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!