The indirect object (COI) in French
What is the indirect object complement in French ?
The indirect object complement (French: le complément d'objet indirect) is an element of the verbal group, introduced by a preposition, which makes it possible to specify the object of an action performed. The COI thus makes it possible to complete a verb preceded by a preposition.
It is a complement of verb. It represents the being or the thing that indirectly receives the action that the subject does.
- Léo parle à son ami. (Leo is talking to his friend)
- Maria montre à ses élèves. (Maria is showing to his students)
- Je me souviens de mes vacances. (I remember my holidays)
How to recognize the COI in French ?
You have to find out the subject and the verb before the COI. The indirect object complement answers the following questions:
- Subject + verb + à qui ?
- Subject + verb + à quoi ?
- Subject + verb + de qui ?
- Subject + verb + de quoi ?
In these three examples, you will analyse the sentence to find out the COI.
Selena téléphone à son amie. (Selena is calling her friend)
- The subject is "Selena"
- The verb is "téléphone"
- Now, ask the question "à qui ?" because we are talking about a person.
- Selena téléphone à qui ? → à son amie.
Mes parents se sont souvenus de nos bêtises. (Our parents remembered our foolishness)
- The subject is "Mes parents"
- The verbs is "se sont souvenus"
- Now, ask the questions "de quoi ?" because we are talking about things or objects.
- Mes parents se sont souvenus de quoi ? → de nos bêtises.
Note that other questions are possible depending on the preposition used but the main used are "de" and "à".
- Je crois en nous. je crois en qui ? → en nous. (I believe in us)
- Il compte sur votre amitié. il compte sur qui ? → sur votre amitié. (He counts on your friendship)
The position of the COI in French
Like the COD, the COI usually follows the verb except if it's a pronoun. In this case, the indirect object can be replaced with pronouns like:
If it is a person you can use the reflexive pronouns.
|Léo parle de politique||Il en parle||(Leo talks about policy)|
|Le professeur enseigne aux élèves||Le professeur leur enseigne||(The teacher is teaching them)|
The grammatical category of the COI in French
The grammatical nature (French: la nature grammaticale) of an indirect object can be:
- noun or nominal group
- infinitive verb
- subordinate clause
|Noun or nominal group||Le guide parle aux touristes||(The tour guide is talking to the tourist)|
|Pronoun||Le guide leur parle||(The tour guide is talking to them)|
|Infinitive verb||Cette chose m'a permis de comprendre la vérité||(This thing allowed me to understand the truth)|
|Subordinate clause||Nous obeissons à ce que vous nous dites.||(We do what you say)|
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