April 20, 2012

Interrogative Adjectives

Interrogative adjectives are adjectives that are used in questions.


The interrogative adjective कैसा can be translated into English as “what kind of”, “what sort of”, or “how”. It inflects according to gender, number, and case. The masculine singular form is कैसा, the masculine plural form is कैसे, and the feminine singular and plural form is कैसी. In the oblique case, the masculine singular and plural oblique form is कैसे, and the other oblique forms are the same as the direct forms.

यह कैसी मूवी है – “What kind of movie is this?”

यह मूवी कैसी है – “How is this movie?”

Note the difference between the attributive and predicative usage – as an attributive adjective, कैसा means “what kind of”, but as a predicate adjective, is means “how”.

आप कैसे मकान में रहते हैं – “What kind of house do you live in?”

यह कैसा फल है – “What sort of fruit is this?”

कौन सा

The interrogative कौन with the particle सा forms an interrogative adjective that can be translated as “which” in English. The सा inflects like any adjective.

कौन सी मूवी देखनेवाली हो – “Which movie are you going to watch?”


कितना means “how much/how many”:

हम कितने लोग हैं – “How many people are we?”

आपके दफ्तर में कितने लोग काम करते हैं – “How many people work in your office?”

यहाँ कितनी किताबें हैं – “How many books are here?”

  • Hindi Learner

    I have seen this sentence in the book Getting Started in Hindi (p60) – किराया कितना है? I understand this is mean “How much is the rent”.

    I notice that the word order of कितना is different here. Can you shed light on this changed word order?

    Pages 46-47 of the same book give these example uses of कितना:

    कितने कमरे हैं? – How many rooms are there?
    कितनी दुकानें हैं? – How many shops are there?
    कितना पैसा है? – How much money is there?
    कितने लोग हैं? – How many people are there?
    किना समय है? – How much time is there?

    So when would you use कितना in the alternate word order (as given in the first sentence). Such a minor point, but I’d really like to understand.

    Thanks in advance.

    • That’s a good question. Your intuition about English will guide you. Notice that your English translations used two different words orders: you wrote “how much is the rent” versus “how many rooms are there?”. If you think about it, the English and Hindi syntax is essentially the same if we eliminate the irrelevant word order differences; in English we change the word order to indicate questions, so let’s rewrite the English sentence to use indicative word order (order for non-questions): “the rent is how much”. Then, rewrite the sentence from subject-verb-adjective to subject-adjective-verb order: “the rent how much is”. It’s the same as Hindi! Let’s do the same for the other sentence: “how many rooms are there”; get rid of “expletive” usage: “how many rooms are”; it’s the same as the Hindi sentence! So, using your intuition about English (i.e. when to say “how much/many X is/are” versus “how much/many X are there”, etc.), you can decide the proper Hindi sentence, generally speaking. Although you might hear some speakers taking liberties with the word order here, the sentence “kitna kiraya hai” is more like asking “how much rent is there”.

      • Hindi Learner

        Thank you very much for replying – I am very grateful.

        I think my hunch was correct – the word order, such as when कितना or कैसा is used before the noun/subject, conveys the idea of “there is/there are” (expletives).

        Other inversions of word order convey this same idea – compare

        मेज़ पर क़लम है – There is a pen on the table
        क़लम मेज़ पर है – The pen is on the table

        (p34 Complete Hindi)

        Sometimes you do want to say “there is” or “there are”.

        Good to know. No, great to know! Thank you very much.

        Such a little thing, but it jumped out at me.

        • You’re welcome! Good examples; I think you’ve understood the word order well now.