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Titles and Modes of Address

All (adult) strangers should be addressed as Monsieur, MadameMademoiselle. This rule applies to both adults and children.

  • Pardon, Madame, vous pourriez m’indiquer la gare ?
  • Excuse me, ma’am, could you show me the way to the station?

People in particular professional positions – priest, mayor, M.P. – should be addressed as:

  • Monsieur le curé
  • Madame le maire
  • Monsieur le deputé

When addressing someone you have already met, you may have to choose between surname and first name. While the younger generation tend to use first names as freely a the English/Americans, with older people, be cautious about dropping courtesy titles unless you are invited to do so. Because of the complexity of the choice between tu and vous, some older people may be reluctant to rush onto first-name terms.

To make a polite reference in the third person to someone, use the following:

  • le monsieur | the gentleman/the man
  • la dame | the lady
  • la jeune femme | the lady/young lady (approximately 18-40 years old)
  • la jeune fille | the young lady (approximately 12-20 years old)

Note: la fille is not a polite way to refer to a girl (roughly translated as “chick”). But groups of young people may be described as les gars (the guys) and les filles (the girls).

For more on this topic, check out my previous post Tu or Vous.


Enjoy your week!

A la prochaine…

Courtney

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Order & Placement of Double Object Pronouns

English doesn’t allow a direct and indirect object pronoun to occur together – the indirect object appears in a prepositional phrase beginning with to or for when a direct object is present. Ex: I gave it to him.

In French, double object pronouns are very common.

When the indirect object pronoun is a first or second person pronoun, the indirect object pronoun precedes the direct object pronoun. Thus, me, te, nous, and vous precede le, la, l’, and les.

  • J’ai besoin du livre de biologie. Tu me le prêtes ? | I need the biology book. Will you lend it to me?
    • Je te le passe demain. | I’ll give it to you tomorrow.
  • On dit que vous avez fait de belles photos pendant votre voyage. Vous pouvez nous les montrer ? | They say you took some beautiful photos during your trip. Can you show them to us?
    • Bien sûr. On va vous les envoyer par e-mail. | Of course. We’ll send them to you by email.

When the indirect object is third-person singular or plural, it follows the direct object pronoun. Thus, le, la, and les precede lui and leur.

  • Ils ne comprenaient pas la leçon, mais le prof la leur a expliquée. | They didn’t understand the lesson, but the teacher explained it to them.
  • Elle voulait voir tes logiciels. Est-ce que tu les lui a envoyés ? | She wanted to see your software packages. Did you send them to her?

Double object pronouns follow the same rules of position as single object pronouns. They precede the conjugated verb unless there is also an infinitive, in which case they occur between the conjugated verb and the infinitive.

Direct object pronouns cause agreement of the past participle when they appear in double object pronoun constructions.

  • Les documents ? Vous ne me les avez pas envoyés. | The documents? You didn’t send them to me.

The pronouns and en also appear in double object pronoun constructions. The pronoun y usually appears with a direct object pronoun, and the direct object pronoun precedes the word y. Possible combinations are as follows:

m’y

nous y

t’y

vous y

l’y

les y

Note the elisions of metele, and la before y.

  • J’étais à la bibliothèque aujourd’hui. | I was at the library today.
    • Je sais. Je t’y ai vue. | I know, I saw you there.
  • Les enfants aiment aller à la piscine. | The children like to go to the pool.
    • Je les y emmène souvent. | I often take them there.

The pronoun en usually appears with an indirect object pronoun, and the indirect object pronoun precedes the word en. Possible combinations are as follows:

m’en

nous en

t’en

vous en

lui en

leur en

Note the elisions of metele, and la before en. The pronouns and en may also occur together. When they do, y precedes en.

  • Tu trouve des occasions dans ce magasin ? | Did you find bargains at that shop?
    • Oui, j’y en trouve toujours. | Yes, I always find some there.

Merci à vous !

Courtney

Object Pronouns with the Imperative

In negative commands, object pronouns have their usual position before the verb.

  • Ce programme antivirus n’est pas bon. Ne le télécharge pas. | That antivirus program is no good. Don’t download it.
  • Cette carte de crédit n’est pas valable. Ne l’accepte pas. | That credit card isn’t valid. Don’t accept it.
  • Ces données sont très importantes. Ne les perdons pas. | This data is very important. Let’s not lose it.

In affirmative commands, however, object pronouns follow the command form and are joined to it in writing by a hyphen.

  • Ce chapeau est jolie. Essaie-le. | This hat is pretty. Try it on.
  • Cette assiette est sale. Lave-la. | This plate is dirty. Wash it.
  • Ces fichiers sont importants. Sauvegardons-les. | These files are important. Let’s save them.
  • Si vous voulez ce meuble, commandez-le. | If you want this piece of furniture, order it.
  • Hélène et Marie veulent rentrer. Raccompagnez-les. | Hélène and Marie want to go home. Walk them home.
  • Dites-lui que nous sommes en retard. | Tell him that we’re late.
  • Il faut les mettre au courant. Téléphonez-leur. | We have to inform them. Phone them.

The object pronouns me and te (as both direct and indirect object pronouns) become moi and toi when they follow affirmative commands.

  • Aide-moi, s’il te plaît. | Help me, please.
  • Envoyez-moi un e-mail pour me tenir au courant. | Send me an email to keep me informed.

Toi as an object pronoun appears only with reflexive verbs.

  • Lave-toi. | Wash up.
  • Brosse-toi les dents. | Brush your teeth.

Have a great week, everyone!

A la prochaine…

Courtney