In the most basic form of questions, these question words can be used:
Let's see the three ways to use them:
1. Use intonation with a normal statement
In that very simple case, most of the time question words would be at the end of the statement, but they can also sometimes be at the beginning of the statement.
The question will be marked with a querying tone (and in written form with a question mark):
Comment tu vas ?How are you?
Tu vas comment ?How are you?
Tu viens quand ?When are you coming?
Pourquoi il ne veut pas jouer ?Why doesn't he want to play?
What can only be at the end of the sentence, and you use quoi and NOT que.
On va faire quoi demain ?What are we going to do tomorrow?
In who + [verb] questions - (who does, who cooks...?) - qui is always at the beginning of the question - (qui fait, qui cuisine...?) - BUT in other cases, such as whom... or who is it?, qui can be in either place.
Qui fait la vaisselle ce soir ?Who washes the dishes tonight?
Elle aime qui ?Who(m) does she love?
See Qui/Qui est-ce qui [conjugated verb] ? = Who ... ? (French Questions) and Qui/Qui est-ce que ... ? = Whom ... ? (French Questions).
2. With est-ce que...
You place the question word before est-ce que followed by the statement in a normal order. This is a common way to start a question.
Où est-ce que tu vas ?Where are you going?
Quand est-ce que vous quittez Chicago?When do you leave Chicago?
Combien est-ce que ça coûte?How much does it cost?
Qu'est-ce qu'elle veut faire?What does she want to do?
-> Note that in this last case, que
because it's in front of a vowel.
3. Use the "inverted question" form
You use the question word at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the inverted verb and then the subject. This is a more elegant and more formal way to ask questions in French.
Pourquoi ont-ils des rayures ?Why have they got stripes?
Quand partent-ils pour Québec ?When are they leaving for Quebec City?
Comment vas-tu ?How are you?
ATTENTION: in the inverted form, quoi becomes que or qu' :
Que veut-il ?What does he want?
Qu'écoutes-tu à la radio ?What do you listen to on the radio?
These question words are always placed at the start with inverted forms.
See also Que + [inverted statement] ? = What ... ? (French Questions) and Inverted questions in the present tense (Le Présent) in French - il/elle/on forms
For more question types, see also:
Asking yes/no questions in French with intonation, est-ce que, n'est-ce pas (French Questions)
Inverted questions in the present tense (Le Présent) in French - regular forms (except il/elle/on forms)
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