Tu devrais prévenir tes collègues... Qu’un seul d’entre eux se mêle de nos affaires, et je m’en prends à lui sans pitié.

I assume "que" is used here to bring up a hypothetical case, but I wonder if its usage is close to "Que tu le veuilles ou non", for instance?

Incidentally, is the verb "mêle" here in the subjunctive form?

  • I think it's more the sense of "rien que" than "let/may/should" here, but I may be wrong.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Nov 1, 2017 at 20:09
  • @Luke: In this case I would say it's equivalent to a leading should. Should any of you do any of this, really bad stuff will happen. In other contexts, this que can also be related to may (Que la force soit avec toi) or to a bare subjonctive (Que Dieu sauve la Reine). It's entirely unrelated to the “ne que” construct (as far as the meaning is concerned), if this is what you had in mind. Nov 2, 2017 at 2:48
  • @Stéphane That is what I had in mind ("If a single one of them mixes himself up in our business...!"). I'm familiar with the subjunctive construction, but isn't the et tellingly incongruous with it? Perhaps it's normal. Is the ne que construction strictly impossible to read here?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Nov 2, 2017 at 2:59
  • 2
    @Luke: Yes interesting remark. I think it's an oral phrasing. This et has temporal value, I suppose. It allows not using a future tense (which you would expect in formal writting, without the et), possibly to make the threat more real. Just my guess. Nov 2, 2017 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


You got pretty much everything right.

The beginning of the sentence means (roughly translated): "If only one of them get in our things". So the "Que" stands for somewhat close to "If only" ou "Rien que" in french as Luke said in the comments.

P.S. You got a wrong conjugaison of the first verb in your example. It's either "Tu devrais" (which makes sense with the remaining pronouns) or "Vous devriez"

  • Hi. I copied & pasted the sentences that I received from my colleague, and I'm not sure if "lui" is the correct pronoun to refer to "un seul d’entre eux", an indefinite single person. Nov 1, 2017 at 20:39
  • 1
    @Alone-zee It is, because "un seul" is masculine. Nov 1, 2017 at 23:38

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