24 Questions, Part 2

• • • Review: Questions, Part 1

Now, let's take a look at other question-words. We have already seen how to make questions asking for nouns or noun phrases. But it's possible to make other questions, about places, means (things usually described by prepositional phrases or "adverbs") or about adjectives. For instance:

"I came here yesterday."
Q: "Where did I come yesterday?"

"I came here by car."
Q: "How did I come here?"

"I came here very quickly."
Q: "How quickly did I come here?"

"I came here yesterday."
Q: "When did I come here?"

Adverb-type Questions

First, let's take a look at question-words that are not standing for adjectives. They behave more or less like adverbs, that is, they don't have cases. They correspond to manner ("how"), place ("where"), time ("when"), reason ("why") etc. They are:

Došao sam vlakom.
"I came by train."
Kako sam došao?
"How did I come?"
Živim u gradu.
"I live in a city."
Gdje živim?
"Where do I live?"
Došao sam jučer.
"I came yesterday."
Kada sam došao?
"When did I come?"
Došao sam na odmor.
"I came for a vacation."
Zašto sam došao?
"Why did I come?"
"where to"
Putovao sam na odmor.
"I was traveling to vacation."
Kamo sam putovao?
"Where was I traveling to?"
medium of
"what through"
Šetao sam kroz šumu.
"I was walking through (a) forest."
Kuda sam šetao?
"What was I walking though?"
"how many/much"
Imamo deset dana.
"We have ten days."
Koliko imamo dana?
"How many days do we have?"

English has only "where", "how", "when", and "why". Croatian does not distinguish 'uncountable' (e.g. "salt"), and 'countable' (e.g. "days") nouns when making questions.

In everyday speech, gdje, kuda, and kamo are often confused (to dismay of the language police), and people sometimes ask questions like:

Gdje idemo? (colloq.) "Where are we going?"

Again, these were questions about "ways" of the whole sentence, those question words had nothing to with cases.

It's possible to ask questions about individual adverbs, using kako and koliko; in some circumstances one moves some more words to the beginning to show what is the question about:

Auto je jako brz. "(The) car is very fast."
Q: Koliko je auto brz? "How fast is (the) car?"

Vozimo auto jako brzo. "We are driving (the) car very fast."
Q: Koliko brzo vozimo auto? "How fast are we driving (the) car?" (we move brzo as well)

Q: Koliko hladno...? "How cold..."
Q: Koliko visoko...? "How high...", etc.

Adjective-type Questions

Next, we can ask questions about nouns in the sentence. There are two basic types of noun properties: the possessives and the rest. There are four question-words, all behaving as regular adjectives, but they have no meaning except the grammatical role. They do change with the cases! They are:

  • čiji "whose";
  • kakäv m, kakva f "what like";
  • kolik "how big";
  • koji "which one".

(It's interesting that they too start with k- or č-...) Two of them have -ji, so please apply the o/e rule when constructing forms for all cases. Again, gender/case must agree with the word the adjective is about!

In a similar fashion to moj, case forms of koji are sometimes contracted (e.g. kojegkog).

Knjiga je moja. "(The) book is mine." (moja = nom. f)
Q: Čija je knjiga? "Whose book is it?"
A: Moja. "Mine." (čija = nom. f again!)

Pojeo je tvoju jabuku. "He ate your apple." (tvoju = acc. f)
Q: Čiju je pojeo jabuku? "Whose apple did he eat?"
A: Tvoju. "Yours." (čiju = acc. f again!)

Igrali su se Ivanovom loptom. "They were playing with Ivan's ball." (Ivanovom = ins. f)
Q: Čijom su se igrali loptom? "Whose ball were they playing with?"
A: Ivanovom. "Ivan's." (čijom = ins. f again!)

Vozimo njen auto. "We are driving her car." (njen = acc. mi)
Q: Čiji vozimo auto? "Whose car are we driving?"
A: Njen. "Hers." (čiji = acc. mi again!)

It's clear what you are asking about because the question-word and noun you're asking about agree in gender. However, people sometimes reshuffle words to emphasize what is one asking about:

Q: Čiju jabuku je pojeo?
Q: Čijom loptom su se igrali?
Q: Čiji auto vozimo?

If you are worried about the placement rule, it's just that čiju jabuku is just a noun phrase (an adjective + a noun), and clitics (su se, etc.) can be after a noun phrase, not just after a single word. Now, let's see examples for kakäv:

Knjiga je zanimljiva. "(The) book is interesting." (interesting = nom. f)
Q: Kakva je knjiga? "What is the book like?"
A: Zanimljiva. "Interestimg." (kakva = nom. f again!)

Pojeo je zelenu jabuku. "He ate (a) green apple." (zelenu = acc. f)
Q: Kakvu je pojeo jabuku? "What was the apple he ate like?"
Q: Kakvu jabuku je pojeo? (words shuffled, the same meaning)
A: Zelenu. "Green." (kakvu = acc. f again!)

Igrali su se starom loptom. "They were playing with (an) old ball." (starom = ins. f)
Q: Kakvom su se igrali loptom? "What was the ball they were playing Q: Kakvom loptom su se igrali? (words shuffled, the same meaning)
with like?"
A: Starom. "Old." (kakvom = ins. f again!)

There's another way to use kakäv, in asking "what kind", "what type": it's distinguished by putting to in front of the noun we're asking about; the answer will usually contain to to:

Q: Kakva je to ptica? "What kind of bird is it?"
A: To je patka? "It's a duck."

Another question-adjective means "how big". The answer is an adjective describing size.

Pojeo je veliku jabuku. "He ate (a) big apple." (veliku = acc. f)
Q: Koliku je pojeo jabuku? "How big apple did he eat?"
A: Veliku. "Big."koliku = acc. f again!)
Q: Koliku jabuku je pojeo? (words shuffled, the same meaning)

Igrali su se malom loptom. "They were playing with (a) small ball." (malom = ins. f)
Q: Kolikom su se igrali loptom? "How big ball were they playing with?"
A: Malom. "Small." (kolikom = ins. f again!)
Q: Kolikom loptom su se igrali? (words shuffled, the same meaning)

Many people don't use this question-word, but rephrase it with kakäv or sometimes koliko velik (this would be a question about an adverb, an answer could be "really big")

The last question-adjective means "which one". The answer is something that defines the ball, be it an adjective or a demonstrative.

Pojeo je zelenu jabuku. "He ate the green apple." (zelenu = acc. f)
Q: Koju je pojeo jabuku? "Which apple did he eat?"
A: Zelenu. "The green one." (that's enough to identify it; koju = acc. f again!)
Q: Koju jabuku je pojeo? (words shuffled, the same meaning)

Igrali su se tom loptom. "They were playing with that ball." (tom = ins. f)
Q: Kojom su se igrali loptom? "Which ball were they playing with?"
A: Tom. "That one." (tom = ins. f again!)
Q: Kojom loptom su se igrali? (words shuffled, the same meaning)

The question-adjectives have the same endings as everyday adjectives, so one does not need to think too much about cases (compare endings of possesives and or question-words in the examples above). It's really not too different from English: just put the question-adjective in the same case, gender and number of the noun it is about! You see now why I said that mastering adjectives is essential to learn Croatian.


[under construction]

Updated 2014-08-29


mariaatit said...

Missing: što & tko?

Tomislav Kraljić said...

How do I know which words indicate stress and what type of stress to use

Daniel N. said...

Bok, Tomislave. Can you explain this a bit more? What do you mean by "indicate stress"? Daniel

luKpo said...

Why is "igrati" a reflexive verb (or whatever they are actually called)? I thought it was transitive!
instead of "igram loptom" I have to say "igram se loptom"?

Daniel N. said...

I don't know. You can play "a sport" (igram nogomet) but you cannot just play "a thing" if you play on your own.

That is, igram se means you play on your own, not with someone else; if you play a team sport you don't need se.

Therefore you must say igram se loptom if you're alone and just do something with a ball. I'm sorry but that's how it is :(

I will explain it in more detail somewhere... when I explain the verb "play".

br Daniel

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