French Grammar: Subject Pronouns

French Grammar: Subject Pronouns

French Grammar: Subject Pronouns

Identify:

French Grammar: Subject Pronouns (also called “Personal Pronouns”)
la grammaire française: les pronoms personnels sujets

Subject Pronouns / 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, including people and actions!

Study:

In English, we don’t use grammar to address people formally and informally. But in French, different subject pronouns and verb conjugations are used to address different people.


Subject (Personal) Pronouns

JE (J’) : I NOUS : We
TU : You (familiar) VOUS : You (formal) / You (plural)
IL / ELLE / ON : He (It) / She (It) / One ILS (Masc / Mixed) / ELLES (fem) : They

The JE form lets us talk about ourselves in the first person!
(NOTE:  JE changes to J’ before a verb that starts with a vowel or silent ‘h’.)

The TU form is used to address people informally (familiar). It is usually used with small children, pets, family members, and friends.

IL is used to talk about a male person or animal, or about a masculine object or concept.

ELLE is used to talk about a female person or animal, or about a feminine object or concept.

The ON form is an impersonal pronoun and it literally means “one”.  It is also used informally to replace “we”, “you”, “they”, or “people in general”.  You can use ON in French the same way you’d use “One” in English.

The pronoun NOUS lets you talk about yourself plus one or more other people.  Use NOUS in French the same way you use “We” in English.

The pronoun VOUS can be used to address one person formally (polite).  It is also used to address more than one person (either formally, informally, or mixed). It is used in professional conversations, with people of authority (with teachers, administrators, managers, for example), with strangers, and with older people as a sign of respect.  When used to address more than one person, VOUS has the sense of “you all” or “y’all” in English.

ILS is used to talk about a group of males exclusively OR a mixed group of males and females.

ELLES is used to talk about a group of females exclusively.  If there is a group of nine women, and one man enters the picture, the group is now grammatically masculine (ILS).  (Sorry, ladies!)

Adapt:

Comment vous appelez-vous?
What is your name (formal)?

Je m’appelle Jean.

My name is John.

Comment t’appelles-tu?
What is your name (familiar)?

Je m’appelle Marie.
My name is María.

Ils sont d’où?
Where are they (masculine or mixed) from?

Ils sont des États-Unis.

They (masculine or mixed) are from the United States.

Comment vont-elles?

How are they (feminine)?

Elles vont bien, merci.
They (feminine) are well, thanks!

Nous allons au cinéma!
We are going to the cinema!

Vous êtes mes étudiants.

Y’all are my students.

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