when to use ce que and qu'est ce que

Posts: 0
Santa Clarita , CA
United States
May 2, 2013
Jan 27, 2018 at 1:50am

French Level 2 lesson 4- When Caroline went over the lesson she said that whenever the question"what" was inside a phrase to use "ce que" instead of "qu'est-ce que", and gave the example "Tu sais ce que tu veux manger". But when she went over the dialog "qu'est-ce que" was used in the middle of the following phrase- "Tres bien, et qu'est-ce que tu veux boire". Which is the correct one to use?

Posts: 0
United States
Feb 6, 2011
Jan 30, 2018 at 4:33pm

Just a note, first off, regarding your other post, the Fluenz Commons is an open-source forum where we let users help other users, so if you don't have a response in a few days, please be patient.If you want to move your post up to become more visible to others, you can add an additional comment and it'll put it on top. Others from the team such as myself do answer questions when possible.
To answer your question, Qu'est-ce que was used in the middle of the phrase, however, it was a new clause, which is the same as if it were at the beginning of a question. You wouldn't ever say "Tres bien, et ce que tu veux boire?" because of the "et" that comes before. Hope this helps!

Emilie Poyet
Posts: 0
Barcelona, Catalunya
United States
Dec 1, 2010
Mar 15, 2018 at 7:39am

"Qu'est-ce que" only translates the question word "what", so in the example you mention, it doesn't start the phrase, but it's as if it did, there's no real other "phrase" before it, just "très bien" + it comes after "et", so it could be a phrase of its own: "Qu'est-ce que tu veux boire?"
Now, Whenever "what" is used as a relative pronoun to link two phrases together, (and NOT a question word), the translation is "ce que".
For example: "I don't know what she wants" would be "Je ne sais pas ce qu'elle veut"
"I understand what you want to say" = "Je comprends ce que tu veux dire"
Note that contrary to the first one, they're not really questions + One trick that can help is that generally they couldn't be a phrase on their own (you can't just say "what she wants, what you want to say" right?), so whenever that happens you know you need "ce que" in French, and not "qu'est-ce que".
Hope this helps!

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