Dont = Whose

Look at these sentences using the preposition dont: 

Une fille dont le frère travaillait avec moi...
A girl whose brother used to work with me ...

 

J'ai rencontré cet acteur dont le nom me dit quelque chose...
I met this actor whose name rings a bell ...

 

Tu as jeté la chaussure dont le talon est cassé.
You threw away the shoe with the broken heel [lit. whose heel is broken].

 
Note that the construction with dont is similar to the one with whose in English. 
Although whose tends to be less used with inanimate objects in English, dont is actually the idiomatic way to express this in French.  
 
In French, dont replaces the possessive expression possessionde:
La sœur de Marc  ->  Marc, dont la sœur est journaliste, ...
Marc's sister  ->  Marc, whose sister is a journalist, ....
 
Unlike in English, you can find cases when dont and the possession are separated by a verb, for example:
 

François, dont j'ai rencontré la femme le mois dernier.
François, whose wife I met last month.

 
When the owner is a person, you can alternatively use de qui as well as dont: however de qui is much less common and doesn't sound nearly as good in French. 

Les enfantsde qui je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.

 
ATTENTION
In the context of possession (whose), you won't use duquel, de laquelle, desquels nor desquelles.
 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Les enfantsde qui je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.


François, dont j'ai rencontré la femme le mois dernier.
François, whose wife I met last month.


Les enfants, dont je connais la maman, sont bien élevés.
The children, whose mum I know, are well behaved.


La maison, dont j'ai réparé le toit, est maintenant parfaite.
The house, which I fixed the roof of [lit. whose roof I fixed], is now perfect.


J'ai rencontré cet acteur dont le nom me dit quelque chose...
I met this actor whose name rings a bell ...


Tu as jeté la chaussure dont le talon est cassé.
You threw away the shoe with the broken heel [lit. whose heel is broken].


Une fille dont le frère travaillait avec moi...
A girl whose brother used to work with me ...


Q&A Forum 7 questions, 11 answers

SaraB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

‘Although whose tends to be less used with inanimate objects in English, dont is actually the colloquial way to express this in French.’

What word would we use in a more formal, or written context?

Asked 4 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Sara, 

Have flagged this up and has now been corrected.

Alan, please let us know when this happens as we are not native English speakers ...

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Dont is not "colloquial" - I think Aurélie means "idiomatic". I've noticed this in other lessons, too.

‘Although whose tends to be less used with inanimate objects in English, dont is actually the colloquial way to express this in French.’

What word would we use in a more formal, or written context?

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MichelleC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Ce dont, tout ce dont??

Do you have any lessons about ce done and tout ce dont planned at this time? I'm have a lot of trouble with those. 

Asked 8 months ago

Ce dont, tout ce dont??

Do you have any lessons about ce done and tout ce dont planned at this time? I'm have a lot of trouble with those. 

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MarnieC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

« dont » ... link to « including »

Bonjour Aurélie,

As I’m re-learning and learning in a non-linear fashion, i would find it useful to have a link in this lesson to other uses of « dont » ...for example to say « including... »

Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Marnie !

There was already one link at the end of this lesson, but following your message, I added another one to "dont = including..."  :)

Bonne journée !

MarnieC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Merci!

« dont » ... link to « including »

Bonjour Aurélie,

As I’m re-learning and learning in a non-linear fashion, i would find it useful to have a link in this lesson to other uses of « dont » ...for example to say « including... »

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StephenC1Kwiziq community member

"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.
Asked 1 year ago
JeanC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributorCorrect answer

Les vaches are in the meadow. Elles s'y reposent.

"... dont les fermiers observent les bébés" is a phrase describing or giving more information about les vaches. Perhaps the calves are in the field also, but in this sentence it is not explicitly stated (they could be elsewhere like in the barn), and so all one can say for sure is that the cows are there in the field.

PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
The English translation of this sentence is ambiguous because it can logically be interpreted as "cows including the babies" or "cows excluding the babies." Unless the French is entirely unambiguous, then I recommend changing this question to "who do we know for certain is in the meadow."
LizC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I, too, translated this as dont meaning including the farmers and calves. They were all in the field! Too ambiguous since dont can be translated two ways. If not, why not. I doubt I’ll be using this phrase in Paris but you never know! Merci.

"Les vaches, dont les fermiers observent les bébés, se reposent dans le pré." Who is in the meadow?

The cows, {including} or{ whose} the farmers watch the babies, rest in the meadow. Question "Who is in the meadow?" it could be 1. The cows. or 2. The babies. This is a questionable question.

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Les voitures dont le toit est décapotable. In this phrase could desquelles be used instead of dont?

Asked 2 years ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Jennifer,

No you cannot use 'desquelles' in this example, only 'dont'....

NicholasC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes, dont can be a substitue for duquel, de laquelle, desquels and desquelles.

Les voitures dont le toit est décapotable. In this phrase could desquelles be used instead of dont?

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SueC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

the blue knife

the second quiz question is a litte strange. I have a pictorial mind, and I rarely see a blue knife,ie a knife with a blue blade, the handle is the part that often determins the colour , unless it is silver when it is the material and colour . So when mark has broken the handle the mind says that the handle was blue when the french words imply that the knife as a whole is blue. confused!
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Sue ! I've looked at this question and I agree: it's really confusing ! I've therefore decided to remove it and replace it with a more straightforward sentence :) Merci beaucoup et à bientôt ! PS: To report on specific questions, please use the "Report it" button in your Correction Board, as it gives us a direct link to the reported question, and saves us time looking for it :)

the blue knife

the second quiz question is a litte strange. I have a pictorial mind, and I rarely see a blue knife,ie a knife with a blue blade, the handle is the part that often determins the colour , unless it is silver when it is the material and colour . So when mark has broken the handle the mind says that the handle was blue when the french words imply that the knife as a whole is blue. confused!

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GeraldC1Kwiziq community member

Can 'aussi bien que' be used as well as 'dont' to mean including?

Asked 3 years ago
CherylC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Bonjour Gerald, Oui! .. Yes, I think so: that aussi bien que can be used to say including. I asked this same question a while ago, and that's what Aurelie replied. Cheryl

Can 'aussi bien que' be used as well as 'dont' to mean including?

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