Bootstrap French Grammar

Learn French Grammar step-by-step

French grammar - Order of pronouns

Order of pronouns

In the case where we have both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun the order in which they appear in a sentence is an issue.

-- For instance do we say je le lui fais or je lui le fais ('I do it for him/her') ?

We know that both the object pronoun and the indirect object pronoun should come before the verb - but which one first?

The rule is pretty straight forward:

The indirect pronouns me, te, se, nous and vous come before the direct object pronouns.

The indirect pronouns lui and leur always come after the direct object pronouns.

In general with negation the ne.. pas encompasses both pronouns and (present tense) verb. There are exceptions.

Examples:
Je le lui donne.
I am giving it to him∆her.
Tu me le demandes.
You (familiar) are asking me.
Il les leur apporte.
He is bringing them (plural) to them.
Je vous donne cette carte. Je vous la donne.
I am giving you this card. I am giving it to you.
Ils le leur demandent.
They ask them that.
Nous vous le demandons.
We are asking you (plural) that.
Nicolas t'achète ce café ? Oui, il me l'achète.
Is Nicolas buying you that coffee? Yes, he is buying it for me.
Nicolas achète du thé pour Perrine. Il le lui achète.
Nicolas is buying some tea for Perrine. He is buying it for her.
Tu ne le lui donnes pas.
You (familiar) are not giving it to him.
Ne le lui donnez-vous pas ?
Aren't you (formal) giving it to him?
Pouvez-vous nous le faire ?
Can you (formal) do it for us?
Pourquoi ne pouvez-vous pas nous le donner ?
Why can't you (formal) give it to us?
Je ne veux pas le lui donner.
I don't want to give it to him.

With vouloir the ne.. pas typically encompasses only it

Où est mon mouchoir ? Je vous le cherche.
Where's my handkerchief? I'm looking for it for you (formal).

chercher (verb) means 'to look for'