Ce que (vs ce qui) = what, which (relative pronouns)

These examples show how ce que is used:

Je fais ce que je veux.
I do what I want.

Lise pense à ce qu'il lui a dit.
Lise thinks about what he told her.

Tu ne devineras jamais ce que Paul a fait!
You will never guess what Paul did!

Il croit ce que la télé lui raconte.
He believes what the TV tells him.

How to know when to use ce que instead of ce qui in French

The pattern to spot is that we use ce que when the next word is a subject pronoun (je/tu/il etc.) or a noun.
 
Note that ce que becomes ce qu' in front of a vowel or a mute h.

Contrast this with ce qui - notice the words immediately following:
 

Il a gagné la course, ce qui est impressionnant.
He won the race, which is amazing.

 

Je ne sais pas ce qui m'arrive.
I don't know what is happening to me.

 
 

When to use ce qui or ce que versus qui or que ?

In cases where ce qui / ce que would also be translated by which in English, you need to ask yourself: What is que/qui/ce que/ce qui referring to?

If it refers to a noun (expressed before), then you will use que/qui.

If it refers to the whole part of the sentence, the whole idea, then it will be ce que/ce qui.

Mes plantes, que j'arrose tous les jours, sont très belles.
My plants, which I water every day, are very beautiful.

Here que refers to plants.

J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves fascinant.
I love bananas, which you find fascinating.

Here ce que refers to the whole fact that I love bananas, not just to the bananas.

ATTENTION: Case of quoi

Quoi will be used when what is followed by an infinitive = "what to do, what to think...":

Je ne sais pas quoi faire.
I don't know what to do.

Il se demande quoi choisir.
He's wondering what to choose.

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Tu ne comprends pas ce que je t'explique.
You don't understand what I'm explaining to you.


Il croit ce que la télé lui raconte.
He believes what the TV tells him.


Lise pense à ce qu'il lui a dit.
Lise thinks about what he told her.


Tu ne devineras jamais ce que Paul a fait!
You will never guess what Paul did!


Je fais ce que je veux.
I do what I want.


J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves fascinant.
I love bananas, which you find fascinating.




Q&A Forum 7 questions, 23 answers

RonC1

Can you please give me a couple of sentences which include ce qui followed by an object

Asked 9 months ago
ChrisC1Correct answer

Ce qui is normally followed by a verb or an indirect object pronoun (me, te, lui, nous, vous, leur, se). I assume the latter one is what you mean. 

Tu sais bien ce qui me plaît. 

Ce qui s'est passé?

Ne vois-tu pas ce qui a changé? (This is with a verb following)

Can you please give me a couple of sentences which include ce qui followed by an object

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"use ce que when followed by a subject pronoun (je/tu/il etc)" this statement is in the lesson.

When I did a test, I answered one wrong because the correct answer was;

Nous ne savons pas ce qui tu fais

Could you please explain this?

Asked 1 year ago
AlanC1Correct answer
Because this question is asking you to select the one answer that is not correct.

"use ce que when followed by a subject pronoun (je/tu/il etc)" this statement is in the lesson.

When I did a test, I answered one wrong because the correct answer was;

Nous ne savons pas ce qui tu fais

Could you please explain this?

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the order of pronouns

e.g me te se nous vous etc
Asked 1 year ago
LauraKwiziq language super star

the order of pronouns

e.g me te se nous vous etc

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Hello Aurélie,

Asked 2 years ago
Oops pressed send too fast. Is qu'est-ce que tu m'as acheté wrong as compared to asking Ce que tu m'as acheté
Bien que je ne sois Aurélie j'essaie d'y répondre. Le premier example me semble juste. Mais le second n'est pas une question. C'est le debut d'une phrase relative. -- Chris.
Merci Claus. I was answering one of the Kwizzes and used the first phrase to lead into the answer. I have forgotten the whole sentence (sorry, thought the context would be able to be seen by admin) but I figured it should have allowed both answers and not given me a red dot!

Hello Aurélie,

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Can you please spell out the difference between using que/qui and ce qui/ce que

Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Steven ! Do you mean when to use "quE" vs "quI", or "CE que/CE qui" vs "QUE/QUI" ? Cordially
The latter...Ce que/ce qui vs que/qui -I think I'm getting a better grasp of this..I have studied it more now than when I asked the question...and it is becoming clearer...but I have to pause and think a lot before answering...perhaps your clarification would add to my 'nailing it'...merci...Steve
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Steve ! Both "ce que/ce qui" and "que/qui" are pronouns, which means they repeat something previously stated. "The table *that* I bought." -> here *that* repeats "table" The difference between "ce que" and "que" is what they're referring to. As we explained in the related lesson, "que"(which/that) replaces a noun, whereas "ce que"(what/which) replaces a whole clause (i.e. containing a verb): "*I eat a lot of bread*, which makes me bloated." -> Here it's the whole statement which is repeated in "which" (It's the fact that I eat too much bread that makes me bloated) = ce qui Je mange beaucoup de pain, ce qui me ballone. "I love *the dog* that you got for me." -> Here it's only "the dog" which is repeated in "that" (you got me the dog) = que J'adore le chien que tu m'as offert. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
Thanks Aurélie...getting it a lot more...had made a little page summarising the appropriate rules info...which you have just reiterated...so will go over it until it is second nature...thank you...Steve
The difference between qui and ce qui you haven't mentioned...if you can please clarify and I can move on...Steve... Ce qui is before a verb and refers also to the whole sentence - qui also refers to the preceding noun...so what is the difference here between use of que or qui )))
I guess that que refers to the preceding noun and what follows is a pronoun...with qui -this refers to the preceding noun but is followed by a verb...is that correct?
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Oui exactement Stephen, vous avez parfaitement compris !
Merci beaucoup !!!!

Can you please spell out the difference between using que/qui and ce qui/ce que

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DonC1

Aren't some of the answers to question 1 ambiguous with regard to their correctness?

I understand that "Vous pouvez prendre tout ce qu'est sur la table" is the answer to question 1 because it should be using "ce qui" instead of "ce que." But aren't the other questions which use "tout" also possibly incorrect. For example, in "Tout ce qu'il fait m'agace," wouldn't this be incorrect if "tout" was being used as a noun instead of a pronoun? In such case, the "ce" should be dropped to be correct.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
Bonjour Don ! I had a look at the lesson, and actually the question you're referring to was "Which is *not* correct?", the answer being indeed "Vous pouvez prendre tout *ce qu'*est sur la table." as "ce qui" would be the correct option here. As for the case of "tout ce que/tout ce qui", this is actually the object of a different lesson in the system, so thanks to you, I've now moved this question accordingly. Note that "tout" used on its own (not like "le tout") is always a pronoun followed by "ce". Have a look at our lesson on "tout ce que/tout ce qui": Tout ce qui, tout ce que = All, everything that I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
DonC1
So then I guess my real problem was knowing when "tout" was a noun, which was crucial to knowing whether to use "ce" or not. You're saying the only time "tout" is a noun is when it is preceded by an article? If so, would these two sentences then be correct? "C'est le tout que nous devons. C'est tout ce que nous devons." Thanks for your help.

Aren't some of the answers to question 1 ambiguous with regard to their correctness?

I understand that "Vous pouvez prendre tout ce qu'est sur la table" is the answer to question 1 because it should be using "ce qui" instead of "ce que." But aren't the other questions which use "tout" also possibly incorrect. For example, in "Tout ce qu'il fait m'agace," wouldn't this be incorrect if "tout" was being used as a noun instead of a pronoun? In such case, the "ce" should be dropped to be correct.

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How do you know when to use que/qui instead of ce que/qui

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Helena,
That's a very interesting question indeed!
Let's point out first that we're talking about the relative pronouns here, which are used to introduce a new information in a sentence (as opposed to question words like "what?").

Once you know this, the separation is quite simple: "qui/que" can mean "who/which/that ..." whereas "ce qui/ce que" mean "what ...".

La fille que je regarde. (The girl whom[m]/that I'm watching.)
Je fais ce que je veux. (I do what I want.)

I hope that's helpful!

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer
Precision: in cases where "ce qui / ce que" would also be translated by "which" in English, you need to ask yourself: What does "que/qui/ce que/ce qui" is referring to?
If it refers to a noun (expressed before), then you will use "que/qui".
If it refers to the whole part of the sentence, the whole idea, then it will be "ce que/ce qui".

Les gens que je rencontre ... (The people which I meet...)
-> Here "que" refers to "people"
J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves fascinant. (I love bananas, which you find fascinating.)
-> Here "ce que" refers to the whole fact that I love bananas, not just to the bananas

:)
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Bonjour Ron !

In the case you pointed out, I agree that if what was found fascinating was only the bananas, you could use que, as follows :

J'aime les bananes que tu trouves fascinantes.
ATTENTION, as it would mean something slightly different here:
I love the bananas that you find fascinating.

Bonne journée !

 

Thank you!!! That was so clearly explained too - even if I'm confused in the future I now know how to figure out which one to use! :)
RonC1
J'aime les bananes, ce que tu trouves fascinant. (I love bananas, which you find fascinating.) Here "ce que" refers to the whole fact that I love bananas, not just to the bananas. . . While I understand the explanation given, using the rule of thumb about following a noun, "If it refers to a noun (expressed before), then you will use "que/qui"." then que could also be correct, i.e. he finds bananas fascinating -- of course in reality that would be interesting that someone found bananas fascinating, like he/she had never seen a banana. I do believe the better example is: "Je fais ce que je veux. (I do what I want.)"
And this confusion is exactly why I don't get this lesson... still... after weeks of trying it just won't go in.  The whole "introducing new information" idea above just makes no sense to me at all... :-(

How do you know when to use que/qui instead of ce que/qui

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Getting that for you now.