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indefinite pronoun n'importe qui/quoi/quel etc+relative clause

Can anyone explain to me why the pronouns and adjective n'importe qui/quoi/quel etc cannot be foll0wed by a relative clause ? I've read that this construction is forbidden but I cannot figure out the reason. Why couldn't I say for instance

je parlerlerai à n'importe qui que vous voulez

Choissisez n'importe quelle chemise qui est dans le magasin.

Are they only meant to be used as the subject of a main clause or the object of a subordinate clause? I would appreciate anyone who could enlighten me with this and  what the difference in nuance  with the qui que ce soit/quoi que pronouns are.



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Sorry I am stumped (I wasn't aware of it actually) .All the same  ,why would you need to know? Is it not enough to know that  that construction is apparently not in use  and  might get you odd looks if you tried to use it?

As for  the qui que ce soit/quoi que  construction ,do you mean the difference between"qui que ce soit" and "quoi que  ce soit" ?

I am not sure I follow otherwise. That would be "whoever" as opposed to "whatever".

Perhaps I misunderstood...

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I wanted to know to know the reason as being an English speaker I'm used to saying "anyone etc" followed by a relative clause and will never understand this rule unless I understand the logic behind it, assuming there is any.

With qui/quoi que ce soit, I meant how they differ from n'importe qui/quoi. Are the two sets simply interchangeable or is there a nuance to them that makes it preferable to use one over the other in certain situation.

That is really not the way I try to learn a language. I mean ,yes I will look for logic in the construction but mainly as a way of satisfying an itch and perhaps of fixing it in my memory but this is completely over ridden by how the language is actually used.

To try to carry over a way of talking from one language to another is ,in my mind completely misguided.Yes it will allow you to build sentences and probably be well understood but you cannot swim against the tide and if native speakers have adopted a particular way of speaking just go along with it-it does not need to be logical..

As for your question about the nuances between qui/quoi que ce soit and n'importe qui/quoi (thanks for clarifying) yes there does seem to be a difference but I think you just have to come across them a few times and the difference should become apparent eventually.

I wouldn't like to go into it too much as I might not be quite correct in my interpretation but maybe someone else might give you their opinion.

Hope I don't sound too bolshy!

As for the person who needs to "know the logic:". Logic? In language? I am a native English-speaker fairly fluent in French & Italian. I teach English to people whose first languages are anything but. When a student asks: "Why?" I usually respond, smiling, "This is a class about /how/, not about /why/." If it's an advanced class, with very few stts, I sometimes tell the /why/. . . If I know it. Why can we say: "I put the paper down." or "I put down the paper." And I can say: "I ran down the stairs." but I cannot say: "I ran the stairs down." ?
You do have a point, especially if you are familiar with the similar usages in English. But languages are not so much about 'why' as about customs and style, based on which the advices you mentioned are correct.

Your statements, though clearly as examples for 'why not,' could be rewritten as follow if for illustration:

Je parlerai à la personne que vous choisirez. N'importe qui.
Choisissez une chemise dans le magasin. N'importe laquelle.

There could be nuanced differences regarding the other usages, but the first above can be equivalently rewritten like this:

Qui que ce soit que vous choisissez, je parlerai à lui.


could tell us where you found this rule?

As a French I can assure (and reassure you) that these kind of sentences would be naturally uttered in  everyday life without posing any problems whatsoever.

Does that mean the 2 in the top post (Michael Rivers's) are ok ? If not, how would you rewrite them?
I cannot not find examples that fit those patterns, so I assume the mentioned rule aurait raison.

They sound ok to me

maybe the second one could be more simple:

choissisez n'importe quelle chemise du magasin

another similar sentence:

Ce n'est pas n'importe qui qui peut faire ça.

I know that in a (very) formal style  it's considered not correct to have "quiconque" followed by "qui"

Quiconque de vous qui restera en arrière sera regardé comme traître

should be

Quiconque de vous restera....

In this particular case you should say :

"Quiconque restera en arrière..."

or "Ceux qui..."

or even better "Ceux d'entre vous qui resteront..."

I'm not used to something like "Quiconque de vous" (and I'm French ^^)

I get 3 times more returns for the term "Quiconque d'entre  vous....." than "Quiconque de vous" in Google.

Maybe that phrase is better or more contemporary?

I found it in "A Comprehensive French Grammar" by Glanville Price. It states "Do not expand n'importe qui etc. by means of relative clause, i.e. do not use them as equivalents for qui que ce soit qui, quoi que or ou que. If a native French speaker considers these constructions fine, then that's good enough for me. I can only assume that the book might have meant in literary language only..

Yes, the book you mention is describing quite a conservative version of the universe -- possibly because it's really an earlier grammar with a bit of editorial window dressing from Prof Price. So whilst it's an excellent work in many respects, it does have a habit of falling silent on details around contemporary, everyday usage. (If you look for the part on 'ne' deletion in negatives, for example, this grammar apparently finds the subject so utterly deplorable that it sends you off to another book...)


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