O que e que? Which is right?

Listening to Pimsleur, i hear a lot of “o que e que acha” whereas if i throw “what do you think” in a translator, it will show “o que voce acha”?

Which is the real deal? :slight_smile:

hi @anthonylomangino

“é que” is something we use to enhance a question. it has no grammar value, so you can use it or not.
In a sentence like “Como te chamas?” (What’s your name?) we can say “Como te chamas?” or “Como é que te chamas?”

It’s more frequent to ask a question with “é que” but it’s all up to you and your personal way of speaking Portuguese. :wink:


Thank you. I too am using Pimsleur and have found this construction very confusing.

Welcome, @charlottecconley! :slightly_smiling_face: The way that I interpret this is “o que é” is asking “What is…?” and “o que é que…?” is like asking “What is it that is…?” For example, “O que é na caixa?” is asking “What is in the box?” and “O que é que na caixa?” is like asking “What is it that is in the box?” [Or would it be correct to say “O que está na caixa?” and “O que é que está na caixa?”] Now I’m getting myself confused! :upside_down_face: If I am totally off with this, or if it’s not grammatically correct, I hope that someone will correct me! Not sure if this helps…


This is the correct way. Everything else is spot on!


Your answer isn’t clear to me, sorry, Which of David’s two choices is correct - or does it not matter which you use.

Sorry, @charlottecconley, I was just referring to his verb choice. In his example, it was more correct to use the verb estar (o que está…) instead of the verb ser (o que é…). But between “O que está na caixa?” and “O que é que está na caixa?”, there’s zero difference. The latter is more common, but both are perfectly fine.

What I’m struggling with about that construction is it seems to be used randomly. So I can’t figure what type of sentence I might want to use it in. So, for me, not using it will solve the problem! Thanks.

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As I read it Charlotte the first is “what is in the box”, the second is “what is in that box”. They are infuriatingly the same whilst subtly different in English grammatical terms.
One difference is that the first example is of a box very close to you. The other further away
The first when there is only one box in sight the other when you are pointing to one of two or more.
I am sure that Joseph will correct me if I am wrong.

Thank you.

Actually, the explanation is as simple as what @DiogoCarvalho and @David2019 wrote in their respective posts above. The “é que” bit adds nothing in terms of meaning, so you’re asking the exact same question whether you use it or not. In English, it would be the same as asking “What is in the box?” (O que está na caixa?) vs. “What is it that is in the box?” (O que é que está na caixa?). There’s an added emphasis, maybe, but that’s all :slight_smile: You can use it or not use it in any standard question you’d like, save for some exceptions. The placement can be a bit different depending on how the question is phrased: “É que” may appear 1) immediately after the interrogative pronoun or 2) only after the main noun in the sentence.

  • O que é isto? -> O que é que é isto? (What is this?)
  • O que tens aí? -> O que é que tens aí? (What have you got there?)
  • Como te chamas? -> Como é que te chamas? (What’s your name?)
  • Quem é? -> Quem é que é? (Who is it?)
  • Porque dizes isso? -> Porque é que dizes isso? (Why do you say that?)
  • Que carro compraste? -> Que carro é que compraste? (What car did you buy?)
  • Qual dos livros é dela? -> Qual dos livros é que é dela? (Which of the books is hers?)
  • Quantos anos tens? -> Quantos anos é que tens? (How old are you?)
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