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French Slang

A Closer Look

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The Structure of a Question

A. Inversion and "est-ce que" forms


The structure of a question is extremely important when trying to speak like a native. Even in English, there is a "relaxed" way of speaking. Questions are often in the form of statements:


You're going to Europe next week?

This construction is even more important when using slang. If one were to use slang terms in a sentence that was constructed and articulated academically, it would sound unnatural:


Do you think she is going to be so ticked off at him that she

will freak out in front of the whole class?

More informal pronunciation actually sounds less jarring:


Ya think she's gonna be so ticked off ad'em she's gonna freak

oud' in fronna the whole class?

In colloquial French, a question is almost always constructed this way, as a statement with a question mark at the end. Traditionally, the inversion and est-ce que forms are used in questions:

Inversion form:

Veux-tu déjeuner chez moi?

"est-ce que" form:

Est-ce que tu veux déjeuner chez moi?



However, in colloquial French, these two forms are rarely used:


Veux-tu déjeuner chez moi? =

Tu veux déjeuner chez moi?

Est-ce que tu vas mieux? =

Tu vas mieux?

IMPORTANT: Because slang is casual and informal “language”, the structure of any sentence containing slang should be casual and informal as well or it may tend to sound phony!


B. The structure of a question when using interrogative terms


The previous rule also applies to interrogative temrs: combien (de), comment, oû, quand, quel(le), qui and quoi. The interrogative term is placed at the beginning of the statement, transforming it into a question.







(how much)

Combien pèses-tu? =

Combien tu pèses?

(How much do you weight?)


(how many, how much)

Combien d'enfants a-t-elle?=

Combien elle en a, d'enfants?

(How many children does she have?)

NOTE: This is a strange one! In academic

French, we are taught that de always 

follows combien when meaning " how

many." However, in colloquial French,

the object is placed at the end ot the

question as well as between the subject

and verb in the form of the redundant

pronoun en



Comment vas-tu?=

Comment tu vas?

(How are you?)


Où vas-tu maintenant? =

Où tu vas maintenant?

(Where are you going now?)

NOTE: This also applies to d'où

D'où viens-tu? =

D'où tu viens?

(Where do you come from?) 



Pourquoi as-tu acheté ça?

Pourquoi t'as acheté ça?

(Why did you buy that?)



Quand est-ce qu'ils vont arriver?=

Quand ils vont arriver?(When are they going to arrive?)



Quelle heure est-il?=

Quelle heure il est?

(What time is it?)


(who and whom - as objects)

Qui rencontres-tu à l'aéroport?=

Qui tu rencontres à l'aéroport?

(Who are you meeting at the airport?)

NOTE: this also applies to à qui, avec

qui, pour qui, etc. For example:

A qui tu parles?

Avec qui tu danses?

Pour qui t'as fait ça? 



Qu'est-ce que tu vas porter ce soir?=

Tu vas porter quoi ce soir?

NOTE: quoi is a little different from the

other interrogative pronouns because it

never begins a statement but rather follows the verb.

Also: C'est quoi, ça? is an extremely

common colloquial substitute for

"qu'est-ce que c'est?" 

à quoi

(to what)

À quoi penses-tu?=

À quoi tu penses?

(What are you thinking about?)

de quoi

(about what)

De quoi parles-tu?=

De quoi tu parles?

(What are you talking about?)