A simple way to understand the six ways in which you deserve to say “what” in French.

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The native “what” is deceptively complex when you analyze it. It looks favor a basic one-to-one word translation, yet the reality is the “what” is supplied in many expressions the are interpreted using plenty of different words in other languages.

It’s tempting to simply say “what” in French is quoi — and it is, sometimes — however the fact is you require to understand a couple of other expressions in English.

(French speakers have actually the same trouble coming the various other way, by the way. As soon as they want to analyze a word favor “quoi”, all of sudden they realise there space so numerous ways in i m sorry it deserve to be used!)

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Que

Using que has a basic rule of thumb: usage que at the start of a sentence.

There is just one usual kind of sentence that provides que standalone.

Note the que gets abbreviated through liaison if complied with by a vowel.

See the following examples of when to usage que to say “what” in French.

EnglishFrench
What perform you think (of it)?Qu‘en pensez-vous?
What carry out you see?Que voyez-vous?
What carry out you want to eat?Que veux-tu manger?
Examples the “what” in French: Qu’est-ce que and also qu’est-ce qui

Quoi

The native quoi is very useful in French.

Here’s once you usage it come say “what”:

Use quoi after a preposition, like à or deUse quoi after a verb or in ~ the finish of a sentence (which is much less formal/more colloquial grammar)Use quoi as an exclamation standalone.

See the following examples of as soon as to use quoi to say “what” in French.

EnglishFrench
What room you reasoning about?À quoi pensez-vous?
What’s it about?De quoi s’agit-il?
I wonder what it’s make with.Je me demande avec quoi il est fait.

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What go that mean then?Ça veux dire quoi alors?
He wants… what??Il veut… quoi??
What’s the time? (casual)C’est quoi l’heure?
What’s that thingamajig?C’est quoi ce truc-là?
What???Quoi???
Examples that “what” in French: Qu’est-ce que and qu’est-ce qui

As you can see, quoi is pretty useful! however remember, use que in ~ the beginning.