Moi, toi, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, elles (advanced stress pronouns)

In this lesson, you'll see three cases in which stress pronouns (moi, toi, lui, elle, soi, nous, vous, eux, elles) are used in French. 

In sentences, after prepositions (de, à, avec, derrière, pour etc)

Je parle de lui
I speak of him

Il pense à elle
He's thinking of her

Je suis devant eux.
I'm in front of them.

- in comparisons, after que (plus/moins/aussi ....que),

Jean est plus grand que moi.
Jean is taller than me.

Il mange moins de viande que vous.
He eats less meat than you do.

Ma sœur chante aussi bien qu'elles.
My sister sings as well as they do.

See also Making comparisons with adjectives: plus... que, aussi... que, moins... que

- with the restriction ne... que (only), after que.

Paulette n'aime que lui!
Paulette loves only him! 

Je ne veux que toi !
I want only you!

Il ne manque qu'eux.
They're the last ones.
[Lit. It's only missing them.]

 

Case of soi 

Soi is used to represent a universal "one[self]", in general statements or descriptions. It's the stress pronoun matching the general meaning of "on" (we/you/people) or the impersonal "il".

On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi.
One mustn't think only of oneself.

Il faut toujours aider plus petit que soi.
One must always help those smaller than oneself.

On n'aime que soi.
One only loves oneself.

 

See also previous lessons Moi, toi, lui, elle = me, you, him, her (stress pronouns) and Nous, vous, eux, elles = us, you, them (stress pronouns)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il ne manque qu'eux.
They're the last ones.
[Lit. It's only missing them.]



Je pense à mes amis. Je pense à eux.
I'm thinking about my friends. I'm thinking about them. 


Je ne veux que toi !
I want only you!


Laura est derrière nous.
Laura is behind us.


Il pense à elle
He's thinking of her


Ma sœur chante aussi bien qu'elles.
My sister sings as well as they do.


Je suis devant eux.
I'm in front of them.


On n'aime que soi.
One only loves oneself.


Je parle de lui
I speak of him


Il mange moins de viande que vous.
He eats less meat than you do.


Paulette n'aime que lui!
Paulette loves only him! 


Il faut toujours aider plus petit que soi.
One must always help those smaller than oneself.


On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi.
One mustn't think only of oneself.


Jean est plus grand que moi.
Jean is taller than me.


Q&A Forum 19 questions, 46 answers

HalimA0Kwiziq community member

Wrong translation (I think)

1. I think the translation of this sentence is wrong

On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi : One mustn't think only of oneself.

2.For me, it must be like this: 

One must think only of oneself.

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi H,

On ne doit penser qu'à soi 

would be what you are suggesting , the pas makes it a negative meaning.

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The negated verb is devoir, so it is "must not".

On doit penser à soi. -- One must think of oneself.

On ne doit penser pas à soi. -- One mustn't think of oneself.

On ne doit penser pas qu'à soi. -- One mustn't hink only of oneself.

JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Is "On ne doit pas penser à soi." correct? 

"Je ne veux pas travailler" .Why "veux travailler" is not placed in between "ne..pas" as "On ne doit penser pas à soi." do?

How should we place "ne...pas" in "verb+infinitive" structure? 

Halim asked:View original

Wrong translation (I think)

1. I think the translation of this sentence is wrong

On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi : One mustn't think only of oneself.

2.For me, it must be like this: 

One must think only of oneself.

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HalimA0Kwiziq community member

On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi.

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

answered...

Halim asked:View original

On ne doit pas penser qu'à soi.

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JulieB1Kwiziq community member

I have a question about the case of Soi

In one of the examples in the lesson, the sentence "Il faut toujours aider plus petit que soi" translates as "One must always help those smaller than oneself".  Where do you get the word "those" from?  Shouldn't there be another word between "aider" and "plus"?  Like "les personnes" or something?

Asked 6 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

In this sentence "plus petit" is used as a noun and would literally translate as "the smaller (one)". The English translation which carries the same meaning as the French sentence doesn't follow the grammatical structure of the French sentence exactly.

More literally: One must always help the smaller (one) than oneself.

I have a question about the case of Soi

In one of the examples in the lesson, the sentence "Il faut toujours aider plus petit que soi" translates as "One must always help those smaller than oneself".  Where do you get the word "those" from?  Shouldn't there be another word between "aider" and "plus"?  Like "les personnes" or something?

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ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Madame ! ‘Il pense à elle’. Can one write as- ‘Il lui pense.’ or is there some difference in these 2 phrases ? Merci en avance !

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Shrey, 

There are some verbs of emotions when  the indirect object cannot be replaced by the usual pronouns, verbs like 'songer à quelqu'un' , 'avoir recours à quelqu'un' , 'faire attention à quelqu'un', ...which come under the same rule as 'penser à quelqu'un'  if there is one...

You could at a pinch replace by the pronoun 'y' but it is normally for things rather than people.

e.g.

J'ai beaucoup songé à elle ces derniers jours = I thought about her these last few days

Nous avons du avoir recours à eux = We have had to rely on them 

Fais attention à elle! = Beware of her!

Hope this helps

 

 

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Varsha,

 No,  in this case you can only say -

‘Il pense à elle’...

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Because of what reason , Madame ?

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Is it a special case ?

ShreyA1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Bonjour Madame Cécile !

Thank you for your support.

À bientôt !

Bonjour Madame ! ‘Il pense à elle’. Can one write as- ‘Il lui pense.’ or is there some difference in these 2 phrases ? Merci en avance !

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DalyB2Kwiziq community member

soi on its own sounds clumsy, which is unusual in french

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Is this a question or a statement?

soi on its own sounds clumsy, which is unusual in french

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DalyB2Kwiziq community member

I thought that when it was 'oneself' one used ....meme

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Daly,

'Soi' is the emphatic/stress pronoun that relates to 'on', or an indeterminate entity as in :

Chacun pour soi = Every man for himself 

En travailleur indépendant/freelance, c'est agréable par qu'on travaille pour soi When you work freelance it's great because you work for yourself

You would only add même to emphasise :

On n'est jamais si bien servi que par soi-même If you want something done rightdo it yourself

Hope this helps!

I thought that when it was 'oneself' one used ....meme

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MichaelC1Kwiziq community member

How to know when to use "soi" or "soi-même" to say "oneself"?

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Michael !

I agree that it's indeed quite a tricky point!
Indeed, after looking into it thoroughly, I can't really come up with a better explanation than "colloquial usage", which I admit is not really satisfying :)

​I would say however that we will tend to use soi rather than soi-même after prepositions (devant, avec...) and with comparisons or after que in general.

Soi-même will more often be used to emphasise that you do the action yourself:

Il faut le faire soi-même.

I hope that's helpful!​
Merci et bonne journée !

How to know when to use "soi" or "soi-même" to say "oneself"?

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BlixC1Kwiziq community member

Soi or soi-même?

Asked 1 year ago
BlixC1Kwiziq community member
I apologize, here is the question: An A2 question asks the french translation of "One must always look in front of oneself." I responded with "Il faut toujours regarder devant soi-même," and it was marked as incorrect. The correct answer was "Il faut toujours regarder devant soi." I am confused why one would not use "soi-même" for "oneself" in this instance.
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I think its because you need a stress pronoun after a preposition such as devant rather than stress+même.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Aurélie and Laura have answered this very same question asked by a later poster. 

-- Chris. 

Soi or soi-même?

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CathyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

When to appropriately use soi and soi-même? This lesson didn't address this issue.

Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Hi Cathy,

"soi-même" is "oneself" or "yourself" in English. For example:

"Pour l’apprendre aux autres il faut le savoir soi-même." -- To teach it to others one must knkow it oneself (or: you must know it yourself).

Or, in another example:

 

Il vaut mieux le faire soi-même. --It’s better to do it yourself.Does that help? -- Chris (not a native speaker).

 

CathyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci bien!  
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Check the later questions. Aurélie and Laura answered this question there. 

-- Chris. 

When to appropriately use soi and soi-même? This lesson didn't address this issue.

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HarrisC1Kwiziq community member

I speak of her

I'm confused why "I speak of her" is "Je parle d'elle" as my first instinct would be to say "je l'en parle". What am I missing here? Thanks.
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer
Hi harris,

The French verb "parler" can have two pieces of information attached to it: with whom you speak and what you speak of. For example:

Je parle à Marie de son travail. -- I speak with Marie about her work.

You can now proceed to substitute pronouns for each of the two parts and it would go like this:

Je lui en parle. -- I speak with her about it.

The topic you speek about is always "de + (topic)". If you speak about her then it is "d'elle". The person you speak with is always an indirect object in French: "parler À quelqu'un". Therefore it goes like this:

Je te parle -- I speak with you.
Je lui parle -- I speak with him (or her; only context would tell).
Je vous parle -- I speak with them (or you; in a formal setting)

"Je l'en parle" is definitely incorrect.

Greetings, -- Chris (not a native speaker).
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Joan, 

Indeed,

"Je lui parle d'eux" is correct for "I speak with him about them"...

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
...sorry, just to correct a typo: Je vous parle -- I speak with you (either a group or a formal "tu")
JoanA1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hi Chris, if I want to say: "I speak with him about them", is it : "Je lui parle d'eux" ?

Thanks

I speak of her

I'm confused why "I speak of her" is "Je parle d'elle" as my first instinct would be to say "je l'en parle". What am I missing here? Thanks.

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I find it difficult to know when soi versus soi-même is used.

Sometimes when the english meaning is oneself, I reach for soi-même but the correct choice is sometimes soi. Any hints please?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Jennifer, Here are a few links that may help differentiate the issue for you. I am providing he links in lieu of copying and pasting the info: https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/soi-m%C3%AAme-lui-m%C3%AAme-elle-m%C3%AAme.331578/ http://www.languefrancaise.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=6127 http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/francais-definition/soi-m%C3%AAme https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/soi-m%C3%AAme https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/french-english/soi J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet Ron (a non-native speaker)
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Take the English sentence "One has to do it by one-self". In French this translates to "On doit le faire soi-même." The emphatic stress pronouns put emphasis on who is responsible for the action. You could say:

On doit le faire. -- One has to do it.
or
On doit le faire soi-même. -- One has to do it oneself.

In this case you always add "-même". "On doit le faire soi" is simply wrong because "soi" by itself is a reflexive pronoun (like "me", "se", etc.). To make it a stress pronoun, add the "-même". Here is an example, where "soi" is used in a pure reflexive sense and not as a stress pronoun (hence sans "-même"): On doit prendre soin de soi. (One has to take care of oneself).

I hope that helps, -- Chris (not a native speaker).

I find it difficult to know when soi versus soi-même is used.

Sometimes when the english meaning is oneself, I reach for soi-même but the correct choice is sometimes soi. Any hints please?

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SusanC1Kwiziq community member

Stress pronouns lui and elle.

I am still confused about the stress pronouns lui and elle. Is there a reason why lui is used as a stress pronoun with manquer (à), but elle is not?
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Susan, Of all the questions about advanced stress pronouns, this is possibly the most interesting because of the verb «manquer à» Let's look at this example. Jean lui manque. --> She/he misses Jean If you recall, the noun and pronoun orders are reversed with the verb, hence the pronoun is actually the person who feels he/she is missing someone even though literally it would be stated Jean is missing to him. i.e. he misses Jean. Now recalling that «to him» in French becomes à lui. Therefore the phrase becomes Jean lui manque. And from the lesson: Notice that stress pronouns are used in the following 3 cases: - in sentences, after prepositions (de, à, avec, derrière, pour etc), - in comparisons, after que (plus/moins/aussi ....que), - with the restriction ne... que (only), after que. I hope that this is useful and that I have answered and help clarify this for you. Bonne chance.
SusanC1Kwiziq community member
Thank you. That was exactly my understanding. However, in the A2 test that I took, the question said to translate, "She misses Jacques". I wrote "Jacques elle manque." That answer was marked incorrect, and the correct answer was given as, "Jacques lui manque." When I went back to the lesson on manquer (à), I saw that "elle" was not included in the list of stress pronouns to use before manquer. I thought there must be some special exception.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour encore, So here are the pronouns, notice I did not say stress pronouns, the one uses with manquer à, Note that to introduce the person who it lacks to, you either use manquer à + name, or to use pronouns (i.e. I, you, he, we, they... miss), you will use the me/te/lui/nous/vous/leur before manquer. I hope this helps clarify this. Obviously, elle is used as a stress pronoun, not as a regular pronoun, for that it become «lui». Bonne chance.
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Susan, In "She misses Jacques," the pronoun that replaces "she" is not a stress pronoun, it's an indirect object pronoun, and the feminine indirect object pronoun is the same as the masculine: lui.
SusanC1Kwiziq community member
Merci beaucoup !! I see now that it was my mistake in thinking that a stress pronoun was required in this structure.

Stress pronouns lui and elle.

I am still confused about the stress pronouns lui and elle. Is there a reason why lui is used as a stress pronoun with manquer (à), but elle is not?

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DavidC1Kwiziq community member

So - Je pense à lui = I am thinking of him?

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour David, Alors, je ne comprends pas de tout en ce qui concerne votre question. Avez-vous eu une question? Je pense à lui est une phrase exacte. Bonne chance.
DavidC1Kwiziq community member
C'est tout! Merci beaucoup! David

So - Je pense à lui = I am thinking of him?

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ArashC1Kwiziq community member

Should we say "Je lui pense" instead of "Je pense à elle"?

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Salut Arash, In short, the answer is no. The reason is: je lui pense translates to "I think him", not I think of him. There is also a difference in whether the pronoun is a direct or indirect pronoun. In this case, "je pense à elle" penser à is a transitive verb which always requires a direct object. ***have in one's thoughts) penser à ⇒ What are you thinking? À quoi penses-tu? to think positive thoughts penser à des choses positives I hope this helps. Ron

Should we say "Je lui pense" instead of "Je pense à elle"?

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William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Prepositions after parler and penser.

Why “je parle de …” but “je pense à ….”?
Asked 2 years ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi William - unfortunately there are no rules when it comes to prepositions. They're one of the trickiest things to learn because you just have to learn each case by heart. This seems to be true for most languages. Cordialement,
RobertC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I have this same question.

Prepositions after parler and penser.

Why “je parle de …” but “je pense à ….”?

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KathyB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

À eux -vs- aux eux

Bonjour, I was surprised to see "Je pense à eux." in this lesson. Should it not be "aux eux" ? The other day I was chatting online with a French native, and when I wrote "dit bonjour à eux" he corrected me, saying to use "aux". Merci !
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Kathy, You would *never* say "aux eux" which is equivalent to saying "to/about the them." I don't know why your friend corrected you, but he was mistaken.
KathyB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes, makes sense. Strange... I will corner him on this one next time we chat :) Merci Laura !
AurélieKwiziq team member
Actually Kathy, to say "Say hi to them" in French, you'll say "Dis-leur bonjour (de ma part)" ;) That might be what your friend told you...
KathyB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes, it seems we got our wires crossed. He agreed that "à eux" is very wrong! One would use "dis-leur bonjour". Merci à vous deux !
KathyB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Sorry... I meant it was wrong to use "aux eux". Ok enough from me!
JanetC1Kwiziq community member
The question of when to use soi and/or soi-même hasn't been addressed.

À eux -vs- aux eux

Bonjour, I was surprised to see "Je pense à eux." in this lesson. Should it not be "aux eux" ? The other day I was chatting online with a French native, and when I wrote "dit bonjour à eux" he corrected me, saying to use "aux". Merci !

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DianeC1Kwiziq community member

LUI/ ELLE: stress or indirect object pronoun after parler à?

I'm glad Stuart asked this. I'm confused too. Sadly I'm no further enlightened by the answer given here. If both stress pronouns and indirect object pronouns follow structures such as 'écrire à qqn', 'téléphoner à qqn' etc., how do we know whether to use 'elle' (stress pronoun) or 'lui' (indirect object pronoun)? Grateful for more clarification. Many thanks.
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member

Bonjour Diane,

Indirect object pronouns do not follow écrire à and téléphoner à. Once there's a preposition involved that precedes the pronoun, you automatically need the stressed pronoun.

The indirect object pronoun can *only* precede a verb, e.g., Je lui ai donné le livre.

LUI/ ELLE: stress or indirect object pronoun after parler à?

I'm glad Stuart asked this. I'm confused too. Sadly I'm no further enlightened by the answer given here. If both stress pronouns and indirect object pronouns follow structures such as 'écrire à qqn', 'téléphoner à qqn' etc., how do we know whether to use 'elle' (stress pronoun) or 'lui' (indirect object pronoun)? Grateful for more clarification. Many thanks.

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StuartB1Kwiziq community member

I'm stuck with when 'lui' means he *or* she ...

... and times when lui only means he and I must use elle for she. 'I speak of her' in a recent test used 'elle', which I thought should have been 'lui..'
Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Stuart, Lui is two different kinds of pronouns. When it's a stressed pronoun, it only means him, because there's a feminine stressed pronoun: elle. Lesson: Moi, toi, lui, elle, nous, vous, eux, elles (advanced stress pronouns) When it's an indirect object pronoun, it can mean him or her because there is no separate feminine pronoun. Lesson: Replacing people with lui, leur = him, her, them (indirect object pronouns) In "I speak of her," her is the object of the pronoun of and therefore must be translated by the stressed pronoun elle, not the indirect object lui.
HelenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Laura-- I really appreciate your explanations. I came here because I'm trying to understand why lui is used in this sentence: "Tu lui a fait confiance" (You trust him) Is this because faire is followed by à or any other reason?

I'm stuck with when 'lui' means he *or* she ...

... and times when lui only means he and I must use elle for she. 'I speak of her' in a recent test used 'elle', which I thought should have been 'lui..'

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YellamarajuC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Paulette n'aime que lui! (Paulette loves only him!). Is it necessary to use negative 'ne'

Disjunctive/stress pronouns Lesson
Asked 4 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour Yellamaraju, Ne ... que means "only," so yes - you need ne for this meaning.
YellamarajuC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you

Paulette n'aime que lui! (Paulette loves only him!). Is it necessary to use negative 'ne'

Disjunctive/stress pronouns Lesson

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