Subject Pronouns

French subject pronouns
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Pronoms sujets

Subject pronouns are a type of personal pronoun that indicate who or what is performing the action of a verb.

Par exemple…

Je suis prêt.   I‘m ready.
Nous devons partir.   We need to leave.

Characteristics of subject pronouns

  1. Serve as the subject of verbs.
  2. 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 French subject pronoun:

singular   plural
1st person je* I   nous we
2nd person tu you   vous you
3rd person il he, it   ils they
elle she, it   elles they
on one, we, they    

 * Notes

Par exemple…

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.

  À noter : There are two French words for "you": learn more.

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.

 As in English, plural pronouns replace two or more singular pronouns: you and I = we (nous), you and he = you (vous), etc. But when you actually want to use two singular pronouns – saying something like "you and I" as opposed to "we" – French uses stressed pronouns instead.

Quiz: Subject pronouns

 Related lessons

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French subject pronouns

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