Forming inverted questions with nouns in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)

To form questions by inverting in Passé composé when the subject is a noun (Marie, la fille, etc), you follow this order:

(question word) + noun + auxiliary avoir/être + hyphen + il/elle/nous/vous/ils/elles (matching noun) past participle

Anne est allée au marché.  -> Anne est-elle allée au marché ? 
Anne went to the market.  ->  Did Anne go to the market? 

Note that when turning the sentence into a question, you still need to include the subject pronoun il, elle, nous, vous, ils or elles that matches the subject noun.

-> If the noun is Anne, you will use elle (feminine singular), but if it's garçon, you will use il (masculine singular).

Here are more examples:

Anne est-elle allée au marché?
Did Anne go the market?

ma sœur et moi avons-nous fait nos études ?
Where did my sister and I study?

Thomas et toi êtes-vous partis tôt?
Did Thomas and you leave early?

Pourquoi mon frère est-il venu te voir ?
Why did my brother come to see you?

Les enfants ont-ils pris leur petit-déjeuner?
Did the children have their breakfast?

Quand Juliette et Pauline ont-elles déménagé ?
When did Juliette and Pauline move out?

ATTENTION:

For pronouns il/elle + avoir, you need to add a -t- between avoir (= a) and the pronoun, to ease the pronunciation:

Julie a-t-elle fait ses courses hier?
Did Julie do her shopping yesterday?

Le chien a-t-il mangé l'os?
Did the dog eat the bone?

 

See Forming inverted questions with subject pronouns in Le Passé Composé (conversational past)
and Forming inverted questions with reflexive verbs in Le Passé Composé

See also Forming inverted questions in Le Présent (except il, elle, on forms)
Forming inverted questions in Le Présent with il, elle, on

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Le chien a-t-il mangé l'os?
Did the dog eat the bone?


Le petit garçon est-il entré dans la classe?
Did the small boy go in the classroom?


Anne est-elle allée au marché?
Did Anne go the market?


Julie a-t-elle fait ses courses hier?
Did Julie do her shopping yesterday?


Les enfants ont-ils pris leur petit-déjeuner?
Did the children have their breakfast?


Quand Juliette et Pauline ont-elles déménagé ?
When did Juliette and Pauline move out?


Pourquoi mon frère est-il venu te voir ?
Why did my brother come to see you?


ma sœur et moi avons-nous fait nos études ?
Where did my sister and I study?


Thomas et toi êtes-vous partis tôt?
Did Thomas and you leave early?


Q&A

Petros

Kwiziq community member

23 December 2018

4 replies

Que

It would seem "Qu'ont fait les hommes" is an accepted sentence. According to the logic of this article, it should be "Que les hommes ont-ils fait." Can anyone explain this difference? Is one of these wrong? Is there some exception for "que?"

Chris

Kwiziq community member

23 December 2018

23/12/18

These are just two different ways of forming questions. Either is correct.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

23 December 2018

23/12/18

Yes, I think "que" is an exception.

This lesson (and the associated lesson for the present tense) describes what's known as "complex inversion", where you put the noun first, then use an additional pronoun for the inversion. With "simple inversion" you just invert the noun and verb. The lesson seems to imply that you always have to use complex inversion with nouns, but I believe this is an oversimplification - it actually depends on what the question word is, and various other aspects of the sentence.

In particular, with "que" you can only use simple inversion.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

24 December 2018

24/12/18

Hi, 

You can also say :

"Qu'est-ce que les hommes ont fait?"

Petros

Kwiziq community member

12 February 2019

12/02/19

Thanks for all your answers. Alan, yours was especially helpful. Though Chris commented that either is fine, "que les hommes ont-ils fait," and "qu'ont fait Les hommes." Is this truly the case? Is one of these wrong (making que an exception), or are they both fine?

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

4 May 2018

1 reply

Way to make it easier: " About... X...? "

So I imagine, in the English more literal translations, " about " before the first noun. " About Paul, has he left? " " The kids, have they had their breakfasts? " Is that a good habit?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

5 May 2018

5/05/18

Inverted questions are more elegant. Depending on the actual situation, it might sound approriate or over-the-top. It isn't a good habit in general. You need to develop a feel for when they fit and when not. 

-- Chris (not a anative speaker). 

Tom

Kwiziq community member

30 November 2017

1 reply

in an answer to a quiz I offered, "Les invites, sont ils arrivés" and was marked nearly correct.

Is a comma absolutely forbidden here?

Megan

Kwiziq community member

30 November 2017

30/11/17

It is not the comma that is the problem; rather, you are missing an accent aigu on "les invités" and you must have a hyphen when writing a question with inversion (sont-ils ).

helen

Kwiziq community member

5 October 2017

2 replies

Anne est-elle allée au marché?

In this example, could you also say " Est Anne allee au marche?" Would this also be correct?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

5 October 2017

5/10/17

Bonjour Helen, In short, no. Here is the rule, from the lesson, for forming inverted questions: Note that all those sentences start with a noun (les enfants / Anne / le petit garçon / Thomas et toi), and not by il, elle, ils, elles, vous or nous. In those cases, when turning the sentence into a question, you still need to include il, elle, nous, vous, ils or elles (matching with the noun) after the verb "avoir/être", with a hyphen. Example: if the noun is ''Anne'', you will use elle (feminine singular). If it's ''Le petit garçon'', you will use il (masculine singular). The inverted form is constructed to have the verb followed by a pronoun when a named person is part of the question. Below is to a link on another site that gives a little bit different explanation: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/int3.html J'espère que ma réponse vous aiderait. Bonne chance et bonne continuation dans vos études en français, la langue de Molière et qui a été utilisé par le monde français depuis l’époque d’Hugues Capet

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

6 October 2018

6/10/18

Hi Helen,

You can say: "Est-ce que Anne est allée au marché?

Hope this helps!

Let me take a look at that...