Considérez la phrase anglaise :

It’s no surprise that she didn’t like them.

En anglais, le mot « that » peut être omis et la phrase reste toujours grammaticalement correcte.

Je veux écrire la phrase correspondante :

Ce n’est une surprise [que] elle ne les aimait pas.

Mais quand je vérifie avec « Google Translate » ou d’autres services, ils ajoutent le mot « que » avant « elle » .

(Je suis environ un B1 CECRL mais ma grammaire est nulle, désolé ! J’ai aussi compris que « Google Translate » n'est pas fiable à 100 %. Je l’utilise pour vérifier que mon français n'est pas trop mauvais.)

Consider the sentence:

It’s no surprise that she didn’t like them.

In English, you can generally omit the word “that” from most sentences, although sometimes (or quite often) it’s left in for clarity.

When I write French, I feel drawn to do the same thing. For example:

Ce n’est une surprise [que] elle ne les aimait pas.

But when I verify my sentence using Google Translate or other services (which I do know are not 100% accurate—I use them to make sure what I write in French isn’t an absolute dumpster fire :-) they usually add the word “que” back in.

Is using “que” strictly necessary in situations where the English translation could omit it?

(I’m about a B1 on the CEFR rankings. My comprehension is pretty good, but my grammar sucks.)

  • 1
    While Ce n'est pas une surprise exists in French, I'd rather translate "it's not surprise...* by Ce n'est pas étonnant qu'elle ne les aimait pas (formal) or c'est pas étonnant qu'elle les aimait pas in spoken French.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 30, 2017 at 10:25
  • @jlliagre It's not surprise n'est pas anglais. Désolée. Mais je suis d'accord pour la traduction avec étonner. Aussi, Ce n'est pas surprenant qu'elle ne les aimait pas.
    – Lambie
    Dec 30, 2017 at 15:14
  • @Lambie Yes of course, I meant it's no surprise, a typo. Sorry. I hate the fact comments aren't editable after a while.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 30, 2017 at 15:48
  • @jlliagre Here's a trick: copy your post, repost it and then delete the one you don't like. Happy New Year to you. Stay warm. :)
    – Lambie
    Dec 30, 2017 at 16:01
  • 1
    @jlliagre dang it, I’d even considered using étonnant! I guess it’s hard to break Anglicisms. Dec 30, 2017 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


Que is here a subordinating conjunction; in French, you cannot omit them like in English. In your example, you should write:

Ce n'est pas une surprise qu'elle ne les aimait pas.

Note that the pas is necessary too (or it sounds very literary and old fashioned), and that the que becomes qu' before a vowel.

  • Makes sense! Merci beaucoup! Dec 30, 2017 at 16:12

Just putting this here because the formatting won't really fit in a comment, not trying to replace the (good) answer.

For the record, while you can sometimes omit the “that” in English, it's slightly context-dependent. Imagine, par example:

Personne «A»: She threw them away!
Personne «B»: It's no surprise, she didn't like them!

The sentence without “that” in it can mean something quite different - in this particular case the missing word can be implied to be “because”.

  • Right, in my defense it was a generalization for sake of brevity since I asked via the app on my phone. But, you’ve made a good point. Dec 31, 2017 at 4:38
  • It really was meant just as a signpost to future readers! not just as a criticism of your question, I promise. Dec 31, 2017 at 4:43
  • No worries, that’s what I assumed. Cheers! :-) Dec 31, 2017 at 4:43

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