In our last lesson, we introduced the French demonstrative pronouns (celui, celle, ceux, celles), which combine with the suffixes ci (here) and là (there) to form expressions such as "this one," "that one," "these," and "those." In this lesson, we'll explore two other useful constructions featuring these pronouns.
The first is celui/celle/ceux/celles + de + noun, which is used to indicate ownership or possession. Here's a straightforward example from the Beauty and the Beast trailer:
Je suis venue échanger ma vie contre celle de mon père.
I've come to exchange my life for that of my father.
Caption 26, Bande-annonce - La Belle et La BêtePlay Caption
"That of my father" is the literal translation of celle de mon père, but the sentence could also have been translated as, "I've come to exchange my life for my father's." As we mentioned in the last lesson, the demonstrative pronoun has to agree in gender and number with the word it's referring to. In this case, the feminine singular celle refers to the feminine singular noun vie.
The second construction is celui/celle/ceux/celles + qui, que, or dont. Qui (that, who) and que (that, whom) are relative pronouns, or words that introduce a dependent clause. While qui acts as the subject of the clause (usually followed by a verb), que acts as the object (usually followed by a noun or pronoun). With a demonstrative pronoun in front of them, they create expressions like "the one(s) that/who" (demonstrative pronoun + qui) and "the one(s) that/whom" (demonstrative pronoun + que):
Vous savez... celui qui se trouve derrière la maison voisine.
You know... the one that's behind the house next door.Play Caption
...dans des situations un peu meilleures que celles qu'ils avaient en arrivant.
...in situations that are a little bit better than the ones that they had when they arrived.
Caption 26, Le Journal - Les Restos du CœurPlay Caption
Cet homme n'est pas celui que j'ai vu hier.
That man is not the one whom I saw yesterday.
Dont is another relative pronoun that means "whose" or "of which":
J'habite une maison dont les volets sont bleus.
I live in a house whose shutters are blue.
The demonstrative pronoun + dont combination means "the one(s) whose" or "the one(s) of/about which." In this combination, dont often replaces an object preceded by de:
Tu parles de ma chemise rouge? -Non, celle dont je parle est bleue.
Are you talking about my red shirt? -No, the one that I'm talking about is blue.
So, to review, the three major constructions featuring demonstrative pronouns are:
-demonstrative pronoun + -ci or -là (celui-ci, celle-là, etc.)
-demonstrative pronoun + de + noun (celle de mon père)
-demonstrative pronoun + qui, que, or dont (celui que j'ai vu hier)
The two big takeaways here are that demonstrative pronouns always replace a previously mentioned noun (and must agree with it in gender and number) and are always accompanied by another word, whether the suffixes ci and là, the preposition de, or the relative pronouns qui, que, and dont.