Forming inverted questions in Le Présent with il, elle, on

In French, to make formal questions, we usually invert the verb and its subject (je, tu, nous, vous, ils, elles). See Forming inverted questions in Le Présent (except il, elle, on forms).

However, this method is not as straightforward when the subject is il, elle or on.

Look at these examples:

Va-t-il à Paris?
Is he going to Paris?

Parle-t-elle anglais?
Does she speak English?

Mange-t-on bientôt?
Are we eating soon?

Y a-t-il un problème ? - Oui, il y a un problème.
Is there a problem? - Yes, there is a problem.

Notice that when the verb ends with a vowel (often the case with il/elle/on), then a t must be inserted in-between the verb and il/elle/on with hyphens :  -t- .

The purpose here is to make the sentence easier to pronounce.

ATTENTION:

When the verb already ends in a 't' or 'd', you don't need to insert the extra 't' because it's already present (the 'd' is pronounced [t] in these cases):

Réussit-il ses études?
Is he doing well at school?

Prend-on le train ou le bus?
Do we take the train or the bus?

Quand prend-il sa douche?
When does he have his shower?

 

The same rules apply in questions starting with a question word (que, qui, où, ...):

Comment va-t-il ?
How is he?

Que cherche-t-elle ?
What is she looking for?

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

Combien de bouteilles veut-il ?
How many bottles does he want?



See also: 
Questions with qui, que, quoi, quand, où, comment, pourquoi, combien
Questions: Que ... = What ... ?
and
Forming inverted questions with names, things and emphasis

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Parle-t-elle anglais?
Does she speak English?


Va-t-il à Paris?
Is he going to Paris?


Mange-t-on bientôt?
Are we eating soon?


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


Y a-t-il un problème ? - Oui, il y a un problème.
Is there a problem? - Yes, there is a problem.


Réussit-il ses études?
Is he doing well at school?


Combien de bouteilles veut-il ?
How many bottles does he want?


Quand prend-il sa douche?
When does he have his shower?



Que cherche-t-elle ?
What is she looking for?


Prend-on le train ou le bus?
Do we take the train or the bus?


Comment va-t-il ?
How is he?


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 3 answers

LewisC1Kwiziq community member

Achète-t-il des pâtes? Just to be sure, the translation could be equally, "Does he buy pasta?" and "Is he buying pasta?", is that correct?
Asked 2 years ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

Yes, both translations would be correct. The choice depends on context.

-- Chris. (not a native speaker).

Achète-t-il des pâtes? Just to be sure, the translation could be equally, "Does he buy pasta?" and "Is he buying pasta?", is that correct?

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

fait-il chaud disallowed but why?

I thought that there was no need to insert the t if the word being inverted ended in a t, but the answer given for thisquestion was fait-t-il chaud. I wonder why?
Asked 2 years ago
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Sorry ignore above, i must have ticked the wrong box. I wish ther was a way of editing questions

fait-il chaud disallowed but why?

I thought that there was no need to insert the t if the word being inverted ended in a t, but the answer given for thisquestion was fait-t-il chaud. I wonder why?

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