Urdu/Elementary Urdu

Have you ever had a child? If yes, then you'd know how inquisitive their little minds are. If you haven't had any kids, try remembering yourself as a toddler. It isn't hard enough to note that children usually start talking by asking simple questions like ‘what is this?’ and ‘where is that thing?’ We will start learning the Urdu in a very similar way: asking questions.

Basic interrogation


If Paul is to ask what a certain thing is, he'd say: what is this? It is pretty much how things work in Urdu with a slight change however. To learn Urdu, you would have to think in Urdu. When asking a question, a speaker, of say English, would use a special word called the interrogative word which in Paul's example is what. If broken down, the simple question that Paul asked would appear as follows:

Interrogative word Auxiliary verb Object
What is this

In the example above, we clearly see that the question begins with an interrogative word (what, where, when, etc.), followed by an auxiliary or helping verb and then comes the object. In Urdu grammar however things work a bit differently. Try looking at the same example in a different perspective.

Object Interrogative word Auxiliary verb
This what is

This might seem incorrect grammatically in English, but this is actually the correct sequence of syntax when asking a question in Urdu. The object comes first with the auxiliary verb at the end and anything else (the interrogative word in this case) between the two. In Urdu, following question would be the equivalent of the question Paul asked.

Object Interrogative word Auxiliary verb
Latinised Yeh
pronounced [yeɪ]
pronounced [k·yɑː]
pronounced [hæ]
Urdu یہ کیا ہے