Lesson 4: Family

The verb avoir

“Avoir” can be translated as “to have”.


French Verb • Present Indicative
avoir to have
first personj’aijayI havenouszavonsnoozahvohnwe have
second persontu astoo ahyou havevouszavezvoozahvayyou have
third personil aeel ahhe hasilszonteelzohntthey have
(masc. or mixed)
elle aell ahshe has
onnaohnahone haselleszontellzohntthey have (fem.)


J’ai deux stylos.I have two pens.
Tu as trois frères.You have three brothers.
Il a une idée.He has an idea.

Expressing Age

Avoir is used to express age.

  • Tu as quel âge? – How old are you? [lit: You have what age?]
  • J’ai trente ans. – I’m thirty (years old). [lit: I have thirty years]

There is/are – Il y a

The expression il y a means there is or there are.

  • Il y a un livre. – There is a book.
  • Il y a des livres. – There are books.

The Family

French Vocabulary • Family
The Family La Famille
Immediate FamilyExtended Family
ma famillemy familyma famille éloignéemy extended family
les parentsparentsles grand-parentsgrandparents
la mèremotherla grand-mèregrandmother
le pèrefatherle grand-pèregrandfather
la femmewifeles petits-enfantsgrandchildren
le marihusbandle petit-filsgrandson
la soeursisterla petite-fillegranddaughter
le frèrebrotherl’oncle, tontonuncle
l’enfantchild (m or f)la tante, tatiaunt
les enfantschildrenle neveunephew
la filledaughterla nièceniece
le filssonle/la cousin(e)cousin (m or f)
Step Family
la belle-mèrestepmotherla demi-soeurhalf sister
le beau-pèrestepfatherle demi-frèrehalf brother

To speak about more complex family relations, such as “my grandmother’s cousin”, you must use the de mon/ma/mes form – “le cousin de ma grandmère”.

Direct Object Pronouns le, la, and les

le, la, and les are called direct object pronouns, because they are pronouns that are, you guessed it, used as direct objects. A direct object is a noun that is acted upon by a verb.

  • Il lance la balle. – He throws the ball.

In the above sentence la balle is the direct object.
You have learned earlier that names and regular nouns can be replaced by the subject or nominative pronouns “I, you, he…” (je, tu, il…). Similary, direct objects, such as “la balle”, can be replaced by pronouns. These are a different set of pronouns (accusative). As in English, you would say “She gave him,” and not “Her gave he.” He/she are subjects used in the nominative case, while him/her are direct objects used in the accusative case.

  • le – replaces a masculine singular direct object
  • la – replaces a feminine singular direct object
  • l’ – replaces le and la if they come before a vowel
  • les – replaces plural direct objects, both masculine and feminine

The direct object pronouns come before the verb they are linked to.

  • Il la lance. – He throws it.
  • Il les lance. – He throws them.

Le, la, and les can replace either people or inanimate objects.

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