"What is this thing?"
Translation:Quelle est cette chose ?
"Qu'est cette chose ?" is very formal and you have a number of other ways to ask the same question:
- Quelle est cette chose ?
- Qu'est-ce que cette chose ?
- Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette chose ?
- Qu'est-ce que c'est, cette chose ? (emphasis by extraction)
- Cette chose, qu'est-ce que c'est ? (emphasis by extraction)
- C'est quoi, cette chose ? (emphasis by extraction)
- Cette chose, c'est quoi ? (emphasis by extraction)
"Qu'est-ce que" is an interrogative locution (= lit: what is it that) used in French to form standard questions inquiring about information.
Ex: what is this? = qu'est-ce que c'est ? (formal = qu'est-ce ? - relaxed = c'est quoi ?)
If you are surprised, exasperated, irritated, or joking, you can form a question with more words : "qu'est-ce que c'est que cette chose ?" = (roughly) what it it that this thing is? (I think English speakers would rather say: "what the hell is that?" in comparable situations).
How was I supposed to know chose is feminine when it doesn't actually hint to it?
In this case, (I read or heard from somewhere, I can't remember which) if you have no indication whether it's masculine or feminine and the french word ends with "e" treat it as feminine. That tip rarely lets me down. By the way "cette" indicates that "chose" is feminine.
Thank you Sitesurf so much for saying that all these ques do not necessarily mean anything. I thought I was misunderstanding in a serious way why they were put there. I felt that I was the only one who didn't know. Now I understand it is because they are there just because. Thanks again