Categories: French Grammar

Direct and Indirect Speech in French I

Direct and Indirect Speech in French I

First part: when the direct speech is a question

In French “direct speech” is Discours Direct.

1. “Qu’est-ce que” Questions:

Je demande: “Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” (I ask: “what are you doing?”)
Or any synonym: que fais-tu? or tu fais quoi?
Becomes Indirect Speech  Je demande ce que tu fais! (I am asking what you are doing)

Qu’est-ce, que or quoi  ce que

Pierre dit:” Vous faites quoi?” (Pierre says: “what are you doing?”)  Pierre demande (or veut savoir) ce que vous faites! (or ce que nous faisons, if Pierre is speaking to us)
Claire demande: “Ils mangent quoi?” (Claire is asking: “what are they eating?”)  Claire demande  (or veut savoir) ce qu’ils mangent.

2. “Qu’est-ce qui” Questions:

Marcel demande: “Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?  (Marce asks: “What happened?”) Marcel demande ce qui s’est passé

3. “Qui” Questions:

Claude demande: “Qui êtes-vous?” (Claire is asking: “Who are you?”)  Claude demande (or veut savoir) qui vous êtes! (or qui nous sommes if Claire is speaking to us)

4. “Est-ce que” Questions:

Mon professeur me demande: “Est-ce-que tu as fait des devoirs?” (My teacher asks: “have you done your homework?”)
Or “tu as fais des devoirs?”
Becomes Indirect Speech  Mon professeur demande si j’ai fait mes devoirs (My teacher asks if I have done my homework)

 Est-ce que  si.

5. Other Questions: Où, Quand…:

No difficulties, there is just an inversion between the subject and the verb:

Il demande: “Où es-tu?”  Il demande où tu es!
Les enfants demandent: “Quand viendrez-vous?” (the children ask: “When will you come?”): Les enfants demandent quand vous viendrez!


In this lesson, the first part is present tense, you can notice that the tense of the second part of the sentence does not change either direct or indirect  speech (the same for future tense), we will see in the part II that it is different when the first part is past tense.

Il demande: “vous allez où?” (present/present)  il demande où vous allez (present/present) (or où nous allons)
Elle demandera: “où est-ce que vous allez?” (futur/present)  Elle demandera où vous allez! (futur/present)

Pascal Dherve

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Pascal Dherve

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