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The interrogative sentences in French

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What is an interrogative phrase in French ? 

The interrogative sentence (French: la phrase interrogative) is used to ask a question. It ends with a question mark (?) 

The French grammar uses two types of interrogatives. 

  • The total interrogation
  • The partial interrogation

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How to form an interrogative sentence in French ? 

We can construct an interrogative sentence and ask a question in several different ways. To mark the query: 

  • est-ce que ? (did/do ?)
  • qui ? (who ?)
  • pourquoi ? (why ?)
  • quand (when ?)
  • où ? (where ?)
  • comment ? (how ?)
  • quel/quelle ? (Which ?)
  • à qui ? (whom ?)
  • à quoi (what ?)
Est ce queEst ce que tu as fait tes devoirs ? (Did you do your homework ?)
QuiQui as fait ça ? (Who did this ?)
PourquoiPourquoi tu es partie sans moi ? (Why did you leave without me ?)
QuandQuand viendras-tu ?(When will you come back ?)
Où vas tu ? (Where are you going ?) 
CommentComment tu as réussi à monter ?(How did you climb ?)
QuelQuel foulard tu veux ? (Which scarf do you want ?)
à quiA qui appartient ce livre ? (To whom belongs this book ?)
à quoiA quoi tu t'attendais ? (What did you expect ? ) 

1) The total interrogation in French 

The total interrogation (French: l'interrogation totale) covers the entire content of the sentence and calls for a "yes" or "no" answer. It is then equivalent to the affirmative or negative resumption of the question asked.

The subject is placed after the verb in the inversion of the subject reserved especially reserved in written. In oral speech, only the intonation makes it possible to distinguish the interrogation from the affirmation. Therefore the question looks like a normal phrase. 


IntonationTu as fais ce que je t'ai dit ?(Did you do what I told you ?)
InversionAs-tu fait ce que je t'ai dit ?(Did you do what I told you ?) 

The inversion can be two types: 

  • Simple inversion
  • Complex inversion

The simple conversion 

In this inversion, the subject is simply placed immediately after the verb. In the total interrogation, this inversion applies to personal pronouns or to the demonstrative pronoun "ce"


  • Es-tu parti ? (Did you leave ?)
  • As-tu réussi ton permis ? (Have you succeeded your driver license  ?)
  • Est-ce ton nouvel ami ? (Is it your new friend ?)

​​enlightenedWhen you reverse the interrogative, make sure to add an hyphen between the verb and the pronouns

enlightenedThe inversion with pronouns should always rhyme with a t. Some conjugated verbs do not have it so you write an additional t to make the sentence correct

  • Ont-ils fait leurs devoirs ? (Did they do their homework)
  • Parle-t-elle chinois ? (Can she speak chinese ?) 
  • Est-elle végétarienne ? (Is she vegetarian)
  • Mange-t-elle de la viande ? (Does she eat meat ?)

The complex inversion 

When the subject is a nominal group or a pronoun other than personal or demonstrative, it remains placed before the verb but is taken again after the verb by a personal pronoun subject of the 3rd person who agrees with him. 


  • Le voleur s'en sortira-t-il ? (Will the robber get out of this ?)
  • Matthieu a-t-il son diplôme de management ? (Matthew, does he have his management diploma ?)
  • Selena était-elle avec vous ? (Was Selena with you ?)

enlightened"Est-ce-que" allows you to maintain the subject before the verb, to avoid the inversion. 

2) The partial interrogation in French 

The partial interrogation (French: l'interrogation partielle) relates to a part of the sentence (on one of its constituents). One of the constituents of the interrogative sentence is presented as being unknown or unidentified and it is therefore on this constituent that the request for information made by means of an interrogative term carries:

The partial interrogation is expressed by interrogatives pronouns, determinants or interrogative adverbs, which can be associated with the inversion of the subject or reinforced by "est ce que".


  • Où iriez-vous manger demain ? (Where will you go to eat tomorrow ?)
  • Quelle heure est-il ? (What time is it ?)
  • Qui est cette personne ? (Who is this person ?)
  • Comment va-t-il ? (How is he doing ?)

enlightenedQuel agrees in gender and number with the noun. 


  1. Fill in the blank exercise about the simple conversion in French
  2. Fill in the blank exercise about the complex inversion in French
  3. Fill in the blank exercise about the interrogative of compound tenses in French
  4. Fill in the blank exercise about the partial interrogation in French

Fill in the blank exercise about the simple conversion in French

Fill in the blank exercise about the complex inversion in French

Fill in the blank exercise about the interrogative of compound tenses in French

Fill in the blank exercise about the partial interrogation in French

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