Replacing compound subjects with subject pronouns nous, vous, ils, elles

Look at these sentences:

Jean et moi jouons aux cartes. 
Nous jouons aux cartes.

Jean and I play cards.
We play cards.

Sarah et ma soeur sont sympas.
Elles sont sympas. 

Sarah and my sister are nice.
They are nice.

M. Dupont et Mme Vichy se connaissent. 
Ils se connaissent.

Mr Dupont and Mrs Vichy know each other.
They know each other.

Sarah et toi êtes amis.
Vous êtes amis. 

Sarah and you are friends.
You are friends.

When you have more than one person in a sentence doing the action (verb), then you can replace them with a plural subject pronoun: nous, vous, ils ou elles.

Here are the different combinations:

person(s) + moi     =  nous 

person(s) + toi      =  vous

person(s) + person(s)   = ils (all male or mixed group) or  elles (all female group)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Sarah et toi êtes amis.
Vous êtes amis. 

Sarah and you are friends.
You are friends.


M. Dupont et Mme Vichy se connaissent. 
Ils se connaissent.

Mr Dupont and Mrs Vichy know each other.
They know each other.


Jean et moi jouons aux cartes. 
Nous jouons aux cartes.

Jean and I play cards.
We play cards.


Sarah et ma soeur sont sympas.
Elles sont sympas. 

Sarah and my sister are nice.
They are nice.


Q&A Forum 3 questions, 5 answers

StephenA2Kwiziq community member

Sarah et toi etes amis ,vous etes amis .Is it not better to use vous for both sentances?

Asked 11 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
I don't get what you're asking. 
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Stephen,

If I have understood you correctly...

you can say:

Sarah et toi êtes amis

or 

Sarah et toi, vous êtes amis.

YuA1Kwiziq community member

OP is asking, since you are using VOUS in the second sentence, doesn't make sense to use it in both? I.e. 'Sarah et VOUS etes amis ,vous etes amis.' I think he mistook vous (you plural) for vous (polite form).

Sarah et toi etes amis ,vous etes amis .Is it not better to use vous for both sentances?

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StephenA2Kwiziq community member

Sarah et toi êtes amis.

Asked 11 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member
already answered ...

Sarah et toi êtes amis.

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JustmeA0Kwiziq community member

Exactly how does one know when to you vous and when to use Ils

I was never aware "JACK and JILL' should take the pronoun Ils.   It was my belief ILS was reserved for all boys only.  

So now I see vous addressing the individuals IN the group.   Sort of like ILS is they and VOUS is similar to America's deep South as y'all, or the northeast as in you guys. 

So within the poem/song Jack and Jill went up the hill one wouldn't use the pronoun VOUS as it would change the meaning.   Is that correct?

Not Y'ALL or You guys or VOUS     went up the hill...  Jack and Jill are not the audience.

THEY or ILS went up the hill to fetch...  The audience is being addressed.  Not Jack and Jill.

Dear professor, is that about right?

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

Vous is the 2nd person plural, you use it when you are addressing more than one person, or when you are talking to a single person and address her formally.

Anne et Marie, vous allez au cinéma?
Jean et Pierre, je vous ai vus hier.
Madame, qu'est-ce que vous faites?

Ils is used as a pronoun for the 3rd person plural ("they" in English). If you are speaking about an all female group it is elles.

Anne et Marie, elles sont allées au cinéma.
Jean at Marie, ils m'ont vu hier.

I hope that helps.

Exactly how does one know when to you vous and when to use Ils

I was never aware "JACK and JILL' should take the pronoun Ils.   It was my belief ILS was reserved for all boys only.  

So now I see vous addressing the individuals IN the group.   Sort of like ILS is they and VOUS is similar to America's deep South as y'all, or the northeast as in you guys. 

So within the poem/song Jack and Jill went up the hill one wouldn't use the pronoun VOUS as it would change the meaning.   Is that correct?

Not Y'ALL or You guys or VOUS     went up the hill...  Jack and Jill are not the audience.

THEY or ILS went up the hill to fetch...  The audience is being addressed.  Not Jack and Jill.

Dear professor, is that about right?

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