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

You've already seen simple ways to ask Yes or No questions (Asking yes/no questions with intonation, est-ce que, n'est-ce pas), now look at this more elaborate and elegant way to ask questions in French:

Forming Simple Yes/No questions by inverting

Look at this example:

Tu parles français => Parles-tu français?
You speak French => Do you speak French?

To form inverted questions in French, you simply place the subject pronoun (je, tu, nous, vous, ils, elles) after the verb, and insert an hyphen in-between.

Here are some more examples:

Allez-vous à Paris?
Are you going to Paris?

Habitez-vous à Paris?
Do you live in Paris?

As-tu un animal?  
Do you have an animal?

Parles-tu français?
Do you speak French?

Aimes-tu le chocolat?
Do you like chocolate?

 


More Complex Questions Using Question Words

This rule also applies to questions using question words (comment, où, quand, que...) :

Comment fais-tu ça?
How do you do that?

Comment allez-vous?
How are you doing?

va-t-on ce soir?
Where are we going tonight?


See also these related lessons:

Questions with qui, que, quoi, quand, où, comment, pourquoi, combien

Questions: Que ... = What ... ?

ATTENTION:
Inverted questions with il/elle/on are a bit trickier: Forming inverted questions in Le Présent with il, elle, on

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

As-tu un animal?  
Do you have an animal?


Comment fais-tu ça?
How do you do that?


Parles-tu français?
Do you speak French?


Aimes-tu le chocolat?
Do you like chocolate?



Allez-vous à Paris?
Are you going to Paris?


Habitez-vous à Paris?
Do you live in Paris?


Comment allez-vous?
How are you doing?


Q&A Forum 9 questions, 19 answers

CarolineA2Kwiziq community member

Who / When to use inversion to form a question?

Hi, I have heard that the inversion is not used often, and rarely used among young people.  Maybe it is used more often with an older generation? Which of the 3 forms is the most used in everyday conversational French? And my second question is: What is the tone or feeling behind each form? (casual, friendly, condescending, written versus conversation, unnatural, etc).  Thank you in advance for your time and your answer!  :)

Asked 1 week ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Generally speaking, the inverted form is the most formal way to ask a question. Used in a familiar setting, where you'd normally use intonation only, it sounds stilted. However there are certain phrases where it is commonly used, even in a less formal context, e.g., comment vas-tu?

Asking with "est-ce que" or "qu'est-ce que" falls somewhere in the middle. But again, it depends and that rule should be taken only as a rough guideline.

Who / When to use inversion to form a question?

Hi, I have heard that the inversion is not used often, and rarely used among young people.  Maybe it is used more often with an older generation? Which of the 3 forms is the most used in everyday conversational French? And my second question is: What is the tone or feeling behind each form? (casual, friendly, condescending, written versus conversation, unnatural, etc).  Thank you in advance for your time and your answer!  :)

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RobertC1Kwiziq community member

Why is there not a question mark at the end??? Asia is surely it is a statement!!!!

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team member

Sorry Robert, but I don't understand your question....

Why is there not a question mark at the end??? Asia is surely it is a statement!!!!

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TunmiA2Kwiziq community member

Is this right: "plais-à je la reine? To mean Do I please the queen?

Asked 6 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Tunmi,

We tend to avoid using inversions with the first person singular, ‘je‘ as they can sound very awkward and highfalutin.

With your example I would say :

Est-ce que je plais à la reine?

Some you might hear -

Puis-je? = May I ?

Que sais- je ? = What do I know?

 

 

 

 

 

TunmiA2Kwiziq community member

Seen. Thanks

Is this right: "plais-à je la reine? To mean Do I please the queen?

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MelanieA1Kwiziq community member

What is the inverted question form for C’est LE professed de gestion?

Asked 7 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Melanie,

It would be -

Est-ce le professeur de gestion?’

Est-ce que c’est le professeur de gestion?

I prefer the second one personally....

What is the inverted question form for C’est LE professed de gestion?

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CynthiaA1Kwiziq community member

Using "va-t-on" structure for questions

Pls why was this: Où va-t-on ce soir used for this sentence?
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Cynthia,

the general rule says to start with the question word (où), vollowed by the verb (va) and then the subject (on). The "t" that's been inserted between va and on is there simply to ease pronounciation for lazy French tongues. ;)

-- Chris (not a native speaker).

CynthiaA1Kwiziq community member
Thank you so much Chris for explaining it clearly

Using "va-t-on" structure for questions

Pls why was this: Où va-t-on ce soir used for this sentence?

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PokimonKwiziq community member

Is pronoun only used in inversion type?

Hi ,,,Is pronoun only used in inversion type? Or can we use the noun instead of pronoun.... example Parle-t Michael francais? instead of Parle-t-il francais? Please clarify ... Thank you in advance
Asked 1 year ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Sivavathana,

As Chris rightly points out, in this case you have to use a pronoun as well as a name.

Michael, parle-t-il français?

If too much of a mouthful you can use "est-ce-que" and you won't need the additional pronoun.

Est-ce -que Michael parle français? 

Hope this helps!

ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
No, you would say "Michael parle-t-il français ?" So, yes,you would use the pronoun in the inverted question. -- Chris (not a native speaker)

Is pronoun only used in inversion type?

Hi ,,,Is pronoun only used in inversion type? Or can we use the noun instead of pronoun.... example Parle-t Michael francais? instead of Parle-t-il francais? Please clarify ... Thank you in advance

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MichaelA2Kwiziq community member

There is still a 'va-t-on' example in the section - More Complex Questions Using Question Words.

Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Bonjour Michael, I am unclear about your question regarding the use of «va-t-on» in the example in this lesson. If possible, would you please clarify your question or concern that you are experiencing with this locution? 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
MichaelA2Kwiziq community member
Hi Ron, the title of the lesson excludes the il, elle an on forms of inverted questions in the present, but there is a va-t-on construction in the section More Complex Questions Using Question Words of the lesson. I think this should be removed. Regards, Michael
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Thanks for clarifying this. i thought that I had misunderstood the lesson. I do see your point, though. Bonne journée. Ron

There is still a 'va-t-on' example in the section - More Complex Questions Using Question Words.

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HéctorB1Kwiziq community member

Ok, I just got wrong "Regardent elles la télé?" in my last quiz

because I miss an en dash (-). How important is the en dash in the inverted questions and why? : /
Asked 2 years ago
HéctorB1Kwiziq community member
Im sorry, I mean hyphen. Im not sure which is more correct, en dash or hyphen because english is not my mother language.

Ok, I just got wrong "Regardent elles la télé?" in my last quiz

because I miss an en dash (-). How important is the en dash in the inverted questions and why? : /

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AurélieKwiziq team member

P. asked: Shouldn't there be a question-mark in the question statement ?

Asked 3 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour P. !

Thanks for your useful question, that will also help other users with these specific questions.

Here we chose not to put any punctuation mark at the end of the statement not to give it away too easily.

​However, the specific order of the words can only be used in a question.

​You also probably noticed that all three answers HAVE punctuation marks, but this question is specifically about the word ordering.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

JenniferB2Kwiziq community member
I also found this confusing. I chose the wrong answer (“do the dishes”)  because I assumed that without a question mark it couldn’t be a question. I understand your explanation but fact that we haven’t covered the imperative yet led me to make the wrong choice because I knew the other two options were wrong.
BethC1Kwiziq community member

the examples in the lesson all have question marks

test should follow that example regardless of "ease"

MigA0Kwiziq community member

I agree, there should be a question mark here or the question in invalid. 

RobertC1Kwiziq community member

I agree with the others . There should be a question mark or it is reasonable to assume that it should be imperative!

SarahB2Kwiziq community member

I agree, this was confusing, as the sentence would always have a question mark. 

P. asked: Shouldn't there be a question-mark in the question statement ?

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Let me take a look at that...