Do you know what is a question? That was a question. To make questions, we all follow a certain format. We use words like ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Why’ etc. Of course, for the questions to make sense, we all subconsciously insert them into the right places without screwing up.
P.S: You will see annoying specks of ‘dots’ in your right side. Tumblr isn’t exactly a great WYSIWYG editor, so to keep spaces, they were necessary. Also, this is a very long lesson!
What is a question?
= प्रश्न भनेको के हो ? (prashna bhaneko ke ho?)
In English, Question Words are in a series of W’s. Similarly, in Nepali, most of them start with क (ka).
के (ke) = What
कुन (kun) = Which
को (ko) = Who [When combined with ‘le’, then it becomes ‘कसले’(kasle)]
कसको (kasko) = Whose/ Whom
OTHER QUESTION WORDS
कहाँ (kaha) = Where
कता (kata) = Where (less formal)
कहिले (kahile) = When
किन (kina) = Why
कसरी (kasari) = How (come)
कति (kati) = How much
कस्तो (kasto) = How/ What kind
What is the Basic Idea of a Question? It is to seek for answers right? But that means that, certain elements must be marked in order to be answered. So, When you say ‘What did John eat?’, you are marking an the Object Element whose characteristics are unknown. So you might say ‘John ate Pancakes’. Where that ‘What’ marked an object. So, basically, it would be ‘John ate What’. Standard English Grammar Rules dictate that such Question Words come first. So, in order to make sense, an auxiliary was inserted and the main verb came last. Right?
Now, when you say ‘Who wrote Harry Potter?’, you are marking a subject. So, hence, you will say ’J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter’.
Similarly, the words that you mean is marked in Nepali using these…exotic words….
Also, make sure the question word comes before the verb. The MAIN VERB always comes last. An easy way to remember where the Question Words go is just before the Main Verb. But not always!
THE INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS
So, the basic idea is to ‘Mark that unknown element’. The one given below is for making mundane, short questions.
IF YOU ARE MARKING SUBJECTS
So, if you are marking Subjects, then:
Object+ Interrogative Pronoun + Verb
An example of Subject Marking (ENGLISH) is:
What cried just now?
= An animal cried just now.
तिमीलाई कसले भन्यो ? रामले भन्यो (timi lai kasle bhanyo / ram le bhanyo)
= Who told you? Ram told me.
यहाँ के भयो ? यहाँ दुर्घटना भयो (yaha ke bhayo / yaha durghatana bhayo)
= What happened here? An accident happened here.
कसको आएको छैन? रामको आएको छैन (kasko aaeko chaina / ram ko aaeko chaina)
= Whose hasn’t come? Ram’s hasn’t come.
If there is an adverb, then the question word will precede the adverb.
कुन अगाडि आयो? फुल अगाडि आयो (kuna agadi aayo / phul agadi aayo)
= Which came first? The egg came first.
IF YOU ARE MARKING OBJECTS
And if you are marking Objects, then:
Subject+ Interrogative Pronoun + Verb
An Example of Object Marking (ENGLISH) is:
What did you buy yesterday?
I bought a ski yesterday.
तपाईंले कसलाई भन्नुभयो? मैले रामलाई भने (tapaile kaslai bhannubhayo/ maile ram lai bhane)
= Whom did you tell? I told to Ram.
तिमीलाई के चाहियो? मलाई यो चाहियो (timi lai ke chahiyo? Malai yo chahiyo)
= What do you need? I need this.
तिमीले कुन टिप्छौ? म पहेलो वाला टिप्छु (Timi le kun tipchau / m pahelo wala tipchu)
= Which (one) will you pick? I will pick this.
तपाईंले कसको भेट्टाउनुभयो? मैले रामको भेटे (tapai le kasko bhetnubhayo? / maile ramko bhete)
= Whose did you pick up? I picked up Ram’s.
LONGER SENTENCES COMPOSITION
The thing about Question Words are, they are usually attached before the main idea, whether you are talking about the Object or the Subject. Above, there was an absence of information on the Object or the Subject. In longer sentences, an incomplete information is provided. Hence, to make them complete, we attach the Question Words. Sometimes, the Verb is marked! For example, like ‘What TO DO’?
Usually, like I said before, the Question Words come before the verb BUT not ALWAYS.
मर्ने व्यक्तिहरु मध्ये राम कुन श्रेणीबाट हो ? (marne vyakti madhye ram kun shreni bata ho)
= Amongst the victims, Ram belongs to which Category?
[Dying + Individuals + Amongst + Ram + Which + Category + From + Is]
Here, you are talking about Category, rather than ‘Ram’.
So, your answer will be : “Ram purush shreni bata ho” (Ram is from the Male category) [Ram+Boy+Category+From+Is]
Here, the extra-information is ‘मर्ने व्यक्तिहरु मध्ये’(marne vyakti haru madhye) and the incomplete object idea is ‘श्रेणी’ (shreni). So, to represent a complete idea, we added ‘Kun’ (which)
रामायण कुन व्यक्तिले लेखेको हो (ramayan kun vyakti le lekheko ho)
= Which individual has written Ramayan?
[Object + Interrogative Pronoun + Subject + Verb ]
Here, we are asking information about a subject. That Subject wrote ‘Ramayan’, hence we are inquiring about that subject. Paraphrasing the word, we can write ’Ramayan kasle lekheko ho’. You can see here that it follows the standard question format for Subjects: Object + Question Word + Verb. ’Lekheko ho’ means ‘Have written’ but usually, in Nepali, the perfectives are readily used in place of Simpler tenses.
सबै उत्कृष्ट कथाहरु मध्ये लक्ष्मीप्रशादको सबै भन्दा मनपर्ने कथा कुन थियो ? (sabai utkrista kathaharu madhye laxmiprashad ko sabai bhanda man parne katha kun thiyo?)
= Amongst all the excellent stories (written by him), which (one) was Laxmi Prashad’s most favourite?
Paraphrasing, we get: “…. Katha kun thiyo” (Which was the story). Any guesses?
No, not ‘why?’. More like…about ‘Why’.
भानुभक्तलाई नेपालको राष्ट्रिय कवि किन मानिन्छ ? (bhanubhakta kina nepal ko rastriya kawi kina manincha)
= Why [is] Bhanubhakta considered to be the National Poet of Nepal?
Here, we are asking WHY is it. WHY is. Usually, ‘why’ marks verbs.
Why ‘why’? Why? That’s why. Why? Why.
But ‘Why’ is very dynamic in position, and hence, can change places. More later on this page.
Other Sentences composed of ‘Why’:
आकशमामा धेरै ताराहरु किन छन् ? (aakash ma dherai taraharu kina chan)
= Why are there many stars in the Sky?
[ In Sky + Many + Stars + Why + Are ]
‘Why’ is pretty hard to describe. For example, while answering ‘Why is the sky green’, you say ‘The sky is green because….’. So, when you answer such questions, in Nepali, you omit the ‘kina’ and then in the end of the sentence (the one you are dealing now) you add ‘kinabhane’ or’ kinaki’ (both means ‘because’).
When there is a predicate adjective modifying a verb, then ‘kina’ will precede the predicate adjective. For example:
त्यो घर किन ठूलो छ ? (tyo ghar kina thulo cha?)
= Why is that house big?
[That + House + Why + Big + Is]
Here, the predicate is ‘thulo’. We are asking WHY that house is big, not WHY that big house is something.
किताब पढ्न किन राम्रो मानिन्छ ? (kitab padhna kina ramro manincha)
= Why [is] reading a book considered good?
[ Book + Read + Why + Good + Considered ]
हिमाल किन ठुलो हुन्छ ? (Himal kina thulo huncha)
= Why is a mountain big?
[Mountain + Why + Big + Is]
हामीले के गर्नुपर्छ ? (hami le ke garnuparcha)
= What should we do ?
[we + what + should do]
मान्छे बिरामी हुनको कारण किन हो ? (manche birami huna ko karan kina ho)
= What is the reason for people falling sick?
[people + sick + fall + reason + what + is]
उसले आत्महत्या किन गरेछ ? (usle aatmahatya kina garecha)
= Why did he commit suicide?
[He + Suicide + Why + Did]
THE OTHER QUESTION WORDS
कहाँ [KAHA] (where)
It means ‘Where’. ‘Kata’ is a less formal version of ‘kaha’.
तिमी कहाँ छौ ? म यहाँ छु!! (timi kaha chau/ ma yaha chu)
= Where are you? I am here.
[you + where + is] [i + here + is]
यो बच्चाहरु कहाँ-कहाँ जान्छन् ? (yo bachcha haru kaha kaha jaanchan)
= Where [do] these kids go?
[These + Kids + Where + Go]
Note: Repetition indicates Emphasis.
राम्रो लुगा कहाँ छ ? (ramro luga haru kaha cha)
= Where is the good cloth(es)?
[ Good + Cloth(es) + Where + Is ]
जङ्गलमा पाउने चराहरु आजकल कहाँ पाँउछ ? (jangal maa paaune chara haru aajkal kaha paaucha)
= Where are the birds found now that used to live in the jungle?
[In Jungle + Found + Birds + Nowadays + Where + Found]
कहिले [KAHILE] (when)
It means ‘When’. Indicates Time. Hence, it is found in verbs that denote time or at least some indication of it.
मेरो पालो कहिले आँउछ ? (mero palo kahile aaucha)
= When will my turn come?
[My + Turn + When + Will Come]
नेपाल कहिले विकास हुने ? (nepal kahile bikash hune)
= When will Nepal develop?
[Nepal + When + Develop]
कसरी [KASARI] (How)
It means ‘How’. It is used to inquire about a thing’s working or functionality. Like ‘How are things made’ or ‘How do stars twinkle.\
It is NOT used to inquire about a thing’s status or condition. Like ‘How is Ram’ or ‘How are the buns?’
यो कसरी बनिन्छ ? (yo kasari banincha)
= How [is] this made?
[This + How + Made]
हामी कसरी जन्मिन्छौँ ? (hami kasari janminchau)
= How [are] we born?
[We + How + Born]
कति [KATI](how much)
It means ‘How Much’ or ‘How many’. Sometimes, it is attached with ‘wata’ to denote certain quantity.
यो कति हो ? (yo kati ho)
= How much is this?
[ This + How much + is ]
तिमीले भात कति खान्छौ ? (timile bhat kati khanchau)
= How much rice will you eat?
[ You + How much + Rice + Eat ]
तिमीसँग कति वटा चप्पल छ (timi sanga kati wata chappal cha)
= How many slippers do you have?
[with You + How many + many + Slipper + Have]
के [KE] (what)
‘Ke’ means ‘What’. It is usually used for non-human animates and things or humans whose gender or status is unknown.
राम के हो ? (ram ke ho)
= What is Ram?
[Ram+ What + Is]
अस्ति देखेको फूलको नाम के हो (asti dekheko phul`ko naam ke ho)
= What is the name of the flower we saw day before yesterday?
[Day before yesterday + Saw + Flower’s + Name + What + Is]
कस्तो [KASTO] (what kind)
‘Kasto’ has two meanings, ‘How’ and ‘What kind’. ‘Kasto’ as ‘how’ is used to enquire about a thing’s condition or Status (like ‘How is the water’) and as ‘what kind’, it is used to enquire about ‘What sorts of’. As how, it is not used to question a thing’s working.
स्याउ कस्तो छ ? स्याउ काँचो छ (shyau kasto cha/ shyau kaacho cha)
= How is the apple? The apple is Raw.
[Apple + How + is / Apple + Raw +is ]
तिमीलाई कस्तो किताब पढ्न मनपर्छ ? मलाई तस्बिर किताब पढ्न मनपर्छ (timi lai kasto kitab padhna manparcha/ malai tasbir kitab padhna manparcha)
= What kind of books do you like to read? I like to read Picture books.
[ You + What Kind of + Books + read + Like to / I + Picture + Book + Read + Like ]
बाजे कस्तो हुनुहुन्छ ? (Baje kasto hunuhuncha)
= How is Grandfather?
[ Grandfather + How + Is ]
KASTO VERSUS KASARI
Both कस्तो (kasto) and कसरी (kasari) mean ‘How’ in Nepali. But what is the difference, and where to use what?
Kasari is used when we inquire about a thing’s working, mechanism etc. In short words, it is used to find out how (a) stuff works. For example, like ‘How do stars twinkle?’ and ‘How does snow fall?’.
Kasto is used when we inquire about a thing’s status or condition. For example, like ‘How is Grandfather’s health?’ and ‘How is the status of the migrant workers?’. Kasto also has a meaning of ‘What kind of’.
THE VARIATIONS OF को (KO)
When ‘ko’ (who) is joined with post-positions (particles), it seems to change forms. [INDEX: m.s.t. = Meaning Similar to]
When you add ‘ले’ (le) , it becomes : कसले (kasle) [m.s.t. ‘whom’]
When you add ‘लाई’ (lai) it becomes : कसलाई (kaslai) [m.s.t. ‘to whom’]
When you add ‘को’ (ko) it becomes : कसको (kasko) [m.s.t. ‘whose’]
When you add ‘मा’ (ma) it becomes : कसमा (kasma) [m.s.t. ‘in whom]
WHAT ABOUT : CAN/ DO/ WOULD YOU ETC.
In English, you can also form question sentences without using the Question Words written above. Like ‘Can you eat?’ and ‘Do you dance?’. But, words like ‘Can’ and ‘Do’ are verbs! They are NOT interrogative pronouns.
You can just substitute the full stop (period mark) with a question mark and WALAH! You get a question like that.
Okay, first get a sentence. For example, you want to say ‘Can you dance?’. Now, remove that modal verb (can). You will get ‘You dance?’. Translate that ‘you dance’ into Nepali and then, instead of the full stop, add a question mark. TADA! Example:
तिमीलाई किताब पढ्न मनपर्छ ? (timilai kitab padhna manparcha)
= Do you like Reading books?
[you + book + Read + like + ? ]
If the ’?’ was replaced with ’.’, then
तिमीलाई किताब पढ्न मनपर्छ । (timilai kitab padhna manparcha)
= You like Reading books.
[ You + book + read + like + . ]
हामी यो गर्यो भने अगाडि बढ्न सक्छौँ ? (hami yo garyo bhane pani agadi badhna sakchau)
= If we do this, can we still move forward?
[ We + this + do + if + also + front + move + able ]
तिमी चुरोट खान्छौ ? (timi churot khanchau)
= Do you smoke?
[ You + Cigarette + Eat ]
No grammar rules are written on stone. Things seem to get very flexible with question structure too! The following structure
भानुभक्त नेपालको राष्ट्रिय कवि किन मानिन्छ ? (bhanubhakta nepal ko rastriya kawi kina manincha)
Can be restructured into:
भानुभक्तलाई किन नेपालको राष्ट्रिय कवि मानिन्छ ? (bhanubhakta lai kina nepal ko rastriya kawi manincha) [addition of ‘lai’]
And still not lose its meadning.
Why is this?
Also, भात कति खान्छौ ? (bhat kati khanchau) can be restructured into:
कति भात खान्छौ ? (kati bhat khanchau)
and still make sense!
यो कति हो (yo kati ho) CANNOT BE RESTRUCTURED! Strange right? Things seem to get more flexible as the sentences get more complex, but yet, the Question word ‘ke’ cannot be placed anywhere in this sentence:
हाम्रो भाई रेशमले अस्ति के जित्यो ? (hamro bhai resham le asti ke jityo)
Weird Right? So, that leads us to one conclusion:
Question Structure is very rigid.
In fact, the this anomaly is so minor and…unneeded that…This Anomaly will not be covered. Also, I have to carry further research on this matter.
- Ke, Kasari, Kata etc. are some examples of Question Words.
- Question words tend to stick with verbs and represent the Missing Element.
A. TRANSLATE AND TRANSLITERATE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES INTO ENGLISH
1. आजकलको जमानामा कसमा भर छ ?
2. स्यालले के भन्छ ?
3. बुद्ध को कति वटा हात छ ?
B. TRANSLATE AND TRANSLITERATE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES INTO NEPALI
1. Why are some people so stupid?
2. What are the chances of rainfall? (How much chances are there for rainfall)
3. Where are Dragons found?
C. ARE THE SENTENCES CORRECT?
1. तिमीसँग कति वटा खेलौना छ ? (timi sanga kati wata khelauna cha)
2. कसरी हामीले भात खान्छौँ ? (kasari hami le bhat khanchau)
(A and B answers can vary among individual translations and transliterations. Below for illustrative purposes only)
A.1. In nowadays’ generation, whom to trust? [aajkal ko jamana ma kasma bhar cha?]
A.2. What does the fox say? [Syal le ke bhancha?]
A.3. How many hands does the Buddha have? [Buddha ko kati wata haat cha]
B.1. कुन-कुन मान्छे किन मुर्ख हुन्छ ? (kun-kun manche kina murkha huncha)
B.2. पानी पर्ने मौका कति छ ? (pani parne mauka kati cha)
B.3. ड्रेगनहरु कहाँ पाँउछ ? (dregan haru kata paaucha)