About how to ask questions in French

In this article, we are not going to teach you how to ask stupid questions, or questions in the style of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (to "bring the client to light"), or to ask women questions about their age so that they do not take offense at the same time. But we are going to teach you how to ask French right questions, so that they understand you.

So, there are some question words in French:

Qui — who?

Que — what?

Quoi — what? (used with a preposition),

Pourquoi — why?

Quel (-le, -s, -les) — what (description), what kind?

Comment — how? où — where? Where to?

D’où — where from?

Combien — how many?

Quand — when?

 

Pour qui —whom…for?

À qui — Whose?

De quoi — What…about?

De quelle couleur — what color?

 

For example:

Qui dira cette parole correctement? — Who will say this word correctly?

Que voulez-vous lire? — What would you like to read?

De quoi parlent-ils? — What are they talking about?

Pourquoi aimes-tu la France? — Why don’t you like France? (

A qui cache-t-elle son journal? — Who does she hide her diary from?

De quelle couleur est le drapeau français? — What color is French flag?

Comment est ta chambre à coucher? — How does your bedroom look like?

Comment pouvez-vous survivre dans ce pays? — How can you survive in this country?

Où est la mairie? — Where is the city administration?

D’où viens-tu? — Where are you coming from?

Combien d’argent avons-nous? — How much money do we have?

Quand arrive notre paquebot? — When does the ferry arrive?

So, in French there are three ways to ask questions:

1) With the help of intonation;

2) By inversion – when the main members of the sentence change their places;

3) Using the est-ce que construction, after which there is a direct word order;

 

The first method is the most convenient for Russian speakers, who prefer simply to increase the tone of intonation at the end of the question:

Comment ça va? - How are you?

Combien ça fait? - How much does it cost? (It is possible even so: ça fait combien?)

Tu viens avec moi? - Are you coming with me?

 

The second method requires some brain neurons and neutrons bending =). So, for lazy ones we suggest simply skipping this paragraph. Although this way of asking questions in French is very popular. In some cases, it is simply necessary, especially when the sentence has a direct complement (COD) that is near the subject (sujet) expressed by a noun. It should be remembered that if the verb in the third person singular (il, elle, on) ends in "e" or "a", between the verb and the pronoun-subject the letter "t" is put (for euphonies): a-t-il?, pleure-t-elle?, ira-t-il?, sera-t-elle?

Va-t-elle à Londres? - Is she going to London?

Cherches-tu quelque chose? - Are you looking for something?

Que font-ils à la leçon? - What are they doing at the lesson?

Que Pierre achète-t-il? - What is Pierre buying?

Comment vous appelez-vous? - What is your name?

Où habitent Marine et Blanche? - Where do Marina and Blanche live?

Où allez-vous? - Where are you going?

Où sont-ils allés? - Where did they go?

D'où êtes-vous venus? – Where do you came from?

Pourquoi es-tu en retard? - Why are you late?

Quel age as-tu? - How old are you?

 

And now about the third method. If there is no question word in the sentence (see the first paragraph of this article), it is necessary to use the est-ce que construction, and then the direct word order. In case with a question word you need:

1. To put the question word at the beginning;

2. est-ce que construction;

3. Use the direct word order (Objet Verbe Sujet).

Es ce-que tu ne le comprends pas? – Don’t you understand this?

Pourquoi est ce-que l'agent de police se dirige vers le groupe d'adolescents? - Why is the policeman going to a group of teenagers?

Quand est ce-que la pop-star viendra à notre village? - When will the pop star come to our village?

 

The first person singular (je) we always use the est-ce que construction. The exceptions are some verbs:

Est ce-que je demande quelque chose d'extraordinaire? - Am I asking for something extraordinary?

Est ce-que je pose trop de questions? - Am I asking too many questions?

Puis-je vous proposer quelque chose d'intéressant? - May I offer you something interesting?

Suis-je parmi des amis ou des ennemis? - Am I among friends or enemies?

Ai-je raison? – Am I right?

But, if the question is assigned to the subject (Who? What? How many? What? Whose? Etc), the inversion is not needed. We use the direct word order:

Combien d'ouvriers travaillent à l'usine? - How many workers are there at the plant?

Qui doit corriger les fautes? - Who should correct the mistakes?

Quels grands magasins se trouvent au center de la ville? - What are the big shops in the city center?

Do not forget about the conjugation of verbs, when asking questions. For your convenience, below there is the table of conjugation of verbs in question and negative forms:

Conjugation of verbs in interrogative forms

Présent

Futur Simple

Passé composé

est ce-que je parle?

aurai-je?

(est ce-que je parlerai?)

ai-je parlé?

parles-tu?

auras-tu?

as-tu parlé?

parle-t-il?

parle-t-elle?

aura-t-il?

aura-t-elle?

a-t-il parlé?

a-t-elle parlé?

parlons-nous?

aurons-nous?

avons-nous parlé?

parlez-vous?

aurez-vous?

avez-vous parlé?

parlent-ils?

parlent-elles?

auront-ils?

auront-elles?

ont-ils parlé?

ont-elles parlé?

 

Conjugation of verbs in negative-interrogative forms

Présent

Futur Simple

Passé composé

est ce-que je ne voyage pas?

est ce-que je n’arriverai pas?

ne suis-je pas venu (e)?

ne voyages-tu pas?

n’arriveras-tu pas?

n’es-tu pas venu (e)?

ne voyage-t-il pas?

ne voyage-t-elle pas?

n’arrivera-t-il pas?

n’arrivera-t-elle pas?

n’est-il pas venu?

n’est-t-elle pas venue?

ne voyageons-nous pas?

n’arriverons-nous pas?

ne sommes-nous pas venu (e) s?

ne voyagez-vous pas?

n’arriverez-vous pas?

n’êtes-vous pas venu (e) s?

ne voyagent-ils pas?

ne voyagent-elles pas?

n’arriveront-ils pas?

n’arriveront-elles pas?

ne sont-ils pas venus?

ne sont-elles pas venues?

That's all, we hope now you can confidently approach any Francophone and bravely ask him or her a couple of tricky questions about their life and plans for the future.

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