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"What does it consist of?"

Translation:Ça consiste en quoi ?

January 4, 2013



Still maintain that ''de quoi consiste-t-il'' is an acceptable translation for ''What does it consist of''. I have never, in my entire francophone life in Québec heard someone ask ''en quoi consiste-t-il'' when they were asking, say, ''what are the ingrediants of this stew?''

That may just be a regional peculiarity, and then again I may just be making this up, but I think I need a bit more elucidation regarding the pourquoi of it all!!! (thanks. really!!)


I realize I did not answer about "what are the ingredients of this stew ?"

  • En quoi consiste ce plat ?
  • Il consiste en deux ingrédients principaux: ...

  • En quoi consiste ton mot de passe ?

  • Il consiste en 7 signes, 3 lettres et 4 chiffres.

  • En quoi consiste la campagne publicitaire ?

  • Elle consiste en une combinaison d'annonces dans la presse et d'affiches extérieures.


This is extremely helpful. Thank you for your time here.

On the Ideas and concepts plane, I completely understand your point and will adopt it. (edited to add: even though, on rereading your examples, they mostly all seem very foreign and ''wrong'' to me)

I do have to say however, that when talking of physical objects (ie. potatoes and carrots), I would most probably still continue (outside of Duolingo, of course) with 'de quoi', given that the answer here would always be ''¨Ça consiste des patates et des carrotes, etc.¨' and even ''il consiste de deux ingrédients principaux''.

Now. That said, I have just looked for supporting evidence on the internet and have come up empty handed.

My unilingually-francophone neighbour, on the other hand, agrees with me.

Vive le français Québecois!!! :-)


You and your neighbor are not imagining things! http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/fra/ae/demande/droit_responsabilites.shtml, http://www.canadavisa.com/fr/proving-french-language-ability-tef.html and loads of other examples on googling Quebec "consiste de"


With these official sources linking to usage of 'de' one wonders of Duolingo should start allowing it? Or is it a policy that Québecois not be taught or accepted?


This is what our Larousse says:


  • Reposer sur quelque chose, résider dans quelque chose : En quoi consiste mon erreur ?


  • Consister en (+ nom) : le mobilier consiste en un lit et une armoire.
  • Consister dans (+ nom) : « le bonheur consiste [...] dans l'exercice de nos facultés appliquées à des réalités » (H. de Balzac). Cette construction est littéraire et légèrement vieillie.
  • Consister à (+ infinitif) : son travail consiste à accueillir les clients.

In other words, "consister de" is not even an option in France's French.


Thanks for this discussion. Occasionally the duolingo answers seem completely and utterly wrong to me, and I can't figure out why. I had considered the possibility that it is because I've mostly been exposed to Canadian French (I'm an anglo New Brunswicker), and it's nice to get some verification that I'm not just pulling my answers out of thin air - they did come from somewhere (even if Duolingo and Sitesurf consider them wrong).


Sorry, "de quoi consiste-t-il ?" is not correct.

Verb "consister" needs "en" not "de".

In English "consist of" may have pushed our Canadian cousins to change the preposition?

"En quoi consiste-t-il/elle ?" is the right question to know about the details of a new concept/idea.

The trick is with the answer (the dialogue is a bit silly, sorry) with a new change of preposition if the object is an infinitive verb:

  • J'ai un plan pour acheter de bons légumes.

  • En quoi consiste-t-il ?

  • Il consiste à les acheter directement à la ferme.


With the inverted construction, can the "en quoi" come at the end? Thanks


Thanks so much - very clear


That's interesting, Delle. Thanks for sharing! In my line in Paris I heard the flipped structure all the time... dit-il, doit-it, consiste-t-il


"De quoi consiste-t-il" is COMPLETELY INCORRECT. Just think about French language that it is that way : "What does it consist in?" and not "What does it consist of?". We say "en" in French (which would be "in" in English if you want a literal translation).It is not because "of" means literally "de" in French that it shall be translated like that in French. Remember that languages aren't built the same way so literal translation shall not work in any case.


'Consiste de' just feels right to the native English-speaker. My hint to eradicate 'de' and implant 'en:' See 'consiste' and think of the English word 'consistent' -- 'consiste' consistENtly requires 'en.' Convoluted yes, and when I have the verb construction down (per Sitesurf above), I will, of course, discard this particular set of language training wheels...


"De quoi contient-il" why is this a wrong answer?


consists =/= contain


Is it correct to say " de quoi consiste-il?"


No it is not, the preposition is not the same in French.

Consister en = consist of

Another tranlation: "En quoi consiste-t-il ?"


But why doesn't de = of in this particular case?

There are french verbs/phrases like "parler de" (to speak of) and "en effet" (in effect) who have de meaning of and en meaning in.

I think that's where the confusion lies.


That shows it is not automatic that "in" translates in "en" or "to "in "à". You have to memorize the construction of verbs and expressions by themselves.


What about "En quoi consiste ça ?"?


If you use familiar "ça", you will also use the informal interrogative structure:

  • ça consiste en quoi ? / en quoi ça consiste ? = en quoi cela consiste-t-il ?


Why is qu'est-ce qu'il consiste wrong? Is it a sentence fragment? Or should en quoi always be used when asking for what something consists of?


Could you share rules about when to use the cidilla mark below a "c" as in "Ca" ? Thanks


A cedilla attached to a C will allow to pronounce that letter as an S in front of the following vowels: A, O, U.

  • "ça" is the abbreviation of "cela", so it is logical that it keeps its S sound, that is natural in "cela".
  • un garçon -> masculine of "garce" which is ancient French for "girl" (same reason as above)
  • une gerçure (skin cracking) -> substantive of verb "gercer" (same reason as above)


why 'que ça consiste?' is wrong?


What you propose is a fragment, not a full sentence.

if you want to ask what something consists of, you use "consister en":

  • en quoi cela consiste-t-il ? (formal)

  • en quoi est-ce que cela consiste ? (standard)

  • ça consiste en quoi ? (relaxed/oral)


Could use say "est-il en quoi?"


Back translation: is it in what?


I have problem with "en quoi" and "de quoi " ;(


It depends which preposition the verb is constructed with:

  • de quoi est-il fait ? from "fait de" (made of)
  • en quoi consiste-t-il ? from "consister en" consist of)


I tried "qu'est-ce que ça consiste en?" Which was corrected to "en quoi est-ce que ça consiste ?" Pourquoi?


You have already understood that word order is not always the same in Fr. In this case, prepositions are not words you can end a sentence with.


I thought that might be it. We have that same rule in English, in theory, though we tend to ignore it. So literally (just because it helps me to remember the construction), it is "Of what is it that it consists?", oui?


Oui. My definition was a half-joke actually, borrowed from what we learn about English. However, never will we push a preposition away from the object.


Ah, mockery of the English and all their silly rules :) But if that was a joke, then I'm back to not understanding why my attempt was wrong.

What do you mean "never push a preposition away from the verb"? Isn't that exactly what is done in this sentence? The verb (consiste) is at the opposite end of the sentence from the preposition (en).


Sorry, lapsus calami...

I edited the above... away from the 'object':

  • à quoi penses-tu ? à quoi tu penses ?
  • avec quoi écris-tu ? tu écris avec quoi ?
  • de quoi as tu besoin ? tu as besoin de quoi ?



Ah... the object... je comprends

[deactivated user]

    I get that you can't end a sentence with "en" but why can't I use Qu'est to begin at all here? For example, why can't it be "Qu'est ce qu'il consiste" instead of "En quoi est-ce qu'il consiste?"


    Because "qu'est-ce que" is used only when the verb is directly transitive.

    If the verb is constructed with a preposition, you have to place the proposition upfront and change "que" to "quoi":

    • qu'est-ce que tu dis ? = what are you saying? - dire qqch
    • de quoi parles-tu ? = what are you talking about? - parler de qqch
    • à quoi penses-tu ? = what are you thinking of? - penser à qqch
    • en quoi cela consiste-t-il ? = what does it consist of? - consister en qqch


    In your third paragraph in this post you use dire and parler but I do not see those words or meanings in your translations which follow your use of those verbs. VERY confusing. Can you please explain? Thank you!


    "tu dis" is simple present, because continuous present does not exist in French. Therefore both "you say" and "you are saying" translate to "tu dis" in French.

    Same story with "tu parles" = you talk / you are talking.


    Does it have to be "Ça consiste en quoi" and not "Ce consiste en quoi"?


    "ce", as a pronoun, is hardly ever used out of "c'est" and "ce sont".

    As subject demonstrative pronouns of other verbs, you have to use "ceci, cela or ça" to mean this/that

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