How to Ask a Question in French (Open + Closed)

how to ask a question in French

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In this grammar lesson you will learn how to ask a question in French.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • how to ask closed questions in French
  • how to ask open questions in French
  • sentences which show how to ask a question in French
  • how you can immediately test your knowledge on how to ask a question in French
  • the way you can download Anki files for how to ask a question in French

Please refer to the French A1 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about how to ask a question in French fits in A1 grammar.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about how to ask a question in French!

Table of Contents

Introduction

In this lesson I will teach you how to ask a question in French.

Both closed and open questions will be handled.

With closed questions, the other person can only reply with a yes or no.

With open questions, the other person has a wide (open) range of replies.

You will also learn which ways of asking questions are informal, and which ones are formal.

This lesson serves as an overview as an overview on how to ask a question in French.

You can always come back to this if you are unsure as to how to ask a question in French!

Closed Questions

There are 4 ways to ask a closed question in French.

I am going to take three normal sentences and turn them into questions with each of the 4 ways.

At A1 level, you only need to know the first three methods, and be able to recognise the fourth one.

Without further ado, here are the 3 sentences.

Tu aimes les voitures.

You like cars.

Il parle espagnol.

He speaks Spanish.

Vous lisez des livres.

You read books.

Use intonation

The first method is simply to raise your tone at the end of a sentence.

It’s really that simple.

In informal situations, it is sufficient to inflect at the end of the sentence to turn a sentence into a question.

Tu aimes les voitures ?

You like cars?

Il parle espagnol ?

He speaks Spanish?

Vous lisez des livres ?

You read books?

End with “n’est-ce pas?”

If you think the answer is going to be yes, then you can add “n’est-ce pas?” at the end of an affirmative sentence.

In English, the closest figure of speech to “n’est-ce pas” is “is it not“.

However, this can differ depending on the context.

Sometimes it can also be: “don’t you” or “haven’t you” etc.

This is used in informal situations.

Tu aimes les voitures n’est-ce pas ?

You like cars, don’t you?

Il parle espagnol n’est-ce pas ?

He speaks Spanish, doesn’t he?

Vous lisez des livres, n’est-ce pas ?

You read books, don’t you?

Begin with est-ce que

You can add “est-ce que” to the beginning of any sentence to make it a question.

The literally translates to “is it that“.

However, it’s best just to remember it as something that you can attach to the beginning of a sentence to make it a question.

This can be used in both informal and formal situations.

Est-ce que tu aimes les voitures ?

Do you like cars?

Est-ce qu’il parle espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Est-ce que vous lisez des livres ?

Do you read books?

Please note that que changes to qu’ if the following letter is a vowel or a mute h.

Use the inverted form

You can invert the verb and the pronoun to create an inverted question.

Generally this form is only used in writing and formal environments.

Aimes-tu les voitures ?

Do you you like cars?

Parle-t-il espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Lisez-vous des livres ?

Do you read books?

Open Questions

If you want to ask an open question, then you have to use a question word in your sentence.

In the table below you can find the most-used question words in French.

combienhow much/many
commenthow
where
pourquoiwhy
quandwhen
que/quoiwhat
quiwho

There are three sentences that will be shown for every method.

This way, you can see the differences between the methods.

Use intonation

You can use your intonation to form a question.

All you have to do is inflect at the end of the sentence.

This is used in informal situations.

Generally the question word will be found at the end of the sentence.

Tu as combien ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Vous voulez quoi ?

What do you want?

Ils sont où ?

Where are they?

Begin with est-ce que

You will begin with the question word, and then place “est-ce que” after it to create a question.

This is used in both informal and formal situations.

Combien est-ce que tu as ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Qu’est-ce que vous voulez ?

What do you want?

est-ce qu’ils sont ?

Where are they?

Please note that “Quoi est-ce…” isn’t correct in French.

At the start of a sentence, you have to change quoi to que, or to qu’ if the following letter is a vowel or a mute h.

Use the inverted form

You can invert the verb and the pronoun to create an inverted question.

Generally this form is only used in writing and formal environments.

Combien as-tu ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Que voulez-vous?

What do you want?

sont-ils ?

Where are they?

Sentences Overview on How to Ask a Question in French

The final section of this lesson on how to ask a question in French is about seeing the questions in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on how to ask a question in French through examples.

Closed Questions

Tu aimes les voitures.

You like cars.

Tu aimes les voitures ?

You like cars?

Tu aimes les voitures n’est-ce pas ?

You like cars, don’t you?

Est-ce que tu aimes les voitures ?

Do you like cars?

Aimes-tu les voitures ?

Do you you like cars?

Il parle espagnol.

He speaks Spanish.

Il parle espagnol ?

He speaks Spanish?

Il parle espagnol n’est-ce pas ?

He speaks Spanish, doesn’t he?

Est-ce qu’il parle espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Parle-t-il espagnol ?

Does he speak Spanish?

Vous lisez des livres.

You read books.

Vous lisez des livres ?

You read books?

Vous lisez des livres, n’est-ce pas ?

You read books, don’t you?

Est-ce que vous lisez des livres ?

Do you read books?

Lisez-vous des livres ?

Do you read books?

Open Questions

Tu as combien ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Combien est-ce que tu as ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Combien as-tu ?

How much do you have?

How many do you have?

Vous voulez quoi ?

What do you want?

Qu’est-ce que vous voulez ?

What do you want?

Que voulez-vous?

What do you want?

Ils sont où ?

Where are they?

est-ce qu’ils sont ?

Where are they?

sont-ils ?

Where are they?

Test Your Knowledge on How to Ask a Question in French

It’s not enough just to read the article on this lesson.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want.

Anki File for How to Ask a Question in French

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French A1 you can practice every French A1 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

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