What is a direct object?
A direct object is the person or thing that receives the action of the verb in a sentence. For example, in the sentence "I ate a sandwich," the sandwich is the direct object.
What are the French direct object pronouns and why are they used?
In order to avoid repeating nouns in a sentence or subsequent sentences, direct object pronouns are used to replace the direct object, and are always placed before the corresponding verb.
The French direct object pronouns are me, te, le/la, nous, vous, les.
Do you like this song? I hate it
Aimes-tu cette chanson? Je la déteste
The direct object here is the feminine noun chanson. The direct object pronoun la is used to replace chanson in order to avoid repeating it in the second sentence. Recall that object pronouns should be placed before the conjugated verb.
Do you know Henri? I know him well
Est-ce que tu connais Henri? Je le connais bien
The direct object here is the masculine proper noun Henri. The direct object pronoun le is used to replace Henri in order to avoid its repetition in the second sentence.
Have you seen Marie? Yes, I see her now
As-tu vu Marie? Oui, je la vois maintenant
The direct object here is feminine -- Marie. In the second sentence, her name is replaced by the direct object pronoun la, which comes before the conjugated verb.
Pierre, I saw you at the game
Pierre, je t'ai vu au match
The direct object pronoun goes before the conjugated auxiliary verb in the past tense. Also note that the pronoun is really te (for either gender), but that it changes here to t' in front of a vowel.
Here are the chairs that I took
Voilà les chaises que j'ai prises
Recall that when a verb is conjugated with the auxiliary verb avoir, its past participle usually does not change (to agree with the subject). However, when a verb conjugated in a compound tense (even an avoir verb) is preceded by its direct object, its participle agrees with the direct object.
The cars? I bought them
Les voitures? Je les ai achetées
The past participle of acheter agrees in number and gender with the preceding direct object, the feminine plural voitures, which is represented in the second sentence by a direct object pronoun, les. Note the placement of that pronoun before the auxiliary verb.
I am going to take my jacket to the dinner
Je vais emporter mon blouson au dîner
to take - emporter, emmener. The former should be applied to portable objects, while the latter should be applied to people or things you can't carry.
He brought his cousin to Jean's house
Il a amené son cousin chez Jean
to bring - apporter, amener. The former should be applied to portable objects, while the latter should be applied to people or things you can't carry.
The sweaters? I brought them
Les pulls? Je les ai apportés
Note the agreement of the participle with the preceding direct object pronoun.
He did not pick them up
Il ne les a pas ramassés
to pick up, to collect - ramasser. In a negative sentence containing an object pronoun, the negative ne precedes the object pronoun, which precedes the conjugated verb. The negative pas comes in-between the conjugated verb (a) and the past participle.
She is going to pick up the kids
Elle va récupérer les enfants
to pick up, to collect, to recover - récupérer. This verb can mean the same thing as ramasser -- "to collect" or "to pick up." That said, it can also mean "to recover" or "to recuperate."
You can bring your own wine
Tu peux apporter ton propre vin
own (adjective) - propre. Recall that this word can also mean "clean"; the determining factor is the placement around the noun. Used before the noun, propre takes on the possessive meaning; used after, it means "clean."
Did you hear the song? Yes, I heard it
As-tu entendu la chanson? Oui, je l'ai entendue
Note how the past participle agrees with the preceding direct object pronoun. The pronoun is really la, but it's changed to l' because the auxiliary verb begins with a vowel.
My dad is watching me play piano
Mon père me regarde jouer du piano
He is not listening to me
Il ne m'écoute pas
In this negative sentence, the negative ne comes before the direct object pronoun, which precedes the verb, which is finally followed by the negative pas.
They are leaving us
Ils nous quittent
They did not leave us
Ils ne nous ont pas quittés
Note how the ne comes first in this negative sentence, preceding the direct object pronoun, nous. Pas follows the conjugated auxiliary verb. Finally, the participle agrees with its preceding object pronoun.
(formal) I hear you well
Je vous entends bien
(formal) I heard you well
Je vous ai bien entendu
Note the placement of the adverb in between the auxiliary verb and the participle. Recall that short adverbs should follow the conjugated verb.
He loves them a lot
Il les aime beaucoup
He is going to eat the pizza. He is going to eat it
Il va manger la pizza. Il va la manger
Note the use of a direct object pronoun before an infinitive here. Whenever an object pronoun is the object of an infinitive, it should precede that infinitive.
The professor collected the homework that Jean was able to finish
Le professeur a ramassé les devoirs que Jean a pu finir
This is an exceptional case in which the participle (pu) does not agree with the preceding (plural) direct object. This is because the complementary infinitive, finir, is what really applies to the direct object.
(female speaker) I am pleased and they (women) are too
Je suis contente et elles le sont aussi
Note the special use here of the pronoun le, which is used to replace an adjective. Le does not change to match the gender and number of the adjective it replaces. Le can also be used this way to replace a complete idea.
Jean gives 20 euros to Paul each week
Jean donne 20 euros à Paul chaque semaine
to give - donner. This verb is conjugated in the present tense as follows: je donne, tu donnes, il/elle/on donne, nous donnons, vous donnez, ils/elles donnent.
What is an indirect object?
An indirect object is the person/thing to or for whom the action of a verb occurs. In French, indirect objects are generally preceded by the prepositions à or pour.
What are the French indirect object pronouns and why are they used?
Indirect object pronouns are used to replace the indirect objects in sentences to avoid repeating them. For the most part, indirect object pronouns are placed in front of the corresponding verb.
The French indirect object pronouns are me, te, lui, nous, vous, leur.
I often speak to Marie. I often speak to her
Je parle souvent à Marie. Je lui parle souvent
The indirect object of the verb parler is Marie. She is the person/thing to or for whom the action of the verb occurs. Notice how in the first sentence, Marie is preceded by à, which is the sign of an indirect object. In the second sentence, à Marie is replaced by the indirect object pronoun lui, which goes before the verb instead of after it.
She is giving the book to Jean. She is giving him the book
Elle donne le livre à Jean. Elle lui donne le livre
Jean is the indirect object in these sentences, as he is given the book, which is the direct object. One way to make this distinction is to ask "What?" and "To whom?" What is given? The book (direct object). To whom is the book given? Jean (indirect object). In the second sentence, à Jean is replaced by the indirect object pronoun lui, which goes before the verb.