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

To avoid repeating the same statement, idea or opinion more than once, you usually use a pronoun to refer to it in both English and French.

- Dolphins are mammals. - I didn't know that.

Now look at these French sentences:

- Les dauphins sont des mammifères. - Je ne le savais pas.- Dolphins are mammals. - I didn't know that.

- C'est le meilleur candidat. - Tu le penses sincèrement ?- He's the best candidate. - You sincerely think that?

Je pense qu'elle est parfaite. Je l'ai toujours pensé et je le penserai toujours.I think that she's perfect. I've always thought so and I always will.

Je veux tellement qu'ils finissent ensemble. Je le souhaite de tout mon cœur.I want them to end up together so much. I wish it with all my heart.

To refer to previously mentioned ideas, opinions and statements, in French you use the neuter pronoun le (or l' in front of a vowel or mute h).

 

Note that 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.

 

Case of actions, ideas and statements introduced by an infinitive

Si nous pouvions partir en vacances, nous le ferions tout de suite. If we could go on holiday [US:vacation], we would do it straight away.

Je veux courir dans les champs. Je veux le faire tout le temps.I want to run in the fields. I want to do it all the time.

Est-ce que tu sais marcher sur les mains ? - Non, je ne sais pas le faire.Do you know how to walk on your hands ? - No, I don't [know how to do that].

- Voulez-vous prendre pour épouse Marie Lise Anaïs Lambert ? - Oui, je le veux.- Do you want to marry Marie Lise Anaïs Lambert? - Yes, I do.

Note that in many such cases, you add the neutral verb faire to refer to an action.

 

Attention:

When ideas are introduced by the preposition à, then you use the adverbial pronoun y! See Y can replace à + thing / object / location (adverbial pronoun)

 

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Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

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.
Je veux courir dans les champs. Je veux le faire tout le temps.I want to run in the fields. I want to do it all the time.
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.
- C'est le meilleur candidat. - Tu le penses sincèrement ?- He's the best candidate. - You sincerely think that?
- Voulez-vous prendre pour épouse Marie Lise Anaïs Lambert ? - Oui, je le veux.- Do you want to marry Marie Lise Anaïs Lambert? - Yes, I do.
Je pense qu'elle est parfaite. Je l'ai toujours pensé et je le penserai toujours.I think that she's perfect. I've always thought so and I always will.
- Les dauphins sont des mammifères. - Je ne le savais pas.- Dolphins are mammals. - I didn't know that.
- Crois-tu qu'on puisse éradiquer la COVID-19 un jour ? - Je veux le croire.- Do you believe that we could eradicate COVID-19 one day? - I want to believe it.
Est-ce que tu sais marcher sur les mains ? - Non, je ne sais pas le faire.Do you know how to walk on your hands ? - No, I don't [know how to do that].
Je veux tellement qu'ils finissent ensemble. Je le souhaite de tout mon cœur.I want them to end up together so much. I wish it with all my heart.
Si nous pouvions partir en vacances, nous le ferions tout de suite. If we could go on holiday [US:vacation], we would do it straight away.
I'll be right with you...