Stressed Pronouns

Pronoms disjoints / Pronoms toniques

French stressed pronouns
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As indicated by the name, stressed pronouns (also known as disjunctive pronouns and emphatic pronouns) are used for emphasis. Stressed pronouns exist in English, but they are not always used in the same ways or for the same reasons as French stressed pronouns.

Par exemple…

Ça ne marche pas pour moi.   It doesn’t work for me.
Je ne sais pas, moi.   I don’t know.
Il l’a fait lui-même.   He did it himself.

Characteristics of stressed pronouns

  1. May be used with or in place of a subject or object
  2. Must agree with the subject or object in number and gender
  3. Can only refer to people

French stressed pronouns

moi me   nous us
toi you   vous you
lui him   eux them
elle her   elles  
soi* oneself      

Using stressed pronouns

French stressed pronouns may be used in addition to or in place of subject and object pronouns in many different ways:

1. To emphasize the subject; this is known as the accent tonique:

   a) After c’est and ce sont

C’est moi qui l’ai fait.   I did it.
Ce sont eux qui ont menti.   They‘re the ones who lied.

   b) To repeat the subject pronoun

Toi, tu dois partir !   You (yes you) need to leave!
Je n’en sais rien, moi. Et toi ?   I don’t know anything about it. What about you?

2. To act as the subject

   a) When the verb is implied.

Nous aimons skier, mais lui pas du tout.   We like skiing, but he doesn’t (like it) at all.
Moi aussi. / Moi non plus.   Me too. / Me neither.
– Qui a raison ?
– Toi.
  – Who’s right?
– You.

   b) With an emphatic term like aussi, non plus, seul, or surtout.

Moi seul sais la bonne réponse.   Only I know the right answer.
Eux non plus ne doivent travailler.   They don’t have to work either.

3. In place of any subject or object pronouns connected or preceded by a conjunction.

Je ne cherchais ni toi ni lui.   I was looking for neither you nor him.
Comme eux, je suis perplexe.   Like them, I’m puzzled.
Lui et toi avez raison.   You and he are right.

 Note that the verb must be conjugated to match the plural pronoun that would replace them:

  • toi et moi (nous) avons
  • lui et moi (nous) avons
  • elle et moi (nous) avons
  • lui et toi (vous) avez
  • elle et toi (vous) avez
  • lui et elle (ils) ont

4. In place of direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, and reflexive pronouns in certain imperative constructions:

Calme-toi.   Calm down.
Donne-le-moi.   Give it to me.

5. After a preposition

   a) As the object of the preposition

Je veux aller avec toi.   I want to go with you.
Achète-le pour moi.   Buy it for me.
Nous pensons à eux.   We’re thinking about them.

   b) To indicate possession

Ces livres sont à moi.   These books are mine.
J’ai trouvé un anorak à lui.   I found a jacket of his.

6. After que

   a) In comparisons

Je suis plus sportif que lui.   I’m more athletic than he is.
Tu étudies moins que moi.   You study less than I do.

   b) With ne … que

Je ne connais que lui.   I know only him.
Il n’y a que toi qui peux le faire.   It’s only you who can do it, You’re the only one who can do it.

7. With -même(s) for even more emphasis.

Je peux le faire moi-même !   I can do it myself!
Ils le construisent eux-mêmes.   They’re building it themselves.

 * Soi is the third person indefinite pronoun, equivalent to "oneself" or "everyone" in English. It’s used only with indefinite pronouns and impersonal verbs.

Par exemple…

Chacun pour soi.   Every man for himself.
Il faut rester chez soi.   Everyone should stay home.

Learn more: Soi and soi-même.

 Related lessons

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French stressed pronouns


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1 Response

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