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The second object (COS) in French

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What is the second object complement in French ? 

The second object complement (French: le complément d'objet second) is a complement that is preceded by a preposition. It completes the direct object complement in a sentence.

To make it simple, the COI changes its name and becomes the second object complement: COS.


Pierre donne un cadeau à son frèrePierre donne un cadeau à son frère(Peter gives a gift to his brother)
Julia achète un foulard à sa mèreJulia achète un foulard à sa mère(Julia buys a scarf for her mom)

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How to recognize the COS in French ? 

The COS indicates who benefits or who harms the action made by the subject.

The complement is introduced by a preposition and is attached to a verb that is already built with a COD (after the latter, so it comes second)

The presence of the COD is mandatory in this type of construction, otherwise the sentence will be incorrect.

  • Subject + verb + COD + COS


Roméo annonce une bonne nouvelle à sa famille. (Romeo announce a good news to his family)

  • The subject is "Roméo"
  • The transitive verb is "annonce"
  • The direct object is "une bonne nouvelle"
  • "à sa famille" is a COI because you ask the question "à qui ?" 
  • But it is the second complement in the sentence, therefore it becomes a COS

Papa a demandé une nouvelle voiture de service à son directeur général. (Dad asked a new service car to his CEO)

  • The subject is "papa"
  • The transitive verb is "a demandé"
  • The COD is "une nouvelle voiture de service"
  • "à son directeur" is a COI because you ask the question "à qui ?"
  • But it is a second complement in the sentence, therefore it becomes the COS

The position of the COS in French 

The COS can be placed in different ways in a sentence:

  • After the first COD
  • If the COS is a pronoun, it always stands before the verb.
  • If the COD and the COS are pronouns, we look at their grammatical person: in the 3rd person → the COD is before the COS; 1st and 2nd person => the COS is before the COD
  • If the verb is imperative, the COS is after the COD.


After the CODPapa a donné sa voiturePapa à donné sa voiture à maman(Dad gave his car to mom)
PronounPapa a donné sa voiture à maman Papa lui a donné sa voiture(Dad gave her his car)

Papa l'a donné à maman

La maîtresse prête un stylo à Marcel

Papa la lui a donné 

La maîtresse me le prête

(Dad gave it to mom)

(The teacher lends it to me)

ImperativeDonne lui ton sacDonnes-le lui(Give it to him)

enlightenedIf the COS is usually placed after the COD, it sometimes happens to be placed before:

  • Le client a commandé au vendeur une voiture. (The client ordered to the seller a car)
  • Le client a commandé une voiture au vendeur. (The client ordered a car to the seller)

​The grammatical category of the COS in French

As a general rule, the COS can not be deleted and it is part of the verbal group and a sentence can have two COS at the same time. 

The grammatical nature of the COS can be: 

  • A noun 
  • A nominal group 
  • A pronoun


NounSelena emprunte un bijou à sa soeur(Selena borrows a jewel to her sister)
Nominal groupPierre offre une montre au nouveau marié(Peter offers a watch to the new bride)
PronounMarie lui donne un dilemme(Maria gaves him an ultimatum)


  1. Fill in the blank exercise about second object pronouns in French
  2. Drag and Drop exercise about the COS in French

Fill in the blank exercise about second object pronouns in French

Drag and Drop exercise about the COS in French

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