Questions are killing me...

I’ve been working through French for awhile now, and had been doing, I think, pretty well, and then I got to questions. They’re utterly killing me — I’m on my fifth time through the questions group, and I’m still missing way too many of the items.

I’ll accept my lumps for not being as great a student as I might be, but I think there are some other things going on with the curriculum that are complicating the learning process:

  • There are a LOT of question words, and a lot of different forms of them, once number and gender factors in, and they’re all clumped into a single block, called “Questions”. So it’s a hard problem from the beginning.

  • There seemed to be a lot of new verbs introduced in the questions block — want, wait, learn, and some more I can’t remember right now — and I don’t feel like I got enough practice in learning their different forms before jumping into using them in questions.

  • Many of the test questions are idioms, (e.g., “What’s the matter with you” => “qu’est-ce que vous avez”) and I get confused about when I should be translating literally vs trying to dredge an idiom out of my head. Of course, this may just be part of learning French; such is life.

  • I’ve noticed some slippage between formal and familiar “you” — several times I’ve answered a question correctly using “tu”, only to be told that the right answer was based in “vous” (or vice versa). Or maybe I’m wrong — that the “tu” form is not acceptable? Dunno.

  • There are, of course, multiple ways to phrase a question in French, as in any language, but Duolingo’s scoring system seems to be pretty rigid in which one it’ll accept. And then I get confused about whether my answer is really wrong, or just not the one it was looking for.

So, consider this feedback: I’m still very positive about Duolingo, and will continue with it, but there’s a big conceptual difference between “questions” and “colors”, or “food”, or some of the other blocks, and ’m wondering if some curriculum redesign might be called for here.

May 30, 2018


I am actually doing questions right now (even though I am past it)! I am trying to get to my last level five, and I am on level 4. It is pretty difficult, and I understand. All those que, and Elle and il stuck together to form sentences that don't make sense. I wanted to give up, but please don't. It Is so worth it! Keep working at it diligently. Fight it. French altogether is difficult, but so beautiful! Don't give up!

May 30, 2018

I felt the same way, but - over time - questions finally clicked for me. Don't give up.

What I noticed - as to your point about the tutoyer vs vuvoyer is that if I screwed up conjugation, it would have to decide if I screwed up the verb form or the pronoun, so - for example, if I wrote, "Qu'est-ce que tu lit" it might say "Qu'est-ce que vous lisez", but if I subsequently used "Qu'est-ce que tu lis" it would accept it.

May 31, 2018

Yes, this. I have always found that if you do it right, they'll accept tu or vous for anything that says "you" in English. But if you screw it up, they might suggest the other option as the "right" one.

May 31, 2018

Yeah...I have been reviewing questions in general practice for the last two weeks now. They have always been a major obstacle in French for me, and it takes a while to get a grasp of it. I'm still having trouble with a few of the phrasings after fourteen straight days of practice, and I would love to say that it gets easier, but I cannot. It's possible that eventually, it'll randomly click. But for now, just keep drilling those questions, over and over and over again.

May 30, 2018

If you are really stumped, you can hover over the word you're stuck on, and it will give you a translation. ;D

May 31, 2018

Questions are kicking my butt, too and I'm already way past them. I'm actually finding the later blocks easier than "questions", go figure. I left questions be for a while after my first round (the lessons after are a lot easier. I'm down at Adjectives 3 which is a breeze compared to questions). I'm now doing the tinycards deck for Questions to drill the vocab into my head and have read the lesson a few times, but I'll just work on questions once a day consistently until it finally sinks in. Every language has one of those things that just makes NO sense to you.

The vous/tu thing bothers me. I'm thinking that it's asking for plural, which is always vous. But in English plural you is, well, you, so unless they wrote (plural) in parenthesis, there's no way of knowing. Using tu in questions definitely is acceptable. I don't play on an idevice (usually on pc, mobile device only if I HAVE to) so I don't lose health for getting things wrong.

One day, we'll all get it. Hopefully.

May 31, 2018

I find that the questions and numbers are the most difficult for me and a good native pal from Bordeaux insisted that those, along with the alphabet are the three most important things to memorize. I've long completed my tree but if there is a theme in my practice it is those I have just mentioned and verb tenses. As time as gone on, I have found this to be true. Hang in there! It all just takes time and repetition.

May 31, 2018
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