How To Ask A Question In French (Open + Closed) | Language Atlas (2023)

How To Ask A Question In French (Open + Closed) | Language Atlas (1)

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In this grammar lesson you will learn how to ask a question in French.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • how to ask closed questions in French
  • how to ask open questions in French
  • sentences that show how to ask a question in French
  • how you can quiz yourself on how to ask a question in French
  • how to practice with flashcards on how to ask a question in French
  • how and why you should use the courses of Language Atlas to learn French

Please refer to the French A1 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about this fits in French A1.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about how to ask a question in French!

Table of Contents

Introduction

In this lesson I will teach you how to ask a question in French.

Both closed and open questions will be handled.

With closed questions, the other person can only reply with a yes or no.

With open questions, the other person has a wide (open) range of replies.

You will also learn which ways of asking questions are informal, and which ones are formal.

This lesson serves as an overview of how to ask a question in French.

You can always come back to this if you are unsure as to how to ask a question in French!

Closed Questions

There are 4 ways to ask a closed question in French.

I am going to take three normal sentences and turn them into questions with each of the 4 ways.

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At A1 level, you only need to know the first three methods, and be able to recognise the fourth one.

Without further ado, here are the 3 sentences.

Tu aimes les voitures.

You like cars.

Il parle espagnol.

He speaks Spanish.

Vous lisez des livres.

You read books.

Use intonation

The first method is simply to raise your tone at the end of a sentence.

It’s really that simple.

In informal situations, it is sufficient to inflect at the end of the sentence to turn a sentence into a question.

Tu aimes les voitures ?

You like cars?

Il parle espagnol ?

He speaks Spanish?

Vous lisez des livres ?

You read books?

End with “n’est-ce pas?”

If you think the answer is going to be yes, then you can add “n’est-ce pas?” at the end of an affirmative sentence.

In English, the closest figure of speech to “n’est-ce pas” is “is it not“.

However, this can differ depending on the context.

Sometimes it can also be: “don’t you” or “haven’t you” etc.

This is used in informal situations.

Tu aimes les voitures n’est-ce pas ?

You like cars, don’t you?

Il parle espagnol n’est-ce pas ?

He speaks Spanish, doesn’t he?

Vous lisez des livres, n’est-ce pas ?

You read books, don’t you?

Begin with est-ce que

You can add “est-ce que” to the beginning of any sentence to make it a question.

The literally translates to “is it that“.

However, it’s best just to remember it as something that you can attach to the beginning of a sentence to make it a question.

This can be used in both informal and formal situations.

Est-ce que tu aimes les voitures ?

Do you like cars?

Est-ce qu’il parle espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Est-ce que vous lisez des livres ?

Do you read books?

Please note that que changes to qu’ if the following letter is a vowel or a mute h.

Use the inverted form

You can invert the verb and the pronoun to create an inverted question.

Generally this form is only used in writing and formal environments.

Aimes-tu les voitures ?

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Do you like cars?

Parle-t-il espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Lisez-vous des livres ?

Do you read books?

Open Questions

If you want to ask an open question, then you have to use a question word in your sentence.

In the table below you can find the most-used question words in French.

combienhow much/many
commenthow
where
pourquoiwhy
quandwhen
que/quoiwhat
quiwho

There are three sentences that will be shown for every method.

This way, you can see the differences between the methods.

Use intonation

You can use your intonation to form a question.

All you have to do is inflect at the end of the sentence.

This is used in informal situations.

Generally the question word will be found at the end of the sentence.

Tu as combien ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Vous voulez quoi ?

What do you want?

Ils sont ?

Where are they?

Begin with est-ce que

You will begin with the question word, and then place “est-ce que” after it to create a question.

This is used in both informal and formal situations.

Combien est-ce que tu as ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Qu’est-ce que vous voulez ?

What do you want?

est-ce qu’ils sont ?

Where are they?

Please note that “Quoi est-ce…” isn’t correct in French.

At the start of a sentence, you have to change quoi to que, or to qu’ if the following letter is a vowel or a mute h.

Use the inverted form

You can invert the verb and the pronoun to create an inverted question.

Generally this form is only used in writing and formal environments.

Combien as-tu ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Que voulez-vous?

What do you want?

sont-ils ?

Where are they?

Sentences Overview on How to Ask a Question in French

The final section of this lesson on how to ask a question in French is about seeing the questions in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on how to ask a question in French through examples.

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Closed Questions

Tu aimes les voitures.

You like cars.

Tu aimes les voitures ?

You like cars?

Tu aimes les voitures n’est-ce pas ?

You like cars, don’t you?

Est-ce que tu aimes les voitures ?

Do you like cars?

Aimes-tu les voitures ?

Do you you like cars?

Il parle espagnol.

He speaks Spanish.

Il parle espagnol ?

He speaks Spanish?

Il parle espagnol n’est-ce pas ?

He speaks Spanish, doesn’t he?

Est-ce qu’il parle espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Parle-t-il espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Vous lisez des livres.

You read books.

Vous lisez des livres ?

You read books?

Vous lisez des livres, n’est-ce pas ?

You read books, don’t you?

Est-ce que vous lisez des livres ?

Do you read books?

Lisez-vous des livres ?

Do you read books?

Open Questions

Tu as combien ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Combien est-ce que tu as ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Combien as-tu ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Vous voulez quoi ?

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What do you want?

Qu’est-ce que vous voulez ?

What do you want?

Que voulez-vous?

What do you want?

Ils sont où ?

Where are they?

est-ce qu’ils sont ?

Where are they?

sont-ils ?

Where are they?

Quiz Yourself on How to Ask a Question in French

At the end of every lesson you can do a small quiz.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want.

Next

How to Practice With Flashcards for This Lesson

Using flashcards is an absolute necessity when it comes to learning a language!

It is the best way to memorize what you learn, you can personalize your progression because it adapts to your actions, and all flashcards have audio to improve your hearing and pronunciation.

Please read our article on how to learn a new language for more information on flashcards and the best way to learn a new language.

There are two ways to practice with Flashcards for this lesson.

  1. Anki
  2. The Flashcards in our Courses

Anki is a free software with which you can create and practice flashcards.

After you have downloaded Anki for free, you can get our French A1 Anki Deck.

This Anki Deck contains 3,764 flashcards with which you can practice absolutely everything for French A1.

All the flashcards have text, images, explanations, and audio.

You can also use our courses that have flashcards integrated alongside lessons with audio, quizzes and much more!

However, I am sure you are wondering, what are your courses, and why should I take them?

The Courses of Language Atlas

Have you ever wondered what the best way is to learn a new language?

I have been learning languages for over 20+ years and I was always frustrated with books, courses, and classes that I had tried.

It never really seemed to work for me.

I wanted to learn a language in the most effective and efficient way, and there was nothing out there for me.

So I thought, “why not make something myself?“.

Using my experience and by doing research I created Language Atlas, a platform where people can learn French and Spanish in the most effective and efficient way.

I created free lessons and quizzes so that there would always be a easy and accessible way for people to learn or brush up on their language skills.

However, I also created courses that are much more comprehensive and in-depth.

These courses are easy to follow, clear, and allow you to become fluent in the most effective and efficient way.

The courses of Language Atlas have:

  • 800+ Lessons with audio
  • 800+ Quizzes
  • 10,000 Flashcards with explanations, images, and audio
  • A gamified way of learning a new language
  • A vibrant community (including support from me)

You can register for free and try the French A0/A1 and Spanish A0/A1 Courses for free!

This includes over 60 lessons and quizzes, 500 flashcards that adapt to how you learn, and access to the community (including support from me).

All you have to do is study 30 minutes a day and you will be fluent in no time!

Don’t miss out – register for free and start learning!

FAQs

What are the 3 ways to ask questions in French? ›

Asking questions
  • There are 3 main ways to ask a question in French: • Formal: (question word quand, où, etc) + verb + subject + ? ...
  • • Neutral: (question word) + est-ce que + subject + verb + ? Est-ce que vous connaissez Victor Hugo ? ...
  • • More informal: subject + verb (+ question word) + ? Elle travaille chez vous ?

How do you ask a formal question in French? ›

Inversion is the most formal way of asking a question in French yet it's still very much used, especially when using an interrogative expression. In inversion, you pretty much invert the subject verb order, placing the verb first. Pourquoi vas-tu à Paris ? = Why are you going to Paris?

What is the hardest tense in French? ›

6) Le subjonctif (The Subjunctive Tense)

This is notoriously one of the most difficult tenses for native English-speakers to learn.

Does What 3 words work in France? ›

American English: Words with variant spellings in British and American English are avoided, so you won't find “color” or “colour” in an address. French: What3words ignores accents as not everyone types them. This means it can't use words that are only differentiated by accents, such as côte and côté.

What are good French questions? ›

  • Où sont les toilettes ? (e) Where is the bathroom?
  • Comment vas-tu ? (e) How are you? ...
  • Comment t'appelles-tu ? (e) What's your name? ...
  • Quel est ton numéro de téléphone ? (e) What's your phone number? ...
  • Quel âge as-tu ? (e) How old are you? ...
  • D'où venez-vous ? (e) ...
  • Qu'est-ce que c'est? (s) ...
  • Qu'avez-vous dit ? (s)

What are the big 4 verbs in French? ›

Big 4 French verbs
  • etre = to be.
  • avoir = to have.
  • aller = to go.
  • faire = to do.

What are the 14 être verbs in French? ›

The following is a list of verbs (and their derivatives) that require être:
  • aller > to go.
  • arriver > to arrive.
  • descendre > to descend / go downstairs. redescendre > to descend again.
  • entrer > to enter. rentrer > to re-enter.
  • monter > to climb. remonter > to climb again.
  • mourir > to die.
  • naître > to be born. ...
  • partir > to leave.
30 Jan 2018

What are the two types of asking a question in French? ›

“Qu'est-ce que” and “Est-ce que” are frequently used in French to ask questions.

What's the easiest way to form a question from a sentence in French? ›

One of the most common ways to ask a question in French is to invert the subject and the verb in a sentence. Those questions can usually only be answered with yes or no. Manges-tu une pomme?

How many ways are there to ask a question in French? ›

There are three main interrogative pronouns in French, and they are qui (who or whom), que (what) and lequel (which one). Qui and que are fairly simple to use. Primarily, qui is used when the answer is going to be a person, and que is used when the answer is going to be an object or idea: Qui es-tu ? (Who are you?)

How can I improve my conversation in French? ›

Improve your French speaking skills in 10 steps
  1. Don't Study French in a stretch. ...
  2. Lock yourself in the room and talk to yourself in French in front of a mirror. ...
  3. Go on to listen to French audio anytime and anywhere. ...
  4. Switch on your TV to watch French game shows. ...
  5. Repeat or revise as much as possible. ...
  6. Read French out loud.
20 Nov 2019

How do you answer Bonsoir? ›

Answer and Explanation:

When someone says 'bonsoir' (pronounced: bohn-SWAHR), you can simply reply 'bonsoir' as well. Notice that this is the equivalent of 'good evening.

How do you answer yes or no in French? ›

For a short answer in French, your only options are oui (yes) and non (no). But you can add a few frills to that, like bien sûr (of course), or pas du tout (not at all).

Is Chinese or French harder? ›

We drew parallels between Chinese and German, French, Spanish, Italian and even English and we discovered that not only is the pronunciation of Chinese much simpler than French, but its grammar is also more straightforward and easy to learn than German, Spanish, Italian and English.

Is French tougher than English? ›

French is not as hard to learn as it is considered by most of the people, especially when compared to English. In fact, it is a language that's much easier to achieve fluency in than you'd have ever expected. English is inconsistent when it comes to pronunciation.

Is French tougher than Spanish? ›

Spanish is arguably somewhat easier for the first year or so of learning, in large part because beginners may struggle less with pronunciation than their French-studying colleagues. However, beginners in Spanish have to deal with dropped subject pronouns and four words for "you," while French only has two.

Do 30% of English words come from French? ›

In fact nearly 30% of all English words come directly or indirectly from French. The main influx of French words can be traced back to the Norman invasion of England in 1066.

Why do the French not have a word for 70? ›

In French, soixante (60) is the last iteration of ten to have its own word. Going higher, such as seventy is soixant dix (60-10), eighty is quatre vingt (4-20), 90 is quatre vingt dix (4-20-10). What's with this?

How many words do you need to be fluent in French? ›

It is estimated that you have to learn 5000 words to be fluent in French. Be selective and learn the 5000 most used words in French! Think about it. Some words are more valuable than others.

How do you start a French conversation? ›

1 – French Conversation Opening Lines

To start a conversation in French, talk about the place, the weather ask why the person is there – if you are at a party, how you know the hosts… then try to merge such a statement with a direct question. C'est joli ici : c'est la première fois que je viens ici, et vous ?

What is a famous French saying? ›

Mangez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup.

Literal translation: “Eat well, laugh often, love a lot.” Actual meaning: “Live life to the fullest” or carpe diem (“seize the day”). Use this positive French saying to console a friend that is having a hard time.

What are 3 greetings in French? ›

The most important French greetings include bonjour (hello), enchanté(e) (nice to meet you), bonsoir (good evening/hello), salut (hi), coucou (hey), Ça fait longtemps, dis donc (long time no see), Âllo (hello), Ça va? (how are you?), tu vas bien? (have you been well?), quoi de neuf? (what's up?), au revoir!

Is suis a verb in French? ›

In il/elle/on est form, the s is not pronounced. In the vous êtes form, the s is pronounced as a or z to link with the vowel ê in êtes.
...
2.4 The Verb Être.
PersonFrenchEnglish
1st personJe suisI am
2nd personTu esYou are
3rd personIl est Elle est On estHe/it is She/it is One/we is

What are the 17 irregular verbs in French? ›

Common Irregular French Verbs
  • Je vais. Tu vas. Il/Elle va. Nous allons. ...
  • J'ai. Tu as. Il/Elle a. Nous avons. ...
  • Je dis. Tu dis. Il/Elle dit. Nous disons. ...
  • Je suis. Tu es. Il/Elle est. Nous sommes. ...
  • Je fais. Tu fais. Il/Elle fait. Nous faisons. ...
  • Je peux. Tu peux. Il/Elle peut. Nous pouvons. ...
  • Je sais. Tu sais. Il/Elle sait. ...
  • Je vois. Tu vois. Il/Elle voit.

What tense is used the most in French? ›

Present Tense – le présent de l'indicatif

This is the verb tense that you'll use most of the time when you're speaking French.

What are the 20 most used verbs in French? ›

Master French conjugation: 20 Most widely used French verbs and their conjugation
  • Être (to be)
  • Avoir (to have)
  • Aller (to go)
  • Parler (to speak/talk)
  • Faire (to do)
  • Prendre (to take)
  • Vouloir (to want)
  • Savoir (to know)
12 Sept 2022

What are the 5 tenses in French? ›

Five past forms, which are imparfait (imperfect), passé composé (compound past), passé simple (simple past), plus-que-parfait (pluperfect) and passé antérieur (anterior past). Two future forms, which are futur (future) and futur antérieur (future anterior).

What is the difference between Qu est-ce que and Qu est-ce qui? ›

The Difference Qu'est-ce que vs Qu'est-ce qui

There are two variants of this question, one is qu'est-ce que, and the other is qu'est-ce qui. Que is used when talking about an “object”, while qui when talking about a “subject”.

What's the difference between Quel and Quelle? ›

-> Here the adjective quelle goes with personne (Which person?) ATTENTION: Quel is an adjective, so it agrees in number and gender with the thing/person it is used with ("quel", "quels", "quelle", or "quelles").

What is the 4 types of phrases in French? ›

4 Types of French Sentences. There are four types of sentences: statements, questions, exclamations, and commands. Below are explanations and examples of each type.

How do you ask a question in French est-ce que? ›

The phrase est-ce que is used to ask a question. Word order stays just the same as it would in an ordinary sentence. Est-ce que comes before the subject, and the verb comes after the subject. So to turn the sentence Tu connais Marie (meaning You know Marie) into a question, all you need to do is to add est-ce que.

What are some French sentence starters? ›

10 Simple French Sentences to Get Started with Basic Conversation
  • Comment vous appelez-vous? (What's your name?)
  • Enchanté(e)! ...
  • Je viens de… (I'm from…)
  • J'habite à… (I live in…)
  • Qu'est-ce que vous faites? (What is your profession?)
12 Apr 2022

Do French people say est ce que? ›

Though est-ce que is widespread in spoken French, it's much less common in writing because it's slightly informal. Remember that if you're in a formal situation, you should avoid it in favor of inversion.

What is v3 of ask? ›

Contact tutor. 6 years ago. Hi Li =) past participle of ask is asked.

What are the 3 verbs in French? ›

French verbs are conventionally divided into three conjugations (conjugaisons) with the following grouping:
  • 1st group: verbs ending in -er.
  • 2nd group: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -issant.
  • 3rd group: 1st section: verbs ending in -ir, with the gerund ending in -ant. 2nd section: verbs ending in -oir.

What are the three forms of imperative in French? ›

There are three forms of the imperative: tu, nous and vous. For all verbs, the imperative is formed by taking the corresponding forms of the present indicative, but without subject pronouns. The lack of a subject pronoun is what identifies the imperative mood.

How do you ask for something in French? ›

All together, it's Je voudrais ceci, s'il vous plaît. "I would like this, please." Je voudrais ceci, s'il vous plaît. Using Je voudrais to ask for something is rather polite, and it's commonly used in formal situations like restaurants, shops, etc.

What are the 17 être verbs? ›

allé, arrivé, venu, revenu, entré, rentré, descendu, devenu, sorti, parti, resté, retourné, monté, tombé, né et mort.

What are the 7 tenses in French? ›

French Indicative Verb Tenses
  • Présent (present) ...
  • Imparfait (imperfect) ...
  • Passé simple (simple past) ...
  • Passé composé (past perfect) ...
  • Futur simple (future simple) ...
  • Plus-que-parfait (pluperfect) ...
  • Passé antérieur (past anterior)
  • Futur antérieur (future anterior)
18 Sept 2020

What are the 4 moods in French? ›

There are four moods in French: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, and imperative. All of these moods, except the imperative, may be conjugated in different tenses.

What is tout bien ou rien? ›

: everything well or nothing : do it well or not at all.

How do you say je veux in French? ›

To express what you want, say je veux (pronounced: zhuh veuh), which means 'I want.

What is Batna in French? ›

BATNA = Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement, (French is MESORE (Meilleure solution de rechange à une entente négociée dans une situation donnée).

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