Is the following allowed?

Où est-ce que ma chaise est?

I know other ways to say this, that I know to be correct, are "Où est ma chaise?" or "Ma chaise est où?".

But "Où est-ce que ma chaise est?" seems like it should be correct for the same reason that "Où est-ce que tu vas?" is correct. But I've never heard the former before.

If it isn't correct, why isn't it correct?

  • 1
    Getting a slight sense that it is indeed odd but possibly influenced by the prominence of "se trouver" in this construction. By comparison nothing strikes me as odd about "Comment est-ce qu'il est ?" except wordiness. Instincts may be off. – Luke Sawczak Jun 13 at 13:23
  • @guillau4: Thanks. I just corrected it. – silph Jun 13 at 13:49
up vote 14 down vote accepted

First, "Où est-ce que tu vais?" is incorrect. The correct sentence is "Où est-ce que tu vas ?"

Short answer: "Où est-ce que ma chaise est ?" is correct.

Long answer: "est-ce que" is used in order to keep the order between the subject and the verb.

For "Ma chaise est là." the following sentences are correct:

  • "Où est ma chaise ?"
  • "Où ma chaise est-elle ?"
  • "Où est-ce que ma chaise est ?" (may sound weird)
  • "Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise ?" (may sound weird)
  • 11
    also don't forget "Où est ma chaise?". Another interesting fact, "Où est-ce que ma chaise est?" is a common idiom in Québec. – William Perron Jun 13 at 14:45
  • 7
    Going with idiomatic Québecois is a rabbit hole. Might as well call "Où c'est qu'elle est ma chaise?" idiomatic – KABoissonneault Jun 13 at 14:52
  • 4
    Even better would be : "Où est-ce qu'elle est, ma chaise?" or "Ma chaise! Où est-ce qu'elle est?" – castor Jun 13 at 14:53
  • 1
    It's grammatically correct, but I would use a synonym to the verb être in order to sound less weird.. Like.. Où est-ce que ma chaise se trouve ? – alecail Jun 13 at 18:31
  • 7
    Speaking as a native, I disagree with the statement that “Où est-ce que ma chaise est” is correct. It's comprehensible, but it sounds weird, I wouldn't say that, and I'd be surprised to hear a native say it. – Gilles Jun 13 at 21:32

As a native I would say :

  • Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise?
  • Où est ma chaise?

I think you do not say Où est-ce que ma chaise est? or at least I never hear people using it.

Maybe because it is not a pronom, because Où est-ce qu'elle est? is used.

Maybe because there is nothing behind because Où est-ce que ma chaise est passée? is also used.

I do not know the rule behind it but it sounds very wrong to me.

  • 3
    assuming i'm not mistaken, none of the grammar books for French Learners give any rule that could create "Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise?" ! – silph Jun 13 at 14:29
  • 1
    Maybe, but it does not seem wrong to me. Rules and books are nice, but they do not cover everything, especially slang. – Hawker65 Jun 13 at 14:36
  • 1
    I agree with Hawker65, rules in books are nice to learn how to speak correctly but they don't cover everything. They contain mostly general cases. Your question is hard to answer. My answer, to be honest, is opinion and experience based. This is why I said as a native. Où est-ce que ma chaise est? is apparently correct but not very used (in France Metropolitaine at least). – guillau4 Jun 13 at 15:07
  • 1
    Je n'ai jamais entendu où est-ce qu'est ma chaise ? et corrigerait certainement mes enfants s'il le disaient. Où est-ce qu'elle est ma chaise ? est en revanche courant, comme pourrait aussi être où est-ce qu'est cachée ma chaise ? – jlliagre Jun 13 at 21:19
  • While I wouldn't call “Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise” incorrect, I find it a little weird. It's one of those many redundant variants with a slightly jokey feel, like “Où qu'c'est qu'elle est ma chaise”. – Gilles Jun 13 at 21:36

No, “Où est-ce que ma chaise est?” is not correct French. I don't have a grammatical explanation for it, just my native intuition. It sounds weird, I wouldn't expect a native speaker to say it. I think the weirdness comes from having the verb être at the end of the sentence, which apparently clashes with the fact that être always requires a complement (except in philosophy).

For yes/no questions, in informal spoken French, the verb-subject-complement syntax feels stilted and wouldn't be used, leaving a choice of “est-ce que” and using intonation only to convey that the sentence is a question. For questions that start with a question adverb, the adverb-verb-subject-complement syntax is sometimes acceptable in informal spoken French. You can ask “Où est ma chaise ?” in informal spoken French. In contrast “Où vas-tu ?” is ok but a bit formal, and “Quand viens-tu ?” is very formal. I don't have a grammatical explanation for this strange difference.

In informal spoken French, you can use the adverb-subject-verb order when the subject is a pronoun. Since informal spoken french lets you use a pronoun and put its antecedent after it in the same sentence, this doesn't limit what you can express this way.

Où elle est ?   (formal: « Où est-elle ? »)
Où elle est ma chaise ?   (formal: « Où est ma chaise ? »)
Où il va ?   (formal: « Où va-t-il ? »)
Où il va ce type ?   (formal: « Où va cette personne ? »)

There's no straightforward “est-ce que” construction for “où est ma chaise”. Some of the informal variants of est-ce que do work, mostly with an extra pronoun.

Où c'qu'elle est ma chaise ?
Où qu'elle est ma chaise ?
Où qu'c'est qu'elle est ma chaise ?
Ma chaise, où qu'elle est ?
Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise ?   (sounds a bit weird, but not wrong)
Où qu'est qu'c'est qu'est ma chaise ?

Où est ma chaise?
Où se trouve ma chaise?
Où est-ce que ma chaise se trouve?

Those are the possibilities I'd go for. Maybe Où est-ce qu'est ma chaise might be right, but I can't imagine a native French speaking person say this.

"Ma chaise est où?" is not correct formal. If you want to ask a question, you need to inverse the verb and the noun : "Où est ma chaise?", like you said.

You can ask questions without the question mark, these are called "Phrase interrogative passive (ou indirecte)" or something really close to that. For example : "J'aimerais savoir où se trouve ma chaise." is a question, "without a question".

If you want more advice regarding "est-ce que", you can follow this link.

"Où est-ce que tu vas?" and "Où est-ce que ma chaise est?" are both incorrect. In a direct interrogation sentence, as I said earlier, verb and noun need to be reversed. It is not the case here, as "tu" comes before "vas" and "ma chaise" comes before "est".

We could try to flip this direct interrogation to an indirect interrogation, but in this case, as pointed in the link I... linked.. earlier, you cannot use "est-ce que" in an indirect interrogation.

The correct syntax is therefore : "Où est ma chaise" and "Où vas-tu?".

Obviously, this is the formal grammar, but in everyday's life we use pretty much all of the formulations given in the answer.

  • 2
    "Ma chaise est où?" is correct informal spoken French. “Où est-ce que tu vas?” is correct spoken or written French. “Où vas-tu?” is one correct (formal) way to phrase the question but it is not the only one. – Gilles Jun 13 at 21:31
  • I agree my first sentence might be confusing, I wrote the last sentence of my answer to specify I was speaking of a formal context. I would also like to know why do you think "Où est-ce que tu vas" is formal. I might be wrong, but I've had pretty extensive french classes at university. – IEatBagels Jun 14 at 12:26

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