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Linguaholic

Est-ce que being both formal and informal?


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Is it true that by starting a sentence with, "est-ce que", you can follow it by an informal or formal question? I think it's pretty neat that you can use it so universally no matter who you are addressing, or what topic it is (within reason of course).

So I would be able to use, "est-ce que" no matter what I was about to ask, no matter what context it is in? Are there any exceptions to the rule that I should know so that I don't end up using it in an incorrect or inappropriate way? Thank you!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes, you can use "est-ce que" for both formal and informal settings. However, it is limited to "close-ended" questions. It is always followed or accompanied by a declarative sentence. For "open" questions, you need to add interrogative words such as quel, que, quand, comment, etc.

"Est-ce que" is also almost exclusive to spoken form. In written form,  we usually drop it from the sentence and use "inversion" instead.

Example:

Oral: Que'est-ce qu'il fait?

Written: Que fait-il?

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