What is Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Qu'est-ce que c'est Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Qu’est-ce que c’est « Qu’est-ce que c’est » ?

The very commonly used French phrase Qu’est-ce que c’est ? is the contorted way in which the circumlocutory French ask ‘What is it?’.

Or as the French would say ‘What is that which it is?’.

Let’s break it down into its six contingent words and take a closer look:

(1.) Qu‘ + (2.) est + (3.) ce + (4.) que + (5.) c‘ + (6.) est

  1. Qu’ is an abbreviation of the interrogative pronoun que meaning ‘what’.
  2. est is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be’ – in this case ‘is’.
  3. ce is a demonstrative adjective meaning ‘it’ or ‘that’.
  4. que is the relative pronoun. also mean ‘that’ or ‘which’. Taken together ce que is an indefinite relative pronoun and means something like ‘that which’.
  5. c‘ is an abbreviation of ce which as we saw means ‘it’ or ‘that’.
  6. And also once again est is a conjugation of the verb ‘to be’ – in this case ‘is’.

So reassembling we have ‘what’ + ‘is’ + ‘it’ + ‘that which’ + ‘it’ + ‘is’.

And now we know what it is. Or to put it in a way the French might: Nous savons ce qu’est « Qu’est-ce que c’est » !

Ça y est !

Oh – and here is how it is pronounced:

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