How To Ask Questions In French

To ask a basic question in French, use the word est-ce que. For example, Est-ce que vous parlez français? (Do you speak French?). The rules for how to ask questions in French are quite complex. We will provide a complete explanation on this page with example sentences.

Guide to asking questions in French

Asking questions in French – the basics

Statement questions

The most basic for of asking a yes-no question is simply to make a statement with a rising tone towards the end. Here are some examples:

  • Vous mangez? Are you eating?
  • Vous êtes fatigué? Are you tired?
  • Vous avez faim? Are you hungry?

Questions with est-ce que

Another way to ask a yes-no question is to put the word est-ce que before the statement. The literal translation of est-ce que (pronounced ehs-kuh) is “is this that”. However, est-ce que can translate to is, are do and does for yes-no questions.

Here are the same example questions listed above using est-ce que:

  • Est-ce que vous mangez? Are you eating?
  • Est-ce que vous êtes fatigué? Are you tired?
  • Est-ce que vous avez faim? Are you hungry?

Est-ce que becomes est-ce qu’ before il, elle, ils and elles (he, she and them). The pronunciation of qu’il is [keel] and the pronunciation of qu’elle is [kell].

  • Est-ce qu’il parle français? Does he speak French?
  • Est-ce qu’elle voyage? Is she traveling?

Inversion method

The third most common way to ask a question is to use the inversion method. Reverse the order of the subject and verb and connect them with a hyphen. Here are the same questions using inversion:

  • Mangez-vous? Are you eating?
  • Êtes-vous fatigué? Are you tired?
  • Avez-vous faim? Are you hungry?

For verbs ending in vowels in the third-person singular form (il, elle), a -t must be inserted to create a liaison.

  • Mange-t-il? Is he eating?
  • Voyage-t-elle? Is she traveling?
  • Va-t-il en France? Is he going to France?
  • A-t-elle la voiture? Does she have the car?
Basic ways to ask questions in French

Ways of asking “what”

One of the translations of the commonly used French words que is “what”. When preceding est-ce que, qu’est-ce que translates to “what”. For example:

  • Qu’est-ce que vous mangez? What are you eating?
  • Qu’est-ce que vous faites? What are you going?

These questions can also be asked with que and inversion:

  • Que mangez-vous? What are you eating?
  • Que faites-vous? What are you doing?

Information seeking questions

To ask an information-seeking question, such as who, what, where, when and why, put the information seeking word before est-ce que.

Information seeking words including qui (who; more on qui below), que (what), (where), quand (when), pourquoi (why) and comment (how). A quelle heure (at what time) can also be included here.

Here are some example sentences:

  • Pourquoi est-ce que vous mangez? Why are you eating?
  • Où est-ce que vous mangez? Where are you eating?
  • A quelle heure/quand est-ce que vous mangez? When are you eating?

All of these questions can be written with inverstion:

  • Pourquoi mangez-vous? Why are you eating?
  • Où mangez-vous? Where are you eating?
  • A quelle heure/quand mangez-vous? When are you eating?

Question tags

Tags can be inserted on the end of questions. There are words like “right?” and “isn’t that so” in English. Here are some examples:

  • Vous parlez francais, n’est-ce pas? You speak French, right?
  • Elle est belle, non? She’s pretty, isn’t she?
  • Il joue bien, pas vrai? He plays well, right?

More advanced ways of asking questions

This section will cover some more advanced ways of asking questions. This topic is covered wonderfully in Chapter 7 of the book Practice Makes Perfect: Complete French All-in-One.

Questions with qui (who)

Questions relating to the word qui (who) can be a bit tricky. We’ve covered this topic in detail on this page: Who in French. Here are some quick example sentences:

  • Qui parle français? Who speaks French?
  • Qui est-ce que vous aimez? Who do you like?
  • Qui est-ce qui parle francais? Who speaks French?
  • Qui est-ce que vous aimez? Who do you like?

Questions with which/what

To asking which/what questions, use the word quel. We cover this topic in detail on this page: French interrogative adjectives and pronouns.

Quel has four forms depending on gender and number of the noun in question. Here are some examples:

  • Quel jour est-ce que vous arrivez? Which day are you arriving?
  • Quelle voiture est-ce que vous aimez? Which car do you like?
  • Quels chiens est-ce que vous préférez? Which dogs do you prefer?
  • Quelles langues est-ce que vous parlez? Which languages do you speak?
Example of a French question

Advanced questions with qu’est-ce que

Questions which with qu’est-ce que (what) can be come tricky. Here’s the rule: qu’est-ce qui + verb or qu’est-ce que + personal pronoun. For example:

  • Qu’est-ce qui se passe? What’s happening?
  • Qu’est-ce que vous faites? What are you doing?

Questions with peoples names

Asking questions with peoples’ names requires a specific grammatical structure: Person’s name + inverted verb and personal pronoun + object. Here’s an example:

  • Pascal aime-t-il le fromage? Does Pascal like the cheese?
  • Marie joue-t-elle de la guitare? Does Marie play the guitar?
  • Les français sont-ils arrogants? Are French people arrogant?

Questions with nouns

For questions with nouns, use the following construction: Noun + inverted pronoun + verb + adjective or adverb. Here are some examples.

  • Le magasin est-il ouvert? Is the store open?
  • La pizza est-elle délicieuse? Is the pizza delicous?
  • La fille court-elle vite? Does the the girl run fast?

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.