Friday, 27 February 2009

Who or whom?

Earlier today I read something in English and the author had incorrectly use the word 'whom'. This is not a problem for the French as they automatically use qui for who and que for whom. The good news is that if you learn the difference between these two French words then you will learn the difference between the English words who and whom.

Who or whom are relative pronouns. This means that they introduce another part of the sentence that links to a previously mentioned noun from the first part. If this noun is a person we use 'who' or 'whom'. The first noun is called the antecedent because it comes before the relative pronoun, and the second part is called the subordinate clause. The pronouns link two related ideas and combine two sentences to make one. This is why they are called relative pronouns and it saves repeating the noun. This may sound complicated but is easy if you see an example.

First sentence: voici une photo de Nicolas Sarkozy. Second sentence: Nicolas Sarkozy est le président de la France. It sounds so much better if you write one sentence. Voici une photo de Nicolas Sarkozy qui est le président de la France. Qui is used because the pronoun acts as the subject of the second part of the sentence. If someone else is the subject of the subordinate clause then we use que. Voici une photo de Nicolas Sarkozy que j'ai achetée à Paris. In the second part of the sentence I am doing the buying, not Nicolas.

I know this is a long blog but just notice the e at the end of achetée. It is another way that you can have an example of a preceding direct object and so an agreement with avoir verbs (see Wednesday 25th Feb) is needed.

A bientôt

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