Complete guide: Ask questions in French
Hello! Bonjour tout le monde!
It's time for your French lesson! From your very first lesson of French, if you've had any, you had to learn how to ask a few questions. Basics being "what's your name?" or "How are you?". Today I want to share with you the best three techniques to ask a question in French.
1) Translate "Do you ... ?"
In order to translate a questions such as "Do you like to cook". You need to convert the English semi-auxiliary into the French "magic" question - structure, "est-ce que". It is impossible to give a proper idea of what that segment means by itself, but just keep in mind that is idiomatic of the French language and necessary in any "do-you" questions.
Do you like coffee?
=> Est-ce que tu aimes le café ?
Pretty simple, no?
A few more examples:
- Do you have a lighter? = > Est-ce que tu as un briquet ?
- Does he have a wife? => Est-ce qu'il a une femme ?
- Do they want a cat? = Est-ce qu'ils veulent un chat ?
2) WH- questions
Who = Qui
What = Que / qu'
When = Quand
Why = Pourquoi
Where = Où
How = Comment
How many / much = Combien
They are tools to introduce an open question requiring a specific information and not just a yes / no question.
Since "est-ce que" is the main structure for a regular level of communication (that is, not too fancy, not too thug), you're 95% likely to use your question word with it.
What do you want. = Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?
Where does he go? = Où est-ce qu'il va ?
When do we eat? = Quand est-ce qu'on mange ?
How much does it cost? = Combien est-ce que ça coûte ?
Exception: Most of the time we don't use "est-ce que" with "qui.
= Qui a faim ? Not "Qui est-ce qui a faim"
Just like in English, you can ask a question by reversing the subject and verb of a sentence.
You are hungry = Are you hungry?
Tu as faim. = As-tu faim ?
In French, it is less common, therefore, mainly use in the written language or for a fancy / polite conversation.
Is he sick? = Est-il malade ?
Are you English? = Êtes-vous Américain ?
4) The easiest way.
If you want to keep it simple, it is highly common, among friend or close relative, to simply add a question mark.
You are hungry? = Tu as faim ?
If people can hear your intonation rise to ask a question, they will understand that you are not simply stating "You are hungry". Be careful, this might work in an informal context but not when addressing a teacher, employer or in any written form, since it isn't grammatically correct. Keep it for chit-chat.
You have a dog? = Tu as un chien ?
She likes fruits? = Elle aime les fruits ?
You have money? = Tu as de l'argent ?
Here you go! You are now a master at asking anything you want, no matter the situation! Congrats!
If you have any suggestion, leave a comment below!