French Intermediate Demo – Interrogative Sentences

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LEÇON 1  / Intermediate

B

INTERROGATIVE SENTENCES

There are a number of ways to ask questions in French. You are already familiar with the Est-ce que . . .? form, the most frequently used in conversation.

1. QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY “YES” OR “NO”

A. You can take a statement, put “Est-ce que” before it, and you have  a question!

  EXAMPLES

Vous allez à l’agence de voyages.
You are going to the travel agency.

Est-ce que vous allez à l’agence de voyages?
Are you going to the travel agency?

Marguerite rêve du Prince Charmant.
Marguerite dreams of Prince Charming.

Est-ce que Marguerite rêve du Prince Charmant?
Is Marguerite dreaming of Prince Charming?

Le sac à dos est dans la tente.
The backpack is in the tent.

Est-ce que le sac à dos est dans la tente?
Is the backpack in the tent?

B. Inversion

If the subject is a pronoun (je, tu, il, elle, on, nous, vous, elles, ils), you can form a question by “swapping around” or “reversing” the order of the subject and the verb.

  EXAMPLES

Vous allez à l’agence de voyages.
You are going to the travel agency.

Allez-vous à l’agence de voyages?
Are you going to the travel agency?

Ils chantent la Marseillaise.
They are singing the Marseillaise.

Chantent-ils la Marseillaise? –Oui.
Are they singing the Marseillaise? –Yes.

When the subject is a noun, however, the noun
comes first and the verb must be followed by a  pronoun that refers back to the noun (it will agree
in number and gender).

  EXAMPLES

Le sac à dos est dans la tente.
The backpack is in the tent.

Le sac à dos est-il dans la tente?
Is the backpack in the tent?

Votre chambre est confortable.
Your room is comfortable.

Votre chambre est-elle confortable?
Is your room comfortable?

When the verb ends in a vowel and the pronoun
also begins with a vowel, you will insert a
-t- to
ease the pronunciation.

  EXAMPLES

Marguerite rêve-t-elle du Prince Charmant?
Does Marguerite dream of Prince Charming?

Nicolas a-t-il une grande valise?
Does Nicolas have a big suitcase?

C. Intonation of voice

You can also ask a question simply by raising the pitch/tone of your voice at the end of a sentence, just as we sometimes do in English.

  EXAMPLES

Jean va à la plage.
Jean is going to the beach.

Jean va à la plage?
Jean is going to the beach?

2. INFORMATION QUESTIONS WITH PRONOUNS

A. Questions about people

There are also two ways of forming these questions: Qui . . . or Qui est-ce qui (que)?

Subject of a verb

Qui? or Qui est-ce qui? Who?
Qui voyage? or Qui est-ce qui voyage? Who travels?

Direct object of a verb

Qui? or Qui est-ce que? Whom?
Qui invites-tu? or Qui est-ce que tu invites? Whom are you inviting?

After a preposition
(such as à, de, chez, pour, avec)

. . . qui? or . . . qui est-ce que? Whom?/Whose?
Pour qui travailles-tu? or Pour qui est-ce que tu travailles? For whom are you working?

  EXAMPLES

À qui apportes-tu un cadeau?
À qui est-ce que
tu apportes un cadeau?
To whom are you bringing a present?

Chez qui dînez-vous samedi soir?
Chez qui est-ce que vous dînez samedi soir?

At whose house are you having dinner Saturday night?

Avec qui parle-t-elle au téléphone?
Avec qui est-ce qu’elle parle au téléphone?

With whom is she speaking on the phone?

ATTENTION
You cannot use the inversion “formula” and
est-ce que in the same question.

Example: Avec qui est-ce que voyages-tu?

B. Questions about things

These questions use Que, Qu’est-ce que (qui), and Quoi as shown:

Subject of a verb

Qu’est-ce qui? What?
Qu’est-ce qui tombe? What is falling?

Direct object of a verb

Que? or Qu’est-ce que? What?
Que fais-tu? or Qu’est-ce que tu fais? What are you doing?

After a preposition
(such as
à, avec, de, sur)

. . . quoi? or quoi est-ce que? What?
Avec quoi a-t-il or Avec quoi est-ce qu’il With what did he make
fait ce gâteau? a fait ce gâteau? this cake?

  EXAMPLES

Avec quoi écris-tu?
Avec quoi est-ce que tu écris?

With what are you writing?

De quoi parlent-ils?
De quoi est-ce qu’ils parlent?

What are they talking about?

Sur quoi êtes-vous assis?
Sur quoi est-ce que vous êtes assis?

What are you sitting on?

3. QUESTIONS WITH ADVERBS

Adverbs are also used to form questions. Do you remember these from Level One?

  EXAMPLES

Combien de pizzas peux-tu manger?
Combien de pizzas est-ce que
tu peux manger?
How many pizzas can you eat?

Comment va-t-on en France?
Comment est-ce qu’on va en France?

How do you go to France?

mets-tu les bagages?
Où est-ce que
tu mets les bagages?
Where are you putting the luggage?

4. QUESTIONS WITH ADJECTIVES

There is only one interrogative adjective:Quel.” Like all adjectives, it always agrees with the noun in gender and number.

  EXAMPLES

Quel animal mange du fromage?
What animal eats cheese?

Quels sont tes films préférés?
What are your favorite films?

Avec quelle amie est-ce que tu vas au concert?
With which friend are you going to the concert?

Quelle heure est-il?
What time is it?

Quel temps fait-il?
What is the weather like?

Quelles chaussettes est-ce que tu as achetées?
Which socks did you buy?