Questions: Qui / qui est-ce que = Whom ?

In the following cases, the person is NOT the one doing the action, but is the object of the action -> Whom does someone meet, see...?

Note how we can ask whom in three different ways:

1- 

You can use qui followed by the inverted form of the verb. (Whom does she like?)

Qui aime-t-elle?
Whom does she like?

 

Qui as-tu rencontré?
Whom did you meet?

 

2- 

You can use qui after the normal sentence. (literally: She likes whom?)

Elle aime qui?
Whom does she like?

 

Tu as rencontré qui?
Whom did you meet?

3- 

And you can use the longer form with qui est-ce que ... ? (literally: who is it whom she likes?).
This one is never followed by the inverted form.

Qui est-ce qu'elle aime?
Whom does she like?

Qui est-ce que tu as rencontré?
Whom did you meet?

 

  

ATTENTION: 

You can also sometimes encounter the form c'est qui que, however, this is NOT really grammatically correct!

C'est qui qu'elle aime?
Whom does she like?

 literally: It's who whom she likes?

C'est qui que tu as rencontré?
Whom did you meet?

 

See also Questions: Qui, qui est-ce qui = Who ?

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Qui est-ce qu'elle aime?
Whom does she like?


Tu as rencontré qui?
Whom did you meet?


C'est qui qu'elle aime?
Whom does she like?


Qui est-ce que tu as rencontré?
Whom did you meet?


Elle aime qui?
Whom does she like?


Qui as-tu rencontré?
Whom did you meet?


Qui aime-t-elle?
Whom does she like?


C'est qui que tu as rencontré?
Whom did you meet?


Q&A

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2018

4 replies

Who and Whom difference? - correction to question

Sorry the question should have readIn my part the UK we never use 'whom' only 'who' so I'm lost as to when to use 'Qui est-ce que' and when to use 'Qui est-ce qui'. Could you please help.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Hi Stewart - yes, increasingly 'whom' is disappearing from use in English, however it's well worth understanding the difference as it will help with you comprehension of French enormously. It's not difficult to grasp because it's the same distinction as 'he' versus 'him' so if you substitute one of those words into a sentence you can usually see which it ought to be. Sometimes you have to change the order a bit to do this: For example: "[Who/whom] should I give the apples to?" -> Should I give the apples to HIM (obviously not "he") therefore Should I give the apples to him, and therefore "To whom should I give the apples?" Once you grasp that "whom" is plays the same role in a sentence as "him" and "who" the same role as "he" it becomes pretty easy to see which one is/ought to be used. [the grammar terms for these are relative subject and relative object pronouns if you want to read further]. In French, this distinction is very important, not disappearing at all, so by tapping into an older style / formal English you get a lot of value back. Hopefully that makes sense?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

It is a common trait of Romance languages that they are weak on nominal cases but strong on tenses. English, as well, has lost most traces of noun declension. One of the remaining traces is the difference between "who" and "whom". In short, the difference is that "who" is used for the subject and "whom" for the object. One simple test is to replace the person in question with "I" or "me". If "I" is the correct form, then you should use "who". If it is "me", then "whom" is correct. Here are some examples: Anne met me at the beach. -- Anne met whom at the beach? (me --> whom) I met Marc at the movies. -- Who met Marc at the movies? (I--> who) In "Qui est-ce qui..." the second "qui" is the subject of the following clause, hence you would translate it as "who". On the other hand, in "Qui est-ce que..." the "que" is the object of what follows, so you need "whom" in English. Again, let's demonstrate how this works using an example or two: Who is playing the piano? -- Qui est-ce qui joue du piano? (qui is the subject) Whom are you waiting for? -- Qui est-ce que tu attends? (que is the object) I hope that helps a bit. -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Chris

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Ah, Gruff's excellent post appeared just as I was writing mine. Sorry. -- Chris.

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2018

29/01/18

Hi Gruff ... thank you for a great explanation.

Stewart

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2018

1 reply

Who and Whom difference?

In my part the UK we never use 'whom' only 'who' so I'm lost as to when to use 'Qui est-ce que' and 'Qui est-ce que'. Could you please help.

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

14 April 2018

14/04/18

Hi Stewart

Yes, it's unfortunate that whom is slipping out of use, as the distinction is very important in French. The good news is, it's very easy to grasp because the difference between who and whom is exactly the same as the difference between he and him.

The trick is to rearrange a sentence in your head and see if he or him fits best, and that tells you which pronoun to use in French.

For example one of these forms used to be 'whom':

Who's that? Oh, He's that guy from ... (Not: Him's that guy...)

Who  did you meet? Him. (Not: I met he.)

So, it's easy to see that the second one (in years gone by) would have been:

Whom did you meet?

Note: The distinction here is between the subject pronoun ('he') and the object pronoun ('him'). If grammar jargon like subject and object are still a bit vague, then you might find this explainer video helpful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z_0Dtnon0c

Hope that's helpful!

richa

Kwiziq community member

19 January 2018

2 replies

There is a question in one of the tests. Where is qui is not accepted as the answer . Why so?

The question is pasted below. Why the answer should be Qu'est-ce qui and not qui while in the lesson both are used interchangably. ____________________vous avez envie de revoir ? Who[m] do you want to see again?

richa

Kwiziq community member

19 January 2018

19/01/18

I am sorry i made a mistake in my question, i meant 'Qui est-ce que' and not Qu'est-ce qui.

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 January 2018

19/01/18

Hi Richa,
there are three ways to ask a question in French.
Here they all are using your sentence as an example:

1) Qui est-ce que vous avez envie de revoir ? -- using "est-ce que"

2) Vous avez envie de revoir qui ? -- using intonation

3) Qui avez-vous envie de revoir ? -- using inversion

You see that if you want to use "qui" without "est-ce que", you need to use the inverted form (the third one) to ask your question, which is different from what the test expects you to answer.

Hence only the first form can be correct.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

Ron

Kwiziq community member

24 August 2017

2 replies

C'est qui que?

So I was just listening to Monsieur Grognon in the listening exercise and then I read the transcript. In the second paragraphe there is this phrase: «D’ailleurs, il n’a pas eu de conversation avec qui que ce soit depuis des années. . . .» I recalled from the lesson above that the «c'est qui que» is grammatically incorrect. So, exactly how frequent is this phrase used in everyday French? Merci en avance.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 August 2017

25/08/17

Bonjour Ron !

Actually here the phrase is qui que ce soit, which literally means "who[m] who might be" and is used in the sense of any/no body whatsoever :)

You can also use quoi que ce soit = any/no thing whatsoever

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée !

Ron

Kwiziq community member

26 August 2017

26/08/17

Ah. I see the difference. I am familiar with quoi que ce soit, but have never run across, in my readings, qui que ce soit. Merci, Aurélie. J'ai appris quelque chose nouvelle. Bonne journée.

Barb

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2017

3 replies

Incorrect examples

Would be helpful to not include the incorrect forms in the examples in the lower part of the page: "C'est qui que tu as rencontré?" Otherwise, feels like it's reinforcing incorrect options.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2017

20/08/17

Bonjour Barb, If I am understanding your concern correctly, it appears in the example that the usage depicted might possibly be heard at times, hence it is good to know about it; however, it is an incorrect form usage, which is also good to know. I do fully understand the phrase that not all French people who are native speakers use the language correctly. This also holds true for native English speakers who do not use the language correctly; however, it is good to know and be able to recognize incorrect speech, at least in my opinion. J'espère que cela vous aiderait. Bonne chance.

Barb

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2017

20/08/17

It was great to know about it - really liked this section of the lesson: "ATTENTION: You can also sometimes encounter the form c'est qui que, however, this is NOT really grammatically correct!" But then in the "EXAMPLES AND RESOURCES" section - which is what I use to practice how to speak correctly, the grammatically incorrect examples were mixed with correct ones. It drove me to practice the incorrect ones too -- until I remembered the "attention note" and mentally crossed them out for practice. No biggie, just a note.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

20 August 2017

20/08/17

Je comprends bien.

Adrienne

Kwiziq community member

19 May 2017

1 reply

Should lesson title be "Qui / Qui est-ce que" (not ...est-ce qui?)

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

19 May 2017

19/05/17

Bonjour Adrienne, Yes, you're absolutely right - I've fixed the typo. Bonne continuation !

Joakim

Kwiziq community member

6 April 2016

1 reply

Qui vs que

In this lesson, I would like to see something about the difference between 'qui est-ce que' and 'qui est-ce qui'

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

7 April 2016

7/04/16

Bonjour Joakim,

Indeed, the link to the related lesson on "Qui est-ce qui ?" was not showing properly here!
But it does now: have a look at the bottom of this lesson:
https://french.kwiziq.com/revision/grammar/how-to-ask-whom-qui-qui-est-ce-que-questions

A bientôt !

Getting that for you now.