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French Verbs and Indirect Object Pronouns

Some verbs don't allow a preceding indirect object pronoun (COI)


In French, à plus a person can usually be replaced by an indirect object pronoun (COI):

   J'ai donné le livre à mon frère - Je lui ai donné le livre.
   I gave the book to my brother - I gave him the book.

   Il parle à toi et à moi - Il nous parle.
   He's talking to you and me - He's talking to us.

However, a few French verbs and expressions* do not allow a preceding indirect object pronoun, and what to use instead depends on whether the COI is a person or a thing.

COI = Person

When the indirect object is a person, you must keep the preposition à after the verb, and follow it with a stressed pronoun:

   Je pense à mes sœurs - Je pense à elles.
   I'm thinking about my sisters - I'm thinking about them.
   Wrong: xx Je leur pense xx

   Il doit s'habituer à moi. (no change)
   He has to get used to me.
   Wrong: xx Il doit m'habituer xx

   Fais attention à ton prof - Fais attention à lui.
   Pay attention to your teacher - Pay attention to him.
   Wrong: xx Fais-lui attention xx

It is also possible, though rare, to replace the person with the adverbial pronoun y:

   Je pense à mes sœurs - J'y pense.
   Il doit s'habituer à moi. - Il doit s'y habituer.
   Fais attention à ton prof - Fais-y attention.

COI = Thing

When the indirect object is a thing, you have two equally acceptable choices: You can either keep the preposition à as above but follow it with an indefinite demonstrative pronoun, or you can replace the preposition and indirect object with y:

   Je songe à notre jour de mariage - Je songe à cela, J'y songe.
   I'm dreaming about our wedding day - I'm dreaming about it.
   Wrong: xx Je lui songe xx

   Fais attention à la leçon - Fais attention à cela, Fais-y attention.
   Pay attention to the lesson - Pay attention to it.
   Wrong: xx Fais-lui attention xx

   Il faut penser à tes responsabilités - Il faut penser à cela, Il faut y penser.
   Think about your responsibilities - Think about them.
   Wrong: xx Il faut lui penser xx

*French verbs and expressions that don't allow a preceding indirect object pronoun

   en appeler à     to appeal to, address

   avoir affaire à     to have to deal with

   avoir recours à     to have recourse to

   croire à     to believe in

   être à     to belong to

   faire allusion à     to allude to

   faire appel à     to appeal to, address

   faire attention à     to pay attention to

   s'habituer à     to get used to

   penser à     to think of, about

   recourir à     to have recourse to

   renoncer à     to give up, renounce

   revenir à     to come back to

   rêver à     to dream of

   songer à     to think, dream of

   tenir à     to be fond of, care about

   venir à     to come to
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