I'm having trouble learning how to formulate a question in French.
I've gone over the Questions lessons on the French tree but I just cant comprehend the really long questions (i.e the "est-ce que" parts etc). Can anyone help me so I can get better at forming them quickly?
Est-ce que basically transforms a statement into a question.
"Tu aimes mon chat" to "Est-ce que tu aimes mon chat ?" ("You like my cat" to "Do you like my cat?")
"Vous êtes beau." to "Est-ce que vous êtes beau ?" ("You are beautiful." to "Are you beautiful?")
And when there is a vowel after the "que" you must take the e in que away and add an apostrophe
"Elle a mon chat." to "Est-ce qu'elle a mon chat ?" ("She has my cat." to "Does she have my cat?")
Hope this helps some!
Thank you so much! I understand now. Also, sometimes don't you insert a "t" or a "y"?
I'm sorry but I don't think I understand your question. Could you please clarify what you mean by this? (So sorry!)
Sometimes you use like a "t" for "toi" and you insert it in the middle of the question. I don't really understand it.
Do you mean something like Que se passe-t-il?
Here -t- doesn't mean anything. It's just there to prevent the two vowels (e and i) from colliding, making it easier to say. Surprisingly it's required. If you leave it out, then you're wrong.
Oh. I see. I'm not always the best at remembering the names of things but I believe what you're talking about is called direct object pronouns. They are used when a verb applies to someone, yeah? They go before the verb. Here they are with their corresponding subjects...
je -> me tu -> te il -> le elle -> la nous -> nous vous -> vous ils/elles -> les
And now some examples...
1a. I love you. 1b. Je t'aime. 2a. I love him. 2b. Je l'aime. 3a. I love her. 3b. Je l'aime. 4a. I love us. 4b. Je nous aime. 5a. I love you. 5b. Je vous aime. 6a. I love them. 6b. Je les aime.
As you could see in examples 1-3, in the case of two vowels next to each other, the first vowel is dropped and the apostrophe is added. I do hope this is what you're talking about. If not, just let me know.
So if you have a question, such as "Do you love me?", it would be... "Est-ce que tu m'aimes?" Or, "Do I love you?" "Est-ce que je t'aime?"
Thanks a lot! What is the difference between the three, or is there no difference? Also, for the 2nd one, could you use any verb there, i.e Sommes-nous?
Just going to answer this too while I'm at it (although @wjbett if I'm doing this incorrectly please correct me!)
As far as I know, you can use any verb there. However, if you're saying "can I", rather than writing "peux-je", you must write "puis-je". (That is the only variation that I know of, at the least.)
Oh yes the dash is necessary! That's the question style called "inversion". You flip the subject and verb order. And no problem! I certainly don't know everything, but I'll try to help as much as I can.
If you had visited the Sentence Discussion threads coming with every single sentence and read the Tips&Notes in the lessons, you would have read hundreds of posts explaining how to formulate a question in French in a formal, standard or informal way.
A couple of key points about "est-ce que":
it is used for binary questions, prompting a Yes/No answer.
it is the standard way of asking a question, where "est-ce que" is like a warning to your counterpart, like "a question is coming". This is why after "est-ce que", the question comes as a statement.
questions starting with "est-ce que" look long in writing, but the sound is very quick: [ESKuh] in front of a word starting with a consonant, and [ESK] when the next word starts with a vowel sound and the last -e- is elided (est-ce qu').