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Manasi (Student) August 27 2016
It can be tricky to understand when to use each of these relative pronouns. But if we break it down it is actually quite simple!
Qui is used as the subject of the clause, (ie. the person/thing doing the verb). This means that it is always followed by a verb.
E.g. La femme qui parle est ma mère. - The woman who is speaking is my mother.
Now let's take a look at que. It is used as the direct object of a sentence (ie. the the person/thing that is having the verb done to it). This means that it is always followed by a pronoun/noun.
E.g. Le garçon que nous avons vu hier est mon frère. - The boy whom we saw yesterday is my brother.
Can you see the difference? In the first sentence 'la femme' is doing the action and therefore requires qui. In the second sentence 'le garçon' is not doing the action but is referred to by the subject of the sentence, 'nous', and therefore requires que.
Don't forget that que is shortened to qu' before a vowel but qui never changes!
Both qui and que are translated as who(m), which or that.see more