In French grammar, pronouns are essential for replacing nouns to avoid repetition and ensure fluidity. They help in indicating who is performing an action (subject pronouns like “je,” “tu,” “il”), receiving an action (COD pronouns like “me,” “te,” “le”), and showing possession (possessive pronouns like “mien,” “tien”). Proper usage of pronouns is crucial for clarity, coherence, and the natural flow of conversation and writing in French.

Subject pronouns (Pronoms sujets)

Subject pronouns are used to indicate who is performing the action of the verb. They are essential for constructing sentences and ensuring that the subject and verb agree in number and person.

French Subject Pronouns:

First personJe(I) Nous(We) 
Second personTu(You) Vous(You) 
Third personIl/Elle(He/She) Ils/Elles(They) 


  • Je is used when the speaker is referring to themselves.
  • Tu is used when addressing someone informally.
  • Il/Elle is used for he/she or it, depending on the gender of the noun.
  • Nous is used when the speaker is including themselves in a group.
  • Vous is used for formal address or when speaking to more than one person.
  • Ils/Elles is used when referring to groups, with Ils for all-male or mixed groups, and Elles for all-female groups.


Je mange une pomme.I am eating an apple.
Tu parles français.You speak French.
Il regarde la télévision.He is watching TV.
Nous allons au cinéma.We are going to the cinema.

Direct object pronouns (Pronoms COD)

Direct object pronouns in French are used to replace nouns that are the direct object of a verb, making sentences less repetitive and more fluid. Here are the direct object pronouns in French:

Subject PronounDirect Object Pronouns
Je Me
Tu te
Nous Nous
Vous Vous 

Characteristics of Direct Object Pronouns

1. Replacing a noun:

 Je vois le chien. → Je le vois. (I see the dog. → I see it.)

 Elle mange la pomme. → Elle la mange. (She eats the apple. → She eats it.)

2. Position in the sentence:

 In simple tenses (present, imperfect, future), the pronoun comes before the verb:

 Tu m’aimes. (You love me.)

 Il les connaît. (He knows them.)

 In compound tenses (passé composé), the pronoun comes before the auxiliary verb:

 Elle l’a vu. (She saw him/it.)

 Nous les avons finis. (We finished them.)

3. In negative sentences:

The pronoun and verb are enclosed within the negation (ne…pas):

Je ne le vois pas. (I don’t see it/him.)

Ils ne nous entendent pas. (They don’t hear us.)

4. With infinitives:

When the verb is an infinitive, the pronoun comes before the infinitive:

Je vais te voir demain. (I am going to see you tomorrow.)

Il veut la manger. (He wants to eat it/her.)

5. With imperative mood:

In affirmative commands, the pronoun follows the verb and is connected with a hyphen:

Mange-le ! (Eat it!)

Écoutez-moi ! (Listen to me!)

In negative commands, the pronoun comes before the verb:

Ne le mange pas ! (Don’t eat it!)

Ne me parle pas ! (Don’t talk to me!)


Elle m’appelle chaque soir.She calls me every evening.
Nous vous attendons devant le cinéma. We are waiting for you in front of the cinema.
Ils les ont invités à la fête.They invited them to the party.
Tu dois le faire maintenant.You must do it now.

These pronouns are essential for making sentences smoother and avoiding repetition in French communication.

Indirect object pronouns (COI)

Indirect object pronouns replace nouns that receive the action of the verb indirectly, typically preceded by the preposition “à” (to). They are used to indicate to whom or for whom an action is performed. In French, these pronouns usually come before the verb.

French Indirect Object Pronouns:

Pronoun (French)Meaning (English)
Me (m’)To me
Te (t’)To you (informal)
LuiTo him/her
NousTo us
VousTo you (formal/plural)
LeurTo them


Indirect object pronouns are placed before the conjugated verb.

In negative sentences, they are placed between “ne” and the verb.

In compound tenses, they precede the auxiliary verb.

When used with infinitive verbs, they precede the infinitive.


Je lui parle.I am speaking to him/her.
Elle nous donne des conseils.She gives us advice.
Ils me téléphonent souvent.They call me often.
Nous leur envoyons une lettre.We are sending them a letter.

Disjunctive pronouns (Pronoms toniques)

Disjunctive pronouns, also known as stressed or emphatic pronouns, are used for emphasis, after prepositions, and in isolation or short answers. They differ from subject and object pronouns in that they stand alone and can provide emphasis or clarity in a sentence.

French Disjunctive Pronouns:

Disjunctive Pronoun (French)Meaning (English)


Used after prepositions (e.g., “avec,” “sans”).

Used for emphasis or contrast.

Used in short answers or for emphasis in questions.

Used in compound subjects or objects.


Je parle de lui.I am talking about him.
Elle va au cinéma avec moi.She is going to the cinema with me
Eux, ils sont toujours en retard.Them, they are always late.
Qui veut venir? Moi!Who wants to come ? Me! 

Possessive Pronouns 

Possessive pronouns replace nouns to show ownership or possession. Unlike possessive adjectives, which modify a noun, possessive pronouns stand alone and replace the noun entirely.

French Possessive Pronouns:

Masculin singulier Feminin singulier Masculin plurielFeminin plurielEnglish
Le mienLa mienneLes miensLes miennesMine
Le tienLa tienne Les tiensLes tiennesYours
Le sienLa sienneLes siensLes siennesHis/Hers/It’s
Le nôtreLa nôtre Les nôtresLes nôtresOurs
Le vôtreLa vôtreLes vôtreLes vôtresYours
Le leur La leurLes leursLes leursTheirs


Used to indicate possession and agree in gender (masculine/feminine) and number (singular/plural) with the noun they replace.

Typically used after a definite article (le, la, les).

Can be used in response to a question about possession or to emphasize ownership.


Ce livre est le mien.This book is mine.
La voiture est la tienne.The car is yours.
Les idées sont les siennes.The ideas are his/hers.
Ces maisons sont les nôtres.These houses are ours.

Demonstrative Pronouns (pronoms demonstatifs) 

Demonstrative pronouns replace nouns to point out specific people or things. They help distinguish between different entities based on their proximity or distinction. In French, demonstrative pronouns must agree in gender and number with the nouns they replace.

French Demonstrative Pronouns:

CeluiThis one/That one (masculine singular)
CelleThis one/That one (feminine singular)
CeuxThese ones/Those ones (masculine plural)
CellesThese ones/Those ones (feminine plural)


Used to refer to previously mentioned nouns or to point out specific items.

Often followed by a relative clause (e.g., “qui,” “que”) to provide additional information.

Can be used to contrast between items.


Celui qui parle est mon frère.The one who is speaking is my brother.
Celle que tu vois est ma sœur.The one that you see is my sister.
Ceux que nous avons rencontrés sont sympas.Those whom we met are nice.
Celles de ma tante sont plus jolies.Those (ones) of my aunt are prettier.

Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns introduce relative clauses, which provide additional information about a noun without starting a new sentence. They connect the clause to the noun and can function as the subject, object, or object of a preposition within the relative clause.

French Relative Pronouns:

DontWhose/Of which
Où Where/When


Qui is used when the relative pronoun is the subject of the relative clause.


Que is used when the relative pronoun is the direct object of the relative clause.Le livre que j’ai lu était fascinant.The woman who is speaking is my mother.
Que is used when the relative pronoun is the direct object of the relative clause.Le livre que j’ai lu était fascinant.The book that I read was fascinating.
L’homme dont je parle est mon voisin.The man whose I am talking about is my neighbor.
La ville où je suis né est magnifique.The city where I was born is beautiful.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions and replace the noun that is the subject or object of the question. They help in inquiring about people, things, or information.

French Interrogative Pronouns:

Qui– Who (used for people, as subject or object
Que (Qu’)What (used for things, as direct object)
Quoi– What (used for things, typically following a preposition)
Lequel / Laquelle / Lesquels / Lesquelles– Which one(s) (used to distinguish between items


  • Qui can be used both as a subject and an object.
  • Que is used as a direct object and is often placed at the beginning of a sentence, sometimes contracted to “Qu'” before a vowel or silent “h.”
  • Quoi is used after prepositions and for emphasis.
  • Lequel and its variations agree in gender and number with the noun they replace.


Qui est-ce?Who is it?)
Que fais-tu?(What are you doing?)
À quoi penses-tu?(What are you thinking about?)
Lequel veux-tu?(Which one do you want?)

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns refer to non-specific persons or things. They do not point out any particular person or thing but refer to any member of a group or to an unidentified individual.

French Indefinite Pronouns:

PersonneNo one/Anyone
Tout le mondeEveryone
ChacunEach one
AucunNone/Not any
Quelque choseSomething


  • Quelqu’un and personne refer to people.
  • Tout le monde and chacun emphasize individuals or groups.
  • Certains and aucun refer to an unspecified quantity of people or things.
  • Quelque chose and rien refer to things.


Quelqu’un m’a appelé.Someone called me.
Personne n’est venu à la fête.No one came to the party.
Tout le monde aime les vacances.Everyone loves holidays.
Certains ont réussi l’examen.Some passed the exam.
Aucun ne veut partir.None want to leave.
Quelque chose ne va pas.Something is wrong.
Rien n’est impossible.Nothing is impossible.

Reflexive Pronouns 

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of a verb are the same entity, indicating that the subject is performing an action on itself. In French, reflexive pronouns are essential for expressing actions performed by or upon oneself.

French Reflexive Pronouns:

Me Myself
Te Yourself (informal singular) 
Se Himself/Herself/Itself/Themselves
Nous Ourselves
Vous Yourselves (formal singular or plural)
SeThemselves (plural) 


Reflexive pronouns are placed before the verb.

They agree in number (singular/plural) with the subject.

Verbs that typically require reflexive pronouns are known as reflexive verbs.


Je me lave.I wash myself.
Elle se brosse les cheveux.She brushes her hair.
Nous nous amusons bien.We are having fun.
Ils se rencontrent au café.They meet each other at the café.

Impersonal Pronouns 

Impersonal pronouns are used when the subject of a sentence is unspecified or irrelevant. They do not refer to any specific person or thing but instead serve to generalize or make a statement about an unspecified subject.

French Impersonal Pronouns:

OnOne/We/People (informal)
Il It/One (formal)


On is a versatile pronoun used to express general statements or observations. It can be translated as “one,” “we,” or “people.”

Il is used in impersonal expressions to denote general truths or phenomena.


On dit que le français est une belle langue.One/People say that French is a beautiful language.
Il est important de bien se reposer.It is important to rest well.
On peut visiter cette ville en une journée.We/One can visit this city in one day.
Il faut étudier pour réussir.One must study to succeed.


The article discusses various types of pronouns in French grammar, including subject, direct object, indirect object, disjunctive, possessive, demonstrative, relative, interrogative, indefinite, reflexive, reciprocal, and impersonal pronouns. Each type is defined, and its grammar rules and usage are explained. Examples in both French and English illustrate how each pronoun is used in context. Understanding these pronouns is crucial for effective communication in French, as they play essential roles in replacing nouns, indicating relationships, and conveying meaning accurately.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to know which French pronoun to use?

To select the correct French pronoun, consider its role in the sentence (subject, object, possessive, etc.), gender and number agreement with the noun, context, verb construction, and grammatical rules. Practice and exposure to French will enhance your proficiency in choosing the appropriate pronoun.

2. When to use le or lui? 

Use “le” as a direct object pronoun to replace masculine singular nouns, while “lui” serves as an indirect object pronoun, replacing nouns preceded by prepositions like “à.” For instance, “Je lui donne le livre” (I give him the book), where “lui” replaces the indirect object.

3. When to use nous or vous? 

“Nous” is the pronoun for “we” and used when referring to oneself along with others. “Vous” serves as both the formal “you” and the plural “you.” Choose “vous” when addressing someone formally or when speaking to multiple people, regardless of formality.

4. How many types of pronouns are in French?

In French, there are several types of pronouns, including subject, direct object, indirect object, possessive, reflexive, demonstrative, relative, interrogative, indefinite, reciprocal, and impersonal pronouns. Each type serves a specific function and is crucial for constructing sentences accurately in French.