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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is-- What does dont mean?
Dont is tricky for a lot of French learners, especially English speakers, because it's a pronoun that doesn't exist in English. It’s used to link two sentences together without repeating the noun. There’s no single translation, and has a few different uses. Here are the two main ones.
First, dont replaces any person or thing after a verb + de construction. For example avoir besoin de, "to need" or se rappeler de, “to remember.”
Let’s look at some examples so you can learn how to use dont correctly.
Say you had a strange dream, but you can’t seem to remember what it was about. In two sentences, you could say, J'ai fait un rêve bizarre. meaning “I had a weird dream.” and Je ne me rappelle pas du rêve. meaning “I don’t remember the dream.” Here, you say rêve, meaning, “dream,” twice.
Using dont, you can combine those sentences into one-- J'ai fait un rêve bizarre dont je ne me rappelle pas, “I had a weird dream that I don’t remember.”
Other verbs that use dont this way include s’occuper de, meaning “to look after,” se servir de, meaning “to make use of,” and parler de, “to speak of,” as well as any être + adjectif (adjective) + de construction, like être content de, “to be pleased with.”
With parler de, meaning “to talk about,” an example would be, La dame dont je parle porte une jupe rouge. meaning “The lady I’m talking about is wearing a red skirt.”
Here’s another example with être content de, “to be happy about.” It’s Voilà le livre dont elle est contente. meaning “Here’s the book that she’s pleased with.”
The other way we use dont translates to “whose.” For example, let’s take these two sentences.
First, Je te présente Robert. meaning “This is Robert.” Le frère de Robert peint ma maison. “Robert’s brother paints my house.”
Using dont, you can shorten this to, Je te présente Robert, dont le frère peint ma maison. “This is Robert, whose brother paints my house.”
Here’s another example-- J'ai vu mon ami means, “I met my friend.” La femme de mon ami va bientôt avoir un bébé, means, “My friend’s wife is having a baby soon.” So together, it would be-- J'ai vu mon ami dont la femme va bientôt avoir un bébé, which means, “I met my friend whose wife is having a baby soon.”
Pretty useful, right?
If you have any other questions, please leave a comment!
A bientôt, see you soon!