Who In French: Complete Guide To The Word “Qui”

Who In French: Complete Guide To The Word "Qui"

The word for who in French is: “qui” (pronounced ki). For example, “Qui parle français ?” (Who speaks French?) or “Qui est-ce que vous invitez ?” (Who are you inviting?). In this post we’ll discover the various ways of how to use “qui” in several different kinds of French sentences.

How to pronounce qui

Before we go any further, let’s take a good look at the pronunciation of qui. A first point is that the letters “qu” in French are always pronounced like a -k an almost never like “kwah” as in the English “question” our “quote”. The -i in qui is pronounced like -ee as in “feet”.

My friend Julien, one of the leading YouTube French teachers for French pronunciation, teaches how to pronounce qui in the following video. In addition, this page on Forvo provides several good audio samples of how to pronounce qui.

Ways to use qui in asking questions

This next section will cover how to use “qui” in asking questions. This actually becomes a bit complicated so keep reading!

Qui est and qui sont

The first and most basic way of using qui is: “Qui est” (who is) and “Qui sont” (who are). For example:

  • Qui est Charles de Gaulle ? Who is Charles de Gaulle?
  • Qui sont ces gens ? Who are these people?

Qui + verb

The easiest way of using “qui” to ask questions is to use the structure: “qui + verb”. Here are some example sentences:

  • Qui parle français ? Who speaks French?
  • Qui mange la pizza ? Who’s eating the pizza?
  • Qui prépare le repas ? Who’s making (preparing) the meal?
Qui mange la pizza? Who is eating the pizza?

Qui + est-ce que + personal pronoun + verb ?

The second grammatical structure we’ll look at at is: “Qui + est-ce que + personal pronoun + verb + ?“. The word “est-ce que” means is/are/do/does for asking questions. This lesson on our site covers est-ce que in detail. It must be followed by a person (Pierre, for example) or personal pronoun (tu or vous, for example).

Here are some example sentences using this format:

  • Qui est-ce que vous invitez ? Who are you inviting?
  • Qui est-ce qu’il aime ? Who does he like (or love)?
  • Qui est-ce que nous choisissons ? Who are we chosing?

The following table gives examples of how to use “qui” (who) in basic questions:

FrenchEnglishExample
Questions about people
Qui?who(m)?Qui est-ce que vous invitez à la fête?
Who are you inviting to the party?
À qui?to who(m)?À qui est-ce qu'elle téléphone?
Who is she calling?
De qui?About who(m)?De qui est-ce que vous parlez?
Who are you talking about?
Avec qui?With who(m)?Avec qui est-ce que tu danses?
Who are you dancing with?
Pour qui?For who(m)?Pour qui est-ce qu'il travaille?
Who does he work for?
Questions about who is doing something
Qui + verbWho _s?Qui parle français?
Who speaks French?
Qui annule la leçon?
Who's canceling the lesson?

Qui + est-ce qui + verb

The next structure is as follows: “Qui est-ce qui + verb ?”. Actually, this is just a much fancier way of asking “Qui + verb ?”, which we saw above. Here are some examples re-doing the previous example sennteces.

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  • Qui est-ce qui parle francais ? Who speaks French?
  • Qui est-ce qui mange la pizza ? Who’s eating the pizza?
  • Qui est-ce qui prépare le repas ? Who’s making (preparing) the meal?

Avec qui, pour qui, à qui

We’ve just looked at the structure “Qui est-ce que + personal pronoun + verb ?“. Now, we’re going to precede the word “qui” with “avec” (with), “pour” (for) and à (to) to mean both “with whom”, “for whom” and “to whom”. Here are some examples:

  • Avec qui est-ce que vous habitez ? With whom do you live? (Who do you live with?)
  • Pour qui est-ce que vous travaillez? For whom do you work? (Who do you work for?)
  • À qui est-ce que vous envoyez la letter? To whom are you sending the letter. (Who are you sending the letter to?

Other common usages of qui in the context of “who”

Relative pronoun – qui + verb

The word “qui” can also be used as relative pronoun. For example, “The man who dances” or “The lady who sings. This page on our site covers relative pronouns in detail. We’ll give a few examples of this usage below.

  • L’homme qui dance avec Marie s’appelle Jacques. The man who’s dancing with Marie is named Jacques.
  • La femme qui chante la chanson s’appelle Marie. The lady who’s singing the song is named Marie.

Avec qui, pour qui, sans qui

The following example sentences also use “qui” as a relative pronoun. The differences between these sentences and the above examples is here the word “qui” is being preceded by the prepositions: avec qui (with whom), pour qui (for whom) and sans qui (without whom). The word “lequel” can also be used in the place of qui for these sentences. Our page on relative pronouns covers this rule.

  • C’est l’homme avec qui je travaille. He’s the man with whom I work. (He’s the man I work with).
  • C’est la femme pour qui je travail. She’s the lady for whom I work. (She’s the lady I work for).

Relative pronoun – que + personal pronoun or person

The word “que” can mean “who” when used as a relative pronoun and preceding a person or personal pronoun. For example:

  • C’est la femme que tu aimes. She’s the lady who you love.
  • C’est l’homme que vous invitez. He the man who you’re inviting.

More ways to say who in French

Qui que ce soit – Whoever, whomever

The expression for whoever or whomever is “qui que ce soit”. For example:

  • Qui que vous soyez, entrez s’il vous plaît ! Whoever you are, please enter!

À qui – whose

The construction “À qui est…?” and “À qui sont…?” can be used to mean “whose” in the context of possession. For example:

  • À qui est cette voiture ? Whose car is this?
  • À qui sont ces clés ? Whose keys are these?

French expression with “qui” in the context of “who”

The following is a list of expressions which include “qui” in context of “who”.

  • À qui ai-je l’honneur ? Who am I speaking with? (used on the phone)
  • À qui de droit to whom it my concern (used for formal letter writing)
  • À qui le dis-tu ! Tell me about it! No kidding! (literally “you’re telling it to who!”)
  • À qui le tour ? Whose turn is it? Who’s next?
  • À qui profite le crime ? Who profits from this?
  • À qui veut l’entendre? To anyone who would listen.

WHO = World Health Organization

Finally, one last important thing that many people wonder: How do you say the WHO (World Health Organization) in French? The answer is: l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé or l’OMS.

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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