The Interrogative Pronouns

In Russian, just like in English, the interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns are кто (who), что (what), какой (what kind), чей (whose), который (what/which), сколько (how much/many), насколько (to what extent). 

Let's look at several examples:

Что это?
(What is this?)

Кто пришёл?
(Who has come?)

In this lesson you will learn about the usage and meaning of interrogative pronouns. We will first study the pronouns какой, который, чей and their forms. Then we will take a look at the pronouns кто, что, сколько, followed by который and чей.

Какой, который, чей

The interrogative pronouns какой (what kind of), который (which), чей (whose) change by gender, number and case. Besides, you should distinguish between animate and inanimate forms when using the accusative case. This is demonstrated in the tables below.

Change by gender and number

masculine feminine neuter plural
(any gender)
какой какая какое какие
который которая которое которые
чей чья чьё чьи

Change by cases

Case "какой" "который" "чей"
Nominative какой который чей
Genitive какого которого чьего
Dative какому которому чьему
Accusative animate = Genitive
inanimate = Nominative
animate = Genitive
inanimate = Nominative
animate = Genitive
inanimate = Nominative
Instrumental каким которым чьим
Prepositional о каком о котором о чьём

Кто, что, сколько

The interrogative pronouns кто (who), что (what), сколько (how many/much) change only by cases.

Case "кто" "что" "сколько"
Nominative кто что сколько
Genitive кого чего скольких
Dative кому чему скольким
Accusative кого что сколько
Instrumental кем чем сколькими
Prepositional о ком о чём о скольких

"Who" questions

To form a "who" question use a past, present or future tense singular masculine verb after кто. Note that only the tense of the verb can change in "who" questions. For example:

Question 1 -- past tense, masculine, singular
Кто смеялся? 
(Who was smiling?)

Possible answers
Смеялась девочка. Смеялся мальчик. Смеялись дети.
(A girl was smiling. A boy was smiling. Children were smiling.)

Question 2 -- present tense, masculine, singular
Кто смеётся?
(Who is smiling?)

Possible answers
Смеётся девочка. Смеётся мальчик. Смеются дети.
(A girl is smiling. A boy is smiling. Children are smiling.)

"What" questions

Use the interrogative pronoun что followed by a neuter singular verb in the form of the past, present or future tense. Let's say we want to ask about a recent event.

Question -- neuter, singular, past tense
Что произошло?
(What happened?)

Какой

The interrogative pronoun какой (what kind) is used in exclamatory sentences:

Какой сегодня жаркий день!
(What a hot day it is today!)

This pronoun is also used to ask about features and quality:

Какая завтра погода?
(What weather is going to be tomorrow?)

Какие книги вы приобрели?
(What kind of books did you buy?)

Который

The interrogative pronoun который (what/which) is used to ask about something in a sequence of similar objects. For example, here are the ways to ask about time.

Который час?
(What time is it?)

В котором часу?
(At what time?)

Чей, чья, чьё, чьи

The pronouns чей, чья, чьё, чьи are used to ask about the owner of an object.

Чья это кепка?
(Whose cap is this?)

Чей зонтик?
(Whose umbrella is this?)

Сколько

This pronoun is used to ask about the number of things or people.

Сколько жителей в этом городе?
(How many residents is there in this city?)

Сколько книг вы прочитали?
(How many books did you read?)

Got questions?

Ask them in the Russian Questions and Answers — a place for students, teachers and native Russian speakers to discuss Russian grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and other aspects of the Russian language.



















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