Dont – Relative Pronoun

Dont - French relative pronoun
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Pronom relatif

The relative pronoun dont replaces the preposition de plus a person or thing and serves as the object of a relative clause. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these concepts, please study the lessons before reading this one.

Depending on the context, dont has a number of possible translations:

  • from which
  • from whom
  • including
  • of which
  • of whom
  • that
  • whose
  • with

 Though the relative pronoun is required in French, it’s often optional in English and may be left out of the translation entirely.

Par exemple…

Voici le livre. Tu as parlé de ce livre.
 > Voici le livre dont tu as parlé.
  Here’s the book. You talked about this book.
 > Here’s the book (that) you talked about.
J’ai peur d’une seule chose : le noir.
 > Le noir est la seule chose dont j’ai peur.
  I’m afraid of only one thing: the dark.
 > The dark is the only thing (that) I’m afraid of
 > The dark is the only thing of which I’m afraid.
Je me méfie de lui.
 > Tu connais l’homme dont je me méfie ?
  I’m suspicious of him.
 > Do you know the man (whom) I’m suspicious of?
 > Do you know the man of whom I’m suspicious?

Since possession is indicated with de, dont can express it as well. When the thing possessed is a person, dont is equivalent to "whose"; when it’s inanimate, the best translation is often "with."

Je connais un homme. La femme de cet homme est espionne.
 > Je connais un homme dont la femme est espionne.
  I know a man. This man’s wife is a spy.
 > I know a man whose wife is a spy.
Je cherche une maison. La porte de la maison est jaune.
 > Je cherche la maison dont la porte est jaune.
  I’m looking for a house. The house’s door is yellow.
 > I’m looking for the house with a yellow door.

Dont can also refer to members of a group:

J’ai beaucoup d’amis. Deux de mes amis sont poètes.
 > J’ai beauoup d’amis, dont deux poètes.
  I have a lot of friends. Two of my friends are poets.
 > I have a lot of friends, two of whom are poets.
Certains films sont très marrants. Dîner de cons est un de ces films.
 > Certains films sont très marrants, dont
Dîner de cons.
  Some movies are very funny. Dîner de cons is one of those movies.
 > Some movies are very funny, including Dîner de cons.

 À noter : After any preposition other than de, the relative pronoun is either qui (when it’s a person) or lequel (when it’s an object). Also, when de is not on its own, but instead part of a prepositional phrase such as près de, the relative pronoun is lequel.

 Related lessons

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2 Responses

  1. Petra 1 December 2018 / 16:55

    What about a feminine object? Voici la femme dont tu as parlée? Do we need to agree?

    • lkl 3 December 2018 / 6:55

      Bonjour Petra,

      No, there is never agreement with dont. Remember that dont replaces de + noun, which means the noun is not a direct object but rather the object of the preposition de.