De + qui, duquel, de laquelle, dont = Of/about whom (relative pronouns)

Look at these sentences:

Les boutons de manchette dont il a envie sont trop chers.
Les boutons de manchette desquels il a envie sont trop chers.
The cuff links he wants (of which he has envy) are too expensive.

La fille de qui il a peur habite ici.
La fille de laquelle il a peur habite ici.
La fille dont il a peur habite ici.
The girl he is scared of (of whom he is scared) lives here.

Le garçon de qui tu parles, est très gentil.
Le garçon duquel tu parles, est très gentil.
Le garçon dont tu parles, est très gentil.
The boy you are speaking of (of whom you are speaking), is very nice.

Les chaussures dont tu as besoin sont dans le placard.
Les chaussures desquelles tu as besoin sont dans le placard.
The shoes (which) you need are in the cupboard.

To introduce relative clauses with the preposition de, there are three ways in French:

dont

- de qui (of/about whom), which can only apply to living things

- The contracted forms of de + quel (of/about which): duquel / de laquelle / desquels / desquelles.
These forms agree in gender and number with the object they refer to.

ATTENTION: 

You can never have de or duquel or dont at the end of the clause like in English.
-> You cannot say:
La fille qui je parle de
La fille laquelle je parle de                    The girl whom I'm speaking of
La fille je parle dont 

See also Dont = Whose

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Les boutons de manchette dont il a envie sont trop chers.
Les boutons de manchette desquels il a envie sont trop chers.
The cuff links he wants (of which he has envy) are too expensive.
La fille de qui il a peur habite ici.
La fille de laquelle il a peur habite ici.
La fille dont il a peur habite ici.
The girl he is scared of (of whom he is scared) lives here.
Les chaussures dont tu as besoin sont dans le placard.
Les chaussures desquelles tu as besoin sont dans le placard.
The shoes (which) you need are in the cupboard.
Le garçon de qui tu parles, est très gentil.
Le garçon duquel tu parles, est très gentil.
Le garçon dont tu parles, est très gentil.
The boy you are speaking of (of whom you are speaking), is very nice.

Q&A Forum 10 questions, 28 answers

ParisA0Kwiziq community member

Dont vs Avec laquelle

Hello rooms and experts

Please clarify why the second of the two options is not also grammatically valid ?

1) La fille dont il a tombé amoureux 

2) La fille avec laquelle il a tombé amoureux

Asked 1 week ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Paris, 

1. the expression is,

'tomber amoureux de quelqu'un' ( to fall in love with someone

2. it uses être not avoir 

so -

La fille dont il est tombé amoureux ...

would be correct.

Hope this helps!

Dont vs Avec laquelle

Hello rooms and experts

Please clarify why the second of the two options is not also grammatically valid ?

1) La fille dont il a tombé amoureux 

2) La fille avec laquelle il a tombé amoureux

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DianeB2Kwiziq community member

One More De Qui Question

Thanks for clarifying the use of de qui v. dont. Can I use de qui to refer back to an animal? For example: "Le chat de qui je parle est très mignon." Or is "qui" really just for people?

Asked 3 weeks ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Diane,

For a cat/other animals, you would say -

Le chat dont je parle ...

le chat duquel je parle ...

but I prefer dont!

Hope this helps!

One More De Qui Question

Thanks for clarifying the use of de qui v. dont. Can I use de qui to refer back to an animal? For example: "Le chat de qui je parle est très mignon." Or is "qui" really just for people?

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DianeB2Kwiziq community member

What about De Qui?'

I found Chris' post very helpful. Merci! What remains unclear is the use of de qui. Couple of specific questions 1) Can I say both "La fille dont je parle" or "la fille de qui je parle"? Or does the verbal clause (parler de) require dont even if it's a person? 2) Do I use de qui with a prep phrase in stead of duquel (and its derivatives)? For example, "La fille près de qui je me suis assise"  Would "'de laquelle" be equally acceptable in that sentence?

Asked 4 weeks ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Yes, you could say La fille de qui je parle, because you are talking about a person. This wouldn't work when talking about inanimate objects and animals.

Also in your second example, both versions work: près de qui and près de laquelle.

What about De Qui?'

I found Chris' post very helpful. Merci! What remains unclear is the use of de qui. Couple of specific questions 1) Can I say both "La fille dont je parle" or "la fille de qui je parle"? Or does the verbal clause (parler de) require dont even if it's a person? 2) Do I use de qui with a prep phrase in stead of duquel (and its derivatives)? For example, "La fille près de qui je me suis assise"  Would "'de laquelle" be equally acceptable in that sentence?

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MaryC1Kwiziq community member

de laquelle

 This was the phrase to complete: La forchette ________ tu te sers....  I chose "dont" but not "de laquelle" and was marked Nearly right. why is de laquelle correct?  It seems not to be a direct object  of te servir - "the fork which you use", but would rather translate as "the fork of which you use".  Why isn't it " la forchette que tu te sers"?

Asked 2 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Mary,

Can you use the 'report it' button on your correction board as this refers to a quiz and it will link directly to that quiz and it will make it easier for us to look at your query and spot any errors.

 

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The use of dont and duquel/de laquel/desquels/desquelles is a bit tricky. In the lesson it sounds as if you could use them interchangably but this isn't really always the case.

You need to distinguish between (1) a prepositional phrase and (2) a verbal phrase.

1. Prepositional phrases are formed by at least two words that could, in theory, be replaced by a single preposition: près de, à côté de, autour de, à propos de, etc. Prepositional phrases are replaced by duquel (and its derivatives).

2. Verbal phrases are those, in which de follows a verb: se servir de, parler de, se souvenir de, etc. Verbal phrases require dont.

In spoken French, dont often is used in places where, actually, a version of duquel ought to stand.

La fourchette dont tu te sers. -- Verbal phrase, use dont. Note that in kwiziq dont and duquel are treated as if they were synonymes. This is, according to my understanding, strictly speaking an oversimplification. La fourchette de laquelle tu te sers sounds off to me. I would like to hear Cécil's verdict on that, though. Hope she sees this.

Le garçon près duquel je me suis assis. -- Prepositional phrase, use duquel.

Dont also is used to denote a kind of implied connection or ownership of something (often times where "whose" is used in English):
Le livre dont je connais l'auteur. -- The book whose author I know.

And dont also specifies a subset of something (in English: of which):
J'ai deux chats dont un est noir et l'autre blanc. -- I have two cats, of which one is black and the other white.

de laquelle

 This was the phrase to complete: La forchette ________ tu te sers....  I chose "dont" but not "de laquelle" and was marked Nearly right. why is de laquelle correct?  It seems not to be a direct object  of te servir - "the fork which you use", but would rather translate as "the fork of which you use".  Why isn't it " la forchette que tu te sers"?

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ShiviB1Kwiziq community member

Can you suggest me the best french dictionary mobile app. I have downloaded many but most of them contain errors..

Asked 1 year ago
MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I use Reverso. It it's just a web page (reverso.net) that runs in your browser rather than an App, but you can save it to your home page and access it like an App.

I also use Reverso Context for translating phrases and it is an App.

Can you suggest me the best french dictionary mobile app. I have downloaded many but most of them contain errors..

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ShiviB1Kwiziq community member

Bonjour!

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Bonjour!

ShiviB1Kwiziq community member

I am confused about the genders of everything in French.. So please suggest me a good dictionary mobile app... 

Merci!  

Bonjour!

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MintooC1Kwiziq community member

The girl I'm thinking of is Isabelle." : La fille ________ je pense est Isabelle. Why is the answer "à qui" rather than "de qui/dont"

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Mintoo,

Because the verb in French is 'penser à '.

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Mintoo,

Because the verb in French is 'penser à '.

RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I've been meaning to ask but please let me know if Lawless French or KwizIQ has a lesson that lists many of the verbs that require à?  It is not always obvious to me as a student.  Many thanks.

BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

here's a good list that i've found

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/verbs-with-prepositions/

 

The girl I'm thinking of is Isabelle." : La fille ________ je pense est Isabelle. Why is the answer "à qui" rather than "de qui/dont"

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KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Are these really equivalent?

Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi everyone,

I don't think 'dont ' and 'duquel' are always interchangeable.

In the examples given in the lesson , the verbs all use de :

avoir envie de , avoir peur de, parler de, avoir besoin de ...

In thoses cases you can use any of the possibilities suggested .

Hope this helps!

KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
I keep seeing material that talks about the importance of distinguishing between them: Dont for a phrasal verb : Le livre dont je t'ai parlé Duquel/etc. for prepositions : Le livre au-dessus duquel j'ai renversé mon café
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

The distinction is a pretty complicated matter and depends also on the register you are using. Here is a page which explains it and also offers a little test in the end to check your understanding: https://www.francaisfacile.com/exercices/exercice-francais-2/exercice-francais-105504.php

-- Chris (not a native speaker)

KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you, Chris!  I did look at the Français Facile page the other day, which is why I was surprised to see the two possibiities described as equivalent.  
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

I don't see them as interchangeably equivalent. They serve a similar purpose but in some instances you need one where you can't substitute the other. I believe the site to which I postet the link in my previous post explains it pretty well.

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks!
LesleyC1Kwiziq community member
I would like to see this question answered by one of the site teachers as the usage presented in this lesson does not seem consistent with that presented in sites such the link offered by Chris, nor with texts such as Grammaire progressive du Français.
RobinA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

It would be nice to be able to refer to a list of verbs that use prepositions. 

CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Robin,

It is in my To-Do list....

BillC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Here's one!  Not exhaustive of course, but has a lot of verbs.

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/verbs-with-prepositions/

 

 

Are these really equivalent?

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ArashC1Kwiziq community member

De quoi

When do we use de quoi. For example can we say La fourchette de quoi tu te sers était à ma mère.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Arash ! Actually, you never use "de quoi" in this context! To refer to an object, you will always use "dont", and sometimes "de laquelle". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
MaxC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
It seems I use "de quoi" occasionally. I am not a native French speaker, but I speak French frequently and "de quoi" doesn't SOUND incorrect. When If ever would one use "de quoi"? Don't get me wrong - I'd be happy to jettison this expression.
CostaC1Kwiziq community member
— De quoi as-tu envie ? D'un gâteau, ou d'une glace ?
— J'ai envie de dormir.
— Tu as de quoi vivre, au moins ?
— J'ai de quoi manger une fois par jour.

De quoi

When do we use de quoi. For example can we say La fourchette de quoi tu te sers était à ma mère.

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ClareA2Kwiziq community member

How do you know which of the appropriate options (de qui, dont, duquel, etc.) you should use?

Does it depend on whether you're speaking or writing? Is one used more frequently in conversation vs. when writing in French? Any additional explanation you can give would be greatly appreciated! I've always struggle with this and can't seem to understand these words enough to employ them. Thank you!
Asked 3 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
- 1) de qui (of/about whom), which can only apply to living things, usually people. - 2) dont -- Use dont if the subordinate clause needs an object introduced by de/d'. Such clauses may indicate possession or they may contain verbs which are followed by the preposition de. Some of these verbs include 'parler de' (to talk about); 'avoir besoin de' (to need); 'avoir peur de' (to be afraid of); 'tenir de' (to take after). - 3) duquel -- The contracted forms of de + quel (of/about which): duquel / de laquelle / desquels / desquelles Note: these forms agree in gender and number with the object they refer to Note: you can never have de or duquel or dont at the end of the clause like in English. e.g. you cannot say La fille qui je parle de / La fille laquelle je parle de / La fille je parle dont (The girl I'm speaking of) Preposition Masculine singular Masculine plural Feminine singular Feminine plural lequel lesquels laquelle lesquelles with à auquel auxquels à laquelle auxquelles with de duquel desquels de laquelle desquelles
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Lequel, lesquels, laquelle, lesquelles are pronouns, i.e. they are used in place of a noun. They are used to ask the questions 'which one?' or 'which ones?' They assume the number and gender of the nouns they replace and contract with the prepositions à and de. Preposition Masculine singular Masculine plural Feminine singular Feminine plural lequel lesquels laquelle lesquelles with à auquel auxquels à laquelle auxquelles with de duquel desquels de laquelle desquelles
AllenC1Kwiziq community member

Ron,

That is the best and most concise answer/description I have ever seen regarding this subject.

Magnifique.

Regards

Allen (AB)

How do you know which of the appropriate options (de qui, dont, duquel, etc.) you should use?

Does it depend on whether you're speaking or writing? Is one used more frequently in conversation vs. when writing in French? Any additional explanation you can give would be greatly appreciated! I've always struggle with this and can't seem to understand these words enough to employ them. Thank you!

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