FR: dont / duquel / de qui/quoi

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Welshie, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. Welshie

    Welshie Senior Member

    England, English
    This is something I've been struggling with for some time. Compare these two sentences:

    La chose à laquelle je pense (penser à qqch)

    So I would expect to see in a similar sentence:

    La chose de laquelle je parle (parler de qqch)

    After all, the sentences are pretty much the same grammatically, just with a different verb and proposition. However, I *know* that the second sentence should be:

    La chose dont je parle (dont replaces de + object)

    Which leaves me with an awkward worry...Have I done something wrong and if not, when *does* one use duquel/de laquelle/desquelles?

    Moderator note: Multiple threads merged to create this one. See also:
    FR: ce dont / de quoi
    dont / lequel / auquel / duquel / d'où - Français Seulement
    dont / duquel - Français Seulement
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  2. Monsieur Hoole Senior Member

    Canada English

    You can generally use dont anywhere you would use duquel etc. unless it's refering to a place eg le parc duquel je suis sorti (this is a horrible example, but hopefully you get the point:eek: )
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2009
  3. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    You did nothing wrong, only in your example there is a specific (and more concise) word for this specific situation...

    I'm thinking, maybe it would be easier to think of when to use lequel/laquelle/lesquels ; and then, see if they do need to take a "de" (or "au", with which there's also contraction !) in front... These (lequel/laquelle/lesquels) usually refer to something you just mentioned in the same sentence :
    L'entreprise, dans laquelle j'ai travaillé pendant 4 ans...
    L'emploi pour lequel il a postulé...
    Le stage, à la suite duquel il a été embauché...
    Le contrat auquel il se réfère...
    (trying on shoes) Lesquelles tu préfères, les rouges ou les noires ?
    - I like these shoes / - Tu parles desquelles, des rouges ou des noires ?

    a link on relative pronouns (there's a typo on the last line !) and one on dont
  4. Ardnaxela

    Ardnaxela Senior Member

    British English

    Dans la phrase suivante, est-ce que je devrais utiliser « dont » où « de laquelle » ? Je ne comprend pas le règle pour ceci.

    « il est évident qu'il a été douloureusement touché par la perte de sa mère, (dont/de laquelle) il était très proche ».

    Merci en avance.
  5. fanch Member

    St Albans, Herts, UK
    France / French
    I think it all depends on the tone of your translation. In oral French, everybody would say "dont", though nobody should if i'm right... We use "dont" all the time when the rule says not to. I'll try to check in Le bon usage and let you know, since this is definitely not a definitive answer...
  6. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    I'll be interested in your answer. When I first learned French I was taught to use "dont," "de laquelle," and "duquel". When I went to France briefly, everyone used "dont." I felt like an idiot, and asked if there'd been a streamlining of the grammar.

    Is it "de laquelle" and "duquel" for people, "dont" for things and ideas already referenced?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  7. fanch Member

    St Albans, Herts, UK
    France / French
    hi polar.

    My first thought was, like you say, to consider that one should use "de laquelle" and "duquel" for people and "dont" for things and ideas. But then i could imagine some cases when you would could say "duquel" or "de laquelle" for objects, let alone "pour lequel / laquelle" which have not been mentionned... (ex: la jolie blonde pour laquelle il s'était pris d'affection). The problem is that in Le bon usage, Grévisse doesn't list cases when you should use one or the other. The only thing he says is that sometimes "dont" is "maladroit"...
    So, to cut a long story short, here is what i propose to Ardnaxela: use the one you like best.
    But i'd be glad to hear what everyone has to say about this...
  8. teuch007 Member

    Français / France
    Use "dont" if the subordinate clause needs object introduced by " de " or " d' ". Such clauses may indicate possession or they may contain verbs which are followed by the preposition "de".

    Le livre dont je suis l'auteur est un roman historique = The book of wich I'm the author is an historical novel.

    "Dont" often indicates possession ; "whose" is its English equivalent.

    The relative pronouns lequel, laquelle, lesquels and lesquelles are used when the relative clause is introduced by a preposition other than "de/d' ". these pronouns make the usual contractions with the prepositions "à" and "de". Note that the preposition in French must always be placed immediately in front of the relative pronoun.

    Ce roman , dans lequel Brayan utilise les souvenir de guerre de Paw-Paw, est très réaliste. = This novel, in which Brayan uses Paw-Paw's war memories is very realistic.

    I hope it can help you !
  9. viera Senior Member

    Paris suburb
    "de laquelle il était très proche" sounds awful.
  10. fanch Member

    St Albans, Herts, UK
    France / French
    Viera: the problem is not how it sounds since here we are talking of a grammatical rule that very few people apply. Then we cannot rely on what sounds familiar since it is very probably not correct.

    Teuch: i'm not sure the rule is that simple, though i'd love to. Did you find it somewhere or do you just have better memories of French grammar than i ?
  11. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    Does this sound weird?

    "Savez-vous ce dont je parle?"

    [Do you know what I'm talking about?]
  12. fanch Member

    St Albans, Herts, UK
    France / French
    it sounds all right, at least to me...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  13. Ardnaxela

    Ardnaxela Senior Member

    British English
    Thanks so much for all your advice, everyone. It sure is nice to know that I'm not the onlyone who's a bit unclear on these rules!

    So, just to clarify, teuch, can you give me any examples of contexts where you would use duquel/de laquelle/desquels/desquelles? My grammar book simply translates these as 'of which' or 'of whom' - exactly the same definition given for 'dont', with no distinction made between them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  14. CARNESECCHI Senior Member

    French / France
    Some ideas :
    "Le gens pour le compte desquels il avait travaillé"
    "La fille pour les beaux yeux de laquelle il avait trimé"
    "Le lac au bord duquel il allait pêcher"
    Hope it ehlps!

    Hope it helps
  15. Welshie

    Welshie Senior Member

    England, English

    Pour "dont" ou "de laquelle", je ne peux pas vous aider, puisque j'ai moi-même du mal à comprendre, mais il me semble que l'on n'entend pas très souvent "de laquelle":

    La chose dont je voudrais te parler
    La femme dont j'avais besoin

    Tous les deux sonnent mieux que si on y met "de laquelle" si c'est même du bon français. Mais peut-être que j'ai mal compris.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2011
  16. viera Senior Member

    Paris suburb
    It definitely sounds weird to me, grammar rules notwithstanding.
    I would say "Savez-vous de quoi je parle ?"
  17. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
  18. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    Carnesecchi's examples illustrate a rule that's buried somewhere deep in my memory: you use 'duquel' etc., when the 'de' is part of a larger expression:

    Il parlait de ce lac > Le lac dont il parlait.
    Il allait pêcher au bord de ce lac > Le lac au bord duquel il allait pêcher.

    You couldn't say 'ce lac au bord dont il allait pêcher'.

    EDIT: I think this is the same as SofiaB's rule...
  19. CARNESECCHI Senior Member

    French / France
    "savez vous ce dont je parle ?" = "savez-vous de quoi je parle ?" = connaissez-vous le thèmes de mes paroles , "ce dont" being more formal and less used.

    "Il sait de quoi il parle" = "il sait ce dont il parle" (less used) = "il connait (fort/très) bien son sujet" = he knows very well what he/she is talking about, ordered from spoken to formal language.
    Hope it helps!
  20. Varenka

    Varenka Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Australia, English
    Est-ce que dont peut remplacer duquel/de laquelle/desquels dans chaque contexte?
    Par exemple: "Il y avait 2000 personnes, dont/(desquelles) 30% étaient des hommes."

    "There were 2000 people, of which 30% were men."

    Merci pour les conseils
  21. Monsieur Hoole Senior Member

    Canada English
    dans ce cas-ci, dont est le bon choix:)

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  22. flyer236 Member

    England, English
    Hi everyone

    I'm currently studying french at college, and I must admit I'm a bit confused by dont and duquel. Are the two interchangeable?

    For example, which of these is right?

    " L'argent dont j'ai besoin "


    " L'argent duquel j'a besoin " ???

    Because from what I understand, dont and duquel both mean "of which". So are there any circumstances where one should be used instead of the other? Or is one totally wrong?

    I'd appreciate any help anyone can give me.

    Many thanks
  23. Clive Senior Member

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2009
  24. jayharlow Member

    England, English
    Je me demande, qu'est-ce que c'est la difference entre duquel/de laquel et dont? Car, comme je comprend, on utilise 'lequel' au lieu de 'que/qui' ou on a une preposition. Par exemple, 'connais-tu le livre auquel je pense?', et 'Le cinéma près duquel on mange'. Mais on dit '...dont j'ai besoin'. Est-ce qu'on dit...duquel j'ai beson?'. Personne peut m'expliquer?

    J'espere que mon francais est correct sauf la manque des accents.
  25. moe0204

    moe0204 Senior Member

    On peut tout à fait dire duquel j'ai besoin. Mais d'une manière générale, lorsqu'on peut utiliser dont, l'utiliser est préférable (les composés et dérivés de lequel sont toujours un peu plus lourds).

    Dont est d'abord le pronom relatif complément du nom : "L'homme dont je suis le neveu" --> "Je suis le neveu de l'homme".

    Mais il peut aussi remplacer de qui, de quoi, duquel, de laquelle, desquels, desquelles, même s'il ne s'agit pas d'un complément du nom : "L'endroit dont je sors" --> "Je sors de cet endroit" (on pourrait aussi dire : "L'endroit d'où je sors" & "L'endroit duquel je sors").

    En général donc, on peut retenir que dont = de + [qui, quoi, où, lequel (et ses dérivés en genre et en nombres)]
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  26. Sentance Senior Member

    France, Paris
    England, English
    You said it couldn't be used with 'de'. How would one write the following then, in French:

    "Here is the boy from whom you wanted to hear"

    Without changing the structure into something like "...the boy with whom you wanted to speak.", I mean. Is it even possible to write this in French?

    "Voila le garcon de qui vous vouliez entendre." <- doesn't sound as though that would make any sense in French really.

    A better example perhaps:

    "Here is the boy from whom the watch was stolen."

    "Voila le garcon de qui la montre a été volée."

    I think you're right, 'de qui' doesn't sound right. So what could one use? 'dont'? 'de lequel'? ...
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  27. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    But you can say :
    "Voilà le garçon de qui vous vouliez entendre le témoignage"
    "Voilà le garçon de qui je voulais vous parler"

    A better example perhaps:
    "Here is the boy from whom the watch was stolen."
    "Voila le garcon de qui la montre a été volée.":tick:

    ---> de + lequel = duquel...

    dont seems better.
    duquel is heavier.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2012
  28. Sentance Senior Member

    France, Paris
    England, English
    Huh... so 'de qui' is quite correct then?

    I usually read 'dont' as 'of which', would it really be correct also to say:

    "Voila le garcon dont la montre a été volée." ?
  29. Vachefolle New Member


    Qui: Voilà le garçon qui est arrivé aujourd'hui. (le garçon = sujet dans les deux phrases).

    Que: Voilà le garçon que j'ai rencontré hier. (le garçon = COD dans la phrase [j'ai rencontré le garçon hier]; COD = Complément d'objet direct).

    Dont: deux constructions possibles; pour les deux constructions il y a la préposition DE dans la phrase reformulée.
    1. Voilà le garçon dont le chien s'appelle Kiki. (= le chien DE ce garçon s'appelle Kiki)
    2. Voilà le garçon dont je parlais tout-à-l'heure. (parler DE qqn).
    --> Dont = [de qui]

    De qui: Voilà le garçon à coté de qui je me suis assis.
    --> seulement dans le cas des prépositions composées avec 'DE', et seulement pour les personnes (pour les objets on a duquel / de laquelle / desquels / desquelles)
    -d'autres exemples de prépositions composées avec DE:
    en face de / à propos de / au sujet de / en compagnie de etc.

    I think the conclusion here can only be the following advice: don't stick so close to English or you won't get the hang of the French system. The entire talk about who / which is irrelevant to the French system in most cases, and in particular in this one. Try to understand French grammar as if you weren't speaking another language (i know its easier said than done!), and forget your English in the process ;)
  30. p4l Member

    South Korea - Korean
    Salut! ^^

    I have read in the Oxford Frech Dictionary of a brief description on the usage of 'dont', but I would be thankful if anyone could explain why sometimes you have to use 'dont' and sometimes 'de quoi', 'que' etc. are more appropriate.

    I thought it would be useful if I state some examples to refer to:

    1) J’ai des doutes puisque la meilleure chose dont je me souviens quand j’étais petite c’est que j’étais rieuse!

    2) why is: "c'est un enfant dont je suis fier" (is la langue courante) BUT "le livre dont tu m'as parlé (is la langue soutenue -so this is not always acceptable)? (sentences from Oxford French Dictionary)

    Merci beaucoup!!! :)
  31. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    1) J’ai des doutes puisque la meilleure chose dont je me souvienne quand j’étais petite c’est que j’étais rieuse! After "meilleur" you must use the subjunctive.

    "c'est un enfant dont je suis fier" is not more formal or colloquial than "le livre dont tu m'as parlé".
    I don't think "de qui" or "de quoi" are more appropriate in any case. You could use them in such sentences :
    "La personne de qui je t'ai parlé.."
    Imo, "dont" is always better. Here, you could say :
    "c'est un enfant dont je suis fier" ---> "c'est un enfant duquel je suis fier"
    "le livre dont tu m'as parlé".---> "le livre duquel tu m'as parlé"...
    but "dont" is far better.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2012
  32. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    In my opinion, "de qui" and "de quoi" are used in questions or in interrogative clauses. In relative clauses, one should use "dont" instead.
    Example :
    "Je ne sais pas de quoi il parle" (interrogative clause)
    "je comprends le sujet dont il parle" (relative clause).
  33. xBlackWolfx Banned

    North Carolina, USA
    USA English
    i believe 'dont' is used for the accusative (direct object case).

    Je ne sais pas de quoi il parle: I do not know of that (which) you speak (of)
    Je comprends le sujet dont il parle: I understand the topic that you speak (of)

    get it?
  34. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    These sentences are correct, but the reason given to explain why they are correct is not.
    In the first sentence, "de quoi il parle" is an interrogative clause, and "dont" is forbidden in an interrogative clause.
    In the second sentence, "dont il parle" is a relative clause, and "dont" is always preferable in a relative clause.
    If you cannot tell the difference between an interrogative clause and a relative clause, you can remember that a relative clause's function is always to complete a noun. (here : "le sujet").
    Interrogative clauses can have different functions, but will most often be object of a verb. (here, "de quoi il parle" is object of the verb "savoir").
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2012
  35. xBlackWolfx Banned

    North Carolina, USA
    USA English
    so a relative clause describes a noun but an interrogative clause is a clause that acts like a noun itself?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2012
  36. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    Yes, absolutely.
    A completive clause (also called a noun clause or a nominal clause) always act as a noun.
    An interrogative clause is a particular type of completive clause, one that (more or less) asks a question.
    An example of a completive clause that is not an interrogative clause :
    "qu'il viendra" in : "Je sais qu'il viendra". (This one does not ask a question at all.)
    Interrogative clauses usually are introduced by question words like "qui, quoi or pourquoi", they can also be introduced by "si" (if) as in :
    "Je ne sais pas s'il viendra."
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2012
  37. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I believe you could say
    "je de sais pas ce dont il parle."
    which is consistent with your explanation as ce is now the object and dont il parle a relative clause attributing ce.

    (Cf. Dictionaire de l'Académie francaise, 9th edition, "dont", II. 8. - available online)
  38. indefrance New Member

    India, hindi
    As far as i know there are certain verbs which take 'de' as preposition for example parler de, etre content de, fier de,avoir besoin de etc. so when ever we have these verbs we use dont in relative clause.
    eg J'ai un travail dont je suis content.
  39. globalconcoction Senior Member

    Hindi, english, french

    Je voudrais confirmer l'usage de <dont> et <duquel>..
    Est-ce si suivi d'une préposiotion on utilise duquel? ex- à cote duquel, près duquel..etc, et sinon c'est <dont>??
    Est-ce la seule différence??
    Merci de vos réponses sur laquelle je sais que je peux bien compter :)
  40. itka Senior Member

    Nice, France
    dont et duquel (de laquelle, desquels, desquelles) sont en principe synonymes, mais chaque fois que c'est possible, il vaut mieux employer dont qui est moins lourd. Ce n'est en effet pas possible après une préposition.

    Pour plus de détails tu peux voir ce site qui est très complet et très précis.
  41. hanbaked Senior Member

    English (UK)

    I've read the other links with this title in the forum, but they don't answer my query. On pourrait me dire si on peut dire également 'dont' ou 'de qui' dans la phrase ci-dessous ou s'il faut toujours utiliser 'dont' ?

    Voilà l'homme dont je vous ai parlé.
    Voilà l'homme de qui je vous ai parlé.

    Je pense que j'ai entendu ce dernier. Est-ce que je me suis trompée ?

  42. dan144556 Senior Member

    English - US
    Use "de qui" or "de quoi" when asking a question or making some other sort of interrogative statement.

    Use "dont" when using a relative clause, such as in the sentence you suggested.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
  43. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Pas du tout. Il est vrai que dont serait mon choix, mais de qui est également correct.

    Mais dans un exemple comme le suivant, on ne peut pas employer dont:

    à le garçon à la mère de qui j'ai rendu ce petit service. Si l'antécédent est objet d'une préposition, c'est de qui ou duquel qu'il faut employer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2012
  44. david.watty

    david.watty Member

    Paris, France
    J'ai trouvé cette explication:

    Les pronoms relatifs "duquel, desquels, de laquelle, desquelles, de qui" ont le même sens que "dont".

    Est-ce que cela veut dire qu'on peut choisir entre les deux possibilités?
  45. Jet Lewis Senior Member

    Brussels (Belgium)
    French (Belgium)
    Pas tout à fait, "duquel, de laquelle,..." s'emploient après une locution finissant par "de" , normalement. Le pronom relatif prends le genre et le nombre du CDO. ("De qui" si c'est une ou des personnes)

    -avec au cours de: "Il a eu un mois de vacances, au cours duquel il a travaillé pour ses études."

    -auprès de: "Voici la liste des administrations auprès desquelles vous pouvez faire votre demande"

    S'il n'y a pas de locution, on utilise "dont".

    "Voici l'article dont tu m'as parlé."
    "Qui est cet homme dont tout le monde parle?"

    Si ça ne te suffit pas, voici une autre topic traitant du même sujet.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  46. maybe4ever Senior Member

    Rennes, France
    US english
    I think I understand the difference between dont / duquel in most sentences and can use them freely usually, but sometimes I get really confused which one I should use.

    For instance, I know I'm supposed to use dont in sentences like this:
    J'achèterai le manteau demain dont j'ai besoin à cause du froid.

    and I use duquel / de laquelle etc. like this:
    Il faisait beau. Le petit café en face duquel était la vieille église, avait plein de personnes qui s'asseyaient dehors.

    But sometimes I don't know which I should use, and I'm sure which to use.
    J'ai beaucoup de t-shirts que je n'aime pas et desquels(?) mon frère veut deux.

    J'ai beaucoup de t-shirts dont il y a 5 que je n'ai pas envie non plus.
  47. quinoa Senior Member

    "en face duquel était l'église" bien que correct est un peu lourd, "le café en face de l'église"
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2014
  48. AJJ5 New Member

    English - Canada
    J'ai fait un petit exercise sur l'internet - ça vous donne deux phrases et on doit les amalgamer en utilisant soit dont ou duquel.

    Les deux phrases sont:
    Il est en train d'essayer une nouvelle voiture. On lui vanté les qualités de cette voiture.

    La bonne réponse est:
    Il est en train d'essayer une nouvelle voiture DONT on lui a vanté les qualités.

    Je me demande si on peut utiliser DE LAQUELLE en place de DONT ici?
  49. snarkhunter

    snarkhunter Senior Member

    France, Région parisienne
    French - France
  50. ora8888

    ora8888 Senior Member


    It it's still not clear after reading the post Snarkunder recommended, you can't use "de laquelle" instead of "dont" in your sentence.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010

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