"The little boats that are going on the water."
when does one use "qui" as "that" and when "ce que"?
relative pronouns link the main clause (les petits bateaux) to the relative clause (vont sur l'eau).
- when the relative pronoun is the subject of the relative clause's verb, its form is "qui"
- when it is a direct object, its form is "que" (ex: les bateaux que je vois)
- the antecedent of the relative pronoun (bateaux) determines the conjugation ending of the relative clause's verb (bateaux is 3rd person plural, then "vont" is 3rd person plural).
"ce qui" and "ce que" are indefinite relative pronouns, translated in "which" or "what" depending on the verb construction.
- les bateaux sont sur l'eau, ce qui est normal (boats are on the water, which is normal)
fabulous! thanks for being such a lifeline for grammar.
As a reward, I am going to tell you about the context of the given French sentence. It is a song for small children:
Maman les petits bateaux, qui vont sur l'eau, ont-ils des jambes ? Mais non mon gros bêta, s'ils en avaient ils marcheraient. Ils font le tour du monde, du pôle sud au pôle nord, mais comme la terre est ronde, ils reviennent au port.
Awesome :D I went ahead and heard the poem on youtube. Listening to french is so much better than anything else. Infact, listening to les enfants talk in french, in the tuilleries garden, was the main reason I started learning this language!