What is this? / What is that?

jdgamble

Senior Member
US, English
How would I differentiate between the two if I use them one after the other?

Could I say...

Qu'est-ce que c'est que cela? (what is that [there])
Qu'est-ce que c'est que ceci? (what is this [here])

Although that makes sense, it seems to me that there is a better way.

Merci d'avance,
 
  • GerardM

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi jdgamble,

    > Qu'est-ce que c'est que cela? (what is that [there])
    > Qu'est-ce que c'est que ceci? (what is this [here])

    Polite:
    | Qu'est-ce que cela ?
    | Qu'est-ce que ceci ?


    Formal and even a bit affected:
    | Qu'est-ce là ? Qu'est cela ?
    | Qu'est ceci ?


    Familiar: Qu'est-ce que c'est ça ? et ceci ?

    Slang: Qu'est-ce que c'est que ce truc là/ci ?
     

    jdgamble

    Senior Member
    US, English
    What about these and those?

    - What are these?

    Qu'est-ce que ceux-ci?

    - What are those?

    Qu'est-ce que ceux-là?

    et...

    - These are:

    Ceci sont...

    - Those are

    Celà sont

    ou Est-ce que j'ai besoin de dire (Ce sont) pour les deux?


    and this / that is:

    - This is

    C'est?



    Merci,
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi,

    We French speakers are simply not used to telling this and that apart! Ceci is barely used in spoken language, so is cela (which is contracted into ça most of the time).

    What is that (over there) ? → Qu'est-ce que c'est (que ça) (là-bas) ?
    What is this (here) ? → Qu'est-ce que c'est (que ça) (là/ici) ?

    If you are talking about present/past things, then you can add à l'époque (at the time, back in my days) and de nos jours/aujourd'hui (nowadays).

    If you are talking about something you like/dislike, then you can add idiomatic expressions or change the whole structure.

    Who's that guy?? → C'est qui, ce type ??
    Who is this lady? → Qui est cette jeune femme ?

    The difference between those and these is even slighter in French... You can still add the kind of words I said (là-bas, là, ici, à l'époque, aujourd'hui,...)

    What's these/those/that/this/it → Qu'est-ce que c'est (que ça) ?
    Those/These are... → Ce sont...
    That/This/it is... → C'est...

    However, C'est + plural is very common in spoken language (as There's + plural in English).
     

    jdgamble

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Well I'm trying to translate this/that and these/those in this context:

    What is that? That is a pen (or whatever).

    What is this? This is a book.

    What are these? These are shoes.

    What are those? Those are magazines... etc.


    Any suggestions? Also I'm teaching this to a native french speaker.

    Merci d'avance,
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Well I'm trying to translate this/that and these/those in this context:

    What is that? That is a pen (or whatever).

    What is this? This is a book.

    What are these? These are shoes.

    What are those? Those are magazines... etc.


    Any suggestions? Also I'm teaching this to a native french speaker.

    Merci d'avance,
    Then you can do as I said :)

    Qu'est-ce que c'est, là-bas ? Là-bas, c'est un stylo.
    Qu'est-ce que c'est, là ? Là, c'est un livre.
    etc...


    If you try to teach this to a French speaker, then I don't think any translation would help him. Just tell him this/these are used for near things (in space, time, or up in your esteem) and that/those are used for distant, far-off things (in space, time or down in your esteem).

    Pieanne's suggestion is also very true. My solutions work for a dialogue in a novel or in anything written, but most of the time you point to the thing you're talking about.
     
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