To ask questions with what
in French, we actually use different words or expressions depending on the context.
What? (on its own)
To simply ask What? on its own, using Quoi ?, though correct, is actually considered a bit abrupt and rude. Instead, we consider it more polite to use Comment ?
Tu veux du thé ? - Quoi ?Do you want tea? - What?
Tu veux du thé ? - Comment ?Do you want tea? - What?
To ask What [...]? in French, you can either:
- Use the expression Qu'est-ce que at the start, followed by your statement in the normal order.
Qu'est-ce que tu fais ?What are you doing?
Qu'est-ce que c'est ?What is it?
Qu'est-ce qu'il mange ?What does he eat?
-> Note that que
when followed by a vowel or mute 'h'.
- Keep your normal statement followed by quoi at the end.
Tu fais quoi ?What are you doing?
Il mange quoi ?What does he eat?
Que can be used at the start, but the statement will then be inverted (it's a more formal way of asking questions).
See Forming inverted questions in Le Présent (except il, elle, on forms)
While qu'est-ce que means what ..., est-ce que introduces a YES or NO question (is it that...).
See Asking yes/no questions with intonation, est-ce que, n'est-ce pas
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