The pronouns que and qui in French

Simple relative pronouns que and qui in French are used to connect two sentences. They are invariable, so you don’t have to worry about the accordance in number and gender. They also prevent repetitions as we’ll see in examples.

Whether you are learning French for business or just for fun, your goal is most likely to communicate with others. Knowing how to use the relative pronouns in your French conversations will make you feel more like a local.

que and qui in French

Table of content

  1. When to use qui or que in French
  2. How to use the pronouns où
  3. Understanding the relative pronoun dont

When to use qui or que in French

  1. Qui is used as a subject

It speaks of a person, an animal or a thing.

For example :

C’est ma sœur qui a acheté cette jupe = It’s my sister who bought this skirt

Voici la télé qui ne marche pas = Here’s the TV that doesn’t work

Le téléphone qui est sur la table appartient à Marie = The phone that is on the table belongs to Marie

using qui in french

2. Que is a direct object

It refers to a person or thing.

ex : Le film que nous regardons est en espagnol = The movie that we are watching is in Spanish

La robe que tu regardes est en coton = The dress that you are looking at is in cotton 

C’est la maison qu’ils ont choisie = This is the house that they chose

Note : Que when followed with a vowels will become qu’

QUE + a/e/i/o/u/y = QU’ + a/e/i/o/u/y

How to use the pronoun où

The pronoun où serves to combine two clauses related in space or in time.

  1. Où = where (space)

ex : C’est la ville où nous avons acheté un appartement = This is the town where we bought an apartment

Voici la maison où j’ai passé mon enfance = Here is the house where I grew up

2. Où = when (time)

ex : 1970, c’est l’année où j’ai eu mon diplôme = 1970, this is the year when I had my degree

Ils sont partis l’année où nous sommes arrivés = The left the year when we arrived

Attention : Do not mix Où (where or when) with Ou (or)

relative pronouns

Understanding the relative pronoun dont

The pronoun dont in French replaces an object of the preposition de. You will find them will all the verbs with de :

  • être content/triste/déçu de
  • accepter/refuser/parler/proposer/se servir de
  • avoir peur/envie/raison/tort de,…

ex = Le dictionnaire dont ils se servent est bilingue = The dictionary that they are using is bilingual

Je n’aime pas les amis dont tu me parles = I don’t like the friends that you’re telling me about

If you have questions about the pronouns or would like to start your French lessons, get in touch today ! It’s always a pleasure to meet new learners online, no matter where you are in the world.

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