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The complement object in French

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The object complement (abbreviated CO) (French: Le complément d'objet) is part of the verbal group and is a transitive verb. It is essential to the proposition.

The object complement can be composed of a noun, a nominal group, a pronoun, an infinitive verb or a subordinate clause.  The object complement is usually placed after the verb, but it can also be placed in front of the verb in an interrogative sentence, or when this object complement is a pronoun.

There are three types of object complements:

The object complement is determined by its position in the sentence and how it is related to the verb it completes.

The direct object in French 

The direct object complement (French: le complément d'objet direct) directly completes the verb without any preposition. The verb used with a COD is a direct transitive verb.

To find the COD of a verb, it is most often enough to ask questions: 

  • Quoi ? (What ?)
  • Qui ? (Who ?)
ExamplesQuestionsTranslations
Je vais voir mon pèreJe vais voir qui ? (I am going to see my father)
Nous avons acheté un bouquet de fleursNous avons acheté quoi ? (We bought a bouquet of flowers)

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The indirect object in French 

The indirect object complement (French: le complément d'objet indirectindirectly completes the verb most often through a preposition. The verb used with an COI is an indirect transitive verb.

To find the COI of the verb, it is most enough to ask questions: 

  • à qui ? à quoi ? (to whom ?) (to what ?)
  • de qui ? de quoi ? (of who ?) (of what ?)
ExamplesQuestionsTranslations
Cette salle appartient à la directriceCette salle appartient à qui ? (This classroom belongs to the director)
Mon père l'aime de tout son coeurMon père l'aime de quoi ? (My father loves her with all his heart)

The position of object pronouns 

Direct and indirect object pronouns are placed before the conjugated verb in the present, future, imperfect and before the auxiliary verb (avoir or être) in compound tenses such as the past completed.  

It is also place before the infinitive verb in structures that include a conjugated verb followed by an infinitive. 

The only structure that requires the object pronoun to be placed after the verb is the affirmative command. 

Object pronounsExamplesTranslations
precede the verb in simple tensesJe le voisI see him
precede the auxiliary verb in compound tensesJe l'ai vuI saw him
precede the infinitive formJe vais le voirI am going to see him
Follow the verb in affirmative commandsRegarde-leLook at him ! 

The second object in French 

The second object complement (French: le complément d'objet second) is very simple. It is used with a direct transitive verb along with the direct object complement and usually with a preposition

It is called second just because there is another complement which is a COD that is in first position. It means that if the sentence has no direct object complement it is always an indirect object

Examples: 

COSTranslationsCOD
J'enseigne l'anglais à mes amis(I am teaching english to my friends)J'enseigne l'anglais
 Pierre a offert un cadeau à son amie(Peter offered a gift to his friend)Pierre a offert un cadeau

enlightenedLearn more about the object complements in our subpages ! 


Exercises

  1. Multiple choice questions about the direct objects in French

Multiple choice questions about the direct objects in French


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Next lessons

1 The direct object (COD) in French Get a comprehensive overview about the direct object complement and study the topic online.
2 The indirect object (COI) in French Get a comprehensive overview about the indirect object complement and study the topic online.
3 The second object (COS) in French Get a comprehensive overview about the second object complement and study the topic online.
4 French direct and indirect object pronouns Get a comprehensive overview about the direct and indirect pronouns and study the topic online.