Are French Relative Pronouns throwing you off? Lequel, laquelle and lesquelles making your head spin? We know exactly what you mean, which is why we created this simple guide to break it all down for you.
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The French Relative Pronoun: Lequel
Let’s start with the trickiest of them all: Lequel.
In English, lequel corresponds to either “that”, “which” or “what”. It replaces the indirect object in a sentence and it is only ever used to refer to inanimate things. It also has to agree with the number and gender of the noun.
Now don’t be fooled by appearances – there’s a lot more to lequel than meets the eye.
First of all, here are the masculine and feminine, singular and plural forms of lequel (all meaning “which” in English):
- Masculine singular – lequel
- Masculine plural – lesquels
- Feminine singular – laquelle
- Feminine plural – lesquelles
L’heure à laquelle je mange.
The time at which I eat.
Now, when lequel follows the prepositions de and à, a new form of the relative pronoun is created.
When à is followed by lequel:
- à lequel becomes auquel
- à lequelles becomes auxquelles
- à lesquels becomes auxquels
When de is followed by lequel:
- de lequel becomes duquel
- de lesquelles becomes desquelles
- de lesquels becomes desquels
The only exception to this rule is when à and de are followed by the feminine singular form of lequel :
- à laquelle remain the same
- de laquelle remains the same
C’est la ville à laquelle je pensais.
That’s the city which I was thinking about.
Here’s a good recap on French Relative Pronouns:
The French Relative Pronouns: Que and Qui
Que corresponds to “that” or “which”. It’s used to refer back to an object mentioned at the beginning of the sentence. If que comes before a vowel or a word that starts with the letter “h,” then it becomes qu’.
J’ai acheté la lettre que ma mère a écrite.
I bought the letter that my mother wrote.
Here, que is referring back to the letter (the object).
J’ai préparé le gateau qu’aime mon frère.
I made the cake which my brother likes.
On the other hand, Qui corresponds to “who” when referring back to a person, or “which” when referring back to a place or thing. Qui is also used after the pour, de, and à prepositions.
Je cherche une fille qui habite en France.
I am looking for a girl who lives in France.
Here, qui is referring back to the girl.
J’habite dans la maison qui se trouve près de la mer.
I live in the house which is near the sea.
The French Relative Pronoun: Dont
Dont is the equivalent to “whose”, “of which” and “of whom” in English. It can either refer to an inanimate thing or a person. Unlike lequel , it does not change its form and does not have to agree with the number or gender of the noun.
Voici les robes dont j’ai besoin!
Here are the dresses that I need!
J’ai rencontré un garçon dont la mère est un agent du FBI.
I met a boy whose mother is an FBI agent.
The French Relative Pronoun: Où
Où can be translated to either “when” or “where” and “that” or “which”. It can also refer to a time when an event occurred. You will come across it in interrogatory sentences the most.
Je me souviens de l’année où il m’a rencontré pour la première fois.
I remember the year he met me for the first time.
Dis-moi où est le restaurant?
Tell me where is the restaurant?
And there you have it – absolutely everything you need to know about French Relative Pronouns!
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See you next lesson – and in the meantime, don’t forget to practice! If you need any help don’t hesitate to get into contact with one of our online French tutors.