est-ce que

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  • IPA(key): /ɛs kə/
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est-ce que

  1. Used to introduce a yes-or-no question.
    Est-ce que tu veux une chambre ?Do you want a bedroom?
    Est-ce qu’elle est arrivée ?Has she arrived?
  2. Used after a preposed interrogative to introduce the remainder of the question.
    Quand est-ce que les élèves retournent à l’école ?
    When do the students return to school?
    Combien de musées est-ce qu’il y a en France ?
    How many museums are there in France?

Usage notes[edit]

  • Before a vowel, est-ce que becomes est-ce qu’:
    est-ce qu’elle
    est-ce qu’il
  • In older forms of French, and in more formal registers of present-day French, the role of est-ce que is often fulfilled by subject-verb inversion:
    Quand viendrez-vous ?When will you come?
In fact, est-ce que itself results from subject-verb inversion; it comes from c’est quehowever, in modern French, est-ce que is a set phrase that does not necessarily function as the inversion of c’est que and the former can be used to introduce a question beginning with the latter:
Est-ce que c'est que les hommes sont partis ?
Have the men left?
  • In colloquial French, yes-or-no questions are often indicated solely by punctuation (in writing) or intonation (in speech), with no special lexical or syntactic marker:
    T'es prête ?You ready?
Similarly, non–yes-or-no questions often use the same structure as statements, with question words not being preposed:
Il a dit quoi ?He said what?
  • In informal or colloquial French, question syntax is often used instead of subject-verb inversion in indirect questions:
    Il veut savoir où est-ce qu’ils habitent.
    He wants to know where (it is that) they live.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]