FR: Qu'est-ce qui se passe ?


New Member
My daughters' french teacher told her that "Qu'est-ce qui se passe" means "what's happening", but, the first part (Qu'est) I can't translate. Could someone please help?
thank you

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  • xav

    Senior Member
    = "What...?" ; we usually
    - say "Qu'est-ce que vous dites ?", "Qu'est-ce qui se passe ?"
    - and write "Que dites-vous ?", "Que se passe-t-il ?".

    The first way may only be written in dialogs.
    The second way isn't often used in conversation, except maybe between old ladies...


    Senior Member
    Or to be very precise:

    Qu'est-ce qu... = What is it that... ?

    Qu'est-ce que vous dites ? = What is it that you're saying?
    Qu'est-ce qui se passe ? = What is it that's happening?

    Note, however, that as the most common form of "What" question in French, the construction doesn't carry the emphasis that it would in English.


    English - England
    Hi I was wondering which of these is correct, or if they are both correct do they have different uses?:

    ce qui se passe?
    qu'est-ce que se passe?



    Senior Member
    British English
    Right Keith. Although 'que se passe-t-il?' is said in the interrogative form.

    'Ce qui se passe' is not a question but would make sense as part of another construction 'tout ce qui se passe...' for example.


    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    In the long forms, the first pronoun indicates whether it is a person or a thing; the second one, which is part of a relative clause, indicates whether the relative pronoun is the subject or direct object of the verb (or the object of a preposition) in the relative clause.

    Qu'est-ce qui se passe? (thing; subject of the verb) What is happening?
    Qu'est-ce que tu veux faire? (thing; direct object of the verb) What do you want?
    Qui est-ce qui dit cela? (person; subject of the relative clause) Who says that?
    Qui est-ce que tu as vu? (person; direct object of the verb in the relative clause) Who(m) did you see?


    Senior Member
    What's so confusing is that, when qui and que are interrogative pronouns, qui is used for people and que for things (regardless of them being subjects or objects), just as Hildy explained very well.


    Senior Member
    French Paris France
    The answer by Hildi1 is brilliant. And I agree also with Oddmania.

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    New Member
    I just wanted to ask why can't be used Qu'est-ce que se passe or in passé composé Qu'est-ce que s'est passé? I can't understand the difference between the sentence Qu'est-ce que c'est? -there is ,,que" as the word ,,What is this?" so in the sentence Qu'est-ce que s'est passé is not? Thank you very much for any answer/Merci beaucoup pour toute reponse:)