Interrogative Adjectives

French interrogative adjective quel
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Adjectifs interrogatifs

When asking someone to make a choice between two or more things, you need the interrogative adjective quel, meaning "which" or "what."

Par exemple…

Quel film veux-tu voir ?   Which movie do you want to see?
Quelle ville est plus jolie : Annecy ou Besançon ?   Which city is prettier: Annecy or Besançon?

Characteristics of interrogative adjectives

  1. Used in place of an article, not with one
  2. Placed directly in front of a noun
  3. Must agree with the noun in gender and number
  4. Are identical to French exclamative adjectives
  5. Quel + noun can be replaced by the interrogative pronoun lequel

French interrogative adjectives

  Singular   Plural
Masculine   quel   quels
Feminine   quelle   quelles

 All four words are pronounced identically in front of consonants: the s in the plural forms is silent. In front of a vowel or mute h, a liaison is required.

Asking questions

You can ask questions with either est-ce que or inversion.

Par exemple…

Quel film est-ce que tu préfères ?
Quel film préfères-tu?
  Which movie do you prefer?
Quels livres est-ce qu’elle doit acheter ?
Quels livres doit-elle acheter ?
  What books does she need to buy?

Informally, you can put quel and the noun at the end of the question:

Par exemple…

Tu préfères quel film ?   You prefer which movie?
Elle doit acheter quels livres ?   She needs to buy what books?

When asking a question with a verb that needs a preposition, the preposition precedes quel.

Par exemple…

À quel voyage est-ce que tu penses ?
À quel voyage penses-tu ?
  Which trip are you thinking about?
Sur quelle table est-ce que tu as mis ton sac ?
Sur quelle table as-tu mis ton sac ?
  Which table did you leave your bag on?

Quel + être

Par exemple…

  • Quel est … ? means "what is … ?"
  • Quels sont … ? means "what are … ?"

Par exemple…

Quelle est la solution ?   What’s the solution?
Quels sont les cours les plus intéressants?   What are the most interesting classes?

Set expressions

Quelle heure est-il ?   What time is it? telling time
Quelle est la date?   What’s the date? dates
Quel jour sommes-nous / est-il ?   What day is it? days

 Quel is used for asking about a choice between two or more options. In contrast, when asking what something is – a definition or description – you need an interrogative pronoun.

Par exemple…

Quel est ton dinosaure préféré ?   What (which) is your favorite dinosaur?
Qu’est-ce qu’un dinosaur ?   What is a dinosaur? (I need a definition.)

Beyond questions

Despite the name, the interrogative adjective quel is not limited to questions.

Par exemple…

Je ne sais pas quelle chemise acheter.   I don’t know which shirt to buy.
Il ne m’a pas dit à quelle heure il va arriver.   He didn’t tell me what time he’s arriving.

To say "which one?" you need the interrogative pronoun lequel.

 Related lessons

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French interrogative adjective

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