Isn't this sentence grammatically incorrect? What is it's construction?
I have been thinking about this for a while. I know it basically means "What is this thing?" or maybe "What is this thing here?" but I can't seem to figure out the structure of the sentence. I've tried to convert it to English to break it down because I'm only A1 in French. This is what I've got so far.
Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette chose-là?
What is it that it is that this thing here?
As far as I know, asking a question by inverting "it is" to "is it" and then repeating "it is" is just for emphasis and has no effect on the structure. Therefore I simplified the sentence like this.
Qu'est-ce que c'est que -> Qu'est-ce que
What is it that it is that -> What is it that
This is where I get stumped. AFAIK, in English, any sentence that starts with "What is it that..." must than be followed by a subject+verb combination or variant. For example, "What is it that I do?" or "What is it that this thing is". There needs to be a verb. The issue is that AFAIK "là" is an preposition, making the structure of the sentence "Qu'est-ce que object+prep" Qu'est-ce que cette chose-là, which seemingly translates to "What's it that this thing here?" doesn't seem to be grammatically correct.
I don't understand this. To me, it sounds like the syntactic equivalent of asking "What's it that he here?" (which makes no sense). Can someone please explain what I'm missing here?
Surely you would need to say "Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette chose-là est?" to make it grammatically correct, no?