steve-kaufmann-10-secrets

I speak 17 languages.

was successfully added to your cart.

Cart

Russian Question Words: The Who, What, Where, and Why

In English we have 7 question words: What, Who, Why, Where, Which, When and How. In Russian we have a whole host of new ones to learn! Today, we are going to be covering 12 Russian question words, their English equivalents, and the different ways to use them.

 

 

WHAT? – ЧТО?

 

Arguably the most useful word among them and the one which Russian learners learn first: что. Что means ‘what’ and can be employed in a variety of ways, the most important of which is:

 

Что это? What is this?

 

We use что to refer to, as in English, things.

 

Что ты делаешь? What are you doing?

Что ты хочешь? Чай или кофе? What do you want? Tea or coffee?

 

WHO? – КТО?

 

When we are talking about people, not things, we use кто.

Кто это? Who is this?

Кто звонил тебе? Who called you?

 

Both что and кто decline:

 

Nominativeчтокто
Accusativeчтокого
Genitiveчегокого
Dativeчемукому
Instrumentalчемкем
Prepositionalчёмком

 

WHY? – ПОЧЕМУ? ЗАЧЕМ?

 

There are two ways of asking ‘why’ in Russian. Firstly, we have почему which is the exact equivalent of why in English.

 

Secondly, we have зачем which is the equivalent of what for in English.

 

Look at the differences below:

 

Почему ты мой друг? Why are you my friend? (Possible answers include: you’re nice, you’re funny, and so on.)

 

Зачем ты мой друг? Why are you my friend? (What are you my friend for? Perhaps this person is only thinking of personal gain!)

 

WHEN? – КОГДА?

 

As simple as it is in English – когда is used to ask when something is happening.

 

Когда твой день рождения? When is your birthday?

 

WHERE? – ГДЕ? КУДА? ОТКУДА?

 

There are three ways to say where in Russian, depending on whether you’re talking about the location of something, motion towards something, or where something is from.

 

Где кот? Where is the cat?

 

Куда кот идёт? Where is the cat going?

 

Откуда кот? Where is the cat from?

 

WHICH? – КАКОЙ?

 

Какой кот? Which cat?

Какая чашка? Which cup?

Какое платье? Which dress?

Какие дети? Which children?

 

In Russian which is seen as an adjective. Therefore it agrees with the noun and it declines as an adjective:

 

Nominativeкакойкакаякакоекакие
Accusativeкакой / какого*какуюкакоекакие / каких*
Genitiveкакогокакойкакогокаких
Dativeкакомукакойкакомукаким
Instrumentalкакимкакойкакимкакими
Prepositional какомкакойкакомкаких

 

*Accusative masculine and plural take on genitive endings.

 

HOW? – КАК?

 

One of the first things you probably learned how to say was как, as seen in:

 

Как дела? How are you?

 

Как is straightforward, just as in English.

 

WHOSE? – ЧЕЙ?

 

For when it’s not enough to ask who, and you need to discover the owner of something, we use чей.

 

Чей кот сьел рыбу? Whose cat ate the fish?

Чья книга на столе? Whose book is on the table?

Чьё это фото? Whose photo is this?

Чьи дети болели дифтерией? Whose children had diphtheria?

 

Чей, like какой, agrees with the noun and also declines like an adjective:

 

Nominativeчей чьячьёчьи
Accusativeчей / чьего*чьючьёчьи / чьих*
Genitiveчьегочьейчьегочьих
Dativeчьему чьейчьемучьим
Instrumentalчьимчьейчьимчьими
Prepositional чьёмчьейчьёмчьих

 

*Accusative masculine and plural take on genitive endings.

Russian Question Words in Context

 

Learning words on their own isn’t helpful nor is it interesting. That’s why many language learning experts suggest learning new languages in context.

 

LingQ has thousands of hours of content that will help you learn Russian through context. Simply go to the lesson library and choose lessons based on their difficulty (beginner to advanced).

 

Learn Russian question words on LingQ

 

If the content on LingQ doesn’t interest you, then you can import online Russian content into LingQ.

 

For example, if there are Russian videos on YouTube that you enjoy, you can import them using LingQ’s web extension.

 

Learn Russian on LingQ

 

Afterwards, you’ll have a brand new lesson in LingQ.

 

Learn Russian on LingQ

 

Also, you can learn Russian on LingQ’s mobile app and study anywhere, anytime!

 

Learn Russian on LingQ's mobile app

 

Check out this guide to learn more about importing content from YouTube into LingQ.

 

Learn Russian on LingQ

 

***

Magdalena Osiejewicz-Cooper is a native speaker of Polish. She speaks fluent Italian and French. She is currently self-studying Spanish.

 

 

Leave a Reply