Double Object Pronouns in French

Instructor: Melissa Strong

Melissa has been a freelance translator and French/English tutor for the past five years since graduating from Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Science in French Translation with a minor in Spanish and Political Science and is currently studying for her Masters in Business Administration in Paris, France. Melissa spent the entirety of her bachelors degree as a peer mentor and served as the Departmental French tutor for The Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies. Currently, Melissa lives in Paris, France where she works as a coordinator for a study abraod housing specialist company.

Sometimes, sentences need two pronouns to be complete. This can be a tricky concept but is made simple by remembering the order of direct and indirect object pronouns. In this lesson, we'll learn how to use French double object pronouns.

What Are Double Object Pronouns?

Have you ever visited an open-air market on a Sunday morning and strolled through the abundance of beautifully grown fruits and vegetables and hear, 'I'll take those two!' When we hear this kind of language, we're hearing direct and indirect object pronouns.

As you may know, a pronoun is a word used in place of a noun, like 'him' and 'they.' But what are direct and indirect object pronouns? Let's break them down.

  • A direct object pronouns takes the place of a direct object, which is the person who is doing the action in the sentence.
  • An indirect object pronouns takes the place of an indirect object, which is the person receiving the action of the sentence.

For example, take the sentence, 'John throws the ball.' In this sentence, John is the direct object (the do-er of the action) and the ball is the indirect object (the one the action is being done to). If you replace the two nouns with pronouns, 'He throws it,' you have double object pronouns.

Using Double Object Pronouns in French

The most important thing to remember when using double object pronouns in French is that there is a specific order in which you formulate the sentence. There are two possible ways to break this down, let's take a look.

Option #1

In all verb tenses EXCEPT the affirmative imperative, reflexive pronouns are placed before the verb (or action).

Double Object Pronoun Order
Sentence order of Double Object Pronouns

Let's look at a brief conversation to see how this works:

  • Fabienne: Est-ce que Jean-Pierre vous montrez les nouveaux documents? (Is Jean-Pierre going to show you the new documents?)
  • Michel: Oui, il me les montre. (Yes, he is showing them to me.)

Option #2

In the affirmative imperative, the pronouns follow the verb (or action).

Double Object Pronoun Order in Imperative
Double Object pronouns in the imperative

Let's take a look at the below example:

  • Fabienne: Est-ce que vous voulez des bonbons? (Would you like some candy?)
  • Michel: Oui, donnez-m'en. (Yes, give me some.)

Rules to Remember

Open-air market at La Motte Picquet Grenelle
Open-Air Market

1. In French, direct/indirect pronouns are used together to shorten sentences. One way to remember where they go is that the direct object pronouns are always closest to the verb, except when used by the third person (singular and plural).

2. There will never be more than two pronouns in one sentence in French. Two is the limit!

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