1st person singular inversion

TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

1st person singular inversion

From time to time, in literature, I come across forms such as "parlé-je" e.g.

"Pourquoi parlé-je de Victor Hugo?"

Is this interrogative form still in use. Is it ever used in speech (probably not) or is it reserved for literary use?

Tom

Asked 11 months ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Inversion-type questions are formal and, as you already suspected, mostly used in writing. There are, however, a handful of inverted questions which are used "as-is" in spoken French. For example: Comment vas-tu?
TomC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Chris,

How formal is formal? Are you suggesting a formal interdiction of inverted forms in speech?

I must sound like a pompous idiot when  I habitually say:

"Puis-je avoir quelque chose" or "Combien dois-je" when asking for the bill, usually in the informal setting of a bar.

No one has ever commented on my pomposity. Are they just too polite?

Tom

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
It's perfectly ok. One would just notice that you're not a native French speaker, that's all. I guess it's about as "wrong" as saying "Could I trouble you to give me a BicMac, please?" when ordering at a MacDonald's :))))
CécileKwiziq team member

Hi Tom,

If I may add, to me someone using 'puis-je' in an informal verbal setting would be equivalent to an English person using, "One does this, and one does that ..." in a royal kind of way.

So it does sound precious unless you are a member of the aristocracy and then it will be expected of you....

;-)

1st person singular inversion

From time to time, in literature, I come across forms such as "parlé-je" e.g.

"Pourquoi parlé-je de Victor Hugo?"

Is this interrogative form still in use. Is it ever used in speech (probably not) or is it reserved for literary use?

Tom

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