Apprendre la Langue Française (Part 85): pronom objet neutre – le facultatif


The French pronoun le acts as a neuter object pronoun in certain constructions. Its usage is optional, formal, and most common in written French.

There are four main constructions in which to use the French neuter object pronoun – the bold indicate both the neuter pronoun and what it is referring to – note that English often does not have a translation for this le.

I. To replace or refer to an idea contained in an adjective, noun, or clause

Si tu es satisfait, je le suis aussi.
If you’re satisified, I am too.

– Êtes-vous américain ?   – Oui, je le suis.
– Are you American?   – Yes, I am.

– Il est espion !   – Non, il ne l‘est pas.
– He’s a spy!   – No, he’s not.

Il t‘aime – j’espère que tu le comprends.
He loves you – I hope you understand that.

Je vais me venger – je le jure !
I will get revenge – I swear it!

II. In the second clause of a comparison, after aussi, autre, autrement, comme, plus, moins, mieux… (Note that the ne which shows up in the second clause of many of these examples is also optional)

Il est plus grand que je ne le croyais. He’s taller than I thought.

Cela vaut moins que tu ne le penses. That’s worth less than you think.

Elle est autre qu’il ne l’espérait. She’s different than he hoped.

Il n’est pas aussi stupide qu’on le croit. He’s not as stupid as people think.

Ce n’est pas gentil de parler des autres comme tu le fais. It’s not nice to talk about others like you do.

III. With negative expressions of opinion and desire: ne pas penser, ne pas vouloir, ne pas croire…

– Va-t-il venir ? – Je ne le pense pas.

– Is he going to come? – I don’t think so.

– Allez, viens avec nous !   – Je ne le veux pas.
– Come on, come with us!   – I don’t want to.

IV.With the following verbs: croire, devoir, dire, falloir, oser, penser, pouvoir, savoir, vouloir

Comme vous le dites, ce n’est pas juste. As you say, it’s not fair.

Viens quand tu le pourras. Come when you can.

Il pourrait aider s’il le voulait. He could help if he wanted to.


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