Questions may be formed in two basic ways: To form a question, a statement may be turned into a yes/no question or a question word may be used.

Yes/No questions

The most common way to form a yes/no question is to use the Type 9 verb suffix -'a' (1). To use this suffix a normal sentence is created and the suffix is placed on the verb to ask if the statement is correct. cholegh you see me becomes cholegh'a' do you see me? and nuHotlhpu' they have scanned us becomes nuHotlhpu''a' have they scanned us?

A similar type of yes/no question can be created using the sentence tag, qar'a' (is it accurate?)(2) This tag may be placed at the end of the sentence as in De' Sov HoD qar'a' The captain knows the information, right?, or the tag may be placed directly after the verb (in which case, the English translation would usually still place the English tag at the end) as in De' Sov qar'a' HoD The captain knows the information, right?

To answer a question formed in these ways, you may simply respond with the words HIja' or HISlaH which both mean yes or the word ghobe' which means no. You may also choose to answer simply by restating the original statement in the appropriate positive or negative or by giving a conflicting statement. You might answer the question cholegh'a' (do you see me?) with HoD neH vIlegh (I see only the captain). You may also combine one of the simple answers with a complete sentence:
Have the scanned us?

ghobe' nuHotlhpu'be'
No, they have not scanned us.

A qar'a' tag question is also sometimes answered with just the positive or negative of the tag:
De' Sov HoD qar'a' The captain knows the information, right?)
qar Right. (i.e. It is accurate.)

Question words

To ask more complex questions, you can use the following question words(3):
'Iv who?
nuq what?
nuqDaq where
ghorgh when?
qatlh why?
chay' how?
'ar how many? how much?

What / Who

The question words 'Iv and nuq act much like pronouns in that they can stand in place of a noun when that noun is not known and you wish it to be identified. 'Iv is used in place of beings capable of language and nuq is used to replace all other nouns. The question word may stand in the place of any appropriate noun in the sentence. yaS legh 'Iv means Who sees the officer? and nuq legh yaS means What does the officer see? These question words are considered third person as far as the verb prefixes are concerned: nuq Dalegh (What do you see?)

The question words 'Iv and nuq can also function as the question plus the verb to be as follows: yIH nuq (What is a tribble?) or HoD 'Iv (Who is the captain?). For further details see to be.

Question words, like nuq "what?", function the same way pronouns do in questions with "to be" in the English translations.(4)

Note that they can't replace arbitrary verbs, only pronouns acting as verbs, or in other words, verbs which would normally be translated with "to be" in English.

Dochvam nuq
what is this thing?

yIH nuq
what is a tribble?

jarlIj qaq nuq
What is your favorite month?

The last was not Okrand's example, but suggested to him by someone else. In particular, Okrand explains that the expected answer to that question isn't a month, but a definition of "your favourite month".

Other question words

The question words nuqDaq, ghorgh, qatlh, and chay' occur at the beginning of the sentence:

nuqDaq So'pu' yaS Where did the officer hide?
ghorgh So'pu' yaS When did the officer hide?
qatlh So'pu' yaS Why did the officer hide?
chay' So'pu' yaS How did the officer hide?

Note that many English questions that use What? and ask for a description of a thing (e.g. What are your commands?) are better phrased in Klingon by using chay' and asking for the description of an action:

chay' jura' How do you command us?

The word chay' can also be used as a one-word exclamation meaning something like How did this happen?, though in English one might say, What happened? or What the --?

See also

  • Which weapon do you want?


1 : The Klingon Dictionary 4.2.9, p. 44

2 : The Klingon Dictionary 6.4, p. 179

3 : The Klingon Dictionary 6.4, p. 68

4 : Marc Okrand, MSN post, Dec. 12, 1996

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 12 Sep 2019, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 21 Nov 2015 by JeremyCowan
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