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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/katherineabu

Can someone please explain when to use "qu'est-ce que" or "est-ce que" to me?

So my French textbook states that one can "place the phrase 'est-ce que' directly before a statement. This turns it into a question." Usually I just use verb inversion but Duolingo has a fondness to use "qu'est-ce que" before many questions. Oftentimes when I redo the question unit, it will still use inversion with "qu'est-ce que" and I can't tell what the difference between that and "est-ce que" is and when I should use inversion or not. When should I use which and how should I use them?

May 26, 2017

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

but Duolingo has a fondness to use "qu'est-ce que" before many questions

I think it's more using est-ce que in front of many questions and qu'est-ce que only instead of "que + inversion".

it will still use inversion with "qu'est-ce que"

Would you have screenshot of such thing?
It is an error to use est-ce que(*) with inversion, so I'd be surprised the french course uses both together.

(*) and qu'est-ce que" is juste que+est-ce que, so it's a case of use of est-ce que*.

when I should use inversion

You can always(**) use inversion (but not with est-ce que).

(**) Except for the 1st person singular of indicative present tense of some verbs. But the basic rule is "you always can" and it's the more elegant way to make a question so don't hesitate to use it.

May 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/katherineabu

So in short, use inversion in every sense except with est-ce que? (Also thank you for such an in-depth and thoughtful answer!) In addition, I was always taught as a child to use inversion without "qu'est-ce que" but that might have just been how my family spoke. Now that I'm trying to revitalize my French before my immersion, when is the proper way to use "qu'est-ce que" and how does that affect a basic inversion? Thank you so much!

May 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

So in short, use inversion in every sense except with est-ce que?

To be exact, it's: when you want to formulate a question, make a choice between using inversion or est-ce que, but not both together.

when is the proper way to use "qu'est-ce que"

First, qu'est-ce que is just "qu' + locution est-ce que", hence it appears in questions where you have the interrogative word que at first. If the question doesn't contain the interrogative word que(*), then you can't use qu'est-ce que.

Some examples may make it more clear:

  • Question with interrogative word que:
    • What do you want?
      • with inversion: Que veux-tu ?
      • with locution est-ce que: Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?
        The qu' here is the same as the que at the beginning of the "with inversion" one.
    • What do you hear?
      • with inversion: Qu'entends-tu ?
      • with locution est-ce que: Qu'est-ce que tu entends ?
        The qu' here is the same as the qu' at the beginning of the "with inversion" one.
  • Question without the interrogative word que:
    • Do you want that?
      • with inversion: Veux-tu cela ?
      • with locution est-ce que: Est-ce que tu veux cela ?
        As you see, no initial qu' in any of the two formulations.
    • Do you hear that?
      • with inversion: Entends-tu cela ?
      • with locution est-ce que: Est-ce que tu entends ela ?
        As you see, no initial qu' in any of the two formulations.

(*) the "que" of the locution est-ce que doesn't count. ;)

May 26, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robwith1

It is very difficult to learn French. Hats off to the persons who are learning French. I cannot understand why you need so many words to say How. I know it is going to take me years to finish the tree but I will not give up.

May 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AminA44938

Here's a tip to help you on your quest:

Est-ce que literally means "is it that?"

Therefore que + est-ce que (qu'est ce que) means "what is it that"

Est ce que tu parles francais? Is it that you speak french?

Est= is

Ce= (here it means) it

Que = that, what, which (you have to change your way of thinking)

Que at the beginning means what


Here's a trick that you can use to help you internalize the structure:

Instead of saying it all in english (Is it that you speak french?) Or all in french (est ce que tu parles francais? Think of it for some time like this

<pre> **is it que tu parles francais?** </pre>

While keeping in mind that que means that.

May 27, 2017
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