French Grammar: Relative Pronouns [QUI] and [QUE]

French Grammar: Relative Pronouns [QUI] and [QUE]

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French Grammar: Relative Pronouns [QUI] and [QUE]
la grammaire française: les pronoms relatifs [QUI] et [QUE]

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In French as well as in English, a relative clause describes a person or thing introduced in the main clause. A relative pronoun connects a relative clause to that person or thing. The person or thing that precedes the relative pronoun is called the antecedent.

A relative pronoun can function as the subject, direct object, or object of a preposition in a sentence.

The most common relative pronouns in English are who, whom, which, and that. The most commonly used relative pronouns in French are [QUI] and [QUE], and each can be used to talk about either people or things.

Although the relative pronoun is often dropped in English, it can never be dropped in French!

[QUI]:

a) When it functions as the subject of a verb, [QUI] means who, which, or that and can be used for either people or things:

Elle est le professeur qui enseigne le français.
She is the professor who teaches French.

Passe-moi le stylo qui est sur le bureau.
Pass me the pen that is on the desk.

b) When it functions as the object of a preposition, [QUI] means whom and can only be used for people:

Il aime bien les personnes avec qui il travaille.
He really likes the people with whom he works.

C’est la femme à qui je parlais hier.
She is the woman to whom I was speaking yesterday.

[QUE]:

a) [QUE] always functions as the direct object of a verb and means whom, which, or that. It can be used for either people or things:

Ma mère est une femme que j’admire.
My mother is a woman whom I admire.

Voici le livre que j’ai emprunté.
Here is the book that I borrowed.

b) Because [QUE] functions as a direct object of the verb, the past participle of a compound tense verb conjugated with AVOIR must agree in number and gender with the antecedent.

Compare:

C’est l’étudiant que j’ai aidé.
This is the (male) student whom I helped.

C’est l’étudiante que j’ai aidée.
This is the (female) student whom I helped.

Le film que nous avons vu était intéressant.
The film that we saw was interesting.

La pièce que nous avons vue était intéressante.
The play that we saw was interesting.

c) [QUE] changes to [QU’] in front of a vowel.

Adapt:

Pauline est une amie que je connais depuis longtemps.
Pauline is a friend whom I have known for a long time.

La France et l’Espagne sont deux pays que je voudrais visiter.
France and Spain are two countries that I would like to visit.

Vous mangez le poisson qu’ils ont pêché?
Are you all eating the fish that they (masculine) caught?

Le camembert est un fromage qui vient de la Normandie.
Camembert is a cheese that comes from Normandy.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry est l’auteur qui a écrit <<Le Petit Prince>>.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is the author who wrote “The Little Prince”.

Comment s’appelle l’homme avec qui elle parle?
What is the name of the man with whom she is talking?

La Bourgogne est une région qui produit beaucoup de vin.
Burgundy is a region which produces a lot of wine.

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