What do the verbs buy, give, write, and send have in common?
They are things we do at work?
Well, yes... and this can be a hint. Things we do in our jobs usually involve other people apart from ourselves.
Oh, I know, things that have a recipient?
Exactly, you're so good at this!
For to buy, to give, to write, or to send, we need a person on the other end to receive our help, our present, our email, our package,... In grammar terms, these recipients are called indirect objects.
In English, they would be represented like this:
I give you a present.
Well, remember the verb plaire, to like, in English?
Yes, the verb that doesn't change its form.
Exactement, and do you also remember what we said about the person who likes something?
We don't need je but me! Like, le film me plaît !
There you go!
The words in the right column (me, etc.) are called indirect object pronouns, and they are used with all verbs that have a recipient like plaire.
For now, the most important thing to remember are these pronouns. They are used to replace recipients in a sentence.
Je t'offre un cadeau.
I give you a present.
Can you guess who the recipient is here?
It's me! Because you used te/t'.
Bravo ! Now don't forget that these little words are called pronouns because they always replace a noun:
L'homme écrit à sa femme.
The man writes to his wife.
L'homme lui écrit.
The man writes to her.
Does that mean that lui here replaces sa femme?
Almost! lui replaces à sa femme, the little word à is important here because it helps indicate who or what the indirect object is.
Let's have a look at another example:
Mon père envoie une carte postale aux enfants.
My father sends a postcard to the children.
Mon père leur envoie une carte postale.
My father sends them a postcard.
So... if I follow your logic, leur here replaces aux enfants. Is that right?
Parfait ! Any idea why we useleur?
Easy! Because aux enfants is plural.
You got it!
But why is the indirect object pronoun before the verb in French? It doesn't make any sense!
Haha, I guess it makes sense only to French people!
Don't panic, it may seem a little complicated at first, but you'll get the hang of it with practice :)