Question Words Overview

أَدَوَاتُ الاِستِفهَام

Forming questions is simple in Arabic. The ‘question word’ or interrogative particle is simply placed before the sentence. This usually does not alter the rest of the sentence in any way.

For example, to ask a yes or no question, the particle أ a is used:

أَهَذَا كِتَابٌ a-hādhā kitābun

Is this a book?

The particle هَل hal is used in the same way:

هَل هَذَا كِتَابٌ؟ Hal hādhā kitābun

Is this a book?

أَأَنتَ مُحَمّدٌ a-anta muḥammadun

Are you Muhammad?

هَل فِي البَيتِ أَحَدٌ 

hal fil baithi aḥadun?

Is there anyone in the house?

Here are all the question words:

مَاذَا mādhāwhat
مَا māwhat
لِمَاذَا limādhāwhy
أَينَ aynawhere
أَيّ ayywhich
كَم kamHow many/ how much
مَن manwho
مَتَى matāwhen
هَل halyes/no question
أ ayes/no question
كَيفَ kayfahow

The difference between ما and ماذا

ما is generally used with nouns:

مَا اسمُكَ؟

مَا الفَرق؟

مَاذَا is generally used with verbs:

مَاذَا تَفعَل؟

مَاذا تَقرَأ؟

Examples

لِماذَا جِئتَ مُتَأخِر ؟

Why did you come late?

هَلْ دَرَسْتَ ؟

Did you study ?

أعَبُدُ أَلَلّهِ نَائِمٌ   

Is Abdullah is sleeping?

مَتَى نُسَافِرُ ؟

When are we travelling?

أينَ أخِي ؟     

Where is my brother?

كَمْ سِعْرُ الفُسْتَانِ ؟  

How much is the dress?

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