In Afrikaans (as in English), you can ask questions using question words (interrogatives) or by rearranging the order of the sentence.

First you need to know some question words.

Question Words

How much/many?Hoeveel?

English uses 'what' or 'when' to refer time, but Afrikkans uses Hoe laat? (literally how late) and not the question word Wat? (as might be expected).

What time is it?Hoe laat is dit?
When did you leave the house?Hoe laat het jy uit die huis gegaan?

Questions (using question words) Learn

The Word Order in Afrikaans often differs from English, but not always and for simple sentences is often very similar or even the same.

As in English the question word (who, what, where, when ...) comes at the beginning of the sentence.

How old are you?Hoe oud is jy?
How many children do you have?Hoeveel kinders het jy?
How many rooms are there?Hoeveel kamers is daar?
How much does this cost?Hoeveel kos dit?
What is the weather like?Hoe is die weer?
What is your name?Wat is jou naam?
What time is it?Hoe laat is dit?
How are you?Hoe gaan dit met jou?
When do we eat lunch?Wanneer eet ons middagete?
When do we leave?Wanneer vertrek ons?
When do we arrive?Wanneer arriveer ons
Where are you?Waar is jy?
Where is your car?Waar is jou kar?
Why are you late?Hoekom is jy laat?
Where were you on Monday?Waar was jy Maandag?

Questions (using inversion) Start

Questions in Afrikaans as in English can also be formed by inversion, that is changing the order of the words in the sentence.

For example Jy kyk ... 'You watch ...' is inverted and becomes Kyk jy ..? 'Do you watch ..?'.

Each statement is followed by a question to illustrate this in action.

You like rugbyJy hou van rugby
Do you like rugby?Hou jy van rugby?
You watch televisionJy kyk televisie
Are you watching television?Kyk jy televisie?
You eat lunchJy eet middagete
Are you eating lunch?Eet jy middagete?
I will go to FranceEk sal na Frankryk gaan
Will you go to France?Sal jy na Frankryk gaan?
She will read a bookSy sal ’n boek lees
Will she read a book?Sal sy ’n boek lees?
He will go to workHy sal werk toe gaan
Will he go to work?Sal hy werk toe gaan?

For reasons which are explained in Verbs 'you watch', 'you eat' etc can also be translated as 'you are watching', 'you are eating'.

Questions in compound sentences Learn

These Afrikaans sentences illustrate Afrikaans word order in compound sentences (in these examples sentences in the past tense).

The second column contains a literal translation of the Afrikaans and the first a more usual English version. This highlights not only the differences but the similarities between the two languages in both sentence structure and word order.

Where did you go? To where have you gone? Waarheen het jy gegaan?
I went to the cinema I have to the cinema gone Ek het na die bioskoop gegaan
What did you buy? What have you bought? Wat het jy gekoop?
I bought a new car I have a new car bought Ek het ’n nuwe kar gekoop
What did you eat? What have you eaten? Wat het jy geëet?
I ate fish I have fish eaten Ek het vis geëet
When did you leave the house? How late have you from the house gone? Hoe laat het jy uit die huis gegaan?
I left the house at ten o'clock I have ten o'clock out the house gone Ek het tienuur uit die huis gegaan

Waarheen is another question word meaning 'Where to'.