Dont = Whose

Look at these sentences using the preposition dont: 

Une fille dont le frère travaillait avec moi...
A girl whose brother used to work with me ...

 

J'ai rencontré cet acteur dont le nom me dit quelque chose...
I met this actor whose name rings a bell ...

 

Tu as jeté la chaussure dont le talon est cassé.
You threw away the shoe with the broken heel [lit. whose heel is broken].

 
Note that the construction with dont is similar to the one with whose in English. 
Although whose tends to be less used with inanimate objects in English, dont is actually the colloquial way to express this in French.  
 
In French, dont replaces the possessive expression possessionde:
La sœur de Marc  ->  Marc, dont la sœur est journaliste, ...
Marc's sister  ->  Marc, whose sister is a journalist, ....
 
Unlike in English, you can find cases when dont and the possession are separated by a verb, for example:
 

François, dont j'ai rencontré la femme le mois dernier.
François, whose wife I met last month.

 
When the owner is a person, you can alternatively use de qui as well as dont: however de qui is much less common and doesn't sound nearly as good in French. 

Les enfantsde qui je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.

 
ATTENTION
In the context of possession (whose), you won't use duquel, de laquelle, desquels nor desquelles.
 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Les enfants, dont je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.


La maison, dont j'ai réparé le toit, est maintenant parfaite.
The house, which I fixed the roof of [lit. whose roof I fixed], is now perfect.


J'ai rencontré cet acteur dont le nom me dit quelque chose...
I met this actor whose name rings a bell ...


Tu as jeté la chaussure dont le talon est cassé.
You threw away the shoe with the broken heel [lit. whose heel is broken].


Une fille dont le frère travaillait avec moi...
A girl whose brother used to work with me ...


Les enfantsde qui je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.


François, dont j'ai rencontré la femme le mois dernier.
François, whose wife I met last month.


Q&A Forum 6 questions, 8 answers

Ce dont, tout ce dont??

Do you have any lessons about ce done and tout ce dont planned at this time? I'm have a lot of trouble with those. 

Asked 3 months ago

Ce dont, tout ce dont??

Do you have any lessons about ce done and tout ce dont planned at this time? I'm have a lot of trouble with those. 

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« dont » ... link to « including »

Bonjour Aurélie,

As I’m re-learning and learning in a non-linear fashion, i would find it useful to have a link in this lesson to other uses of « dont » ...for example to say « including... »

Asked 7 months ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star

Bonjour Marnie !

There was already one link at the end of this lesson, but following your message, I added another one to "dont = including..."  :)

Bonne journée !

Merci!

« dont » ... link to « including »

Bonjour Aurélie,

As I’m re-learning and learning in a non-linear fashion, i would find it useful to have a link in this lesson to other uses of « dont » ...for example to say « including... »

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"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.
Asked 5 years ago
JeanC1Correct answer

Les vaches are in the meadow. Elles s'y reposent.

"... dont les fermiers observent les bébés" is a phrase describing or giving more information about les vaches. Perhaps the calves are in the field also, but in this sentence it is not explicitly stated (they could be elsewhere like in the barn), and so all one can say for sure is that the cows are there in the field.

The English translation of this sentence is ambiguous because it can logically be interpreted as "cows including the babies" or "cows excluding the babies." Unless the French is entirely unambiguous, then I recommend changing this question to "who do we know for certain is in the meadow."

"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.

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Les voitures dont le toit est décapotable. In this phrase could desquelles be used instead of dont?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Jennifer,

No you cannot use 'desquelles' in this example, only 'dont'....

Yes, dont can be a substitue for duquel, de laquelle, desquels and desquelles.

Les voitures dont le toit est décapotable. In this phrase could desquelles be used instead of dont?

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SueC1

the blue knife

the second quiz question is a litte strange. I have a pictorial mind, and I rarely see a blue knife,ie a knife with a blue blade, the handle is the part that often determins the colour , unless it is silver when it is the material and colour . So when mark has broken the handle the mind says that the handle was blue when the french words imply that the knife as a whole is blue. confused!
Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Sue ! I've looked at this question and I agree: it's really confusing ! I've therefore decided to remove it and replace it with a more straightforward sentence :) Merci beaucoup et à bientôt ! PS: To report on specific questions, please use the "Report it" button in your Correction Board, as it gives us a direct link to the reported question, and saves us time looking for it :)

the blue knife

the second quiz question is a litte strange. I have a pictorial mind, and I rarely see a blue knife,ie a knife with a blue blade, the handle is the part that often determins the colour , unless it is silver when it is the material and colour . So when mark has broken the handle the mind says that the handle was blue when the french words imply that the knife as a whole is blue. confused!

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Can 'aussi bien que' be used as well as 'dont' to mean including?

Asked 10 years ago
Bonjour Gerald, Oui! .. Yes, I think so: that aussi bien que can be used to say including. I asked this same question a while ago, and that's what Aurelie replied. Cheryl

Can 'aussi bien que' be used as well as 'dont' to mean including?

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