Question about "Il était une fois, un roi et une reine qui vivaient dans un château"

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Question about "Il était une fois, un roi et une reine qui vivaient dans un château"

Is there a grammar lesson that explains the use and/or necessity of "qui" in this sentence? 

Merci.

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi John,

'Il était une fois' can be translated by -

Once upon a time there was/were ....

or 

'There once was/were ..........'

...a king and a queen who lived in a castle'

which might make more sense to you.

No grammatical rule, it is just the way stories (particularly children stories) start in French....

Hope this helps!

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi John,

'Qui'  is 'who' in this sentence, and very much necessary in French as in English.

Here is the Kwiziq lesson regarding this particular relative pronoun -

https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/revision/grammar/when-to-use-qui-to-say-who-which-or-that-relative-pronouns

Hope this helps!

 

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

That doesn't fully explain why you would use a relative pronoun here. You don't use one in the English translation:

Once upon a time, a king and a queen lived in a castle.

You could say: 

Once upon a time, there were a king and a queen who lived in a castle.

I think the point is that, although we're generally told that "Il était une fois"  means "once upon a time",  it's really "once upon a time there was".

"Il était une fois" = "il y avait une fois"

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Yes, Alan has nicely explained the reason for my question.

If the following French was written I could understand the use of "qui":

"Il était une fois, il y avait un roi et une reine qui vivaient dans un château"

But with no "il y avait," for the reason Alan explained the necessity of "qui" doesn't seem obvious.

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I think I also answered your question - or is it still unclear?

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Alan: Yes, I did understand. Thank you.

I was just trying to make a little more explicit how an English-language understanding gets represented in French in the hope that one of the French experts could provide an explicit grammar road map that shows how "once upon a time there was" (whatever the appropriate expression in French is") and "qui" are combined.

You and I have both pointed to "il y avait . . ." Obviously that's incorrect, but I would like to know the specific grammar grammar reason for what it's incorrect and why "Il était une fois" possibly incorporates the idea of "il y avait".

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Correction: You and I have both pointed to "il y avait . . ." Obviously that's incorrect, but I would like to know the specific grammar for why it's incorrect and why "Il était une fois" apparently incorporates the idea of "il y avait".

JohnC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Dear Cécile:

Thank you. Now I understand.

I also asked another question on or around the same day, 18 May, but have yet to receive a reply. 

Unfortunately I don't see any website function to locate one's own questions so I cannot tell you where it is and I have forgotten myself.

Question about "Il était une fois, un roi et une reine qui vivaient dans un château"

Is there a grammar lesson that explains the use and/or necessity of "qui" in this sentence? 

Merci.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Ask a question

Find your French level for FREE

Test your French to the CEFR standard

Find your French level >>
Thinking...