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"What do I drink?"

Translation:Que bois-je ?

January 13, 2013



Interesting. My answer "Quoi bois-je?" was marked as wrong, but then one of the provided answers was "Je bois quoi?". I thought that those question constructions are the same. Can someone provide an explanation if there's really a difference between the two?


"Quoi bois-je ?" is definitely wrong, even though French people will understand what you mean, it's very bad French.

"Je bois quoi ?" is not strictly perfect French, but these kind of constructions are used a lot in common French, and that's why it's accepted.

  • "On fait quoi aujourd'hui ?" = "What are we doing today ?"
  • "Tu manges quoi ?" = "What are you eating ?"


It should be "Que" not "Quoi", "Quoi" is used when you do not have a direct object while "Que" is used when you do have a direct object. At least that's how I understand it. Luckily I have a very similar rule in my native language so it was easy for me to understand.


Ahm, this may be a stupid question, but why is "que je bois?" wrong. And when can i know, when to write the ver first and the the pronoun with a "-" or just plain normal pronoun verb construction?


As far as I know, there are three possibilities for this question. 1 "Qu'est-ce que je bois?" 2 "Que bois-je?" 3 "Je bois quoi?" I'm sure that if I have this wrong, someone will soon correct me, but I think I have it right. I hope that is at least a little helpful. :)


Thanks for the feedback. I know that it is a different question, 'What does he owe?' as opposed to 'What do I drink?'. I was curious about why duolingo accepts that question structure for 'combien devoir ...?' but not for 'que boire....? . You say that 'Que bois-je?' is less usual, more literary. Is it also more literary, less ordinary, to ask, "Combien doit-il?" as opposed to "Combien est-ce qu'il doit?", or are these both in common usage in everyday spoken French. Maybe that is why duolingo accepts 'Combien doit-il?', but not 'Que bois-je?' ?


No, "Combien doit-il ?" is not used in common French either. We would use "Combien est-ce qu'il doit ?" or even more likely "Combien il doit ?".

I can't say why Duolingo accepts this kind of construction in one exercise and not in another, but if you use the report function, I guess it'll be changed.


What I want to know is when a hyphen is expected, why isn't it provided? On my pad, when that type of sentence structure is given, it is impossible to insert one.


Could "Que bois je?" work here?


Yes, "Que bois-je ?" works, but is very literary. If you want to talk normally, it would be "Qu'est-ce que je bois ?".


I'm just curious why that is though. After the first lesson, why should I use "Que" at all if this is the case. Thanks in advance.


You don't have to use it. Just as you don't have to use "Qu'est-ce que...".

It's just that if you want to adapt the way you express yourself to the situation in which you communicate with others, you need to know both. As I said, "Que ..." is literary, so if you write a letter, or an email addressed to an administration or any other kind of formal communication, you might want to use it.

In the other hand in common French, you might want to use "Qu'est-ce que..." to avoid weird looks and/or jokes.


Why do they like 'Combien doit-il?' , but not 'Que bois-je?' ? Is it simply a normal usage issue, in which case fair enough. Just curious. :)


?? Are you sure you didn't confuse with another exercise ? "Combien doit-il ?" has nothing to do with drinks or drinking. It means "How much does he owe ?" (to someone).

As for "Que bois-je ?", please read my previous comments.


Where is the 'do' in this sentence? Translated literally it means 'What is it what I drink?' How do you get to "What do I drink?" from that?


You're trying to translate literally. It doesn't work this way.

"do" is a verb used for a lot of things in English, and you won't find its equivalent all the time in other languages. The reason is that other languages don't use the same kind of constructions to make the same sentence.

In French from English, you'll often have "What do ..." translated with "Qu'est-ce que ...".

"What do you think about him?" = "Qu'est-ce que tu penses de lui ?"

"What do you want?" = "Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?"

"What does he usually eat?" = "Qu'est-ce qu'il mange d'habitude ?"


You're also forgetting that que can mean what or that. So what is it that I am drinking is the closest thing to a literal translation. But that's a little clunky to say in English.


Correct solutions: Qu'est-ce que je bois ? Q̶u̶e̶ ̶j̶e̶ ̶b̶o̶i̶s̶ ? Que bois-je ? Je bois quoi ?


No, "Que je bois ?" is incorrect French.

[deactivated user]

    Can someone please break down the "Qu'est-ce" bit? I know I should learn it as a whole but I would really like to know what it actually means.


    "qu' " is the contraction for "que" (because "est" starts with a vowel), literally it means "what".

    "est" is the verb "être" (to be), and literally means "is".

    "ce" literally means "this/that".

    If you insist on finding a literal translation, it could be something like "what is that...", but it makes no sense to do so, because it'll never be translated this way.

    "Qu'est-ce" is almost always followed by "que", and is translated by "what auxiliary (to do or to be)" in English.

    • Qu'est-ce que je mange ? = What am I eating?

    • Qu'est-ce que tu veux ? = What do you want?

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