"elles" is the pronoun matching "chaussures". because it is an interrogative form, you need to repeat the subject by the matching pronoun and by switching it with the verb.
Other form: "est-ce que tes chaussures sont blanches ?"
Actually, the most common form is simply to imply the question in your tone: "Tes chaussures sont blaches?". I promise. Starting with "est-ce que..." comes close though. But definitely the "verb + subject" or "subject+verb+pronoun" are formal, academic, unnatural forms, used at school, in literature, in official speeches, etc.
Hey, hey, I get your point, and indeed it's important to know the base, the formal standards, and not only colloquial aspects of a language. But let me remind you I answered this question by Julie above: "Which form above is used more in conversational french, I'm curious?" Besides, knowing this is as important as knowing the "wanna" or "gonna" forms in English: unless this have now changed or you have a "cool" teacher, we don't learn that at school. And yet, these are very common in English, so a learner suddenly "out in the real life" doesn't understand something which is, actually, quite basic ("Ain't gonna change, man!" "Uh..excuse me?"). So for French, OK it's essential to know the "M'aimes-tu?" kind of questions, but specifying that "Tu m'aimes?" form is more common, natural AND neutral, is crucial as well - otherwise the learner gets lost. Plus, it's easier to make questions like this, especially with the "je" subject: "Do I love you" = "T'aimé-je?", "Do I give you this or that?"= "Vous donné-je ceci ou cela?", yeah and now where does that "-é" come from? haha...Horrible. Seriously, we all believe it's stupid not to learn the common form (which is just like a normal sentence). It's the same with "nous", which as a subject is very rarely used in common French, it's more natural and not a mistake to say "on", and it's easier to conjugate. But hey, everybody's free to sound like an aristocrat if they feel like it... :-)
Yeah, sure - nevertheless, the "tone" solution or the "est-ce que..." are totally correct forms (you'll find them in books, reflecting real modern language), they're not mistakes at all, just less "français châtié". Those people wanting to speak "correct" French, unless they speak with a clear foreign accent, will seem very snobbish to most people. A question like "Do you love me?": if you say "M'aimes-tu?" to your lover, well... she/he will wonder why you're being so serious, if not laugh at you,
I'm sorry, I'm not replying to this comment (actually useful) but to the last comments that you made (there is no reply button in them, too many levels of replies I guess).
Learning the colloquial aspects of a language once you learned to speak properly should be easy. The other way round... I don't think so (you may feel like there is no need to, because "when I talk/write everyone knows what I'm saying"). No one taught me the meaning of words like "gonna" or "wanna" and still I had no problems to figure that out (internet was rare in those days). There are plenty of opportunities now. Yes, it still takes some time, I may feel ridiculous from time to time, so what? And why would I be worried about being taken for what I am, someone from a foreign country? No one could ever take me for a French/English/whatever person anyway and that works for me, I'm not trying to be somebody else. I'd rather improve my skills in every language that I learn. Also not sounding cool is the best way for me to avoid some smug individuals who like to make fun of others for "not being cool" (I'm too old for that, anyway).
What do I prefer in my own language? I'd say people who speak properly. I can absolutely forgive the mistakes of someone who's trying to learn. But it's really annoying for me to listen to someone trying to "talk like we do" and making a lot of mistakes (and they ALWAYS do). Sounds disrespectful. I would rather make fun of those.
I'm sorry too, as it seems I haven't been clear and/or you missed my point.
Let me first say I totally understand what you've written, and quite agree with it. But what you point out, in reply to what I said (if I followed correctly), is not relevant in regard to what I meant.
Again, this was answering a question above:
- Which form above is used more in conversational french, I'm curious?
Then I developed, saying precisely that it's not about "using acceptable mistakes to sound cool", and maybe that's where I might not have expressed myself clearly, notably by comparing with "gonna/wanna" in English. I wasn't comparing types of language, but just the fact that both are or were generally not taught in school although they're very common, and not considered as a mistake in - I repeat - conversational French, as asked in the question.
As to "trying to sound this or that", I just added that - contrary to "gonna / wanna" or any "cool" way of talking, must I have highlighted - those forms (i.e. using affirmative form + appropriate tone to form a question, or using "est-ce que...?") sound also more natural and are totally correct in proper and respectable French (e.g. in literature, in interviews, in professional/formal relationships, whether with your boss, at the post office or the doctor's, etc.).
Whereas using the "academic" way of making questions may generally sound unnatural, uptight, out-of-context, in everyday non-vulgar/cool French. Plus, I had also written "unless they speak with a clear foreign accent", so of course, again, that is not an issue at all with non natives, and it can even be lovely and be part of someone's charm! I've never implied that you need to "be someone else" or play a role... Or like Sitesurf said, the very formal way can be used by someone who wants to speak utterly correct French - it won't be a problem at all, there's no pressure... I was just answering someone who wanted to know what's used more (without being a mistake or street talk). X
I thought about this one before I answered and felt that good English would say "Are your shoes white?" but got scared off in case I was missing something specific like grammar. So I answered "Your shoes, are they white?" Although it was marked correct I did feel a tad puny when I saw the answer. I kind've wish I'd been courageous.
Your shoes are they white?
This answer is accepted but it does not make any sense. Maybe it needs a comma?
Your shoes, are they white?
No, it is just that the standard way of asking a question in English does not match the French ways:
are your shoes white? = tes chaussures sont-elles blanches ? or est-ce que tes chaussures sont blanches ?
So it is something like "Your shoes, are they white?"
So is it "Ton pain est-ce blanc?
yes, a personal pronoun will be used, even though pain is not a person: "ton pain est-il blanc ?"
Is "Tes" used because the noun is pluralised i.e. shoes or is it because more than one person is being addressed?
I also think that for native English speakers (and others) this might seem bizarre, indeed. Not sure if your question meant that, but:
the English translation is "Are your shoes white?", so you have "are" starting the question and directly followed by "your shoes".
well, you can't have that in French, the verb directly starting the question, then followed by the subject; you must start with the subject, and use a pronoun after the verb (if the subject is just a pronoun though, then it's OK).
now the terms (OK, boring and/or maybe seeming useless to you, but they help the understanding): a verb is the word that indicates the "(non-)action", the "state", those words that go with "to bla-bla" in English.
A subject is who or what it is about, doing that action on an object, or being in that state. The subject can be a person/a name, but is often a group, generally made of the noun (i.e. roughly words you can use with "the") + determiners/articles (the, this, my...) + adjectives (describing).
A pronoun as the word indicates is "pro noun", "for the noun", "instead of the noun". So if we talk about Jimmy or my cat in a conversation, we won't always use "Jimmy", "my cat" and "your cat" in each sentence - but we'll replace them with "He" or "It" or "She". Those are pronouns, like "me" (uh, I'm not a pronoun, but "I" is a pronoun, used as subject - "me" as object. Still following?).
So in French, when asking a formal simple question like here, you can't build it as in English, by inversion of verb and a subject group. You actually can't start your question directly with the verb, like in English, unless the subject is a pronoun:
You are sick = Tu es malade
Are you sick? = Es-tu malade? ---- correct
Your shoes are white = Tes chaussures sont blanches
Are your shoes white? = Sont tes chaussures blanches? --- incorrect in French. You MUST start with the subject group and use the corresponding pronoun with the verb : here "they" = "elles" (and not "ils" because "chaussures" is feminine) :
Your shoes, are they white? = Tes chaussures sont-elles blanches? --- correct.
So I don't know if your question implied this ; anyway "ses" would have nothing to do here, as "ses" is either "his" or "her", and here we're talking about "you" (so "your" / "tes").
Those little words ("my", "your", "our",...) are possessive determiners or adjectives (as Sitesurf calls them); I prefer "determiner" as it determines to whom something/someone belongs, who their possessor is. Hence "possessive determiners". And well, those in French can't follow directly a verb in a simple question as they remain with the noun they determine ("tes" stays with "chaussures"), at the start of the question.
You diamond! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain something my English teacher could have done 55 years ago. So clear.
Jackjon, My explanation is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants explantion, not grounded in reality at all but only in airy fairy how it feels intuitive mumbo jumbo. Not advisable for building a foundation in French. You'd be much better off with El Gusso and Sitesurf. They KNOW..
Thank you for your explanation. What initially stumped me was elles and ils being they but also she and he. Not to mention ses being aligned with plural nouns for his, her and, most significantly its. Now, with your answer and sitesurf it all seems quite clear. It's a matter of remembering and making the remembering so habitual that I don't have to remember (!?).
It's like driving and virtually everything you learn, remembering so well that you don't have to remember! :-)
My pleasure anyway. But according to what you intend to do with French, you might not need to "remember" it, as that way of making questions is very formal and literary, we never talk like that. In this example, we'd just show in our tone that it's a question: "Tes chaussures sont blanches?", with the pitch of our voice a bit higher in the end. Simpler.
Just to be clear, "elles" and "ils" (with final "s") are "they"; but "she" and "he", that's "elle" and "il" (with no -s). You probably know it, but just in case...
Je ne suis jamais allé en Australie, actually I've never been to the Southern hemisphere... just realising! :-(
Why? (is this a disguised invitation? I make you a bilingual grammar master, you pay my ticket? lol)
no, "ses" is a possessive adjective, not a personal pronoun, representing a feminine plural noun (elles = they - ses chaussures = her shoes)
Hi Holly. Glad you got that. I didn't. I so lack the grammar. Please would you explain it to me. Our wonderful sitesurf is excellent but sometimes sitesurf forgets to remember that some of us just do not know what on Earth the terms are on about. I do not know what a past-particible-present-perfect-pronominal-adjectival-adverbial-krononomial-phantxzialimnicac-SIZE-43 is???? Very helpful as that all is, if it is foreign it is useless. So, it seems you understand it all so please will you explain it to us?! Thank you in advance and as you understood it all, fair play mate, have a lingot.
Ah, Jackjon, you've caught me. I don't understand all those things either. Only understand it by thinking in English. If I was chatting to someone about her shoes (unless she was a complete shoe nut and gave all her shoes names), I would say, "Babs! Your new shoes, are they white or grey or a very pale pink?" I wouldn't say, "Babs! Your new shoes, are her white or grey or etc." So, you see, it's not grammatical nous on my part. So in all fairness, have a lingot.
Ok, so I used to think I knew some English grammar...........* All hopes crushed *
If translating word-for-word, I am guessing your sentence(with "sont-ses") would translate as "Your shoes, are her white?"............."elles" means "they" : 'chaussure' is feminine. So, "elles". Thus, Tes=your(plural), chaussures=shoes, sont=are, elles=they, blanches=white(plural). Thus, "Tes chaussures, sont-elles blanches?" = "Your shoes, are they white?" * Am I correct? * Does that help?
"ton" does not work with "chaussures", you need "tes" (plural).
question in singular: ta chaussure est-elle blanche ? = your shoe, is it white?
question in plural: tes chaussures, sont-elles blanches ? = your shoes, are they white?