Indirect objects are the people or things in a sentence to
or for whom/what
* the action of the verb occurs.
I'm talking to Pierre
Je parle à Pierre
am I talking? To Pierre
He buys books for the students
Il achète des livres pour les étudiants
does he buy books? - For the students
*"For" only in the sense of a recipient (I bought the gift for you), not when it means "on behalf of" (he speaks for all the members).
Indirect object pronouns are the words that replace
the indirect object, and in French they can only refer to a person
or other animate noun
.(1) The French indirect object pronouns are
change to m'
, respectively, in front of a vowel or mute H
Like direct object pronouns, French indirect object pronouns are usually(2) placed in front of the verb
I'm talking to him
He buys books for them
achète des livres.
I'm giving the bread to you
donne le pain.
She wrote to me
: When deciding between direct and indirect objects, the general rule is that if the person or thing is preceded by the preposition à
, that person/thing is an indirect object.(1) If it's not preceded by a preposition, it is a direct object. If it's preceded by any other preposition, it can't be replaced by an object pronoun. For more information, please see direct vs indirect objects
In English, an indirect object can be animate or inanimate. This is also true in French; however, an indirect object pronoun can replace the indirect object only when it is an animate noun: person or animal. When you have an indirect object that's not a person or animal, it can only be replaced with the adverbial pronoun y
. So "pay attention to him" would be fais attention à lui
, but "pay attention to it" (e.g., the program, my explanation) would be fais-y attention
- learn more
With most verbs(3) and in most tenses and moods(4), when the indirect object pronoun is first or second person, it has to precede the verb:
He's talking to me = Il me parle
, not "Il parle à moi
When the pronoun refers to the third person, you can use a stressed pronoun
after the verb and the preposition à
in order to stress the distinction between masculine and feminine:
I'm talking to her = Je lui parle, à elle
However, with some verbs the indirect object pronoun has
to follow the verb - see verbs that don't allow a preceding indirect object pronoun
The imperative has different rules for word order
Test on indirect object pronouns