Note: You should be familiar with Direct Object Pronouns before looking at Indirect Object Pronouns.
1. The use of Indirect Object Pronouns (IOP)
An Indirect Object Pronoun is used to replace a noun ( which is the indirect object of the sentence).
It is used to talk about the person or living being that the action is intended to benefit or harm without repeating it.
Check the example below to understand what this means:
J’écris une lettre à ma sœur. I am writing a letter to my sister.
Je, the person who is doing the action, it is the subject.
une lettre is the object because it is on the receiving end of the action. It is the thing that is written.
ma sœur is the indirect object- the person I am writing to.
We can replace ma sœur with an Indirect Object Pronoun to avoid repetition.
J’écris une lettre à ma sœur. Je lui écris car elle habite loin.
I am writing a letter to my sister. I am writing to her because she lives far away.
2. The French Indirect Object Pronouns
An Indirect Object answers the question: Who to? Who for? To what? For what?
He gave me the book.
Who did he give the book to? To me (me = indirect object pronoun)
Here are all the Indirect Object Pronouns and their English translation:
Note that only third persons singular and plural differ from DOP.
3. Verbs followed by the preposition: à
Indirect Object Pronouns are used with verbs that are normally followed by : à + person/ living being
qch = quelque chose
qqn = quelqu'un
sth = something
sb = somebody
Be careful! Not all English verbs use the preposition: to (sb)
4. Position of IOP in simple tenses
Just like DOP, in simple tenses/ moods, Indirect Object Pronouns are placed in front of the verb.
Nous parlons à ma mère.
Nous lui parlons.
In negative sentences: The IOP remains in front of the verb.
Nous ne parlons pas à ma mère.
Nous ne lui parlons pas.
5. IOP in compound tenses
In compound tenses/moods, Indirect Object Pronouns are placed in front of the auxiliary.
Il a demandé à sa mère.
Il lui a demandé.
Note that the past participle does not agree with the preceding IOP!
In negative sentences: The IOP remains in front of the auxiliary
Il n'a pas demandé à sa mère.
Il ne lui a pas demandé.
6. IOP with infinitives
If a verb is followed by an infinitive (without preposition), the Indirect Object Pronoun is usually placed before the infinitive.
Je dois répondre à mes collègues.
Je dois leur répondre.
Be careful! This rule does not apply if the conjugated verb is faire.
Je fais manger le gâteau à mon père.
Je lui fais manger le gâteau.
7. IOP with imperative
In sentences using the imperative (orders, instructions), the Indirect Object Pronouns is placed after the verb.
Moi is used instead of me / m’
Toi is used instead of te / t’
An hyphen is added between the verb and the Indirect Object Pronoun.
Parle-moi! Talk to me!
Be careful! This is not the case for negative sentences, where the IOP is placed before the verb.
Ne me parle pas! Don't talk to me!
Continue Reading if you want to know more
How to use DOP and IOP in the same sentence?
If more than one object pronoun is used in a sentence, the order is as follow:
J'offre des fleurs à ma mère.
Je les lui offre.
•Je, the person who is doing the action, is the subject.
•les fleurs is the direct object because it is on the receiving end of the action- it is the thing that is given. The direct object pronoun used to replace les fleurs is: les
•Ma mère is the indirect object- The person I am giving the flowers to. The indirect object pronoun used to replace ma mère is: lui
For French A Level students with any exam board:
For French GCSE students with any exam board:
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