French indirect object pronoun
An indirect object pronoun usually replaces people (or other living things) that are introduced after the verb with a preposition (usually à or pour). The indirect object indicates the person the action of the verb is destined to or for.
Je parle à Jacques. - Whom am I speaking to? Jacques
-> Je lui parle. - I'm speaking to him.
Note that the preposition disappears when you use the pronoun.
Warning: Not all prepositions introduce an indirect object! Indirect objects are specifically the ones that the verb is doing something to or for.
For example, in French we say penser à (to think of), but here the action of 'thinking' is not done TO the person, therefore it is not an indirect object, and cannot be replaced by an indirect object pronoun: You cannot say Je lui pense.
French indirect object pronouns
|me / m' / moi
|te / t'
||you (singular / informal)|
|lui||him / her / it|
|vous||you (plural / formal)|
Note that lui means both for 'him' and 'her':
J'écris à Samantha. - I write to Samantha.
-> Je lui écris. - I write to her.
J'écris à Bob. - I write to Bob.
-> Je lui écris. - I write to him.
Me and te become m' and t' in front of a vowel or mute h:
Tu me parles et tu m'écris. - You speak to me and you write to me.
Je te parle et je t'écris. - I speak to you and I write to you.
Me becomes moi in the affirmative imperative:
Parle-moi. - Talk to me.
It is easy enough to remember that when the object of the verb is a person introduced by a preposition (e.g. montrer à quelqu'un, donner à quelqu'un), then this object can be replaced by an indirect object pronoun.
However French and English verbs don't necessarily match on this point: some will have a preposition in French and not in English, or vice versa!
For example, the verb téléphoner in French is followed by a preposition (téléphoner à quelqu'un), whereas its English equivalent to phone uses NO preposition (phoning [X] someone).
Je lui téléphone. - I phone him/her.
It is the French verb that matters to determine whether to use of French indirect object pronouns. When in doubt, look it up in a dictionary to see if the verb is followed by a preposition.
Learn more: Introduction to object pronouns