4

In English, it is grammatically correct to say 'You and I' before a verb which the two have done, for example:

You and I have finished our work, but they haven't

Although, it can be said informally as:

Me and you / You and me have finished our work, but they haven't

(You are supposed to put the other person first)

But how would you say this is French?

Would it be:

Tu et j'avons fini nos devoirs, mais ils n'ont pas.

(This looks a little silly in the j'avons)

Or:

Tu et moi avons fini nos devoirs, mais ils n'ont pas.

If so, is there a formal/informal alternative?

Thanks:)

  • 1
    By the way 'mais ils n'ont pas' isn't correct either. – servabat Jan 18 '15 at 0:08
  • @servabat: 'mais eux non' is the right fix. 'You and I' seems like a old sentence to me, I'd have used 'You and me', then immediate translation works 'Toi et moi [avons...]' – xryl669 Aug 10 '15 at 17:53
6

Toi et moi avons fini notre travail, mais pas eux. This is perfectly good french and quite usual.

4

I agree with all previous answers but I just want to clarify this to use the following verb correctly. It's like mathematics:

  • Toi et moi = nous => avons
  • Lui et toi = vous => avez
  • Elle et lui = ils => ont
  • Lui et moi = nous => avons

I hope it will help anyway ;)

  • A helpful list! But I notice that it doesn't include any equations for "ON" (i.e, "Toi et moi = ON => A" or "Moi et lui = ON => A"). Does this omission perhaps mean that you agree with at least the gist of the comments made by @user2010913 under the two answers that included "ON A" as an acceptable option? Personally, I don't think that I'd go as far as user2010913 SEEMS to go (i.e., that PERHAPS "ON" should/can never replace "NOUS"), but I do feel that using "ON" in THIS case, where THIS "NOUS" is so clearly & DEFINITEly identified as and limited to "Toi et moi", is perhaps inadvisable. – Papa Poule Jan 19 '15 at 21:53
  • I did think about "ON" when I was writing down the list... But, I don't know, in French, "ON" is very often used when you talk, but it's still very informal. It is a common mistake to associate "ON" with "NOUS", but in reality, it means "someone, we don't know who". It's qualified as "undefined pronoun" (or indefinite pronoun, I don't know the exact term in english). And when you can avoid it, you do. – Djouuuuh Jan 20 '15 at 8:24
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    You should write Lui et toi instead of Toi et lui. I can't find a reference but toi and moi are always in last position when there are several pronoms personnels. Moi and toi will always be in the last position, but moi is always after toi. Examples: Eux et toi, Lui et toi, Lui et moi and Toi et moi. – A.L Jan 21 '15 at 11:43
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    I didn't pay attention to the rules of politeness, but yes, indeed, I should have written like you said. I just edited my answer. – Djouuuuh Jan 21 '15 at 11:45
3

"You and I" is translated Nous (i.e. "we"):

Nous avons fini notre travail.

... or, using on:

On a fini notre travail.

As an alternative to "we", you can say "You and me, we etc":

Toi et moi, nous avons etc.

Note that "Tu et j'avons" isn't correct (i.e. I've never heard it).


I had a theory that you have to say "Toi et moi, nous avons" and that "Toi et moi avons" (without the "nous") is incorrect. The rest of this answer (below) will explore that theory.

If I search on linguee for 'toi et moi avons' I see it's used both with and without "nous", for example,

  • Without:

    Toi et moi avons été surpris quelques fois par des choses que nous avons vues et pourtant nous croyions avoir tout vu.

  • With:

    Et c'est vrai dans l'autre sens aussi, toi et moi nous avons besoin des décisions et des lois passées par les politiciens à Bruxelles.

My theory about grammar is that a word can be used as a subject of a verb if it's a noun; and that "Le chat et le chien avons fini" is correct because "Le chat a fini" and "Le chien a fini" are both correct (i.e. "le chat" and "le chien" are nouns which can be used as subjects).

My theory continues, "Moi a fini" and "Toi a fini" are incorrect individually, i.e. therefore "moi" and "toi" cannot be used as subjects, and therefore "Moi et toi avons fini" is also incorrect.

This page Les pronoms toniques : moi, toi, lui... gives the following example:

On utilise les pronoms toniques :
-pour insister à l'oral :
Exemple : Moi, je suis française, mais lui, il est canadien et elles, elles sont belges.

However several francophones said that my answer (that "Toi et moi avons fini" is incorrect) is wrong; and I see it is used without "nous" on that page of linguee examples linked above: so perhaps "Toi et moi avons" is normal and is not incorrect; and/or perhaps it's informal, familiar or "relâché" usage.

Or my my theory is just anglophone (i.e. not good French), based on this argument being used in English to show that "You and me have finished" is not as good as "You and I have finished".


Personal pronouns – nominative, accusative, dative, reflexive says,

The stressed forms of nominative personal pronouns are used alone:

Ee.g. Qui habite ici? – Moi. – Who lives here? – Me.

These stressed forms can come before the whole structure if the pronoun is stressed: Moi, je travaille (It is me who am working).

This agrees with my recommending that you use "Toi et moi, nous".

On the other hand, Disjunctive pronoun says,

Disjunctive pronominal forms are typically found

  • in a coordination with a noun phrase or another pronoun

    Mes parents et moi arrivons dans une heure.

    My parents and me are arriving in an hour.

I guess that, in the phrase "Toi et moi", each pronoun is being used 'in a coordination with another pronoun' (i.e. "moi" is being used with "toi" and vice versa) and the phrase "Toi et moi arrivons" is therefore correct (or at least not incorrect).

  • Note that "Toi et moi, nous avons" is incorrect as well. It should be "Toi et moi avons". "nous" is superfluous. – ApplePie Jan 18 '15 at 8:19
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    Actually you have to consider "Toi et moi" as a nominal group and thus they are together a noun of the 1st person plural form. The addition of "nous" after "Toi et moi" can be used for emphasis when speaking (as your quote said "Pour insister à l'oral") but it sounds odd in written form (at least to me as a native french speaker). As your next quotes show, it is "stressed form" and thus does not constitute normal usage in a sentence. It has a certain strength that is not well suited for all conversation. Until you can fully grasp that nuance it's best to not add another pronoun ("nous"). – ApplePie Jan 19 '15 at 1:38
  • After your previous/first comment, I had to rethink/rework my answer: so I've already persuaded myself to agree with your comment about 'nominal group', that it's grammatically correct. But if you don't want to stress that it's "you and I", then wouldn't you always simply use nous or on instead of tu et moi? – ChrisW Jan 19 '15 at 1:46
  • In this case, it is nous that would be stressed. It implies that you are comparing "you and I" to somebody else instead of just stating a fact. It's thus ok to use "toi et moi" because it is more precise than "nous" while not adding an unnecessary stress. – ApplePie Jan 19 '15 at 1:49
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    “Toi et moi avons” is correct, but a bit too formal for ordinary conversation. “Toi et moi, nous avons” is formally an emphasis on the subject, but in ordinary conversation it's the normal form. – Gilles Jan 19 '15 at 14:08
2

The most common way to say this in everyday language would be

Toi et moi, on a fini....

More formally, you could say

Toi et moi, nous avons fini...

In writing, but much less likely in speech, you could say

Toi et moi avons...

The general principles at play are:

  1. even though it is just as common in written French as it is in written English, spoken French doesn't like to have verbs that aren't immediately preceded by subject pronouns (hence the ubiquitous « ça c'est », « les mecs ils sont, » etc. etc.)

  2. even though it is very common in written French, spoken French doesn't often use nous conjugations, preferring on conjugations.

The reason « toi et moi avons » sounds stilted to native speakers is that it violates both these principles. However, it is "correct" prescriptively.

EDIT: I removed the phrase "extremely awkwardly" due to the comments. However, I maintain that « toi et moi avons » won't be heard very often at all in spontaneous speech.

  • note also in French that you can't say e.g. « je vraiment veux »... somehow the subject pronouns are attached to the verb much more closely than in English – hunter Jan 18 '15 at 17:20
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    « toi et moi avons ... » est parfaitement correct. Seulement c'est pas beaucoup usité maintenant. On peut l'entendre dans des vieux films quand même. – Alexis Wilke Jan 19 '15 at 0:08
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    I disagree that "Toi et moi avons" is awkward. It's more formal, yes. Also, I don't think "Toi et moi, nous avons" is formal. I would personnaly consider it is between familiar and formal. Orally, the first example is indeed what I hear most often. – ApplePie Jan 19 '15 at 1:40
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    I totally agree with both comments here above, "Toi et moi avons..." isn't awkward at all and is just plain correct French whereas the first proposition is indeed more often heard because it's very informal, but is not correct from where I see it (because not only are you repeating the subject but also using an undefined pronoun when the subject is totally defined) – Laurent S. Jan 19 '15 at 9:44
  • Although the use of on for we is informal (well, less and less so), that doesn't mean that using nous is formal. – Un francophone Jan 19 '15 at 11:57

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