For those wondering about the structure of this sentence, here is an explanation:
Normally using inversion as a way of asking questions takes the form: conjugated verb + hyphen + subject pronoun (example: Parlez-vous français? - Do you speak French? )
However, when the subject is a noun phrase (i.e. not a pronoun), it may be inverted directly with the verb if:
• the question word is short, such as où, que, etc.
• the subject noun phrase does not clash with the object
the general construct is: conjugated verb + person
Où travaille ton père ? - Where does your father work ?
Que veut dire ce mot ? - What does this word mean ?
Que fait votre tante ? - What is your aunt making ?
Qu'ont bu les étudiants ? - What did the students drink?
Thanks for this excellent explanation about the actual point of this lesson!
Now we can proceed to the endless off-topic quibbling about the multitude of English synonyms....
I also thought vendor was a possible translation, but I did not report it because I wasn't sure if it was correct, (June 2018).
A "vendor" is "vendeur/vendeuse" (as opposed to a buyer). "Un commerçant" is a shopkeeper.
But when I entered shopkeeper, it was marked incorrect. They only accept storekeeper which is not nearly as common in english. Need to add shopkeeper as acceptable!
OK, I know I should know this already, but I've got to ask - in the heat of battle as it were, in the middle of a conversation, how can one avoid thinking at first that the "que" is the subject of the verb "vend"? My gut instinct on first hearing this was to translate it to "what sells this shopkeeper". An absurd sentence, I admit, but change a word or two and it's OK. So, I just need to make sure: "Que" does not mean "what" at the beginning of a sentence, and "what sells this shopkeeper" would be "qu'est-ce qui vend ce commercant?"
While each of these uses might not mean exactly the same thing, "merchant" is used more than "vendor" and "shopkeeper"/"storekeeper" not much at all.
It is a good word but it is not the translation of "commerçant". A "retailer" (EN) is "un rétaillant" (when talking about a company) or "un rétaillant, une rétaillante" when talking about a person. It is important to understand that "un commerçant" refers to a shopkeeper/storekeeper which one would generally understand as the proprietor of a small business (shop).
Why doesn't shopkeeper work for this word here? It is suggested in many other sentences for commerçant.