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 la famille. Je parle de cette famille.   Here’s the family. I’m talking about this family.
Voici la famille dont je parle.   Here’s the family I’m talking about.
J’ai peur d’une seule chose : le noir.   I’m afraid of only one thing: the dark.
Le noir est la seule chose dont j’ai peur.   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.   I’m suspicious of him.
Tu connais l’homme dont je me méfie ?   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.   I know a man. This man’s wife is a spy.
Je connais un homme dont la femme est espionne.   I know a man whose wife is a spy.
Je cherche une maison. La porte de la maison est jaune.   I’m looking for a house. The house’s door is yellow.
Je cherche la maison dont la porte est jaune.   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.   I have a lot of friends. Two of my friends are poets.
J’ai beaucoup d’amis, dont deux poètes.   I have a lot of friends, two of whom are poets.
Certains films sont très marrants. Dîner de cons est un de ces films.   Some movies are very funny. Dîner de cons is one of those movies.
Certains films sont très marrants, dont Dîner de cons.   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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French relative pronoun dont

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