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Ce que / Ce qui instead of Que or Qui alone.


Kwiziq community member

9 February 2016

3 replies

Ce que / Ce qui instead of Que or Qui alone.

Hello. I think I understand when to use ce qui instead of ce que and vice versa, but I can't find the lesson that explains when to use ce que / ce qui instead of que or qui alone. Thanks for any help!

This relates to:
Ce qui (vs ce que) = what, which (relative pronouns) -


Kwiziq language super star

9 February 2016


Bonjour Kate,

We don't currently have a lesson that specifically addresses when to use French relative pronouns (que / qui) vs when to use indefinite relative pronouns (ce que / ce qui).

The difference is straightforward: you need relative pronouns when there is an antecedent - something specific that the pronoun refers back to:

J'ai mangé du pain. Le pain que j'ai mangé était bon.

You need indefinite relative pronouns when there is no antecedent, when the thing is unknown or unspecified:

Ce que j'ai mangé était bon.

I hope this helps! :-)


Kwiziq community member

9 February 2016


Thanks so much for the reply. Yes that seems clear. Will now try to apply it!


Kwiziq language super star

12 February 2016


Bonjour Kate !

That's a very interesting question indeed!
Let's point out first that we're talking about the relative pronouns here, which are used to introduce a new information in a sentence (as opposed to question words like "what?").
Once you know this, the separation is quite simple: "qui/que" can mean "who/which/that ..." whereas "ce qui/ce que" mean "what ...".

e.g. La fille que je regarde. (The girl whom[m]/that I'm watching.)

e.g. Je fais ce que je veux. (I do what I want.)

Precision: in cases where "ce qui / ce que" would also be translated by "which" in English, you need to ask yourself: What does "que/qui/ce que/ce qui" is referring to?

If it refers to a noun (expressed before), then you will use "que/qui".
If it refers to the whole part of the sentence, the whole idea, then it will be "ce que/ce qui".

e.g. Les gens que je rencontre ... (The people which I meet...)
Here "que" refers to "people"

e.g. J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves fascinant. (I love bananas, which you find fascinating.)
Here "ce que" refers to the whole fact that I love bananas, not just to the bananas.

I hope that’s helpful!

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