"Que vois-je ?"

Translation:What do I see?

1/9/2013, 1:06:57 PM

90 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/mfricke

'what am I seeing' is presumably fine

2/7/2013, 10:59:49 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Xiuhtecuhtli
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Yes, and it's a more natural English phrasing than "what do I see". Should be accepted.

3/1/2013, 10:41:15 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/mvpapad

I couldn't agree more

10/20/2013, 4:48:47 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/icdcom

So is "what am I looking at?"

6/12/2014, 11:51:43 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Algaenon

That would be "Que regarde-je ?"

2/25/2016, 7:59:20 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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It should be "que regardé-je ?" (with an accute accent on the -e-).

But because it is nearly unpronounceable, even with the -é- sound, the other interrogative structure is used instead: "qu'est-ce que je regarde ?"

2/26/2016, 10:39:07 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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Yes and yes!

Using the past participle is an attempt to make it less of a tongue twister, but this does not really help.

Note that, as a consequence, the "qu'est-ce que" formula will be used with all 1st group verbs with "je" as an inverted subject pronoun.

2/26/2016, 4:49:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/simpy3
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It's okay but technically, it's not "more natural" or precise. "What I am seeing?" implies surprise whereas "what do I see?" is closer to the original sentence because it's generically inquisitive.

9/19/2014, 5:46:09 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/IngridSchuler

I was surprised too that "what am I seeing" was marked as incorrect.

12/23/2013, 12:16:03 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Ratizi
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I believe so as well

4/23/2013, 10:13:36 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Maxseptillion77

To give some grammatical justification: there is no difference technically in the morphology of French language for a continuous/progressive grammatical aspect unlike in English. Therefore, this answer (with (and usually without) context) could be both "What am I seeing" or "What do I see." Although, if one would be saying the formality of "que vois-je" versus the more natural/common "qu'est-ce que je vois," then it would be more justified, but in that case, that should be noted on the translation. In this case without context or a clue given that it should be the more formal translation into English (ignoring the more "natural" reason) as well as the fact that morphologically, there is no progressive/continuous aspect in French where the context would give it away as opposed to English, the answer ought to be both "What do I see" or "What am I seeing."

8/21/2015, 4:59:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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Hi there, sorry for my previous snap comment.

Could you please edit your previous comments with French written in full, because the elisions you make (c'que - j'vois - j'mange) are not proper French, but transcriptions of spoken language?

Thank you!

8/31/2015, 12:59:12 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Well, to emphasise Present Continuous, French does have the "En train de" tool.

8/21/2015, 1:10:15 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/PatrickJaye

@Maxseptillion

The reason that "what am I seeing" is not accepted as correct has nothing to do with the formal vs natural.

It is that in English "to see" is a stative verb and is not normally used in an English continuous tense. This is discussed further in this thread so I won't repeat the full argument here.

8/31/2015, 10:11:43 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Maxseptillion77

Now that I think about it, you're right XD. Though, that was my automatic reaction, the "what am I seeing," I see what you mean given "I see that," "I see you," etc. I see your case ;).

C'est un peu embrouillant le traduction de français à anglais parce que il y a des idée qui ne bien traduisent pas en anglais et vice versa (je connais pas le mots pour "vice versa" en français, s'il existe). Je connais pas bien le syntax ni le traduction correcte de français ;-;.

9/1/2015, 7:25:19 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"Traduire du français en anglais est un peu déroutant parce qu'il y a des idées qui ne se traduisent pas bien en anglais et vice versa. (...) Je ne connais pas bien la syntaxe française correcte."

"vice versa" is a latin phrase that is also used in French [vee-seh ver-sah].

9/2/2015, 9:23:02 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Nicola526448
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For anyone wondering, it isn't accepted because 'see' is a stative verb in english and is unable to be used in the progressive tense in the meaning expressed here.

And, yes, I'm sure that's very surprising to a lot of people. I didn't know anything about stative verbs before I started studying French either! Two language lessons for the price of one ;-)

4/5/2018, 2:22:10 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sharondubai

I am an English teacher and "what am I seeing?" is a perfectly correct question in many contexts. It is very frustrating to be informed (regularly) by a French language system, that I don't know how to speak English! Please change the parameter of this response to include the answer as a correct one. :)

12/1/2013, 7:01:44 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Hi Sharondubai. I agree with you and would learn from you as learning French has shown up my lack of knowledge of my own; English. I hasten to add that my response to Stephaneforgeron was a sarcastic.reference to the structure of his sentence in quotes and not a disagreement with it. (Just in case you thought that it was).

12/1/2013, 1:42:13 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DuFarge

This isn't a 'pretty' sounding phrase (rofl). Can't one say: Qu'est-ce que je vois?

3/30/2013, 6:09:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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The sounding of it is rather a matter of taste, so you can say "qu'est-ce que je vois ?" if you prefer that sound.

3/30/2013, 7:22:49 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/palufi

No, it isn't a matter of taste, it is a matter of your style and register (linguistic level). "Que vois-je" is the most elevated way to ask a question

5/30/2013, 7:56:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DuFarge

Interesting. I'm also using three college texts to study french and, in each book, when discussing the various ways to ask questions, directly state that first person singular is seldom inverted.

8/19/2013, 11:36:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ProfesorAntonnio
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quelle mauvaise prononciation! je comprends rien!

8/19/2013, 12:28:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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je NE comprends rien...

8/19/2013, 11:52:31 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/ProfesorAntonnio
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In everyday speech "ne" is omitted. ;0)

8/19/2013, 3:10:30 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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I am the guardian of good French, did not you know that? ;-)

Edit (thanks Jackjon): did you not know that?

8/19/2013, 3:40:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

The sitesurf speaks. You are a treasure, for France and French surely a national treasure. Now I am going to tip-toe into your space and hope to hold on to my courage here. I am really scared. Here goes... sitesurf... "Did you not know that" works better in English.

12/9/2013, 9:24:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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You see, my English needs help from kind learners like you... I am grateful.

12/10/2013, 1:07:29 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

@Nzchicago. Even more bizarre yet mate. The English language has some tricks up its sleeve. The contraction of "Didn't you know that" is Not of Did Not you know that because that is very awkward. It skews around. It is a contraction of Did You Not know that. ....Language, eh? With respect, JJ.

4/25/2016, 7:03:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

True, but isn't "Didn't you know that" what most people would actually say? And that's a contraction of "Did not you know that" ! Bizarre.

4/25/2016, 6:02:05 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

Then there is "Didja not know that?" :-)

4/25/2016, 11:16:46 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/ProfesorAntonnio
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Thanks for the advice.

8/19/2013, 3:42:31 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DuFarge

In everyday speech, perhaps, but we're writing, not speaking.

8/19/2013, 11:37:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Stephaneforgeron

I see a cat. I see a dog. If I ask you: What am I seeing? that is a perfectly grammatical statement in the context of the sentence.

11/4/2013, 4:44:14 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Hmmm, "that is a perfectly grammatical statement"...... Hmmmm

11/22/2013, 7:27:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/P.Salamander

"Perfectly"???

12/14/2014, 11:05:06 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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"perfectly" is an adverb, modifying adjective "grammatical"

12/14/2014, 11:06:14 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/P.Salamander

All I mean is that "that is a perfectly grammatical statement" does not sound natural. I would think "perfect grammatical statement" fits better.

12/14/2014, 11:14:09 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Yup. My point posted above (sarcastically).

12/14/2014, 5:15:49 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/metastaseis

Why doesn't it sound natural? Perfectly here means entirely, completely (see second entry here: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/perfectly). It's perfectly acceptable, and perfectly natural, to say "perfectly grammatical", in my view.

1/16/2015, 5:36:04 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Thank you Metastaseis. I'm happy to learn, and have studied the link. Could the structure play an important part here? it seems that there is some debate over the usage. C.E.M.Joad's book (out of print now) "How to Write, Think and Speak Correctly" delineates Perfectly from Perfect in usage and raises more than one school of thought here. In retrospect, I think the two sentences would be: "That statement is in perfect grammar". But another way would need "That is a perfectly grammatical statement", confirming your (and Sitesurf's) point. I stand corrected and thank you for your interest and time.

1/16/2015, 7:48:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

The latter sounds far less natural to me. Unless you insert a comma after perfect, then it's a bit better.

4/25/2016, 6:04:31 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveBlack1

Couldn't make out what was spoken. I thought she said 'voyage'

2/20/2014, 3:40:37 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/CalliZowie

This English answer is so odd that it sounds gramatically incorrect. The English context would likely translate to "Qu'est-ce que je regarde?" in French or the French context would translate to "What am I looking at?" or "What am I seeing?" in English (neither accepted). I'm thinking this sentence is counter-productive ;-)...

10/26/2018, 2:40:18 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/johnjohnmaddog

"What am I finding?" vs "What am I seeing?". I can understand why 'finding' could be used but is the latter a legitimate, and more correct, translation?

1/9/2013, 1:06:57 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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If you want to be straightforward, you will get back to the meaning of " voir" which is "to see". so, either you use the simple present "what do I see," or the continuous present "what am I seeing?" "Find" is "trouver" so there is no point.

1/9/2013, 3:24:37 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Chimica
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So then why is "What am I seeing?" marked incorrect?

2/3/2013, 4:28:30 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
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Not sure why djami_duo is being downvoted. She is spot on. "To see" is a non-progressive verb. You can't use the continuous aspect with its first (sensory) meaning. "I am seeing someone" means that you are meeting or dating someone, not that you see him/her. http://esl.about.com/od/grammarintermediate/a/noncontinuous.htm

@djami: have an upvote from me :)

EDIT: While the rule I quoted above is the one you'll find in virtually all grammar introductions for students of English as a second language, using the progressive form of the verb 'to see' in the perceptional sense seems to be widely accepted (at least colloquially) among native speakers in certain situations. Just be careful about it. Thanks to all for the input!

8/19/2013, 3:47:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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I don't know about the grammar rules, and in general I agree with you and djami, but at least colloquially "What am I seeing?" works in the sense of "What the hell am I looking at?". You could also use it if someone asks you to describe your symptoms. "I have a fever and I'm seeing spots."

I found a link a while ago that presented some very rare exceptions to the rule that made me question my sanity and I had to confab with Soglio about it. I can't seem to find it, but I'll keep looking. For English learners though, I think the exceptions should be ignored as the tendency is to say things like "I am seeing the cat".

Kasra - put in 2 carriage returns, or leave 2 spaces after your sentence, then hit enter.

8/19/2013, 7:02:16 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kasra
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Huh, so you think it's a "rule" as well? To me, the "exceptions" are prevalent to the point of diminishing any notion of a rule. The way I see it, "I see ..." and "I am seeing ..." are both equally valid grammatically; they just happen to be used in different circumstances.

I agree with you in that English learners might not be able to judiciously differentiate different usages and connotations. Nevertheless, on Duolingo's "learning French from English" section (which is where we are having this debate) the presumption is that people are French learners, not English learners. So I still believe that, without context, "what am i seeing?" should be accepted, given its widespread [(at least)] colloquial use in appropriate circumstances.

PS. thanks a lot for the pointer on carriage returns!

8/19/2013, 8:03:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
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Thanks to all for your input! I'm still a bit puzzled but clearly you're the experts here. So I'll change my comment.

8/20/2013, 6:58:53 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
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@Hohenems: I'd be very interested in that list of exceptions. Given the colloquial usage you mention, perhaps my "You can't use" is overly prescriptive. Let's soften it to "aren't normally used".

@kasra: I am not a native speaker, so my intution about how often this form is used may not be accurate. The google search shows indeed a lot of results but I'm not yet sure what to make of it. It's been quite some time since I've learned the rule in my English class, so it may very well be that grammar has evolved meanwhile and I'm not up to date at least with the colloquial usage. I do know that the progressive form is sometimes used as a kind of intensifier. I checked some other grammar guides on the internet and they all more or less say that these verbs aren't normally used with the continuous aspect. Some concede that there are exceptions, though. But they don't provide a deeper discussion.

However, the downvotes for djami are out of place.

8/19/2013, 8:51:48 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
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8/19/2013, 11:26:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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I was taught that although a number of verbs are not to be used in the progressive form (see, like, love, hear, hate, dislike, prefer, want), the case you describe with "what the hell am I looking at?" demonstrates a form of emphasis (surprise, non commitment on a "simple present", for ex) at a precise time.

One of my favorites quotes is: "I am loving you so very much indeed!" (more or less: this is what I feel at this very moment, but I don't promise anything for the future...).

8/20/2013, 11:31:45 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Chimica
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"What am I seeing?" is definitely most used in English. No one would say "what do I see?" It just feels awkward to me as a native English speaker. It's perhaps strange because we say "what do you see?" and "what do they see?", but I can't remember ever hearing someone say "what do I see?"

8/19/2013, 11:51:58 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kasra
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Are you sure about this wataya? I can imagine plenty of situations where "to see" can be used progressively, at the very least colloquially. (and I am indeed talking about the sensory meaning here. Google "i am seeing." Seeing is believing ;-) ) also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EACPizg3G7E Same goes for a lot of other verbs they list in the page you linked. I'm not sure what their reference is; but I'm pretty sure many of those can also be used continuously. Without proper context, "what am I seeing?" should be accepted as a correct answer, IMHO. There's even a photography blog titled "what am I seeing?" : http://what-am-i-seeing.blogspot.com/

8/19/2013, 5:50:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kasra
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sort of. The "enter key" is the physical key on the keyboard. Carriage return (usually together with Line Feed) is how the effect of the key is encoded into ASCII (code 13 I believe) (or similarly in Unicode, etc). Computer programs interpret this code to mean the start of a new line. For some reason, Duolingo is not processing this code "correctly."

8/19/2013, 10:01:23 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kasra
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On an unrelated note, how do I get Duolingo to acknowledge my carriage returns in comment fields? It keeps ignoring them; but seems to be working fine for you...

8/19/2013, 5:53:14 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesB84
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What are carriage returns? Typewriters had them, but I am unfamiliar with that term for keyboards.

Are you talking about the "enter" key?

8/19/2013, 9:50:51 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/djami_duo

Thank you @wataya :)

11/23/2013, 8:57:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/djami_duo

in English there are some verbs that we can't use in continuous like see.

4/4/2013, 10:37:34 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Really? We English can confuse too, you know. We have "I saw stars" and "I was seeing stars". And "I'll see him then" and i'll be seeing him then" "I see bluebirds" and "I am seeing birds of blue" and in divorce cases "He was seeing somebody else". All tenses included here and well mixed up.

12/9/2013, 9:34:57 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/djami_duo

We are learning with you :) anyway i have learned that from native english teachers. thank you Jackjon.

12/10/2013, 8:20:29 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnLinda

I think "What can I see?" is an equivalent of "what do I see?" yet it was marked wrong.

2/25/2014, 7:35:55 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Hi Steve. No, not really. What one "can" see is not necessarily what one "does" see. "Can you see that?" "No, I dont... wish I could but I do not see it." To get boring..."Can" is a modal verb which is positive="I can do this" and also negative "This can have no future". Further Cannot=Impossible... Do not=Possible but shall not. Academics Can, and sometimes Do go on all night about what one Can Do. Honestly,"Can" and "Do" are dogs who sleep in the same kennel but they are very different dogs.... one a wolf the other a retriever. :)

2/25/2014, 10:03:10 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/IngridSchuler

Very entertaining grammar lesson! Thanks!

2/26/2014, 1:26:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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Yep, worth a lingot!

2/26/2014, 3:40:16 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/IngridSchuler

True ;)

2/26/2014, 8:18:29 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/lolo5lolo

Why in the "je" we don't here the "e" but only "j" ?

8/20/2014, 10:13:42 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Yeah, lolo, not fair. The French people will just hit the "J" at the end of this phrase. "Kuh Vwahge" It just is the way it is.

8/20/2014, 10:38:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/lolo5lolo

So how can we know when it's just "J" or "je"

8/22/2014, 10:59:50 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Through acquaintance and memory. Eventually we just know that the "Je" at the end of this phrase ends in "e". I suggest that because of the structure of this sentence, (reversing Je Vois as Vois-je to turn a statement into a question) leads to the merging of the two words til they sound as one and that is just the French way for this one. When written, though the "e" must be there. (I don't know of any french word spelled"J" nor any which ends in the letter "J".

8/22/2014, 1:12:47 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/lolo5lolo

Thanks! very helpful

8/23/2014, 10:32:57 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/David.Lizant
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"what am I looking at" it would be more English, I think.

10/10/2014, 12:32:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DongWookKi2

How to "verbally" differentiate between "que vois-je?" And "que bois-je?"

11/15/2014, 4:20:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
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The sound V is very soft (upper teeth hardly touching lower lip) while sound B is produced by pressing your lips first (think of "baby").

Now, maybe you could try to hear other voices pronouncing those two words, side by side, with forvo.com or acapela-group.com or even Google Translate.

11/15/2014, 11:56:45 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Vnucko7
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What's the difference between "Quoi" abd "Que"? Thank you for answering

2/13/2018, 10:20:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

As an interrogative pronoun, use que when you are using inversion or with est-ce que. Otherwise use quoi.

Que vois-je?

Qu'est-ce que je vois?

Je vois quoi?

2/14/2018, 12:23:12 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jackjon

Also, Vnucko, Quoi=What and Que=Than

2/14/2018, 12:53:10 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

Que only means than when used as a conjunction, usually in a comparison (plus que moi), which is not the case here. Might be confusing here?

2/14/2018, 3:26:01 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/skye42715

The expression "What am I seeing?" would be quite normal for most native English speakers.

9/9/2018, 8:45:08 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/yodadister2dn

I agree with the others

9/19/2018, 2:35:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Philip244849

I was also marked wrong for, "What am I seeing?". The consensus seems to be that this is OK. Does Duolingo follow these threads and act on them?

11/8/2018, 5:10:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Jack971299

Sort out audio please!

1/10/2019, 6:36:58 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SmileyFaceOrg

FYI Jack Skellington's song "What's this" is translated to be "Que vois-je" in the French Version

1/22/2019, 7:51:36 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkCreed

'What am I seeing' is the correct English

2/23/2019, 8:13:02 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/RobynCooga
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The full speed female voice sounds like peut vois-je. But the turtle speed was much clearer.

3/10/2019, 9:12:21 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/tccango
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Sitesurf said to use the "qu'est-ce que" formula with all "first group verbs." Can anyone tell me what "first group verbs" are? Thank you!

3/16/2019, 9:48:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/nzchicago

First group verbs are those that end in -er.

This relates to the difficulty of pronouncing questions using inversion with "je" if the verb is from the first group. The examples Sitesurf was responding to was "Que regarde-je?" Too hard to say; you would put the verb into the past participle form, or even better you would use Qu'est-ce que.

3/16/2019, 10:09:56 PM
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