Below is the quote from Eugénie Grandet:

Attitude, manières, démarche, tout en lui, d'ailleurs, attestait cette croyance en soi que donne l'habitude d'avoir toujours réussi dans ses entreprises. Aussi, quoique de mœurs faciles et molles en apparence, monsieur Grandet avait-il un caractère de bronze. Toujours vêtu de la même manière, qui le voyait aujourd'hui le voyait tel qu'il était depuis 1791.

You can see that there are two verbs "voyait" after "qui", why? Is the sentence grammatically right? Because I always see the form like "celui qui", "quelqu'un qui" etc. instead of just single "qui" followed with two verbs. What are the two respective "le" referring to? Please explain it to me in English, many thanks.

2 Answers 2


This sentence is perfectly correct. Both le refer to monsieur Grandet, it is a personal object pronoun, each time it is object of the voyait that is just after.

The subject of both voyait is qui. Qui is here a relative pronoun used with an ellipsis of the word it refers to. It could be read as la personne qui le voyait aujourd'hui or celui qui le voyait aujourd'hui. Quiconque could also be used instead of qui here.*

A parallel is drawn to show there are two similar actions (hence two verbs) with different time phrases: aujourd'hui and since 1791.

*In English you would use "who" or "whoever" in the same way.

  • Makes sense. Is this use of qui literary/archaic? To continue the English comparison, Who lives also breathes is archaic (more than the 18th-19th centuries!), but Whoever lives also breathes is modern. He who lives also breathes is archaic, but Those who live also breathe is modern. Do the French options (respectively qui/quiconque, celui qui/ceux qui) pattern similarly or no?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:13
  • 1
    @LukeSawczak Sounds very literary, I don't expect to hear it in everyday conversation. You will find it in proverbs for example: qui veut voyager loin ménage sa monture. In everyday conversation I'd use, celui qui..
    – None
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 13:38

You can see that there are two verbs "voyait" after "qui", why?

The first one is part of the subject (proposition subordonnée) while the second one is the main verb in the sentence.

Here is a (poor) translation:

"Those who were seeing him on that day were seeing him like he was since 1791."

Is the sentence grammatically right?

Sure, you shouldn't suspect grammatical mistakes in literature masterpieces.

What are the two respective "le" referring to?

Monsieur Grandet

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