A) The personal pronouns


The French pronouns are listed in the following table. The English translations are given in parentheses:

What is a pronoun?

PersonSingularPlural
1st je (I) nous (we)
2nd tu (you) vous (you)
3rd il/elle (he/she) ils/elles (they/they)


B) The verb être (=to be) and its forms


One of the most important and most frequently used French verbs is être (=to be). It is conjugated in the following way:

What is a verb?
What is a conjugation?

 être(=to be)
PersonSingularPlural
1st je suis
(I am)
nous sommes
(we are)
2nd tu es
(you are)
vous êtes
(you are)
3rd il/elle est
(he/she/it is)
ils/elles sont
(they are)

We can see that the forms of être are irregular. They don't follow any logical pattern or set of rules. We will soon see that a lot of French verbs are irregular and thus harder to conjugate than most English verbs.


C) Informal address vs. formal address


In French, we have to address someone differently depending on whether we are friends with that person or whether we don't know him or her very well. In English, we would always use the pronoun you to address someone. However in French, we can only use tu if we are close to the person being addressed. If this is not the case and we don't know our vis-à-vis, we have to use vous instead.



D) The difference between ils and elles



ils
(they)

elles
(they)

In English, when we speak about many people in the 3rd person, we use the pronoun they. Thereby, the usage of they is independent of the gender composition of the group being talked about. In other words, it does not matter, whether there are only men or only women in the group, or if the group is mixed.
However, in French, we have to use the pronoun elles if the group only has female members. In all other cases (purely male group or mixed group), we use ils.


E) The usage of on


The French pronoun on can be translated into English with one, but also with we:


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