French Relative Pronouns Lesson: QUI – QUE – OÙ – DONT

QUI – QUE – OÙ – DONT


👉 Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch my video tutorial and take a quiz 👈

What is a relative pronoun?

These words are used to link a dependent clause to a main clause.

A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb.

It does not express a complete thought so it isn’t a sentence and can’t stand alone.
French relative pronouns can mean: WHO, WHOM, THAT, WHICH, WHOSE, WHERE or WHEN.

Unlike in French, we don’t always have to use them in English.

Many times they are optional.

For example, I could say either “the movie I saw last night” or “the movie that I saw last night”.

QUI

As a question word, QUI means WHO.

As a relative pronoun it can mean WHO or WHAT.

QUI replaces the subject in the dependent clause.
Je téléphone à ma mère.

Elle est en Louisiane.

Je téléphone à ma mère qui est en Louisiane.

I am calling my mother.

She is in Louisiana.

I am calling my mother who is in Louisiana.

In this example QUI means WHO.

Je vais lire le livre.

Il est dans mon sac. Je vais lire le livre qui est dans mon sac.

I am going to read the book.

It is in my bag.

I am going to read the book that is in my bag.

In this example QUI means WHAT.

QUI can also replace an indirect object, a person, after a preposition.

J’appelle une amie.

J’étais au lycée avec cette amie.

J’appelle une amie avec qui j’étais au lycée.

I’m calling a friend.

I was in high school with this friend.

I’m calling a friend with whom I was in high school.

A lot of people don’t speak this way anymore in English.

However, it is perfectly normal to do so in French.

QUE

QUE replaces the direct object in a dependent clause.
A direct object answers the questions WHO or WHAT?
Je fais rôtir le poulet.

Mon mari l’a acheté.

Je fais rôtir le poulet que mon mari a acheté.

I am roasting the chicken.

My husband bought it.

I am roasting the chicken that my husband bought.

Many times the relative pronoun QUE will be followed by a subject or subject pronoun.

Je prépare les légumes.
Mon mari les a achetés.

Je prépare les légumes que mon mari a achetés. I’m preparing the vegetables.

My husband bought them.

I’m preparing the vegetables that my husband bought.

Since QUE replaces a direct object, remember to make agreement with the past participle in gender and number .

Sometimes sentences can be formed differently, like this one:

Les bonbons que mange mon petit frère sont trop sucrés.

The candies that my little brother is eating are too sweet.

Notice the verb MANGE in this sentence is placed before the subject, mon petit frère.  

This is not a very common construction.

OÙ can also be a bit tricky.

As a relative pronoun it indicates place as its English translation would suggest.

However, it can also indicate a place in time.
OÙ often means WHERE when used as a relative pronoun.

La fromagerie OÙ j’ai acheté le camembert est en ville.

The cheese shop where I bought the camembert is in town.

OÙ means WHERE in this sentence.
OÙ as a relative pronoun can also refer to time.

This is where a lot of French students mess up.

OÙ can also refer to time and it gets translated to WHEN in English.

When referring to time we tend to want to use the word QUAND because it means WHEN.

The problem is that QUAND is not a relative pronoun so you can’t use it as if it were.

C’est le moment où…This is the time when…

Would you have been tempted to use QUAND instead of OÙ?

Here’s another example:

Il pleuvait le jour où nous sommes arrivés. It was raining the day when we arrived.

DONT

The last relative pronoun we are going to look at in this lesson is DONT.  If you’ve studied relative pronouns already this is probably the one you don’t like very much, but I’m going to simplify it for you.

DONT replaces people or objects that come after DE.
Tu vois cette dame?

Je t’ai parlé de cette dame.

C’est la dame dont je t’ai parlé.

Here we have an example of a person preceded by DE.
Do you see that lady?

I spoke to you about that lady.

That’s the lady I talked to you about. – That’s the lady of whom I spoke.

J’ai besoin d’un couteau.

Le couteau est sur la table.

Le couteau dont j’ai besoin est sur la table.

I need a knife.

The knife is on the table.

The knife that I need is on the table.


The trickiest part about using dont isn’t really understanding the rule, but it’s knowing which verbs and expressions are followed by de.

RELATED POSTS:

👉 Lesson: French relative pronoun DONT

👉 Lesson: French relative pronouns CE QUI – CE QUE – CE DONT

👉 Lesson: French relative pronouns LEQUEL – DUQUEL – AUQUEL

Exercise

1La fille  _____ je te parlais vient d’arriver.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

2M. Richard, _____ est conducteur de taxi, habite au coin de la rue.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

3Nous rendons souvent visite à notre oncle _____ habite en Angleterre.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

4C’est une fille _____ vient d’Espagne.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

5Pierre est le garçon ____ est derrière l’arbre.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

6Cet homme, _____ son père est professeur, a oublié son parapluie.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

7Vendredi, c’est le jour _____ on fait les courses au marché.

a. qui

b. que

c.


d. dont
8Qu’est-ce que tu as fait de l’argent _____ ta mère t’a laissé?

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

9C’est le livre _____ j’ai besoin pour faire mes devoirs.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

10Les cerises _____ j’ai acheté un kilo ne sont pas bonnes.

a. qui

b. que

c.

d. dont

Answers

1La fille  _____ je te parlais vient d’arriver.

d. dont

2M. Richard, _____ est conducteur de taxi, habite au coin de la rue.

a. qui

3Nous rendons souvent visite à notre oncle _____ habite en Angleterre.

a. qui

4C’est une fille _____ vient d’Espagne.

a. qui

5Pierre est le garçon ____ est derrière l’arbre.

a. qui

6Cet homme, _____ le père est professeur, a oublié son parapluie.

d. dont

7Vendredi, c’est le jour _____ on fait les courses au marché.

c.

8Qu’est-ce que tu as fait de l’argent _____ ta mère t’a laissé?

b. que

9C’est le livre _____ j’ai besoin pour faire mes devoirs.

d. dont

10Les cerises _____ j’ai acheté un kilo ne sont pas bonnes.

d. dont


French Relative Pronouns – QUE – QUI – OÙ – DONT Course

This is a lesson for upper-intermediate B2 level learners. It is important to understand why we need relative pronouns, and how to use them in order to speak French correctly. Once you know the rules, you’ll feel ready to practice, practice, and practice again! By the time you finish this mini-course, you’ll even feel better about that tricky DONT…. The video that is included with this lesson is the same as the one on YouTube, and you can also view it in the course “promo”.


This course is included in my BUNDLED FRENCH LESSONS which continues to grow, and once you own it you’ll never pay another centime!


Step 1: Print out your 5 page lesson guide on French relative pronouns. Have it handy for taking notes during the video lesson.

Step 2: Watch the video lesson, and you’ll see how to use the relative pronouns QUE – QUI – OÙ – DONT. There are lots of examples, and there’s even a little quiz at the end.

Step 3: Practice using this online quizlet study set.

Step 4: Practice cards , Set 1 – Use your set of 50 French relative pronouns practice cards to test your new French skills. Each card contains a fill in the blank sentence. The only options are QUI – QUE – OÙ – DONT.

  • 11 cards use QUE
  • 12 cards use QUI
  • 11 cards use OÙ
  • 16 cards use DONT

Included:

  • 50 numbered practice cards – 4 per page for printing and cutting out
  • 50 numbered practice cards (the same ones) – 1 per page for online use
  • Numbered answer key

Step 5: Practice cards , Set 2 – Use your set of 140 relative pronouns practice cards to work on forming your own sentences. This resource does not include an answer key as you will be forming original sentences. You can always write to me if you want to check your work!

Each card displays an image, and beneath the image it is written how to say it in French. For example, C’est un lave-vaisselle. You are prompted to say at least two sentences using relative pronouns to describe the image. At the top of the card it may say C’est quelque chose que….. or C’est quelque chose dont….. and at the bottom of the card it may say C’est quelque chose où….. or C’est quelque chose qui….. You have to finish the sentences using correct grammar.

In the beginning, it can be very difficult to form your own sentences, and that’s why there are two sets of 70 cards included.

SET ONE: The cards have two clues already written on them. This is a nice way for you to warm up to the activity, understand how it works, and get in some valuable practice and examples. In this version, just read the sentences carefully to see how I’ve used relative pronouns to describe the images.

SET TWO: These are the same cards, but the clues are not written on them. You will have already practiced with set one, and should be able to come up with your own sentences (and if you remember the ones from set one… that’s great)! The only clues they you are given is whether you should follow the prompt with a subject or verb since those rules can be tricky and hard to remember.

Included:

  • 70 numbered practice cards with clues – 4 per page for printing
  • 70 numbered practice cards with clues – 1 per page for online use
  • 70 numbered practice cards without clues – 4 per page for printing
  • 70 numbered practice cards without clues – 4 per page for online use


Join our mailing list!

Hear about what's new at the LLL French Academy, and receive updates on new blog posts and other learning resources that you're going to love!

%d bloggers like this: