Que or ce qui

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Kwiziq community member

30 October 2018

7 replies

Que or ce qui

I'm struggling with the difference in rules between ce que / que and ce qui / qui. Is it correctly understood that we use either "ce que" or "qui" when followed by an object (so the rule is different with/without the ce, unlike with verbs and reflexive pronounse)? Are these two sentences correct, "sa maman" being an object here? 

Tu ne devineras jamais ce qui sa maman a fait! 

Le bébé joue avec la peluche que sa maman adore. 

This question relates to:
French lesson "Que = Whom, which, that (relative pronouns)"


Kwiziq language super star

31 October 2018


Hi Arndís,

Relative pronouns are complicated so I can understand your frustration...

I will try and make them easier for you to use with some Rules of Thumb designed to help -

Qui/Ce qui

They will be  both followed by a verb (sometimes by ne) , they will certainly never be followed by a subject pronoun or the name of a person ( je /tu/ il/elle/on , ils ,elles, Marie, Papa etc..)


C'est elle qui va aller en courses It's her who is going to go shopping

Les enfants qui jouent dans le parc sont les miens = The children who are playing in the parc are mine

Je me demande ce qui va arriver = I wonder what is going to happen

You will however find object pronouns sometimes after qui/ce qui:

Je fais ce qui me plaît! = I do what I like

Elle a choisi cette tenue, ce qui lui va très bien = She's chosen this outfit, which suits her very well

C'est ce qui *vous * attire chez lui? Is that what attracts you to him ?

*vous * note here is an object pronoun.

Also note, *qui/ce qui cannot be elided .

Que /Ce que 

These relative pronouns will be followed by subject pronouns, names ...:


L'homme que vous voyez devant la Poste est mon cousin = The man (that) you see in front of the Post Office is my cousin

Le train qu'il a manqué est parti en avance = The  train (that) he missed, left early

C'est ce que m'a dit Martin That's what Martin told me

C'est Daniel qu'elle a vraiment aimé It is Daniel that she really loved

Je vais vous dire ce qu'on va faire = I'll tell you what we are going to do

Note:  Que/ce que can be elided to, qu'/ce qu' 

C'est ce que son mari a décidé de faireThat's what her husband decided to do 

This is why your first sentence is incorrect as it should be - 

Tu ne devineras jamais ce que sa maman a fait !

Hope this helps!




Kwiziq community member

5 December 2018


Merci Madame Cécile,

J'ai compris les règles.


Kwiziq community member

15 December 2018


I still don't understand when to use ce que or ce qui instead of just que or qui.

"Elle a choisi cette tenue, ce qui lui va très bien" refers to a whole idea rather than just "the outfit" and "outfit" is not an aforementioned noun? 

At first I figured that I have to base it on whether you get one thing or a whole concept before ce que/ce qui but then came "C'est ce que son mari décidé de faire". Now it makes sense is that case because it's not about "the husband" but it makes "Elle a choisi cette tenue, ce qui lui va très bien" even more confusing. 


Kwiziq language super star

17 December 2018


Bonjour Michelle,

Ce que / ce qui are indefinite, so you use them when you're not replacing something specific, a concrete item.

L'animal qui habite ici vs Ce qui habite ici. In the former, qui replaces l'animal, in the latter, ce qui replaces nothing.

To be honest, I'm not sure about the tenue example; I would just say qui.


Kwiziq language super star

17 December 2018


Hi Michelle,

In the example of the outfit -

There is a difference in meaning between: 

Elle a choisi cette tenue qui lui va très bien = She has chosen this outfit which suits her very well

That's her own opinion (elle - whoever she is).

In the example -

Elle a choisi cette tenue, ce qui lui va très bien = She has chosen this outfit, which suits her very well  ( it's a fact) 

introduces another person stating the fact that it suits her. 

In the following lesson , there is a similar example but suing ce que  -


"J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves très intéressant."

Here, you find interesting the fact that I love bananas.

This example is clearer I think because the subjects are different and the problem comes from the fact that 'aller bien' is used like plaire

Hope I have clarified things a little...






Kwiziq community member

19 December 2018


Thank you Laura and Cécile. Yes, this clarifies things at least to a point. I get it, but yet I don't completely. I'll just have to pay special attention to these phrases and the way they are used when I encounter them and start doing some more tests on here. 


Kwiziq language super star

19 December 2018


Hi Michelle,

Another better example may help you -

Elle chante dans une chorale qui lui plaît énormément = She sings in a choir which she loves greatly ( 'which' refers to the choir)

Elle chante dans une chorale, ce qui lui plaît énormément = She sings in a choir which she loves (doing) greatly ('which' refers to the singing) 

Not easy but the important bit is to know when to use 'qui' and 'que' first and then move on to 'ce qui' and 'ce que'... 


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