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Lesson Transcript

Salut, je m'appelle Ingrid. Hi everybody! I’m Ingrid.
Welcome to FrenchPod101.com’s “Le français en 3 minutes”. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn French.
In the last lesson, we learned how to use the verb aimer.
We will now jump into our lessons dedicated to question words in French. Our first one is the most commonly used question word, but also one of the most difficult in French, and that is "What." You’ll see that there are many ways to translate it in French.
So imagine you want to ask your friend "What is he doing?" How will you do it?
You will ask: Qu’est-ce que tu fais?
[slowly] Qu’est-ce que tu fais?
So let’s break down this answer:
Qu’est-ce que is the ready-made formula to say "What" in French.
Tu is the informal for "you"
And finally fais is the 2nd person form of the verb faire, which we already studied.
So, all together it is Qu’est-ce que tu fais?
What are you doing?
As you can see, in French, "What" is mainly translated as Qu’est-ce que?
If you want to sound even more formal, you can use only Que as in Que faites-vous? That is the formal form for "What are you doing?"
with vous which is the formal "you."
You can use it if you are talking to an older or superior person in a working context.
The rule is simple: each time you want to ask a question starting with "What" and followed by a transitive verb you have to use Qu’est-ce que? in French.
For example with the transitive verb "to want", "What do you want" will be Qu’est-ce que tu veux? [slowly] Qu’est-ce que tu veux?
Also with the transitive verb manger "to eat", it will be - Qu’est-ce tu manges?
On the other hand, be careful with verbs which require preposition like parler de, "to talk about." In this case, the preposition de is moved to the begining of the sentence, and we say De quoi parlez-vous? which is “About what are you talking?” or "What are you talking about?" [slowly] De quoi parlez-vous?
Before nouns, "What" in French becomes the interrogative word Quel.
So, for example, if you want to ask somebody’s name very politely you can ask Quel est votre nom?
To ask about his job, say Quel est votre métier?, which means "What is your job?"
Since nom and métier are both common nouns, you can use Quel before them. Moreover, Quel sounds really polite and it will give a good image of your level in French.
Now it’s time for Ingrid’s tips.
Another difficulty in French is when you ask a question that enables various possible answers. As in "Which is your favorite one?" In this case, you have to use Lequel which is in fact the literal translation of "which" or "which one".
So Lequel préfères-tu ? means "Which one do you prefer?"
Before ending this lesson, let’s go back on all ways to translate "What" in French:
- Qu’est-ce que before transitive verbs as in Qu’est-ce que tu fais ? "What are you doing?"
-For verbs which require a preposition, say the preposition first, and then “quoi”. Such as De quoi parlez-vous ? "What are you talking about?"
- Quel which is used before a noun as in Quel est votre nom? "What is your name?"
- Lequel which is the correct equivalent of "Which" when you have to select one option among several others.
In this lesson, we learned how to translate the word "What" depending on the grammatical situation.
I know it is not always simple but I am sure you will remember these short rules!
Next lesson, we will talk about the French for the interrogative word "Where".
Do you know it already? I can promise it’s easier than "what"!
I’ll be waiting for you in the next Le français en 3 minutes.
À bientôt!