In most (or all?) of Germanic languages questions are created by inversion. E.g.:

"I am here." -> "Am I here?"

As far as I know most of Slavic languages do it simply by adding a word before the sentence. Something like:

"I am here." -> "If I am here?"

Are there any other "methods" of creating a question? I'm especially interested if there exist languages that use inflection in order to do it? Something like:

"I am here." -> "I is here?"

  • By "conjugation", do you mean a bound affix on a verb (and not a clitic)? Do you mean all questions, or would it suffice if only polar or wh-questions do this?
    – user6726
    Oct 20, 2015 at 21:11
  • @user6726 An affix (or a complete change of a word), although If u know an example of a clitic, I would also be happy to know about this. Polar questions would be satisfying, but the more general the better.
    – Arsen
    Oct 20, 2015 at 22:03
  • The word in the Slavic languages that you alluded to is in fact a (Wackernagel) clitic. Oct 20, 2015 at 23:19
  • Could you elaborate on what you are saying about Romance languages?
    – fdb
    Oct 21, 2015 at 0:16
  • 3
    Finnish uses the suffix -ko/-kö on theverb to form a question, IIRC. Japanese uses a final particle ka.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 21, 2015 at 0:16

4 Answers 4


Yes there are other ways of constructing questions. Many Australian languages use a verbal auxiliary which carries some modal meaning, to which they then attach subject and object agreement clitics. The Walmajarri language changes the auxiliary to create polar questions (source, p93):

yani  pa-lu    mangawarnti
went  AUX-3pl  girls
'The girls went.'

yani  nga-lu   mangawarnti
went  AUX-3pl  girls
'Did the girls go?'

Standard Korean has an interrogative inflection (as opposed to declarative, imperative and propositive moods), as part of the property known as the "pragmatic mood". It is characterised by -ㅂ니까 -mnikka for vowel stems or -습니까 -seumnikka for consonant stems in the formal polite level (as in 합니까 hamnikka and 있습니까 issseumnikka) and -느냐 -neunya for the formal plain level (하느냐 haneunya / 있느냐 issneunya). Adjectives (i.e. descriptive verbs) have a different inflection for the formal plain level: -냐 -nya for vowel stems and -으냐 -eunya for consonant stems. For all forms, this may be abbreviated to -니 -ni in speech.

There is generally no formal inflection distinction in the intimate (informal plain) [although many other interrogative forms are used, e.g. -지 -ji], the general polite (informal polite), the authoritative (semi-formal polite) and familiar (semi-formal, semi-polite).

Interestingly enough, the Gyeongsang dialect group of Korean (including Busan), in its informal plain layer, distinguishes between yes-no questions and wh-questions by inflection, with an -아 -a or -나 -na for yes-no questions and -오 -o or -노 -no for wh-questions.


Chinese adds a particle "ma" to form polar questions from declaratives.

You good 'you are good'
you good irr 'Are you good?'

Similarly, many Andean languages have clitics to form wh- and polar questions from declaratives and imperatives.

  • I'd like to see clarification / elaboration on the Andean claim. The "validation" suffix -chu in Quechua is also used to express doubt, so it is not a question marker, though it is used in questions.
    – user6726
    Oct 21, 2015 at 17:24
  • 1
    Yes, -chu is conjectural in Quechua, not interrogative. Consider e.g. -cha, -sa and -ti in Aymara: uka anu-wa 'that is a dog' but uka anu-ti 'is that a dog?'
    – Teusz
    Oct 21, 2015 at 19:51

Japanese has a particle /ka/ <か> added to the end of the sentence that marks it as a question.

Declarative: Anata wa nihonjin desu

Question: Anata wa nihonjin desu ka

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.