Pronouns in French?

In English, it is incorrect to say "My mom and me," although people say it anyway. It should be "My mom and I."

However, no matter where I go, the only translation of the above sentence into French is "Ma maman et moi." Is this just the equivalent of the incorrect way to say it in English? Or, is this the grammatically correct way? Do people say "Ma maman et je"?

Merci d'avance!

March 3, 2018


In French we indeed say "maman et moi", and never "maman et je".
The reason for that is probably because, since "Mom and I" is 1rst person plural (we), in French it requires the nous-form of the verb, and following je by a verb form that doesn't correspond to it sounds really bad.

The same goes with all pronouns: "ta maman et toi", "sa maman et lui", "leur maman et eux"...

Note that in formal French, these forms can be directly followed by the appropriate verb form: "Ma maman et moi allons au cinéma", "Ta maman et toi allez au cinéma"...
but in spoken French, repeating the corresponding pronoun is preferred: "ma maman et moi, on va au cinéma", "ta maman et toi, vous allez au cinéma"...

March 3, 2018

In English you can say "My mom and I" if it is the subject of the sentence. "My mom and I went to a concert." You say "my mom and me" if it is the object of the verb: "He sang for my mom and me."

Je is a subject pronoun, and moi is an object pronoun.

March 3, 2018

I agree with Lrtward, that for English whether we use I or me depends on whether it is the subject or the object of the sentence.

And - being the Kanga I am, I have to go back to some basics to get my head around this.

In a sentence, the object of the sentence is the entity that is acted upon by the subject.

So for "My mom and I went to a concert."
"My mom and I" this is subject.
"went to" is the verb or doing statement.
"concert" is the object.

You can find the subject by asking "who or what" did something ( i.e. verb ).

So, in English, the rule is that if it is the subject, we use "I".
While if it is the object, we use "me".

However in French, there is a twist. As they have more than just subject and object pronouns. They also have emphatic pronouns. And we do not have an equivalent of this in English.

You can not compare apples directly with oranges. Yes they are both fruit, and we can eat them. However there is a substantial difference in their structure, etc.

You can use emphatic pronouns in place of a subject or an object.
It also needs to agree in number and gender, and also can only refer to people.

Other terms used in French for emphatic pronouns are :

  • pronoms emphatiques : emphatic pronouns - This is my personal favorite translation to English. However you will observe in many grammar references that are in English they are referred to as stressed pronouns. .

    Emphatically as a word means : expressing something forcibly and clearly.
    As a grammar term, it is where a word or syllable bears the stress, is given greater emphasis.

  • pronoms disjoints : disjunctive pronouns

  • pronoms toniques : tonic pronouns

It is useful to know this for when you come across them being talked about in other references on grammar.

I might have to take another bite at this cherry tomorrow. This is a great question you pose.
Do though bear in mind - the language rules for one language do not necessarily apply to another. ( and I think I may be also understating this fact in this instance. )

( time for Kanga to go to bed )

March 3, 2018

Ok. Now I have gathered all the information I need, I can explain this simply. ( I believe )

So. In English and French we have different pronouns for the subject of a sentence and the object of a sentence.

language - Subject - object
English I me
French je me

The subject (S) is the noun that is doing the interaction with the object (O) noun of the sentence.
In English and French, our standard sentences are structured : subject, verb, object (SVO).

So for "Mum and I", it is pointing out the subject, and the sentence has not included the verb and object. Let us add a verb and object to point this out a little more.
"Mun and I eat the apple."
So in this sentence there are two subjects : "Mum and I"
i.e. The two people "Mum and I" are going to do something, interact with something.
The verb (doing, action word) is : "eat"
And the object is : "the apple."
an object is the noun that the those in the subject of the sentence act upon.

When we look at French, there is another grammar rule at play. For in French we also have pronouns that are empathetic ( pronoms emphatiques ). As a grammar term "emphatic", it is where a word or syllable bears the stress, is given greater emphasis.

Subject - Emphatic - Object
je moi me
tu toi te
il lui le
elle elle la
nous nous nous
vous vous vous
ils eux les
elles elles les

So the correct French sentence is : "Maman et moi mangeons la pomme."

The incorrect sentence would be either :
'Maman et je mangeons la pomme." For although "je" is the subject pronoun, it is necessary to apply the rules of the emphatic pronoun, and use 'moi".

The other incorrect sentence is :
"Maman et me mangeons la pomme." For this is using the pronoun that should be used as the object of the sentence, in the position where it is the subject.

Yet when we are only talking about the first person, with no other subjects in the sentence, then the rules for the emphatic pronoun do not apply.
Thus you get the correct sentence as : "Je mange la pomme.

Is that any clearer ?

March 4, 2018

that's a good question!

March 3, 2018

Wow! Thank you all for the responses, they're very well explained!

March 13, 2018
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