My French teacher recently told me that the interrogative qui can be used both as an interrogate as well as taking the place of a pronoun. I may be incorrectly interpreting what she said and this may not actually be the two usages of qui. I just remember that she said it functioned differently than other interrogatives; why is this?


Qui IS a pronoun : It can play the same role as a noun in a sentence.

It can be use for interrogating or as a pronom relatif that describes a noun. It is used to replace a person (and sometimes an animal too). It is thus similar to "who"(or sometimes the old "whom"). In a question, "qui" is the unknown part of the sentence. You expect that the answer will replace "qui" with a noun (e.g. the name of the person who is knocking on the door.


Pronom interrogatif:

Qui frappe à la porte ?

Pronom relatif:

La personne qui frappe à la porte semble pressée.

Note that qui is here the subject of frapper, but it can also play other roles in the sentence e.g.

A qui parlais-tu ? Qui as-tu invité à ton anniversaire ?

However, as a pronom relatif, il will no more be used as a complément d'objet direct. You must use que instead.

La personne quE tu as invitée à ton anniversaire m'a confirmé sa venue.

  • Why does qui replace a noun in a sentence? Sep 11 '15 at 4:30
  • 1
    @MorellaAlmann It has the same behavior than "who". You can say "who is it ?" or "The person who talks"
    – Random
    Sep 11 '15 at 7:36

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