I have the same problem, can't recognize when I should use 'quoi' and when 'que'. Now, I found in a dictionary that the 'quoi' should be used when referring to an object. So, if I got it, it should be something like:
Quoi repas manges-tu?
Am I right?
Ive seen that article many times and find it unnecessary. Que refers to a direct object (the book) and always comes at the beginning of a sentence. Quoi refers to an indirect object (about the book) and comes anywhere other than the beginning.
That's not true, "quoi" can also refer to a direct object in common French, even if indeed it's not used at the beginning of a sentence.
"Tu manges quoi ?" = "What do you eat?" / "What are you eating?"
What gives "quoi" the status of indirect object is the preposition used with it, like "à" or "sur" for example.
"what are the children reading?" it seems more correct if the children are currently reading
"présent simple" can be translated both with "simple present" and "present continuous", so both are acceptable.
So, out of sheer curiosity, how would you write " What ARE the children reading?" "Que sont lire les enfants?"
"Que lisent les enfants ?" or "Que sont en train de lire les enfants ?" (formal French)
"Qu'est-ce que les enfants lisent ?" or "Qu'est-ce que les enfants sont en train de lire ?" (common French)
1) "are, is, am" are implied in french for verbs. "I am running." = "Je cours." "We are talking." = "Nous parlons." "He is watching." = "Il regarde." You don't use "sont", "est", "es", "suis", "sommes", "êtes" with verbs (except in some past tenses)..
2) You must always match the verb conjugation to the pronoun. So, "Les enfants lisent." [The kids are reading. or The kids read.] "Nous lisons." [We read.] "Je lis." [I read.] Etc. "lire" is the infinitive and actually means "to read".
Are these the same question: -"Que lisent les enfants?" -"Qu'est-ce que les enfants lisent?"
And - which is the more 'native' / idiomatic way to ask this question?
Both of them are equally correct, and mean the same thing. A native speaker using common French would probably use either "Qu'est-ce que les enfants lisent ?" or "Les enfants lisent quoi ?".
What's the order of this sentence? interrogative-word + verb + subject?
It's different from English which are interrogative-word + subject + verb?
And other languages (e.g. in Vietnamese): subject + verb + interrogative-word?
In "Que lisent les enfants ?", the interrogative form is introduced by "Que", which is an interrogative pronoun (replacing the object the children are reading). Then comes the verb, then the subject.
But we have different ways to form questions.
In common French, we could use "Les enfants lisent quoi ?" (the only thing showing the interrogative form being the question mark).
Does anyone else have problems hearing the difference between lis and lisent or mange, manges and mangent? They sound exactly the same! I don't have a problem translating the written sentences, but hearing the difference in words like that is near impossible for me. So what's the trick?
You can try to search the words you struggle to distinguish at www.forvo.com, they provide pronunciations from native speakers.
The difference between "lis" and "lisent" is the "z" sound at the end of "lisent".
There is no difference in pronunciation between "mange", "manges" or "mangent", they all sound the same.
Thank you! So I guess the only trick is to know the context of the sentence? I must admit I'm not familiar with the rules of the language, and I'm guessing Duolingo should be used along with other resources...
Yes, I strongly encourage you to use other resources, as Duolingo isn't very suited for people who're hungry for detailed knowledge, as it relies a lot more on the "trial + error = success" method, so the people who learn with feelings and instinct probably progress faster.
People who're native can help others who're asking questions, but it's very difficult for most of us, as we're no teacher, and most of the time there are a lot of concepts of our own language that we either use without understanding them, or forgot how they actually work, so in the end I'm often doing research before answering someone (especially on specific questions on grammar), and he/she would have probably found his answer on the Internet before I had the time to read his comment ^^. But in some cases, the insights of a native can be useful.
And yes, French has many words which sound the same but have different meanings and spelling. For those, context is required.
I'm not sure if Arjo made it clear, but "lis" and "lit" sound like "lee" while "lisent" sounds like "leez". The way to tell the diff at your level is by the pronoun. Je lis. Tu lis. Il lit. Elle lit. On lit. Ils lisent. Elles lisent.
Though some verbs do require some context such as "manger". "Il mange." = "He eats." sounds exactly like "Ils mangent." = "They eat." Your instructor would have to provide context or accept both as correct dictation.
Because "les enfants" is the subject, so adding "ils" would make an unnecessary (and incorrect) repetition.
Could you say "Qu'est-ce qu'ils lisent, les enfants?" What it still mean the same?
This is emphatic, spoken French, where the real subject (les enfants) is isolated by a comma and repeated in the form of a matching pronoun (ils).
You can also find it with a different word order: "Les enfants, qu'est-ce qu'ils lisent ?".
How would i know when to invert the verb and subject? For example, in this sentence, "que lisent les enfants". When do i invert and when dont i?
Most of the time the inversion is made with questions.
"Quel livre lisent les enfants ?"
"Les enfants lisent un livre."
However, in common French we can also choose not to use any inversion in our questions:
"Les enfants lisent quel livre ?"
I believe Khajiit is referring to inversion such as this. "Les enfants, lisent-ils un livre?" No?
The tips say "if the subject of the sentence is a noun, then the noun should appear before the verb, although a pronoun still needs to appear afterwards", so why isn't it "que les enfants lisent-ils"?
Just remember the formal question construction: "Que/Qui/etc... [verb] [subject] [question mark]"
If you're incomfortable with it you can learn other constructs like "[subject] [verb] quoi/qui/etc... [question mark]".
When do you pronounce the "-ent" in "lisent" (and many other verbs) and when do you not prounounce it, as in just 'leez'?
In conjugated verbs, you won't pronounce the ending "-ent", except for verbs of the third group like "contenir" ("il contient") where you have to pronounce it.
For the other words than verbs, usually you will pronounce it ("heureusement", "vent", etc...).
I advise you to look up the pronunciations for those, since for example "contient" and "conscient" do not have the same sound for "-ent".
We are told there are only three nasal sounds in French: uhn, ahn, ohn. Listening to Google Translate, contient sounds like the ahn nasal while conscient sounds like ohn. Is any of this wrong?
I take that back. Contient sounds like the uhn nasal. Conscient sounds like the ahn nasal.
You never pronounce the final "ent" in third person plural verb conjugations.
While Arjo's answer is correct, his examples are third person singular conjugations, so that ending is pronounced.
It is correct also, but it is not THE (only) correct answer. The French may be expressed as either
- what do the children read?
- what are the children reading?
Both of these are completely correct and natural translations of "que lisent les enfants ?"
Que sont les enfants lisent: why can't the french question be written thus? Instead of, 'Que lisent les enfants'?
There is not form of the verb être used in the French to try to mimic the English present continuous tense. The French "que lisent les enfants ?" may be translated as either "What are the children reading?" or "What do the children read?" Both are completely correct.
On the contrary, it is a fine translation--just different. You might think about it a bit to understand what that means and then the light will come on for you.
Is there a difference between "Que lisent les enfants ?" and "Qu'est ce que les enfants lisent ?"
Only a matter of register of speech: the former is formal and the latter (with a hyphen "qu'est-ce") is standard French.
The recommended answer "What do the children read?" is wrong. It would need "est-ce que" to represent "do". A better answer is "What are the children reading?" which it did not accept...
The recommended answer is correct, as well as its variant in continuous present:
- What do the children read?
- What are the children reading?
You don't need "est-ce que" to represent "do", because interrogative constructions and verbal forms do not match from one language to the other. Any of the above English translations can back translate to:
- Que lisent les enfants ?
- Qu'est-ce que lisent les enfants ?
- Les enfants lisent quoi ?