Ask Marie #5: Using Pronouns QUI and QUE

Copie de MONTREAL?-15

P: How can I make sure to not mix pronouns Qui and Que?

R: The difference between relative pronouns QUI and QUE is quite simple when you read the explanation in a textbook, but not so much when you are in the middle of a conversation. I hope this will help you differentiate the two.

What they have in common

Both QUI and QUE introduce additional information about a noun.

C’est une polyglotte.

C’est une polyglotte qui parle italien et espagnol.

C’est une polyglotte que je connais bien.


It is also a way to combine two statements into a more complexe sentence.

Elvis est un chanteur. Il est très connu.

Elvis est un chanteur qui est très connu.


Ask yourself if the additional information you are introducing with these pronouns is related to the subject of the verb OR to its object.


Qui – Introduces a subject

In the case of QUI, the subject of your sentence does the action introduced by the verb. Qui acts as the subject.

C’est une méthode. / It’s a method.

C’est une méthode qui fonctionne. / It’s a method that works.

(The thing that ‘fonctionne’ is the method. You are adding information about the subject of your sentence).


Proposition + Qui – Introduces an indirect object

When QUI is associated with a preposition (avec, pour, sans, devant, sur, derrière, par, etc.), it becomes an indirect object. Note that this only works if you talk about a person.

C’est la femme pour qui je travaille. / She’s the woman for whom I am working.

Je n’ai personne avec qui pratiquer. / I don’t have anyone to practice with.

(Here, QUI introduces additional information about the indirect object of the verb.)


Que – Introduces an object

QUE introduces extra information about the “object” of the verb. The noun it refers to IS NOT the subject (in the sense that it doesn’t “do” the action implied by the verb).

J’ai rencontré une fille à Milan. / I met a girl in Milan. (I’m the one who “met” the girl.)

La fille que j’ai rencontrée à Milan s’appelait Julia. /The girl that I met in Milan was named Julia.

(In that sentence again, je is still the subject of the verb “to meet”. But I added information about the girl that I met, who is the direct object of the verb.)


C’est une série que tu devrais regarder pour pratiquer le français. / It’s a series that you should watch to practice French.

(Here again, the subject of the verb “should watch” is not the series, but “you”. I’m adding information about the series, which is the object of the verb “to watch”.).


Here’s some examples to help you compare.

C’est un blog qui est utile. (In this case, it’s the blog that is the subject of “utile”.)

C’est un blog que je trouve utile. (Je is the subject of “trouve utile”, not the blog. Que introduces extra information about the blog that I like.)


C’est une série que je regarde tous les jours.

C’est une série qui parle d’amour.


Qu’est-ce que tu as?

Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas?


Do you have questions about French? Ask Marie in the comments!


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