4

I saw this on the web:

Il m'a écrit une lettre.

Why is there an 'a'?
Shouldn't it be "me"?

6

The "a" is part of the verb. The verb is in passé composé: il a écrit.

And you're quite correct, "me" is required there, but it is, in fact, there. Very strictly speaking, the sentence is "Il me a écrit une lettre." However, French does not like vowels following each other like "me a" and elides the "e" instead, thus giving us "m'a".

  • 1
    Very nicely & carefully explained! It’s probably not the case, but since “écrit” is both the 3rd person present form & the past participle of écrire, there’s a SLIGHT chance that the OP was reading this sentence in the present tense (He is writing me a letter) & that he/she didn’t see why the “me” was being spelled with an “a” in the present tense. Regardless, your answer clearly addresses the elision of the “missing” “me” into the “a” to get “m’a” & elision would also explain why the “me” would likewise be “missing” even if the OP was thinking in the present tense:“Il m’écrit une letter.”+1 – Papa Poule Mar 25 '15 at 16:55
4

The a here is the conjugation of the "auxiliare avoir", which is part of the conjugation of the verb "écrire" in the "passé composé" tense.

Le passé composé: est un temps formé de l'auxiliaire avoir ou être au présent suivi du participe passé du verbe conjugué.

Le "a" ici est la conjugaison du verbe "avoir" au présent de l'indicatif, qui fait partie de la conjugaison du verbe "écrire" au passé composé, où nous utilisons l'auxiliaire étre ou avoir conjugué au présent de l'indicatif suivi du participe passé du verbe.

Here in the sentence Il m'a écrit une lettre. we have the following :

  • a : l'auxiliaire avoir au présent de l'indicatif.
  • écrit : le participe passé du verbe écrire.

The pronom personnel me here is abbreviated to m', because instead of writing "il me a écrit" which we can't, we write "il m'a écrit", this rule is called L’élision .

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