"What is impossible?"

Translation:Qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?

March 27, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Why "qui" instead of "que"?


"qui" is subject of "est" and "que" is the object form.

  • qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?
  • qu'est-ce que tu fais ?


But it says bellow in this thread that qui means who and que means what. So why use qui here? Shouldn't that mean who is impossible and not what is impossible?


Que and Qui can be either interrogative pronouns or relative pronouns:

As interrogative pronouns:


  • qui est là ? = who is there?
  • que fais-tu ? = what are you doing?


  • qui est-ce qui est là ? = who is it that is there?: the 1st "qui" is interrogative subject and the 2nd "qui" is relative subject
  • qu'est-ce qui est là ? = what is it that is there?: "qu'" is interrogative subject and "qui" is relative subject
  • qui est-ce que tu vois ? = whom do you see?: "qui" is interrogative subject and "que" is relative object
  • qu'est-ce que tu fais? = what is it that you do?: "qu'" is interrogative subject and "que" is relative object

As relative pronouns:

  • "qui" is subject and can represent masculine or feminine, singular or plural nouns:

-- l'homme / la femme qui est là = the man who is there
-- le chien qui dort ici = the dog that is sleeping here
-- la chose qui est impossible = the thing that is impossible
--- les vêtements qui sont lavés = the clothes that are washed

  • "que" is object and can represent masculine or feminine, singular or plural nouns:

--- l'homme que je vois = the man whom I see
-- le chien que je promène = the dog that I walk
-- la chose que je veux faire = the thing that I want to do
-- les vêtements que je lave = the clothes that I wash


It would be helpful if the app version of duolingo let you follow a discussion without necessitating a reply. (I want to keep this response for future reference, hence this)


Sitesurf, I can't reply to your question for some reason so am replying to myself. The app is the only problem. If someone replies I get an email alert then I can click the link and view it on the Web. The Web based pages I can follow easily but not when I'm on the app, as I invariably am when I find a useful comment. The only way to save it for later is to reply to it.


Can you keep it now?


I would suggest you use the app for practice and a PC for forums where you can copy and save what you would like to keep for further reference.


I have A LOT to learn...


So could this question vary according to context?

- He's doing the impossible.
-- What's the impossible?
- He's trying to win the marathon.
-- That's impossible. He can't do it.

Can we translate that second sentence to "qu'est ce qu'est impossible ?"


I'm guessing not, because once you put it into that sentence, the object in question is the subject of your question.


Well, you actually changed the question. "What is impossible?" is different from "What is the impossible?"

In the Duolingo sentence, "impossible" is a predicate adjective modifying "What." In the second sentence, "impossible" is actually the subject, and "What" is the object. (You can rewrite it as "The impossible is what?").

So in the second case the translation would be, « Qu'est-ce que c'est l'impossible? »


"What is the impossible?" = Quel est l'impossible ?

Besides, the verb "être/to be" never has an object.

In a sentence with this state verb, the subject is either described or defined by what in French is called "un attribut". This "attribute" can be an adjective or a noun.


Would Qui est impossible ? be accepted as the right answer?


what you propose is "who is impossible?"


Then how about Que est impossible?


"que est" would be elided in "qu'est" ; so you could say "qu'est-il impossible ?" but because it does not sound very clear, you will be able to say "qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?" (standard) or "quoi est impossible ?" (casual)


Can I say "qu'est impossible?" (without "qu'est-ce" in front of it)?


There is a lot to read here for this is a long thread. Please take the time to do so.


ah, sorry! I did read through and used the search as well, but I couldn't find the answer then. Now I do. :'(


A useful tip is that the "qui" in "Est-ce qui" is usually immediately followed by a verb (because it is the subject), whereas the que in "Est-ce que" is usually followed by the subject and then the verb.


Wow man u deserve more upvote. Ur comment somehow just make it alot easier for me


what about... quel est impossible? if not, why not? :)


"quel/quelle/quels/quelles" are adjectives, you would need a noun after them, like "quelle chose est impossible?"


Above you state "quoi est impossible ?" is valid, but in another discussion you stated that quoi must come at the end of the sentence. I'm a little confused... and hurt... though not terribly. ;)


I also said it was casual, and in this sentence "quoi" is subject of the sentence while in the other case it was object. I know... nuances...


I tried quoi est impossible and it told me no. Is this not valid? You seem to say it should be.


As a general rule, "quoi" does not start a question, unless it is preceded by a preposition:

  • de quoi parlez-vous ? (what are you talking about?)
  • à quoi pensez-vous ? (what are you thinking about?)


What about "lequel est impossible?". That's a subject, isn't it?


Would "quoi est impossible?" be correct?


you can hear it, but it is not the most correct form.


That was my version - alas, marked INCORRECT. Not quite sure why.


Because it is not the standard register but rather relaxed/oral only.


Forming French questions is so impossible!


pourquoi dites-vous ça ?


"Why do you say that?" Am I right? @YahyaZuhhair


yes, that's correct


Oh I'll never get this. I console myself that my French is not required for anything purposeful, other than for self satisfaction, whenever I am confronted by these challenges.


Hi Sitesurf you mentioned that quel, quelle have to come before a noun, but I read Quel est ton chanteur prefere? as an example sentence in a grammar book. Are there situations when you can use quel in front of verbs?


Hi there! You are right, "quel" can be used in front of verb "être", when there is no specific frame of reference:

  • quel/qui est ton chanteur préféré ? = quel/qui chanteur est ton préféré ? = who is your favorite singer?

  • quel est son nom ? = comment s'appelle-t-il/elle ? = what is his/her name?

You will use "lequel est ton chanteur préféré ? = which one is your favorite singer? when the frame of reference is more closely defined, like "between X, Y a,d Z..."


Thanks a lot! So is etre the only exception to this rule or are there others?


I cannot think of another verb than être at the moment.


Confused as to why "quel est impossible" does not work. It is using etre.


"Quel" is an adjective, so you would need a noun to pair with it, like "quel exercice est impossible ?".

In the English sentence "what" means "what thing"; it is therefore a pronoun and not an adjective. To translate "what" before "être" you need "qu'est-ce qui" (lit. what is it that is).


Why was "C'est impossible quoi?" Incorrect?


Yes, it does not work.

Back translated into English: This is impossible what?

The question "what is impossible?" is asking about the nature of the thing that is impossible.

The correct translation "qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?" directly translated is: "what is this thing that is impossible ?"


Ok, cool. I thought it might pass in an idiomatic sense like, for example, "Tu me dis quoi!?". But I guess I crossed the thin line somewhere along the way :-) Thanks for your response, and for all the work and enthusiasm you invest here. You're the best!


Some people use "non-words" to complement their speech, like "you know?" every now and then, in English (in French: tu sais ? or vous savez ?).

Among these non-words, some use "quoi" without any intention to mean anything with it (below, non-words are in italics):

  • bon, alors, tu sais, je lui ai dit : "c'est impossible, quoi !" tu sais, il exagère, quoi ! alors, bon, il n'a qu'à faire un effort, quoi !

See what I mean?


Can we still use "impossible est quoi ?" or is that still wrong?


At the very least, you could hear "Quoi est impossible ?", not the other way around.


But you stated above that "quoi est impossible ?" is a casual way to ask the question.
So, can we use it in written conversations? not formally, of course.

this sentence has confused me a lot :)


You can use it in writing if your intention is to do an exact transcription of a conversation.


uhh french is so difficult and i`m swedish so my english are not perfect either.


Better than most native English speakers from the looks of it. ;)


So to put it simply this 'qui' that confused me means 'that'? So when is que used again?


Interrogative pronouns are used as follows:

  • qui = who
  • que = what


Why is the DUO server putting some of the words you type together? Can you trick it so this does not occur? Btw: You rock!!! :-)


Why is "qu'est ce qu'impossible" not correct ?


Look at this sentence in two parts:

  • qu'est-ce = what is it / what is that thing (interrogative clause per se)
  • qui est impossible = that/which is impossible (relative clause)


Oh i see so i was supposed to put another est in front of the impossible .. But why aren't qui and eat become qu'est ?


"qu' " is elided from "que" and "qui" never elides.


I think I got it .. Thank you so much !


Why "quoi est impossible?" is wrong?


"Quoi" does not start a question, in general.


what is impossible? this is my last question and i have no heart left and i miss it


Why must the correct answer be all complicated? Why can't it just be "Qui est impossible"?


It can't be, because in questions "qui ?" means "who?".


why can you not use Quel or quell ?


why not - qu'es qu'il y a d'impossile?


Is anything wrong with " c'est quoi impossible?"


"what is impossible?" means "what thing is impossible?" and it is a question.

So your question has to start with the translation of "what is?".

All questions starting with "what is" can be translated to "qu'est-ce qui est" (lit. what is it that is). This is an idiom that you have to learn as is.

In speech, you may hear people say "quoi est impossible ?" but it is not proper French, for "quoi" should not start a question.


Why can't there be a liazon on the second "qui est"?


There should be one, but TTS is not always reliable.


I mean in the writing. Wouldn't it be qu'est? Or something like that?


"qui" is a relative pronoun and subject. It never elides to qu', which is reserved for "que", also a relative pronoun but an object:

  • je vois le chien qui est ici ("qui" is the subject of "est")
  • je vois le chien qu'elle promène ("qu' = que" is the object of "promène")


Why is it "qui est" not "qu'est"


"qui" and "que" are relative pronouns.

"qui" is the subject form and "que" the object form.

  • qu'est-ce qui est impossible ? has "qui" as the subject of "est".

  • qu'est-ce que tu fais ? has "que" as the direct object of "fais" (the subject is "tu").


Qu'est-ce qui est impossible impossible insufferable out of the question ?


Sitesurf, you have the patience of a saint! Merci!


I read the whole topic but couldn't figure out the reason why "qu'est-ce qu'il est impossible" is incorrect? May I get some help on this please?


Let's parse this:

qu' = what
est = is
ce = it
qu' = that
il = it
est = is
impossible = impossible

Actually, you have used "qu'il" (conjunction + a new subject in the form of an impersonal pronoun = that it) instead of "qui" (relative pronoun = that).

As a consequence "qu'est-ce qu'il est impossible... " misses something like "... de faire ?", as if the English were "what is it that is impossible... to do?"


when do you use quel and when do you qu'est ce que?


This reads to me what is that what is impossible.


This is too hard. I dont understand even with all the explenation sitesurf has given. I just didnt know the difference between this as a subject or this as an object.


Can I get a literal translation for the answers word by word?


Please scroll up and read the detailed answers already given (especially the 4th post on this page).


All of (( qu'est-ce qui)) for just a simple "what" ?! Damn,french is a funny language!!


Qui not que? This is very hard to understand even with the explanations.


qui is subject, before le verbe: qu'est-ce qui est hard?

que is object, complete a transitive verbe: qu'est-ce que tu veux?

Qui est-ce qui est arrivé ? = Who has arrived? - the subject is a person

Qu'est-ce qui fait ce bruit ? = What makes this sound? - the subject is a thing

Qui est-ce que tu cherches ? Marie ? - Who are you looking for? Marie? - the object is a person.

Qu'est-ce que vous voulez ? Du café ? - what do you want? Coffee? - the object is a thing


That should be who is impossible if you put qui, surely. I put que


I used Ce qui as noted and it was wrong , Does anyone know why?


Only when "what" is not in a question can you translate it to "ce qui" or "ce que".

  • What is impossible? = qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?
  • I know what is impossible. = Je sais ce qui est impossible.


why not simply "quel est impossible ?" ?


Isn't 'qui ' who? There are no living subjects in this sentence "what is impossible?'


"Qui" can be two things:

  • an interrogative word meaning "who", as in "who's there?" = Qui est là ?
  • a relative subject pronoun meaning "that/who/which", as in "I know the man who is here" = "je connais l'homme qui est ici", or "There are things that worry me" = "Il y a des choses qui m'inquiètent"

"What is impossible?" translates to "qu'est-ce qui est impossible ?", literally "what is it that is impossible", where "qui/that" is a relative pronoun, representing "qu'/what" and the subject of "est/is".


Doesn't 'qui' mean 'who'?? Why is the word 'qui' in the sentence "What is impossible?"


In this sentence "qui" is not the interrogative "who?" but the subject relative pronoun, which can be the translation for "who/which/that".

"Qu'est-ce qui est possible ?" literally translates to "what is it that is possible?", where "qui/that" are the subjects of the verb "est/is".


Not when it is part of the question stem "qu'est-ce qui". This stem is always followed by a verb and then it means "What" A good phrase to learn is "Qu'est-ce qui se passe?" which means WHAT is going on?

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