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.

July 4, 2012

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.

February 26, 2017

Thanks a lot!

April 21, 2017

thank you!

July 7, 2019

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?

July 5, 2012


August 17, 2014

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

April 24, 2017

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

March 25, 2013

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

August 25, 2013

Good tip! Thanks.

December 1, 2013

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?"

March 20, 2018

Good explanation

August 17, 2014

Good and simple. Just what I was looking for.

April 7, 2016

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

December 1, 2013

Thanks Leon!

July 26, 2016

De rien ^^

July 26, 2016

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 :)

September 12, 2016

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.
September 12, 2016

ok thanks!!

September 12, 2016

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?

February 26, 2019

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 ?"

February 26, 2019

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

May 3, 2019

thanks for the lucid explanation

September 15, 2013

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.

September 15, 2013

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.

August 5, 2017

quel+ a noun can be replaced with lequel

September 24, 2018

Tha's a synthetic mind! congrats!

July 5, 2012

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!!!

December 7, 2018
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