All About Que

Learn the different uses and meanings of the French word que

Couple hugging along Seine River, Paris, France
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The French word que, which contracts to qu' in front of a vowel or mute h, has numerous uses and meanings. This summary includes links to detailed information on each use of que.

Comparative and superlative adverb
Il est plus grand que moi - He is taller than I.

Je pense que tu as raison - I think that you're right.

Conjunctive phrases Je l'ai fait parce que j'avais faim - I did it because I was hungry.

Exclamative adverb
Que tu es grand ! - You're so tall!

Indefinite relative pronoun
Ce que j'aime, c'est l'aventure - What I love is adventure.

Indirect commands
Que le bonheur vous sourie - May happiness smile upon you.

Interrogative phrase
Est-ce que tu es prêt ? - Are you ready?

Interrogative pronoun
Que veux-tu ? - What do you want?

Negative adverb
Je n'ai que 10 euros - I only have ten euros.

Relative pronoun
J'ai perdu le livre que tu m'as acheté - I lost the book that you bought me.

Que - French Conjunction

When the French word que is used as a conjunction, it is equivalent to "that":

   Je pense qu'il a raison
   I think (that) he is right

   Nous espérons que tu seras là
   We hope (that) you'll be there

   C'est dommage qu'il ne soit pas prêt
   It's too bad (that) he's not ready

Note that "that" is optional in English, but que cannot be omitted.

With verbs of wanting followed by que, the French structure is the same as the above, but the English translation uses an infinitive:

   Il veut qu'elle nous aide
   He wants her to help us

   J'aimerais que tu sois là
   I would like (for) you to be there

Que can be used to repeat a previously-stated conjunction (like commequand, or si) or conjunctive phrase:

   Comme tu es là et que ton frère ne l'est pas…
   Since you're here and (since) your brother isn't…

   Je lui ai téléphoné quand j'étais rentré et que j'avais fait mes devoirs
   I called him when I got home and (when) I'd done my homework

   Si j'ai de l'argent et que mes parents sont d'accord, j'irai en France l'année prochaine
   If I have money and (if) my parents agree, I will go to France next year

   Pour que tu comprennes la situation et que tu sois à l'aise…
   So that you understand the situation and (so that) you feel comfortable…

Que can begin a clause and be followed by the subjunctive, with various meanings:

Que = whether

   Tu le feras, que tu le veuilles ou non
   You'll do it whether you want to or not

   Que tu viennes ou que tu ne viennes pas, ça m'est égal
   Whether you come or or not, I don't care

Que = so that

   Fais tes devoirs, qu'on puisse sortir
   Do your homework so that we can go out

   Téléphone-lui, qu'il sache où nous rejoindre
   Call him, so that he knows where to meet us

Que = when

   Nous venions de manger qu'il a téléphoné
   We had just eaten when he called

   Je travaillais depuis seulement une heure qu'il y a eu un exercice d'évacuation
   I had been working for only an hour when there was a fire drill

Que = third person order

   Qu'il pleuve !

   Let / May it rain!

   Qu'elle me laisse tranquille !
   I wish she would leave me alone!

Que can be used to emphasize oui or non:

   Que oui ! - Yes indeed! Certainly! You bet!

   Que non ! - No way! Certainly not! Not at all!

Que can represent something that was just said:

   Que tu crois ! (informal)    That's what you think!

   Que je le fais tout seul ? C'est absurde !
   (You think) I should do it all alone? That's absurd!

Que can be used instead of inversion with direct speech and certain adverbs:

   « Donne-le-moi ! » qu'il me dit (me dit-il)
   "Give it to me!" he said

   Peut-être qu'il sera là (Peut-être sera-t-il là)
   Perhaps he will be there