Indirect Object Pronouns

Les pronoms compléments indirects: me, te, lui, nous, vous, leur

  • An indirect object pronoun replaces the person to whom a verb is carried out. It replaces only people or animals. “I talk to my brother/my dog -> I talk to him.”
  • The golden rule here is this: Verbs followed by the preposition à trigger the usage of the indirect object pronoun.
  • Unlike the direct object pronoun, we do not distinguish between gender. Lui and leur are used for him, her and them.

indirect object pronouns in French

Je -> me (m’) -> me
Tu -> te (t’) -> you
il -> lui -> him
elle -> lui -> her
nous -> nous us
vous -> vous you
ils -> leur them (masculine)
elles -> leur (feminine)

example sentences

  • Je téléphone à mon frere. Je lui telephone. I call my brother. I call him.
  • Je téléphone à ma soeur. Je lui telephone. I call my sister. I call her.
  • Je donne la pizza à mon ami. Le lui donne la pizza.  I give the pizza to my friend. I give the pizza to him.
  • Je parle à Jean et Philippe. Je leur parle. I speak to Jean and Philippe. I speak to them.
  • Je parle à Marie et Claire. Je leur parle. I speak to Marie and Claire. I speak to them.
  • Je réponds à Claude. Je lui réponds. I answer Claude. I answer him.
  • J’écris à Paul. Je lui écris. I write to Paul. I write to him.
  • Je te téléphone. I call you.
  • Tu m’écris. You write to me.
  • Je vous réponds. I’m answering you.

In the negation keep the indirect object pronoun before the verb and wrap ne…pas around the verb.

  • Je ne lui téléphone pas. I’m not calling him.
  • Je ne leur réponds pas. I’m not answering them.
  • Je ne lui écris pas. I’m not writing her.

In the passé composé wrap ne…pas around the indirect object pronoun and the auxiliary verb.

Unlike the direct object pronoun, you do not have to make the past participle agree with the indirect object pronoun.

  • Je ne lui ai pas téléphoné. I didn’t call him.
  • Je ne leur ai pas répondu. I didn’t answer  them.
  • Je ne lui ai pas écrit. I didn’t write her.

To make questions put the indirect object pronoun before the verb.

  • Est-ce que tu lui parles? Are you talking to him?
  • Lui parles-tu? Are you talking to him?
  • Est-ce que tu lui as parlé? Did you talk to him?
  • Lui as-tu parlé? Did you talk to him?

In affirmative commands (in the imperative) put the indirect object pronoun after the verb with a hyphen.  Me an te become moi and toi. In negative commands keep me and te and place the pronoun before the verb with ne…pas wrapped around the indirect object pronoun and verb.

  • Téléphone-lui! Call him!
  • Ne lui telephone pas! Don’t call him!
  • Écrivez-leur! Write to them!
  • Ne leur écrivez pas! Don’t write to them!
  • Donne-moi ta voiture! Give me your car!
  • Ne lui donne pas la voiture! Don’t give him the car!

Some verbs that are direct in English are indirect in French. Hence, the indirect object pronoun is required for making sentences with these verbs.

répondre à quelqu’un to answer somebody
obéir à quelqu’un to obey somebody
téléphoner à quelqu’un to call somebody
plaire à quelqu’un to please somebody

  • Le repas lui plaît. He likes the meal.
  • Ils ne leur obéissent pas. They don’t obey them.
  • Il ne leur téléphone pas. He’s not calling them.

Some verbs take a direct and indirect object. Example sentences provided. Remember that lui can translate to him or her.

Envoyer quelque chose à quelqu’un to send something to somebody
Dire quelque chose à quelqu’un to say something to somebody
Demander quelque chose à quelqu’un to ask somebody something
Prêter quelque chose à quelqu’un to lend somebody something.

  • Le lui envoie la colis. I send her the package. 
  • Je lui dis la vérité. I tell him the truth.
  • Je lui demande un service. I ask him for a favor
  • Je lui prête ma voiture. I lend her my car.

There are several verbs where à is used in French when from is using in English. These can be very tricky. Example sentences are provided.

Emprunter quelque chose à quelqu’un to borrow something from somebody
Acheter quelque chose à quelqu’un to buy something from somebody
Louer quelque chose à quelqu’un to rent something from somebody

  • Elle emprunte la voiture à son pere. She borrows the car from her father.
  • J’achète la voiture à mon ami. I buy the car from my friend.
  • Je loue la chambre à mon ami. I rent the room from my friend.
Watch the video: When to use the direct and indirect objects (in French)

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