"Can the craftsman come tomorrow?"
Translation:Est-ce que l'artisan peut venir demain ?
In France, a craftsman NEVER can come tomorrow ......! Perhaps, if you are realy lucky, he will comme in one, two , three weeks ...( or later...) !
I am afraid it is not very easy to explain….. but I just try to: In this sentence, the subject of the verb : "the craftman, l'artisan", is a noun, not a personnal pronoun. In that case, in french, you have to put the subject in front of the word, but the subject ( the craftman, l'artisan) must be took up again by a personal pronoun:
Affirmative sentence : " L'artisan peut venir demain", interrogative sentence :" L'artisan peut-il venir demain" ( and never : Peut l'artisan venir…). not so clear , I am sorry !
There are 3 ways to ask a question in French.
1: "Verb-subject" e.g. "Peut-il ?" If you want to ask a question in this form, this can only be done using a pronoun. If you want to use a noun rather than a pronoun, you have to first introduce the noun then ask in the "verb-subject" form using a pronoun as the subject, e.g. "Peut-l'artisan ?" is incorrect; you have to say "L'artisan peut-il ?"
2: "Subject verb": In French, you can ask if a statement is true by simply saying it, and if it is written, using a question mark; if it is spoken, using the tone of your voice to convey that it is a question, e.g. "Il peut ?". This can be done whether the subject is a noun or pronoun, e.g. "L'artisan peut ?" is correct.
3: "Est-ce que" ("is it that"), statement: You can also ask a question by saying "Est-ce que" ("Is it that"), followed by the statement you want to check is true, for example "Est-ce qu'il peut ?". This can be done whether the subject is a noun or pronoun; "Est-ce que l'artisan peut ?" is correct.
Normally using inversion as a way of asking questions takes the form:
conjugated verb + hyphen + subject pronoun
Boivent-ils du lait ? - Do they drink milk ?
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 and object don't clash
Où travaille ton père ? - Where does your father work?
Que veut dire ce mot ? - What does this word mean ?
Que fait ton mari ? - What does your husband do?
Que fait votre tante ? - What is your aunt making ?
Qu'ont bu les filles ? - What did the girls drink?
When asking a question in French using the "verb-subject" form, e.g. "Peut-il ?", this can only be done using a pronoun. If you want to use a noun rather than a pronoun, you have to first introduce the noun then ask in the "verb-subject" form using a pronoun as the subject, e.g. "Peut-l'artisan ?" is incorrect; you have to say "L'artisan peut-il ?".
See my above post for more information on other ways to ask the question.
I'm no expert, but it seems the social context of the question, that of asking if another, a professional person, is available whenever, warrants more social distance, or a bit of formality, to maintain the professional atmosphere/show due general respect for the person being engaged for the situation.