“How are you?”
“Where’s the restroom?”
“How much does this cost?”
Questions are important. We ask ’em, answer ’em and ponder ’em.
They make up a not-so-insignificant percentage of everything we say out loud (and also everything we think in our heads) on any given day.
And some people deal with questions a lot.
Chances are, you’ve probably long since mastered the art of asking questions in your mother tongue.
But what about asking questions in French?
Well, if you broke into a cold sweat just reading that question, never fear, because we’re here to help!
Asking and answering questions is an important part of communication in any language, and we want you to have some pretty awesome conversations in French (you’re on your way there already!).
Below, you’ll find a list of 20 of the most common French questions (and tips on how to answer them, too).
With this starter guide and a little initiative on your end, you’ll be on your way to asking, answering and pondering your own unique questions in French!
About the Questions in This Post
Qui (Who) are these questions for?
Anyone and everyone. Whether you’re traveling to France for study or vacation or just an avid French language learner looking to fill out your conversation skills, you’re going to need to be able to ask and answer some questions in French.
Quoi (What) will I learn to ask?
Questions galore! Specifically, you’ll learn how to ask and answer some of the most common, versatile questions in French. Consider this your friendly guide to taking your vocab from that drab English “How do you do?” to a fabulous French “Comment allez-vous ?”
Où (Where) can I use these French questions?
Anywhere French is spoken. Get to know the owner of that boulangerie in town, strike up a conversation with that visiting French student at your university, chat with your seat partner on your next flight to France… the possibilities are endless!
Quand (When) should I use them?
Anytime you please! Practice makes perfect, doesn’t it? Be creative and resourceful and you’ll never find yourself at a loss for ways to practice all these oh-so-wonderful French questions.
Pourquoi (Why) should I bother learning these questions?
Questions form the basis of human interaction. Really, as you’re going through this post, imagine a single day in your life in which you didn’t encounter any of the questions below.
Can’t think of one?
Comment (How) can I practice asking and answering French questions?
With a language exchange partner, of course. And finding one is now easier than ever.
Common French Questions: 19 Big Ones for Everyday Use
Okay, so we’ve convinced you that this post is kinda, sorta important, yes? Great. Well then, let’s stop dilly-dallying and get to work. Ready or not, here we go!
Introductions and Small Talk
We spend a large chunk of our lives introducing ourselves to other people. You might as well know how to do it in French, too!
1. Comment vous appelez-vous ? / Comment tu t’appelles ?
One of the easiest and fastest ways to start making new friends is by asking “What’s your name?” Use vous when the situation calls for more formality (or also when you’re asking a group of multiple people their names). Use tu when the situation is more casual/informal.
If you’re the one being asked, you can respond by saying:
Je m’appelle Brian/Lucy/Max/etc. (My name is…)
2. Comment allez-vous ? / Comment ça va ? / Ça va ?
Comment allez-vous is the equivalent of the English “How are you?” to which you can respond with any variation of “Je vais bien, et vous ?” (I’m doing well, and you?), “Bien, merci” (Good, thanks) and so on.
However, if you’re looking to be more informal, particularly when you’re speaking with a friend, “Comment ça va ?” or simply “Ça va ?” will do the trick. These are more like “Whatsup?” or “How’s everything?” Typical responses include “Ça va (bien)” (Everything’s good), “Pas trop mal” (Not bad), “Ça va pas du tout” (Everything’s going wrong), etc.
3. Comment ça s’écrit ?
“How do you spell that?” This is particularly helpful when you’re having trouble understanding what someone is saying because of a language barrier or unfamiliar regional accents.
If you’re the one being asked how to spell something, it’s always helpful to know how the letters of the alphabet are pronounced in French as well so that when you say “Margot, M-A-R-G-O-T,” your listener will actually understand you!
4. D’où venez-vous ? / D’où viens-tu ?
AKA the formal and informal ways, respectively, of asking “Where are you from?”
And if someone asks you, all you have to do is say “Je viens de…” (I’m from…).
Bonus: Sometimes, you’ll hear people use être (to be) instead of venir (to come), as in “D’où êtes-vous ?” or “Tu es d’où ?” Basically, the versions that use venir (“D’où venez-vous ? / D’où viens-tu ?”) literally mean “Where do you come from?” while the versions that use être (“D’où êtes-vous ?” / “Tu es d’où ?”) literally mean “Where are you from?”
If you haven’t yet learned to conjugate the verb venir, the present-tense conjugations are:
For the verb être, the conjugations are:
If you hear someone use the verb être in their question, you can respond with“Je suis de…” (I’m from…). Simple as that!
5. Quel âge avez-vous ? / Quel âge as-tu ?
In English, we say “How old are you?” But in French, the construction literally means “What age do you have?”
And even though in English we say “I’m 20 years old,” in French you have to say “J’ai vingt ans” or, literally, “I have 20 years.”
6. Qu’est-ce que vous étudiez ? / Qu’est-ce que tu étudies ?
Ah, the good old go-to introductory question for university students around the world: “What do you study?”
If you’re asked this, don’t panic, just repeat after me: “J’étudie…” So, if you study French, you can respond “J’étudie le français” (I study French) loud and proud!
You can find some more basic introductory French questions and sentences here.
Socializing and Making Conversation
Now that you’ve successfully gone through the introductory phase, you might want to ask some more conversational questions. Here are some common starter questions to get you going.
7. Qu’est-ce que tu vas faire ce week-end ?
“What are you going to do this weekend?” Good for prefacing asking someone out on a date, making plans with friends or just finding out what’s happening around town this weekend.
If you’re the one being asked, you can start off with “Je vais…” and carry on with whatever activity you’ll be doing this weekend, using the infinitive form of the verb. For example, “Je vais sortir avec des amis” (I’m going to go out with some friends).
8. Tu veux sortir avec nous ce soir ?
Invite a friend to join you and your crew by asking them “Do you want to go out with us tonight?” Replace nous (us) with moi (me) and you can ask someone out on a date, either romantic or platonic.
And to respond to this question, you can say anything from “Je ne peux pas, désolé !” (I can’t, sorry!) to “Pourquoi pas !” (Why not!).
9. À quelle heure commence/se termine [le concert] ?
Asking, “What time does ___ start/end?” is useful in so many contexts. From asking what time a concert starts to what time a boring lecture ends, you’ll want this question in your toolbox.
And if you know the answer, you can respond simply by saying something like:
Le concert commence à huit heures et se termine à dix heures et demie. (The concert starts at eight o’clock and ends at 10:30.)
10. Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé ?
Helpful for those curious cats who always want to know, “What happened?”
A sample response would be:
Je suis tombé malade. (I got sick.)
Said in the past tense, just like the question.
11. Quel est votre/ton passe-temps préferé ?
There’s no better way to get to know someone than by finding out what their favorite hobby is.
To respond, you can mimic the structure of the question by saying “Mon passe-temps préferé est…” (My favorite hobby is…). Or, if you’re truly passionate about your hobby and want to show it, you can say something like “J’adore jouer au foot,” or “I love playing soccer.”
Asking for Information
Asking for information is important. Here are some of the most common questions for doing so.
12. Parlez-vous anglais/français ? / Est-ce qu’il y a quelqu’un qui parle anglais/français ?
“Do you speak English/French?” / “Is there someone (here) who speaks English/French?” When you’re in a place where the native language is not the same as your native tongue, it’s always helpful to know how to ask this question.
To respond to someone else asking this, speak up and say, “Yes, I speak English,” or “Oui, je parle français” (Yes, I speak French).
13. Quelle heure est-il ?
Nowadays, with our smartphones basically attached to our palms, this question isn’t quite so common anymore. But if you watch any old movie (pre-smartphone days, of course), you’ll realize that this was a pretty common question back then (and still sort of is now, as well). So, for the sake of nostalgia, here’s how you say “What time is it?”
“Il est onze heures du matin,” or “It’s 11 a.m.,” would be a perfect response. Oh, and here’s how to tell time in French, just in case you need a little refresher!
14. À quelle heure part le train pour Paris/Marseille/etc. ?
Still on the subject of time, knowing how to ask “What time does the train depart for Paris/Marseille/wherever” is pretty useful. To ask what time anything is happening, just start the question off with “À quelle heure…” or “At what time…”
And responding to a question like this is as easy as saying, “Le train part à quinze heures,” or “The train departs at 3 p.m.” (Remember, the 24-hour clock system is pretty common in France, unlike in the U.S.!)
15. Quel temps fait-il aujourd’hui ?
“What’s the weather like today?” Again, not super useful in the age of the smartphone (unless you’re asking Siri, of course), but it’s still a wonderful go-to question for that good old awkward small talk!
And if you do ask Siri what the weather’s like, she’ll likely respond with something like “Il fait chaud/froid,” or “It’s hot/cold.” Oh, and here are some more idiomatic weather expressions to sound more authentically French. You’re welcome!
16. Quel jour sommes-nous ?
What’s the first question you’ll want to ask if you ever find yourself transported via time machine to another time? “What day is it?” Or, literally in French, “What day are we at?”
And if someone else has traveled via time machine and asks you this (or, you know, if a friend just can’t remember what day it is today…), you can say, for example:
Nous sommes lundi / C’est lundi. (It’s Monday.)
17. Où se trouve… ? / Où est… ? / Comment va-t-on à… ?
Où se trouve… literally means “Where is this specific thing found/situated?” But Où est… is just as common. They both mean “Where is… ?”
Another common variation of the question is more direction-based. “Comment va-t-on à…” is what someone would say when they want directions. It means “How do I get to… ?”
To respond, you can say, for example, “Il faut aller tout droit” (You have to go straight) or “Désolé, mais je ne sais pas” (I’m sorry, but I don’t know).
And here’s some more info about asking for and giving directions in French!
18. Est-ce que vous savez où je peux trouver… ?
Perfect for asking someone “Do you know where I can find… ?” This is great for when you’re shopping and need to find something specific quickly, without running around the store aimlessly for half an hour (we’ve all been there).
A common response would be “Ça se trouve au deuxième étage,” or “That’s on the second floor.”
But you can also use this in non-shopping contexts, as well. Use it to ask where you can find the restroom, a specific classroom, etc.
19. Combien ça coûte ?
And finally, to avoid that uncomfortable moment of “Uh-oh, I didn’t realize this T-shirt/coffee/pastry/etc. was so expensive” when you’re already at the cash register, just memorize how to ask, “How much does this cost?”
And when that barista responds “Ça coûte sept euros,” telling you that your morning latte is about to set you back a whopping seven euros, you can prepare yourself (and your wallet) adequately for the shock.
And there you have it, folks! All the common French questions you could ever want to know.
Now go forth and use ’em to your heart’s content!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.