Bootstrap French Grammar

Learn French Grammar step-by-step

French grammar - Asking questions using inversion

Asking questions using inversion

Asking questions in French can be straightforward - just use a normal declarative statement with a rising intonation at the end to make it a question.

But when the subject is a pronoun it is more common to form a question by inversion - that is by inverting the subject pronoun and verb and joining them with a hyphen.

With inversion question words like ('where') and pourquoi ('why') should be moved to the beginning of the sentence.

Note that suis-je ('am I') is rarely used.

Note also that liaison is forbidden for inverted pairs. For example êtes-vous ici - there is NO liaison vou[z] even though the following word ici begins with a vowel.

Es-tu proche ?
Are you (familiar) close by?

tu eses-tu - 'are you?'

Où êtes-vous ?
Where are you (formal)?

vous êtesêtes-vous - 'are you?'

Pourquoi est-elle ici ?
Why is she here?

elle estest-elle - 'is she?'

Sont-elles ici maintenant ?
Are they (females) here now?

elles sontsont-elles - 'are they (females)?'

Sommes-nous en retard ?
Are we late?

nous sommessommes-nous - 'are we?'

Est-elle française ?
Is she French?

elle estest-elle - 'is she?'

française means 'French (female)'

Est-il anglais ?
Is he English?

il estest-il - 'is he?'

anglais (m) means 'English (male)'

Juliette, est-elle vraiment ici ?
Juliette - is she really here?

elle estest-elle - 'is she?'

vraiment means 'really'

Êtes-vous souvent ici ?
Are you (formal) often here?

vous êtesêtes-vous - 'are you?'

Sont-ils en vacances ?
Are they (males) on holidays?

ils sontsont-ils - 'are they?'

en vacances means 'on holidays'

Êtes-vous d'accord, Monsieur ?
Do you (formal) agree, Sir? *OR* Are you in agreement, Sir?

vous êtesêtes-vous - 'are you?'