Can the words "ce que", "ce qui" and "ça" be used to refer to something previously mentioned?

Like in the sentence

Nous allons parler de ce que "Let's talk about that"


En ce qu'un seconde "In that one second"


Je suis désole si c'était stupide "I am sorry if that (what speaker previously said) was stupid

Also, an out of topic question: Do you invert the subject and verb when you use Pourquoi at the start of a sentence?

  • 1
    You seem to have 2 different questions. One about ce/ce qui/ce que, and the one at the end about word order in a pourquoi question. The SE format is one question at a time and that helps getting good answers. Since you're new to SE a tour of the Help Centre](french.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask) might be a good idea. Welcome to FL.
    – None
    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:13
  • Sorry for posting, I feel that I sort of spam when I ask too much haha. Apr 8, 2016 at 10:17
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    Don't worry. There have already been questions about word order in questions. here for instance. If you feel a question has already been asked but it's in French and your French isn't (yet) just up to it, plenty of people here can translate.
    – None
    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:21
  • 1
    Would this answer your question? french.stackexchange.com/a/11649/358
    – None
    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:24
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    Context or not, these examples are grammatically incorrect and mean nothing. Nous allons parler de ce que -> nous allons parler de cela ; en ce qu'une seconde -> en cette seconde. The third example is correct. Que in ce que is the relative pronoun, so you need a relative proposition. Ce que is closer in meaning to what than to that : ce que je disais means what I was saying ; it can't be used alone. Cela, however, can, and it does mean that. Apr 8, 2016 at 13:06

1 Answer 1


Can the words"ce que/ce qui/ça" be used to refer to something previously mentioned?

Yes, but not as illustrated in your examples. Let's fix them.

Nous allons parler de ce que.

que here is referring to something coming after, so the sentence feels like it has been truncated. A correct one would be:

Nous allons parler de ce qu'il s'est passé. (Let's talk about what happened.)

A similar example would be the colloquial:

Pour faire valoir ce que de droit. (For all due intents and purposes.)

You probably intended to say something like:

Nous allons en parler. (We will talk about it.)
Nous allons parler de ça. (We will talk about that.)

En ce qu'un seconde "In that one second"

Again, the example feels truncated or a part is missing. I interpret the meaning more like "In what would have taken one second."

You can say instead:

En cette seconde. (During that second, or From this instant, depending on context.)

Je suis désole si c'était stupide.

Ironically, this one is correct, except for the missing accent at désolé.

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