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I am having some trouble deciding where to put the object pronoun in constructions with more than one verb. As far as I can gather, when a modal verb (devoir, pouvoir, vouloir) is concerned, the pronoun always comes after the modal verb and before the main verb:

Pour pouvoir le faire, nous devons...

Tu devrais le casser... etc.

However, I have encountered sentences in which there is a dual verb construction, with non-modal auxiliary verbs such as faire, in which the object pronoun precedes both verbs. I saw on a grammar website that this is always the case with faire, but I was wondering if there is an underlying rule here, or at least a list of verbs where this applies (perhaps all dual verb constructions with non-modal verbs are like this?). Examples:

Il les fallait cacher... Ça vous la fera perdre... Pour les aller mettre sur sa tombe...

If you could refer me to a source where this is explained in detail, that would be appreciated as well. I have looked through multiple grammar books without finding a satisfactory explanation.

1 Answer 1

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  1. il les fallait faire, Il les fallait cacher, Pour les aller mettre sur sa tombe... : this is 19th century language that is not used any more.

  2. Ça vous la fera perdre : this is modern day French ; the place of the pronoun is exceptional for two verbs (laisser, faire).

(JM Kalmbach) Exceptions

La règle concernant la place des pro­noms faibles devant un infinitif dépen­dant d’un au­tre ver­be n’a que peu d’ex­cep­tions :

a. […]

b.Faire + in­fi­ni­tif, laisser + in­fi­ni­tif: le pro­nom se place devant le ver­be prin­ci­pal faire ou laisser :

• Il a laissé tomber le vase. → Il l’a laissé tomber.
• Je lui ai fait apprendre le texte par cœur. → Je le lui ai fait apprendre par cœur.
• Je laisse les enfants jouer seuls. → Je les laisse jouer seuls.
• Il faut laisser le produit agir. → Il faut le laisser agir.
• Pour la réception, elle compte se faire faire une nouvelle robe chez une cou­tu­riè­re. → Elle compte s’en faire faire une chez une cou­tu­riè­re.

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  • Merci beaucoup! The quotes with falloir and aller are indeed from Stendhal (Le rouge et le noir); one of my methods (and motivations) for improving my French is to read classic works, but this looks like one of the instances where they can cause confusion. I appreciate the reference.
    – Smert
    Jan 29, 2023 at 17:02

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