French Grammar Tips: Indirect Object Pronouns


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French Grammar Tips: Indirect Object Pronouns

This article looks at indirect object pronouns, which are:

me – to me
te – to you (tu form)
lui – to him, to her, to it
nous – to us
vous – to you
leur – to them (m. and f.)

Like direct object pronouns, they precede the verb:

Nos voisins nous aident beaucoup. – Our neighbours help us a lot. (aider is followed by ‘à’.)

In the negative:

Je ne leur écris pas. – I don’t write to them.

Again, like direct object pronouns, when there are two verbs the indirect object pronoun is often placed between them:

Je vais lui donner le livre. – I’m going to give him the book.

Il veut vous montrer sa voiture neuve. – He wants to show you his new car.

With compound tenses such as the perfect or passé composé, the indirect object pronoun is placed before the auxiliary verb. But unlike direct object pronouns, the past participle does NOT agree with indirect object pronouns:

Il m’a offert un cadeau. – He gave me a present.

On nous avait defendu de parler. – They had forbidden us to speak.

In the imperative or command form, the indirect object pronoun follows the verb:

Montrez-leur comment le faire. – Show them how to do it.

An exception to this is the negative imperative, where the indirect object pronoun must precede the verb:

Ne lui permettez pas de sortir. – Don’t allow him to go out.

If we have a direct object pronoun as well as an indirect object pronoun, we have to think carefully about the order we put them in. ‘Me‘, ‘te‘, ‘nous‘ and ‘vous‘ will come before ‘le’, ‘la‘ and ‘les‘, but ‘lui‘ and ‘leur‘ must come after ‘le‘, ‘la‘ or ‘les‘:

Il me l’a donné. – He gave it to me.

On nous les a vendus. – Someone sold them to us. (The past participle here agrees with the direct object ‘les‘.)

Nous le lui apportons une fois par semaine. – We bring it to him once a week.

With thanks to Elizabeth Allen

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