French Grammar: The Subject Pronoun [ON]

French Grammar: The Subject Pronoun “ON”

French Grammar: The Subject Pronoun “ON”
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Identify:

French Grammar: The Subject Pronoun “ON”
la grammaire française : le pronom personnel sujet “ON”

Subject pronouns (also called Personal Pronouns) let us know who or what is involved when we use verbs! Subject pronouns are used in all aspects of conversation, including people and actions!

The subject pronoun “ON” literally means “one”.  It is a third-person subject pronoun.  Therefore, it always takes the same conjugated verb form as “IL” and “ELLE”.

“ON” is considered an impersonal pronoun because it doesn’t refer to a specific person the way the other French Subject Pronouns do.  “ON” is used to refer to people in general or to a non-specific subject.  Although it literally means one, “ON” can also be used to refer to an indefinite you, they, we, someone, or people.

Study:

Subject pronouns (also called Personal Pronouns) let us know who or what is involved when we use verbs! Subject pronouns are used in all aspects of conversation, including people and actions!

The subject pronoun “ON” literally means “one”.  It is a third-person subject pronoun.  Therefore, it always takes the same conjugated verb form as “IL” and “ELLE”.

“ON” is considered an impersonal pronoun because it doesn’t refer to a specific person the way the other French Subject Pronouns do.  “ON” is used to refer to people in general or to a non-specific subject.  Although it literally means one, “ON” can also be used to refer to an indefinite you, they, we, someone, or people.

Compare the following two sentences:

En France, on parle français.
In France, they speak French. (In this instance, “they” = people in general)

Tes parents?  Ils parlent français?
Your parents?  Do they speak French?  (In this instance, “they” = specific people)

In familiar spoken conversation, “ON” is often used instead of “nous” to mean “we”.

Annick et moi, on étudie ensemble.
Annick and I, we study together.

On sort tout de suite?
Are we leaving right away?

You can also suggest doing something with someone (in the sense of “Shall we … ?” or “How about … ?”) by using “ON” in a question.

Qu’est-ce qu’on fait demain?
What shall we do tomorrow?

On va au centre commercial?
How about going to the mall?

“ON” is also used to express the passive voice.

On cherche une serveuse.
Waitress wanted.

Ici on parle français.
French is spoken here.

Adapt: 

On a besoin d’amis.
One needs friends.

On dit qu’il va pleuvoir cet après-midi.
They say it’s going to rain this afternoon.

On a pris mon crayon.
Someone took my pencil.

On y va?
Shall we go?

On n’a pas le temps.
We don’t have time.

Comment dit-on “hello” en français?
How do you say “hello” in French?

On dit “Bonjour”.
You say “Bonjour”.

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