• A pronoun is a word that you use instead of a noun. Maybe you want to repeat using the same noun or you do not need or want to name someone or something directly. Example: it, her, you, none. There are several different types of pronouns: personal, possessive, indefinite, relative, demonstrative and reflexive. Here we will be focussing on personal pronouns.

Personal Pronouns: subject pronoun

 

A subject pronoun is a word such as I, he, she, one, you, we and they that performs the action that the verb expresses. The subject pronoun stands in for the noun when it is clear who is being talked about.

  • For example: my sister (noun) isn’t here this week. She’ll (pronoun) be back next week.

 

Subject pronouns

Singular                                                                                      Plural

 

J (j’)                                    I                                                        Nous                                  we

Tu /vous                            You                                                   Vous                                  you

Il                                         He                                                     Ils                                       they

Elle                                     She                                                   Elles                                   they

On                                      One

(we/you/they)

 

Tu or vous?

 

  • In French there are two words for saying you: tu and vous.
  • If you are talking to a person who you know well or a child or a relative, you use tu.
  • If you are talking to someone who you don’t know well or a stranger, you use vous.
  • If in doubt, use
  • If you are talking to more than one person, you use vous, whether you know them well or not.
  • Note that the adjective has to agree with tu or vous (feminine and/or plural).

For example: Vous êtes très gentil Monsieur (masculine singular), Vous êtes très gentils, les enfants (masculine plural).

 

Il and elle

 

  • In French we use il for he/it and elle for she/it whether it is a thing or person. Il is used for masculine nouns and elle for feminine nouns. In English, we just use it.

For example: Il est professeur, he’s a teacher.

 

  • Il is also used to talk about the weather, the time and in certain set phrases.

For example: Il pleut, it’s raining

For example: il est 18 heures, it’s 6 pm

For example: Il faut partir, we have to leave/go

 

  • In French we use ils for they and elles for they when talking about a thing or person. Ils is used for masculine nouns and elles for feminine nouns.

 

For example: Elles sont à l’école, they are at school.

 

  • If you are talking about both a masculine and feminine noun at the same time, use ils.

 

For example: Où sont mon père et ma mère ? Ils sont à la maison, where are my father and my mother? They are at home.

 

On

 

  • On is used in everyday French to mean we.

For example: on va à la campagne, we are going to the countryside.

For example: on y va? Shall we go?

 

  • On can also be used sometimes for someone or they.

For example: on a dit que c’est vrai, someone said it’s true.

 

  • On can be used just as we use you in English when we are referring to people in general.

For example: On peut visiter de 9h à 19h, you can visit from 9am to 7pm.

 

  • The form of the verb you use for on is the same as il/elle.

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