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Hi everyone.

Pretty much complete beginner, working through the third quarter of the original introductory French course by Michel Thomas (great, by the way).

There seems to be an inconsistency in his treatment of object pronouns, (probably me being thick of course) and wondered if anyone could set me straight.

He covers the usage of lui for male/female in the sense of to him/to her which I get -

1. I'm going to send him/her the book - Je vais lui envoyer le livre.

He then gives the following -

2. I'm going to send it to him - Je vais le lui envoyer.

OK - I figure that 'it' and 'him' are both objects and so need to go before the verb.

Trouble is that a little further on he gives the following whilst discussing the way to avoid any confusion when using 'lui' -

3. I'm going to give it to him - je vais le donner a lui.

So what is the difference between 2 and 3? The verbs are different of course but both imply 'to him' and in 2 'lui' goes before the verb and in 3 it goes after!

Sorry if it is obvious but can't see it.


Merci beaucoup.  


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The difference between 2 and 3 is informative not grammatical. Sentence 3 puts emphasis on 'à lui' saying that it's the most important information. It also implies a choice between several receivers : 'je vais le donner à lui (pas à elle)'.  In 2 the most important information is the fact of giving, not the identity of the receiver.   

Not to disagree but just to explain how I look at it (hopefully correctly).

In (2) "le" and "lui" are object pronouns without a preposition  before them . In that case their position is before the main  verb ( and in the correct order ,which is a separate matter).

In (3) one of the pronouns does have a preposition before it and so  the rule that  object pronouns come before the verb does not apply and so it can come after the main verb .

Hi George -- what you say is true, but you're just missing an extra crucial detail. The way you state it makes it sound as though (2) and (3) are somehow optional alternatives to one another. But in reality, there is an extra observation that goes something like:

"Speakers will use a clitic [i.e. option (2) here] whenever it is feasible to do so."

Or in other words: sentence (3) would be a "marked" or "special" variant only used occasionally under some circumstances, e.g. for emphasis/contradiction.

Yes , I should have said that -but I can only hold so many ideas in my head at the same time :)   

I see it as le, referring to 'it' (the book), is the direct object. The lui, referring to 'to him', is the indirect object.  Therefore, in a sentence like "I give it to him", all three pronouns (subject, object, indirect object) results in Je le lui donne.  Because lui  can mean both 'to him' and 'to her', adding à lui  or à elle  helps to clarify gender in place of an identifying noun.

Hi David, Like you, I am also working my way through the Michel Thomas course. I remember also being confused by this, so replayed it a couple of times. If I remember correctly sentence 3 was to be used if there was some ambiguity over whether 'it' was being given to 'him' or 'her', because if 'it' was being given to 'her' then the pronoun that would be used at the end of a sentence would be 'elle'. Lui used at the end of a sentence always refers to a 'him', whereas used before the verb 'lui' means him or her. I think this agrees with the other responses here too.


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