Questions 3

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What

In English, what is normally used to ask questions about nouns (rzeczowniki), and is often similar to co in Polish. However, English doesn’t have words which mean jaki, jaka, etc, and we therefore use what in many situations where in Polish you would use jaki, jaka, etc.

For example. look at the following sentences:

What book are you reading? – Jaką książkę czytasz?

What is his name? – Jak on ma na imię?

What colour are the walls? – Jakiego koloru są ściany?

The words book , name and colour are all nouns so we use what to ask questions about them.

We sometimes want to ask a question about an adjective (przymiotnik) and in this situation we normally use which.

In the next examples, colour is a noun, so we use what, and green is an adjective, so we use which.

What colour are the walls? – Jakiego koloru są ściany?

Which green are you going to use to paint the walls? – Którego zielonego koloru zamierzasz użyć do pomalowania tej ściany?

What and Which

We also normally use what when there are many possible options available, and we use which when there is a limited number of options available.

Many options available

What is her telephone number? – Jaki jest jej numer telefonu?

Limited options available

Which telephone number is hers, 536850 or 567899? – Który numer telefonu jest jej, 536850 czy 567899?

Which of these is yours? – Który z tych należy do ciebie?

Which is also normally used to ask questions about organizations or groups of people.

Which organizations do you support? – Którą organizację wspierasz?

Which football club do you like the most? – Jaki klub piłkarski lubisz najbardziej?

Although these different ways of using which is how we normally use the word, it isn’t a strict rule and you will sometimes see what used instead.

Next: Questions 4

Questions 4

Previous: Questions 3

How

In English, the wh-question word how is used to ask questions about manner, the way you do something, adverbs (przysłówki) and adjectives (przymiotniki). This means it can be used in three different ways:

how – jaki sposób, czym

How do you get to Warsaw?
Jak dostaniesz się do Warszawy?
Czym dostaniesz się do Warszawy?

how + przysłówek

How long does it take (you) to get to Warsaw?
Jak długo zajmie (ci) dojechanie do Warszawy?

How far is it to Warsaw?
Jak daleko jest do Warszawy?

how + przymiotnik

How long is that pencil?
Jak długi jest tamten ołówek?

Notice that the adjective and adverb can sometimes be the same in English e.g.

long – długo/długi

Next: Questions 5

Questions 2

Previous: Questions 1

A sentence can contain several different things, a subject (kto? co?), a verb, a direct object (kogo? co?) and an indirect object (komu? czemu?). In Polish, you have different question words to ask about these different things.

Michał często kupuje Agnieszce kwiaty.

1 Kto często kupuje Agnieszce kwiaty?
2 Komu Michał często kupuje kwiaty?
3 Co Michał często kupuje Agnieszce?

Look at the different questions and compare question 1 to questions 2 and 3. What is different about these questions? Questions 2 and 3 contain the subject of the verb, Michał.

In English, we divide these questions into two types:

Question 1 – Subject question – kto? co?
Questions 2 and 3 – Object questions – kogo? co? and komu? czemu?

Subject question

Look at the following sentences to see how you make a question asking about the subject in Polish.

Michał często kupuje Agnieszce kwiaty.
Kto często kupuje Agnieszce kwiaty?

You simply replace the subject with the question word ‚kto’. We do exactly the same thing in English.

Michał often buys Agnieszka flowers.
Who often buys Agnieszka flowers?

Object questions

In Polish, these questions begin with question words such as kogo. komu, gdzie, kiedy, etc. The question words in English are:

who – kto, kogo, komu
what – co, czemu
which – który
where – gdzie
when – kiedy
why – dlaczego
whose – czyj
how – jak

You can see that all of the questions words, except ‚how’, begin with the letters ‚wh’, so these words are called ‚wh-question words’.  Questions which use these words are called ‚wh-questions’. Look at the sentences below to see how you make this type of question in Polish.

Komu Michał kupuje kwiaty? – ktoteraźniejszy niedokonany
Co Michał kupił Agnieszce? – ktoprzeszły dokonany

You can see that you need to know the subject, Michał, and the tense and aspect of the verb. In Polish, this information about the aspect, dokonany or niedokonany, and the tense, przeszły, teraźniejszy or przyszły is shown by the main verb.

To make these questions in English, we also need to know the subect, Michał, and we need to know which tense and aspect we are using. This tense and aspect information is given using auxiliary verbs, the same as in yes/no questions.

Czy Michał kupuje Agnieszce kwiaty? – ktoteraźniejszy niedokonany
Does Michał buy Agnieszka flowers? – present simplesubject

Now that we have all the information we need about tense and aspect, we can simply add a wh-question word to the beginning of the question, the same as you do in Polish.

Komu Michał kupuje kwiaty? – ktoteraźniejszy niedokonany
Who does Michał buy flowers? – present simplesubject

Co Michał kupił Agnieszce? – ktoprzeszły dokonany
What did Michał buy Agnieszka? – past simplesubject

Next: Questions 3