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I am surprised to find the word prends and not prend in this French construction, especially considering the English parallel.

Qui prend l'argent? C'est moi qui prends l'argent.

Who is taking the money? It is I who takes the money.

If you look closely, you will notice that the French sentence uses a first-person verb (prends) whereas the English uses a third-person verb (takes). Is there some difference in the rules for relative clauses that would explain this?

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  • @LukeSawczak If true, that would answer my question. But I'm a little unconvinced. I agree with your example for "we", but for the pronoun I, the word "takes" comes a lot more naturally for me as a native English speaker.
    – ktm5124
    Oct 17, 2017 at 1:35
  • Rewrote comment as an answer. I should probably research that rule when it comes to English, but in any case, afaik French makes no bones about this conjugation :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Oct 17, 2017 at 1:36
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    The premise of this question isn't entirely true. First-person agreement is also possible in English: "It is I who am..." is significantly more common than "It is I who is..."
    – sumelic
    Oct 17, 2017 at 3:02
  • @sumelic Ah, your example makes it clear. Thanks.
    – ktm5124
    Oct 17, 2017 at 3:03
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    I think the it-cleft construction with a predicate subjective pronoun is a somewhat formal and "learned", not a particularly natural construction in present-day English. With something more colloquial like "It's me who...", "is" definitely sounds better than "am". But to me, it seems like the most natural colloquial way of saying it would be something like "I'm the one who is..."
    – sumelic
    Oct 17, 2017 at 3:05

1 Answer 1

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French always agrees the verb with its thematic subject, not the clefted "it".

C'est moi qui prends l'argent.

This applies even when the thematic subject (here nous) doesn't surface:

C'est toi et moi qui prenons l'argent.


But I would say from my linguistics & editing background that this is the rule in English too.

It is I who says so. It is I who say so.

This becomes starker when the subject is plural.

It is we who says so. It is we who say so.

In any case, though, there is no ambiguity about the rule in French (cf. Académie Française).

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  • Great answer! I'm glad you also gave the case where the subject is implied.
    – ktm5124
    Oct 17, 2017 at 3:05

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