French Tonic or Stress Pronouns

Beginner French - Level A2

Overview

Disjunctive pronouns (also known as tonic or stressed pronouns) refer to people whose names have already been mentioned or whose identity is obvious from context. They are used in a variety of situations in French, most often in short answers without verbs, for emphasis, or for contrast with subject pronouns. French stressed pronouns correspond in some ways to their English counterparts but are very different in other ways. Note that the English translations sometimes require different sentence structures altogether. Stressed pronouns are used in the following ways in French:

  • To emphasize nouns or pronouns
  • After c'est and ce sont
  • When a sentence has more than one subject or object
  • To ask and answer questions
  • After prepositions
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French Tonic or Stress Pronouns

Stress pronouns, also known as tonic or disjunctive pronouns, put stress in a sentence. In this module, we will learn about some of the most common ways to use stress pronouns in French. Using these in everyday conversation are common in the French language. In English, however, we use voice inflection and intonation emphasis to stress what we’re expressing in a sentence. Below is the list of French tonic pronouns.

moi      me

toi        you     

lui        him

elle      her

soi       one

nous     us

vous     you

eux       them

elles     them (f)

 

In this module we will talk about 3 common ways that stress pronouns are used. The other resources in this module may elaborate on additional ways that include more complex French grammar topics.

 

Usage #1: To emphasize the subject or subject pronoun

Following C’est or Ce sont (meaning It is)

                        Cest moi qui aime le petit-déjeuner pour le dîner !

                        It’s me who likes breakfast for dinner !

                       

                        Ce sont elles qui adorent le vin !

                        It’s them who love the wine !

           

            Repeating the subject pronoun

                        Toi, tu cries trop fort !

                        You, you are shouting too loudly !

 

                        Moi et lui (Nous), nous sortons ce soir.

                        Me and him (Us), we are going out tonight.

 

Usage #2: After a preposition (see the Quizlet module to learn French prepositions*)

            Monsieur, il y a un cadeau devant vous.

            Mister, there is a gift in front of you.

 

            Je ne veux pas aller avec eux à la plage.

            I don’t want to go with them to the beach.

 

*Note that stress pronouns can only refer to people. Not all prepositions provided will make sense in this context.

 

Usage #3: To say, myself/yourself/himself, etc...

            Add -même to the stress pronoun

 

                        Je peux faire le travail moi-même.

                        I can do the work myself.

 

                        Nous posons les questions nous-mêmes.

                        We are posing the questions ourselves.

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Additional Activities

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Directions: Underline the preposition in each sentence. Then, fill in the blank with the correct stress pronoun based on the subject of the sentence provided in the parenthesis.

 

  • Le livre est juste à droite de ______. (Lucas)
  • La télécommande pour la télévision est loin d’ _______ (Marie et Claire).
  • Nous cherchions (were searching for) un magasin qui était en face de ______. (Moi et ma mère)

 

Directions: Rewrite each sentence by adding a stress pronoun for emphasis.

  • Ils détestent les surprises !
  • Tu ne vas pas avec nous ?

 

Answers and Translation

 

  • lui / The book is just to the right of him.
  • elles / The remote for the television is far from them.
  • nous / We were searching for a store that was in front of us.
  • Eux, ils détestent... / Them, they hate surprises!
  • Toi, tu ne/ You, you are not going with us?

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