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French grammar - Indefinite Relative Pronouns - ce qui and ce que

Indefinite Relative Pronouns - ce qui & ce que

When the subject or object is missing in a relative clause, we can use the pronoun ce in its place.

And in combination with the subject and object relative pronouns we have ce que and ce qui.

ce qui serves as the indefinite subject in a relative clause.

ce que serves as the indefinite (direct) object in a relative clause.

In English these might be 'the thing that' or 'that which' or simply 'what'.

Unlike qui and que themselves, ce qui and ce que cannot refer to people.

If we have sufficient information about ce we can use ceux qui for plurals, and celle qui if it is feminine etc.

Je veux ce qu'elle a dans le sac.
I want what she has in the bag.

ce is an unmentioned object that elle a dans le sac

J'ai ce qu'elle veut dans ce sac.
I have what she wants in this bag.

ce is an unmentioned object dans ce sac that elle veut

Pourquoi veux-tu ce qu'elle a dans ce sac ?
Why do you (familiar) want what she has in that bag?
Voici ce que tu veux, n'est-ce pas ?
Here is what you (familiar) want, right?

voici means 'this is' or 'here is'

Ce que j'ai dans ce sac est précieux.
That which I have in this bag is precious.

précieux (adj) means 'precious'

Ce qu'il veut, c'est celui-ci.
What he wants, it is this one (here).

This is a common formulation that adds suspense

Ce qu'ils veulent, ce sont ceux qui sont sur la table.
What they want, it is those that are on the table.
J'ai celui que tu veux.
I have the one (masculine) that you (familiar) want.

celui is the object of tu veux

Perhaps referring to (masculine) le livre

Voilà celle qu'ils veulent.
This is the one (feminine) they want.

voilà means 'there is' or 'this is'

Perhaps referring to (feminine) la bouteille du vin

Je veux ceux qui sont dans le placard.
I want those ones that are in the cupboard.

placard (m) means 'cupboard' or 'closet'

Je veux ce qu'elle a.
I want what she has.
Elle veut vraiment celle qui est dans la vitrine.
She really wants the one that is in the shop window.

Perhaps talking about (feminine) la chemise

vitrine (f) means 'shop window'

Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
What is 'that which' it is? *OR* What is that?

The ce que in this common phrase is in fact the indefinite relative pronoun