"Is my shirt green?"
Translation:Est-ce que ma chemise est verte ?
To ask a question in French, you have 3 options, from the more formal to the less formal:
- ma chemise est-elle verte ? (switch subject-pronoun + question mark at the end)
- est-ce que ma chemise est verte (est-ce que being the introduction to any kind of question)
- ma chemise est verte ? (fake question, built as an active form, with just a question mark at the end and your intonation raising at the end of the sentence)
Isn't the introduction "qu'est-ce que"?
I'm really confused with the so many meanings "est-ce que" takes on. I've seen it be used in sentences that in the translation began with "do" and "is", and probably some more. And also confused on why you at times add a "que" to it.
So basically, when do you add the que and why is "est-ce que" so versatile?
« Est-ce que » is like "is it that..." while « Qu'est-ce que... » is like "What is it that.." (Que + est-ce que).
The "do" and "is" differences have nothing to do with "est-ce que" but rather the way you choose to translate the verb in the sentence. Far from having a "so many meanings" it really just has one purpose: to introduce a question.
The first "est" belongs to the interrogative phrase "est-ce que" and it does not ask the question itself:
est-ce que la chemise a des manches ? = does the shirt have sleeves?
est-ce que la chemise t'appartient ? = does the shirt belong to you?
est-ce que la chemise est verte ? = la chemise est-elle verte ? = Is the shirt green?
"que est ce" is not proper French: "que" elides to "qu' " in front of a vowel sound: qu'est
"qu'est-ce que" is an interrogative phrase meaning "what": what are you doing? = qu'est-ce que tu fais ?
"qu'est-ce ?" means "what is it?"
With questions requiring a yes/no answer, you don't need any interrogative word (no "what", no "que"):
Is your shirt green?
- formal: ta chemise est-elle verte ?
- standard: est-ce que ta chemise est verte ?
- relaxed/in speech: ta chemise est verte ? (= your shirt is green?)