Lesson 11: Asking Questions in Russian

At some point you will have to ask questions in Russian, be it asking about directions, or about time, if the person had lunch today, if the girl would want to go on a date with you, etc. Questions are a necessary part of communication, and of course, you want to master the art of asking questions in Russian.

First of all let me assure you that it is not the most complex section of Russian grammar. Quite the opposite. All you have to do is to remember a few question words such as ‘who’, ‘why’, ‘when’, etc. We will discuss them a bit later.

Remember that there is a question type in each language that would require you to answer with a yes or with a no.

For example,

Did you have breakfast?

Yes, I did.

 

Will you go to movie with me?

No, I won’t.

Russian is not an exception here. There are questions that you will answer only with a yes, or with a no.

To form such questions all you have to do is to place a question mark and change intonation. No change of words order is required. Since we have only learned one Tense for now (Present Tense) we will ask questions today in Present Tense.

For example,

Он пишет письмо. He writes a letter.

In English we would ask Does he write a letter?

In Russian, however, you just change it to

Он пишет письмо?

So, as you see Russian yes/no questions are quite easy. Let’s move to a more complicated case of questioning. All you have to do is to add a question word in the beginning of your sentence:

Let’s see how it works in the example.

Imagine someone says ‑ I don’t want to go to school. A proper question would be – Why don’t you want to go to school? As you see not only did we add a question word but we changed a word order n the question sentence.

Now, what do we have in Russian?

Я не хочу идти в кино is the statement and Почему (question word) ты не хочешь идти в кино? is the question. As you can see the structure is similar to that of an English sentence, yet we did not have to change the word order.

In English we have the following picture:

Statement: Subject + Predicate + Complement

Question: Question Word + Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Predicate + Complement

In Russian it is slightly different:

Statement: Subject + Predicate + Complement

Question: Question Word + Subject + Predicate + Complement

See how simple it is? You do not have to use any  auxiliary words, nor change the words order.

Now, let’s learn a few Russian question words:

 

English Russian
Who Кто
What Что
Why Почему
When Когда
Where Где
How Как
How much/many Сколько

Of course, there are more question words but we will discuss them later after we have learned about Russian cases.

Still I suggest that you learn a few ready-made question structures that might help you to strike a conversation.

 

How much money? Сколько денег?
What did you say? Что Вы сказали?
What is this? Что это?
What time is it? Который час?
What do you need? Что Вам нужно?
What do you want? Что Вы хотите?
Where from? Откуда?
Who is this? Кто это?
What’s happened? Что случилось?
What are you doing? Что вы делаете?

Now there is time for some exercises to practice asking questions in Russian.

1. Fill in the Correct Question Word in Blanks

  1. … они видели этот фильм?
    Where did they see that movie?
  2. … они это сделали?
    How did they do that?
  3. …мы обратились к такому врачу?
    Why did we go to such a doctor?
  4. …вы живете?
    Where do you live?
  5. …ты хочешь заниматься?
    When do you want to study?

2. Make five yes/no questions, answer them.

3. Search for the questions words you do not know yet, write them down, and learn them.

As usual the correct answers to the exercises you will find in a comments section.

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One Response to Lesson 11: Asking Questions in Russian

  1. Elena says:

    1. Fill in the Correct Question Word in Blanks

    Где они видели этот фильм?
    Where did they see that movie?
    Как они это сделали?
    How did they do that?
    Почему мы обратились к такому врачу?
    Why did we go to such a doctor?
    Где вы живете?
    Where do you live?
    Когда ты хочешь заниматься?
    When do you want to study?

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