French Interrogative Adjectives - Adjectifs interrogatifs

Introduction to French interrogative adjectives

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Sometimes French grammar is much stricter than English grammar. A simple question like "What book do you want?" is technically incorrect, because in proper English, the question should be "Which book do you want?" In reality, the former is much more common than the latter.

In French, however, one does not have this option: the French equivalent of which, quel, must be used whenever there is more than one noun that you are choosing between.

Like all French adjectives, quel has to agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies - see the table at the end of this lesson.

The uses of quel are fairly straightforward - you need it whenever you want to ask for specific information about a noun:

   Pierre m'a prêté un livre. Quel livre ?
   Pierre loaned me a book. Which book?

   Nous devons partir avant midi. Quelle heure est-il ?
   We have to leave before noon. What time is it?

Questions with quel may be asked with est-ce que or inversion:

   Quel livre veux-tu ? / Quel livre est-ce que tu veux ?
   What book do you want?

   Quelles pommes aime-t-il ? / Quelles pommes est-ce qu'il aime ?
   Which apples does he like?

Quel + noun may be preceded by a preposition:

   À quelle heure veux-tu partir ? / À quelle heure est-ce que tu veux partir ?
   What time do you want to leave?

   De quels livres parle-t-il ? / De quels livres est-ce qu'il parle ?

   What books is he talking about?

To ask "what is ...?" or "what are ...?" use quel plus the appropriate conjugation of être:

   Quel est le problème ?
   What's the problem?

   Quelles sont les différences ?
   What are the differences?

French Interrogative Adjectives

Related Lessons

   Quel plus a noun can be replaced by the interrogative pronoun lequel.
   Quel is also the French exclamative adjective.
   Also see my lesson on n'importe quel and other expressions with n'importe.