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All about the French phrase "C'est quoi"

Get prepared to learn everything you have to know about the basic phrase "C'est quoi ?". To be clear, this includes a full guide of what it is and how to use it in a conversation with an audio example. Along with the useful stuff we added like slow pronunciation audio, synonym, dialogue example and more!

French to English translation

  • Translation : What is it?

  • Register : Neutral - Basic

How to pronounce?



  • IPA : / sɛ kwa ? /

aesthetic french quote cest quoi

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What does c'est quoi ? mean?


The literal meaning is:

"C'est quoi ?" is the simplest and most widely used way to say "What is that?" in French.

Mostly because the other way to say it: "Qu'est-ce que c'est ?" which is (sadly) popular for being impossible to explain to beginners, because the literal meaning is complete nonsense... more on that in the fun fact section below.

That's why we tend to use "C'est quoi ça ?" or just "C'est quoi ?" which is much simpler and shorter.

How to use

When you want to ask "What is it?" simply say "C'est quoi ça ?" or "C'est quoi ?" or "Qu'est-ce que c'est ?". All these variations have the same meaning.

For more variations, check the "synonyms" section below.

Fun facts

One synonym of "C'est quoi ?" is "Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça ?" which means "What is it?" but the literal translation is "What is this that this is that this?".

Even better: "Qu'est-ce que c'est que cette chose-là ?" which means "What is this thing?" is literally translated as "What is this that this is this thing here?"

But both are perfectly correct in French... This language is crazy...

Synonyms / Related

↓ Example in a story with slow audio ↓

Finally, let's see an example in a parallel story with slow audio.

Le rendez-vous

The date

Enfin, le jour du rendez-vous de Joe avec Angèle était arrivé. Il avait vraiment hâte d'y être.
Finally, the day of the date of Joe with Angèle has come. He really couldn't wait to be there.
Ils ont convenu de se retrouver là où ils se sont rencontrés la première fois.
They agreed to meet where they met the first time.
AngèleBonjour Joe ! Comment vas-tu?
Hello Joe! How are you?
JoeBonjour Angèle ! Très bien, et toi ?
Hello Angèle! Very well and you?
AngèleJe vais bien, merci ! Je connais un café sympa, pas loin d'ici, où la vue est jolie, ça te dit ?
I'm fine thank you! I know a nice cafe, not far from here, where the view is nice, are you up for it?
JoeÇa a l'air sympa ! Allons-y !
That sounds good! Let's go!


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Il y a longtemps


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Profite bien

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