Example sentence:

Combien de temps cela prend-t-il pour faire la correspondance ?

Translated into English, this says how long does it take to make a connection? What I don't undertand in this sentence, however, is how the word cela fits in with the rest of it all. What exactly is its function in there?

  • It s "prend-il" and not "prend-t-il"
    – Distic
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 10:06
  • Thank you. That was a typo. I was typing that out by hand and missed the "t" for some reason.
    – user69786
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 19:37
  • There is no t, that's the point.
    – Distic
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 20:27
  • 1
    Concerning the euphonic/analogic T in French: Banque de dépannage linguistique, Université d'Ottawa, Le Figaro, Académie française, etc. Sources are numerous and all point to the same conclusion. I believe you can trust users here more than your book... Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 0:30
  • 1
    And of course, it's also been discussed right here on French Stack Exchange, with more of the same rules leading to the same spelling and correct usage. Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 0:35

1 Answer 1


Without cela, the sentence is:

Combien de temps prend-il pour faire la correspondance ?

In this case, we basically assume "il" to be someone, as in "How long does he take to make a connection?".

So we add a cela:

Combien de temps cela prend-il pour faire la correspondance ? Which means, "How long does it take to make a connection?"

Actually, the interrogative form of "X fait" (replace "X" by any subject except "il, elle, on" and "fait" by any verb) is not "fait-X...?" but "X fait-il...?". See

Combien de temps cela fait-il que nous ne nous sommes pas vus?

Cela fait 3 ans.


Combien de temps cela va-t-il durer ?

Cela va durer une heure.

But also

Quel problème Marc a-t-il rencontré ?

Comment Marie fait-elle pour supporter ça ?

Combien de fois ton chien est-il sorti de sa niche ?

  • Could you provide English translations for your examples?
    – user69786
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 0:50
  • Just write them in parentheses after the corresponding French examples.
    – user69786
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 12:46

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