Is it more appropriate to say use Qu'est-ce que c'est que in spoken form?

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Anish

Kwiziq community member

28 May 2017

6 replies

Is it more appropriate to say use Qu'est-ce que c'est que in spoken form?

...and Qu'est-ce que c'est is appropriate written form. What did we mean by more formal?

This relates to:
Qu'est-ce que c'est... and Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça/cela ? = What is... / What's that? -

Max

Kwiziq community member

28 May 2017

28/05/17

In today's French, I often hear "Qu'est-ce?" - such as on TV5MONDE or podcats. I'm old school and prefer the longer older form. But I am not a native speaker.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

1 June 2017

1/06/17

Bonjour Anish (and Max) !

Max, I find it weird that you heard "Qu'est-ce" on its own, as it's very old-fashioned and antiquated...

The nuance is between "Qu'est-ce que + thing" vs "Qu'est-ce que c'est que + thing" to express "What is + thing":
"Qu'est-ce que la Tour Eiffel ?"
vs
"Qu'est-ce que *c'est que* la Tour Eiffel ?"

The first one is more formal as it's simply the inverted form (always considered more elegant), whereas the second one is more colloquial, and will be more used in everyday speech.
I would actually add that the most common way to ask this in colloquial speech would be a third option:
"C'est quoi, la Tour Eiffel ?"

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Anish

Kwiziq community member

1 June 2017

1/06/17

Dear Aurélie / Max, thank you for the answers. Is it right to use "Qu'est-ce que *c'est que* la Tour Eiffel?" in written form or is it only restricted to colloquial speech.
Regards
Anish

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

6 June 2017

6/06/17

Bonjour Anish !

It's not considered very elegant to use it in wirtten form: we'll prefer the "qu'est-ce que" option :)

Bonne journée !

Mary

Kwiziq community member

9 August 2018

9/08/18

What is the difference between saying "Is that the Eiffel Tower" and "What is the Eiffel Tour"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 August 2018

10/08/18

Bonjour Mary !


In the first case, you're asking confirmation that it is indeed the Eiffel Tower:


C'est bien la Tour Eiffel ?
or
C'est ça la Tour Eiffel ? (a bit more disdainful)


The second case is actually asking what the Eiffel Tower is:


Qu'est-ce que c'est, la Tour Eiffel ?
C'est quoi, la Tour Eiffel ?

...


Bonne journée !

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