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Il, elle, ils, elles = it, he, she, they

Il means he or it (for a masculine noun)

Jean travaille dans le club. - Il travaille dans le club.
Jean works in the club. - He works in the club.

Le stylo est sur la table. - Il est sur la table.
The pen is on the table. - It is on the table.

Elle means she or it (for a feminine noun)

La fleur est jolie. - Elle est jolie.
The flower is pretty. - It is pretty.

Ils means they (for masculine or mixed plural nouns)

Jean et Paul vont au cinéma. - Ils vont au cinéma.
Jean and Paul are going to the cinema. - They are going to the cinema.

Elles means they or them (when every one of the group are female or feminine nouns)

Les fleurs sont jolies. - Elles sont jolies.
The flowers are pretty. - They are pretty.

 

See also C'est vs il/elle est: Saying it is

 

Grammar note: Pronouns are general words that replace specific nouns in sentences. A verb has a subject (the person or thing doing the verb), and may have an object (the thing being done to). Subject pronouns are usually different to object pronouns, so you cannot use one to replace the other (in English it can be either, but French uses distinct words) .

Subject - Verb - Object
(sub) Jean (verb) kicks (obj) the ball > (subj pron) He (verb) kicks (obj pron) it

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

La fleur est jolie. - Elle est jolie.
The flower is pretty. - It is pretty.



Le stylo est sur la table. - Il est sur la table.
The pen is on the table. - It is on the table.


Les fleurs sont jolies. - Elles sont jolies.
The flowers are pretty. - They are pretty.


Jean et Paul vont au cinéma. - Ils vont au cinéma.
Jean and Paul are going to the cinema. - They are going to the cinema.


Jean travaille dans le club. - Il travaille dans le club.
Jean works in the club. - He works in the club.


Micro kwiz: Il, elle, ils, elles = it, he, she, they
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Q&A

G

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2018

4 replies

The multiple choice question in the quiz is: “Marc regarde le film. Il est très bon” means....

I answered - Marc is watching the film. It is very good. I was marked NEARLY correct because I didn’t include the answer: Marc is watching the film. HE is very good. That doesn’t feel like a correct answer to me.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Well, in french you can't tell what the pronoun "il" refers to: it could either be the film or marc. So both translations are -- barring any contextual information on top -- indistinguishable in French.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

G

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Yes I do understand that it is grammatically correct but it just felt so wrong to mark it that way. ;-)

Chris

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Yes, I know what you are saying. Just think of a situation where a kid is to watch a boring educational film and he does so voluntarily. He is such a good boy! ;)

-- Chris.

G

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2018

30/01/18

Of course, I never thought of it that way!
Merci,

Kev

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

7 replies

Why is it ‘Ils brûlent tout’ not ‘Ils sont brûlent tout’?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

"Ils brûlent tout" translates to "They burn everything".This is one of the few cases where you can literally translate every word and get the right answer. Not many of those around ;)

I am not sure why you would want to stick "sont" into the sentence. What exactly did you want to say?

-- Chris.

Kev

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

Thanks Claus, I agree with you and understand your explanation but the quiz question was to translate “They’re burning everything” hence I put sont in there for “are”, which was marked as being wrong.

Megan

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

When you conjugate a verb in the present tense, it already means "is / are -ing." For example, "Ils parlent" may be translated as "They are speaking," or "they speak."

Ron

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

Bonjour Kev,
There is a lesson here that addresses this topic exactly; however, I am unable to locate it but basically is says that in French unlike in English there is not a separate conjugation to say I am speaking, like in Megan's examples above. «Il parle» translates to «He speaks» OR «He is speaking». Claus gave a great example about the phrase in question by stating that there are not many times when the phrase in French can be translated word-for-word to English. I had a French instructor and her favorite phrase to the class when we attempted to translate was this:
French is not simply English translated to French. There are too many syntax variables between the two for that to occur. Learning French is a totally different way of thinking about language.

Kev

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

Thanks for your help everyone. I’m getting my head around it slowly ;-)

Kev

Kwiziq community member

3 November 2017

3/11/17

This explains it in a bit more detail. https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/french/french-ii/french-ii-participles/present-participles

Ron

Kwiziq community member

4 November 2017

4/11/17

Actually, the lesson from cliff notes is a totally different grammar point, what in English is known as a gerund, the -ing form of a verb when it is not functioning as a verb, i.e. He eats while talking ---> Il mange en parlant. So, one can see that these are two entirely different grammar structures.
Here is the lesson that discusses le gerondif:
https://french.kwiziq.com/my-languages/french/view/4552?rts=%252Fsearch%253Fs%253Ding

Mieke

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

1 reply

How do you say "Jeanne eats from the ice cream" in French?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

4 September 2017

4/09/17

Bonjour Mieke,
«Jeanne eats from the ice cream». This seems to be an incomplete sentence so I will take a little «poetic» license here and change the phrase to «Jeanne eats from the ice cream cone» This then becomes, in French: Jeanne mange du cône de crème glacée or
Jeanne eats from the ice cream carton (she just bought from the store and did not place some in a bowl) ---> Jeanne mange de la boîte de crème glacée
However, in English we might say: Jeanne is eating an ice cream cone ---> Jeanne mange un cornet de crème glacée.
J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera.
Bonne chance

Susan

Kwiziq community member

10 February 2017

2 replies

Re La fleur est jolie. Elle est jolie: could one also say

C'est jolie?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 February 2017

10/02/17

Bonjour Susan !

No, as here it is not a general statement but rather a specific statement on that specific flower, hence "elle".
Moreover, "c'est jolie" is incorrect as "c'est" is also followed by the masculine form of the adjective. It would be "c'est joli".

See also:
https://french.kwiziq.com/my-languages/french/view/3006

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2017

12/02/17

Bonjour Aurélie,
Merci. Yes, helpful.
À bientôt,
s.

Lea

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2015

3 replies

how can i learn that lunettes is plural? is there a singular word for lunettes?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

27 December 2015

27/12/15

Bonjour Lea,


Lunettes is just like "eyeglasses" in English - they are both plural. The "s" at the end usually means that the word is plural, but there are exceptions.


There are many words like this in both languages. Sometimes they're both plural and sometimes the noun is plural in one language but not the other, such as les épinards = "spinach." This is just something you need to learn along with the new words.


https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/how-some-plural-nouns-in-english-are-singular-in-french-and-vice-versa

Lea

Kwiziq community member

27 December 2015

27/12/15

Please pardon my mistake. I made a big error. What I meant to ask was, how can I know that this plural word, lunettes, is feminine? The question called for knowing this.
Thank you for your explanation though.
Lea

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

30 December 2015

30/12/15

Dear Lea,

You can hardly ever 'guess' the gender of a word unfortunately... however, in that case, you can remember that ALL words ending in '-ette' are feminine in French, so here you are.
For other gender tips, have a look at this lesson:
https://www.french-test.com/revision/grammar/how-to-identify-gender-by-some-word-endings

I hope it's helpful!

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