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How do I ask a question in French?

There are three ways of turning a statement into a question in French. They are all equally good, but are perhaps used in slightly different situations, as I will explain.

The first (and easiest) way is simply to say the sentence so that it sounds like a question, without changing any of the grammar! For example, if you want to ask 'Is he 9 years old?', you could simply say: 'Il a neuf ans?'. To make it sound like a question, you need to change your intonation at the end of the sentence. That means you need to speak a bit higher towards the end. Because this relies on the sound of your voice, it's best to only use this way when speaking out loud, not when writing!

The second way is to just add 'est-ce que' (pronounced: ess kuh) to the beginning of the sentence. For example, 'est-ce qu'il a neuf ans?'. This can be said out loud or written down!

The third way is to invert the verb and subject. It's not as complicated as it sounds! It just means that you say the verb first and the pronoun ('il') second, and put a hyphen between them. If there are two vowels following each other when you do this, just add in a 't' to make it easier to say. For example, 'A-t-il neuf ans?'. The 't' is only necessary when there are vowels next to each other though, and is not part of the grammar. For example, you would say 'Avez-vous neuf ans?'. This one can be said out loud or written down too!

Isabel K. A Level French tutor, GCSE Spanish tutor, A Level Philosoph...

2 years ago

Answered by Isabel, an A Level French tutor with MyTutor


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Colombe D.

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Degree: Philosophy and French (Bachelors) - Oxford, Oriel College University

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