I put in: "what makes your future husband?" LOL!! To say you have a future husband doesn't necessarily mean that he has already been identified (e.g. someone may decide that they will get married some day even though they don't know who it is yet/even if they're not engaged). Either way you cut it, this is one weird sentence!!
In general, using inversion to ask a question means the verb appears before its pronoun and the two are connected by a hyphen.
Boivent-ils du lait ? - Do they drink milk ?
However, when the subject is a noun phrase (i.e. not a pronoun), it may be inverted directly with the verb without a hyphen if:
• the question word is short, such as où, que, etc.
• the subject noun phrase does not clash with the object (see Note 1)
Où travaille ton père ? - Where does your father work ?
Que veut dire ce mot ? - What does this word mean ?
Que fait votre tante ? - What is your aunt making ?
This type of construct cannot be used when inversion would put noun phrase subject and object next to each other
Où votre père prend-il sa voiture? - Where is your father taking his car ?
Thank you! This clarifies things.
But I'm still wondering: was my original answer ( "Que ton futur mari fait-il ?" ) wrong? Or should it have also been acceptable?
In relation to that, would it also be correct to phrase your examples this way?
Où ton père travaille-t-il ? - Where does your father work ?
Que ce mot veut-il dire ? - What does this word mean ?
Que votre tante fait-elle ? - What is your aunt making ?
I believe that's the kind of French inversion for questions that I learned in the classroom. Not that classroom French is always the best French.
I am not sure.
To help, consider the following three points:
When asking a question with what as either the subject or object, the French equivalent is the interrogative pronoun que. As the object of a question, que may be followed by either inversion of a verb or est-ce que
Que veux-tu ? Qu'est-ce que tu veux ? - What do you want?
qu'est-ce que nous pouvons faire? - What can we do?
when what precedes a noun, the correct translation is always quel(s) / quelle(s).
Quelle robe vas-tu porter ce soir? - What dress will you wear tonight?
Quelle heure est-il ? - What is the time?
Quel livre veux-tu ? - What book do you want?
Quels trains vont à Paris? - Which trains go to Paris?
Usually, inversion cannot be done when the subject is a noun like la fille or a name like Julie. To get round this you simply add the subject pronoun to the sentence while the noun or name sits at the beginning of the sentence. Here’s how to proceed.
Step 1 - Leave the original noun subject at the beginning.
Step 2 - Find the subject pronoun that matches the noun.
Step 3 - Do inversion between the subject pronoun and the verb (be sure to add a hyphen).
La petite fille veut un vélo - The little girl wants a bicycle
La petite fille veut-elle un vélo? - Does the little girl want a bicycle ?
Marie joue du violon. - Marie plays the violin.
Marie joue-t-elle du violon? - Does Marie play the violin?
Ce fruit est bon. - This fruit is good.
Ce fruit est-il bon? - Is this fruit good?
Le match finira tard. - The match will end late.
Le match finira-t-il hard? - Will the match end late?
Thanks. Good to be reminded of those. But I don't think those are the rules relevant to the examples we're considering. In Point 3, for example, the new examples you gave are all questions fermées, yes/no questions that don't use question words, but in fact what we're considering now has to do with questions ouvertes (W/H questions).
For some reason, I couldn't find anything on this rule online — at least on English-language French language learning websites. So I had to take a look at my old French textbook. A chapter on inversions in the interrogative says this:
Avec les noms, on utilise un pronom de rappel : - Où vos amis vont-ils ? - Où Paul va-t-il ?
This seems to me to be the exact same structure followed by the previous examples I gave. - Où ton père travaille-t-il ? - Que ce mot veut-il dire ? - Que votre tante fait-elle ?
And also, the original formulation I gave which was marked wrong but I think should be marked correct: - Que ton futur mari fait-il ?
As I said, I didn't find anything on this rule in French language learning websites, but I did find this on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/French/comments/1tf0ss/asking_questions_with_a_name_proper_noun/
In it, a commenter said the correct way to ask "Où est-ce que ton père travaille?" in inverted form is "Où votre père travaille-t-il ?," the same form I've been talking about.
Thanks for that research. Looks like question structures can be quite tricky.
Maybe it works for interrogative adverbs such as où but according to point 1 of my post it doesn't appear to work for the interrogative pronoun que
Perhaps a native French speaker will join our discussion and put us straight.