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Pronom d'objet indirect

French indirect object pronoun

See also: Pronom and Pronoun Types

An indirect object pronoun usually replaces people (or other living things) that are introduced after the verb with a preposition (usually à or pour). The indirect object indicates the person the action of the verb is destined to or for.

For example:

Je parle à Jacques. - Whom am I speaking to? Jacques

->  Je lui parle. - I'm speaking to him.

Note that the preposition disappears when you use the pronoun.

Warning: Not all prepositions introduce an indirect object! Indirect objects are specifically the ones that the verb is doing something to or for.

For example, in French we say penser à (to think of), but here the action of 'thinking' is not done TO the person, therefore it is not an indirect object, and cannot be replaced by an indirect object pronoun: You cannot say Je lui pense.

French indirect object pronouns

me / m' / moi
te / t'
you (singular / informal)
lui him / her / it
nous us
vous you (plural / formal)
leur them


Note that lui means both for 'him' and 'her':

J'écris à Samantha. - I write to Samantha.
-> Je lui écris. - I write to her.

J'écris à Bob. - I write to Bob.
-> Je lui écris. - I write to him.

Me and te become m' and t' in front of a vowel or mute h:

Tu me parles et tu m'écris. - You speak to me and you write to me.

Je te parle et je t'écris. - I speak to you and I write to you.

Me becomes moi in the affirmative imperative:

Parle-moi. - Talk to me.

It is easy enough to remember that when the object of the verb is a person introduced by a preposition (e.g. montrer à quelqu'un, donner à quelqu'un), then this object can be replaced by an indirect object pronoun.

However French and English verbs don't necessarily match on this point: some will have a preposition in French and not in English, or vice versa!

For example, the verb téléphoner in French is followed by a preposition (téléphoner à quelqu'un), whereas its English equivalent to phone uses NO preposition (phoning [X] someone).

Je lui téléphone. - I phone him/her.

It is the French verb that matters to determine whether to use of French indirect object pronouns. When in doubt, look it up in a dictionary to see if the verb is followed by a preposition.

Learn more: Introduction to object pronouns

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