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French Lesson Plan: Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

written by: Brian J. Donovan • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 4/3/2013

Go over Direct and Indirect Object pronouns with your class. This lesson plan walks students through vocabulary and formation of sentences.

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    French Lesson Plan Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns Language level: I try to make all of my lessons easily adaptable to different levels, but this is geared more towards "beginner level 2" or for those who have had the basics of French in a beginner class. At the university level I teach, we usually cover this in French II after students have had a semester in French I.

    Grade level: approx. 9th grade through university level

    Format: I’ve kept the format very simple to avoid too many layout issues. Paste the text into a document, and you can make the changes you'd like to make.

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    Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

    Both groups share me, te, nous and vous. The definite articles (le, la, les, l') are also used as direct object pronouns and lui and leur are also indirect object pronouns. You may have learned lui as a stressed pronoun (C'est lui./It's him.), and leur is also the singular possessive adjective for "their" (Leur livre./Their book.). You'll know how they're being used in a sentence by how they're being used.

    In many cases, the direct object will come right before your verb when there's only one verb, before both if there are two, or before the infinitive when the second verb is in the infinitive form.

    Basic pronoun word order will usually be "me--le--lui--y--en" (me includes te, nous and vous; le includes la, les and l' and lui includes leur). Y (adverbial pronoun) and En (adverbial pronoun & preposition) are not direct or indirect object pronouns, so for this lesson you're looking at "me--le--lui" for order.

    Please Note: This lesson does not include the Imperative (commands).

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    I. Direct Object Pronouns

    The direct object directly receives the action of the verb.

    Les pronoms d'object direct: me (m') = me, te (t') = you (informal, singular), le (l') = him or it, la (l') = her or it, nous

    = us, vous = you (singular, formal / plural), les = them.

    One Verb:

    The pronoun goes before the verb; the negative goes around the pronoun and the verb both.

    1. Je t'aime. -- I love you. (Je ne t'aime pas.)(The pronoun stays with the verb.)

    2. Tu m'aimes ? -- Do you love me?

    3. Je vois le parc. -- Je le vois. // Je ne le vois pas. (I see it.)(I don't see it.)

    4. Je vois mon père / ma mère. -- Je le / la vois. (I see him/her.)

    5. J'aime la pizza / le pain. -- Je l'aime. (I like it.)

    6. Je vois les étudiant(e)s. -- Je les vois. (I see them.)(masc. & fem.)

    7. Il nous regarde. -- He's watching us.

    8. Je vous invite, Monsieur Smith. -- I'm inviting you, Mr. Smith.

    9. Je vous invite, Monsieur et Madame Smith. -- I'm inviting you, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

    Two Verbs:

    1. Le Futur Proche / Future with Aller:

    The pronoun goes before the infinitive; the negative goes around the first (conjugated) verb.

    ---Je vais manger la pizza / le pain. -- Je vais la/le manger. // Je ne vais pas la / le manger.

    (I'm going to eat the pizza.) (I'm going to eat it.) (I'm not going to eat it.)

    2. "Modal" Verbs:

    Some French equivalents to our modal verbs (possibility, obligation...) would be pouvoir, vouloir, devoir, etc. (can/be able,

    want, must/have to, etc.) all conjugated + another verb left in the infinitive. The pronoun goes before the infinitive like the Futur Proche.

    ---Je peux écrire la lettre. -- Je peux l'écrire. // Je ne peux pas l'écrire.

    (I can write the letter.) (I can write it.) (I can't write it.)

    3. Le Passé Composé avec Avoir / Completed Past with Avoir:

    The pronoun goes before the helping verb (être/avoir), not with the past participle; the negative goes around both the pronoun

    and the helping verb. Watch out for past participle agreement with the direct object pronoun.

    ---J'ai mangé la pizza / le pain. -- Je l'ai mangé(e). (l' for both le and la because of the vowel) // Je ne l'ai pas mangé(e).

    (I ate the pizza / the bread.) (I ate it.) (I didn't eat it.)

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    II. Indirect Object Pronouns

    The indirect object = to or for whom/what. These pronouns are used for people not things. They are usually preceded by a preposition (for her, to him...)(à, for example). Note: if the indirect object is a thing (after à), you would use the adverbial pronoun "y" instead (and it can also refer to a place), and if de is used, the pronoun would be "en."

    Les pronoms d'object indirect: me (m'), te (t'), lui (him/her), nous, vous, leur (them).

    In some cases, there are two translations in English: I'm giving him the book./I'm giving the book to him.

    One Verb:

    The negative goes around the pronoun and the verb. This includes le présent, le futur, l'imparfait...

    1. Je parle à Marc. --Je lui parle. // Je ne lui parle pas.

    (I'm talking to Marc.) (I'm talking to him.) (I'm not talking to him.)

    2. Il me parle. (He's talking to me.)

    3. Je parle à Marc. --Je lui parle. // Je parle à Marie. (to reinforce lui as feminine: Je lui parle, à elle.)

    (I'm talking to Marc.) (I'm talking to him.)

    4. Elle leur donne la clé.

    (She's giving the key to them./She's giving them the key.)

    Two Verbs:

    1. Le Futur Proche / Future with Aller:

    The negative goes around the first verb, the verb aller.

    ---Il va me donner la clé. // Il ne va pas me donner la clé.

    (He's going to give the key to me./He's going to give me the key.) //(He's not going to give me the key.)

    2. Pouvoir, Vouloir, Devoir, etc:

    The negative goes around the first verb.

    ---Elle veut écrire une lettre à Marc. --Elle veut lui écrire une lettre. // Elle ne veut pas lui écrire une lettre.

    (She wants to write a letter to Mark.) (She wants to write a letter to him./She wants to write him a letter.)

    3. Le Passé Composé / Completed Past:

    The negative goes around both the pronoun and the helping verb.

    ---J'ai écrit à mes cousins. --Je leur ai écrit. // Je ne leur ai pas écrit.

    (I wrote to my cousins.)(I wrote to them.) //(I didn't write to them.)