Using le or l' to refer to previously mentioned ideas (direct object pronoun)

When the same idea is talked about more than once, it's usually replaced with a pronoun the second time in both English and French.
We use it / that in English, and in French we use le or l'.

Tu veux venir à la piscine? - Oui, je le veux.
Do you want to come to the swimming pool? - Yes, I want to / I'd like that.

Tu penses qu'il est bon pour elle ? - Non je ne le pense pas.
Do you think he's good for her? - No, I don't think so.

Note that le and l' replace ideas introduced mostly by que, or starting by an infinitive.

ATTENTION: You always use the masculine singular form le or l'even if the idea contains a feminine noun, as it's the whole idea that is considered here.

Note also that while in English, the pronouns it or that are not always necessary (e.g. Yes, I want to.), they are always required in French. 

Vous croyez que Pierre viendra au bal? - Oui, nous le croyons.
Do you think that Pierre will come to the ball? - Yes, we believe so.

Pauline pense vraiment que c'est bien de faire des études? - Oui, Pauline le pense vraiment.
Pauline really thinks that it's good to study? -Yes, Pauline really thinks so.

 

ATTENTION: When ideas are introduced by the preposition à, then you use the adverbial pronoun y!

See also  Y can replace à + thing / object / location (adverbial pronoun)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tu penses qu'il est bon pour elle ? - Non je ne le pense pas.
Do you think he's good for her? - No, I don't think so.


Pauline pense vraiment que c'est bien de faire des études? - Oui, Pauline le pense vraiment.
Pauline really thinks that it's good to study? -Yes, Pauline really thinks so.


Tu veux venir à la piscine? - Oui, je le veux.
Do you want to come to the swimming pool? - Yes, I want to / I'd like that.


Vous croyez que Pierre viendra au bal? - Oui, nous le croyons.
Do you think that Pierre will come to the ball? - Yes, we believe so.


Q&A

Jay

Kwiziq community member

24 July 2018

1 reply

Oui, je le crois» if this can mean 'I believe so' and 'I believe him' how could you emphasise or make clear which you mean?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

25 July 2018

25/07/18

Hi Jay,

You would know from the context I think, whether you were talking about a thing or a person...

Earl

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

1 reply

What is wrong with "Tout le monde pense ça."

Chris

Kwiziq community member

14 June 2018

14/06/18

Hi Earl,

there's nothing wrong with this sentence. It just doesn't contain the idea which the lesson is trying to teach.

-- Chris.

Adora

Kwiziq community member

13 April 2018

2 replies

I am a bit confused about when exactly to use "le" and "y" to replace it

For example what is the difference or the correct one to say: "J'y crois" or "Je le crois" or "j'en crois"

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

13 April 2018

13/04/18

Hi Adora,

Yes, it can be confusing knowing when to use adverbial pronouns y and en.  The cases are covered in detail here:

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/glossary/pronoun-type/adverbial-pronouns 

You can add any of these lessons to your notebook if you want to practise them together.

Hope that helps! 

Adora

Kwiziq community member

13 April 2018

13/04/18

Thanks!

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

29 March 2018

2 replies

Using le for les escargots instead of les

i was wondering why for the sentence 

j’aime les escargots. It becomes je le aime instead of je les aime.

thank you

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 March 2018

29/03/18

Hi Claudia,

it is "le" because the reference is to the idea in itself and not to the snails per se. However, you can still say, "je les aime" and it means "I love them".

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

25 May 2018

25/05/18

Hi Claudia, 

Where is this example using snails , cannot find it in the lesson you highlighted.

It would be,

Je les aime but I prefer 

Les escargots, jaime ça ...

 Hope this helps!

helen

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2017

4 replies

«Il ne le croit pas» CANNOT mean...:

In the short quiz for this lesson, I was marked wrong for answering: «Il ne le croit pas» "He doesn't believe so". Instead, it says this phrase means: "he doesn't believe". Can you explain? or, is this a mistake?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

27 October 2017

27/10/17

Bonjour Helen, To me «Il ne le croit pas» would be «he does not believe it» or «he does not believe him». Of course, there is the possibility that the answer given could be a French nuanced meaning.

Megan

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

On the version of the test I took, I had the question "How would you say: He thinks so" and "Il le pense" was the correct answer. Therefore, I think your answer for "Il ne le croit pas" should also be correct. I do agree that Ron's suggestions would be my first instincts, but I don't see how yours is wrong.

Megan

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

On the version of the test I took, I had the question "How would you say: He thinks so" and "Il le pense" was the correct answer. Therefore, I think your answer for "Il ne le croit pas" should also be correct. I do agree that Ron's suggestions would be my first instincts, but I don't see how yours is wrong.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

28 October 2017

28/10/17

Bonjour Megan, I see that you too have had an issue with the site double-posting your response. That has happened to me a couple of times and I sure wish they could fix that so it would not continue to occur.

Prashanth

Kwiziq community member

10 December 2016

1 reply

Examples 8 & 10 - why is "mieux" being used and not "meilleur"?

Doesn't the use of the verb "etre" indicate a state of being rather than an action, and hence shouldnt meilleur be used instead of mieux?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

12 December 2016

12/12/16

Bonjour Prashanth ! This is an interesting remark. The difference between "meilleur" and "mieux" is the same as in between "bon"= good (adjective) and "bien"= well (adverb). Therefore, depending on context, both can be used with the verb "être": - When talking about something's quality (this is good), you will indeed use "meilleur": "Ma machine est meilleure que la tienne." (My machine is better than yours.) - But to express a general opinion in French, you will use "C'est bien" (= it's fine/well/ok) rather than "C'est bon" (more for taste); therefore in those cases, "c'est bien" will become "c'est mieux". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Diana

Kwiziq community member

6 October 2016

2 replies

Tu veux venir à la piscine? - Oui, je le veux.

The idea is introduced with à, why do we use le instead of y. Am a little lost here.

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

6 October 2016

6/10/16

Bonjour Diana, The idea is "venir à la piscine," so it has to be replaced with le. You use y only when saying something like Oui, je veux y aller.

Diana

Kwiziq community member

24 October 2016

24/10/16

Thank you!

Jenny

Kwiziq community member

3 September 2016

6 replies

Subjonctif?

J'avais l'impression que lorsque on utilise "penser" et "croire" en posant une question, le subjonctif doit être employé. Ai-je tort?

isabelle

Kwiziq community member

3 September 2016

3/09/16

'Les verbes dire, affirmer, prévoir, penser, croire, espérer, être certain, imaginer, être probable, utilisés à la forme affirmative ont une valeur de vérité : on utilise donc l'indicatif dans la proposition qui suit." Mais Je ne pense pas qu'il vienne - ( not certain about it) ( négation)

Jenny

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2016

4/09/16

Bonjour Isabelle :) Merci d'avoir répondu à ma question! Dans le lien ci-dessous, l'auteur a écrit "tu penses qu'il est bon pour elle?" et non pas "tu penses qu'il soit bon pour elle?". Pourtant, d'après ce que vous m'avez dit, il faut utiliser le subjonctif lorsque il y a une incertitude comme dans une question. https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/my-languages/french/view/706

Jenny

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2016

4/09/16

Désolée, j'ai voulu taper "lorsqu'il" au lieu de "lorsque il".

isabelle

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2016

4/09/16

Jenny - penser prend l'indicatif à l'affirmatif - penser prend le subjonctif au négatif - In fact it is confusing to think in terms of certainty or not - just use this grammar rule - Je pense que Julie peut venir- Je ne pense pas qu'elle puisse ( subjonctif) venir - (Négation ) Donc l'auteur a raison..:) " Tu penses qu'il est bon pour elle?" There are a lot of sites on the Internet about that :) ( hope you read English!) Bonne chance !

isabelle

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2016

4/09/16

Jenny, j'imagine qu'il y a aussi des réponses `a ta question sur CE site !:) Je pense qu'il y a aussi des réponses ... NOTE: j'ai utilisé l'indicatif ..

isabelle

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2016

4/09/16

Jenny, j'imagine qu'il y a aussi des réponses `a ta question sur CE site !:) Je pense qu'il y a aussi des réponses ... NOTE: j'ai utilisé l'indicatif ..

Laura

Kwiziq community member

11 April 2016

4 replies

For some reason I thought "en" was used when referring to ideas or non-descript things?

I know en is used to replace things with "de/du/de la" but...I thought it was also used to replace ideas, things, etc.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

12 April 2016

12/04/16

Bonjour Laura,

Note first that "en" is never used to replace people.
As for things, it depends on whether the original phrase it refers to is introduced by the preposition "de":
E.g. Tu veux de l'eau ?     Tu en veux ?
E.g. Je me moque de ton pull.     Je m'en moque.

Here are links to the lessons explaining when to use "en":

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/the-adverbial-pronoun-en-can-replace-a-phrase-introduced-by-de

https://kwiziq.learnfrenchwithalexa.com/revision/grammar/the-adverbial-pronoun-en-means-of-them-with-quantities

I hope that's helpful!

A bientôt !

 

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

12 April 2016

12/04/16

Bonjour Laura, En is used to replace de + anything, whether concrete or abstract. When there's no de, there can't be en. Le is used instead.

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

12 April 2016

12/04/16

"en" not used with people? How about this : Combien de personnes avez-vous sous votre commandement? J'en ai 100.

isabelle

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2016

16/10/16

It is because it deals with quantity - As-tu un livre de français? Oui, j'en ai 100 - ( object) AS-tu des amis chez toi en ce moment? Oui j'en ai - (personnes) Combien d'employés avez-vous dans votre entreprise? J'en ai 10 // j'en ai 2000. ( personnes)

ibrahim

Kwiziq community member

10 April 2016

1 reply

why we didn't use the pronoun Y with future simple ?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

12 April 2016

12/04/16

Bonjour Ibrahim, Unfortunately, I cannot see the specific example you're referring to, therefore I'm struggling to answer your question. I can say that there's no reason not to use "y" in Le Futur Simple, when replacing "à + clause" or a location. I'd be happy to look at the specific case you've seen, if you can find it again. A bientôt !
Thinking...