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Qui vs Que

French Interrogative Pronouns - Pronoms interrogatifs

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French has three interrogative pronouns: qui, que, and lequel, which are used to ask questions. This lesson explains the difference in meaning and usage between qui and que; because it's so unique, lequel is addressed in a separate lesson, as is the use of qui and que as relative pronouns.

Qui means who or whom; it is used when asking about people. When whom is the object of the question, qui can be followed by either est-ce que or inversion.

   Qui est-ce que vous aimez ? / Qui aimez-vous ?
   Whom do you love?

   Qui est-ce que tu vois ? / Qui vois-tu ?
   Whom do you see?

When who is the subject of the question, you can use either qui or qui est-ce qui. The word order cannot be inverted and the verb is always third person singular.

   Qui veut le faire ? / Qui est-ce qui veut le faire ?
   Who wants to do it?

   Qui parle ? / Qui est-ce qui parle ?
   Who is speaking?

Qui can also follow a preposition.

   À qui est-ce que tu parles ? / À qui parles-tu ?
   To whom are you speaking?

   De qui est-ce que tu écris ? / De qui écris-tu ?
   Whom are you writing about?


Que means what and is used to refer to ideas or things. When what is the object of the question, it can be followed by est-ce que or inversion.

   Qu'est-ce qu'il veut ? / Que veut-il ?
   What does he want?

   Qu'est-ce que tu penses de mon idée ? / Que penses-tu de mon idée ?
   What do you think of my idea?

   Qu'est-ce que c'est (que cela) ?
   What is that?

When what is the subject of the question, you must use qu'est-ce qui followed by a verb in the third person singular, with no inversion.

   Qu'est-ce qui se passe ?
   What's happening?

   Qu'est-ce qui est tombé sur la terre ?
   What fell on the ground?

After a preposition, que changes to quoi.

   De quoi est-ce que vous parlez ? / De quoi parlez-vous ?
   What are you talking about?

   À quoi est-ce qu'il travaille ? / À quoi travaille-t-il ?
   What's he working on?


Interrogative pronouns quiz

Summary of French Interrogative Pronouns

Subject of question   Object of question   After preposition
 
People   qui
qui est-ce qui
qui
qui est-ce que
qui
 
Things   qu'est-ce quique
qu'est-ce que
quoi
Related Video
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French Dialogues: Shopping
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