Relative Pronouns

French relative pronouns
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Pronoms relatifs

Relative pronouns are connectors – they link relative clauses to main clauses so that you don’t have to repeat subjects and objects. If any of these grammatical concepts are unclear to you, please study those lessons before reading this one.

Characteristics of relative pronouns

  1. Connect relative and main clauses
  2. Can be subjects, direct objects, or objects of a preposition
  3. Are impersonal and therefore invariable (except lequel)
  4. Are required in French, though they are sometimes optional in English

There are five French relative pronouns: dont, lequel, où, que, and qui. These are equivalent to seven English relative pronouns and adverbs: that, when, where, which, who, whom, and whose. I can’t give you a nice French relative pronoun = English relative pronoun/adverb list, because the grammar is somewhat different in the two languages, and there are at least two possible English translations for each French pronoun, depending on the context.

Here’s a summary of French relative pronouns with their functions and possible translations – click to read detailed lessons on each one.

Pronoun Function(s) English equivalents
Dont
 
 Object of preposition de
Possession indicator
 from which, of which, that
whose
Lequel Object of a preposition which, that
 Place or time indicator when, where, which, that
Que Direct object that, which, whom
Qui
 
 Subject
Object (person) of preposition
 who
which, whom, that

 Relative Pronouns Quizzes

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself on French relative pronouns with these fill-in-the-blanks exercises:

Note: You must be logged into your Progress with Lawless French account to take these tests. If you don’t have one, sign up – it’s free!

 French also has indefinite relative pronouns (ce dont, ce que, ce qui, and quoi).

 Related lessons

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French relative pronouns

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