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What is a question?

Questions are simple:
Questions are complex:
Questions are tricky:
Is he here?
At about what time would it be the best moment to release the dogs?
Are you still eating cow manure?

English does use the word do or does a lot, doesn't it? In Afrikaans we don't.

Comment: By default, the verb is 2nd in Afrikaans. With questions, pull the verb to the 1st position. Think of this sentence. I can ask a question. > Can I ask a question? This is the model for all questions in Afrikaans.

English Afrikaans
Do you understand?
Does it work?
Don't you understand?
Did he come?
Did you see me?
Does it help?
Verstaan jy?
Werk dit?
Verstaan jy nie?
Het hy gekom?
Het jy my gesien?
Help dit?

This is how Afrikaans does it: The first verb (or helping verb) goes to the front as you see in these two examples. Here you see, you can't add a DO to make it a question. In Afrikaans, there is no DO to add, we swap the subject and verb.

More complex questions can include adding questions words, (see Question Words) to probe with better clarity, e.g.

  • Waar is die geld?
  • Wie is my vriende?
  • Wat kan ek doen?
  • Hoekom is jy hier?

Even more complex sentences would not only have a question word, but the tense would be past of future, the sentence could be in the passive voice, or it could be a conditional question, e.g. If I were in your shoes, why would I participate? As ek in jou skoene was, sou ek deelneem?

Key tip: When an English question starts with a DO in the question (e.g. Do you think we should ... ?) remember to remove the 'DO YOU' and replace it with THINK YOU we should ... ?

Assignment

Open a notepad and copy these sentences and turn them into questions, then click on fileadmin/afrikaans/documents/Afrikaans_questions_answers.txt (the answers file) to see if you got it.

1. Die man slaap in die bus.
2. Die man in die bus slaap op sy arms.
3. Ek sal die werk doen.
4. Sy het my werk gedoen.
5. Ons wil die werk doen.