How to ask questions in Romanian - Interrogatives
Are you an inquisitive person? Then it is very likely that you will need to ask questions in Romanian such as: Where is the bus stop? What do you recommend for lunch? Which one should I take?
This lesson helps you ask questions and lists many useful interrogative Romanian words. At the end of this lesson you will be able to build your own questions in several ways.
Exercises are included!
This lesson will teach you:
- A first and very easy way of asking questions in Romanian: Intonation
- A second way of constructing an interrogative sentence in Romanian: Inversion
- All the Romanian question words: what, where, when...
- Tag questions in Romanian
- To practice what you've learned with the help of many Romanian language exercises
In Romanian you can simply change the tone of a normal affirmative sentence and turn it into an interrogative sentence. It is important to note that the two sentences (declarative and interrogative) are identical from a grammatical point of view, the only difference is made by the intonation. The pitch rises towards the end of such a question. These are yes or no questions.
Do I have money? (you are literally saying: I have money ? )
Eu am bani?
|/jew am ↗banʲ/|
Are you at home? You are literally saying: You are at home?, where "you" is referring to one person
Tu eşti acasă?
|/tu jeʃtʲ a↗'ka.sə/|
Does he drink wine? (you are literally saying: He drinks wine ? )
El bea vin?
|/jel be̯a ↗vin/|
Does Maria eat at the restaurant? (you are literally saying: Maria eats/is eating at the restaurant ? )
Maria mănâncă la restaurant?
|/ma'ri.a mə'nɨ.nkə la res.ta.u↗'rant/|
Are we tired? (you are literally saying We are tired?)
Noi suntem obosiţi?
|/noj 'sun.tem o.bo↗'sit͡sʲ/|
Do you have time? (you are literally saying: You have time ? where "you" is the plural form thus referring to more than one person)
Voi aveţi timp?
|/voj a'vet͡sʲ ↗timp/|
Are you impatient? you are literally saying You are impatient? where "Dumneavostră" is the polite and formal way of addressing somebody, in this case a man judging by the form of the adjective: nerăbdător.
Dumneavoastră sunteţi nerăbdător?
|/dum.ne̯a'vo̯as.trə 'sun.tet͡sʲ ne.rəb.də↗'tor/|
Are they reading now? You are literally saying They are reading now? where "they" is referring to two or more men
Ei citesc acum?
|/jej ʧi'tesk a↗'kum/|
Do they dance often? you are literally saying: They dance often? where "they" is referring to two or more women
Ele dansează des?
|/'je.le dan'se̯a.zə ↗des/|
Another way of asking a question in Romanian is to place the verb at the beginning of the sentence.
Do I have money? (you are literally saying: Have I money? )
Am eu bani?
|/am jew ↗banʲ/|
Are you at home?
Eşti tu acasă?
|/jeʃtʲ tu a↗'ka.sə/|
Does he drink wine? (you are literally saying: Drinks he wine ? )
Bea el vin?
|/be̯a jel ↗vin/|
Does Maria eat at the restaurant? (you are literally saying: Eats Maria at the restaurant? )
Mănâncă Maria la restaurant?
|/mə'nɨ.nkə ma'ri.a la res.ta.u↗'rant/|
Are we tired?
Suntem noi obosiţi?
|/'sun.tem noj o.bo↗'sit͡sʲ/|
Do you have time? (you are literally saying: Have you time? where "you" is the plural form thus referring to more than one person)
Aveţi voi timp?
|/a'vet͡sʲ voj ↗timp/|
Are you impatient? (the polite and formal way of addressing somebody, in this case a man judging by the form of the adjective: nerăbdător)
Sunteţi dumneavoastră nerăbdător?
|/'sun.tet͡sʲ dum.ne̯a'vo̯as.trə ne.rəb.də↗'tor/|
Are they reading now? (where "they" is referring to more than one man)
Citesc ei acum?
|/ʧi'tesk jej a↗'kum/|
Do they dance often? (you are literally saying: Dance they often? where "they" is referring to more than one woman)
Dansează ele des?
|/dan'se̯a.zə 'je.le ↗des/|
The subject can be omitted
A variation of the inversion type of question that we've seen above is the inversion (verb placed first) but leaving out the subject. Especially in spoken Romanian the subject is omitted not only in questions but also in affirmative sentences. This is perfectly fine because the conjugation of the verb already implies the subject (I,you,he)...
For example let's assume that two friends are speaking on the phone. It is normal to hear this type of question: "Eşti acasă acum?" which is translated "Are [you] at home now?". In English the subject must be present, however Romanian grammar allows the subject to be omitted because the form of the verb "Eşti" can only be used to refer to "you" (singular). So the one receiving this question would immediately understand that the the question is actually about him/her being at home at the time of the conversation.
One could leave out the subject in Romanian once it has been mentioned once or several times. For example if a boyfriend tells his girlfriend that George will come later on to visit them, he could simply ask: "Bea vin?" ("Is [he] drinking wine?").
Here is the list of all questions with the subject being left out:
Do [I] have money?
Are [you] at home? ("you" is referring to one person)
Does [he] drink wine?
Does [Maria] eat at the restaurant?
Mănâncă la restaurant?
|/mə'nɨ.nkə la res.ta.u↗'rant/|
Are [we] tired?
Do [you] have time?
Are [you] impatient?
Are [they] reading now?
Do [they] dance often?
A very simple way to build a question in Romanian is to use a question word such as "the five wh" also known as 5W1H: who, what, why, how, where, when, with what.
In the table below you will find the most frequently used question words in Romanian:
Question words: Who, What, Where... (interrogative words)
To whom or Whom ... to or Who... to
How to ask why in Romanian?
How many or How much
While asking a question the usage of “Care” vs “Ce” is the same as “Which” vs “What”. So guide yourself based on your native instinct and you will be fine. As in English “Care” (which) involves the notion of selection out of a set of possible choices.
Let's look at a few examples on how an actual question would sound like in Romanian?
Romanian questions using the "wh" words
Who is he?
Cine este el?
|/↗'t͡ʃi.ne ↘'jes.te jel/|
What do [you] want?
Where are [you] going?
When are [you] coming?
How do [you] prefer your coffee?
Cum preferaţi cafeaua?
|/↗kum ↘pre.fe'rat͡sʲ ka'fe̯a.wa/|
To whom did [you] give the book?
Cui i-ai dat cartea?
|/↗kuj ↘jaj dat 'kar.te̯a/|
Which is your car?
Care e maşina ta?
|/↗'ka↘.re je ma'ʃi.na ta/|
Why are [you] crying?
De ce plângi?
|/de ↗'t͡ʃe plɨnd͡ʒʲ/|
To form a tag question one needs to say a normal affirmative sentence and add at the end a few words (always the same): ",nu-i așa?" (isn't it).
The declarative sentence is pronounced normally, while the tag "nu-i așa" follows a raising intonation.
I have money, don't I?
Eu am bani, nu-i așa?
|/jew am banʲ nuj a↗'ʃa/|
You are at home, aren't you? ("you" is referring to one person)
Tu eşti acasă, nu-i așa?
|/tu jeʃtʲ a'ka.sə nuj a↗'ʃa/|
He drinks wine, doesn't he?
El bea vin, nu-i așa?
|/jel be̯a vin nuj a↗'ʃa/|
Maria eats/is eating at the restaurant, isn't so?
Maria mănâncă la restaurant, nu-i așa?
|/ma'ri.a mə'nɨ.nkə la res.ta.u'rant nuj a↗'ʃa/|
We are tired, aren't we?
Noi suntem obosiţi, nu-i așa?
|/noj 'sun.tem o.bo'sit͡sʲ nuj a↗'ʃa/|
You have time, don't you? ("you" is the plural form thus referring to more than one person)
Voi aveţi timp, nu-i așa?
|/voj a'vet͡sʲ timp nuj a↗'ʃa/|
You are impatient, ins't it? (this is a polite and formal way of addressing somebody, in this case a man judging by the form of the adjective: nerăbdător.)
Dumneavoastră sunteţi nerăbdător, nu-i așa?
|/dum.ne̯a'vo̯as.trə 'sun.tet͡sʲ ne.rəb.də'tor nuj a↗'ʃa/|
They are reading now, aren't they? ("they" refers to more than one man)
Ei citesc acum, nu-i așa?
|/jej ʧi'tesk a'kum nuj a↗'ʃa/|
They dance often, don't they? ("they" refers to more than one woman)
Ele dansează des, nu-i așa?
|/'je.le dan'se̯a.zə des nuj a↗'ʃa/|
Tag Questions in Romanian ... right?
Another form of tag questions is the one where only "... ,yes?" is added at the end of the declarative sentence. "Yes" added at the end of the sentence to denote a question is unnatural in English, that uses instead the ending "... right?".
I have money, right?
Eu am bani, da?
|/jew am banʲ ↗da/|
You are at home, right?
Tu eşti acasă, da?
|/tu jeʃtʲ a'ka.sə ↗da/|
Do you think you know how to build a Romanian question?
Just try out more exercises on the next pages. This will help you remember the new Romanian terms.
After you would have done the exercises we recommend that you start the Advanced Level lesson on the same topic: Asking questions in Romanian.