‘Although’ in French: ‘Quoi que’ vs ‘ Bien que’

You might have heard about some strange French words: quoique, quoi que, bien que… They look pretty similar – “quoique” and “quoi que” even share the exact same pronunciation! And it’s easy to think they all have the same meaning — ‘although’ — in French… but in fact, they are quite different.

These words will help you make more complex sentences, and they’re not so difficult to use or understand! You just need to sit down with a pen and paper and go through today’s lesson, step-by-step.

Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson

  • Beginner: Know the meaning of ‘quoique’, ‘quoi que’, ‘bien que’, and other words from this lesson.
  • Intermediate: Learn the examples in this lesson
  • Advanced: Use these words to build your own complex sentences

Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher.
Welcome to Comme une Française.
I’m here to help you speak everyday modern French with confidence!

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1. “Quoique” / “Quoi que”

Quoique means “Although”

For example:

Je pense que ça va marcher. Quoique je n’en suis pas sûr.
= I think this will work. Although I’m not sure.

In spoken French, it’s most often used on its own, in a one-word sentence.

Je pense que ça va marcher. Quoique…
= I think this will work. Although…

While ‘although’ in French is quoique, on the other hand, quoi que (in two words) means “Whatever”. It’s always followed by a subject and a verb in the subjunctive.

For example:

Quoi que je fasse, je pense à toi.
= Whatever I do, I think about you.

(It’s a line from the song “Pas toi” by French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman. You can find more great French love songs here as well!)

A common use of “quoi que” is the expression “Quoi que ce soit”: it means “whatever it is” (literally), or in a sentence, “anything.”

Je ne peux plus manger quoi que ce soit.
= I can’t eat anything more.

You can also use “qui que”, which is the equivalent of “quoi que” but for people instead of things (“who” instead of “what”). Similarly, “Qui que ce soit” means “Anybody.”

Je ne veux pas voir qui que ce soit.
= I don’t want to see anybody.

2) Bien que

Bien que… means “even though…”, and it’s always followed by a subject and a verb in the subjunctive. So, not quite the same as ‘although’. It’s a bit formal.

Bien qu’il soit très grand, il ne joue pas au basket.
= Even though he’s very tall, he doesn’t play basket-ball.

As you can see, it doesn’t have much to do with the word bien (= “good”) at all!

3) Malgré

Malgré means “Despite / In spite of.” It’s followed by a noun!

Malgré son âge, elle court tous les matins.
= Despite her age, she runs every morning.

A common mistake that even some French people make is to use “Malgré” with a “que” after. Don’t do that! “Malgré que” doesn’t exist!

4) Other ways to say “although” in French

In addition to “quoique”, “bien que” and “malgré”, you can still find other ways to say “Although” in French, or imply a similar meaning. And they’re more commonly used in real-life spoken French!

For example, you can use:

  • Même si (followed by the indicative), which means “Even if”

    Je t’aime, même si tu es loin de moi.
    = I love you, even if you’re far away from me.

  • Mais (= “But”)

    Je mange du fromage mais pas du roquefort.
    = I eat cheese, but not roquefort cheese.

  • Cependant / Néanmoins (= “However”) – These are much more formal

    Gérard habite à Paris. Cependant, il vient fêter Noël à Strasbourg, avec nous.
    = Gérard lives in Paris. However, he comes to celebrate Christmas in Strasbourg with us.

Bonus tip: Does it matter?

French grammar is like a puzzle. Some find it fun to pierce it all together. Others find the challenge frustrating and would rather do something else.

They’re all valid ways of learning! The point is: you should NOT get “stuck” on grammar. Or mistakes. Don’t lose your confidence or motivation just because grammar is hard – instead, side-step the problem.

Focus on communication first! You don’t need perfect grammar to be understood. But you need to speak (and share your thoughts and make mistakes) if you ever want to improve… Or to enjoy the French you know.

To recap:

Today you learned:
– The differences between “Quoique” and “Quoi que.”
– How to express the “other side” of an idea using “Bien que”, “Malgré”, “Même si”…
– That mistakes don’t matter that much; confidence is more important than speaking ‘perfect’ French.

What was your favorite part of today’s lesson? Let me know in the comments below.

A tout de suite.
See you in the next video!

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→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Allez, salut 🙂

Join the conversation!

  • Salut, Geraldine. Quelle serait la difference entre ‘Quoi qui ce soit’ et ‘N’importe qui?’ Merci

  • Merci Géraldine, une leçon super utile ~
    et j’aime beaucoup la chanson Pas Toi,
    surtout la solo-guitar à la fin ~~~ 🙂

  • Bonjour Geraldine, it’s Michael, your English teacher here. ( just kidding ).

    Thank you for this very useful lesson. Bien que your spoken English is very good ( so much better than my spoken French), may I suggest / permit me to suggest that you could improve your pronunciation of the word ‘ vocabulary’ ( a word you use a lot). I believe that there are 5 syllables in this word. The emphasis / stress should be on the second syllable, and not the third syllable.

    Thank you again for your for your excellent podcasts.

  • Bonjour Geraldine,
    Thank you for your podcast.
    Could you please explain to me why the same pronoun (il) is used twice in the same sentence :
    Bien qu’il soit très grand, il ne joue pas au baskets.
    As far as I know one should use different pronouns when using “bien que”. Please help.
    Merci mille fois
    Hannah

  • i’m confused. i was taught that quoique is always followed by the subjunctive, but you used the example “je pense que ça va marcher, quoique je n’en suis pas sûr.” please help me out.

  • Je suis bresilien. Je suis debutant em français. J’etudie seule par internet. J’adore tes classes. Je vous remerci beaucoup.

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