Tuesday, March 12, 2013

French Object Pronouns Word Order

Why, the curious reader wonders, is word order so darned important in French? In English we pretty much stick direct and indirect objects anywhere depending on how we want to make the point.

I gave him the ball.
I gave the ball to him.
I was standing in the middle of Yankee Stadium, and I gave him a ball signed by Babe Ruth while a crowd of thousands cheered on.

The French, it seems, are sticklers for word order, reminding me of the oft repeated phrase:
"It is not so much what you say in French, but how you say it."

The word order for French object pronouns, both direct and indirect, is as follows:

Subject, direct object, indirect object, verb.

  Je le lui donne, Je le lui donnais, Je le lui ai donné -
  I am giving it to him, I gave it to him, I gave it to him.

With dual construction verbs, put the object pronouns before the second verb.

Je dois lui parler. - I have to talk to him/her.

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