Monika wrote:Can someone explain me when to form questions "question word est-ce que subject verb?" and when to use the short "question word verb-subject?"
E.g. Why is it: Qu'est-ce que c'est?
But: Qui est-ce?
Somewhat different: Why is it Comment tu t'appelles? and not Comment est-ce que tu t'appelles?
(Note there is typically a space before a question mark
There are indeed several ways of constructing the same question:
1 - with no subject/verb inversion, only intonation makes it different from a statement (except maybe the presence of a question word). This is the least formal form, and I probably use it 90% of the time in my everyday speech
. This is not something we normally write, except on informal media like the xkcd forum. Also the question word may appear at the end of the question (so you can either say Comment tu t'appelles ?
or Tu t'appelles comment ?
~ but I'd rather be asked the former
2 - with no subject/main verb inversion, and this "est-ce" thing that somehow makes the question grammatical. I think I only use it when I am not satisfied with the other two forms, and in a few idiomatic phrases (such as Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
). People who start learning French may prefer this form in informal speech, because you don't need to have the intonation right to make your sentence understood as a question (I mean in questions with no question word, such as Est-ce que tu as faim ?
~ if you say Tu as faim ?
instead, you need to have the right intonation).
3 - with plain old subject/verb inversion, as I think you do in German: Comment t'appelles-tu ?
, Qu'as-tu fait aujourd'hui ?
, etc. This is the preferred form when writing in a moderately (or more) formal context. I think it is acceptable in almost every context, but people will more naturally use the other two. Also I think it is less unnatural in open questions (Comment vas-tu ?
) than in yes/no questions.
(As a side note, the form one should use has little to do with politeness - you can ask a stranger first form questions, even though you call them "vous". A few days ago I asked someone who had witnessed an accident Vous pourriez me donner votre nom ?
Also, your question makes me see that all question words are not born equal in that regard.Re: Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
This strikes me as an idiomatic phrase, something we say all the time. But if you want wild guesses for reasons... First "que" is special because you can't use it as a question word in the first form (you don't say
Que c'est ?
C'est que ?
, possibly for phonetic reasons). You could use "quoi" instead : C'est quoi ?
Quoi est-ce ?
sounds really wrong, and
isn't said either, although I find it funny to say I would spell it Kwoitesse ?
Also C'est quoi ?
may sound more demeaning than Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
, so we use either depending on context.Re: Qui est-ce ?
This is quite idiomatic too, but if you want wilder guesses
... Qui est-ce que c'est ?
is grammatical, but very long, as you have noticed. So we would be tempted to say it pretty fast (as we often do with est-ce questions). But then Qui est-ce
might sound pretty much like Qu'est-ce
, which would make the question ambiguous.
Unlike "que", "qui" can be used in the first form: Qui c'est ?
or C'est qui ?
.Re: Why is it Comment tu t'appelles ? and not Comment est-ce que tu t'appelles ?
I think Comment tu t'appelles ?
is natural, and I would feel no need to use a longer form in most contexts. Saying Comment est-ce que tu t'appelles ?
is possible but very unlikely.
Maralais wrote:langage familiale
Cathode Ray Sunshine wrote:Guys, I need something explained to me. When to use Qui and when to use Que. The way a friend told me, is that Qui is used when the action falls on the same subject, as opposed to Que which is for indirect subject? I need it explained with details please.
It would help if you were more specific. I suspect your friend meant Que was for direct objects, and that would be in relative clauses.
Let us take an example : The spy who loved me
. Who is the subject of its relative clause, and the French is L'espion qui m'aimait
Que would be used as a direct object: The spy whom I loved
-> L'espion que j'aimais
Qui can also be an indirect object: The spy to whom I gave candies
-> L'espion à qui j'ai donné des bonbons
Cathode Ray Sunshine wrote:Regarding my de vs du question from a while back. Why is it that countries like Chad and Burundi are République du Burundi and République du Tchad respectively and not de Burundi and de Tchad? and why is Côte-d'Ivoire called République de Côte-d'Ivoire and not du Côte-d'Ivoire? I remember someone a while back saying that for instance, if you said de Quebec, it means Quebec city, while du Quebec means Quebec province, so du is use for a wider geographical space, so I wonder why it's not the same for all.
I was reading an article yesterday in French and I noticed that when they mention countries, they always include the article, as opposed to just mentioning the country's name, which gives me a bit more insight as to other mistakes I was making.
As I suggested in an earlier post (about en/dans), we use articles when mentionning most countries and provinces. La France, l'Allemagne, le Tchad, le Burundi, le Québec, la
Côte d'Ivoire, la Chine (mais Madagascar et Hawaï). We don't about cities. So Je vais au Québec
(la province), Je vais à Québec
(la ville). Most European French speakers aren't conscious of this, and many don't know there is a city named Québec.
So, the country of Tchad being called le Tchad
, it's only natural to say République du Tchad
. I don't know why we say République de Côte-d'Ivoire
République de la Côte-d'Ivoire
, but it seems to be all about the article used when referring to the country.