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The Relative Pronouns dont and



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Relative pronouns are pronouns used to link a noun to a relative or a dependent clause. There are many relative pronouns. Relative pronouns are used to avoid repeating the noun they replace. In this lesson, we will study the relative pronouns: “dont” and “où”.

The Relative Pronoun “dont”

“Dont” replaces a noun, a person or a thing. It can have several functions in a sentence, but it always has the function of the object of a preposition. It replaces words that are preceded by “de”, “des”, or “ d’ ”.

“Dont” as a indirect object

Let’s look at this example:

Voici le directeur. Je t’ai parlé de ce directeur.
Voici le directeur dont je t’ai parlé.
Here is the manager. I told you about this manager.
Here is the manager (whom) I told you about.


In the example above we combined two simple sentences into one complex sentence using the relative pronoun “dont”. Notice also that the verb “parler” is followed with the preposition “de”, that’s why we used “dont” instead of other relative pronouns.

Tu as besoin d’argent pour payer le taxi. L’argent est sur la table.
L’argent dont tu as besoin pour payer le taxi est sur la table.
You need money to pay for the cab. The money is on the table.
The money (that) you need to pay for the cab is on the table.


Notice that “avoir besoin” is always followed by the preposition: de, des or d’.

“Dont” as a noun complement

Tu es le créateur d’un projet. Le projet sera certainement approuvé par le commité.
Le projet dont tu es le créateur sera certainement approuvé par le commité.
You are the creator of a project. The project will certainly be approved by the committee.
The project you created will certainly be approved by the committee.


The relative pronoun “dont” which replaces “projet” is the noun complement of “créateur”.

L’oiseau a une patte cassée. L’oiseau a été emmené chez le vétérinaire.
L’oiseau dont la patte est cassée a été emmené chez le vétérinaire.
The bird has a broken leg. The bird has been taken to the veterinarian.
The bird whose leg is broken has been taken to the veterinarian.


The relative pronoun “dont” which replaces “l’oiseau” is the noun complement of “patte”.

“Dont” as an adjective complement

Amelia est une fille. Je suis très fière de cette fille.
Amelia est la fille dont je suis très fière.
Amelia is a girl. I am very proud of this girl.
Amelia is the girl of whom I am very proud.


The relative pronoun “dont” which replaces “fille” is complement of the adjective “fière”.

Vous êtes amoureux d’une femme. Cette femme est une menteuse.
La femme dont vous êtes amoureux est une menteuse.
You are in love with a woman. This woman is a liar.
The woman you’re in love with is a liar.


The relative pronoun “dont” which replaces “ femme” is complement of the adjective “amoureux”.

The Relative pronoun “où”

You already know that “où” is the interrogative pronoun “where”. As a relative pronoun, “où” indicates place, but it can also indicate a point in time. It can be preceded by a preposition.

“Où” not preceded by a preposition

Let’s first review these examples:

Le lycée elle enseigne s’appelle “Le lycée Lafayette”.
The high school where she teaches is called “Lafayette High School”. - “where” here indicates a place.

Le jour il est né, il y avait un grande tempête.
The day he was born, there was a big storm. - “où” in the sentence above indicates time.

1951 est l’année mes parents se sont mariés.
1951 is the year when my parents got married. - “où” in the sentence above indicates time.

La maison j’ai grandi sera démolie dans quelques jours.
The house where I grew up will be demolished in a few days. - “où” in the sentence above indicates “place”.

Je me souviens bien de l’époque j’avais les cheveux longs.
I remember the time when I had long hair. - “où” in the example above indicates “time”.

“Où” preceded by a preposition

Je n’ai aucune idée d’où il sort.
I have no idea where he comes from.

Est-ce que tu sais par où on peut sortir?
Do you know where we can exit?

Nous savons par où il est passé.
We know which way he went.