French Grammar Guide for non-francophones


Questions about Interrogation

Q: Why is it Est-ce que and NOT Est ce-que ...?

Remember, the hyphen is only found between the first two parts of this expression.

Q: Why is it Parle-t-elle français and NOT Parle-elle français?

If the verb ends in a written vowel (like the "e" in Parle), you need to add a "t" in inversion questions. This helps with the pronunciation (and is required in writing).

Q: Why is it Est-ce que tu parles français? and NOT Est-ce que parles-tu français?

You can't use both est-ce que and subject-verb inversion in the same sentence (use one or the other).

Q: Why is it Ne vient-il pas ce soir? and NOT Ne vient pas il ce soir?

In negative sentences, the word pas comes after the inverted subject (and you still need a hyphen).

Q: Why is it Où est ton frère? and NOT Où est-ton frère?

Remember the hyphen is only used with subject pronouns.

Q: Why is it Qu'est-ce que je fais? and NOT Que fais-je?

Only a small number of verbs allow inversion with je (être, avoir, savoir, devoir, pouvoir).

Q: Why is it vas-tu? and NOT Ou vas-tu?

The question word ("where") is written with an accent; the conjunction ou ("or") is written without an accent.

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