Double Object Pronouns

les doubles pronoms personnels

When dealing with single object pronouns there’s no issue with getting any order right. For example:

  • Je mange le fromage -> Je le mange. I eat the cheese -> I eat it.
  • Je téléphone à Marie -> Je lui téléphone. I call Marie -> I call her.

However, things change when dealing with two object pronouns. Here we’ll look at the sentence:

  • Je donne la voiture à mon ami. I give the car to my friend.

If we are to write this out with a single object pronoun there are two choices:

  • Je la donne à mon ami. I give it to my friend. OR
  • Je lui donne la voiture. I give him the car.

In the first sentence above la voiture becomes the direct object pronoun la and in the second sentence à mon ami becomes the indirect object pronoun lui.

But what happens when there are two object pronouns? What order do you put them in? We’ll answer that here.

To answer this question follow this golden rule: If you see a direct and indirect pronoun in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first. But, if the direct and indirect pronouns are both in the third person, the direct object pronoun comes first. This can be summarized in the following table:

order of double object pronouns table

tele, l'lui
sebeforela, l'beforeleurbefore ybeforeen
nous les

Now we’ll look at some example sentences where an indirect object pronoun comes before a direct object pronoun.

  • (verb: donne qqch à qqn)
    Il me donne la pizza -> Il me la donne.
    He gives me the pizza. He gives it to me.
  • (verb: envoyer qqch à qqn)
    Je vous envoie la lettre. -> Je vous l’envoie.
    I send you the letter. -> I send it to you.
  • (verb: dire qqch à qqn)
    Il nous dit la vérité. -> Il nous la dit.
    He tells us the truth. -> He tells it to us.

In this second group of example sentences we’re dealing with both the direct and indirect object pronouns in the third person. Look up at the table above and you’ll see we’re maintaining the right order.

  • (verb: expliquer qqch à qqn)
    Il explique la situation à son ami. -> Il la lui explique.
    He explains the situation to his friend. He explains it to him.
  • (verb: offrir qqch à qqn)
    Elle offre un cadeau à son fils. Elle le lui offre.
    She offers a gift to her son. She offers it to him.
  • (verb: servir qqch à qqn)
    Il sert un repas à ses amis. Il le leur sert.
    He serves a meal to his friends. He serves it to them.

Now what about sentences with y and en. Again, use the table above to determine the right placement of the object pronouns.

par example:

  • Elle m’ammène à la plage -> Elle m’y ammène.
    She brings me to the beach. -> She brings me there.
  • Il te donne du fromage. -> Il t’en donne.
    He gives you (some) cheese. -> He gives you some.
  • Il ammène sa femme au cinema. -> Il l’y ammene.
    He brings his wife to the movies. He brings here there.
  • Elle donne du yaourt à sa fille. -> Elle lui en donne.
    She gives (some) yogurt to her daughter. She gives some to her.

how do I form the passé composé?

When forming the passé composé, put the two object pronouns between the subject and the auxiliary verb. In the negation, wrap ne…pas around both the object pronouns and the auxiliary verb. (Isn’t learning French fun?)

  • Je t’ai donné la pizza -> Je te l’ai donnée.
    I gave you the pizza. -> I gave it to you.
  • Je ne t’ai pas donné la pizza. -> Je ne te l’ai pas donnée.
    I didn’t give you the pizza. I didn’t give it to you.
  • Il m’a rendu la voiture. -> Il me l’a rendue.
    He returned the car to me. He returned it to me.
  • Je leur ai parlé du projet. Je leur en ai parlé.
    I spoke to them about the project. I spoke to them about it.
  • Je ne leur ai pas parlé du projet. -> Je ne leur en ai pas parlé.
    I didn’t talk to them about the project. I didn’t talk to them about it.
  • Je l’ai ammené à la plage. -> Je l’y ai ammené.
    I brought him to the beach. I brought him there.

It’s video time: Watch Elsa teach double object pronouns:

Video source: Learn French With Elsa

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