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  5. "What do I read?"

"What do I read?"

Translation:Que lis-je ?

March 9, 2013



I am so lost with questions. Argh.


why is que je lis not correct? do all interrogative phrases use the verb-then-pronoun word order?

  • 2081

When asking the question "what....", (when the "what" is the object of the sentence, e.g., I read what?), you use "Que" followed by either the inversion (lis-je) or "est-ce que" + declarative statement. Ex: Que lis-je ? (or) Qu'est-ce que je lis ?

When "Que" is the subject of the sentence, it must be followed by "est-ce qui". See more here: http://french.about.com/od/mistakes/a/what.htm


This was INCREDIBLY helpful! I was struggling a lot with questions until I read this and the link. Merci beaucoup :)


What is the difference between que and qoui?

  • que is used as object: que fais-tu ? (what are you doing?) - que lis-tu ?
  • quoi is used in informal interrogative forms: tu fais quoi ? (you're doing what?) - tu lis quoi ?


Why can't I use quelle? I'm confused. 'Je lis quelle'


Quel/quelle is an adjective used in front of a noun or with the verb "ĂȘtre" followed by a noun:

  • quel livre lis-tu ? = which book are you reading?
  • quel est ton nom ? = what is your name?

Besides, "quel/quelle" refers to a choice between several options.

"what do you read?" is different from "which book do you read?".


I thought you weren't allowed to invert "lire" with "je"? Shouldn't this be qu'est-ce que je lis? Or can someone remind me what verbs you are allowed to invert "je" with?

  • 448

so basically is just the order that tells if u need to use que or quoi?


yes, basically according to the form of question you use, hence the word order, que can change to quoi (and vice-versa)

  • que lis-tu ?
  • qu'est-ce que tu lis ?
  • tu lis quoi ?


So that means, what you use in the sentence affects the order of the words and the hyphen?


It means that word order can change according to the register of speech you use in questions and that the more formal construction uses hyphens in the inversion verb-subject.


Answer: Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and random mystery books off of the library shelves.


Sherlock Holmes <3


I don't understand this lesson. When you click on the words, what is there isn't even close to the constructed French sentence! How would we have known to build it that way? Just repeatedly failing, or am I missing something?


Interrogative constructions are different from one language to the other.

Please read above the various ways to translate "what do I read?" or a similar English question.


If anyone else is confused on how to ask questions in French, look at this website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/standard/french/speaking_writing/asking_questions/revision/1/ It really helped me understand that building a question in French is a very systematic and understandable process that can be condensed into the formula: "Question word + est-ce que + subject + verb + other words". In my opinion, inversion is more difficult than Est-ce que, so I almost always use the latter.


The way I see it, inversion generally translates as "do I/you etc" or "am/are I/you etc". Whereas "Est-ce que......" you can always translate directly and not need inversion.

"When are you going?" "Quand vas-tu?

" When is it that you are going? "Quand est-ce que tu vas?"

Looking at it that way helped me to understand how to construct questions. Hope it helps you.


why wont it be "Que suis je lis?", what is the work of that apostrophe?


You cannot have 2 conjugated verbs with only one pronoun ("suis" and "lis").

  • I am reading = je lis (there are no continuous tenses in French)

To ask for information, you have several ways of building your question:

What am I reading? =

  • Que lis-je ? (formal with inversion Verb-Subject pronoun)
  • Qu'est-ce que je lis ? (standard with "qu'est-ce que" = what and no inversion VS)
  • Je lis quoi ? (relaxed/in speech, with "quoi" replacing "que" at the end of the question)

As to the apostrophe, I have already answered to that question of yours on a previous thread.


i could really go for that "je lis quoi" because it is more acceptable to my ears than que lis-je". thank you sitesurf


We also pick "je lis quoi ?" or "qu'est-ce que je lis ?" because "que lis-je ?" is really too formal and difficult to decipher in speech.


why not quest-ce-que?


The correct spelling is: qu'est-ce que


Qu'est-ce que je lis?


why can't it be que'est ce-que lis-je?


The elided form of "que" is "qu'": "qu'est"

The hyphen appears between the verb and its subject: "est-ce"

If your question starts with "qu'est-ce que", the rest of the question is constructed as a statement: "je lis"

"qu'est-ce que je lis ?"

The formal construction of the same question, with a Verb-Subject inversion is: "que lis-je ?"


Why can't it be "Qu'est-ce que fais je lis?"


"do" is only an auxiliary to form the question.

French verbs do not need any auxiliary in interrogative or negative verbal forms:

  • est-ce que je lis ? = do I read? - am I reading ?
  • je ne lis pas = I don't read - I am not reading.
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