Tag Archive | Relative Clauses

Que vs. Qui

Another versus post! In this versus post I will be going over the relative pronouns/clauses que and qui.

A relative clause describes someone or something mentioned in the main clause. A relative clause begins with a relative pronoun such as whowhomwhich, or that. The noun that the relative pronoun refers to is called the antecedent.

Here are some examples in English:

The woman who studies a lot Who is the relative pronoun, woman is the antecedent
The students whom we helped Whom is the relative pronoun, students is the antecedent
The computer that I use That is the relative pronoun, computer is the antecedent

The French relative pronouns que and qui are used for both people and things. Qui is used when the relative pronouns is the subject of its clause. Que is used when the relative pronoun is the direct object of the verb in its clause. In relative clauses introduced by qui, the verb agrees with qui, which has the same person and number of the antecedent.

La femme qui étudie beaucoup Qui is the relative pronoun, subject of the verb étudier
Un ordinateur qui est facile à utiliser Qui is the relative pronoun, subject of the verb ȇtre
Les étudiants que nous avons aidés Que is the relative pronoun, direct object of the verb aider
L’ordinateur que j’ai utilisé Que is the relative pronoun, direct object of the verb utiliser

Relative pronouns can never be omitted in French the way they often are omitted in English:

  • L’homme que je connais
  • The man (whom) I know
  • Les articles que je lis
  • The articles (that) I read

When the verb of the relative clause is in a compound tense conjugated with avoir, the past participle agrees with the relative pronoun que, which is a preceding direct object. The gender and number of que is determined by its antecedent. Note that the relative pronoun que becomes qu’ before a vowel or a mute h.

  • Les filles qu’il a invitées
  • The girls whom he invited
  • La robe que tu a mise
  • The dress (that) you put on

When the verb of the relative clause is in a compound tense conjugated with être, the past participle agrees with the relative pronoun qui because qui is the subject of the verb in the relative clause. The antecedent determines the gender and number of qui.

  • Les étudiants qui sont arrivées
  • The students who arrived
  • L’assiette qui est tombée
  • The plate that fell

I hope this was helpful! Do you like these versus posts? If you do, let me know! And also if you like them, please leave suggestions for future versus posts as I do love writing them. Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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