Questions with qui, que, quoi, quand, où, comment, pourquoi, combien

In the most basic form of questions these question words can be used:

qui who
que/quoi what
quand when
where
comment how
pourquoi why
combien how much

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 (or in written form with a question mark):

Comment tu vas ?
How are you?

Tu vas comment ?
How are you?

C'est qui ?
Who is it?

C'est quoi ?
What is it?

Note that what can only be at the end of the sentence, and you use quoi and NOT que.

Note that in who [does] questions, qui [fait] will always be at the beginning, but in other cases, qui (whom or who is it) can be at either place.

See Questions: Qui, qui est-ce qui = Who ? and Questions: Qui / qui est-ce que = Whom ?.

 

2. With est-ce que...

You will 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:

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 becomes qu' 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. it is a more elegant way to ask questions:

Qui est-ce ?
Who is it?

Pourquoi ont-ils des rayures ?
Why have they got stripes?

Quand partent-ils?
When are they leaving?

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 Questions: Que ... = What ... ? and 

 

For more question types, see also:

Asking yes/no questions with intonation, est-ce que, n'est-ce pas

Forming inverted questions in Le Présent (except il, elle, on forms)

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Comment vas-tu ?
How are you?


Pourquoi ont-ils des rayures ?
Why have they got stripes?


Combien est-ce que ça coûte?
How much does it cost?


Quand partent-ils?
When are they leaving?


Quand est-ce que vous quittez Chicago?
When do you leave Chicago?


Tu vas comment ?
How are you?


est-ce que tu vas ?
Where are you going?


Qu'écoutes-tu à la radio ?
What do you listen to on the radio? 


Comment tu vas ?
How are you?



Que veut-il ?
What does he want?


Qu'est-ce qu'elle veut faire?
What does she want to do?


forwards


C'est qui ?
Who is it?


C'est combien ?
How much is that?


C'est où ?
Where is it?


Pourquoi tu rigoles? 
Why are you laughing?


Tu fais ça comment ?
How are you doing that?


C'est quand ?
When is it?


C'est quoi ?
What is it?


inverted


Qu'est-ce?
What is it?


Qui est-ce ?
Who is it?


Q&A

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

16 February 2019

0 replies

And is it correct comment est ce que le chat voit?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

16 February 2019

0 replies

Is it correct Comment est ce que le chat voit dans le noir?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

16 February 2019

1 reply

If we have a substantive in the questions for example in the sentence how is Michael? Where do i put the name? Comment Michael va or Comment va Michel

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

19 February 2019

19/02/19

Hi Patrizia,

Michel, comment va-t-il ?

Or 

Comment va Michael?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2019

2 replies

Thanks! Are they correct those? Elle est comment, la cantine? Elle arrive quand, la neige? Il serait oú, mon boureau? Oú elle est, la poulette?/El

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

30 January 2019

30/01/19

answered...

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

30 January 2019

30/01/19

Yeah i know. I didn't know how to cancel the question! Anyway thanks for answering me

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

20 January 2019

3 replies

I have a question : if i say 1)Quand a ete fait construire l'eglise? 2) Quand est ce que a ete fait construire l'eglise? Are they correct?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

21 January 2019

21/01/19

If I wanted to know when the church was built, I would use one of those possibilities:

1) L'église a été construite quand?

2) Quand l'église a-t-elle été contruite?

3) Quand est-ce que l'église a été construite?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2019

28/01/19

Thanks! Are they correct those?

Elle est comment, la cantine?

Elle arrive quand, la neige?

Il serait oú, mon boureau?

Oú elle est, la poulette?/Elle est oú, la poulette?

I have found these questions on internet, but i never saw this type of construction..Are they right?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2019

28/01/19

Thanks? And are those correct? Cause i never saw this construction on internet?

Elle est comment, la cantine?

Elle arrive quand, la neige?

Il serait oú, mon boureau?

Oú elle est la poulette?

Elle est oú, la poulette?

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

16 December 2018

5 replies

Salut a tous!

In the audio for "Quand partent-ils" I hear partetil, I thought it would sound more like par til

Merci

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 December 2018

17/12/18

Hi Claudia,

You are hearing right and it should be "partent-ils"(3 syllables).

What you are suggesting would be the singular -

"part-il" ( 2 syllables)

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

28 December 2018

28/12/18

Salut Cecile

I thought that in the 3rd person plural in the present tense, the "ent" was never pronounced.

Ils tombent  would sound tombe

Ils chantent  would sound chant

Ils regardent, etc.

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

28 December 2018

28/12/18

Forgot to tick to recieve your response.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 December 2018

29/12/18

Hi Claudia,

The 'ent' is not pronounced but in 'partent-ils' you have to sound the last 't' of the 'ent'.

If you didn't you would hear the singular 'part-il'.

You might hear it pronounced in every day speak as two syllables but with an emphasis on the 't' to make it a double sound.

But very good query!

 

Claudia

Kwiziq community member

29 December 2018

29/12/18

Merci beaucoup

Varsha

Kwiziq community member

15 November 2018

2 replies

Doubt in sentence structure

Bonjour Madame,

In the sentence 'Paul et Hélène sont mes amis.'

The question for this would be-

1.Qui est tes amis?

OR

2.Qui sont tes amis?

Pls guide which one of the following is correct and what is the rule behind it ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

17 November 2018

17/11/18

Hi Varsha, 

The correct question would be :

Qui sont tes amis?

the verb 'être' (to be) having to agree with 'amis' (friends) which is plural ...

Hope this helps!

Varsha

Kwiziq community member

17 November 2018

17/11/18

Merci Madame

Joan

Kwiziq community member

14 November 2018

8 replies

To ask 'where is the chair?' using est-ce que and inversion form

est-ce que: should i say 'Où est-ce que la chaise?' or 'Où est-ce que la chaise est? or 'Où est-ce qu'est la chaise'?

inversion: 'Où la chaise est-elle?'

Thanks

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

15 November 2018

15/11/18

Hi Joan,

Où est-ce qu'est la chaise? is correct.

Où la chaise est-elle? is correct too.

You would probably say:

La chaise est où? in every day French not as elegant but adequate...

Hope this helps!

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

20 January 2019

20/01/19

Is it possible to say Oú est la chair?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

21 January 2019

21/01/19

Hi Patrizia, 

Yes, in every day speech you could say -

Où est la chaise?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2019

28/01/19

Thanks and are they correct these sentences?

Oú est -elle?

Oú elle est?

Oú se trouvent les filles?

Oú elles se trouvent?

Oú sont- ils?

Oú sont les filles?

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

28 January 2019

28/01/19

Thanks and are those right?

Oú est-elle?

Oú elle est?

Oú se trouvent les filles?

Oú elles se trouvent?

Oú sont-ils?

Oú ils sont?

Oú sont les filles?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

29 January 2019

29/01/19

Not all - the following ones are incorrect : 

Oú elle est  ----> Elle est oú?

Oú  elles se trouvent -------> Oú se trouvent-elles?

Oú ils sont  -----> Oú sont-ils?

 

 

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

29 January 2019

29/01/19

Thanks! Are they correct those?

Elle est comment, la cantine?

Elle arrive quand, la neige?

Il serait oú, mon boureau?

Oú elle est, la poulette?/Elle est oú, la poulette?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

30 January 2019

30/01/19

Yes, Patrizia but in an informal setting...

Latha

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2018

2 replies

Could you ps explain what is wrong in'Ouvre-t-on les cadeaux quand ?'

Chris

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2018

19/10/18

The question words are always placed at the start in the inverted question form.

Quand ouvre-t-on les cadeaux?

Latha

Kwiziq community member

19 October 2018

19/10/18

D'accord , J'ai compris.Merci beaucoup.

David

Kwiziq community member

6 August 2018

0 replies

The writing challenge asked "How much is it"

The translation "C'est combien" was not accepted. Isn't this just as acceptable as the 4 or 5 other translations that were offered? And it has the benefit of being less wordy.

I'll be right with you...