Questions: Quel, quels, quelle, quelles = Which / what ?

You already know that Que or Qu'est-ce que at the start of a question is used to ask what something is (See Qu'est-ce que c'est... and Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça/cela ? = What is... / What's that?,  C'est quoi, Qu'est-ce que c'est ? = What's that?).


Now look at these questions:

Quel est ton film préféré?
Which / What is your favourite movie?

Quels bonbons tu as choisis?
Which/What sweets did you choose?

Quelle jupe tu veux?
Which/What skirt do you want?

Quelles chaussures te plaisent?
Which shoes do you like?

Quelle est la plus belle princesse du royaume ?
Who is the prettiest princess in the kingdom?

Quel garçon a jeté cette balle ?
Which boy threw that ball?

Note that the question adjective quel also means "What/Who?" (and "Which?") in French.

So when to use quel  instead of que/quoi/qui 

Whereas que/quoi/qui will be used to define something, to ask what they are, quel is used in the context of a choice, an alternative: what is that, relative to other elements?


Note also that Quel is an adjective, so it always relates to a noun (thing/person). Therefore, it will be used when the question "What/Who" is really "What/Which <thing/person>...?" or "What is <thing>" or "Who is <person>?":

Quelle est votre adresse ?
What is your address?

  ->  Here the adjective quelle goes with adresse (What address?)

 

Quel acteur voudrais-tu rencontrer ?
Which actor would you like to meet?

  ->  Here the adjective quel goes with acteur (Which actor?)

 

Quel parfum de glace tu préfères ?
Which ice cream flavour do you prefer?

->  Here the adjective quel goes with parfum (Which flavour?)

 

Quelle est la personne que tu admires le plus ?
Who is the person you admire the most?

  ->  Here the adjective quelle goes with personne (Which person?)

 

ATTENTION: 
Quel is an adjective, so it agrees in number and gender with the thing/person it is used with ("quel", "quels", "quelle", or "quelles").

 
Case of lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles

These are pronouns, which means they're replacing pre-mentioned nouns (i.e. "Which one(s) ...?).
Therefore, they'll be used when the thing they refer to has already been mentioned, to emphasise the question:

Mets tes chaussures !
- Lesquelles ?

Put your shoes on!
- Which ones?

J'adore les bonbons !
- Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?

I love sweets!
- Yes, but which ones are your favourite?

Note that the noun is not mentioned in the question, as lequel, laquelle... already expresses it: it would be redundant!

 

See also Quel, quelle, quels, quelles + noun = What a ... 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Quel garçon a jeté cette balle ?
Which boy threw that ball?


Quelles chaussures te plaisent?
Which shoes do you like?


J'adore les bonbons !
- Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?

I love sweets!
- Yes, but which ones are your favourite?


Quelle est la plus belle princesse du royaume ?
Who is the prettiest princess in the kingdom?


Quelle jupe tu veux?
Which/What skirt do you want?


Mets tes chaussures !
- Lesquelles ?

Put your shoes on!
- Which ones?


Quel parfum de glace tu préfères ?
Which ice cream flavour do you prefer?


Quels bonbons tu as choisis?
Which/What sweets did you choose?


Quelle est la personne que tu admires le plus ?
Who is the person you admire the most?


Quelle est votre adresse ?
What is your address?


Quel acteur voudrais-tu rencontrer ?
Which actor would you like to meet?


Quel est ton film préféré?
Which / What is your favourite movie?


Q&A

Father of

Kwiziq community member

13 April 2019

1 reply

Qu'est-ce que c'est dans la boite?

What is that into the box?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

9 May 2019

9/05/19

Hi Father of ,

What you are actually saying is -

What is it in the box?

which doesn’t sound quite right in English or French in my opinion...

Joan

Kwiziq community member

31 March 2019

7 replies

What is inside the box?

Qu'est dans la boîte? 

Quel est dans la boîte?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

1 April 2019

1/04/19

Qu'est-ce qui est dans la boîte? (That sounds the most natural.)C'est quoi dans la boîte? (Familiar)

Quel est dans la boîte? is not really appropriate, because quel refers to something which would have been introduced or mentioned previously.

Joan

Kwiziq community member

1 April 2019

1/04/19

Thank you Chris.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

1 April 2019

1/04/19

Hi,

I prefer -

Qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans la boîte? 

Joan

Kwiziq community member

1 April 2019

1/04/19

How about 'Qui est dans la boîte?'

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

2 April 2019

2/04/19

Well Joan, it would have to be a pretty big box as 'qui' would refer to a person.....

Joan

Kwiziq community member

2 April 2019

2/04/19

Thanks Cécile...

I thought 'qui' can refer to thing also, sorry...  

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

3 April 2019

3/04/19

Pas de problème,  Joan, you could also say -

Qu'est-ce qu'il y a dans la boîte ?

Bonne continuation!

Patrizia

Kwiziq community member

16 February 2019

0 replies

Is it right the sentence Quel ami est ce que tu preferes? And quelle couleur est ce que tu veux?

julianne

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2019

2 replies

Quels bonbons tu as choisis

Quel est le temps pour le verbe choisir dans cette question ? Je pense qu'il faut passe composé, parce que on utilise avoir, mais le participe passé de choisir est choisi.  Merci! 

Alan

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2019

12/02/19

Yes, but the past participle has to agree with bonbons because it precedes the verb.

julianne

Kwiziq community member

13 February 2019

13/02/19

Merci! Il y a un autre leçon au niveau A2 qui a dit le participe passé n'accord pas avec le verb avoir mais tu as raison parce que le objet (bonbons) est avant le verb (avoir). C'est vrai n'est-ce pas?

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

8 February 2019

2 replies

Bonjour Madame Aurélie ! Quelle est la personne que tu admires le plus ? Should not it be “la”?

Gruff

Kwiziq language super star

14 February 2019

14/02/19

Hi Varsha, 

In this case the superlative "le plus" is modifying the verb "admirer", and adverbs have no gender so they always use the masculine form:

Le plus and le moins = the most and the least (superlative of adverbs)

However, if it were modifying a noun then you would agree with the gender:

Le, la, les plus and le, la, les moins = the most and the least (superlatives of adjectives)

Hope that helps!

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

14 February 2019

14/02/19

Merci beaucoup Monsieur Gruff !

Bonne Journée !

Liz

Kwiziq community member

29 December 2018

1 reply

Quels or Quelles?

 Bonjour Aurélie

"Quels/Quelles sont les danseuses engagées?" 

I answered "Quels" as it was unclear if the dancers were male/female or both.  I was marked incorrect.  Was that because of an incorrect assumption on my part ( that all dancers are female) or was there another reason?

thanks for your guidance,

Elizabeth

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

29 December 2018

29/12/18

Bonjour Elizabeth,

Quelles is the correct answer because both words, danseuses and engagées, are feminine. All male dancers or a mix of male and female would be written danseurs engagés.

I hope this helps, bonne continuation !

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

8 November 2018

2 replies

Bonjour Aurélie

J'adore les bonbons ! - Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?

In this example can’t the answer be as-

‘Oui,mais lequel est ton préféré?’

How to judge whether the answer of lesquelles or lequel should be singular or plural ?

Pls confirm 

Thnx a lot

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

8 November 2018

8/11/18

Bonjour Varsha !

Here the issue is that "bonbons" is usually used in the plural, especially in this context. 

You could also say "quel type de bonbons ?", but if you used the singular here, it would imply one specific piece of candy (or one sweet in the UK) and not a type of candy :)

I hope that's helpful!
Bonne journée ! 

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

9 November 2018

9/11/18

Merci Aurélie

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

5 November 2018

2 replies

J'adore les bonbons ! - Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?

In this example can’t the answer be as-

‘Oui,mais lequel est ton préféré?’

How to judge whether the answer of lesquelles or lequel should be singular or plural ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 November 2018

14/11/18

Aurélie answered...

Shrey

Kwiziq community member

15 November 2018

15/11/18

Oui Madame

Samantha

Kwiziq community member

8 October 2018

1 reply

Why is there sometimes an S on the end of Quel?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

8 October 2018

8/10/18

Quel/quelle = masculine/feminine singular
quels/quelles = masculine/feminine plural.

Quel auteur tu aimes le plus? -- Which author do you like the most?
Quelle fille t'a apporté ton manteau? -- Which girl brought you your coat?

Quels auteurs tu aimes le plus? -- Which authors do you like the most?
Quelles filles t'ont apporté ton manteau? -- Which girls brought you your coat?

Olena

Kwiziq community member

9 August 2018

2 replies

passe-temps/hobby/dada

Is there any difference in meanings?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

11 August 2018

11/08/18

Hi Olena,

For me, passe-temps is a  'pastime' . So it can be anything from 'regarder la télé' to 'philatélie' (stamp collecting), randonnées en vélo ( bike rides)..

I would have said that 'hobby' was also is its translation in English but it appears it has become to mean 'favourite pastime' in French.

'Dada' in this sense means an obsessive pastime.

Hope this helps!

Olena

Kwiziq community member

11 August 2018

11/08/18

merci, Cécile!
I'll be right with you...