Informal Questions

French questions
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Questions familières

There are many different ways to ask questions in French. Officially, the correct ways are with inversion (formal) and est-ce que (normal register). Informally, there are several other possibilities.

Intonation

Turn a statement into a question by raising your intonation at the end. This is easy – we do the same thing in English.

Par exemple…

Tu viens demain ?   You coming tomorrow?
Il va nous aider ?   He’s going to help us?
Vous voulez l’essayer ?   You want to try it?

You can include a tag question on the end.

Tu viens demain, c’est ça ?   You’re coming tomorrow, aren’t you?
Il va nous aider, pas vrai ?   He’s going to help us, right?

Intonation with question words

An interrogative pronoun or interrogative adverb can be placed at the beginning or end of the question (the end is more common).

Quand t’es arrivé ?
T’es arrivé quand ?
  When did you arrive?
À quoi tu penses ?
Tu penses à quoi ?
  What are you thinking about?
Pourquoi tu dis ça ?
Tu dis ça pourquoi ?
  Why do you say that?

C’est with question words

When asking for information about a noun, you can use c’est in front of a question word.

C’est quand, ton anniversaire ?
Ton anniversaire, c’est quand ?
  When’s your birthday?
C’est où, ton école ?
Ton école, c’est où ?
  Where’s your school?
C’est qui, ce mec ?
Ce mec, c’est qui ?
  Who’s that guy?
C’est quoi ta couleur préférée ?
Ta couleur préférée, c’est quoi ?
  What’s your favorite color?

Qui c’est qui

Qui c’est qui informally replaces qui:

Qui c’est qui a fait ça ?   Who did that?
Qui c’est qui va conduire ?   Who’s going to drive?

(Est-ce) que

A very informal way to ask questions is with just the que from est-ce que. I don’t recommend non-native speakers use this one, but it’s important to be able to understand it.

Quand qu’elle va arriver ?
(Quand est-ce qu’elle va arriver ?)
  When’s she arriving?
Pourquoi que tu dis ça ?
(Pourquoi est-ce que tu dis ça ?)
  Why do you say that?
Où que tu vas ?
(Où est-ce que tu vas ?)
  Where you goin’?

 Related lessons

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Informal French questions
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