How to ask questions in French

How to ask questions in French | Complete guide for beginners

All you need to know about asking questions in French is right here.

Bonjour mes amis! If you are learning French and wondering how to ask questions in French, then keep reading this post...

My goal is to show you that if you apply all information presented here, then during your next trip to France, someone would tell you "Mon Dieu, tu es si bavard(e)! (My Gosh, you talk non-stop!) or "Tu es bavard(e) comme une pie!" (You are a true chatterbox!). This would be THE BIGGEST compliment:) granted that you are chatting in French all that time:).

There are 2 types of questions in French:

  1. General question is a question that requires answer Yes/Oui or No/Non.
    Example: Tu parles français? Oui/Non. - Do you speak French? Yes/ No.
  2. Specific question is a question with a Question Word, such as Why, When, How etc.
    Example: Pourquoi tu etudies le français? - Why do you learn French?

There are 3 ways to ask a question (general and specific) in French:

The choice is yours… But for beginners, I would definitely suggest to form questions the easiest way, namely using the INTONATION.

#1 INTONATION

The EASIEST way to ask a question is to take an affirmative sentence and just use your intonation to transform it into a question, et Voilà! Well… of course, you also need to raise your eyebrows and may be demonstrate some other facial expressions to show that it’s a question:)

For example:
Statement:            Tu parles français. – You speak French.
Questions:            Tu parles français? – Do you speak French?

Statement:            Vous travaillez demain. - You work tomorrow.
Question:              Vous travaillez demain? – Do you work tomorrow?

#2 EST-CE QUE

Another way to form a question is by using “Est-ce que”. In fact, there is no exact translation for “est-ce que”, therefore just think about it as a way of letting people know that a question is coming up. You will keep same direct order of the words as in question with Intonation and just add est-ce que in the beginning. The advantage of using “est-ce que” is that it gives you an extra moment to compose your thoughts. And, of course, Est-ce que doesn’t change the meaning of a question.

For example:
Est-ce que tu parles français? – Do you speak French?
Est-ce que vous travaillez demain? – Do you work tomorrow?

#3 INVERSION

Reverse a position of a verb and a pronoun, like this: Parles-tu français? – Do you speak French?

We will discuss French Inversion Questions in more details in a separate post, but for now practice asking questions the easiest way (#1) so that you can start the conversation right away.
French question words

Help yourself by getting rid of helping verbs:

I am writing this post thinking about my student / friend / extremely talented, accomplished and beautiful person who is on her journey of learning French. We were practicing questions yesterday during our class and I though that this information will be useful to other people who are also working their way through learning process of this beautiful language.

Stop Looking for Helping Verbs

From my experience, in actuality, the most difficult part for beginners, especially if English is your first language is to STOP looking for HELPING VERBS (do, does, is, are etc). When you ask a question in English you need a helping verb, but in French, on the other hand, when you ask a question in present tense, you do NOT need any helping verbs. Compare these questions in English and French. It is important to realize that it is much easier to ask questions in French than in English!

Questions in French Examples:

Statement:          You speak French.            Tu parles français.
Question:             DO you speak French?    Tu parles français?

Statement:          He speaks French.             Il parle français.
Question:            DOES he speak French?    Il parle français?

Statement:         We are speaking French.    Nous parlons français.
Question:           ARE we speaking French?  Nous parlons français?

Statement:         She is speaking French.      Elle parle français.
Question:           IS she speaking French?      Elle parle français?

Now, please tell me if it can be easier than this? Do not overthink it, just make a statement and show with your intonation that it’s a question. DONE.

French Question Words:

Now, what happens if you are a curious person and would like to ask more specific questions? 🙂 Good news, it’s still super easy to do in French! And I will show you in a second how to do it.

So, let’s be curious! Let's see how we can ask all kinds of specific questions to keep the conversation going. Let’s take one phrase as an example and see how many questions we can come up with.

Examples of Questions With French Question Words

Le jeudi je joue au tennis avec Michel dans le parc Etoile.
On Thursdays, I play tennis with Michel in park Etoile.

Qui joue au tennis?                         Who plays tennis?
Avec qui tu joues au tennis?          With whom do you play tennis?Qu’est-ce que tu fais le jeudi?      What do you do on Thursdays?
tu joues au tennis?                     Where do you play tennis?
Pourquoi tu joues au tennis?         Why do you play tennis?

There are couple more very common question words to use:

Comment tu joues au tennis? Bien? - How do you play tennis? Well?
A quelle heure tu joues au tennis? - At what time do you play tennis?
Depuis quand tu joues au tennis? - Since when do you play tennis?

Quel, Quels, Quelle, Quelles

In addition, there are also questions which are using Interrogative Adjectives, translated as which / what in English. In French we have 4 forms of these adjectives, you choose one based on gender and number of a noun it comes with:

Quel             (masculine, singular)         Quelle (feminine, singular)
Quels            (masculine, plural)            Quelles (feminine, plural)

For example:
Quel sport tu aimes?            Which sport do you like?
Quels livres tu aimes?           Which books do you like?
Quelle musique tu aimes?    Which music do you like?
Quelles voitures tu aimes?    Which cars do you like?

Et maintenant au travail! (And now let’s work!)

If you would like to work on everything that you have learned here, then please email me nk@multilingualsociety.org and I will send you a work sheet to practice asking questions in French or you can register to our next session of FRENCH classes.

Have an amazing day!
Natacha

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “How to ask questions in French | Complete guide for beginners”

  1. Denise-Marie Nieman

    Parfait ! You are a gifted teacher…you always try to keep things simple for us, especially for us over-thinkers. 🙂 . Merci bien !!

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