Share this entry

Share this page


Pronunciation: /wɒt; (AmE) hwɒt/

As a pronounWhen used in questions as an object pronoun what is translated by qu'est-ce que ( qu'est-ce qu' in front of a vowel or mute 'h'): what did you say? qu'est-ce que tu as dit? Alternatively you can use que ( qu' before a vowel or mute 'h'), but note that subject and verb are reversed and a hyphen is inserted before a pronoun: what did you say? qu'as-tu dit?As a subject pronoun in questions what is translated by qu'est-ce qui: what is happening? qu'est-ce qui se passe? Alternatively que can be used and the subject and verb are reversed and the subject becomes il: what is happening? que se passe-t-il?When what is used to introduce a clause it is translated by ce que ( ce qu') as the object of the verb: I don't know what you want je ne sais pas ce que tu veux. As the subject of the verb it is translated by ce qui: what matters is that... ce qui compte c'est que...


  • with what? avec quoi? and what else? et quoi d'autre? what for? (why) pourquoi? (about what) à propos de quoi? what's the matter? qu'est-ce qu'il y a? what's her telephone number? quel est son numéro de téléphone? what's that button for? à quoi sert ce bouton? what's it like? comment c'est? do what you want fais ce que tu veux take what you need prends ce dont tu as besoin what I need is... ce dont j'ai besoin c'est... and what's more et en plus and what's worse et en plus he did what? il a fait quoi? George what? George comment?


  • quel/quelle/quels/quelles do you know what train he took? est-ce que tu sais quel train il a pris? what a nice dress/car! quelle belle robe/voiture! what a strange thing to do! quelle drôle d'idée! what use is that? à quoi ça sert? what money he earns he spends tout ce qu'il gagne, il le dépense what few friends she had les quelques amis qu'elle avait

phr (what about)

  • 1 (to draw attention) what about the children? et les enfants (alors)?
  • 2 (to make suggestion) what about a meal out? et si on dînait au restaurant? what about Tuesday? qu'est-ce que tu dirais de mardi?

phr (what if)

  • et si what if I bring the dessert? et si j'apportais le dessert?


  • quoi!, comment!


what with one thing and another

avec ceci et cela

Definition of what in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day dittohead
Pronunciation: ˈdɪtəʊhɛd
an unquestioning supporter of an idea or opinion…