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When do you use est-ce v. when do you use qu'est-ce?

I am not making the connection here. Sometimes you need the que and sometimes you don't. Any light you can shed will be appreciated. Merci d'avance.

August 29, 2015



It's not that hard. You can imagine the « qu' » as a short version of « quoi » (what).

"Est-ce ..." means "Is this... ?" while "Qu'est-ce ..."means "What is this... ?"

Examples :

Est-ce ta fille ? (Is this your daughter ?)

Est-ce vrai ? (Is this true ?)

Qu'est-ce que c'est ? (What is this ?)

Qu'est-ce que tu fais ? (What do you do ?, as a good way to ask "What is it that you do" ?)


I thought "qu'" is the short version of "que"?


It is. But it feels like it would be easier to understand my point is I said "quoi" instead of "que". I said "You can imagine", because it's something you can do to help yourself but which is not 100% correct.

"Que" and "Quoi" are quite similar, but "Que" is more of a tricky word. If i say "Est-ce que tu vas bien ?" (Are you allright ?), you have a "que" inside, but it don't really means "what". But "quoi" in an question will always means "what". (unless i'm wrong - I don't have any example in mind where "quoi" doesn't means "what".)


I hope I'm not too late but:

Qu'est que is used in questions that say 'what'. For example: Qu'est ce que tu manges? = What did you eat For example: Est-ce que tu manges? = Do you eat?

Est-ce que could be used for other things besides 'do' you eat. For example: Est-ce que tu content? = Are you happy?

Hopefully that helped! I took French for 4 years in school, hopefully some of it stuck in my mind enough to help you!


Thanks. The more ways people can explain it, the more it will hopefully stick in my brain.


I think the notes in the question skill covers that quite well:



Thank you for the link.


A question starting by 'Est ce que' is a close question. You have only 2 options, yes or no. A question starting by "Qu'est ce que" is an open question and you need to give a more detail answer. I hope this helped :) Starting a question with Est ce que is more formal and more polite. To help you understand the tricky French grammar and practice conversation you can book a French tutor. You can also check out this very good instagram page for lots of useful content to learn French : french_tropics :)

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