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Que – How English can help us

English helps us understand

Luckily, this is exactly the same logic as in English, and many many verbs in English share the same structure with their French counterparts.

  • C’est Alex que je vois. It’s Alex that I see.
  • La personne que je vois, c’est Alex. The person I see is Alex.

It’s hard to give a 100% equivalent of que in English because it can change depending on the sentence. However, most commonly, its equivalent is that. Just don’t get too tied to it.

That

That in English is optional. Que in French is mandatory.

Take a look at the following verbs in English and French:

  • I like something = J’aime quelque chose. (Subject + verb + direct object.)
    • Something (that) I like. Quelque chose que j’aime. (Direct object + que + subject + verb.)
  • I do/make something = Je fais quelque chose.
    • Something (that) I like. Quelque chose que je fais.
  • I watch something = Je regarde quelque chose.
    • Something (that) I watch. Quelque chose que je regarde.
  • To eat something = Manger quelque chose.
    • Something (that) I eat. Quelque chose que je mange.

But, the same structure!

Real example

Let’s take the verb faire for a real-world example of using que as a pronom relatif.

Without the que it would be a sentence with repetition:

  • Le prof a donné les devoirs. Elle doit faire les devoirs.

With the que:

  • Le prof a donné les devoirs qu’elle doit faire.

As you can see, the que ties the 2 clauses together into one sentence and tells us that it represents a direct object. Much nicer.

Of course, in English, you do this intuitively. In French, you are having to more consciously thinking about it, but it’s so similar to English that you pick it up pretty quickly.

When you’re done exploring, head back and see the packages.
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