Subject pronouns indicate who or what is performing the action of a verb.
|Je suis prêt.||I‘m ready.|
|Nous devons partir.||We need to leave.|
Characteristics of subject pronouns
- Serve as the subject of verbs
- May be singular or plural, masculine or feminine to agree with the noun (subject) they replace
French subject pronouns
The different subject pronouns are determined by number and person.
- Number is divided into “singular” (one) and “plural” (more than one).
- Person includes “first person” (the speaker), “second person” (the listener), and “third person” (neither the speaker nor the listener).
Thus with two numbers and three persons, there are a total of six grammatical persons, each of which has at least one subject pronoun:
|3rd person||he, it||il||they||ils|
|one, we, they||on|
|J’aime le chocolat.||I like chocolate.|
|Oui, j’aime le chocolat.||Yes, I like chocolate.|
In addition to "he" and "she," il and elle mean “it” when they replace a noun of that gender, so le livre (the book) becomes il and la pomme (the apple) becomes elle.
- Ils is used for men, masculine nouns, and mixed gender groups – it is the default when referring to plural groups.
- Elles can be used only for a group of women and/or feminine nouns.
On is a special case. It can mean "you," "they," or people in general, and it can also be an informal replacement for "we." Regardless of meaning, on is always conjugated as a third person singular – learn more.
|Quiz: Subject pronouns|
- All about on
- Tu vs vous
- Agreement with vous
- Informal subject pronouns
- Inversion with je
- Introduction to French verbs
- Introduction to verb conjugation