Just like in English, the French relative pronouns are words like “who,” “which,” or “that” which are used to introduce a relative clause. Simply speaking, they help to join parts into a single sentence by replacing a subject, a direct object, or an object of a preposition. Let's take a look at the following examples:
I bought a house. This house has three rooms.
I bought a house which has three rooms.
This is a bike. The bike was stolen.
This is a bike that was stolen.
They sell a dress. I dream about the dress they sell.
They sell a dress about which I dream.
This is a city. I live in this city.
This is a city where I live.
Using relative pronouns
In order to pick the proper French pronoun, you will need to know a few details about its grammatical role. In brief, the choice of a French relative pronoun depends on:
- Whether it replaces a subject, a direct object, or an object of a preposition.
- What is the gender and number of the person or thing that the pronoun refers to (antecedent).
- Whether the antecedent represents a human.
List of French relative pronouns
The following table summarizes the French relative pronouns, their English translations and role. More detailed explanation of each pronoun is given in further lessons. Note that unlike their English counterparts, the French relative pronouns are never omitted in a sentence.
|Audio||French pronoun||English translations||Role (What it replaces)|
|qui||who, what, which, that, whom||subject or indirect object (animate)|
|que||whom, what, which, that||direct object|
|lequel||what, which, that||object of a the preposition other than "de"|
|dont||of which, from which, whose||object of a the preposition "de"|
|où||when, where, which, that||nouns referring to time or place|