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Interrogative pronouns: subject and object

The basic interrogative pronouns are wat what, used to ask about inanimate objects (1a) and sometimes animals, and wie who, used to ask about people (1b).

Example 1

a. Wat is die mens?
what be.PRS the human
What is humanity?
b. Wie is hulle?
who be.PRS they
Who are they?

The interrogative pronoun wat what is typically used to ask about inanimate objects, and can function as both the subject (2a) and the object (2b) of a sentence.

Example 2

a. Wat gaan fout?
what go mistake
What goes wrong?
b. Maar wat het hulle gedoen?
but what have.AUX they do.PST
But what did they do?

The interrogative pronoun wie who, on the other hand, is used to inquire about people, and can also function as the subject (3a) and the object (3b) of a sentence.

Example 3

a. Wie sal bo uitkom?
who will above out.come
Who will.AUX.MOD come out on top?
b. Wie vrees hulle en vir wie vlug hulle?
who fear they and for who flee they
Who do they fear and from who are they fleeing?
VivA-KPO, adapted

Both of these interrogative pronouns can be modified or specified – premodified (4a-b) as well as postmodified (4c-d).

Example 4

a. Maar presies wat het gebeur?
but exactly what have.AUX happen.PST
But exactly what happened?
b. Maar presies wie was hierdie mense?
but exactly who be.PrT these people
But exactly who were these people?
c. Mmmm nou wat presies is die rede hiervoor?
hmmm now what exactly be.PRS the reason PN.for
Hmmm now what exactly is the reason for this?
d. Wie presies soek julle?
who exactly search you.PL
Who exactly are you looking for?
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