Category: "Interrogatives"

Как (часть первая)

by Don  

The Russian word for ‘how’ is как. When you start studying Russian, you first encounter it in “How are you?” phrases:

Как дела? How are things going?
Как живёшь? How are you?

Since the word asks about the manner in which something is done, we call it an adverb. Since it poses a question we call it an interrogative adverb. In the following sentences the word is an interrogative adverb. In English we often use the pronoun ‘you’ or ‘I’ or (if you are really pedantic) ‘one’ in sentences that ask how to do something. Similar sentences in Russian often ask usе an infinitive construction:

Как доехать до университета? How can I get to the university?
Как лучше добраться до Москвы? На поезде или на самолёте? How is it best for one to get to Moscow? By train or by plane?
Как приготовить борщ? How do you make borshch?
— Как можно избежать штрафов за превышение скорости, зафиксированное фото радарами?
— Приобретите себе радарную систему с выведенной из эксплуатации подводной лодки и установите её в своей машине. Её сигнал пересилит сигнал радаров городского движения и вы будете кататься по всему городу, не получая никаких штрафов.
“How can I avoid photo radar fines?”
“Get yourself a radar system from a decommissioned submarine and install it in your car. The signal will overwhelm city traffic radar, and you will be able to ride all over town without any fines whatsoever.”


by Don  

Какой is one of the question words in Russian. It asks a question, so we call it ‘interrogative,’ and in terms of its endings it's an adjective, so we call it an ‘interrogative adjective.’ It declines like this:

Masc Neut Fem Pl
Nom какой какое какая какие
Acc * какую *
Gen какого какой каких
Pre каком
Dat какому каким
Ins каким какими

Although какой can be translated several ways, it's most common meaning is “what kind of”:

— Какие книги ты любишь?
— Детективы.
“What kind of books do you like?”
— Какой шоколад ты предпочитаешь?
— Молочный.
“What kind of chocolate do you prefer?”
“Milk [chocolate].”
Какой он человек?
Вообще приятный, но иногда он вспыльчивый.
“What kind of person is he?”
“A pleasant guy, on the whole, but sometimes he is hot-headed.”
— О каких людях вы пишете?
— О тех, кому по жизни не повезло.
“What kind of people do you write about?”
“About those whose lives just haven't worked out right.”

Sometimes какой has about the same meaning as который, and in those instances we can often translate it as ‘what’ or sometimes ‘which’:

— Какую книгу ты читаешь?
— «Анну Каренину».
“What book are you reading?”
“Anna Karenina.”
— Какой автобус нам нужен?
— Сто одиннадцатый.
“Which bus do we need?”
“Number one eleven.”
— В каком городе вы живёте?
— В Уфе.
“What city do you live in?”
— Какую певицу ты предпочитаешь, Лэди Гагу или Мадонну?
— Они обе противны. Я люблю Пинк.
“Which singer do you prefer, Lady Gaga or Madonna?”
“They are both nasty. I like Pink.”