Why use est-ce que
June 2, 2012
June 3, 2012
June 9, 2012
December 7, 2012
February 26, 2015
Hello, just started the course about 10 days ago and am confused
about Est-ce-que. For example I thought I understood Est-ce
que from lesson 1.3 there were recorded samples that this meant
"Do" or Est-ce que vous? is "do you"
Now I'm in 2.1 and see examples that Est-ce que starts off meaning "Is" - the Picasso museum nearby? Then later in the lesson its used as in the blue box is Est-ce que as "Are" you ready? I looked on line at other French resources and see "Can"
So, really?! There are now 4 uses Est-ce que all spelled the same and no real difference in text that I can tell. And there isn't any explanation in the course?
February 26, 2015
As Marie-Claire sais, "est-ce que..." translates as "is it that..." and is used in front of statements to make questions of them.
Try using the My Vocab feature and type Est-ce que. Then look at the phrases you see and the English translations. Copy and paste here the phrases you would like to discuss.
I wish the tool would let me pick the search language and create a lesson filter and generate a link I could share, but it should work for you fine. You will find many more than you list above.
If you study Chinese, it is like the ma 吗 that they put at the end of a phrase to make a question. It's a question word. In chinese the same word is used for names and for parts of other words like horse. In French, the position is different. In fact, I prefer this simplicity over English. Why must we create so many different ways of asking a question? Silly, isn't it?
February 26, 2015
This is more of a usage tip/observation. I have one tutor who converses using "tu" and another who converses using "vous". My "vous" tutor always asks me questions using "Est-ce que" form, while my "tu" tutor will either use "Est-ce que" or just inflect the subject-verb to form a question (i.e. "Est-ce que tu as fini ? or "Tu as fini ?"), so I get the impression that there's a subtle element of formality or politeness in using "Est-ce que", though not as formal as an inversion ("As-tu fini ?).
February 27, 2015
Jason/Torusan, thanks. I did a search in the vocab like you suggested and yes it comes back with 5 pages from results Est-ce que. The majority though seem to start with Do which is what i understood it to be and maybe I'm safe to assume that usage mainly. Jason, I don't agree that creating more ways of a question, isn't necessary. Take a look at the samples from the coureses
Est-ce que vous me comprenez ? - Do you undertand me?
Est-ce que tu as soif? - Are you thirsty?
These are (from English 2 different questions) yet same Est-ce in French. You wouldn't say "Do you thirsty"? in English or "Are you understand me"?
Sorry still confused but maybe overanalyzing it.
March 2, 2015
Ah, yes. Well, these are yes/no answer questions. You might ask them in English like below and anybody would undertand you:
Est-ce que (vous me comprenez) ? - You understand me, no?
Est-ce que (tu as soif) ? - You are thirsty, no?
Est-ce que (statement) ? - (statement), no?
Answer: oui ou non, yes or no.
Does that help?
In casual English like that, you could say at the end (is it (true) that, is it so, no, yes, correct, hmm)? and anybody will understand you are just asking if they agree with the statement you made. Depending on the situation, they may volunteer more details (how, what, when, why, where, which). Est-ce que is just for a yes/no purpose. There are other ways to ask for specific information.
See Marie-Claire's answer above, it is very complete, in my opinion.
March 9, 2015
Hi Jason, I sincerely appreciate your response and how quickly you respond! I think this makes sense, my trouble is I tend to over analyze things--my son is twittering/e-mailing and has friends in France he practices with and was quite surprised at my dilemma. He showed me some of his conversations and he said that the Est-ce que just wasn't used that much vs. tu as soif for example. He seems to think native French speakers (friends likely) don't really use as much.
Also, I've downloaded all the lessons onto my iPhone and listen diligently on the plane, etc and almost whenever I can, and verbs particuarly just don't seem to sink in for me. Is there any suggestions on learing verbs better? I did see a question in the forum and Marie suggested the Megacard games but they're just too advanced. I've only been at this 3 weeks or so and realize I need patience, but any other suggestions highly appreciated.
March 9, 2015
Your son is probably right. Est-ce que isn't needed.
I think people learn as fast as they need. The bigger your "Why am I doing this?", the faster you will go. Use the motivation section here at Rocket Languages to help you.
As for materials to help you go faster, first do the lessons here as fast as you can then try Duolingo and Memrise. Maybe Livemocha (if you are on a computer most of the day because they have no mobile app). Here are some other ideas:
For verbs, try using the quiz on www.verb2verbe.com. They have an iPhone/iPad app also that you may like. Or search for "French Verb Conjugation" by Joseph WIlliamson. It is a beautiful app that makes it easy to practice the conjugations.
March 10, 2015
Dan, just to emphasize an earlier point, your son is talking to peers, so yes, their register is informal, and that's why they're not likely to use "Est-ce que..." in their questions. If they are asking a question to a teacher though, they are more likely to use it, because it's in a formal, spoken context.
One thing that I picked up a few months ago were the verb drill sets from French Today. They're mp3s, roughly 20 minutes each, and focuses on common verbs. To be honest, I found them too easy for my level, but I think they're better suited for someone looking for a good conjugation foundation.
March 10, 2015
"est-ce que..." translates as "is it that..." and is used in front of statements to make questions of them. However, remember there are several ways of asking a questions in French. Taking the sentence you supplied:
Tu as soif? - this is simply the statement with and upward inflection to indicate it is a question.
As-tu soif? - in this type of question, the verb and the pronoun are switched to indicate a question as in the English "Are you thirsty?" from "You are thirsty"
Est-ce que tu as soif? - is simply adding 'est-ce que..' to the beginning of the statement in order to make it a question. It translates literally as, "Is it that you are thirsty?"
All three types of question can and are used interchangeably and neither one is used for than the other.
I hope this helps,
March 15, 2015