Intermediate French: 14 July
Intermediate French: 14 July

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1.1.2 Questions in the perfect tense

Grammar Point 2 – Asking questions in the perfect tense

When asking questions in the perfect tense, structures follow the same pattern as seen earlier for the present tense (‘Asking questions’ in 1.3 Partir ou pas?).

1 Verb (avoir/être) + subject + past participle (formal French)

  • Avez-vous vécu longtemps aux États-Unis?

  • Did you live/have you lived in the States for a long time?

  • Êtes-vous allé(e) en Inde?

  • Have you been to India?

2 Est-ce que + subject + verb (avoir/être) + past participle

  • Est-ce qu’il a réussi à son examen?

  • Did he pass his exam?

3 Subject + verb (avoir/être) + past participle, with rising intonation at the end of the sentence (informal French)

  • Have you written to your grandparents?

  • Did you leave early?

Where you need to use a question word, the equivalent structures are as follows.

4 Question word + verb (avoir/être) + subject + past participle (formal French)

  • Comment avez-vous fêté le quatorze juillet?

  • How did you celebrate 14 July?

  • Quand as-tu pris tes vacances?

  • When did you take your holidays?

  • À quelle heure est-elle arrivée?

  • What time did she arrive?

  • Qui avez-vous vu à Édimbourg?

  • Who did you see in Edinburgh?

5 Question word + est-ce que + subject + verb (avoir/être) + past participle (informal French)

Note that est-ce que is optional here, except after the interrogative pronoun que.

  • Qui (est-ce que) vous avez emmené au bal?

  • Who did you take to the dance?

  • Combien (est-ce que) ça a coûté?

  • How much did it cost?

6 Subject + verb (avoir/être) + past participle + question word (informal French)

  • Vous avez pu prendre combien de jours de congé?

  • How much holiday were you able to take?

  • Ils sont partis à quelle heure?

  • What time did they leave?

Activité 3

Traduisez les phrases suivantes en français. Pour une question, donnez au moins deux formes possibles.

Use vous in your translations, except where tu is essential.

  1. Marie-Christine, when you went to Morocco, did you see the famous mosque in Marrakesh?

  2. I noticed that you laughed when he said that.

    I didn’t laugh, I smiled, that's all.

  3. We met Marianne. Jean-Paul likes her a lot but as he is shy he didn’t open his mouth.

  4. Did you hear what I said? Pierre has had to go to Austria for his job. (Translate ‘what’ by ce que.)

  5. Did you learn German?

  6. Have you written to your cousins?

    Yes, towards the middle of June, but they haven’t answered.

  7. Last year she had lots of problems with her back. Did she suffer a lot?

  8. Have you had news from your parents?

    I received a letter yesterday.


  1. Marie-Christine, quand vous êtes allée au Maroc, avez-vous vu/(est-ce que) vous avez vu la célèbre mosquée de Marrakech?

  2. J'ai remarqué que vous avez ri quand il a dit ça.

    Je n'ai pas ri, j'ai souri, c'est tout.

  3. Nous avons recontré Marianne. Jean-Paul l'aime beaucoup mais comme il est timide il n'a pas ouvert la bouche.

  4. Avez-vous entendu/(Est-ce que) vous avez entendu ce que j'ai dit? Pierre a dû aller en Autriche pour son travail.

  5. Avez-vous appris/(Est-ce que) vous avez appris l'allemand?

  6. Avez-vous écrit/(Est-ce que) vous avez écrit à vos cousins?

    Oui, vers la mi-juin, mais ils n'ont pas répondu.

  7. L'année dernière elle a eu un tas de problèmes au dos. A-t-elle beaucoup souffert?/(Est-ce qu')elle a beaucoup souffert?

  8. As-tu eu/(Est-ce que) tu as eu des nouvelles de tes parents?

    J'ai reçu une lettre hier.

Activité 4 Écoutez l’extrait

Écoutez l’extrait et répétez chaque question pendant les pauses. Faites bien attention à l’intonation.

These are the examples given in ‘Asking questions in the perfect tense’ above. We have also recorded the five questions from Activity 4, using the structures that would be used in informal French. You don’t have to do this exercise all in one go. But you should do it as many times as necessary until you are satisfied with your intonation.

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