What are subjects, objects, and pronouns? (grammar point)

A verb has a subject (the person or thing doing the verb), and may have an object (the thing being done to).

Languages have a variey of positions for the subject, verb and object. English is mostly a subject-verb-object, or SVO language.  Consider these two sentences:

subject verb object
John throws the ball
Marie studies English

French is also (mostly) SVO. Consider these sentences:

subject verb object
Jean lance la balle
Marie étudie l'anglais

In French, however, when we replace the object noun ('the ball', or 'anglais' above) with an object pronoun (la, le, l', les), the object pronoun moves to before the verb, making the sentence structure SOV:

subject object (pron) verb meaning
Jean la lance Jean throws it
Marie l' étudie Marie studies it

The subject can be replaced with a subject pronoun too:

Il la lance.
He throws it.

Elle l'étudie.
She studies it.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Grammar made easy: subjects, verbs and objects explained.

Il la lance.
He throws it.

Elle l'étudie.
She studies it.



Kwiziq community member

24 October 2017

1 reply

Subject vs object ...

I found the lesson confusing as well as the answer to this question. Je (subject) regarde (object) un film object, why was (un film) the subject. Also in the lesson its informs us that the "subject" can be replaced with with a "pronoun" , and then proceeds to replace the "object" with a "Pronoun. I do not comprehend why I am wrong."


Kwiziq community member

24 October 2017


Bonjour Stephen,
Perhaps there is a typo in your French phrase. . . . «regarde (object)». Regarde is actually the verb and «un film» is the object. From your email, it appears that you are an English speaker, possibly from the US educational system. If you recall from high school English, a sentence is a subject and a predicate. Everything except the subject is contained in the predicate including the verb. This, by the way, is an educational standard debate currently in France in lieu of the COD and COI. So, here is another lesson concerning replacing the subject with a pronoun:
In the lesson referenced in your question, it does not cite subject (name, noun) replacement by a pronoun; however, it can be. See the lesson mentioned above.
The best way to explain this is with an example:
I have the car. ---> J'ai la voiture. the object is «the car» or (la voiture) if we replace «une voiture) with a pronoun, in the case the feminine pronjoun «la» since voiture is a feminine noun. Then we have Je la ai. when then becomes Je l'ai.
Here are a couple of links that you might find useful:
I hope that you find this helpful.
Bonne chance.