French Grammar: Subject Pronouns – TU and VOUS

French Grammar: Subject Pronouns - Tu and Vous

French Grammar: Subject Pronouns – Tu and Vous

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French Grammar: Subject Pronouns – TU and VOUS
la grammaire française: les pronoms personnels sujets – TU et VOUS

Subject pronouns (also called “Personal Pronouns” – les pronoms personnels sujets) let us know who or what is involved when we use verbs! Subject pronouns are used in all aspects of conversation. They identify people and their actions!

Both of the French subject pronouns TUand VOUS mean “you”, but they are NOT interchangeable.  The form of “you” that is used depends on very different circumstances.

Study:

In both English and in French, different subject pronouns and verb conjugations are used to identify people and their actions.  In English, we use the subject pronoun you to address people both formally and informally when we are speaking directly to them. But in French, an important distinction is made to directly address people with whom one is familiar (TU) vs. people with whom one is not on a first name basis (VOUS).

TU means “you” in French.  It’s used when speaking directly to someone you’re on a first name basis with (for example: your friends, classmates, and other students), as well as with your family members, children, and pets.  For this reason, the TU form is called the ‘familiar’ or ‘informal’ form of “you”.

Example:

Tu es mon meilleur ami.
You (informal) are my best friend.

VOUS also means “you” in French.  But this form is used when speaking directly to someone you don’t know well or with whom you’re not on a first name basis.  It’s also used when speaking to someone older than you, someone in a position of authority (a professor, a doctor, etc.), or someone else to whom you want to show respect.  For this reason, the VOUS form is called the ‘formal’ form of “you”.

Example:

Vous êtes mon professeur préféré.
You (formal) are my favorite professor.

VOUS is also the plural form of “you”.  (The closest we come to this in English is with “y’all”.)

So when you’re speaking to more than one person in French, always use VOUS, regardless of your relationship to those people.

Example:

Anne, tu es américaine.
Anne, you (informal) are American.


Monsieur Smith, vous êtes américain.
Mr. Smith, you (formal) are American.

Anne et Monsieur Smith, vous êtes américains.
Anne and Mr. Smith, you (plural) are American.

Adapt:

Tu as le livre pour la classe de français?

Do you (informal) have the book for the French class?

Non, je n’ai pas le livre pour la classe de français.

No, I do not have the book for the French class.

Parles-tu anglais?

Do you (informal) speak English?

Oui, je parle anglais.

Yes, I speak English

Est-ce que vous êtes le professeur de français?

Are you (formal) the French professor?

Oui, je suis le professeur de français.

Yes, I am the French professor.

Est-ce que vous avez les devoirs?
Do you (formal) have the homework?

Oui, j’ai les devoirs.

Yes, I have the homework.

Monique et Édouard, vous allez à la bibliothèque ce soir?

Monique and Edouard, are you (plural) going to the library this evening?

Non, nous n’allons pas à la bibliothèque ce soir.
No, we are not going to the library this evening.

Monsieur et Madame LeBrun, est-ce que vous habitez ici?

Mr. and Mrs. LeBrun, do you (plural) live here?

Oui, nous habitons ici.

Yes, we live here.

Monsieur Thibaud et Janine, est-ce que vous entrez dans la salle de classe maintenant?

Mr. Thibaud and Janine, are you (plural) entering the classroom now?

Oui, nous entrons dans la salle de classe maintenant.

Yes, we are entering the classroom now.

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