How to Ask Questions in French – Our Complete Guide
Do you fear asking questions in french? Well, you shouldn’t because this guide helps you make meaningful questions in French and also use them confidently.
Questions are one of the most important parts of any conversation. If your French vocab is limited, knowing how to phrase questions can help save you the awkwardness of silence.
In this article, we have come up with five easy ways of asking questions in French that boost conversations. Learn now.
Method 1: The EST-CE QUE method
Add est-ce que before starting any statement and turn it into a question. In English, Est-ce que means “is it that.” For Example:
Il est arrivé. – He arrived.
Est-ce qu’il est arrivé? – Has he arrived?
Tu connais John. – You know John.
Est-ce que tu connais John? – Do you know John?
Method 2: Using a statement as question
One of the easiest methods of asking questions in French is simply turning a statement into a question. All you need to do is change the way you ask. If you are making written conversations, add a question mark at the end. While such methods look informal, they are used to having conventional conversations. For example:
Il est parti. – He has gone.
Il est parti? – Has he gone?
Tu aimes lire. – You like reading.
Tu aimes lire? – Do you like reading?
Method 3: Using N’est-ce-pas or non in the end:
In sentences, when you are sure that the person will agree with your statement, use n’est-ce pas at the end. It’s the same as adding “isn’t it?” or “right?” after asking a question.
Similarly, there are ‘non‘ and ‘Hein‘. While non means “no” and can be used at the end of the sentence, Hein is used like “eh” in English. Let’s look at some examples:
Vous aimez les bonbons, n’est-ce pas? – You like candy, don’t you?
Elle est arrivée, n’est-ce pas? – She arrived, didn’t she?
Vous aimez les bonbons, non?– You like candy, right?
Vous aimez les bonbons, hein? – You like candy, eh?
Method 4: Using question words
One method of asking questions in French is using interrogative words. In this, the question words can be used at the beginning of the sentence or at the end. You can also use it either before est-ce que or before the inverted verb and the subject. Here are some examples:
When did you arrive?
Quand est-ce que tu es arrivé?
Quand es-tu arrivé?
Quand t’es arrivé?
T’es arrivé quand?
You can also put any question word before est-ce que to create another question, which answers more than simple Yes or No! (Follow the structure: Question word + est-ce que + regular statement)
Have a look at the common question words used in French
Combien means ‘how many’ or ‘how much’. When Combien is followed by a noun, you have to add preposition ‘de’ (of). For example:
Combien de fruits allez-vous manger? – How many fruits are you going to eat?
Combien de calories brûlez-vous en une journée? – How many calories do you burn in a day?
It means Why? For Example:
Pourquoi partez-vous tôt? – Why are you leaving early?
Comment means ‘how’ or sometimes ‘what’. For instance:
Comment le sais-tu? – How do you know?
Comment? – What?
Quand means When? Here’s the example:
Quand est-ce que tu rentres à la maison? – When are you going home?
Quand est-ce arrivé? – When did it happen?
Qui? Que? and Quoi?
Qui, Que, and Quoi mean Who, Whom, and What. You can use them for referring a person, thing, the subject, object, or as a preposition.
Here are some basic rules you need to know:
Qui – You can use this when talking about living things. Qui is similar to “who” (subject) or “whom” (object) in English.
À qui is used to mean “whose?” Example: qui est cette robe? (Whose is this dress?)
Method 4: QUI
Meaning Examples Meaning Subject qui?
qui est-ce qui?
Who? Qui vient?
Wui est-ce qui
qui est-ce que?
Qui est-ce que tu
can you see?
qui est-ce que?
De qui est ce
Pour qui est ce
À qui avez-vous
Who did you
to?, To whom
Que and quoi are used when you are talking about things and could mean “what?” The only difference is that you use quoi’ when it follows a preposition.
Quel, quels, quelle, or quelles?
Quel means who? what? or which? You can either use it with a noun or a pronoun. But, que and quoi can not be used together with a noun.
Here are other forms of quel:
- Quel (masculine singular)
- Quels (masculine plural)
- Quelle (feminine singular)
- Quelles (feminine plural)
Qui est ton poète préféré? – Who’s your favorite poet?
Quel club recommandes-tu? – Which club do you recommend?
Que portez-vous? – What are you wearing?
Lequel? laquelle? lesquels? and lesquelles?
Lequel means “which one?”; Here are other forms:
- Lequel (masculine singular) which one?
- Lequels (masculine plural) which one?
- Laquelle (feminine singular) which ones?
- Lesquelles (feminine plural) which ones?
Laquelle de ces valises est à Fred? – Which of these cases is Fred’s?
There are two different ways of saying ‘yes’ in French: for an ordinary question, you can say ‘oui.’ However, if there are any negative expressions in question, say quoi to ask ‘what?’. But, that will be considered as an informal answer.
Method 5: Forming questions by changing the order of the words
Inverting or changing the structure and verb is one of the fanciest ways of creating a sentence. You can call it a more formal method of asking questions. Simply place the verb before the subject and ask anything; for instance:
Tu aimes lire – You like reading
(In this, the subject precedes the verb)
Do you like reading? – Aimes-tu lire?
(Here, the position of the verb and subject is interchanged and linked by a hyphen).
In sentences where the tense contains more than two words, the verb that comes from être or avoir is interchanged and is placed before the pronoun. For Example:
As-tu déjeuné mon déjeuner? – Have you eaten my lunch?
Est-ce qu’elle s’est endormie? – Did she fall asleep?
Also, ‘t’ is used between the pronouns ‘Elle’ or ‘il’ and a verb when the verb is ending with a vowel. For instance:
Does she love the cat? – Est-ce qu’elle aime le chat?
We hope these five methods will help you frame better and quicker questions and have better conversations in French. If you still have any confusion, you may contact any online French tutor.