"Est-ce qu'ils mangent avec les filles ?"
Translation:Are they eating with the girls?
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It translates to:
- "Est-ce qu'il mange avec les filles"
- "Est-ce qu'il est en train de manger avec les filles." (since there is no progressive tense in French, "en train de + infinitive verb" is an idiomatic phrase that implies a progressive action).
"he" translates to "il" (3rd person singular masc.) "they" translates to "ils" (3rd person plural masc.) or "elles" (3rd person plural fem.)
Yes it is possible.
In French, there are 3 ways to ask a question:
1) Most formal: when the verb and the subject are inverted (the verb is in first position)
- Boit-il (...) ? = "Does he drink/Is he drinking (...)?"
Here, you have to put a hyphen between the verb and the subject in French.
2) Less formal: when the subject is in first position and the verb in second position
- Il boit (...) ? = He drinks/He is drinking (...)?"
3) Idiomatic phrase: "Est-ce que" (literally "Is it that"), or "Est-ce qu'" (before a vowel)
- Est-ce qu'il boit (...) ? = "Does he drink/Is he drinking (...)?"
In French, "fille" has two meanings:
- "girl", when the sentence is about a female child. Ex: "C'est une jolie fille." translates to "She is a pretty girl." In such case, "daughter" is NOT accepted on Duolingo.
- "daughter", when the sentence clearly implies a family connection between some parent(s) and the female child. Ex: "C'est notre fille." translates to "She is our daughter." In such case, "girl" is also accepted on Duolingo. Note that "fille" in the sense of "daughter" is often preceded by a possessive adjective (ma/ta/sa/notre/votre/leur).
You have to use the context to determine whether you should translate "fille" to "girl" or "daughter".
Basically, you need to know that "what" can be used in 2 (main) translations in French:
"What" in questions, as something you ask about. In French: "quoi" (in general) or "que" (when starting a question). Examples:
"What ???!! Could you repeat?" = "Quoi ??!! Peux-tu répéter?"
"What do you say?" = "Que dis-tu?" (note that "quoi" and "que" are total synonyms, you just don't use "quoi" alone before anything else when asking a question).
"What do you like eating?" = "Qu'aimes-tu manger?" (note that " Qu' " is just a "que" before a vowel sound).
"What are you talking about ?" = "De quoi parles-tu?" (here the question is "about something", i.e. "de quelque chose"; so "quoi" is not used alone but with "de" as equivalent to "about", hence not "que" but "quoi").
All those questions above in French are in a formal, literary way. Most people in everyday-life language would rather ask them with the gallicism "est-ce que...?" (as shown in this exercise on Duolingo), or simply by keeping it as a normal sentence and making it clear it's a question with the intonation:
"Quoi??!! Est-ce que tu peux répéter?" / "Quoi??!! Tu peux répéter?"
"Qu'est-ce que tu dis?" / "Tu dis quoi?" (you can again see here and in sentences below how "que" becomes "qu" before a vowel, or "quoi" when not starting the question)
"Qu'est-ce que tu aimes manger?" / "Tu aimes manger quoi?"
"De quoi est-ce que tu parles?" / "De quoi tu parles?"
Now, a second meaning is "what" in all sentences, as relative pronoun -- in French "ce que" (if "what" is the object) or "ce qui" (if "what" is the subject):
"What I think is personal" = "Ce que je pense est personnel"
"You can do what you want" = "Tu peux faire ce que tu veux".
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" = "Ce qui ne te tue pas te rend plus fort"
"This is what annoys me" = "C'est ce qui m'ennuie".
So in your suggestion, "ce qu'ils mangent avec les filles" can't be a question as it is a relative sentence, i.e. a sentence inside another one. If you want to make a whole sentence of it, there should be something else (e.g. "Ce qu'ils mangent avec les filles est délicieux"). And to make a question of it, what Remy suggested is correct.
Because that would mean something else.
You need to understand that, although "est-ce...?" equals "is it...?" in English, "est-ce que...?" shouldn't be literally translated and only be considered as a Franco-French way (i.e. a gallicism) to make a question. In other words, you could consider only what comes after the " que / qu' ", here being : "[...] Ils mangent avec les filles?" : "They eat with girls?", in correct English "Do they eat with the girls?".
But if you want to know the meaning underneath (cause they are not "just empty words"), "est-ce que...?" literally means "is it THAT...?", the word "that" having the same role more or less as in "I think that...", "The problem is that...". So, not as in "the man that I saw" or "cities that are sustainable". Rather, like when you say "It's not that I don't love you, it's just that my feelings have changed".
"Is it WHAT they eat with the girls?" means something else: you're not asking whether they eat with the girls, but you want to know if it is WHAT they eat with them.
So in French you would need to find/hear/say the "what", which in this case is "CE QUE": e.g. "What I like" = "Ce que j'aime", "What you think" = "ce que tu penses", etc.
Therefore, "is is WHAT they eat with the girls" would be "Est-ce CE qu'ils mangent avec les filles?". Yep, two "ce" one after the other. (But you won't be likely to hear that question that way, but rather with this form: "C'est ça / ce qu'ils mangent avec les filles?". You would use the affirmative form of "est-ce", which is "c'est", to avoid the reptition of "ce").
I do hear it.
But maybe you're confused because 'est' is actually just pronounced "È", i.e. as in the starting sound of letters like F, L or M.
The 's' sound that you hear here is actually the "ce", as in this case the final "-e" is mute.
"Est-ce que" is in fact pronounced [ESS-K-UH].
I totally understand your... distress, and as I wrote in the past, I'm happy French is my mother tongue (as opposed to not having to "learn" it, not compared to another language! :-)), but please...
this is a forum, often full and overloaded only with the questions and answers, including by those who didn't take the time to read the rest beforehand. I can imagine you want to "share" your point of view, but to what extent is it constructive, or even interesting for others ?!? You can't even finish your own sentence...
All languages are, in principle, more or less difficult and complicated when you start learning them as an adult, especially in such "unnatural" way. But in this case, seriously ? Madly difficult ??!! Come on, you just take ANY affirmative sentence (here: "Ils mangent avec les filles") and add the structure "Est-ce que" (qu' before a vowel), which you simply pronounce [ess - kuh / esk'].
This is in any case not more "complicated" than having to use "do" or "does" (see, already two different forms! lol) in English to make questions, and certainly not less logical (when you think about it, why use some other verb of action i.e. "to do", to make questions... not even ALL of them ?!?).
All is relative, and well, sorry again that you find it so complex, but you'll see... it's getting worse! ;-)