In this case, "leur" is a personal pronoun (plural of "lui"), and is invariable.
"leur" can also be a possessive adjective, which agrees with the number of the noun, for example:
- "Ce sont leurs enfants" = "They are their children".
To answer simply, "leur" means them
leur(s) means their when followed by a noun (leur enfant, leurs enfants) or, of course, an adjective + noun.
An example where both are used: Je leur ai dit que leurs enfants sont adorables. → I told them that their children were adorable.
'leur' can also mean their.
For example, leur enfant (note singular) - their child.
I overlooked that. Thank you. I've updated my comment. Hopefully it makes more sense now.
Does this have the same dual meaning in French and English? We are going somewhere to tell them / In the future we will tell them?
The form "to go + infinitive verb" is usually used to talk about an action in the near future (but it can also be used to say"to go somewhere").
In this case:
"Nous allons leur dire." has the sense "In the future, we will tell them."
People would rather say:
"Nous y allons pour leur dire." if they want to say: "We are going somewhere to tell them"
"leur" and "eux" are both complement personal pronouns, 3rd person singular.
They vary according to the place that they have in the sentence.
Between the subject and the verb, you only use:
- "leur" (masc & fem plural), ex: "Nous allons leur dire." = "We are going to tell them."
- "lui" (masc & fem singular), ex: "Je vais lui donner." = "I am going to give him/her."
Everywhere else in the sentence, and often after a preposition (ex: "pour"), you use:
- "eux" (masc pl), ex: "Ce livre est pour eux." = "This book is for them."
- "elles" (fem pl), ex: "Ce livre est pour elles." = "This book is for them."
- "lui" (masc sing), ex: "Ce livre est pour lui." = "This book is for him."
- "elle" (fem sing), ex: "Ce livre est pour elle." = "This book is for her."
How would you say 'I am going to give him/her some (of it)'? Would it be "J'en vais lui donner"? I ask this, as 'I am going to give him/her' is something I would not normally say as it is incomplete.
"I am going to give him/her some (of it)" translates to "Je vais lui en donner" ("lui", in this case, is used either for the masculine (him) or the feminine (her)).
"I am going to give him/her" translates to "Je vais lui donner", and is incomplete: you should say "I am going to give it to him/her" translates to "Je vais le lui donner" (if "it" relates to a masculine object) or "Je vais la lui donner" (if "it" relates to a feminine object).
it means we will tell them. I think you'd have to introduce a word for the place where you are going to get the first
Nous allons dire ces mots = Nous allons les dire// Nous allons dire à tes parents = Nous allons leur dire.// Nous allons dire ces mots à tes parents. = Nous allons les leur dire. (ou: Nous allons les dire, à eux.)
"Nous allons les dire." sounds a bit unnatural, but it can be said (ex: Nous allons dire ces mots = Nous allons les dire.), so it's now accepted on Duolingo.
About your other example, "Nous allons dire ces mots à tes parents. = Nous allons les leur dire.": this can be said, but the most natural way to say it would be: "Nous allons dire ces mots à tes parents. = Nous allons leur dire."
why i cant say nous allons le dire, why do we have to use the other pronoun?
"Nous allons le dire" means "We will say it"
"Nous allons leur dire" means "We will tell them" (or "We will say it to them").
There are some verbs in French that must take an indirect object pronoun (like "leur") instead of a direct object pronoun (like "les"), and the clue to knowing whether to use "leur" or "les" lies in knowing what kind of verb you are dealing with.
I hear my childen. I hear them. → J'entends mes enfants. Je les entends. ("les" because the verb entendre calls for a direct object, so it requires that a direct object pronoun be used when rephrasing it.) When rewording to replace 'mes enfants' with a direct object pronoun, you must use "les" here because "entendre" (to hear) does not call for an indirect object pronoun as would be the case for the verb "obéir (à)"/ to obey, which would need an indirect object and, therefore, an indirect object pronoun when rephrasing it.
The following is an example with a verb that requires an indirect object and, therefore, an indirect object pronoun when rephrasing.
The boy obeys his parents. Hey obeys them. → Le garçon obéit à ses parents. Il leur obéit. (Note that in English the verb obey calls for a direct object whereas in French "obéir" calls for an indirect object (obéir à).
It is in this vein that you must use "leur" rather than "les" in "Nous allons leur dire. "Dire" calls for an indirect object and, therefore, an indirect object pronoun like 'leur' in this example. It's always "dire à" or "dire quelque chose à quelqu'un."
You say "some verbs in French .. must take an indirect object pronoun." Would these be the "reflexive" verbs? (I'm not much of a linguist, so grammarese has me quite befuddled at times.) Is there any way to tell if a verb is reflexive? Or how can we tell which verbs require an indirect object pronoun other than trial and error?
Here I'm not talking about whether a verb is reflexive or not.
In English, there are some verbs that require an indirect object. A simple test you can use to determine whether or not an indirect object pronoun is required is to see if a preposition comes between the verb and the object.
For instance, in English, we don't say "I listen the radio." We listen to the radio. Here "radio" is the indirect object of "listen to."
Unfortunately, we cannot always use English to guide us in determining what to do with the French verb. In French, "écouter" takes a direct object. So to say "I listen/am listening to the radio" in French, you would say, "J'écoute la radio" (and not, "J'écoute à la radio, as most native English speakers would be tempted to say.)
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb for knowing what kind of verb it is you're dealing with. Something you can do is to look up on the internet, "french verbs indirect object" and you should find a lot of resources. You might just have to drill these into your head.
In a dictionary -- at least in English -- the word is marked either "transitive" (takes a direct object), "intransitive" (does not take a direct object), or "both" if they can be used both ways.
Transitive = "hit"
"He hit X." You generally can't use it intransitively, at least not in a literal sense. There might be expressions like "hit on", "hit upon", "hit up", etc., though.
Intransitive = "sit"
"She sat on / with / beside / far away from X." You generally can't use this transitively -- i.e., "She sit X."
Both = "eat"
"They eat X." Or, "They eat with / at / in / during X." These can be used either way.
What about the French for "We're going to tell about them"?
Does anyone know how I would say, "We're going to speak to them"? I put that and it was marked as wrong so I'm trying to figure out if that would use parler instead of dire or if it would be a different verb or verb/pronoun combo altogether that I don't know yet.
That would be, "Nous allons leur parler." Or, more colloquially, "On va leur parler." I also think the following would work: "Nous allons/on va discuter avec eux."