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French grammar - Indirect object pronouns - 'to' or 'for' someone

Indirect object pronouns - 'to' or 'for' someone

Many verbs imply that the action is directed 'to' someone or is being done 'for' someone.

Such verbs can include the preposition à or pour after the verb.

-- We previously saw the example of parler à ('to speak to').

In place of a regular noun, such verbs can take an indirect object pronoun.

The indirect object pronouns are:

je me : 'to me' or 'for me'

tu te : 'to you' or 'for you' (familiar)

il, elle, on lui : 'to him/her' or 'for him/her'

nous nous : 'to us' or 'for us'

vous vous : 'to you' or 'for you' (formal & plural)

ils & elle leur : 'to them' or 'for them'

If we use one of these Indirect object pronouns with a verb that includes a preposition, the preposition is dropped because the pronoun itself already includes the (dative) sense of 'to' or 'for'.

Note that Indirect object pronouns can only refer to a person or other animate nouns.

Examples:
L'homme vous donne le pain. Et je vous donne le lait.
I a giving (formal) the bread to you. And I am giving you some milk.

The verb is donner à ('to give to') and vous ('to you') is the indirect object

Tu parles à Louis. Et je lui parle aussi.
You (familiar) speak to Louis. And I speak to him too.

The verb is parler à ('to speak to') and lui ('to him') is the indirect object.

Vous achetez des livres pour Jacques et Jean. Leur père leur achète aussi des livres.
You (formal) buy books for Jacques and Jean. Their father buys them books too.

The verb is acheter pour ('to buy for') and leur ('for them') is the indirect object

Tu donnes un crayon à Philippe. Je lui donne aussi un stylo.
You are giving a pencil to Philippe. I am also giving him a pen.

The verb is donner à ('to give to') and lui ('to him') is the indirect object

crayon (m) means 'pencil'

Nous vous posons une question.
We are asking you a question.

The verb is poser à ('to ask (a question) give to') and vous ('to you') is the indirect object

poser (verb) means 'to pose (a question)' or 'to lay down'

Vous ne nous répondez pas.
You are not answering (responding to) us.

The verb is réponder à ('to respond to (someone)') and nous ('to us') is the indirect object

Pourquoi vous ne nous répondez pas ?
Why don't you answer us?

The verb is réponder à ('to respond to (someone)') and nous ('to us') is the indirect object

Je t'achète une chemise.
I am buying you (familiar) a shirt.

The verb is acheter pour ('to buy for') and te ('for you') is the indirect object

Il lui donne des fleurs chaque semaine.
He is giving him∆her flowers every week.

The verb is donner à ('to give to') and lui ('to him/her') is the indirect object

semaine (f) means 'week'

Peux-tu me prêter un peu d'argent ?
Can you lend me a little money?

The verb is prêter à ('to lend (to)') and me ('to me') is the indirect object

Pourquoi tu ne peux pas lui prêter cent euros ?
Why can't you lend him∆her a hundred euros?

The verb is prêter à ('to lend (to)') and te ('to you') is the indirect object

L'école leur annonce sa fermeture.
The school announces to them its closure.

The verb is annoncer à ('to announce (to)') and leur ('to them') is the indirect object

Je lui téléphone dès que j'ai des nouvelles.
I call him∆her as soon as I have news.

The verb is téléphoner à ('to telephone (to)') and leur ('to him/her') is the indirect object

dès que means 'as soon as'

Jean-Paul parle à sa mère. Marie veut aussi lui parler.
Jean-Paul talks to his mother. Marie also wants to talk to her.

The verb is parler à ('to speak to') and lui ('to her') is the indirect object.

Pouvez-vous nous faire le ménage ?
Can you clean for us?

The verb is faire pour ('to do (something) for') and nous ('for us') is the indirect object.

Tu lui fais un gâteau ?
Are you baking him∆her a cake?

The verb is faire pour ('to do (something) for') and lui ('for him/her') is the indirect object.

Est-ce que je peux te demander conseil ?
Can I ask you for advice?

The verb is demander à ('to ask (to someone)') and te ('to you') is the indirect object.conseil (m) means 'advice'

demander conseil (verb) means 'to ask for advice'

Mon père brosse les dents de ma sœur.
My father brushes my sister's teeth.

CAUTION: In the case where a pronoun is not used, another structure is required - in this case the possessive de

Brosse-t-elle les cheveux de Brigitte ?
Does she brush Brigitte's hair?

CAUTION: In the case where a pronoun is not used, another structure is required - in this case the possessive de

Pourquoi ne lave-t-il pas les mains de son fils ?
Why is he not washing his son's hands?

CAUTION: In the case where a pronoun is not used, another structure is required - in this case the possessive de

Où sont les enfants ? Les parents les appellent.
Where are the children? The parents call them.

CAUTION: The verb is appeler ('to call to') takes the direct object so les here

Le dîner de Jean-Luc est prêt. Pouvez-vous, s'il vous plaît, l'appeler ?
Jean-Luc's dinner is ready. Can you please call him.

CAUTION: The verb is appeler ('to call to') takes the direct object so le here