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I just learnt here that, there are different pronouns that each could connect the main clause and subordinate clause and serve as a particular role in the subordinate clause:

  • qui acts as the subject of the subordinate clause;
  • que acts as the direct object of (the verb of) the subordinate clause;
  • dont, à qui, au(x)quel(le)(s), etc, acts as indirect object of (the verb of) the subordinate clause.

Well, then is there a concept of “object of a preposition” in French? For example, in English, in

I study French with the help of google translation.

“google translation” is the object of the preposition of, and “the help of google translation” is the object of preposition with.

If yes, what kind of pronoun shall be used?, or, as example, how to translate such questions to French?

With what do you study French?

With the help of what do you study French?

Sorry the questions in English are bad enough, but I hope you guys could catch what I mean…

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Interrogative pronouns are preceded by the appropriate preposition, just as in English:

D'où venez vous?

Avec qui étudies-tu?

Dans combien de temps arriveras-tu?

However, for objects and persons, the pronouns in relative propositions are lequel and its variants (laquele, lesquels, lesquelles), preceded by the appropriate prepositions unless that preposition is de or à, in which the le is replaced accordingly by the appropriate combination: du/des/au/aux/à la.

Persons can use these pronouns, but I believe (I don't have my Grevisse at hand to check) that qui is still preferred.

C'est le supérieur auquel/à qui je faisais référence. (He's the superior to which I referred.)

C'est l'aéroport duquel je suis parti. (It's the airport from which I departed [amongst a specific selection, dont and d'où are more generic].)

C'est le manuel avec lequel j'étudie. (It's the manual with which I study.)

C'est l'entreprise pour laquelle je travaille. (It's the company for which I work.)

but (preferred forms, but -quel pronouns are still allowed and grammatical)

C'est l'ami avec qui j'étudie.

C'est l'homme pour qui je travaille.

C'est l'ami dont je t'ai parlé. (duquel not possible here)

Now, regarding dont vs. duquel, it gets a bit more complicated. In basic relative construction, dont almost always has priority, at least with persons (and d'où is usually an allowed alternative when it's a locative preposition).

Duquel and its variants (desquels, de laquelle, desquelles) seem to appear in two situations:

1) When the de is part of a compound preposition (look at news search on google, au cours de, lors de and à l'issue de are particularly common):

Le mois au cours duquel ces événements se sont produits [...]

Les techniques à l'aide desquelles on peut distinguer ces espèces [...]

2) When there is a possessive construction as the opener of the relative (but then these are close to the above too, maybe it's just that dont cannot be used if the relative is opened by a compound preposition):

Un des anglais, près de l'habitation duquel le combat avait commencé [...]

Ils en construisent des bouteilles au goulot desquelles ils attachent une canule de bois.

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thanks! so auquel = à qui je, duquel = dont, avec/pour lequel/laquelle/... = avec/pour qui. Hmm, why in the last example "duquel" is not possible? – athos May 6 '12 at 12:30
@athos I think that would be best discussed by expanding my answer. – Circeus May 6 '12 at 15:32
Typos qui iront mieux dans les exemples, surtout pour nos amis étrangers : "C'est le supérieur auquel/à qui je faisaiS référence" / "C'est la SOCIETÉ (je suppose) pour laquelle je travaille." / "Le mois au cours duquel ces événementS se sont produits." De rien ne me remerciez pas. – Istao May 6 '12 at 16:43
@Istao Entreprise est correct, du moins au Québec d'où j'écris. C'est compagnie qui est considéré incorrect. Il était minuit passé lorsque j'ai rédigé la première partie. Merci à Stéphane pour les corrections. – Circeus May 6 '12 at 17:18
@Istao: Oui, j'ai utilisé entreprise, mais pourquoi pas société en effet, je ne sais pas lequel est le plus proche de company. – Stéphane Gimenez May 6 '12 at 17:19

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