How to Ask Questions in French - Questions in French - Frenchplanations (2023)

Learning how to ask questions in French is for the most part quite easy. In many ways it’s actually easier to do than in English. In this guide we are going to not only talk about how to ask yes-no questions in French, but also how to ask what, who, how, how much, why, when and where questions.

Let’s first start by looking at the ways to ask yes-no questions in French.

How to ask yes-no questions in French

There are actually three main ways to ask yes-no questions in French. The first way is by adding est-ce que to the beginning of a statement. The closest equivalents to this in English are the words “do”, “does” and “did” which also turn a statement into a question. Take a look at the below examples to get a feel for how this works:

You speak French – A Statement

Do you Speak French?– A Question

He likes basketball – A Statement

Does he like basketball? – A Question

See how by just adding “do” or “does” to the beginning of a statement you change it into a yes-no question? Est-ce que works the exact same way except it doesn’t change based on who you are talking about. For example in English we say, Do you like pizza?”, but Does he like pizza?” if the sentence requires “he”, “she” or “it”. In French, est-ce que can be used in all of these instances.

Let’s look at the above sentences translated into French.

Tu parles français – You speak French

Est-ce que tu parles français ? – Do you speak French?

Il aime le basket – He likes basketball

Est-ce qu’il aime le basket ? – Does he like basketball? (Remember that because of the conflicting sounds of que and il they get combined to form qu’il.)

Contrary to the English words “do”, “does” and “did”, est-ce que can be used in pretty much any situation and tense. For example the words “do” and “does” CANNOT be used in the following sentences:

You would buy a carCORRECT

Do you would buy a car?WRONG

She will play guitar tomorrowCORRECT

Does she will play guitar tomorrowWRONG

It’s obvious that this doesn’t work in the above sentences and that in order to make them correct, you would have to invert the first two words (the subject and the verb) giving you, “Would you buy a car?” and “Will she play guitar tomorrow?” (more on this later.)

The great thing about est-ce que however is that it works even in these situations. Look at the translated sentences below:

Tu achèterais une voiture – You would buy a car

Est-ce que tu achèterais une voiture ? – Would you buy a car?

Elle jouera de la guitare demain – She will play guitar tomorrow

Est-ce qu’elle jouera de la guitare demain ? – Will she play guitar tomorrow?

See how easy this all is? You don’t even have to think of how to formulate the question or move words around, just stick est-ce que in front of it and you’re good to go.

Form yes-no questions using inversion

The second way to ask yes-no questions in French is with inversion. All this simply means is that you take the subject (I, You, He, She, They, etc..) and switch it with the verb. We do this a little bit in English but in French you can do it in pretty much any situation.

In order to better understand this let’s look at a couple of English sentences where you are able to use inversion to create yes-no questions as well as a couple where you cannot.

You can see the dog – Can you see the dog? CORRECT

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He would like to go to France – Would he like to go to France? CORRECT

He walks to work – Walks he to work? WRONG

They read books – Read they books? WRONG

See how all you have to do to make these sentences yes-no questions is a simple inversion? As you can see from the above examples this doesn’t work in every situation in English, but you should still be able to get a feel for how it will work in French.

Let’s now look at the same sentences translated into French.

Tu peux voir le chien – Peux-tu voir le chien? CORRECT

Il aimerait aller en France – Aimerait-il aller en France ? CORRECT

Side Note: When inverting the subject and verb you have to make sure to use a hyphen like in the above examples.

That’s all there really is to it. There are a couple more things we need to go over regarding inversion, but for the most part you’ll see it’s pretty straight forward.

adding t to il, elle, and on inversion

Because French is a language that is all about avoiding conflicting sounds we have to talk about the extra “t” that gets added when doing inversion with il, elle and on. Do NOT get this confused with the “t” that you see in sentences like « Je t’aime ».The “t” we are talking about here literally has no meaning and its only purpose is to make the sentence flow better.

An extra “t” is added when the verb that is being inverted ends in a vowel. Take a look at the below examples.

Elle parle français – Parle-t-elle français?

On a vu un oiseau – A-t-on vu un oiseau ?

Il marche jusqu’à l’école – Marche-t-il jusqu’à l’école ?

Elle range sa chambre – Range-t-elle sa chambre ?

If the verb already ends in “t” you don’t need to add another. Look at the sentence below.

Il voit une voiture – He sees a car

Voit-il une voiture ? – Does he see a car?

It’s important to remember that you can only do inversion with Je, Tu, Il/Elle/On, Nous, Vous, and Ils/Elles.

You can’t say for example « Voit-Pierre une voiture ? » You would have to say « Pierre, voit-il une voiture ? »

The last thing that should be mentioned regarding inversion is that it is more formal than the other methods of forming yes-no questions. Just keep that in mind when you’re in a conversation with someone and you’ll be just fine.

changing a statement into a question through inflection

Although asking yes-no questions in French isn’t that difficult to begin with, the last method is no doubt the easiest way (as well as the most informal.) All it involves is making a statement (without changing anything) and just putting an uptick at the end of it.

Let’s look at some examples.

Il fait froid – It’s cold out

Il fait froid ? – Is it cold out?

Tu veux aller à la plage – You want to go to the beach

Tu veux aller à la plage ? – Do you want to go to the beach?

How to ask what questions in French

Let’s start off with one of the more difficult types of questions on this list. Despite it being more difficult than the others, with just a little bit of practice you should have it down in no time.

To make things short, there are a few ways to ask “what” questions in French and typically revolve around que, qu’est-ce que or quoi. Let’s go over when and where to use all three.

Que is used before a question that uses inversion,

Que veut-il ? – What does he want?

Qu’aimes-tu ? – What do you like?

Que font-ils ? – What do they do? / What are they doing?

Que lisons-nous ? – What do we read? / What are we reading?

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You can also use que next to an infinitive (a verb that hasn’t been conjugated.) You’ll see this very often online especially when people are looking for answers to some sort of general question they have. If you’re having trouble understanding the English translations just think of the word “you” as “one” such as in the sentence “What should one do in Paris?”

Que faire à Paris ? – What should you do in Paris?

Que manger pour maigrir ? – What should you eat to lose weight?

Qu’est-ce que is used just like est-ce que in that it gets placed before a statement. The meaning however is the same as the previous examples involving que.

Qu’est-ce que tu fais ? – What do you do? / What are you doing?

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a à faire à Paris ? – What is there to do in Paris?

Qu’est-ce qu’elle mange ? – What does she eat? / What is she eating?

Qu’est-ce qu’ils écrivent ? – What do they write? / What are they writing?

Now let’s look at when to use quoi instead of que or qu’est-ce que. You’ll see in the below examples that quoi is used AFTER both the subject and the verb. The meaning however is the same as what we’ve already seen in the previous examples.

Vous dessinez quoi ? What do you draw? / What are you drawing?

Il y a quoi à faire à Paris ? – What is there to do in Paris?

how to ask who questions in french

Similar to how we ask “what” questions there are a few different ways to ask “who” questions in French. The first way is to use the word qui, which is very common, and the second way is to use qui-est-ce qui which is less common. The meaning between them however is the same. Let’s take a look at both of them in context.

Qui t’a appelé ? – Who called you?

Qui est-ce qui t’a appelé ? – Who called you?

Qui veut du fromage ? – Who wants some cheese?

Qui est-ce qui veut du fromage ? – Who wants some cheese?

Qui fait du bruit ? – Who is making noise

Qui est-ce qui fait du bruit ? – Who is making noise ?

Qui joue de la guitare ? – Who plays / is playing guitar?

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Qui est-ce qui joue de la guitare ? – Who plays / is playing guitar?

Let’s place qui next to an infinitive just like we did with que.

Qui inviter à son mariage ? – Who should you invite to your wedding?

Qui voir pour une entorse ? – Who should you see for a sprain?

How to ask how questions in French

Depending on how much experience you have with learning French you’ll know that the French for “how” is comment. Contrary to other kinds of French questions asking “how” is very similar to English. As usual, let’s look at some examples:

Comment vont tes parents ? – How are your parents? (You use the verb aller in this type of sentence, but comment is used the same way as its English counterpart.)

Comment tu trouves la France ? – How do you find France? (What do you think of France?)

Comment dit-on « bonjour » en italien ? – How do you say “hello” in Italian?

Comment est-il mort ? – How did he die?

Now let’s look at comment next to an infinitive.

Comment bien parler anglais ? – How do you speak English well?

Comment habiller un nouveau-né ? – How do you dress a newborn baby?

Comment conduire une voiture ? – How do you drive a car?

Comment écrire une lettre ? – How do you write a letter?

It’s important to remember that in any language it can be difficult to directly translate from one to another. For example, even though we’ve already gone over that the word comment is translated into English as “how” it doesn’t mean you can always use it in the exact same way as you would in English.

The sentence “How tall are you?”, for example, is actually translated as « Tu mesures combien ? » and doesn’t use the word comment at all. Having this said, if it still helps to remember the French word comment as the English word “how” then just stick with that.

How to ask how much questions in French

Now that we’ve already gone over how to ask “how” questions in French let’s change gears just slightly and go over how to ask “how much” in French. To make things simple the French word for how much is combien. However, if you are wanting to ask how much or how many of something you have to add the word de making combien de.

Combien de personnes habitent en France ? – How many people live in France

Il a combien d’argent ? – How much money does he have?

Nous avons lu combien de livres ? – How many books did we read?

Pierre a couru combien de kilomètres ? – How many kilometers did Pierre run ?

Let’s look at some sentences using just combien and not combien de.

Tu ne sais pas combien je t’aime – You don’t know how much I love you

Je te dois combien ? – How much do I owe you?

Combien ça coûte ? – How much does that cost?

Combien ils t’ont fait payer ? – How much did they charge you?

You can also use combien next to an infinitive just like with the others. As a reminder you’ll see this a lot online.

Combien économiser par mois ? – How much should you save each month?

Combien boire par jour ? – How much should you drink per day?

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how to ask why questions in French

Just in case you aren’t already aware, the French word for “why” is pourquoi (translated literally as “for what”.) Just like in English, in order to ask a “why” question in French just stick pourquoiin front of a statement. As usual let’s look at some examples:

Pourquoi aimez-vous la France ? – Why do you like France?

Tu as acheté un livre pourquoi ? – Why did you buy this book?

Pourquoi il est allé au magasin ? – Why did he go to the store?

Charlie boit du café pourquoi ? – Why does Charlie drink coffee?

Let’s look at pourquoi placed next to an infinitive.

Pourquoi acheter une voiture neuve ? – Why buy a new car?

Pourquoi manger de la viande ? – Why eat meat?

how to ask when questions in french

Let’s get right into things with this one. The French word for “when” is quand and it’s used similarly to how “when” is used in English. Take a look at the below examples:

Quand arrive le train ? – When does the train arrive?

Quand est-ce qu’on part ? – When do we leave?

Les prochaines élections sont quand ? – When are the next elections?

Quand se lève le soleil ? – When does the sun rise?

Now let’s look at quand next to an infinitive.

Quand partir en France ? – When should you go to France?

Quand acheter un billet d’avion ? – When should you buy a place ticket?

How to ask where questions in French

The French word for “where” is . Pay attention to the accent on the letter u because the word is literally the only word in the French language that has this. It’s actually pretty interesting that many keyboards have a key dedicated to this one accent. Just like most of the other types of questions we’ve gone over, asking “where” questions in French is anything but complicated. See the sentences below

Où vas-tu ? – Where do you go? / Where are you going?

Tu habites où ? – Where do you live? / Where are you living?

Il vient d’où ? – Where is he from?

Où est-ce que tu as recontré Tim ? – Where did you meet Tim ?

Now let’s place next to an infinitive and see what we get.

Où prendre sa retraite ? – Where should you retire?

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Où manger à Paris ? – Where should you eat in Paris?

There are so many different ways to ask questions in French and hopefully this guide helped you with a lot of them. What other ways to ask French questions do you know? Comment below!


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 ?

What are 10 examples of interrogative in French? ›

How to form an interrogative sentence in French ?
  • est-ce que ? (did/do ?)
  • qui ? (who ?)
  • pourquoi ? (why ?)
  • quand (when ?)
  • où ? (where ?)
  • comment ? (how ?)
  • quel/quelle ? (Which ?)
  • à qui ? (whom ?)

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.

Do we use 4 types of question forms? ›

In English, there are four types of questions: general or yes/no questions, special questions using wh-words, choice questions, and disjunctive or tag/tail questions. Each of these different types of questions is used commonly in English, and to give the correct answer to each you'll need to be able to be prepared.

What are the 4 main French verbs? ›

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

What are the 4 question words? ›

Question Words in English - Who When What Why Which Where How.

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 ?

How old are you French? ›

How old are you? (informal) – Quel âge as-tu ? How old are you? (formal) – Quel âge avez-vous?

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 17 verbs in French? ›

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

What is the most difficult French word? ›


Brace yourself: The hardest French word to pronounce is the word for locksmith – “serrurerie“. It was the most commonly repeated response.

What French word is used most? ›

The most commonly used words in French are: Oui (yes), non (no), merci (thank you), je (I), tu/vous (you), le/la/les (the), un, une des (a, an and some), le/la/les (it, them), et (and) and mais (but).

How do you start a question? ›

Questions that cannot be answered with "yes" or "no" usually begin with an interrogative adjective, adverb, or pronoun: when, what, where, who, whom, whose, why, which, or how.

How do you ask a basic question? ›

100 Getting to Know You Questions
  1. Who is your hero?
  2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
  3. What is your biggest fear?
  4. What is your favorite family vacation?
  5. What would you change about yourself if you could?
  6. What really makes you angry?
  7. What motivates you to work hard?

How do you ask a question in a sentence? ›

Direct questions within a sentence

When a direct question occurs within a larger sentence, it takes a question mark. Note that in the examples below, the question mark supplants the comma that would syntactically belong in its place.

What are the 7 types of question? ›

Let's start with everyday types of questions people ask, and the answers they're likely to elicit.
  • Closed questions (aka the 'Polar' question) ...
  • Open questions. ...
  • Probing questions. ...
  • Leading questions. ...
  • Loaded questions. ...
  • Funnel questions. ...
  • Recall and process questions. ...
  • Rhetorical questions.
23 Oct 2018

What are the 5 questioning techniques? ›

5 essential questioning techniques for legal professionals
  • #1 Open-ended versus closed-ended questioning.
  • #2 Funnel questioning.
  • #3 Asking probing questions.
  • #4 Asking leading questions.
  • #5 Asking rhetorical questions.
12 Aug 2016

What are the top 20 French verbs? ›

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

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.
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 6 question types? ›

Use this citation format: Asking Questions: Six Types.
  • “Do you agree …?”
  • “What do you think about …?”
  • “What is the most important …?”
  • “Place the following in order of priority …”
  • “How would you decide about …?”
  • “What criteria would you use to assess …?”

What are the 6 main question words? ›

The words are Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. These posters give simple definition of what is required to answer these question starters.

How can I speak French very fast? ›

10 tips to learn French fast
  1. Watch films. Watching films in French with French subtitles is one of the best ways to learn. ...
  2. Learn with songs. ...
  3. Read. ...
  4. Find a partner. ...
  5. Don't be scared to try and make mistakes. ...
  6. Listen! ...
  7. Practice. ...
  8. Sign up for an intensive course.
12 Aug 2016

How can I improve French speaking? ›

10 Ideas to Improve Your French Speaking Skills
  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

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!

What are the 100 most common words in French? ›

100 most frequently used French words
  • le (det.) the; (pron.) him, her, it, them.
  • de (det.) some, any; (prep.) of, from.
  • un (det.) a, an; (adj., pron.) one.
  • à (prep.) to, at, in.
  • être (verb) to be; (noun [m. ]) being.
  • et (conj.) and.
  • en (prep.) in, by; (adv., pron.)
  • avoir (verb) to have; (noun [m. ]) assets.

What are the 15 verbs in French? ›

15 Common French Verbs
  • Être – To Be. No one will argue that the verb être (to be) is the most common verb in the French language. ...
  • Avoir – To Have. ...
  • Faire – To Do, To Make. ...
  • Dire – To Say, To Tell. ...
  • Aller - To Go. ...
  • Pouvoir - To Be Able To. ...
  • Vouloir - To Want. ...
  • Devoir – Must, To Have To.
9 Feb 2022

Do you have a boyfriend in France? ›

Ou, avez-vous un petit ami?

What is her name French? ›

Comment s'appelle-t-elle ?

How is my little girl in French? ›

How's my little girl? How's my little girl? Salut, ma chérie !

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 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 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 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 are the 4 tenses in French? ›

There are 8 different verb tenses in the indicative mood: présent (present), imparfait (imperfect), passé simple (simple past), futur simple (simple future), passé composé (perfect), plus-que-parfait (pluperfect), passé antérieur (past anterior), and futur antérieur (future anterior).

What are some 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'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?

What are 20 examples of imperative? ›

Examples of Imperative Sentence
  • Bring me a glass of water.
  • Don't ever touch my phone.
  • Give me a pen and a pencil.
  • Play with intensity and courage.
  • Remember me when we are parted.
  • Never forget the person who loves you.
  • Take a step and don't move.
  • Don't be excited about everything without reason.

What are 10 example of imperative? ›

How do we use an imperative sentence?
example contextpositive
schoolNow wash your hands!
airplanePlease remain seated until the seatbelt sign is off.
hotelKindly help yourself to fruit.
friendsPlease be waiting when we arrive.
2 more rows

What's your name French? ›

If you'd like to say “What is your name?” in French, you generally have two options. To pose the question formally, you'd say “Comment vous-appelez vous? Speaking informally, you can simply ask “Comment t'appelles-tu?”

Why do you ask me in French? ›

Pourquoi vous me demandez?


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