I was wondering whether posing an alternative question (that cannot be answered with yes and no, but with the constituents) sounds natural if you use a full subject (no pronoun) and no “est-ce que”.

This would be an example:

Question: Paul veut une pomme ou une banane?

Answer: Une banane.

Does it sound natural? Would it sound better with dislocation:

Paul, il veut une pomme ou une banane?

  • 1
    Please provide some context. Is this question expected to be asked orally or in writing ? Who is asking the question and to whom ?
    – jlliagre
    Mar 20, 2019 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Yes, it sounds very natural. So does the second version with dislocation.

To be clear, it is very natural oral and informal French, but would not be considered correct. The correct phrasing is "Paul veut-il une pomme ou une banane ?" (or "Est-ce que Paul veut une pomme ou une banane ?"), but you would rarely hear that in everyday spoken French.

  • 1
    I don't think it is incorrect to say "Paul, il …"; this form results from a broad ellipsis of complement and/or verb: "Au tour de Paul", "À Paul (maintenant)", "Passons à Paul"; for more important things other similar full forms are possible and it is just as usual to use an ellipsis: "(Venons-en à) Paul, qu'est-ce qui conviendrait le mieux pour ses vacances ?". There is one thing that can be said though and that is that the elliptical form can sound less elegant, particularly in important context and finally that the elliptical form is not to be used in formal contexts.
    – LPH
    Mar 21, 2019 at 7:18
  • Technically it is incorrect not to invert the subject and the verb. Correct: "Paul, veut-il une pomme ou une banane ?"
    – Seub
    Mar 21, 2019 at 11:05
  • @Seub I hightly recommand you the following link: francaisfacile.com/exercices/exercice-francais-2/…
    – Ced
    Mar 21, 2019 at 11:22
  • We can't call it incorrect when that's really almost all that is used in print in certain cases; take for example "Tu veux un café ?". What we can say is that it belongs to a colloquial register; it's not formal; for instance, in a restaurant, a waiter should never say "Vous voulez un café ?"; that would be considered (champ 1)
    – LPH
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:06
  • very unusual, the tone of familiarity that implies being unacceptable in this context; however, if the waiter knows the custome well and is on friendly terms with him, without necessarily using the second person singular he can say "Vous voulez un café ? " and there is no problem. (fin)
    – LPH
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:11

Both are correct even if they are very colloquial.

As alternatives questions you could say:

If you ask him directly:

De quels fruit as-tu envie, Paul ? Il me reste une pomme et une banane.

Quel fruit veux-tu, Paul ? Il me reste une pomme et une banane.

Paul, veux-tu une pomme ou une banane ?

If you ask someone else:

S'il te plait, demande à Paul si il veut une pomme et une banane.

Paul veut-il une pomme ou une banane ?

  • Nothing wrong! I am just pointing out that what you say is correct is different from what the OP wrote.
    – Seub
    Mar 21, 2019 at 11:31
  • Your examples seem quite unatural for someone you are tutoying. Do you say or hear this often?
    – XouDo
    Jan 19, 2022 at 9:02
  • @XouDo Hi! Yes, the examples I gave can be heard in everyday life. Like many languages, there are different ways of expressing yourself, all are correct the best way to express yourself is the one that suits you!
    – Ced
    Jan 19, 2022 at 12:40
  • Ok, I guess in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, maybe people talk like that in their everyday life, but elsewhere, I guess it'd sound quite strange.
    – XouDo
    Jan 19, 2022 at 13:01

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