So one of my major grammar stumbling points is a certain usage of ce que and ce qui. To be clear, I do understand the basic usage of these words and the difference between them, and every example on this page (if you scroll down below the video) is perfectly clear to me, e.g.:

C'est ce qui me dérange.

Which translates directly to That's what bothers me in English.


Sais-tu ce que Pierre a fait ?

Which again translates directly to Do you know what Pierre did?

But then you have a sentence like this:

À qui s'étonnerait de ce qu'un gentleman aussi mystérieux comptat parmi les membres de cette honorable association, on répondra qu'il passa sur la recommandation de MM. Baring frères, ches lesquels il avait un crédit ouvert.

In a case like this, the usage does not line up with previous examples. In English, there simply would not be a pronoun there*, which makes it hard for me to understand exactly when it is appropriate to use ce que or ce qui in a sentence like this.

Generally I am referring to sentences where ce que and ce qui are preceded by a verb + preposition, just like s'étonner de. If I can find other examples I will add them.

*I suppose you can translate ce que here to mean that, but it's still hard to know when a sentence needs ce que/qui used in this manner.


1 Answer 1


In the first two sentences que and qui are indeed relative pronouns, and in a literal translation they could be translated with which:

C'est ce qui me dérange. = It is that (thing) which bothers me.

Sais-tu ce que Pierre a fait ? = Do you know that (thing) which Pierre has done?

But in the third sentence que is not a relative pronoun but a conjunction, and can't be translated with which. So this:

À qui s'étonnerait de ce qu'un gentleman aussi mystérieux comptât parmi les membres ...

--is best translated as:

To anyone who would be surprised that such a mysterious gentleman was among the members...

  • 1
    Yes, that is better. I purposely didn't strive for the best translation, but a fairly literal one.
    – mlj
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 22:12

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