French pronouns are one of the reasons why French could be considered one of the hardest languages to learn. To get you closer to fluency, mastering this complex grammar point is essential. 

This is part of the French Grammar Crash Course which will put together all the basics of French grammar.

1. What is a French pronoun?

A pronoun is a (small) word that replaces a noun in a sentence. Both French and English have an exhaustive list of pronouns each with its particular use.

Why are they useful?

Let’s take this sentence as an example:

Marie is my friend.
She is really nice and helpful. She helped me move the other day.

This sentence alone has 3 pronouns. If we were to remove them and keep a grammatically correct sentence, it would look something like this:

Marie is my friend. Marie is really nice and helpful. 
Marie helped with my house move the other day.

Doesn’t sound quite as natural, does it?

Pronouns avoid constant repetition of the same nouns and adjectives and are a quick way to turn your speech natural. 

2. Types of French pronouns

1. Pronoms Personnels – French Subject pronouns

Probably the ones that first pop to your head when you think of French pronouns, or even pronouns at all.

They are used to replace the subject, hence the name.

je I Je suis tellement fatigué!
I’m so tired
tu you (informal singular) Comment tu t’appelles?
What’s your name?
il he Il est où?
Where is he?
elle she Elle est jolie cette statue!
This statue, it’s pretty!
on we* *
nous we Nous ne viendrons pas chez toi ce samedi, désolé.
We will not come to your house on Saturday, I’m sorry.
vous you (formal) Monsieur Martin, vous pouvez me suivre.
Mr. Martin, please follow me.
vous you (plural) Vous êtes tous en retard! J’attends depuis 30 minutes.
You’re all late. I have been waiting for 30 minutes.
ils they J(e n’)appelle pas mes parents depuis deux (2) semaines. Ils sont en colère, je crois.
I haven’t called my parents for 2 weeks. I think they are angry.
elles they (a group of women) Julie et Justine sont mes amies depuis plusieurs années. Elles sont super gentilles. Julie and Justine have been my friends for several years. They are really nice. 

Gender neutral Pronouns in French

Unlike English, there is no pre-determined gender-neutral pronoun. This means they them pronouns in French do not exist. Instead, new ones were invented. The most common ones are: 

    • iel
    • iels (plural form)
    • elleux (plural formal, pronom tonique)

Iel vient avec nous, non? Je veux vraiment qu'iel vienne! 
They're coming with us, right? I really want them to come!
Pronoun on in French

On is quite a particular pronoun and doesn’t have a proper translation in English. However, it has many uses and it is often used in spoken French.

It is used for:

    • General truths – replacing chacun (each)

On doit traverser quand la le feu est vert.
We must cross when the light is green.
    • Replace “we” in spoken French

On va au ciné ce soir?
Are we going to the cinema tonight? 
    • Talking about someone without specifying who – replacing quelqu’un (someone)

On m’a dit que tu avais un nouveau job!
Someone told me you had a new job.
    • Replace “tu” or “vous” in a very informal context.

On s’amuse bien ici, dis donc!
(Not a literal translation) You’re all having fun, I see.

Teacher Tip:

  1. Don’t use nous in spoken French to sound more natural
  2. There is no “it” in French. Everything is gendered, so every object is replaced by the pronouns il or elle. Make sure to learn the gender of each noun to improve your French grammar.
  3. There are more pronouns in French than English. Be careful! Don’t simply translate English to French.

3. Pronoms Possessifs (French possessive pronouns)

Note: my, your, etc are possessive articles and are not considered pronouns.

French possessive pronouns are quite similar to the English ones. They act as a complement in a sentence (after the verb) and are used to replace something whose owner we want to emphasise.

le mien (masculine singular)
les miens (masculine plural)
la mienne (feminine singular)
les miennes (feminine plural)

– Tu as besoin d’utiliser mon ordi? 

– Non merci, j’ai le mien. 

Do you need to use my computer.

No, thanks, I have mine.

– J’adore tes boucles d’oreille. 
– Oh merci, mais ce ne sont pas les miennes. 

I love your earrings

Aw thanks, but they’re not mine.

le tien (masculine singular)
les tiens (masculine plural)
la tienne (feminine singular)
les tiennes (feminine plural)
yours Ma caméra est là. Tu as la tienne?
My camera is here. Do you have yours? 
le sien (masculine singular)
les siens (masculine plural)
la sienne (feminine singular)
les siennes (feminine plural)
his/hers* Non, ne t’inquiète pas. Ta robe est verte et la sienne est rouge.
No, don’t worry. Your dress is green and hers is red. 
le nôtre (masculine singular)
la nôtre (feminine singular)
les nôtres (plural masculine and feminine)
ours Ce monde est le nôtre!
This world is ours!
le vôtre (masculine singular)
la vôtre (feminine singular)
les vôtres (plural masculine and feminine)
yours (to several people) J’aime bien nos assiettes, mais je préfère les vôtres.
I quite like our plates, but I prefer yours.
le leur (masculine singular)
la leur (feminine singular)
les leurs (plural masculine and feminine)
theirs Mon sac est ici. Où sont les leurs? 
My bag is here. Where are theirs?

his/hers – 3rd Person Possessives in French

3rd person possessives in French work differently than English. 
In English, when we say “her/hers” we mean the owner is a woman. However, in French, the gender of the possessive does not depend on the owner but on what is owned. 

Son jardin est tellement beau. Elle s'en occupe bien.
Her gardin (un jardin is masculine, so we use son) is so beautiful. She takes good care of it.

The same applies for possessive pronouns. 

Ton jardin est plus beau que le sien! 
Your garden is more beautiful than his/hers! (without more context, we don't know the gender of the owner)

4. Pronoms toniques (French stress pronouns)

There is no proper English translation for these pronouns, but there are some ways to know when to use them.

They often follow prepositions, especially:

  • avec
  • à 
  • en
  • de

They often follow c’est 

moi – À qui est ce stylo? 
– C’est à moi!

– Whose is this pen?
– It’s mine!
toi Toi, tu veux manger quoi?
And you, what do you want to eat?
lui Tu vas sortir avec lui?
Are you going out with him?
elle Elle, je la trouve trop jolie.
Her, I find her really pretty.
vous C’est vous qui avez mangé mes restes?
Is it you that ate my leftovers?
eux Il aime vraiment ses enfants et prend bien soin d’eux.
He really loves his children and takes good care of them.
elles Aie confiance en elles! Elles vont y arriver!
Trust them! They can do it!
soi Il faut avoir confiance en soi.
One must trust oneself.

5. Pronoms réfléchis – French reflective pronouns

Pronoms réfléchis work with pronominal verbs, the verbs that have a se/s’ in their infinitive. For example, s’appeler, se demander, se lever, se rappeler, etc. They always go before the verb.

Teacher tip: French Pronominal Verbs are always conjugated with the auxiliaire être in composed tenses such as the passé composé, conditionnel passé, plus-que-parfait, etc.

me/m’ Je me suis demandé si tu allais venir. (se demander: to wonder, to ask oneself)
I wondered if you would come.
te/t’ Tu te lèves à quelle heure?  (se lever: to get up)
What time do you get up?
se/s’ Elle s’appelle Linda. (s’appeler: to be called)
Her name is Linda.


Nous nous sommes dit la même chose! (se dire: to tell yourself, to think)
We thought the same. 
vous Si vous vous étiez levés plus tôt, vous seriez à l’heure. (se lever: to get up)
If you had woken up earlier, you would be on time.
se/s’ Ils se sont trompés d’addresse, ils arriveront bientôt. (se tromper: to mistake, to get something wrong)
They got the wrong address, they will be here soon. 

6. Pronoms Compléments (French Object Pronouns)

1. Pronoms Compléments Directs (French Direct Object Pronouns)

    1. Use them when you’re talking about something specific 
    2. And the verb used is not followed by any preposition 
    3. Certain verbs can require a preposition in English and not in French, and vice versa*
    4. Put the pronoun BEFORE the verb

me Tu me trouves beau avec ces vêtements?
Do you find me handsome with these clothes?
te Ça tombe bien, je te cherchais!
Perfect timing, I was looking for you.
le/la Tu regardes Laure depuis une heure → Tu la regardes depuis une heure.
You’ve been looking at Laura for an hour.  You’ve been looking at her for an hour
nous Elle nous a laissé ici sans rien dire. 
She left us here without a word.
vous Madame Bernard, votre client vous attend dans la salle de réunion.
Ms Bernard, your client is waiting for you in the meeting room.
les Tu as acheté ces vêtements quand? Ils sont trop beaux! → Tu les as achetés quand? Ils sont trop beaux!
When did you buy your clothes? They’re so pretty! When did you buy them? They’re so pretty!

French Verbs with no Preposition:

No-preposition verbs usually express:

  • an opinion
  • a desire
  • a preference
  • a feeling
  • a project
  • a requirement or necessity
attendre (to wait for)
regarder (to look at)
chercher (to look for)
se sentir (to feel)
penser + Verbe (to have a project, to think of doing something)
trouver (to find)
aider (to help someone)
donner (to give something)

2. Les Pronoms Complément Indirects (French Indirect Object Pronouns)

The indirect object pronouns work similarly to the direct ones except that they are used when the verb does require a preposition. me, te, nous, and vous are the same, so you will not see a different. However, in the third person, we use lui (singular, regardless of the gender) and leur (plural).

Elle lui demandera demain. 
She will ask him tomorrow. 
Tu leur a dit? Ils (ne) vont pas être heureux...
Have you told them? They're not going to be happy about it...

Teacher tip: Prepositions are one if not the hardest grammar point in any latin language. When learning a new verb, check an example sentence and take note of the preposition it is used with. 

dire à (to tell someone) donner à (to give someone








7. Pronoms démonstratifs

Although they are not necessarily the first ones we think of, French indefinite pronouns are used every day. They are highlight what or whom we are talking about. They are especially useful when we are unsure of what/who that is. 

They include: 

ce, c’, cela, ça, ceci, celui, celle, ceux, celles, celui-ci, ceux-ci, celui-là, ceux-là, celle-ci, celles-ci, celle-là, celles-là…

Celle-là, c'est mon amie, Sarah. On se connaît depuis la maternelle. 
This, this is my friend, Sarah. We've known each other since kindergarten. 
Ces cafés sont tous bons mais celui que je préfère, c'est celui-ci.
This coffee shops are all good but the one I prefer is this one.
What’s the difference between celui, celui-ci and celui-là and between celle, celle-ci, and celle-là? 

Celui and celle are not followed by a verb, and will act as indirect subject followed by que or de.  

Ta maison est plus belle que celle de Pierre. 
Your house is prettier than Pierre's.
Celle que tu (n')aimes pas, c'est la rose, c'est ça?
The one you don't like is the pink one, right?

Celui-ci and celle-ci are used when something is near while celui-là and celle-là are used when something is further away. They are often (but not always) used together to highlight the difference in distance from the speaker. 

Celui-ci est sympa, mais celui-là est mieux.
This one is nice, but that one is better. 

8. Les Pronoms Indéfinis (French Indefinite Pronouns)

They include: 

certain(e)s, aucun(e), chacun(e), personne, rien, tout, tous…

They can express:

  • Zero quantity: aucun (none), nul (none), personne (no one), rien (nothing)
  • A specific quantity: certains (some), plusieurs (several)
  • Indeterminate identity: tel (such, such-and-such)
  • Totality: chacun (each), tout (everything)
  • Similarity: le même (the same)
  • Difference: autrui (another)
Parmi ces plats, certains sont meilleurs que d'autres.
Among these dishes, some are better than others.
Nul n'est responsable dans cette situation.
No one is responsible in this situation.

9. Les Pronoms Relatifs (French Relative Pronouns)


French relative pronouns vary according to gender and number. They are used only to replace people or things we have already talked about or we’re about to talk about. They can be a combination of lequel and the prepositions de and à.

duquel/de laquelle/desquels/desquelles
auquel/à laquelle/auxquels/auxquelles

Le garçon duquel tu parles n'est pas là.
The boy you're talking about is not here. 


qui, que, quoi, qu’est-ce que, etc.
French invariable interrogative pronouns do not change according to gender or number. We decide which one to use depending on what precedes it and the function of the noun it replaces in the sentence.

Dis-moi qui tu as vu l'autre jour. 
Tell me who you saw the other day.

In this sentence, qui replaces the complement who’s animated (antécédent animé), in this case a person. 

Le chien qui venait tout le temps chez moi ne vient plus. Ça me rend triste.
The dog that used to come to my house all the time doesn't come anymore. It makes me sad.

It can also replace an animated subject. 

La ville que j'aime le plus c'est Paris. 
The city I like the most is Paris.

Que replaces a inanimate subject (la ville, antécédent inanimé). 


10. Les Pronoms Numéraux (French Number Pronouns)

 As implied by their name, French number pronouns replace a noun highlighting its number/quantity. 

Elle a écrit beaucoup de bons livres, mais deux sont phénoménaux. 
She wrote a lot of good books, but two are phenomenal. 
On a trois types d'ordinateurs. Le premier est plus accessible, le second est de meilleure qualité, et le troisième est pour les professionnels.
We have three types of computers. The first one is more affordable, the second one is of better quality, and the third one is for professionals.

11.Les pronoms adverbiaux

The pronoun en in French is a headache for learners, and so is y. Worry not, there will be a post solely on that soon. In the meantime, to give you an idea, I put together a few examples.

Teacher tip: Bothen and y are used solely to replace indefinite nouns. To replace definite nouns, use object pronouns.

En is used to answer questions de quoi and de qui when the verb used is followed by the preposition de.

Tu peux acheter des bonbons? J'en ai trop envie!
Can you buy some sweets? I'm really craving some!

avoir envie de – to crave, to feel like

Y is used to answer the questions où, à qui, et à quoi when the verb used is followed by the preposition à. 

Vous allez souvent au cinéma? On n'y va très peu, nous.
Do you often go to the cinema? As for us, we seldom go. 

aller à – to go to









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