How to Form a Question in French Using Est-Ce Que

By Veronique Mazet

In French, you can ask a question in a couple of different ways. In English, when you ask a yes/no question in present tense, you typically begin with Do you, and the verb follows. (For example, Do you have a cat?) French has two primary ways of asking the same question:

  • Add est-ce que at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Use inversion, but it’s a bit more complex and usually reserved for written style/expression.

You can form a question by starting the sentence with the tag est-ce que and ending it with a question mark. Est-ce que doesn’t translate in English, but it’s the equivalent of Do you or Are you. Here are some examples:

Statement: Mes amis vont au cinéma. (My friends go to the movies.)

Question: Est-ce que mes amis vont au cinéma? (Are my friends going to the movies?)

Statement: Je peux sortir. (I can go out.)

Question: Est-ce que je peux sortir? (Can I go out?)

Statement: C’est facile (It’s easy.)

Question: Est-ce que c’est facile? (Is it easy?)

If est-ce que precedes a subject that begins with a vowel, it changes to est-ce qu’ as illustrated in the following example:

Est-ce qu’il pleut? (Is it raining?)