2

I have seen both and am uncertain what difference there is. As far as I understand, both mean What's that? or What is it?

What is the difference? Is either preferable, or is one of them slang?

3

Qu'est-ce que c'est? is your regular What's that?, not very formal, but not specially familiar neither.

Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça? is less formal, and bears a sense either of negativity, anger, or surprise. It could be translated into What's that thing?.

On the other side of the spectrum, you could use the very formal Qu'est-ce? or Qu'est-ce donc?.

4
  • If I said something crazy like Quelle est cette chose? would that be blatantly weird? – temporary_user_name Dec 2 '13 at 9:34
  • Depending on the context, it might be plain weird, or too formal. I honestly don't see a context where this expression would be chosen over the others, at least orally. – Alexis Pigeon Dec 2 '13 at 9:40
  • 2
    Worst case scenario, one would say “Qu’est-ce [que c’est que] cette chose ?”. If you want to go less formal, I would say “C’est quoi ?” for “What’s that?” and “C’est quoi ce truc ?” for “What’s that thing?”. – Édouard Dec 2 '13 at 10:15
  • 1
    Wouldn't you say "Qu'est-ce que cette chose?" rather than "Qu'est-ce cette chose?" ? The latter seems pretty unnatural to pronounce... – Alexis Pigeon Dec 2 '13 at 10:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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