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Toi, te, ta, tu

I recently was told here on the forums that you cannot say for example "j'aime toi" because in French you have to differentiate between direct and indirect object. Te is direct and toi is indirect.

Just a moment ago when I was watching New Girl with French subtitles I noticed that Jess said "she was flirting with you" which they translated as "elle flirtait avec toi". Is this not the same thing as "j'aime toi"? I'm not the best at grammar so please correct me if I'm wrong.

If someone would be so kind I would love to understand when all of these different forms are meant to be used: Toi, te, ta, tu, (am I forgetting something?)

Thanks in advance! :)

September 6, 2017



te is direct and toi is indirect.

That's not true, te is the clitic object pronoun, and toi is the tonic form of the pronoun.
Other pronouns also have the same distinction, for instance "me" can be me or moi.

basically, te translates you when it is used on its own, without a preposition:

Je t'aime = I love you
Tu m'aimes = You love me

tonic forms are used when the pronoun is isolated or is introduced by a preposition:

Je pense à toi = I think about you
Toi, je t'aime = You, I love you (a bit weird in English, but quite common in spoken French)
-Qui est-ce ? -Moi ! (-Who is it ? -Me !)

tu is the subject pronoun, used when is is the subject of the sentence:

Tu m'aimes = You love me
Je t'aime = I love you

ta is the feminine form of "your". It agrees in gender and number with the possessed object:

la voiture (feminine) -> ta voiture
le chat (masculine) -> ton chat
les enfants (plural) -> tes enfants

the same distinction is used with mon/ma/mes for 'my'

Of course, other pronouns also have these different forms (some even have more, for instance 3rd person pronouns distinguish direct object and indirect object)


Adding to this, you can use "moi", "toi" etc together with the object pronouns to stress it.

Je t'aime toi ! = I love YOU (not someone else).

Note that you still have to use the "te" before the verb. You cannot say 'J'aime toi'.


A comma is needed after 'Je t'aime': 'Je t'aime, toi !' Otherwise, it is ungrammatical.

I mentioned this possibility to stress a pronoun (whether subject or object) in a thread a few days ago: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24274233.


I had simplified the situation in another thread (here) by saying 'te' was a direct object, and 'toi' an indirect object. It does not always work like this, indeed. Ex: 'Je te parle' (indirect) = 'I am talking to you'. But it may concern only a few verbs. Is there even any other than 'parler à'? And your explanation does not work with it either, by the way.

I always try to give simple explanations, that can be remembered, and I sometimes mention a few notable exceptions. Not many students want to become French grammar experts, here. They only want to learn how to write and speak French more or less correctly (that would still be better than many native French speakers).


A stressed pronoun can also be the subject of a verb, whenever there is more than one subject:

  • Toi et moi sommes amis.

Let's face it, even if learners don't want to hear about grammar, there are 4 classes of personal pronouns and to build any credible sentence, they will need to understand them.

By the way, you have noticed as I have that French speakers' mistakes are quite different from foreigners'.


i'm just learning french can someone help me

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