Emphatic Pronouns

What are they?

Emphatic Pronouns (sometimes called stressed, tonic or disjunctive pronouns) are used instead of a noun to emphasise something.

They can be used on their own (without a verb), after a preposition or in compound subjects.

In French, emphatic pronouns are called: les pronoms disjoints ou toniques.

See table below:

1. On their own

The emphatic pronoun can stand alone in a phrase without a verb or can be used before or after a pause in a sentence for emphasis.

Check the three examples below to understand what this means:

1. -"Qui veut une glace?"


"Who wants an ice-cream?"


2. Eux, ils sont insupportables! They are unbearable!

3. Il aime la musique classique, pas nous. He likes classical music, not us.

2. After a preposition

Emphatic pronouns are used after prepositions.

Here are the most common prepositions: avec, sans, pour, contre, avant, après, chez, de.

Check the three examples below:

1. J'irai sans toi. I will go without you.

2. Il vit avec elle. He lives with her.

3. Quand allez-vous venir chez nous? When are you going to come to our house?

Note: For phrases using the preposition de, the pronoun en is normally used to replace an object but when referring specifically to a human, an emphatic pronoun tends to be used instead.


Je parle de mon voyage. I am talking about my trip.

J'en parle. I am talking about it.


Je parle de mon frère. I am talking about my brother.

Je parle de lui. I am talking about him.

Be careful! Indirect object pronouns are used instead of emphatic pronouns for verbs followed by à (except for a list of verbs which do not allow indirect object pronouns- see section 8 below).

3. In compound subjects

When the subject of the verb is the coordination of two pronouns (or a pronoun and a noun), the emphatic pronoun is used in French, whereas the subject pronoun is used in English.

Check the three examples below:

1. Ma tante et moi n'aimons pas le poulet. My aunt and I do not like chicken.

2. Toi et moi allons devenir amis. You and I are going to become friends.

3. Martin et toi allez vivre à l'étranger. Martin and you are going to live abroad.






Keep reading if you want to know more about emphatic pronouns






4. After c'est and ce sont

1. C'est toi, Émilie? Is that you, Émilie?

2. Ce sont eux qui ont gagné! They are the ones who won!

5. After que in a comparison

1. Elle est plus grande que toi. She is taller than you.

2. Ils sont plus gentils que nous. They are kinder than we are.

6. In conjunction with other words

The emphatic pronoun can be placed before: aussi, non plus and seul.

The emphatic pronoun can be placed after: même and surtout.

1. Eux seuls peuvent le faire. Only they can do it.

2. Ils détestent le foot, surtout lui. They hate football, especially him.

7. With the expressions ne...que and ni...ni...ne

1. Ce n'est que moi. It's only me.

2. Ni moi ni lui n'aimons cette chanson. Neither I nor him like this song.

8. after the preposition à

The emphatic pronoun can be placed with the preposition à when the verb does not allow indirect object pronouns.

Here is a list of the most common verbs which do not take preceding indirect object pronouns:

penser à, faire appel à, avoir recours à, faire attention à, s'habituer à, songer à, tenir à

1. Elle pense à lui. She is thinking about him.

2. Ils ne font pas attention à vous. They don't care about you.

9. The emphatic pronoun: Soi

Soi is a non-specific emphatic pronoun. It is used when you refer to non-specific persons and in conjunction with indefinite phrases such as: on, personne, tout le monde, chacun, aucun, nul

1. On ne pense qu'à soi. People only think of themselves.

2. Plus on a de l'expérience et plus on a confiance en soi. The more experience one has, the more self-confidence.

10. with -même/ -mêmes

Adding -même or -mêmes after an emphatic pronouns allows you to particularly emphasise something. In English, it corresponds to myself, yourself etc.

1. Elle l'a fait elle-même. She did it herself.

2. Ils l'ont dit eux-mêmes. They said it themselves.

Note that the hyphen must be included for the idea of self.

Be careful!

Même moi je peux le faire! Even I can do it!


Je peux le faire moi-même! I can do it myself.


For French A Level students with any exam board:

For French GCSE students with any exam board:

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