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What are stressed pronouns?

Blog-Header-French-Gated-StressedPronouns

When I greet my English speaking friend with Bonjour, ça va ? [Hello, how is it going?], a reply I hear often is Oui, et tu ? Here, the correct answer should be Oui, et toi ? [Yes, and you?]. Toi is a stressed pronoun. Let’s find out about the other stressed pronouns and how to use them.

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  IMPORTANT:

Stressed pronouns refer to people and animals only.

  • Adding emphasis is the main reason why you will use a stressed pronoun in French. 

Moi, je suis toujours à l’heure.         (Me), I’m always on time.

In English, you would not say “me, I…”, but you would put emphasis on “I” with the tone of your voice. 

Mais toi, tu es toujours en retard !    But (you), you are always late!

Did you know? Another name for stressed pronouns is emphatic pronouns. Emphatic → it emphasizes!


Combine the stressed pronoun with -même and you’ll add even more emphasis: 

J’ai fabriqué cette maquette moi-même !    I made this model myself!

  • After “et” [and] is another use that is important to know. 

Moi, ça va, et lui ?       Me, I’m fine, and he?
On a faim. Et eux ?      We’re hungry. And they?

  • Stressed pronouns can be used on their own, for example, when answering a question. How do you choose the correct pronoun? Think about who you want to describe and use the above table to help you. For example, if it is yourself, use moi [me]. If it is a single male, use lui [him]. Or if it is a group of females, use elles [they].

Qui veut une barbe à papa ? Moi !      Who wants candy floss? Me!
Qui sonne à la porte ? Lui !                  Who is ringing the doorbell? Him!

  • After c'est [it is]:

        Coucou, c’est moi !       Hiya, it’s me!

  • After être à, using stressed pronouns shows belonging. 

Cette trottinette est à lui.           This scooter belongs to him.
C’est à moi de jouer !                  It’s my turn to play!

  • After pour [for], chez [at], avec [with], sans [without]: A stressed pronoun is compulsory after all of these little words called prepositions. 

Ce cadeau est pour nous ?         Is this present for us?
Clara vient chez vous à 17h.       Clara is coming to your place at 5pm. 

Je joue aux jeux vidéos avec elles.       I’m playing video games with them.
Sans eux, je ne pourrais pas gagner.    Without them, I couldn't win.

  • Stressed pronouns are used with comparison words:

    • moins...que [less...than]:
      Olivier est moins courageux qu’eux.
      Oliver is less brave than them.

    • plus...que [more...than]:
      Rose est plus petite que lui.
      Rose is shorter than him. 

    • autant...que [as...as]:
      Ils sont aussi sportifs que nous.
      They are as sporty as us.

  • When telling people what to do, use a stressed pronoun after the verb:

Donne-lui ce journal !
Give him this newspaper!

  • Four ways to express agreement or disagreement with what someone said using stressed pronouns.

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The same rule applies to all stressed pronouns. For instance, lui aussi [him as well] , nous non plus [we neither], pas eux [not them].

 

As you can see, stressed pronouns are used in a variety of ways. The situations where you will use them the most are: 

    • to emphasize the person you are talking about

    • to compare people

    • when telling people what to do

    • with the little words avec, sans or chez, and after c’est.

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Agnes Finot

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