Question Formation in Russian Language

There is a general idea that most questions in the world are asked by children, as far as while developing they want to discover a lot and understand the way things work. However, not only children often use questions. All people, who enter into a dialogue, are forced to go to questions anyhow.


If we want to study out some information, to ask someone's name, age, what person likes and what someone does, we have to use questions. Communication is just impossible without questions and answers.


Question-answer structure is overwhelmingly important and necessary element of human's communication and thinking as well. Nevertheless, not only somebody can be asked questions, but even yourself.


Questions fulfil two major functions: cognitive and communicative.


Question mostly comprises a request or demanding certain information.


It is interesting that a question has rather strong activating effect on a listener. It renews a speech, drives audience's attention, provoking its interest, exciting initiative, aspiration to take an active part in collective thinking. Leading role in the argument, as well as any other kind of speech act, belongs to question in particular.


According to the definition, a question is a saying, verity of which is not determined or not specified to the end. Practically, any question is based on certain knowledge. Stating one's question, a person thereby wants to clarify information that is already partially known. For example, "Кто является владельцем сети гипермаркетов Ашан?" /Who is the owner of Auchan hypermarket network?/. A person tries to broaden already avaliable partial information by this question. One knows about existense of the network of these hypermarkets, and wants to find out by whom it is owned.


Types of Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative question makes an interlocutor answer speaker's question. There are the following types of interrogative questions: 

- Proper interrogative sentence comprises a question, supposing obligatory answer: Вы завершили ваш проект? /Did you finish your project?/ Она уже пришла? /Has she already come?/

- Interrogative-affirmative sentence comprises information, which needs to be confirmed: Так вы едете с нами? /So, are you coming with us?/ Это уже решено? /Is it decided already?/ Ну, поехали? /Well, are we going?/

- Interrogative-negative sentence already comprises the negation of what is being asked: Что же вам тут может нравиться? /What can you like about this?/ Кажется, это не особо эстетично? /It seems to be less than aesthetic, isn't it?/ И что же вы можете нам поведать? /So, what can you tell us?/

- Interrogative-affirmative and interrogative-negative sentences can be united banded in the category of interrogative-declarative sentences. 

- Interrogative-imperative sentence comprises drinking to act, expressed in a question itself: Итак, может быть, продолжим нашу тренировку? /So, maybe we'll continue our training?/ Займёмся сначала растяжкой? /Let's do stretching out at first?/ Ну, начнем? /Well, let's start?/

- Interrogative-rhetorical sentence comprises a statement or negation and doesn't need any answer, since an answer is comprised in a question itself: Мечты… Какая польза от напрасных мечтаний? /Dreams... What's the point of vain dreaming?/


So How Are Questions Formed in Russian?

Questions can be formed in different ways in Russian: with the help of intonation, by adding interrogative words (кто? /who?/, что? /what?/, где? /where?/, зачем /what for?/, почему? /why?/, как? /how?/, какой? /which?/), with the help of particle "ли" /whether/ (Знаете ли?, Правда ли?).


You can give complete or short answers to the questions. For example: "В сколько ты вернулся из кинотеатра?" /When did you come back from the cinema?/ - "Я вернулся из кинотеатра в 8" /I came back from the cinema at 8 p.m./ (complete answer), "в 8" /at 8 p.m./ (short answer). You can answer some questions, formed with the help of interrogative intonation in particular (Ты знаешь, что твой брат уже приехал из Парижа? /Do you know that your brother has already come back from Paris?/), and so-called "ли-вопросы" (Правда ли, что хлеб подорожал? /Is it true bread got more expensive?/), with monosemantic words "да" /yes/ or "нет" /no/. However, you can also answer such questions another way. For instanse, "нет, я этого не знал" /no, I didn't know that/, "да, я об этом знаю" /yes, I know that/.


There are simple and complex questions in Russian. Everything concerning simple questions is rather clear. They consist of one simple sentence (Как тебя зовут?) /What is your name?/. Complex question represents the formation of simple questions, integrated with the help of conjunctions and, or, whether.., either... or etc. Complex question can consist of some matrixes and one unknown variable (Каковы финансовые и материальные активы вашего холдинга и какие у нас шансы на успех? /What are the financial and fixed assets of your holding and what chances of success do we have?/).


We can distinguish open questions and closed-end questions among the simple ones. The meaning of open questions is multivalued, that's why answers to such questions aren't stricktly bounded and can be of free format. The following question can be an example: "Каковы перспективы развития финансовой системы на Уругвае?" /What are the perspectives of financial system development in Uruguay?/. The answer to this question can be given in a form of report and give consideration to different aspects of this issue. Closed-end question is decisive and stated, that's why the answer should be reasoned by rigid boundaries: definite character and exact proportionment of requested information. "Кто построил это здание?" /Who built this building?/.

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