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Introduction to French Subject Pronouns

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1 Introduction to French Subject Pronouns

2 The subject of a verb is the person or thing which performs the action of that verb:
   Tom travaille.    Tom is working.    Mes parents habitent en Espagne.    My parents live in Spain.    La voiture ne veut pas démarrer.    The car won't start.

3 Subject pronouns replace this person or thing:
  Il travaille.    He is working.    Ils habitent en Espagne.    They live in Spain.    Elle ne veut pas démarrer.    It won't start.

4 When studying French, you must understand subject pronouns before you can begin learning how to conjugate verbs, because the forms of verbs change for each subject pronoun.

5 French subject pronouns
Singular 1st person je I 2nd person tu you 3rd person il he, it elle she, it on one Plural 1st person nous we 2nd person vous you 3rd person ils they (m) elles they (f)

6 The first person singular French subject pronoun je is used a lot like its English equivalent I
Je travaille tous les jours.    I work every day.    Je veux voir ce film.    I want to see this movie.    Je sais ce qui s'est passé.    I know what happened.

7 1. Unlike I, je is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.
Hier, je suis allé à la plage.    Yesterday, I went to the beach.    Non, je ne veux pas voir ce film.    No, I don't want to see this movie.    Dois-je commencer maintenant ?    Do I have to start now?

8 Je contracts to j' when followed by a vowel or mute h.
J'aime danser.    I like to dance.    Tu sais, j'ai le même problème.    You know, I have the same problem.    Oui, j'habite en France.    Yes, I live in France.

9 French Subject Pronouns: tu, vous = you
French has two different words for you: tu and vous. In English, the second person subject pronoun is always you, no matter how many people you're talking to, and whether you know them or not. In French, these distinctions are very important - you must understand when and why to use each of them. Otherwise, you may inadvertantly insult someone by using the wrong you.

10 Tu is the familiar you, which demonstrates a certain closeness and informality. Use tu when speaking to one friend peer / colleague relative child pet

11 Vous is the formal and plural you
Vous is the formal and plural you. It is used to show respect or maintain a certain distance or formality with someone. Use vous when speaking to someone you don't know well an older person an authority figure anyone to whom you wish to show respect

12 Vous is also the plural you - you have to use it when talking to more than one person, no matter how close you are.

13 French Subject Pronouns: il, elle = he, she, it
The French third person singular subject pronouns il and elle are used just like their English equivalents he and she when talking about people.    Il aime skier.    He likes to ski.    Elle veut être médecin.    She wants to be a doctor.

14 However, they can also both mean it
However, they can also both mean it. In French, all nouns are either masculine or feminine, so to replace them, you use the subject pronouns corresponding to that gender.    Je vais au musée - il est ouvert jusqu'à 20h00.    I'm going to the museum - it's open until 8pm.    Où est la voiture ? Elle est chez Jean.    Where's the car? It's at Jean's place.

15 So just remember that il can refer to a male, he, as well a masculine noun, it. Elle can refer to a female, she, or a feminine noun, it.

16 On is the indefinite pronoun and literally means one
On is the indefinite pronoun and literally means one. It's often equivalent to the passive voice in English. On ne devrait pas poser cette question.    One shouldn't ask that question.    On demande : caissier.    Cashier wanted.    On ne dit pas ça.    That isn't said.    Ici on parle français.    French is spoken.

17 In addition, on is an informal replacement for we, you, they, someone, or people in general.
On va sortir ce soir.    We're going out tonight.    Alors les enfants, que veut-on faire ?    OK kids, what do you want to do?    On dit que ce resto est bon.    They say that this restaurant is good.    On a trouvé mon portefeuille.    Someone found my wallet.    On est fou !    People are crazy!

18 The first person plural French subject pronoun nous is used exactly like we in English.
   Nous allons en Égypte.    We're going to Egypt.    J'espère que nous arriverons à temps.    I hope we arrive in time.    Devons-nous travailler ensemble ?    Do we have to work together?   

19 French has two third person plural subject pronouns, ils and elles, and they both mean they. Ils is used for groups of men as well as mixed-gender groups. Je ne vois pas mes frères. Sont-ils déjà partis ?    I don't see my brothers. Did they already leave?    Paul et Anne viennent, mais ils sont en retard.    Paul and Anne are coming, but they're running late.

20 Ils is also used for groups of all masculine nouns and groups of mixed masculine-feminine nouns.
J'ai trouvé tes livres - ils sont sur la table.    I found your books - they're on the table.    Le stylo et la plume ? Ils sont tombés par terre.    The pen and pencil? They fell on the floor.

21 Elles can be used only when every single person or thing you're referring to is female or feminine.
Où sont Annette et Marie ? Elles arrivent.    Where are Annette and Marie? They're on their way.    J'ai acheté des pommes - elles sont dans la cuisine.    I bought some apples - they're in the kitchen.

22 Notes: Even when talking about a room full of hundred women and one man, you have to use ils.   Ils and elles are pronounced exactly like il and elle, respectively, except when they need to liaison.

23 Fin

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