In my last post, we saw there were three ways to say “them” in French.
In this post, we will study les /lay/ (Listen).
Let’s Not Get Confused
You already know les as an article, in front of a noun, like this:
Les enfants /laysonfon/ (Listen)
Les parents /laypah ron/ (Listen)
Les gens /lay jhon/ (Listen)
Les autres /layzoh truh/ (Listen)
However this is not the topic of this post. Yes, I know, how confusing that French would use the same word for two different purposes. As if there weren’t enough sound available out there. But what can we do. Keep reading.
When Is It Used?
Les is used to express “them” when the verb doesn’t require any preposition. Meaning, when nothing stands between the verb and its object. As so:
Il voit les gens. (Listen)
He sees the people.
“les gens” directly follows “Il voit”.
Elle aime les fleurs (Listen)
She likes flowers
Nothing stands between “Elle aime” and “les fleurs”.
This is called a direct object in the grammatical world and COD (Complément d’objet direct) in the French Grammar jargon.
Therefore, when referring to the people or the flowers with the verbs above, one would use les:
Les gens? Il les voit. (Listen)
People? He sees them.
Les fleurs? Elle les aime. (Listen)
Flowers? She loves them.
In the above sentence, you will notice there is no “s” after aime: Elle les aime. Why is that? Because SHE still is the one loving them, even if “them” comes right before the verb in French. If you were to translate word per word the above sentence, you’d get: The flowers? She them loves. But it really means She loves them. Do you follow me? (If not, write me in the comment section below and we’ll sort it out).
Let’s look at more examples:
Verb: emmener quelqu’un (to take somebody somewhere)
Original sentence: Le bus emmène les enfants à l’école.
The children? The bus takes them to school. Listen
Verb: aller chercher quelqu’un (to pick up somebody)
Original sentence: Je vais chercher les enfants.
How about the children?
- I’m going to pick them up in a few. Listen
Verb: attendre quelqu’un (to wait for somebody)
Original sentence: Elle attend ses collègues.
She waits for them. Listen
Verb: connaître quelqu’un (to know somebody)
Original sentence: Il connaît les frères Ducon.
He knows them. Listen
I don’t know them! Listen
The following is a list of verbs with which to use “les” as “them“:
Next, we’ll talk about eux.
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