Languages › French French Subordinate Clause: French Grammar and Pronunciation Glossary A subordinate clause, or 'proposition subordonnée,' depends on the main clause. Share Flipboard Email Print John and Tina Reid / Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers By ThoughtCo Updated January 30, 2019 A subordinate clause, or proposition subordonnée, does not express a complete idea and cannot stand alone. It must occur in a sentence with the main clause and may be introduced by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun. The main clause expresses a complete idea and could normally stand alone (as an independent clause) if it weren't for the subordinate clause dependent on it. The subordinate clause is in brackets in the following examples: J'ai dit [que j'aime] les pommes.I said [that I like] apples.Il a réussi [parce qu'il a beaucoup travaillé].He succeeded [because he worked a lot].L'homme [dont je parle habite ici].The man [that I'm talking about] lives here. A subordinate clause, also known as une proposition dépendante, or a dependent clause, is one of three types of clauses in French, each of which contains a subject and a verb: the independent clause, the main clause, and the subordinate clause. Subordinating conjunctions join dependent clauses to main clauses, as opposed to coordinating conjunctions, which join words and groups of words of an equal value. Coordinating: J'aime les pommes et les oranges. > I like apples and oranges.Subordinating: J'ai dit que j'aime les pommes. > I said that I like apples. Subordinating Conjunctions A subordinate clause cannot stand alone because its meaning is incomplete without the main clause. In addition, sometimes the dependent clause has a verb form that cannot stand alone. These are some frequently used French subordinating conjunctions that link the subordinate clause with the main clause: comme > as, sincelorsque > whenpuisque > since, as quand > whenque > thatquoique* > even thoughsi > if *Quoique must be followed by the subjunctive. Comme tu n'es pas prêt, j'y irai seul. Since you're not ready, I'll go alone. Si je suis libre, je t'amènerai à l'aéroport. If I'm free, I'll take you to the airport. J'ai peur quand il voyage. I'm afraid when he travels. Conjunctive Phrases There are also widely used conjunctive phrases that function as subordinating conjunctions. Some of these take a subjunctive verb and some also require the ne explétif, the somewhat literary non-negative ne (without pas). à condition que* > provided thatafin que* > so thatainsi que > just as, so asalors que > while, whereasà mesure que > as (progressively)à moins que** > unlessaprès que > after, when à supposer que* > assuming thatau cas où > in caseaussitôt que > as soon asavant que** > beforebien que* > althoughdans l'hypothèse où > in the event thatde crainte que** > for fear thatde façon que* > in such a way thatde manière que* > so thatde même que > just asde peur que** >for fear thatdepuis que > sincede sorte que* > so that, in such a way thatdès que > as soon asen admettant que* > assuming thaten attendant que* > while, untilencore que* > even thoughjusqu'à ce que* > untilparce que > becausependant que > whilepour que* > so thatpourvu que* > provided thatquand bien même > even though/ifquoi que* > whatever, no matter whatsans que** > withoutsitôt que > as soon assupposé que* > supposingtandis que > while, whereastant que > as long asvu que > seeing as/that *These conjunctions must be followed by the subjunctive, which is only found in subordinate clauses.**These conjunctions require the subjunctive plus ne explétif. Il travaille pour que vous puissiez manger. He works so that you can eat. J'ai réussi à l'examen bien que je n'aie pas étudié. I passed the test even though I didn't study. Il est parti parce qu'il avait peur. He left because he was afraid. J'évite qu'il ne découvre la raison. I'm avoiding his discovering the reason. Relative Pronouns A French relative pronoun can also link a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main clause. French relative pronouns may replace a subject, direct object, indirect object or preposition. They include, depending on context, que, qui, lequel, dont and où and generally translate into English as who, whom, that, which, whose, where, or when. But truth be told, there are no exact equivalents for these terms; see the table below for possible translations, according to part of speech. It is important to know that in French, relative pronouns are required, whereas, in English, they are sometimes optional and might be deleted if the sentence is clear without them. Functions and Meanings of Relative Pronouns Pronoun Function(s) Possible Translations Qui SubjectIndirect object (person) who, whatwhich, that, whom Que Direct object whom, what, which, that Lequel Indirect object (thing) what, which, that Dont Object of deIndicates possession of which, from which, thatwhose Où Indicates place or time when, where, which, that Additional Resources Subordinating conjunctionsRelative pronounsClausePronounSi clauseConjunctionMain clauseRelative clause Links Ideas Together in French With Conjunctions What's a French Relative Clause? Conjunctive Phrases Like 'À Condition Que' Take the Subjunctive No Subjunctive for French Conjunction 'Tant Que.' So much the better... Does the French Expression 'Sans Que' Take the Subjunctive? When Should You Use The French Subjunctive? How Do Relative Pronouns Work in French? Does 'Malgré Que' Introduce a Supposition? 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