FR: que / qui - pronoms relatifs

vanjoseph

Senior Member
English,USA
Qui vs. que. Quelle est la différence?

Merci.


Moderator notes:

The "qui vs. que?" question is very common and it has been discussed numerous times on our forums. We have merged many of those discussions together here. Consequently, this thread is very long, but it is also very complete, and you will find explanations for many different example sentences and structures. After you have read the thread, if you still are unsure whether to use qui or que in your translation, you may reply at the end of the thread to ask for help with your specific example.

Although we encourage you to read the entire thread, here is a short summary that you may find helpful.

  • Qui is a subject pronoun. It serves as the subject of a verb that appears later in the sentence.
  • Que is an object pronoun. It serves as the direct object of a verb that appears later in the sentence. That verb will already have a subject... although the words may not appear in the order you expect, see FR: Inversion sujet-verbe dans les propositions relatives (introduites par que, dont, où).
  • Qu' is the elided form of que; qui does not elide. For more information, see FR: qui / que / qu' - elision.
  • Qui does not always mean "who" and que does not always mean "that." Choosing between the relative pronouns qui and que based on whether you would say "who," "that," "which," etc. is a great way to use the wrong word in French.
  • Qui and que can also be interrogative pronouns. This thread is however exclusively about relative pronouns. If you are interested in question formation (interrogative words), see FR: qu'est-ce qui / qu'est-ce que / qui est-ce qui / qui est-ce que.
For a general grammar lesson on relative pronouns, you may wish to refer to outside websites such as the following:
Related discussion threads on WordReference:
 
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  • Monsieur Hoole

    Senior Member
    Canada English
    Qui is for use with a subject, Que is for use with an object

    eg.

    Le chat qui est sorti (The cat that left==>cat=subject)

    La pomme que j'ai mangée (That apple that I ate==>apple=object)

    Hope this helps:)
     
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    CARNESECCHI

    Senior Member
    French / France
    Bonsoir,
    Qui : pronom relatif sujet de la proposition subordonnée "la pierre qui est là" "Le garçon qui chante" ; de façon familière, complément d'objet indirect (obligatoirement un animal ou un humain) du verbe principal "c'est lui, l'homme à qui jai donné une pièce" - mais il vaut mieux "c'est lui, lhomme auquel j'ai donné une pièce"...
    Que : pronom relatif complément d'objet direct (humain, animal, objet, concept ...) du verbe de la proposition subordonnée "je me souviens du garçon que j'ai vu", "chante une chanson que tu connais".
    Note : l'usage de qui et que est lié au rôle du pronom dans la proposition subordonnée "La fille que j'aime est ici" "fille" est sujet de "est", mais c'est bien "que" complément de "j'aime". Idem "j'aime la fille qui est ici", "fille" est complément de "j'aime" et "qui" sujet de "est".

    [...]

    Bon! J'espère que je n'ai embrouillé personne!
     
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    Monsieur Hoole

    Senior Member
    Canada English
    It has nothing to do with whether it's a person or a thing, but whether it's a subject or an object.

    La balle que j'ai frappée (balle = object)

    La balle qui m'a frappé (balle = subject)

    As you can see, in both cases the ball is a thing, but the difference is it's function as subject or object:)
     
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    bordowino

    New Member
    English, USA
    In grammatical terms,

    que will act as the object of the prepositional clause, whereas qui acts as the subject of the clause. So in a prepositional clause decide whether or not there is already a subject. In the examples above, qui works because it is referencing "la chat" in the secondary clause (est sortie) and is thus referencing the subject of the secondary clause. Par contre, que works because it is referencing "la pomme", the object of the verb in the secondary clause. What gets really tricky is when you have a verb that requires a preposition, for example telephoner, or a clause without anything to make reference to when designating subjects. It is in these cases that you find the funny looking french relative pronouns "ce dont", "pour laquelle" , or my favorite "ce a quoi"
     

    Napoleon64

    New Member
    Canada English
    Hello, I am having some difficulty understanding when to use the pronom relatif qui instead of que? Could someone help me with this. I am a English-Canadian attempting to learn French. Merci!
     

    x_Sarah_x

    Member
    Scotland - English
    This is probably utter rubbish, but as a learner it works most of the time for me as a general rule.

    I usually go with que for that - things rather than people. Qui for those, which, who...People related

    I await torrrents of corrections.

    Bisous!!
     

    Dumpling

    New Member
    English, New Zealand.
    Bonjour!

    I have been doing some French revision and there is one question in particular I am not sure about (it may be due to the fact that I don't fully understand the sentence). It is:

    Je n'ai pas lu le document....vous concerne.

    Now, I'm meant to replace the .... with que or qui. Originally I put que but the answer is actually qui. So, is that because the sentence actually means: I haven't read the document which concerns you. ???

    Merci:)
     

    carolineR

    Senior Member
    France
    Je n'ai pas lu le document....vous concerne. Now, I'm meant to replace the .... with que :cross:or qui :tick:. Originally I put que but the answer is actually qui.:thumbsup: So, is that because the sentence actually means: I haven't read the document which concerns you.
    YES :)
     
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    pieanne

    Senior Member
    Belgium/French
    Yes, it's "the document which/that concerns you"

    Here the relative is the subject, and "que" is the direct object form. You definitely need "qui", here :)
     

    viera

    Senior Member
    English/French/Slovak
    The general rule is:
    If the relative pronoun is the subject of the subordinate clause, you use qui.
    If the relative pronoun is the direct object of the subordinate clause, you use que.
     

    PPP

    Senior Member
    English
    Please help: I am a bit unclear about qui vs. que for persons.
    Also, is "French university system" best translated as below:


    Le professeur qui a donné une exposée très intéressante sur le système universitaire français aux étudiants.

    Thank you.
     

    zaby

    Senior Member
    qui is subject (le professeur qui a donné... is fine)
    que is direct object (ex. le professeur que j'ai vu hier...)

    Le système universitaire français is a good translation but we say un exposé

    edit : but the end of the sentence is missing isn't it ? There is no main clause in your sentence
     

    PPP

    Senior Member
    English
    Thank you so much. Yes, the rest of the sentence is "est Pierre S."
    I appreciate the help!
     

    shally

    Member
    india
    L'aide couvre des tâches que doivent effectuer des administrateurs.......

    Est-ce que le mot<<que>> est correcte ou on doit utiliser <<qui>>?

    Merci d'avance
     

    RuK

    Senior Member
    English/lives France
    Qui is for the subject - the thing that is doing the verb.
    Que is for the object - the thing that the verb is being done to.
    Here the administrators effect the tasks, so "les tâches que doivent effectuer les administrateurs".
     

    Markus

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Yep, que is what you want here. It might help to rearrange the phrase to something that might look more familiar to you :

    L'aide couvre des tâches que des administrateurs doivent effectuer

    Take a simpler phrase to consider the difference between que and qui :

    C'est le chat qui chasse le souris.
    C'est le chat que chasse le souris. (c'est le chat que le souris chasse)

    In the first phrase you are saying "It's the cat that hunts the mouse", and in the second phrase you are saying "The cat is what the mouse hunts". It's thanks to this difference between que and qui that you can rearrange the verbs and nouns in French without losing meaning. Hope this helps!

    Markus
     

    Fred_C

    Senior Member
    Français
    Sometimes, you can see "QU apostrophe" instead of QUE. This will always be because the next word begins with a vowel. QU apostrophe always stands for QUE, and never for QUI. QUI keeps its I in front of a vowel.
     
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    macta123

    Senior Member
    India,Hindi
    Now perhaps I am confused!!!

    So, c'est le chat que chasse la souris = It is the cat WHAT hunt's the mouse

    So is that grammatically correct too? !!!
     

    Markus

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Now perhaps I am confused!!!

    So, c'est le chat que chasse la souris = It is the cat WHAT hunt's the mouse

    So is that grammatically correct too? !!!
    Nope, c'est le chat que chasse la souris = It is the cat THAT the mouse hunts.

    The verb (hunts) and noun (mouse) have been reversed in the French phrase and this is what is causing the confusion. You can't use the same word order and make a grammatically correct phrase that means the same thing in English. But whether souris comes before or after chasse, the meaning is the same because the que is what tells us that la souris is the subject. In English we use the verb/noun word order to change the meaning : "It's the cat that the mouse hunts" has an opposite meaning from "It's the cat that hunts the mouse". You need to stop thinking in English and look at what the que and qui are defining.

    If you use qui, then what precedes in the phrase is the subject, the one who is performing the verb. If you use que, then it is what follows that is performing the verb. Thus, in C'est le chat qui chasse la souris, it is the cat which hunts. In C'est le chat que chasse la souris (c'est le chat que la souris chasse), it is the mouse which hunts.
     

    nickswicks

    Banned
    England, English
    i am almost 100% sure it is correct to say
    la fille qui tu aimes

    but is there a situation where it might be possible to say
    la fille que tu aimes?

    i am doing a linguistics essay and i need to know whether the complementizer 'that' (as opposed to 'who') can translate interchangeably in french in this particular case?

    thanks in advance x
     

    jann

    co-mod'
    English - USA
    welcome to the forumj, nickswicks :)

    sorry, but
    la fille qui tu aimes :cross:
    la fille que tu aimes :tick:

    "que" is for objects. "qui" is a subject pronoun. if you remember it that way, you'll keep them straight. it's when you think about it in terms translating "that," "which," "who," and "whom" that you get mixed up... :)
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Another way of remembering it, is analysing the main sentence and the depentant clause (not sure about the English terms) independently.

    So (only looking at the clauses):

    ...que tu aimes

    You can look at 'que' as the direct oject - "tu aimes que".

    Similarly:

    ...qui t'aime

    Where 'qui' is the one that 'aime', and 'te' is the direct object.

    Don't know if that only made it worse, but it works fine for me at least ;)
     

    PPP

    Senior Member
    English
    J'irai au marché avec l'étudiante qui/que j'ai rencontré à Rennes et son mari.

    I am very confused about qui vs. que in this case. I know the rules about qui for subject and que for object, but the "avec" throws me off here...is the student the object of the sentence? Please help!

    Thank you.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    étudiante is object of the preposition avec, but you need que, which is the direct object of the relative clause, "j'ai rencontré", and then your past participle must agree with que, so you say "que j'ai rencontrée".
     
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    pieanne

    Senior Member
    Belgium/French
    "que" is used for a DOC/person or thing, singular)
    "qui" is used for a subject, a person, singular.
    It can be fronted with a préposition, "avec qui/with whom", "sans qui/without whom", etc... but only if you're talking of a person. If it's a thing, it should be "avec lequel/laquelle", "sans lequel/laquelle"
    Anything else you'd like to know? (if this is already helpful...)
     

    mignardise

    Senior Member
    US & Canada, English
    Hello PPP

    Here's a way to remember the difference, one which always helped me in high school :

    QUI is a placeholder for a subject that is accompanied by a conjugated verb in a sentence, i.e. "la fille qui a joué avec mes enfants"
    QUE acts as "that" or "which" or "who" and cannot take a conjugated verb with it, i.e. "la fille que j'ai rencontré au travail"

    Notice that in this case in the above sentence, the "que" is followed by a different subject in the sentence, that of "JE". The "que" is modifying the word "fille" and is not taking on a verb.

    Hope this is somewhat clear, this is the way that helped me remember it!
     
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    jamtin

    Senior Member
    England
    hi,

    would you use qui or que in the following example?

    pour qu’il puisse avoir des relations avec une femme qui/qu'il connaît depuis 2 jours.

    thank u! :)
     

    -.-'''

    New Member
    Hong Kong, cantonese
    bonjour tout le monde, je fais des exercices et je n'ai compris pas ça:

    "Comment s'appelle la personne qui nous soigne?"

    Pourquoi on n'utilise pas "que" comme "...la personne que nous soigne?"
     
    qui is referring to 'la personne' and is the subject of the verb soigner; que is used to replace direct objects of the verb that follows. Sounds real grammatical, but it boils down to the difference between 'who' and 'that' in English (for the most part). The big thing to note is that qui is a subject, and that the verb that follows it agrees with the noun it (qui) replaces.
     

    -.-'''

    New Member
    Hong Kong, cantonese
    merci beaucoup, especially for the last part of the explanation, guess i won't be wrong now for tmr's exam, thanks a lot!!! =D
     

    lp_lover1990

    Member
    canada/english
    how do you know when to use que rather than qui other than the fact that que replaces a object whereas as qui a subject?
     

    dsnowangel

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I always go by if there is a subject after the pronoun use que and if there is a verb after use qui. I hope that this helps.
     

    dsnowangel

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    usually, because there always has to be a subject for every verb, qui indicates a previously mentioned subject, que means that and is only a conjunction here. I think
     

    giannid

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Consider these two examples:

    First example: Jenny has a dog that (whom) she loves very much.

    First, look at the relative clause. In the first example the relative clause is: that she loves very much.

    So you have to ask yourself who or what does Jenny love very much. The answer is that Jenny loves the dog very much. Dog is therefore the direct object of the relative clause, and therefore in French you would use que:
    Jenny a un chien qu'elle aime beaucoup.

    The second example: Jenny has a dog that (who) loves her very much.

    The relative clause is: that loves her very much. Now you have to look for who loves Jenny very much. The answer again is the dog, however this time the dog acts as the subject of the relative clause (The dog loves Jenny very much) so you use qui.

    Jenny a un chien qui l'aime beaucoup.
     

    Maar

    Senior Member
    Egypt - Arabic
    Hi,


    I want to know and understand the indicators (roles) which guides me to perfect select either “Qui” and “Que” in the French language because usually I find myself confused when I have to decide which one is to be used in the different contexts


    Thanks for help

    [ If there is a site with a direct explanation it can help also ]
     

    Pauline312

    Member
    France, Francaise
    Hello,

    Sometimes it is very hard to explain grammatical rules for its own language. But I will try to help you remembering my french school lesson (from already 10 years ago...)

    2 examples :
    1-la voiture que je conduis
    2-j´ai discuté avec M. X qui m´a parlé de toi

    2-the subject of the second part of the sentence is M. X
    1-the subject of the second part of the sentence is "je" and not "la voiture"

    3-la voiture qui roule vite ("voiture" is the subject in the second part)

    My explanation is not very clear but I hope it helps... For me it is only a question of who is the subject...
     

    Maar

    Senior Member
    Egypt - Arabic
    In the first example : la voiture que je conduis
    Que is the object (not a person) for the second part
    Que is used to refers to "la voiture" in the first part
    [which receive the action (is derived) in the second part]
    So Que refers to an object ( not a person ) ( is this is the rule ??? )

    In the second example
    : j´ai discuté avec M. X qui m´a parlé de toi
    Qui is the subject (person) for the second part
    Qui refers to M. X in the first part
    [who make the action (talk) in the second part ]
    So Qui refers to a subject ( person ) ( is this is the rule ??? )


    If the following are true
    If the subject is a person I have to use “qui”
    If the object is not a person I have to use “que”

    What have I use
    If the subject is not a person
    If the object is a person


    Thanks
     

    tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    Being persons or things for the subject and the object doesn't matter!

    Qui is always followed by a verb because it is a subject. This verb may have an object or not.
    Que is always followed by a noun and then a verb, the noun being the subject of the verb, and que its object.
     
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    Maar

    Senior Member
    Egypt - Arabic
    So what about the following sentences:

    Tu connais la personne qui nous donne l'argent ? (nous is for object)
    Tu connais la personne qui donne l'argent à nous ?

    Tu connais la personne que nous donnons l'argent ? (nous is for subject)
    Tu connais la personne que est donné l'argent par nous ?


    I am not sure if they are well written or not...

    But in case they are true, so we can't say that Qui is always followed by a verb and Que is always followed by a noun..
    Hence it will depend only on either it refers to a subject or an object as you already mentioned in #2.

    Could you help me to deeply understand?
     
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