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Quel vs lequel (quelle vs laquelle, etc.)

Both quel and lequel (and their various forms) can ask "which." What makes them different when used? When should I use lequel instead of quel? I am assuming quel is a derivative of lequel.

July 4, 2012



I'll try and make it simple for a start:

  • 'quel' is an interrogative adjective.

it can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural depending on the object of the question (quel/quelle/quels/quelles)

it defines the quality of the person or object of the question.

ex: "quelle heure est-il?" (what time is it?) or "quel fruit manges-tu?" (which fruit do you eat?)

  • 'lequel' can be (among other things) an interrogative pronoun.

it can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural depending on the object of the question (lequel/laquelle/lesquels/lesquelles).

it relates to a choice among several persons or objects.

ex: "voici deux pantalons; lequel veux-tu?" (here are two pants; which one do you want?).

therefore, my advise would be to get the meaning before you can translate because it is not automatic.


Thank you. This one has caused me grief. Other sites have given me convoluted, esotericed, and nuanced explanation. I just want to visit Paris and know which to use.


To add to the excellent explanation above, and to oversimplify slightly, 'quel' is an adjective, 'lequel' is a pronoun. Quel jardin? = which garden? Lequel? = which one?


Which means that we do not combine lequel with other nouns, we do that only with quel....


I have been using Quel as "Which" and Lequel as "Which one" and it seems to be working for me.


me too... I just rmember it as quel = needs a noun, lequel = noun already included :-)


Duo just gave a multiple-choice question where "Quels sont vos papas?" was an option.

That was not the answer because I need to translate "Which ones are your children?"

But was that answer wrong not just because the the question asked for children but also because the grammar in that sentence was just plain wrong? Would it have been an acceptable answer as "Quels sont vos enfants?"


No, it needs to be: "Lesquels sont vos enfants/papas ?".

Unusually, because un enfant and une enfant are both valid, if you knew that the children were all girls, you could (but do not need to) say "Lesquelles sont vos enfants ?"

Quels is an adjective and cannot be separated from the noun it describes. Lesquels can be used as an interrogative pronoun.

Bear in mind also that "Lesquels sont tes enfants ?" makes sense, whereas "Lesquels sont tes papas ?" probably would not because it is unlikely that a single individual would have more than one father.


Good and simple. Just what I was looking for.


This should be on the front page of duolingo. Cheers mate.


bonjour SiteSurf

selon vous, ces deux phrases sont-elles correctes? : lequel est le tien? quel est le tien? La première me gêne mais je ne sais pas dire pourquoi. Merci pour la clarté générale de vos explications :)


As you can see, I have partly explained it at the top of this page.

The main difference between "lequel est le tien ?" and "quel est le tien ?" lies in the 'field of reference':

  • "lequel" assumes that there is a limited choice known to the speaker
  • "quel" does not have a pre-determined set of choices to pick from.


So if I was at a dog park talking to someone, and I wanted to know which of the dogs was theirs, would "quel est ton chien ?" Sound unnatural? Would that more likely prompt them to tell me what breed their dog is?


You should ask "lequel est ton chien ?" or "quel chien est le tien ?" because there is a limited choice of dogs at the dog park.

If you want to inquire about the dog's breed, you will ask "De quelle race est ton chien ?"


Merci boucoup je comprends maintenant! Quelque chose de si difficile était si simple.


thanks for the lucid explanation


Duo did present a multiple choice in the interrogative lesson where both which and which one were required answers. The point of the exercise was to deal with translating them correctly. So, according to Duo, it is not quite as cut and dried as presented in this thread. However the conventions suggested here will work most of the time.


This also had me confused. I think I found the answer in Duo's Tips and Notes for the "Questions" module:

An interrogative adjective cannot stand alone. It must modify (and agree with) a noun, and that noun must either be adjacent to it or separated by a form of être.


quel+ a noun can be replaced with lequel


Thank for for the explanations guys.


I think it helps to see if you can substitute "what" in the translation. If you can then it's probably "quel".


Tha's a synthetic mind! congrats!


This is driving me CRAZY I just will never get it I can’t move on ARGGGGGG. There is no rhyme or reason!!!! So frustrated!!!

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