I have been watching a French TV series (Les Témoins / Witnesses) with English subtitles.
In one scene a cop was interrogating a kidnapper about the whereabouts of his victim (another cop), and clearly asked "Il est où?".
In another completely unrelated scene a distraught mother was talking to herself about her missing baby, and also said repeatedly "Il est où?".
This got me wondering about the difference between "Il est où?" vs "Où est-il?":
- Both of the scenes I described above were tense and emotional. Was that a factor in the use of "Il est où?" rather than "Où est-il?", or would using "Où est-il?" have been equally appropriate?
- In general, when would one form be preferred over the other?
- Are there any situations where it would sound odd - or even be incorrect - to use one form rather than the other?
Also, do the same rules apply if the person you are asking about is named? In English one can say "Where is Justin?" or "Justin is where?", but the latter form is only used rarely, in very specific situations. For example:
- Where is Justin?
- Justin is stuck in the chimney!
- Justin is where?
How about in French? One can say "Où est Justin?", but what about "Justin est où?".