Relative pronouns: qui and que in French

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Relative pronouns: qui and que

Relative pronouns (qui, que, où, dont, lequel, etc.) are used to refer to subjects that have been previously mentioned.
J’ai vu un reportage de l’AIGF. Ce reportage parle de la sexualité des Français.J’ai vu un reportage de l’AIGF qui parle de la sexualité des Français. (qui = ce reportage)
I saw an AIGF report. This report is about the sexuality of the French. → I saw an AIGF report which is about the sexuality of the French.
Qui and que can often be mixed-up.
•  Qui usually means ‘who’, but not always! It serves as (and replaces) the subject and is followed by a verb.
C’est une jolie maison qui a été construite en 1820. It’s a pretty house which was built in 1820.
Victor va nous présenter sa nouvelle copine qui s’appelle Marie-Chantal. Victor is going to show us his new girlfriend who is called Marie-Chantal.
•  Que replaces what’s called a direct object, usually meaning ‘that’ or ‘what’. It is followed by a subject.
C’est une jolie maison que Victor a achetée en 1842. It’s a pretty house that Victor bought in 1842.
Victor va nous présenter sa nouvelle copine que personne ne connaît. Victor is going to show us his new girlfriend that nobody knows.
•  Que can also mark a new clause which joins with the main verb. Grammatically, this is called a subordinate clause.
Je sais que tu viendras I know (that) you will come.
Je pense que tu as raison I think (that) you’re right.
Note:
•  Que becomes qu’ when followed by a vowel.
Victor va nous présenter sa nouvelle copine qu’il a rencontrée hier. Victor is going to show us his new girlfriend that he met yesterday.
•  Qui doesn’t always replace a person, and que doesn’t always replace a thing.
La voiture que j’ai achetée. The car that I bought.
La voiture qui me plaît. The car that I like.
L’homme que j’aime. The man (that) I love.
L’homme qui est dans mon lit. The man who is in my bed.

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