How do you order pronouns in the affirmative imperative in French?

The imperative mood is used when giving commands to a number of persons: either the 2nd person singular 'tu', the 1st person plural 'nous' or the 2nd person plural 'vous'. Whilst negative constructions of the imperative keep the usual word order, affirmative imperatives change the order.

Let's start with simple, non-reflexive verbs. In the three persons, construct the imperative mood of the verb manger  -  Mange! Mangeons! Mangez! 

Now if you wanted to give the command to eat something in particular, you would need to use a direct object pronoun ‘le’ to represent this object receiving the action (or in other words, being eaten). So in order to attach the 'le' pronoun to the imperative command, you place it after the verb, connecting the two words with a hyphen. Mange-le! Mangeons-le! Mangez-le! 

Often it gets more complicated when there is more than one pronoun in the mix. If you need to use more than one, for example in the command: 'Give it to her!', you need to decide which order they go in. This sentence contains both indirect and direct object pronouns.

So let's take the imperative of donner for the 2nd person singular ‘tu’: Donne!

Next, to add on ‘it’ or the direct object pronoun ‘le’, you have to place it after the verb connecting with a hyphen again. Donne-le!

Finally, to add on 'to her’ or the indirect object pronoun ‘lui', you have to place it after the direct pronoun, like this: Donne-le-lui!

For a reflexive/pronominal verb, such as se lèver there is a small change:

Tu te lèves in the imperative would not be Lève-te!  but instead Lève-toi!

In fact, the pronouns ‘te’ and ‘me’ always change to ‘toi’ and ‘moi’ in the imperative, for example Dis-le-moi! 

EXCEPT if ‘me’ and ‘te’ are followed by either ‘y’ or ‘en’, in which case they contract to m’ and t’ 

For example Donne-m’en!

Don’t forget to put in hyphens, and remember to omit the object pronouns. (tu) Mange!

I will split them into groups to show which ones come first, and this order stays the same regardless of how many groups you need to use: 

1) le la les      2) moi/m' toi/t' lui      3) nous vous leur    4) y     5) en

Lauren R. A Level French tutor, GCSE French tutor, 13 plus  French tu...

7 months ago

Answered by Lauren, an A Level French tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Irini P. GCSE French tutor, A Level French tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor,...
View profile
£20 /hr

Irini P.

Degree: French and Spanish-Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: French, Spanish+ 2 more

Extended Project Qualification
English Literature

“Budding linguist at Durham University, here to help you achieve perfection!”

Federica C. 11 Plus English tutor, IB English tutor, 13 plus  English...
View profile
£20 /hr

Federica C.

Degree: English and American Studies (Doctorate) - Manchester University

Subjects offered: French, Latin+ 6 more

English and World Literature
English Language
Classical Greek
Classical Civilisation

“Hello! My name is Federica and I am a second-year PhD student in English and American Studies at the University of Manchester. Originally, I come from Rome (Italy) where I studied comparative literatures and languages at the University...”

PremiumTanisha S. GCSE English Language tutor, GCSE English Literature tutor...
View profile
£26 /hr

Tanisha S.

Degree: Philosophy and French (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: French, English Literature+ 2 more

English Literature
English Language

“My main aim is to build the student's confidence in their chosen subject, and to work with them to discover methods of teaching which enable them to fulfill their potential.”

About the author

Lauren R. A Level French tutor, GCSE French tutor, 13 plus  French tu...
View profile

Lauren R.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: French and Spanish (Bachelors) - University College London University

Subjects offered: French, Spanish


“Hi everyone! I'm Lauren, a French and Spanish 3rd year student at University College London, currently on my year abroad! I clearly have a huge interest in languages, and am keen to:  - help you get to grips with any tricky grammar p...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Other A Level French questions

Analysez les messages principaux du livre que vous avez étudié. Que pensez vous de ces messages?

How do I use the subjunctive?

How do you know whether nouns are masculin or feminine?

How do I know when to use 'à' vs. 'de'? French preposition help!

View A Level French tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss