The following is from a grammar text ("Advanced French Grammar" by Monique L'Huiller) I'm browsing through :

en as a direct object pronoun

I'm confused why the bolded "de beaux verres anciens" is a direct object. I would have thought it was an indirect object, because there is a "de" there; I thought that indirect objects in French have a preceding "à" or "de" before the object, and that direct objects do not.

1) Why is "de beaux verres anciens" a direct object, instead of an indirect object?

2) Perhaps "de beaux verres anciens" is an indirect object of trouvé. But I still have questions in this case.

If I "undo" the "en" pronoun in "J'en ai acheté trois", I get "J'ai acheté trois beaux verres anciens"; in this case, there is no longer a "de" just before the "beaux verres anciens", so I can believe that the "en" in the original sentence is a direct object.

But what if I wanted to say "I bought some": "J'ai acheté de beaux verres anciens" would become "J'en ai acheté". Is "en" in this case now an indirect object?

1 Answer 1


The reason is simple: you are overlooking the fact that here "de" is not a preposition but an article. "Des" becomes "de" before an adjective placed before the noun (ref).

  • ugh, i need to learn to read more carefully. exactly what you are saying was explained in the previous page of the book (ie, that "en" as an indirect object pronoun replaces "(the preposition de) + noun", and that "en" as a direct object pronoun replaces "(partitive article) + noun")
    – silph
    Dec 17, 2019 at 7:01

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