Quel est le cas maintenant?

I know this is the right way to say it, however, would it be wrong if I put :

Qu'est-ce que le cas maintenant?

I know they both mean 'what' literally, I'm just curious about the ways we use them. Does qu'est-ce que need est after it to make this work?

  • 3
    Your second sentence is just not correct...
    – Laurent S.
    Jan 7, 2020 at 15:50
  • 1
    Could you explain why? Jan 7, 2020 at 16:04
  • To be completely honest, I would have a hard time relating to grammatical rules, some others here are much more "technical" than me on that :-) If I had been able to make a detailed answer, I would have done it.
    – Laurent S.
    Jan 7, 2020 at 16:11
  • "Qu'est-ce que le cas maintenant" is not correct, and has to be expressed with "quel". See the definition and use of "quel". "Qu'est-ce que..." would imply that you define something.
    – Quidam
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:31
  • 2
    Hi! What are you trying to say with quel est le cas maintenant? ? What cas is that?
    – user19187
    Jan 9, 2020 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


Both sentences are grammatically correct but there is an issue with cas which is odd here and make them unidiomatic.

If we replace it with choix which works better, we have:

Quel est le choix maintenant ?

which is correct and means:

What is the choice now?


Qu'est-ce que le choix maintenant ?

which is still correct but unlikely to be used as it means:

Qu'est-ce, le choix, maintenant ?

which translates to:

What is "choice" now?


How would you define "choice" now?

while I guess the expected meaning is What's the choice now?.

Note: Qu'est-ce que le... is usually replaced nowadays by qu'est-ce que c'est que le... or in spoken French by c'est quoi le... The latter can be used to mean either "what's the.." and "what means..."

  • Je dirais plutôt Qu'est-ce que le choix est maintenant ?. Mais je préfère de beaucoup la première possibilité
    – Damien
    Jan 7, 2020 at 17:06
  • @Damien Ce deuxième est est le plus souvent omis dans ce style de tournure. Qu'est-ce que le Tiers-État ?, Qu'est-ce que le travail ?, etc.
    – jlliagre
    Jan 7, 2020 at 17:49
  • Avec cette tournure, sans verbe, le sens est différent, comme tu l'indiques d'ailleurs dans ta réponse
    – Damien
    Jan 7, 2020 at 19:13
  • 1
    I really don't think that "Qu'est-ce que le cas maintenant?" is grammatically correct. "qu'est-ce que le"-> quel. "Qu'est-ce que le choix est maintenant" -> grammatically incorrect. I suggest you send the sentences to the Académie, because all I could say is only me. But it seems really incorrect.
    – Quidam
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:29
  • @Quidam No grammatical rule is broken in Qu'est-ce que le cas maintenant ?. However, the sentence is unlikely to mean what the OP expects and doesn't make much sense anyway because qu'est-ce que le is a literary form that expects a substantive to be explained but le cas doesn't looks like this. There are well known sentences using that pattern like the ones I already quoted in a previous comment.
    – jlliagre
    Jan 8, 2020 at 2:36

I The problem is purely one of context and of confusion between the meaning of "quel" and the interrogative locution "qu'est-ce que" (considered to be a pronoun in French grammar today); both forms are perfectly idiomatic; the first will fit a common context, the second will be rare as the context it entails is rare for the word "case", and so we are not used to hear it or read it.

The first question is asking which element among a certain more or less known number of elements is the one that is relevant.

(TLFi) [Quel, adj. interr. + subst. interroge sur l'identité, rarement sur la qualité]

  • — Quel est le cas maintenant?

    — C'est le cas que l'on a traité hier.
    — C'est le nominatif.

The second question is asking what is the nature of a certain element named by a word of which, in fact, the meaning is what is being asked.

  • — Qu'est-ce que le cas maintenant ?
    — Le cas maintenant c'est ce que ça a toujours été, le nom de la fonction grammaticale du nom dans la phrase, rien de neuf. (1)

We can notice that numerous nouns commute with "cas" naturally when "maintenant" is removed.

  • Qu'est-ce que le Web ?
  • Qu'est-ce que la télévision ?
  • Qu'est-ce que la course à pied ?

Adding "maintenant" restricts the context enormously, wherefrom the apparent unnaturalness. However, the special instance of the pupil that believes that the name "cas" in the context of latin grammar could have more than one meaning as his/her "maintenant" points to a possibly new acceptation ((1)), makes it unmistakable that the form is idiomatic.

II Could we use the second sentence to render the exact same meaning carried by the second one?

If we consider the commutation examined above we see that this is never the case. Would the addition of an adverbial change that ("maintenant")? I think it wouldn't, I see no possibility of that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.