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Question Structure

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mccann.mark.e
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APO, AO
Registered:
Jul 14, 2018
Aug 29, 2018 at 8:04am

I have an issue, I don't think the instructor is correct in presenting the options when forming questions. She states there is "only one way," but I don't believe that is correct. For example, for the question, "How is she?" the instructor gives, "Comment elle va?" HOWEVER, it is just as common to say, "Comment va-t-elle?" Also, instead of saying, "Je peux partir demain?" as a a question: "Can I leave tomorrow," it is just as common to say, "Puis-je partir demain?" You can invert pronoun and verb (they call it "Inversion"). I think maybe she's trying to keep it simple, by not overloading us to soon, but it is misleading to say there is only one way to form questions with pronouns. btw... I'm using this course as a review so I've had this material before.

andy@fluenz
Posts: 0
France
United States
Registered:
Feb 6, 2011
Aug 29, 2018 at 2:20pm

You're right that there are different ways to form a question, such as "Comment elle va?" and "Comment va-t-elle?". It's important to know that the inversion form exists, however, it is not common in everyday situations. You won't hear the second. It's used mostly in literature/writing. I'm sure in school you were taught the inversion form as I was, however, in the 7 years I've been in France, I have rarely heard it used in everyday speech. I hope this helps clarify things. Fabrice, who is a French native and a regular in the Commons has mentioned this before here .

Emilie Poyet
Posts: 0
Barcelona, Catalunya
United States
Registered:
Dec 1, 2010
Aug 30, 2018 at 10:57am

Hi mccann.mark.e, I wasn't able to find in which level/session the instructor states this, could you please let us know where you heard this comment?
One of the difficulties of French is that there are indeed several ways of building questions, depending on the type of question, the context and the level of formality...
In Fluenz as the instructor explains in level 1, we present the material in blocks, so we chose to teach the most common and easiest way of building questions, then we add on to it and teach other structures little by little, from:
Comment elle va?
to Comment est-ce qu'elle va?
to Elle va comment?
We decided not to include: Comment va-t-elle? in Fluenz 1-5 since, as Andy explained, it is hardly ever used in spoken French, and these 5 levels focus mostly on speaking. We would definitely include this form in higher levels though.
In any case thanks for commenting, let us know if we can help any further on this matter.

Fabrice
Posts: 0
San Diego, CA
United States
Registered:
Sep 17, 2012
Aug 30, 2018 at 1:08pm

That's kind of a tough one, because there are some common inversions that do not sound too formal. To me, "comment va-t-elle" doesn't sound as formal as "puis-je partir demain". Indeed "comment elle va?" sounds a bit too informal to me, but "je peux partir demain?" sounds absolutely normal, something you would hear everywhere. "Comment est-ce qu'elle va" is better, and "Elle va comment" is in between. I would say that in general, the inversion sounds too formal, and as Andy and Emilie explained, it's usually found in writing, and you will hear it a lot in old french movies too, but nowadays the inversion is less common. We recognize classic french teaching when someone speaks with inversions all the time! I have to add that French is difficult in that there are two forms of the language, written and oral, and they are very different, unlike spanish or italian, so unless you're planning to study french for litterature only, I would stick with what Fluenz teaches you, and you can then learn the more formal when you have a good foundation of the day to day French when you finish level 5 !

toltec
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Registered:
May 5, 2016
Sep 8, 2018 at 6:51pm

I think for learners they don't want to give too many options, just the usual way, until advanced or students could get overwhelmed. In Spanish the common forms could vary across Latin America. Esp. Colloquial

mccann.mark.e
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APO, AO
Registered:
Jul 14, 2018
Sep 18, 2018 at 2:50pm

Thanks Fabrice and everyone else... I live in Belgium and for the last few months I've been saying "Pius-je" this and "puis-je" that. Nobody has raised an eyebrow yet... but I'll adjust by saying "Je peux" instead. I have no need to write anything in French; all my needs are to speak in stores, restaurants, and l'hotel de ville. My needs revolve around natural spoken communication. Noting, of course, there are some minor differences in Belgian French than the French spoken in France.

mccann.mark.e
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Jul 14, 2018
Sep 18, 2018 at 2:50pm

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mccann.mark.e
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Sep 18, 2018 at 2:51pm

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mccann.mark.e
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Sep 18, 2018 at 2:51pm

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mccann.mark.e
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Sep 18, 2018 at 4:32pm

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