Before you can use French relative pronouns correctly, you first need to understand the grammar behind them. Like its English counterpart, a French relative pronoun links a dependent or relative clause to a main clause. If the previous sentence makes no sense to you, learn about clauses before working on this lesson. Also, since relative pronouns may replace a subject, direct object, indirect object, or preposition, click to learn about these grammar concepts if you aren't sure what they are.
Once you understand the above grammar terms, you're ready to learn about the French relative pronouns que, qui, lequel, dont, and où. There are no one-to-one equivalents for these words; depending on context, the English translation may be who, whom, that, which, whose, where, or when. Note that in French, relative pronouns are required, whereas in English, they are sometimes optional.
The following table summarizes the functions and possible meanings of each relative pronoun; click the pronouns to read detailed lessons.
|Qui ||Subject |
Indirect object (person)
|who, what |
which, that, whom
|Que||Direct object||whom, what, which, that|
|Lequel||Indirect object (thing)||what, which, that|
|Dont ||Object of de |
|of which, from which, that |
|Où||Indicate place or time||when, where, which, that|
|Note: ce que, ce qui, ce dont, and quoi are indefinite relative pronouns|