, “he”, or “she” are some examples in English for these pronouns. You can easily start a sentence with any of these.

Reflexive Pronouns

You use these when the action reflects back on you.

  • Je me brosse les dents. – I brush my teeth (for myself).

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns in French represent the things or persons affected directly by the verb’s action. 

  • Il la voit. – He sees her.
  • Tu m’aimes. – You love me.

Indirect Object Pronouns

Object pronouns refer to the recipient of the action in the sentence. However, there’s a slight difference between direct and indirect object round. Indirect object pronouns replace people who are indirectly affected by the action. For example:

  • Tu m’as donné un chat. – You gave me a cat.

Prepositional Pronouns

Otherwise known as stressed pronouns, you use these to emphasize the subject.

  • Ça ne marche pas pour moi – It doesn’t work for me.

Impersonal Pronouns in French

While most personal pronouns are used to replace names of people, impersonal pronouns are often objects. The different forms of impersonal pronouns have to agree with the noun they replace.

Adverbial Pronouns: en, y

You’ll encounter “en” and “y” a lot in everyday French. These pronouns replace a place or quantity in a sentence. “Y” replaces “à + location”:

  • Je vais à la piscine. – I’m going to the pool.
  • J’y vais. – I’m going there.

And en replaced “de + indefinite article + noun”

  • Tu as du sucre? – Do you have some sugar?
  • Oui, j’en ai. – Yes, I have some.

French pronouns have personal and impersonal variations.

Demonstrative Pronouns – celui, celle, ceux, cells

You use demonstrative pronouns in French to replace a previously mentioned noun. There is only one demonstrative pronoun in French – “celui.” – and it means “the one,” “this one,” and “that one,” depending on context. However, you will need to learn the different versions for gender and number of the noun that it relates to.

Masculine Singular

Feminine Singular

Masculine Plural

Feminine Plural

Celui

Celle

Ceux

Celles

To use this pronoun, you have to include on of the following after it:

  1. Propositional phrase
  2. Relative clause
  3. Particle “-ci” or “-là” – used for emphasis

Indefinite Demonstrative Pronouns – ce, ceci, cela, ça

You use indefinite demonstrative pronouns to refer to an unknown noun.

  • Ceci n’est pas une pipe. – This is not a pipe.

Impersonal Subjects – ce, il

If the subjects of sentences are people, you use personal pronouns. But, if they’re object, you use “ce” or “il” to introduce impersonal verb or expression.

  • J’ai jeté un liver. – I threw a book.
  • Il a volé. – It flew.

    Indefinite Pronouns – autre, certains, plusieurs …

    You use indefinite pronouns to indicate an unknown quantity or description. You can translate these as “other”, “certain”, “many” in English.

    Interrogative pronouns – qui, que, lequel

    These pronouns are mainly used for questions. You can ask who, what, or which.

    • Qui a gagné le jeu. – Who won the game?

    Negative Pronouns – ne __ personne, ne __ rien …

    You’re probably familiar with negative pronouns in English: no one, nothing, nobody. These exist is French too. But, you put “ne” in front of the verb, and the second part of the negative pronoun after. For example:

    • Vous n’avez rien fait de mal. – You did nothing wrong.

    Possessive pronouns

    Possessives can be a bit difficult at first because you cannot simply add “’s” to show possession (so you cannot directly translate “Alex’s book is on the table” because French does not use this method to show possession). The only way to show possession in French is by directly translating “the book of Alex.”

    • The pen of my aunt  la plume de ma tante
      The streets of Paris les rues de Paris

    The streets of Paris

    In other words, the thing being possessed appears first, then the thing doing the possession. The French language does have a way of showing possession through adjectives.

    Possessive Adjective

    Masculine

    Feminine

    Plural

    My

    Mon

    Ma

    Mes

    Your (informal)

    Ton

    Ta

    Tes

    His/Her/Its

    Son

    Sa

    Ses

    Our

    Notre

    Notre

    Nos

    Your (plural or singular formal)

    Votre

    Votre

    Vos

    Their

    Leur

    Leur

    Leurs

    For possessive adjectives, you do use the adjective first, then the object being possessed.

    Your address votre adresse

    Her passport  son passeport

    Relative Pronouns – qui, que, dont, où, lequel

    These pronouns can link different parts of the sentence together. Whether it’s a person or a place, if it’s been mentioned before, you can probably use one of these pronouns to avoid repetition.

    • Nous allons là nous avons passé notre lune de miel. – We’re going where we spent our honeymoon.

    Indefinite Relative Pronouns – ce qui, ce que, ce dont, ce à quoi

    Similar to the previous type of pronoun, but instead, the thing it replaces is unknown.

    • Ce que tu veux ne peut pas arriver. – What you want can’t happen.

    Word Order with the Verb “To Be”

    The verb “to be” is “être” in French. It also messes with what you just learned about possessives – you add “à” before the possessive adjective.

    These papers are ours. Ces papiers sont à nous.

    This desk is mine. Ce bureau est à moi.

    Learn French Pronouns Easily

    French pronouns may seem complicated at first, but they’re far more simpler than you think. In fact, you can learn them easily from hearing them in their natural environment. Through high-frequency phrases, you can master this part of French grammar quickly. You just need OptiLingo.

    OptiLingo is an app that tells you all of the most common French phrases. So, you only learn the necessary vocabulary, and you see exactly how locals speak. Don’t waste time with awkward sentences and useless vocabulary drills. Learn French the natural way, and reach fluency faster. Download OptiLingo today to discover the natural way to learn French pronouns!

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