FR: qui / que / dont


Senior Member
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  • Tom_9410

    England, English
    Salut, j'ai un petit question.

    i know that "qui", "que" and "dont" are all used to say which, or that. and i think im right in saying that:-

    qui+ verb
    que+ subject pronoun

    but when would you use "dont"?

    merci, Tom.
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    Senior Member
    Dont is used as the object of the preposition de. Examples would be Voilà le livre dont j'ai besoin (avoir besoin de) and Voilà le garçon dont je connais bien la mère. In the last example, dont means whose.
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    Senior Member
    3 days straight and I believe that I have actually regressed god this is really painful.

    I know that with Qui you use it to replace a subject or an indirect object (person), Que is to replace a direct object, lequel an indirect object (thing) and dont is for of which/whom and où is for where but for the life of me it just doesn't add up.

    Someone suggested this but when i tried it with's questions they always come back wrong.
    "A (relatively) easy rule to follow for qui and que is this:
    Qui means "that" or "who" and is followed by a verb.
    Que means "that" or "whom" and is followed by a noun or a pronoun that is the subject, not the object of a sentence"
    And then dont means "about which/whom" or "of which/whom" and must be followed by a noun.

    However when I looked at's explanation it stated that qui replaces the subject and que replaces the object of the sentence. The more I think about it the worse it becomes.
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    French - France
    No, you're right for both explanations, indeed 'qui' means 'that' or 'who' and is followed by a verb, and that also means that it replaces the subject. For example in the sentence :
    'La personne qui m'a abordée tout à l'heure.', 'qui' represents 'la personne', and that's why we say that it 'replaces' the subject, and you can also see that it is followed by a verb.

    Maybe you thought that 'replaces the subject' meant that you can use it instead of the subject in the sentence, but it is true only in the subordonate sentence.


    Senior Member
    Always keep in mind that the presence of a relative pronoun proves there is a repetition to avoid AND a link to make between two clauses.
    If you try to come back to the previous two statements you may understand the grammatical function of the pronoun is that of the repeated noun precisely.


    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I've been studying this too - here's what I've come up with anyway:

    Qui is used when the subject doesn't change immediately the pronoun.
    The girl who went to Spain = la fille qui est allée à Espagne.
    (I saw the girl who went to Spain has two subjects, but they don't change immediately after the pronoun - J'ai vu la fille qui est allée à l'Espagne - there is no new subject after the pronoun)

    Que is the opposite - use it when a new subject is introduced after the pronoun.
    I saw the house that Jack bought - J'ai vu la maison que Jack a achêtée.
    (There is a new subject after the pronoun - Jack.)

    Dont means "of which" or "from which" and is used whenever the preposition de comes up - if you can rewrite the sentence to include de, you need to use dont.
    The house which has the door closed. (aka. The house, the door of which is closed) - La maison dont la porte est fermée
    You could rework this into "La porte de la maison est fermée", so it's dont.
    Same with: The illness from which he suffers - La maladie dont il souffre can be written "Il souffre de cette maladie".

    Duquel/De laquelle etc. is almost the same as dont, but you only use it when another prepostion is there (so you can't use dont).
    Eg. The writer, whose life he is interested in... - L'écrivain, à la vie duquel il s'intéresse..
    (The verb "intéresser" is always followed by à, so dont can't be used)
    The car, on whose bonnet a model was sitting... - La voiture, sur la capot de laquelle un mannequin était assis
    (Sur is already in the sentence, so dont can't be used)

    Auquel/À laquelle etc. is used when the verb is followed by à.
    La voiture à laquelle il s'intéresse - the car he is interested in (s'intéresser à)
    Le cours auquel il assistait - The class he attended (assister à)

    And lequel/laquelle etc. are used with every other pronoun.
    La maison dans laquelle il a trouvé la boîte - The house in which he found the box...
    Un bureau, sur lequel il y avait deux livres - A desk, on which there were two books...

    Hope this helps somewhat. I'm obviously not a native, these are just my grammar notes :)