Question Words In Serbian

February 23, 2021

Being able to use question words In Serbian is a key part of learning this amazing language. The lists below will give you the opportunity to remember the most important question words in Serbian and phrases so you can jump-start that part of your language learning.

 

List Of Question Words In Serbian

Serbian (Cyrillic / Latin)     English Translation
питања / pitaњa questions
како? / kako?    how?
шта? / šta? what?
ко? / ko?  who?
зашто? / zašto? why?
где? / gde? where?

 

 

Questions In Serbian

Below is a list of interrogative expressions and questions in Serbian placed in a table. Memorizing this table will help you add very useful and important words to your Serbian vocabulary.

Serbian (Cyrillic / Latin)   English Translation
Где је он? / Gde јe on?  Where is he?
Шта је ово? / Šta јe ovo?  What is this?
Зашто си тужна? / Zašto si tužna?  Why are you sad?
Како желите да платите? / Kako želite da platite?   How do you want to pay?
Могу ли да дођем? / Mogu li da doђem?  Can I come?
Да ли он спава? / Da li on spava? Is he sleeping?
Да ли ме познајете? / Da li me poznaјete? Do you know me?
Имате моју књигу? / Imate moјu knjigu? Do you have my book?
Колико је велико? / Koliko јe veliko? How big is it?
Mogu li Vam pomoći? / Can I help you? Могу ли Вам помоћи?
Можете ли ми помоћи? / Možete li mi pomoći? Can you help me?
Да ли говорите енглески? / Da li govorite engleski? Do you speak English?
Колико је далеко? / Koliko јe daleko? How far is this?
Колико је сати? / Koliko јe sati? What time is it?
Колико је ово? / Koliko јe ovo? How much is this?
Како се зовеш? / Kako se zoveš? What is your name?
Где живите? / Gde živite? Where do you live?

 

Question Sentences In Serbian

When it comes to interrogative sentences in the Serbian language, their definition is Sentences that help ask various questions are called interrogative sentences. There is a question mark at the end of each question sentence.

There are three types of question sentences in Serbian:

  • Yes-no questions
  • Wh-questions
  • Alternative questions

 

Yes-No Questions 

These are questions that require either a yes or no for an answer, as in:

Da li radite ovde?  (Do you work here ?)

There are two most common ways to ask such questions in Serbian:

1. Inserting “da li” at the beginning of the sentence:

Da li učiš srpski? (Do you study Serbian?)

Da li Luka radi? (Does Luka work?)

The word order in da li questions is: da li + (subject) + verb + anything else

As you can see, the subject is optional (hence, parentheses).

2. Inserting “li” immediately after the main verb or after the non-clitic, auxiliary verb.

Učiš li srpski? (Do you study?)

Jesi li radio? (Did you work?)

Hoće li Luka učiti srpski? (Will Luka study Serbian?)

The word order in “li questions” is: verb + li + anything else

Negative Yes-No Questions 

Sometimes, a speaker may ask a question negatively, by negating the verb or the auxiliary:

Ne učiš srpski? (You don't study Serbian?)

Nisi radio danas? (You didn’t work today?)

An alternative is to put the negative phrase: ‘zar ne’ (didn’t you/ don’t you) at the beginning of the sentence, as in these examples. 

Zar ne učiš srpski? (Don’t you study Serbian?)

Zar nisi radio danas? (Didn’t you work today?)

Sentences like this express surprise.

Tag Yes-No Questions 

These are questions that turn a positive declarative statement into the question, by inserting the tag negative phrase ‘zar ne’ (didn’t you/ don’t you), at the very end of the sentence. Just like in English:

Učiš srpski, zar ne? (You study Serbian, don’t you?)

Nisi radio danas, zar ne? (You worked today, didn’t you?)

So, we first have a regular declarative sentence, followed by ‘zar ne’.

 

Wh-Questions 

These are questions that ask about a certain part of the sentence, eg., subject or object. In English, these types of questions are called ‘wh-questions’, since they start with a question word: who, what, which, etc.

In Serbian, such sentences start with question words that generally start with ‘k’, such as ko (who), koga (whom), koji (which/what), kada (when), kako (how), koliko (how much/how many). But also, we have šta (what), gde (when), zašto (why), čiji (whose).

Some examples od k-questions:

Ko je ovo? (Who is this?)

Ko to peva? (Who is singing?)

Šta je ovo? (What is this?)

Šta učiš? (What are you studying?)

Gde ideš? (Where are you going?)

Koga voliš? (Who(m) do you love?)

Koje knjige čitaš? (What books are you reading?)

The word order in these k-questions is: K-word – Verb- (Subject) - (Object) – (Anything Else) So, just like in English, these k-words occur at the front of the sentence.

Similar to English, a preposition can precede these K-words, as in:

Sa kime ideš u Srbiju? (With whom are you going to Serbia?)

Od koga dobijaš pisma? (From whom are you getting letters?)

You cannot split the preposition and the k-word, as is the case in English (‘Who are you going to Serbia with?’):

Kim ideš u Srbiju sa? (ungrammatical)

Koga dobijaš pisma od? (ungrammatical)

 

Word Order In Indirect Questions 

Besides direct questions discussed above, we will now talk about the word order in indirect questions. Indirect questions are basically declarative sentences, except that in the subordinate sentence, the question words: ‘da li’ (whether) or k-words introduce the subordinate sentence.

Some examples:

Ne znam [da li je Luka došao.] (I don’t know whether Luka came)

Pitam se [kada će Luka doći.] (I wonder when will Luka come)

In these two examples, the indirect question is shown in brackets. In the first one, the indirect question starts with ‘da li’ (or yes-no phrase), and in the second one, it starts with the k-word “kada” (when).

Q: So, what is the word order in these two embedded indirect question sentences?

A: It is the same as indirect questions.

In the first one, the order is the same as in yes-no questions and in the second one, it is the same as indirect k-questions, discussed above.

As for direct k-questions, in indirect questions, a question word can be preceded by a preposition:

Ne znam [o kome ću pričati.] (I don’t know about whom I will talk.)

If you want to learn how to introduce yourself in Serbian or more most common words and phrases to travel in this beautiful language, take a look at language learning apps like the Ling app.

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