If you’re already familiar with Slovene, you might have noticed that different Slovene question words have the same translation in English. However, in Slovene, they are not always interchangeable as they are used under specific situations.
Kje and kam (where)
Kje and kam both mean where, but in Slovene, they are used in different contexts: one indicates a position while the other points at direction and movement – which is not specified by the word where in English.
- Kje is used for specific location, usually used with the fifth sklon.
i.e. Where are you now → Kje ste zdaj?
- Kam is used for destination, usually used with fourth (destination is a place) and third sklon (destination is a person).
i.e. Where are you going for holidays→ Kam greste na potovanje?
Koliko, Kako and kakšen (how)
The word how in English is used for different question, such how much, how many (koliko), how to (kako), how is (kakšno) and so on. Koliko is used with amounts and quantities, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Kako and kakšen are both used to describe or ask for description and they can easily be confused.
- Kako is used to describe a feeling, a condition or how to do something.
i.e. How are you → Kako ste? / How are you feeling today→ Kako počutite danes? / How to learn Slovene → Kako se učiti slovensčino?
- Kakšen is used to describe things, person, places or objects.
i.e. How is the dress → Kakšna je obleka? / How was the trip → Kakšen je bil izlet?
The answer to kakšen is often with adjectives, that can go by level. For example, lep (pretty) < lepši (prettier) < najlepši (prettiest).
Kateri and Kakšen (which and what kind)
Kateri (which) and kakšen (what kind) don’t exactly have the same translation in English, but somehow, they can be quite confusing. To know which to use, the key is in what kind of answer are you expecting.
- Kateri is usually used for multiple choice answer.
i.e. Which handbag is prettier? The blue one → Katera je najlepša torba? Modra.
In this example, the answer could be have been red, black, brown or any color available.
- Kakšen is usually used for a more detailed answer, to describe
i.e. What type of handbag are you looking for? Small and classic → Kakšna torba iščete? Mala in clasičšna.
In this example, the answer could have been the description of any kind of possible handbag.
At first, it is not always obvious to decide which question word should be use, but the more you practice and listen how Slovenians speak, it will slowly become more clear!
If you have any question, be sure to contact me!
Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene Adjectives, Slovene Syntax, Slovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.
2 thoughts on “Which Slovene Question Words to Use”
Another great post Anna, thanks for posting. I have always been confused by the question “kako ti je ime?” “What is your name?”, Why isn’t it “kaj ti je ime?”
I know how weird it seems. It used to confuse me too… until I started to think it as “how are you calling/naming yourself” or “how do you call/name yourself” instead of “what is your name”. It is the same with “kako se pišete”- which means “what is your surname”, but in Slovene, think it as “how do you write your surname”. Hope it clarifies a bit 🙂