Languages › French Basics of French Word Order with Inversion Share Flipboard Email Print Cultura RM Exclusive/Twinpix/Getty Images French Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Resources For Teachers By ThoughtCo Updated February 25, 2020 The order of words in a French sentence can be very confusing, due to dual-verb constructions; object, adverbial, and reflexive pronouns; and negative structures. The basics of this are discussed in the compound verb and dual-verb lessons, but inversion further complicates matters. What Is an Inversion Inversion is commonly used to ask questions: the subject and verb are inverted and joined by a hyphen. Tu lis - Lis-tu? Vous voulez - Voulez-vous ? A. Simple (single) verb constructions The pronouns precede the verb and the negative structure surrounds that group: ne + pronouns + verb-subject + part two of negative structure. Lis-tu Are you reading?Le lis-tu ? Are you reading it?Ne lis-tu pas ? Aren't you reading?Ne le lis-tu pas ? Aren't you reading it?Ne me le lis-tu pas ? Aren't you reading it to me? B. Compound verbs (conjugated auxiliary verb + past participle) The pronouns directly precede the inverted auxiliary/subject and the negative structure surrounds that: ne + pronouns + auxiliary verb-subject + part two of negative structure +past participle. As-tu mangé Did you eat?L'as-tu mangé? Did you eat it?T'es-tu habillé? Did you get dressed?N'as-tu pas mangé? Didn't you eat?Ne l'as-tu pas mangé? Didn't you eat it?Ne t'es-tu pas habillé? Didn't you get dressed?Ne l'y as-tu pas mangé? Didn't you eat it there? C. Dual-verb constructions (conjugated verb + infinitive) The negative structure surrounds the inverted conjugated verb/subject and the pronouns are placed between the second negative word and the infinitive: ne + conjugated verb-subject + part two of negative structure + preposition (if any) + pronoun(s) + infinitive. Veux-tu manger? Do you want to eat?Veux-tu le manger? Do you want to eat it?Veux-tu te doucher? Do you want to take a shower?Ne veux-tu pas manger? Don't you want to eat?Ne veux-tu pas le manger? Don't you want to eat it?Ne veux-tu pas te doucher? Don't you want to take a shower?Continuerons-nous à travailler? Will we continue to work?Continuerons-nous à y travailler? Will we continue to work there?Ne continuerons-nous pas à travailler? Won't we continue to work?Ne continuerons-nous pas à y travailler? Won't we continue to work there? Sometimes the object pronoun precedes the first verb; in French, the object pronoun has to go in front of the verb it modifies. If there is a second pronoun, that gets placed as in C above. Promets-tu d'étudier? Do you promise to study?Ne promets-tu pas d'étudier? Don't you promise to study?Ne me promets-tu pas d'étudier? Don't you promise me that you'll study?Ne me promets-tu pas de l'étudier? Don't you promise me that you'll study it?Me promets-tu d'étudier? Do you promise me that you'll study?