"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" (what is that?) is one of the first things a beginner in French learns. Now that I am moving from A2 to B1, I learned that "Qu'est-ce que..." is the question form to use when the "what" is the object of the sentence. I think the verb "to be" is throwing me off. Could someone explain to me how "what" is the object of the sentence in question like "what is that?"
Are you asking about the English grammar here in order to understand the French grammar? They don't always follow the same rules. Notwithstanding that, 'What is that?' is an example of an inverted question in English, of form Question word/verb/subject This link may help https://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/questions.html
Qu'est-ce que tu fais? -- What do you do? (What are you doing?)Literally: What is it that you do?
"What" is the subject in the first clause and "que" is the object of the second clause.
I hope that answers your question because I wasn't entirely sure what you were asking about.
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