There are five main ways to ask questions in French. Today we're going to cover all of them - with example sentences! As you know, questions are an important part of everyday French speech. Using these tips, plus reading up on how to sounds more fluent, can enhance your conversations in French.

How to ask questions in French

How to ask questions in French

We're going to start with yes-no questions then cover more advanced, open-ended questions.​

1. Adjust your intonation


In both French and English, you can make any statement into a question by simply raising the tone of your voice near the end of the sentence. This is known as an inflection.

Look at the difference between these two sentences in English. Say them out loud for the full effect:

You're 21.

You're 21?​

In French, we do the same thing:

Tu es prof.

You're a teacher.​

Tu es prof ?

You're a teacher?

Il habite à Paris ?

He lives in Paris?

Inflection is one of the easiest ways to make questions in French. We use it everyday, so abuse this method!

2. Using Est-ce Que


Another common way of asking questions in French is by using the phrase est-ce que at the start of the sentence (pronounced ess-uh-kuh or ess-kuh). I find this to be the second easiest method, after adjusting your intonation.

Est-ce que vous aimez le livre ?

Do you like the book?​

Est-ce que tu vas aller à la plage ?

Are you going to go to the beach?


Be careful! Est-ce que abbreviates to est-ce qu' before a vowel. 

Est-ce qu'elle apport les billets ?

Is she bringing the tickets?

Est-ce qu'il y a des bonbons ?

Is there candy ?

3. Subject-verb inversion


In French if you switch the normal position of the subject and the verb, you'll make a question. You see this a lot in formal writing but you'll also hear it used from time to time.

Aimez-vous le livre ?

Do you like the book?​

Manges-tu la viande ?

Do you eat meat?


If the 3rd person singular (il / elle/ on) of a verb ends with a vowel then you must add a "t" to help the pronunciation.

Cherche-t-il sa sœur ?

Is he looking for his sister?

Y a-t-il des bancs au centre ville ?

Are there any banks downtown?

This method may be a bit harder for beginners to grasp. If that's the case, just keep practicing!

4. N'est-ce pas ?


The last way to make a yes-no question in French is by adding the phrase n'est-ce pas to the end of a statement (pronounced nes-pa). An equivalent to this in English is by adding the word, "right?"

On va aller au cinéma, n'est-pas ?

We are going to the movies, right?​

While this method is common, try not to use it too much! Imagine someone adding "right" to the end of every question they asked you in English. It quickly becomes annoying.

5. Open Ended Questions


Now that we covered yes-no questions, we'll move on to asking open ended questions in French.

Open ended questions will give you longer answers and more information. To ask these questions, we need to review French question words.

Qui

Who

Que / Quoi

What

Where

Quand

When

Comment

How

Pourquoi

Why

Combien

How much

So how do you use these question words to make correct speech?

Place the question word before est-ce que

Remember the est-ce que method we talked about before? Use it here but now with the appropriate question word.

Quand est-ce que nous allons au Japon ?

When are we going to Japan?

Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?

What do you want?

Use inversion

Before inverting the subject and the verb, you'll add a question word.

Quand partons-nous ?

When are we leaving?

Comment t'appelles-tu ?

How do you call yourself? (aka, what's your name)

Start or END your sentence with your question word

This is the most common way to ask a question in an informal setting.

Tu pars quand ?

When are you leaving? (literally: you leave when?)

Tu fais quoi ?

What are you doing? (literally: you do what?)

Que fais-tu ?

What are you doing? (literally: you do what?)

Ça coûte combien ?

How much does that cost? (literally: that costs how much?)

Combien ça coûte ?

How much does that cost? (literally: that costs how much?)

Pourquoi tu fais ça ?

Why are you doing that?


Questions?

Feel free to comment below or share this article if it helped you out. Continue learning French with our other articles on how to learn French.

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