TNs, U45a: Verbs: Present 3(Pronominal Verbs, Pronoun Order, Verbs+À/De)

Pronominal Verbs

A pronominal verb requires a reflexive pronoun, which is a special kind of pronoun that agrees with and refers back to the subject. They're identical to direct object pronouns except for the third-person se.

Person Singular Plural
1st me nous
2nd te vous
3rd se se

One type of pronominal verb, the reflexive verb, describes an action being done by the subject to the subject.

  • Je me couche tôt. — I go to bed early.
  • Vous vous levez. — You are getting up. (Lit, "You raise yourself".)
  • La femme se promène. — The woman goes for a walk. (Lit, "walks herself".)

Reflexive verbs include se in their infinitive forms (e.g. se promener). It isn't necessary to include the reflexive pronoun in the English translation. Also, the reflexive verb should come after ne in negations.

  • Ils se rasent. — They are shaving.
  • Elle ne se rase pas. — She doesn't shave.

The other kinds of pronominal verbs are reciprocal, passive, and subjective. You will learn these later.

Pronoun Order

Remember that pronoun objects can be either direct (no preposition) or indirect (preposition à). The verb acts upon the direct object and the indirect object receives the direct object.

When two object pronouns are related to the same verb, they appear in a predefined order between the subject and the verb.

1.The indirect object pronouns me, te, se, nous, vous precede the direct object pronouns le, la, les:

  • Le professeur me la laisse. — The teacher is leaving it for me.
  • Maman nous le donne. — Mom is giving it to us.
  • Notre ami se les réserve. – Our friend reserves them for himself.

2.The direct object pronouns le, la, les precede the indirect object pronouns lui and leur:

  • Le professeur les lui laisse. — The teacher is leaving them to him/her.
  • Maman le lui donne. — Mom is giving it to him/her.
  • Notre ami la leur réserve. — Our friend reserves it for them.

Pronoun Order Summary

Subject 1 2 Verb
me/m’ le/la/l’/les
te/t’ le/la/l’/les
se/s’ le,la/l’/les
nous le/la/l’/les
vous le/la/l’/les
le/la/l’/les lui/leur

Verbs with À and De

As you learned previously, à or de can appear after a verb to introduce an infinitive or object. You should consider such a preposition to be an integral part of the verb that completes or changes its meaning.

  • Je commence à manger. — I am starting to eat.
  • Ma nièce essaie de dormir. — My niece is trying to sleep.
  • Je pense à des éléphants roses. — I am thinking about pink elephants.
  • Que pensez-vous de ce film ? — What do you think of that film?

However, recall from "Verbs: Present 1" that conjugated verbs can be followed by verbs in the infinitive without needing a preposition.

  • Je veux lire. — I want to read.
  • Il aime nager. — He likes to swim./He likes swimming.

Here is the list of the verbs followed by an infinitive without a preposition:

Aimer/aimer mieux, aller, compter, croire, courir, daigner, descendre, désirer, détester, devoir, entendre, entrer, espérer, faire, falloir, (s')imaginer, laisser, monter, oser, paraître, partir, penser, pouvoir, préférer, prétendre, rentrer, rester, retourner, revenir, savoir, sembler, sentir, sortir, souhaiter, valoir mieux, venir, voir, vouloir.

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