Que with Être.

I know that "que" is a very versatile word. One use of it is "what" at the beginning of inverted questions. For example, I might say:

"Que manges-tu?" to mean "what are you eating?"

However, I've never heard it used in inverted questions with a form of "être." Take the sentence:

"Que es-tu" to mean "what are you." I'm assuming you would contract the "que" and the "es" to get:


Is this correct? According to the grammar rules that I've studied, It should be, but yet it seems strange. Is it correct but not used, or is there another rule that I have to be aware of here?

Also, as a side note, in "Qu'est-ce que c'est," is the beginning "qu'" here standing for "quel," "quoi," or "que." "Quoi" doesn't really work, so I'm assuming it's one of the other two.

Merci d'avance!


March 25, 2018

  • 'Qu'es-tu' is correct, for example in 'Qu'es-tu en train de faire?' (What are you doing right now?) or, in the third person 'Qu'est-il devenu?' (What has become of him?)
  • The "qu'" in "qu'est-ce que c'est" is standing for "quoi" = "C'est quoi?" in colloquial language, but "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" is the correct way of saying it.

(French is my native language.)

March 25, 2018

This was very clear and helpful. Thanks a million!

March 25, 2018

beautifully explained, thank you!

March 25, 2018

Que es-tu? doesn't sound right to me -- I would avoid it and say "Tu es quoi?" instead.

Also, in "Qu'est-ce que c'est"? That's a "que"

March 25, 2018

Thank you! :)

March 25, 2018
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