How to ask questions in French
First part: Questions which answer is yes or no.

 

Do…? Have you got…? in French

1. Est-ce que… ?

Est-ce que is the question we use when the expected answer is yes or no!

a. Present Tense

Do you sing? Est-ce que tu chantes ? (rule: there is a space between the last word and ?)
Do + you sing  Est-ce que + tu chantes ?

Does he sing?  Est-ce qu’il chante ?
Do we sing?  Est-ce que nous chantons ?

Est-ce que is invariable.

Have you got brothers? Est-ce que tu as des frères ? (Do you have)
Are you singing? Est-ce que tu chantes ? (Most of the time, we use the present tense instead of the continuous one)

Negative Form:
Don’t you sing?: Est-ce que tu ne chantes pas ?

b. Past tense: Passé composé

Did you sing? Est-ce que tu as chanté ?
Did he sing?  Est-ce qu’il a chanté ?
Did we sing?  Est-ce que nous avons chanté ?

Negative Form:
Did not you sing? Est-ce que tu n’as pas chanté ?

c. Future Tense

Will you sing? Est-ce que tu chanteras ?
Will he sing?  Est-ce qu’il chantera ?
Will we sing?  Est-ce que nous chanterons ?

Negative Form:
Won’t you sing? Est-ce que tu ne chanteras pas ?

2. Inversion


a. Present Tense

Tu chantes Chantes-tu ?
The meaning is the same as “est-ce que tu chantes ?”

Does he sing?  Chante-t-il ?
We add a T between two words, one ending with a vowel and the second starting with a vowel, to better the pronunciation.

Do we sing?  Chantons-nous ?

Does he take…? Prend-il ? (the D is said like a T)
Usually, we don’t use inversion with the pronoun JE, but in a few cases:
The inversion of Je peux (I can, I may)  Puis-je ?

Negative Form:
Ne chantes-tu pas ?

b. Past tense: Passé composé

Did you sing?  As-tu chanté ?
The inversion is with the first verb.
Did he sing?  A-t-il chanté ?
Did we sing? Avons-nous chanté ?

Negative Form:
N’as-tu pas chanté ?

c. Future Tense

Will you sing? Chanteras-tu ?
Will he sing?  Chantera-t-il ?
Will we sing?  Chanterons-nous ?

Negative Form:
Ne chanteras-tu pas ?

The inversion is shorter but the questions with Est-ce que are more common.

3. Questions with a noun


A noun and not a pronoun like je, tu, il…

A. Est-ce que

Est-ce que Pierre chante ?

There is no change, Pierre is the noun.

Est-ce que le chat a bu le lait ? (Did the cat drink the milk?)

Negative Form:
Est-ce que Pierre ne chante pas ?

B. Inversion

Pierre chante-t-il ? (Does Pierre sing?)

We need two subjects, the noun (Pierre) and the pronoun (il)

Le chat a-t-il bu le lait ? Did the cat drink the milk?
Two subjects: le chat and il

Charlotte viendra-t-elle ? Will Charlotte come?

Negative Form:
Pierre ne chante-t-il pas ?
Le chat n’a-t-il pas bu le lait?
Charlotte ne viendra-t-elle pas ?

4. Colloquial Questions

When we speak, we use to up the end of any affirmative sentence and it becomes a questions:

Tu chantes ?
Tu as chanté ?
Pierre a chanté ?
Il chantera ?

Negative Form:
Tu ne chantes pas ?
Tu n’as pas chanté ?

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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