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Où = where AND when (relative pronouns)

Look at these straightforward examples of  as a relative pronoun:

La maison  j'ai grandi a été démolie.
The house where I grew up has been demolished.

La ville il habite a beaucoup de charme.
The town where he lives is very charming.

Here  simply means where and introduces an action taking place in a previously mentioned location.

See also Dans lequel / laquelle : alternative to où with places (relative pronouns)

 

Now look at these sentences using  in a different context:

Le jour  il a gagné le match.
The day (when/that) he won the game.

La semaine ils sont restés à l’hôtel s’est vite terminée.
The week (in which) they stayed at the hotel went quickly.

L’époque il vivait était dangereuse.
The era (in which) he lived was dangerous.The era he lived in was dangerous.

Note that in sentences where the relative pronoun introduces actions taking place during a previously mentioned time frame, you will also use  to express when or that/in which.

This can lead to completely different ways to express things than in English:

Le jour  j'ai eu vingt ans...
The day (when/that) I turned twenty...

Note that you cannot omit the  the way you can the when/that/which in English.

ATTENTION: you can never use quand nor que in this context!

 

ATTENTION: When used in a question,  always means where? and quand always means when?

vas-tu ce weekend ?
Where are you going this weekend?

Quand vous êtes-vous rencontrés ?
When did you meet?

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le jour  il a gagné le match.
The day (when/that) he won the game.



Quand vous êtes-vous rencontrés ?
When did you meet?


L’époque il vivait était dangereuse.
The era (in which) he lived was dangerous.The era he lived in was dangerous.


vas-tu ce weekend ?
Where are you going this weekend?


La semaine ils sont restés à l’hôtel s’est vite terminée.
The week (in which) they stayed at the hotel went quickly.


La maison  j'ai grandi a été démolie.
The house where I grew up has been demolished.


Le jour  j'ai eu vingt ans...
The day (when/that) I turned twenty...


La ville il habite a beaucoup de charme.
The town where he lives is very charming.


C'est l'heure tout est sage, Et l'ombre danse au coin du feu.
It's the time when everyone is good, And the shadow dances near the fire.


Micro kwiz: Où = where AND when (relative pronouns)
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Q&A

Mieke

Kwiziq community member

9 September 2017

2 replies

in present and future tense

Hi, do I understand it correctly that one always uses ou regardless of the tense? Like for example in "the day I will marry" or "today is the day I go skiing for the first time" or something like that?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

10 September 2017

10/09/17

Bonsoir Mieke,
So here is the reference part from the lesson with the examples:
«Le jour où il a gagné le match.
The day (when/that) he won the game.
La semaine où ils sont restés à l’hôtel s’est vite terminée.
The week (in which) they stayed at the hotel went quickly.
L’époque où il vivait était dangereuse.
The era (in which) he lived was dangerous.The era he lived in was dangerous.
Note that in sentences where the relative pronoun introduces actions taking place during a previously mentioned time frame, you will also use où to express when or that/in which.»
So to answer your question, the answer is no because «où» is only used in phrases that begin with a relative pronoun, in this case «où» and the subsequent action took place during a previously mentioned time frame. Example: «où il vivait était dangereuse» here is «où» followed by a verb in l'imparfait (historic action). This was preceded by this time frame: «L’époque»
J'espère que ma réponse vous aidera.
Bonne chance.

Mieke

Kwiziq community member

13 September 2017

13/09/17

Hi Ron,

Thanks for your response. I am still a bit confused though. Initially I thought that one only uses “ou” when it refers to a situation that takes place in the past, because in the examples this is always so. But in the quiz the sentence Le jour ________ j'arrête de fumer, les poules auront des dents is used. That is why I thought that perhaps you can also use “ou” when a description in present or future time is concerned. So how would you translate “the day (that) I will marry?

Thanks!

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

10 September 2016

3 replies

When used in a question

You wrote 'When used in a question, "où" always means "where?" and "quand" always means "when?"' but didn't give an example. Does that mean "Le jour où j'ai eu vingt ans" become "Le jour quand ai-je eu vingt ans?" Thanks.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

12 September 2016

12/09/16

Bonjour Johnny !

As you suggested, I added examples to clarify this case.
I hope that's helpful!

À bientôt !

Johnny

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2016

12/09/16

Ah, so you meant where and when as the subject of the question. I thought you meant in the context of the lesson. So "Was that the day you turned twenty?" is still "Est-ce que c'était le jour où j'ai eu vingt ans?"

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

12 September 2016

12/09/16

Yes, "Was that the day you turned twenty?" is still "Est-ce que c'était le jour où tu as eu vingt ans?"

Carol

Kwiziq community member

14 March 2016

1 reply

"dans laquelle" vs. "ou"

Would it also be correct to say "L'époque dans laquelle il vivait..."?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

14 March 2016

14/03/16

Bonjour Carol,

Here you could use 'laquelle' but not with "dans", simply because with "époque" you use the preposition 'à' : "Je suis né à cette époque." (I was born in that time.)

Therefore, you could say: "L'époque à laquelle il vivait ...".

I hope that's helpful!
I'll be right with you...