In the most basic form of questions these question words can be used:
Let's see the three ways to use them:
1. Use intonation with a normal statement
In that very simple case, most of the time question words would be at the end of the statement, but they can also sometimes be at the beginning of the statement.
The question will be marked with a querying tone (or in written form with a question mark):
Comment tu vas ?How are you?
Tu vas comment ?How are you?
Note that what can only be at the end of the sentence, and you use quoi and NOT que.
Note that in who [does] questions, qui [fait] will always be at the beginning, but in other cases, qui (whom or who is it) can be at either place.
See Questions: Qui, qui est-ce qui = Who ? and Questions: Qui / qui est-ce que = Whom ?.
2. With est-ce que...
You will place the question word before est-ce que followed by the statement in a normal order. This is a common way to start a question:
Où est-ce que tu vas ?Where are you going?
Quand est-ce que vous quittez Chicago?When do you leave Chicago?
Combien est-ce que ça coûte?How much does it cost?
Qu'est-ce qu'elle veut faire?What does she want to do?
-> Note that in this last case, que
because it's in front of a vowel.
3. Use the "inverted question" form
You use the question word at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the inverted verb and then the subject. it is a more elegant way to ask questions:
Pourquoi ont-ils des rayures ?Why have they got stripes?
Quand partent-ils?When are they leaving?
Comment vas-tu ?How are you?
ATTENTION: in the inverted form, quoi becomes que or qu' :
Que veut-il ?What does he want?
Qu'écoutes-tu à la radio ?What do you listen to on the radio?
These question words are always placed at the start with inverted forms.
See also Questions: Que ... = What ... ? and Forming inverted questions in Le Présent with il, elle, on
For more question types, see also:
Asking yes/no questions with intonation, est-ce que, n'est-ce pas
Forming inverted questions in Le Présent (except il, elle, on forms)
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