What are direct and indirect object pronouns, and how do I use them?

A direct object pronoun is called a COD, and an indirect object pronoun is called a COI. A pronoun is a word that's used to replace a noun to avoid repeating it (for example, him, she, that). The COD and COI pronouns are a type of pronoun that can be used to replace nouns which receive the action of the verb. For example, instead of saying ‘Tina bakes a cake for her friends.’ you can say ‘She bakes a cake for them’. It is therefore useful to be able to identify the COD and COI, to replace those nouns with the associated pronoun, and make the sentence less wordy and avoid repeating nouns.To understand better, we can use the sentence ‘Tina bakes a cake for her friends.’ as an example. 1)   Who is baking? Tina is baking. This is the subject of the verb. We’re going to leave that to one side, as we’re looking at the actions of the verb. 2)   What does Tina bake? Tina bakes a cake. This is the COD. 3)   Who does she bake for? Tina bakes a cake for her friends. This is the COI. So the COD answers the question who? What? asked after the verb. The COI is the answer to the question to whom? What of? - it is the noun that is indirectly affected by the action of the verb.Let's have a think about this in French now. You can find a list of the COD and COI pronouns here (slide 2, columns 3&4). Using the same example, the sentence is: 'Tina fait un gâteau pour ses amis'. Remember the questions we use to identify the COD and COI. Tina fait quoi? Un gâteau. This is the COD.Tina fait un gâteau pour qui? Ses amis. This is the COD.So, we can replace 'un gâteau' and 'ses amis' with the corresponding word in the table above. In French, the COD and COI pronouns replacement go before the verb. For clarity, the verb is in italics below, and the COD or COI is underline.Gateau is a COD, it’s a masculine noun. So, we can replace it with ‘le’. Tina fait un gateau pour ses amis. --> Tina le fait pour ses amis.Ses amis is a COI, it’s a plural noun. Tina fait un gateau pour ses amis. --> Tina leur fait un gateau. Take home messages:·      The COD and COI relate to the action of the verb. They are useful to be able to identify, as you can avoid repeating nouns by replacing them with pronouns.·      A list of the COD and COI pronouns can be found here. ·      The COD answers the questions what? who? and the COI answers the question for whom? why?·      The COD and COI are found after the verb. When you replace them with pronouns, remember to place it before the verb. 

Answered by Emma H. French tutor


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