"What is your father-in-law saying?"
Translation:Que dit ton beau-père ?
When the verb has one syllable, its placement changes so that it can be heard well enough:
formal: Que dit ton/votre beau-père ?
standard: Qu'est-ce que dit ton/votre beau-père ?
informal: Ton/Votre beau-père dit quoi ?
If instead of the verb "dire", you used the verb "raconter" (to tell), the verb would be at the end in the standard construction:
- standard: Qu'est-ce que ton/votre beau-père raconte ?
oh!!!! I did get the informal right but just couldn't figure out why I was getting the standard wrong. Thank you :D!
"Qu'est-ce que ton beau-père dit ?" seems quite correct for me. After a quick survey of several french speaking people, it is actually the most given answer.
No, after "est-ce que" (where the inversion is "est-ce") the rest of the question is in the form of a statement, with the subject then the verb.
- Que [dis-tu] ?
- Qu'est-ce que [tu dis] ?
- [Tu dis] quoi ?
Now, please read again what I wrote before about the verbe "dit" which is exceptionally placed before its subject, because it is one-syllable and the subject is 3 or 4 syllables.
If "Qu'est-ce que dit ton/votre beau-père ?" and "Qu'est-ce que ton/votre beau-père dit ?" seems both right to me ; your rule is wrong when the subject of the second verb is a pronoun: "Qu'est-ce qu'il dit ?"/"Qu'est-ce que tu dis ?" are correct, "Qu'est-ce que dit-il ?"/"Qu'est-ce que dis tu ?" are not.
The rule stands and what I described was an exception to the usual word order rule.
Personal pronouns are all one-syllable anyway, so they can't be longer than any verb.
The balance is to be made between the respective lengths of the subject and the verb. Moving the verb forward needs that the subject is longer than the verb, which is the case with "votre beau-père" but not with "il", obviously.
Is this really wrong or just not accepted or too clumsy?
Ton beau-père que dit-il?
It is not wrong; it is very common in spoken French, but we do not accept is as "proper French".
To be 100% correct, you would need a slight pause (and a comma in writing) after "beau-père".
Sitesurf, thank you for responding so quickly. I considered the comma, but didn't use it. Thank you.
I'm very confused - does beau-pere mean father-in-law or step-father, or both? If both, how do you distinguish between the two? Sorry - I've obviously missed something somewhere!
It means both. The distinction is made by context.
Most of the time beau père means step-father for children and father-in-law for adults (as children don't have father-in-law and adults tend to use the first name of their step-father instead of beau père when referring to him).