À Marie, il manque de la finesse.

The translation given is “Mary is lacking in delicacy.”

If the subject is Mary, why is “il” used and not “elle”?

I thought it meant “In Mary’s opinion, he (or it) lacks finesse.”

Literally this means: “To Marie, there is a lack of delicacy.”

The “il” is called “pronom impersonnel” because it doesn’t represent anything nor anyone. You have the same “il” in “il fait froid” or “il pleut dehors”.

Does it mean that Mary herself lacks delicacy, or that she thinks something else does?

She lacks it. It is stated with the « à ».

Similar usage of this à and « il » would be :

  • Il pleut à Paris
  • Il n’y a pas de métro à Saint-Tropez

A more common usage of this sentence would be: « il LUI manque de la finesse. » or as you guessed « elle manque de finesse ».


Thanks for the explanation with “lui”. That makes “à Marie” make much better sense.