Declarative & Interrogative Sentences

A declarative sentence makes a statement, and consist of a subject and a predicate. They can be simple or compound, and end with a period. (So basically, a declarative sentence is everything but a question or an exclamation.) The structure of a declarative sentence is standard: subject, verb, object.

Nous avons passé un bon séjour. | We had a pleasant stay.

An interrogative sentence asks a question. A declarative sentence may be turned into a question in three simple ways in French.

🔵  The word order of the declarative sentence may be retained, but with the voice raised at the end of the sentence to mark a question. This form of interrogation is common in colloquial speech.

Tu as déjà invité Charles pour demain ? |Have you already invited Charles for tomorrow?

🔵  The declarative sentence may be prefaced by est-ce que. This form is more common in spoken than written French.

Est-ce que vous avez vu ce film ? | Have you seen that movie?

🔵  Inversion – this form is more characteristic of formal spoken or written French, and may sound unnatural in normal conversation. It is rare to use inversion with the subject je and a verb in the present tense, with the exception of puis-je and suis-je.

When the subject of a verb is a pronoun, the inversion is straightforward:

Savez-vous si le train sera à l’heure ? | Do you know if the train will be on time?

With verbs ending in a vowel, -t- must be placed between the inverted verb and the subject pronouns il/elle/on. This is for pronunciation reasons:

A-t-il répondu ? | Has he responded?

Apprécie-t-on jamais les richesses de la vie ? | Does one ever appreciate the treasures of life?

When the subject of a verb is a noun, simple inversion cannot be used. Instead, the noun stands at the start of the phrase, followed by the verb + the pronoun corresponding to the subject:

L’étudiant savait-it qu’il est défendu de fumer dans les salle de classe ? | Did the student know that it is forbidden to smoke in the classroom?

Have a great week, everyone!

Merci à vous !


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