"Qu'y a-t-il à faire ?" What is to be done?
"Qu'y a-t-il à faire ? was given as the correct answer. (My multiple choice does not offer the option for "Que faire") Can anyone analyze the logic of construction: "Qu'y a-t-il à faire?"
"Il y a" = "There is". (idiom)
"y a-t-il" = "is there" ??? (Idiom?? If not, Please explain construction)
"y" = there
"t" = (Euphony purposes only)
"il" = (dummy subject)
"a" = "is" (when used with "y" ?????)
"a" = is (why not invert verb "a" with "y" when using "Que"???)
Faire = to do
à = to
à faire = to to do (why is " à " needed ????)
"a" = "is"
"a" is the third-person indicative form of avoir. It isn't "is" but "has"
il y a is more like "it has there." You would normally translate it as "there is" or "there are" simply because that's how we talk in English. (Who's to say what's "idiom" and what's not? A French speaker might just call the English way an "idiom") Also, remember that il y a sometimes translates better as "ago" or even "about" in English, depending upon the situation.
So y a-t-il is "has it there?" (of course, we'd say "is there?" or "are there?" because that's just how we talk)
the preposition à is there not because faire requires it, but because avoir requires it. (avoir à is "to have to") You should look up which verbs are followed by à and which are followed by de. I haven't found a particular pattern for it. I think you just have to remember them, and I think that takes practice.
I think, if I am not mistaken, that when I got that one in French and was asked to translate it to English I typed "What to do?" and it was accepted as correct with the alternative solution given. I also think that "what is one to do?" is an equally valid idiomatically correct translation of "Qu'y a-t-il à faire?"
Generally, the French moderators are fairly responsive to the "my answer should be accepted" reports. I get feedback from them regularly, more so than in some of the other languages I'm studying here.
I would add that it is probably not psychologically healthy to pick foreign phrases apart word-for-word the way you're doing, because it's like trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Languages just don't match up like that.
Thanks for answering all my questions. Normally I don't analyse phrases word per word. I was trying to understand the construction of the inversion. Usually invert means verb first. Yes, literal translations of phrases can drive one mad with confusion. :)
The logic of the construction? The sentence is a question, and it has an inverted word order. Maybe it will be clearer once it is un-inverted:
Qu'y a-t-il à faire ? → Il y a quoi à faire ?
The question word que changes to quoi when it's not out in front - it's a bit odd that way - but it still means "what".
So, is the meaning any clearer now? Literally, "There is what to be done?", or more properly in English, "What is there to be done?" or even "What is there to do?"
Other things: 1) "Que faire" is not correct. "Quoi faire" would be better, but it's a bit terse and inelegant. 2) "Il y a" and "Y a-t-il" are the same thing. The second is merely the inversion of the first. 3) The word "a" means "has", not "is". It's being used here in the expression "Il y a", meaning "There is", but you still can't say that "a" means "is". That's what it means when we say that "Il y a" is an idiom - the meaning doesn't translate literally. 4) The "à" in "à faire" is needed because this is a passive idea. Try this link to learn a bit more. (The person who said the "à" was part of the expression "avoir à" was mistaken).
Hope that makes sense!
Thanks, I learned something new. "Que faire" sounds weird to me, but it is also correct. When I search around, I read that it is more formal than the other. To my ears, it goes past formal to old-fashioned, but I'm just an anglophone, after all. :)
Have you checked the post linked to the question? Your question may already have been answered.
Other people on that link have been confused about "Qu'y a-t-il à faire ?" for some time. So I really don't expect my post on that link will be resolved either. That's why I duplicated my post on this link.
Let's start with the affirmative form.
(Ce matin), il y a à faire...
(This morning), there is to do...
Il y a = there is, à faire = to do.
Qu'y a t'il à faire ? What has to be done. You want to ask a question, so you have to add a "que". You can think: "que il y a à faire", who, applying grammar rules became "que y a il à faire" and then applying again other grammar rules became finaly "qu'y a-t-il à faire ?".
Is there any part especially confusing?