All About Que

Uses, Meanings, and Examples in French

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

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 the 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 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
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Team, ThoughtCo. "All About Que." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). All About Que. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "All About Que." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).