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Are "que" and "quel" considered the same? Can I use them to ask "what" questions, or there are situations one is suitable and the other is not?

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Quel means “which”, but in some cases, you can also translate it as “what”.

For example:

Quel est ton animal préféré ?

means: “What is your favorite animal?”.

On this question you have to answer which animal you like most. (Yeah, I know, it can also be “what your favorite animal is”, but you can say “which” here!)


Que is most used for asking questions like: “What do you eat?”

Example:

Que manges-tu ?

is translated as: “What are you eating?”

What you have to answer is what you are eating.


Note: Que can only be used in the following forms of questions:

  • “est-ce que” (Qu'est-ce que vous dites?)
  • inversion (Que dites-vous?)

and not in questions with intonation! Then que will be replaced with quoi:

Tu manges quoi ?

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