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Subject pronouns are a type of personal pronoun that 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 French subject pronoun:
|3rd person||il||he, it||ils||they|
|on||one, we, they|
- Je is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.
- Je contracts to j’ in front of a vowel or mute h. (Informally, it also contracts in front of consonants – learn more.)
|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|
- All about on
- Tu vs vous
- Compound subjects
- Agreement with vous
- Gender-neutral pronouns
- Informal subject pronouns
- Inversion with je
- Personal pronouns
- The Pronommeur
- Introduction to verb conjugation
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