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French pronouns

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What is a pronoun ?

Pronouns (French: les pronoms) are words which you can use to replace a noun or a noun phrase. They are commonly used to avoid naming someone or something directly. Also, they save you from repeating nouns constantly.

In general you have to distinguish between 8 different types of pronouns in the French language.

  1. Personal pronouns
  2. Possessive pronouns
  3. Reflexive pronouns
  4. Demonstrative pronouns
  5. Relative pronouns
  6. Indefinite pronouns
  7. Interrogative pronouns
  8. Adverbial pronouns

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Personal pronouns

The personal pronoun (French: le pronom personel) is one of the most important pronouns when it comes to learning the French language. You can use it to talk about yourself, but also to talk about others or to refer to objects or animals.  

Similar to the English language they can be either subjective or objective.

Subject pronouns

They are the equivalent of the English personal pronouns: 

  • je (I)
  • tu (you)
  • il (he)
  • elle (she)
  • on (we familiar)
  • nous (we)
  • vous (you)
  • ils (they: males)
  • elles (they: females)


Subject pronounsTranslations
il est souvent en retard(He is always late)
Nous pensions que vous devrez faire la paix(We think you should make peace)

Object pronouns

Those pronouns are used to replace the subject in a COI sentence:

  • me
  • te
  • le
  • la
  • lui
  • nous
  • vous
  • leur
  • les 


Object pronounsTranslations
Marie m'a donné le stylo(Marie gave me the pen)
Théo lui a acheté des bonbons(Theo bought him candies)

Possessive pronouns

Le mien, le tien, le sien are examples of possessive pronouns (French: le pronom possessif). They indicate possessions and demonstrate that one thing belongs to another.


Ma passion, c’est la musique. Et la tienne Marie ?(Music is my passion. What’s yours, Marie ?)
Tes parents sont américains ? Les miens sont français.(Your parents are americans ? Mine are French.)

Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns (French: le pronom relatif) are used to introduce relative clauses and furthermore aim to describe or explain a previously mentioned noun (the antecedent).

They are: 

  • qui 
  • que
  • dont
  • ce dont / ce que / ce qui
  • lequel
  • auquel 
  • duquel


Relative pronounsTranslations
L’homme qui parle français, est mon copain.(The man who is speaking is my friend.)
Les amis que je vois le plus sont Anna et Nicole(The friends that I see the most are Anna and Nicole)
C'est la maison où habite ma grand-mère(This is the house where my grand mother lives)
Tu te souviens de l'histoire dont tu m'as parlé ?(Do you remember the story you told me about ?)

Demonstrative pronouns

You can use demonstrative pronouns (French: le pronom démonstratif) to emphasize or highlight certain people and things. Also, they can refer to something nearby or far away.

Demonstrative pronouns are 

  • ceux, celles
  • ceci, ca, cela, ce
  • celui, celui-ci, celui-là
  • celle, celle-ci, celle-là


Demonstrative pronounsTranslationsReferences
Je veux parler de celles que tu m'as donné(I am talking about the ones you gave me)refer to dresses
Ceci est une preuve suffisante pour te renvoyer(This is a sufficient evidence to expel you)refer to an evidence
Celui-là, je le mangerai après(I will eat this one after)refer to this cake
Celle de ton père est toujours en panne(Your father's is still broken down)refer to his car

Indefinite pronouns

Indefinite pronouns (French: le pronom indéfini) are used to speak about something unspecified or unidentified. They also aim to describe people or things in a general way.

Some of the indefinite pronouns are for example tout, personne, rien, chaque, chacun and quelque chose.


Tout le monde s'est amusé.(Everyone had fun.)
Je n’ai vu personne.(I didn’t see anyone).

Interrogative pronouns

The interrogative pronouns (French: les pronoms interrogatifs) are pronouns like qui, que, quoi, lequel and quel which are being used to introduce a question.

They aim to replace a noun that we’re asking about.


Que cherches-tu ? (What are you looking for?)
Qu’est-ce qui se passe ? (What’s happening ?)

Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns (French: le pronom réfléchi) such as me, te, se, nous, vous, se are being used exclusively with pronominal verbs.

They are always placed in front of the reflexive verb.


Reflexive pronounsTranslation
Je me prépare(I prepare myself.)
Michel se lave les mains.(Michel washes his hands.)

Adverbial pronouns

In the French language we have two different kinds of adverbial pronouns: en and y.

Like adverbs they aim to replace words in a phrase which are used to imply quantities, qualities, properties and relations.


Je n’en sais rien(I’m leaving)
J’y vais(I don’t know anything about that.)

enlightenedCheck our subpages to learn more about these types of pronouns ! 


  1. Multiple choice questions about the pronouns in French

Multiple choice questions about the pronouns in French

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Next lessons

1 French personal pronouns - je, tu, il Find out more about the usage of personal pronouns in French and get a comprehensive overview.
2 French possessive pronouns - le mien, le tien Get an overview about all possessive pronouns in the French language and study them online
3 French reflexive pronouns - me, te, se Get an overview about all reflexive pronouns in the French language and study them online
4 French demonstrative pronouns - celui, celle, ceux Get an overview about all French demonstrative pronouns in the French language and study them online
5 French relative pronouns - qui, que, qu' Find out more about the use of relative pronouns in French and get a comprehensive overview.
6 French indefinite pronouns - tout, chacun Find out more about the use of indefinite pronouns in French and get a comprehensive overview.
7 French interrogative pronouns - qui, que, lequel Get an overview about all interrogative pronouns in the French language and study them online.
8 French adverbial pronouns - en, y Get an overview about all adverbial pronouns in the French language and study them online.