I need help on « Comment va ta femme ? »

I'm pretty confused about the structure of this sentence. The following is stated under the ‘Tips and Notes’ section for the ‘Questions’ lesson:

“However, if the subject of the sentence is a noun, then the noun should appear before the verb, although a pronoun still needs to appear afterwards.”

e.g. Le lait est-il froid ? — Is the milk cold?

It is clearly stated that the ‘noun should appear before the verb.’ Consequently, with that in mind shouldn’t the question be constructed as such:

Ta femme va ? — Your wife is going?

Inversion then needs to occur. However since the subject happens to be a noun in this case the pronoun ‘elle’ needs to be added. Then switch the places of ‘va’ and ‘elle’ and since ‘elle’ ends in a vowel ‘-t-‘ needs to be introduced. This leaves you with:

Ta femme va-t-elle ? — Your wife is going?/Is your wife going?

Finally the interrogative adverb ‘comment’ is added to introduce the word ‘how’ and so the final product is:

Comment ta femme va-t-elle ? — How is your wife going?/ How is your wife?

If my understanding is correct but « Comment va ta femme » is still used would it be because it is just an idiom?

The second question I would like ask is could « Comment ta femme va-t-elle ? » be used if your intention is to ask how somebody’s wife is actually going somewhere?

Thanks for your help guys :]

P.S. Any understanding that your provide, please do so in lehman's terms. I am a beginner you see.

November 16, 2016


"Is the milk cold?" is a binary question (answer: yes/no).

There are 3 ways to ask this question in French:

  • standard: est-ce que le lait est froid ? - interrogative starter "est-ce que" + the real question in its statement form: subject + verb + adjective

  • informal: le lait est froid ? - statement with a question mark at the end and your voice raising on the last syllable.

  • formal: le lait est-il froid ? - the word order is: real subject + Verb-Subject pronoun inversion + adjective.

In any formal question, the inversion is between the Verb and the Pronoun.

"how is your wife?" is an open question (answer: information)

  • standard: comment va ta femme ? - interrogative word "comment" + verb + subject

  • informal: ta femme va comment ? - statement with the interrogative word at the end.

  • formal: comment ta femme va-t-elle ? - interrogative word "comment" + real subject + Verb-Subject pronoun inversion = verb + [hyphen/dummy T/hyphen] + pronoun.

The dummy T is not added if the verb ends with a consonant (t or d): vient-il ? comprend-elle ? peut-on ?

November 16, 2016

Oh my god, so I wasn't talking gibberish after all! Thanks so much for the clarification! :D

November 16, 2016

Another case where the t isn't added is when the pronoun begins with a consonant, for instance Comment allez-vous?, Loue-je cet appartement?, but I have a question - is a hyphen obligatory in the question Comment va-tu?

November 16, 2016

The rule you mention is right.

For your information: ''loue-je ?" is not used for euphony reasons. In this case - also valid for all 1st group verbs - we use the past participle form of the verb: "loué-je ?"

Also hyphens are required in any interrogative inversions: "comment vas-tu ?"

November 17, 2016

Thank you!

November 19, 2016

In 'Comment allez vous' a '-t-' wouldn't be required since the verb 'allez' doesn't end with a vowel.

November 16, 2016

Above all, "-t-" is not required in front of a word starting with a consonant: je, tu, vous, nous

Remember that the dummy T is meant to ease pronunciation of the next word.

But the hyphen is still required: "comment allez-vous ?"

November 17, 2016

Is dummy a grammatical term or does it just mean stupid?

November 19, 2016

In grammatical (colloquial) terms, it just means that its function or nature is cosmetic.

November 19, 2016


November 17, 2016

I think that it is not the reason because you don't pronounce the z in allez, but there is no t since - as Sitesurf has just confirmed - the next word starts with a v.

November 19, 2016

Just out of curiosity, how would one ask 'how is your wife going?' when your inquiring about transport? Could the last 3 questions that you gave in your answer still be used?

November 16, 2016

You need an object to complete the question if you want to ask "how is your wife going (to some place)?". For example, "Comment ta femme va-t-elle à la fête d'anniversaire de Paul ?". If you want to use a pronoun instead of naming the place, use "y": "Comment y va ta femme ?"

November 16, 2016

You seriously lost me there, but that's likely my fault.

Did you see the last part of your link? I think it might answer one of your questions.

A number of interrogative adverbs can be used to request information
Pourquoi ("why"): Pourquoi manges-tu du pain ? — Why are you eating bread?
Comment ("how"): Comment allez-vous ? — How are you?
Quand ("when"): Quand est-ce que tu vas manger ? — When are you going to eat?
Combien ("how many/much"): Combien d'eau ? — How much water?
Où ("where"): Où suis-je ? — Where am I?
Note that when these adverbs are used with intonation-based questions, they can appear at the beginning or the end of the sentence (except pourquoi).
Tu vas comment ? — How are you?
Vous êtes d'où ? — Where are you from?

November 16, 2016

I'm struggling to find an answer in the last part of my link :$ yikes.

November 16, 2016

Yup. My bad. Misread everything.
Ignore me. :-|

November 16, 2016

Lol ;P I guess my question is a little too lengthy!

November 16, 2016

It is a bit like saying "how's your wife doing?". Comment va-tu? How are you? They use aller instead of etre. We say things like "How's Jamie getting along?" Meaning either how is he or how is he faring, or doing at school. However, I don't know how easy it is to make a grammatical analysis. Just accept the phrases as they come along. They don't always translate perfectly but one can get the meaning. I'm trying to improve my French, Ger,an, Italian and Spanish to keep my brain ticking along.

November 17, 2016

I liked Sitesurf's answer.

November 17, 2016

keep up the good work ;)

November 17, 2016
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