Il, elle, ils, elles = it, he, she, they

Il means he or it (for a masculine noun)

Jean travaille dans le club. - Il travaille dans le club.
Jean works in the club. - He works in the club.

Le stylo est sur la table. - Il est sur la table.
The pen is on the table. - It is on the table.

Elle means she or it (for a feminine noun)

La fleur est jolie. - Elle est jolie.
The flower is pretty. - It is pretty.

Ils means they (for masculine or mixed plural nouns)

Jean et Paul vont au cinéma. - Ils vont au cinéma.
Jean and Paul are going to the cinema. - They are going to the cinema.

Elles means they or them (when every one of the group are female or feminine nouns)

Les fleurs sont jolies. - Elles sont jolies.
The flowers are pretty. - They are pretty.

 

See also C'est vs il/elle est: Saying it is

 

Grammar note: Pronouns are general words that replace specific nouns in sentences. A verb has a subject (the person or thing doing the verb), and may have an object (the thing being done to). Subject pronouns are usually different to object pronouns, so you cannot use one to replace the other (in English it can be either, but French uses distinct words) .

Subject - Verb - Object
(sub) Jean (verb) kicks (obj) the ball > (subj pron) He (verb) kicks (obj pron) it

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Jean et Paul vont au cinéma. - Ils vont au cinéma.
Jean and Paul are going to the cinema. - They are going to the cinema.


Jean travaille dans le club. - Il travaille dans le club.
Jean works in the club. - He works in the club.


La fleur est jolie. - Elle est jolie.
The flower is pretty. - It is pretty.



Le stylo est sur la table. - Il est sur la table.
The pen is on the table. - It is on the table.


Les fleurs sont jolies. - Elles sont jolies.
The flowers are pretty. - They are pretty.


Q&A Forum 10 questions, 28 answers

LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Not explained in lesson?

This lesson doesn’t explain why sont isn’t necessary in the sentence: Ils brûlent tous. They ARE burning all the books. I got this wrong with no explanation as to why. Help? Thanks. 

Asked 3 months ago
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Liz

Ils brûlent tous -They are burning all (of them).  This is the present tense of "brûler" - to burn and can be translated as:

They burn, they are burning, they do burn. Unlike English, French does not have a present continuous tense and the simple present tense conveys the notion of "they are burning" i.e "Ils brûlent". The "sont" that you refer can be thought of as being contained in the verb form.

To explicitly convey the notion of continuity French can use the phrase "être en train de" - to be in the process of, Thus, "ils sont en train de brûler tous" - They are in the process of (are) burning all (of them).

Hope this helps,

Tom

CécileKwiziq team member

Just to add to Tom's excellent answer I would say that,

Ils brûlent tous ( speaking about 'les livres') would be -

They are all burning 

Ils sont tous en train de brûler = They are all (in the process of) burning 

Hope this helps!

Not explained in lesson?

This lesson doesn’t explain why sont isn’t necessary in the sentence: Ils brûlent tous. They ARE burning all the books. I got this wrong with no explanation as to why. Help? Thanks. 

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MarkA1Kwiziq community member

In one question I am confused

Julia is watching a Tom Cruise movie, there are four answers:-

1.It is very good - Il est très bon - agreed

2.He is very good - Il est très bon - Only if you are referring to Tom Cruise

3.She is very good - Elle est très bonne - Julia might not like Tom Cruise so she might be very good in watching it............

4.I can't remember the last answer offhand but it does have an instance where it COULD be correct. 

The point is that other than answer 1 the other options are ALL options and may all be correct in certain circumstances.  The ONLY certain answer to this particular question is the first one, all others are possible but are liable to return a partially correct result depending upon the way in which the question is viewed.  I submit that it may NOT be the best question for this exercise.

Asked 10 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I think the question you are referring to is:

«Julie regarde un film de Tom Cruise. Il est très bon» means:

a) Julie is watching a Tom Cruise movie. It is very good

b) Julie is watching a Tom Cruise movie. He is very good

c) Julie is watching a Tom Cruise movie. She is very good

d) Julie is watching a Tom Cruise movie. They are very good

Only a) and b) are possible because "Il" means "he"/"it". It cannot mean "She" or "They".

In one question I am confused

Julia is watching a Tom Cruise movie, there are four answers:-

1.It is very good - Il est très bon - agreed

2.He is very good - Il est très bon - Only if you are referring to Tom Cruise

3.She is very good - Elle est très bonne - Julia might not like Tom Cruise so she might be very good in watching it............

4.I can't remember the last answer offhand but it does have an instance where it COULD be correct. 

The point is that other than answer 1 the other options are ALL options and may all be correct in certain circumstances.  The ONLY certain answer to this particular question is the first one, all others are possible but are liable to return a partially correct result depending upon the way in which the question is viewed.  I submit that it may NOT be the best question for this exercise.

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IsataKwiziq community member

Hi! there is something confusing me about le, la, l' and les and the words that are match with them. please I need a help

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Isata,

Can you be more specific?

Hi! there is something confusing me about le, la, l' and les and the words that are match with them. please I need a help

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JinjuA1Kwiziq community member

Question 1 has two possible answers. If so, how can I distinguish ‘il’ is Tom Cruis or the movie?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member
What does this relate to Jinju?
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

You can't, except by context. It's similar in English:

The film was showing in the new theater. It was great!

How do you know what "it" refers to, the film or the theater. 

LeslieB1Kwiziq community member
If the question was referring to not only the movie, as I felt it was, then the 2nd answer offered should have been, « Tom Cruise, il est... ».  

Question 1 has two possible answers. If so, how can I distinguish ‘il’ is Tom Cruis or the movie?

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JaneA1Kwiziq community member

Could you also say "C'est tres bon?" Instead of "Il est tres bon?"

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Yes, "c'est très bon" is perfectly OK but it  is a more general statement. "Il est très bon" refers to a specific subject.

Have you read this lesson yet? C'est vs il/elle est: Saying it is

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Jane,

Could you give some context to your query as  'il est très bon' is often used incorrectly for 'c'est très bon'?

Could you also say "C'est tres bon?" Instead of "Il est tres bon?"

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GC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

The multiple choice question in the quiz is: “Marc regarde le film. Il est très bon” means....

I answered - Marc is watching the film. It is very good. I was marked NEARLY correct because I didn’t include the answer: Marc is watching the film. HE is very good. That doesn’t feel like a correct answer to me.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Well, in french you can't tell what the pronoun "il" refers to: it could either be the film or marc. So both translations are -- barring any contextual information on top -- indistinguishable in French. -- Chris (not a native speaker).
GC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes I do understand that it is grammatically correct but it just felt so wrong to mark it that way. ;-)
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Yes, I know what you are saying. Just think of a situation where a kid is to watch a boring educational film and he does so voluntarily. He is such a good boy! ;) -- Chris.
GC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Of course, I never thought of it that way! Merci,
DavidA1Kwiziq community member
Thanks for the good answer Chris! I had the same issue as G on this question.
RantA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I agree that this answer could be also correct, but the most logical one, if one has to pick one, is that the movie is good. If the answer can be either one, then this question should be changed to ask for all the correct answers instead of one correct answer.

The multiple choice question in the quiz is: “Marc regarde le film. Il est très bon” means....

I answered - Marc is watching the film. It is very good. I was marked NEARLY correct because I didn’t include the answer: Marc is watching the film. HE is very good. That doesn’t feel like a correct answer to me.

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KevB2Kwiziq community member

Why is it ‘Ils brûlent tout’ not ‘Ils sont brûlent tout’?

Asked 2 years ago
MeganC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributorCorrect answer
When you conjugate a verb in the present tense, it already means "is / are -ing." For example, "Ils parlent" may be translated as "They are speaking," or "they speak."
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
"Ils brûlent tout" translates to "They burn everything".This is one of the few cases where you can literally translate every word and get the right answer. Not many of those around ;) I am not sure why you would want to stick "sont" into the sentence. What exactly did you want to say? -- Chris.
KevB2Kwiziq community member
Thanks Claus, I agree with you and understand your explanation but the quiz question was to translate “They’re burning everything” hence I put sont in there for “are”, which was marked as being wrong.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Kev, There is a lesson here that addresses this topic exactly; however, I am unable to locate it but basically is says that in French unlike in English there is not a separate conjugation to say I am speaking, like in Megan's examples above. «Il parle» translates to «He speaks» OR «He is speaking». Claus gave a great example about the phrase in question by stating that there are not many times when the phrase in French can be translated word-for-word to English. I had a French instructor and her favorite phrase to the class when we attempted to translate was this: French is not simply English translated to French. There are too many syntax variables between the two for that to occur. Learning French is a totally different way of thinking about language.
KevB2Kwiziq community member
Thanks for your help everyone. I’m getting my head around it slowly ;-)
KevB2Kwiziq community member
This explains it in a bit more detail. https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/french/french-ii/french-ii-participles/present-participles
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Actually, the lesson from cliff notes is a totally different grammar point, what in English is known as a gerund, the -ing form of a verb when it is not functioning as a verb, i.e. He eats while talking ---> Il mange en parlant. So, one can see that these are two entirely different grammar structures. Here is the lesson that discusses le gerondif: Forming Le Gérondif: en + '-ant' (while/by + -ing)%252Fsearch%253Fs%253Ding

Why is it ‘Ils brûlent tout’ not ‘Ils sont brûlent tout’?

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MiekeC1Kwiziq community member

How do you say "Jeanne eats from the ice cream" in French?

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Mieke, «Jeanne eats from the ice cream». This seems to be an incomplete sentence so I will take a little «poetic» license here and change the phrase to «Jeanne eats from the ice cream cone» This then becomes, in French: Jeanne mange du cône de crème glacée or Jeanne eats from the ice cream carton (she just bought from the store and did not place some in a bowl) ---> Jeanne mange de la boîte de crème glacée However, in English we might say: Jeanne is eating an ice cream cone ---> Jeanne mange un cornet de crème glacée. J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera. Bonne chance

How do you say "Jeanne eats from the ice cream" in French?

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Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Re La fleur est jolie. Elle est jolie: could one also say

C'est jolie?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Susan ! No, as here it is not a general statement but rather a specific statement on that specific flower, hence "elle". Moreover, "c'est jolie" is incorrect as "c'est" is also followed by the masculine form of the adjective. It would be "c'est joli". See also: Standalone adjectives after c'est are always masculine I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Susan C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Bonjour Aurélie, Merci. Yes, helpful. À bientôt, s.

Re La fleur est jolie. Elle est jolie: could one also say

C'est jolie?

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LeaB1Kwiziq community member

how can i learn that lunettes is plural? is there a singular word for lunettes?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member

Bonjour Lea,

Lunettes is just like "eyeglasses" in English - they are both plural. The "s" at the end usually means that the word is plural, but there are exceptions.

There are many words like this in both languages. Sometimes they're both plural and sometimes the noun is plural in one language but not the other, such as les épinards = "spinach." This is just something you need to learn along with the new words.

https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/how-some-plural-nouns-in-english-are-singular-in-french-and-vice-versa

LeaB1Kwiziq community member
Please pardon my mistake. I made a big error. What I meant to ask was, how can I know that this plural word, lunettes, is feminine? The question called for knowing this. Thank you for your explanation though. Lea
AurélieKwiziq team member
Dear Lea, You can hardly ever 'guess' the gender of a word unfortunately... however, in that case, you can remember that ALL words ending in '-ette' are feminine in French, so here you are. For other gender tips, have a look at this lesson: https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/how-to-identify-gender-by-some-word-endings I hope it's helpful!

how can i learn that lunettes is plural? is there a singular word for lunettes?

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