Arabic question words are words that are used to ask for information. To ask in Arabic, we use interrogative particles called huruful istifham (حُرُوْفُ الاِسْتِفْهَام) and interrogative nouns known as asma’ul istifham (أَسْمَاءُ الاِسْتِفْهَام), using Arabic grammatical terms.
When combined, they are called adawatul istifham (أَدَوَاتُ الاِسْتِفْهَام) – interrogative particles.
Arabic interrogatives are used with both nominal and verbal sentences. This post is about asking questions in Arabic.
Read also Harf Al Jar Examples.
List Of Arabic Question Words
Some of the words for asking questions in Arabic are:
|Meaning in English||Questions word||Function|
|What||مَا / ماذا||Asking for information about something.|
|Why||لماذا||Asking for reason.|
|How||كَيْفَ||Asking about manner.|
|How Much||بكم||quantity (uncountable)|
|When||مَتَى||asking about time|
|Where||اين||Asking in or at what place or position.|
|Who||مَنْ||Asking what or which person or people (subject).|
|Which||اي||asking about choice|
|Whom||لِمن||Asking what or which person or people (object).|
Interrogative Questions in Arabic
Asking Yes-no Questions In Arabic
These are used primarily to answer yes or no type of questions only. They can be used in both formal and informal situations.
1. Hamzah أ
The use of hamzah أ is formal. If you use it with verbal sentences, you simply add it as a prefix to the start of the (present or past) verb.
The answer to a question of this type is either نَعَمْ ‘yes’ or أَجَل ‘yes’ (أَجَل is more formal than نَعَم) if your answer is positive or لا ‘no’ if your answer is negative.
|أَطَبَخَتْ أُمِّي فَاصُوْلِيَا||Did my mother cook pinto beans?|
|أأَنْتَ صَالِح أَم سَعِيْد؟||Are you Saleh or Saeed?|
|أَسَامِي ذَكِيٌّ أَمْ سَلِيْم||Is Sami smart or Saleem?|
|آلشَّاي تُحِبُّ أَمْ القَهْوَة؟||Do you like tea or coffee?|
|أقرأت التعليمات؟||Did you read the instructions?|
|أليس لديك أصدقاء؟||Don’t you have friends?|
|ألا تعلم أن الموعد اليوم؟||Don’t you know that the appointment is today?|
2. Using هَلْ
The use of هَلْ is less formal. It is used with both nominal and verbal sentences in the same way, that is by simply placing it at the start of the sentence.
The answer to the question in this case is either نَعَمْ or أَجَل if the answer is yes or لا if the answer is no.
|هَلْ يْشْرَبُ خَالِد الخَمْر؟||Does Khalid drink wine?|
|هَلْ شَاهَدتَ هَذَا الفِيْلم؟||Did you see this movie?|
|هَلْ تَتَكَلَّم العَرَبِيَّة؟||Do you speak Arabic?|
|هَلْ طَبَخَتْ أُمِّي فَاصُوْلِيَا؟||Did my mother cook pinto beans?|
|هل أنت هنا؟||Are you here?|
Wh Questions in Arabic
To ask a wh-question in Arabic, we use one of seven interrogative nouns. These are:
- مَنْ who,
- مَا what’,
- مَتَى when’,
- أَيْنَ where’,
- أَيّ which.’
The answer must be information that is not known before, by mentioning what is asked about.
1. Man مَنْ
Man is used for human subject or predicate. It is used with both verbal and nominal sentences.
|مَنْ فِي البَيْت؟||Who is in the house?|
|مَنْ هَذَا؟||Who is this?|
|مَنْ أَكَلَ التُّفَّاحَة؟||Who ate the apple?|
|مَنْ يَقْرَأُ القُرْآن؟||Who reads the Holy Quran?|
|من هنا؟||Who’s here?|
|من كتب السؤال؟||Who wrote the question?|
2. Maa مَا
Maa is used for non-human subject or predicate. It also is used with verbal and nominal sentences.
|مااسمك؟||What is your name?|
|مَا هَذَا؟||What is this?|
|مَا تَكْتُب سَلْوَى؟||What does Salwa write?|
|مَا فِي جَيْبِك؟||What is in your pocket?|
|مَا قَلَعَ الشَّجَرَة؟||What rooted up the tree?|
3. Mataa مَتَى
Mataa is used to ask about time. It is usuall associated with verbal sentences.
|متى ستأتي؟||When are you coming?|
|متى رأيت صديقك؟||When did you see your friend?|
|مَتَى حَضَر المُدِيْر؟||When did the boss come?|
|مَتَى يَسْقُط الثَّلْج؟||When does the snow fall?|
4. Ayna أَيْنَ
Ayna is used to ask about place with both nominal and verbal sentences.
|من أين أنت؟||Where are you from?|
|أَيْن سَافَر الوَزِيْر؟||Where did the minister travel?|
|أَيْنَ يَسْكُن صَالِح؟||Where does Saleh live?|
|أَيْنَ السَّيَّارَة؟||Where is the car?|
|أَيْنَ مُحَمَّد؟||Where is Muhammad?|
|إلى أين ذاهب؟||Where are you going?|
5. Ay أَيّ
Ay is used to ask about anything depending on the noun that follows it.
|اي نوع أفضل؟||Which type is the best?|
|أي قصة تقصد؟||Which story do you mean?|
|أَيّ كِتَابٍ تَقْرَأ؟||Which book are you reading?|
|أَيّ سَيَّارَة اِشْتَرِيْت؟||Which car did you buy?|
6. لماذا Limadha
Add one letter to “matha” and you get the question “why” in Arabic. The “li” part actually means “for”, so it would be translated to “for what” which gives the exact same meaning as “why”.
|لماذا تريد القلم؟||Why do you want the pen?|
|لماذا أنت هنا؟||Why are you here?|
|لماذا تأخرت اليوم؟||Why are you late today?|
7. Kam كَمْ
Kam is used to ask about number or quantity.
|كم تريد؟||How much/many do you want?|
|كم عمرك؟||How old are you?|
|كَمْ كِتَابًا قَرَأتَ؟||How many books did you read?|
|كَمْ غُرْفَةٍ فِي البَيْت؟||How many rooms are there in?|
8. Kayf كَيْفَ
Kayf is used with the verbal sentence to ask about the manner of doing something and with the nominal sentence to ask about the condition of someone or something.
|كيف كتبت الكتاب؟||How did you write the book?|
|كَيْفَ الاِمْتِحَان؟||How is the exam?|
|كَيْفَ أَنْتَ؟||How are you?|
|كَيْفَ نَذْهَب إِلَى السُّوْق؟||How do we go to the Market?|
|كَيْفَ أَكَلَ الطِّفْلُ الرُّز؟||How did the child eat rice?|
Questions are part of your daily routines, and if you are learning a new language, you’ll be asking a lot of them. Asking questions in Arabic is not as difficult as some may assume.
If you know all the Arabic question words and meanings, you’ll be able to answer simple Arabic questions and answers.