Deepl/Google Translate convey how come idiom in questions expressing complain like

How come nobody's ever on time to meetings?


Comment se fait-il que personne ne soit jamais à l'heure aux réunions ?

To my non-native ears it sounds a little formal with the inversion and the subjonctive. What other turns exist to convey the same meaning in a less formal way?

2 Answers 2


The first one that comes to my mind (apart from "pourquoi") is:

Comment ça se fait que [...] ?

It's the non-inverted version of "comment se fait-il" and that makes it way more informal. I don't think the subjonctive is a problem here.

You can use a lot of variations that can slightly change the meaning, such as:

  • Comment expliquer que [...]
  • Qu'est-ce que qui fait que [...] (this one, you use the present tense after, but it sounds a bit heavy in my point of view)
  • Pourquoi [...] (which is just "why" so it doesn't convey the meaning of trying to explain the "how" precisely).
  • Comment est-ce possible que [...] / Comment c'est possible que [...] (more informal)

and so on.


True, it is a bit formal, but correct.

As a native-French, I would instead probably say

Comment se fait-il que personne ne soit jamais à l'heure aux réunions ?

You could simply say (a bit familiar, not written French)

Comment ça se fait que personne ne soit jamais à l'heure ? (aux réunions)
Comment est-ce possible que jamais personne n'est à l'heure aux réunions ?

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