V2 02_Interrogative Verb-Second

The property Interrogative Verb Second has the value “yes” when the language allows one and only one wh-constituent to precede the finite verb in interrogative main clauses.

Definition of Finite Verb

In order to determine whether a given language has the value “yes”, it is important to test counterparts of the (Swedish) examples in (a-c), in order to make sure that various parts of speech may precede the finite verb, and it is also important to test the counterpart of the (Swedish) example in (d) and (e), to make sure that only one constituent may precede the finite verb. In the examples (a)-(e), we restrict our attention to examples without auxiliaries.

a. Vem äter ett äpple varje dag?
who eats an apple every day
‘Who eats an apple every day?’

b. Vad äter Johan varje dag?
What eats Johan every day
‘What does Johan eat every day?’

c. Varför äter Johan ett äpple?
why eats Johan an apple
‘Why does Johan eat an apple?’

d. * Varför vem äter ett äpple?
why who eats an apple

e. * Varför Johan äter ett äpple?
why Johan eats an apple

NA (Not Applicable): A language has the value NA for this property if it does not have inflected verbs or inflected auxiliaries.


1. English is ‘yes’ for the property Interrogative Verb Second:

Who eats an apple every day?
What does John eat every day?
Why does John eat an apple?

2. Swedish is ‘yes’ for the property Interrogative Verb Second. This also holds when the finite verb is an auxiliary.

Vem har ätit ett äpple?
Who has eaten an apple
‘Who has eaten an apple?’

Vad har Johan ätit?
What has Johan eaten
‘What has Johan eaten?’

Varför har Johan ätit ett äpple?
why has Johan eaten an apple
‘Why has Johan eaten an apple?’

* Varför Johan har ätit ett äpple?
why Johan has eaten an apple

3. Kashmiri is ‘no’ for the property Interrogative Verb Second, since more than one constituent may precede the finite verb in interrogative main clauses. The wh-constituent will immediately precede the finite verb, but other constituents may precede the wh-constituent.

K’a: khev Mohnan ra:th?
what ate Mohan yesterday
‘What did Mohan eat yesterday?’

Mohnan k’a: khev ra:th?
Mohan what ate yesterday
‘What did Mohan eat yesterday?’

4. Northern Sami is ‘no’ for the property Interrogative Verb Second, since more than one constituent may precede the finite verb in interrogative main clauses. The wh-constituent will appear in initial position, but other constituents may intervene between the wh-constituent and the finite verb.

Gii borai eahppela?
who ate apple
‘Who ate an/the apple?’

Manin Jovnna borai eahppela?
why Jovnna ate apple
‘Why did Jovnna eat an/the apple?’

Contributed by: Marit Julien and Gunlög Josefsson and Lars-Olof Delsing
Language Value Contributor Comments
   =Hoan No Chris Collins
   Acehnese No Julie Legate
+ Afrikaans Yes Theresa Biberauer
  Words: Wat koop jy by die smous?
  Gloss: what buy you by the hawker
  Translation: What are you buying from the hawker?
  Comment: All main-clause wh-interrogatives are V2. Strikingly, Afrikaans is the only Germanic language that also systematically permits embedded V2 in the wh-interrogative complements of all verbs (i.e. there is no know- vs wonder-type distinction of the sort reported in McCloskey 1992/2006). The availability of embedded V2 wh-complements is surprising, given the impossibilityof this option in symmetric embedded V2 languages (Icelandic and Yiddish).
  Contributor: Theresa Biberauer
  Words: Ek weet wat dink die studente oor daardie plan
  Gloss: I know what think the student-PL about that plan
  Translation: I know what the students think about that plan
  Comment: V2 in embedded wh-interrogatives is extremely common in spoken Afrikaans and also occurs in the written language as many speakers are unaware that this is not in fact the standard option (which would require a V-final structure).
  Contributor: Theresa Biberauer
   Albanian No Dalina Kallulli
   American Sign Language No Natasha Abner
   Amharic No Girma Demeke
+ Ancient Greek No Richard Faure
  Words: hoûtoi tí poioûsin hoi nómoi ?
  Translation: What do these laws accomplish?
  Comment: Dem. 21.30. See also Xen. Smp. 8.21
  Contributor: Richard Faure
   Arabic, Gulf No Dimitrios Ntelitheos
   Armenian (Eastern) Yes Sona Haroutyunian
   Bafut No Pius Tamanji
   Bajau, West Coast No Mark Miller
   Bambara No Bryan Villa
   Bardi No Claire Bowern
   Basaa NA Paul Roger Bassong
   Bellinzonese No Andrea Cattaneo
   Beng No Denis Paperno
   Bengali No Priyanka Biswas
   Bole No Alhaji Gimba
   Brazilian Portuguese No Ananda Lima
+ Bulgarian No Ljuba Veselinova
  Words: Zashto xvarli Vera jabalka-ta na zemja-ta?
  Gloss: why threw Vera apple-DEF.F on ground-DEF.F
  Translation: Why did Vera throw the apple on the floor?
  Comment: A more colloquial variant of the sentence of would be with a clitic: Zashto _ja_ xvarli Vera jabalkata na zemjata. The clitic precedes the verb
  Contributor: Ljuba Veselinova
   Calabrian (Northern) No Giuseppina Silvestri
+ Cantonese (Guangzhou) No Zixian Qiu
  Words: dimgaai Mary mui jat hai ukkei sik yat go pinggwo
  Gloss: why Mary every day at home eat one CLF apple
  Translation: Why does Mary eat an apple at home every day?
  Contributor: Zixian Qiu
+ Catalan No Victoria Mateu
  Comment: Verb-subject inversion is usually required in Catalan wh- questions; however, this seems to be optional with 'per què' ('why') questions. E.g. Per què en Joan té tres cotxes? ('Why does John have three cars?')
  Contributor: Victoria Mateu
   Chichewa No Sam Mchombo
   Chickasaw No Pam Munro
   Chol No Jessica Coon
   Cypriot Greek No Marios Andreou
   Czech No Pavel Caha
   Dagaare Yes Adams Bodomo
   Danish Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Dholuo No Hilda Koopman
   Dida Lakota (diéko) No Gohon Fabienne Stéphanie Attéby
   Digo No Steve Nicolle
   Digor Ossetic No David Erschler
+ Dutch Yes Lotte Hendriks
  Words: (*) Wie eet elke dag een appel?
  Gloss: Who eats every day an apple
  Translation: “Who eats an apple every day?”
  Comment: For most speakers of Dutch this sentence is ill formed, ‘er’ needs to be included in this context, and for others ‘er’ seems to be optional.
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
  Words: Wie eet er elke dag een appel?
  Gloss: Who eats there every day an apple
  Translation: “Who eats an apple every day?”
  Comment: For most speakers of Dutch ‘er’ is obligatory in this context, for others ‘er’ seems to be optional.
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
  Words: Hoe-veel appels eet Jan elke dag?
  Gloss: How-many apples eats John every day
  Translation: “How many apples does John eat every day?”
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
  Words: Waarom eet Jan elke dag een appel?
  Gloss: Why eats John every day an apple
  Translation: “Why does John eat an apple every day?”
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
  Words: * Waarom wie eet een appel?
  Gloss: Why who eats an apple
  Translation: “Why who eats an apple?” (* means ungrammatical)
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
  Words: * Waarom Jan / hij / ‘k eet elke dag een appel?
  Gloss: Why John / he / I eat every day an apple
  Translation: “Why does John / he / I eat(s) an apple every day?” (* Means ungrammatical)
  Comment: The finite verb must immediately follow the wh-phrase; neither subject clitics nor object clitics are possible.
  Contributor: Lotte Hendriks
   Eastern Armenian No Karine Megerdoomian
   English Yes Chris Collins
   English (Singapore) No Adam Chong
   Ewe No Chris Collins
   Farefari No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   Faroese Yes Hjalmar Páll Petersen
   Farsi No Natasha Schimka
   Fijian No Zhenyu Sun
   Finnish No Anders Holmberg
   French No Vincent Homer
   Frisian (West Frisian) Yes Jarich Hoekstra
   Ga No Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
   galician Yes Naír García
   Garifuna No Pam Munro
   georgian Yes Lea Nash
   German Yes Viola Schmitt
   Greek No Arhonto Terzi
   Greek (Cappadocian) No Petros Karatsareas
   Greek (Homer) Yes Cristina Guardiano
   Greek (Medieval) No Io Manolessou
   Guébie No Hannah Sande
   Gungbe (Porto-Novo) No Enoch Oladé Aboh
   Gurene No Samuel Atintono
   Haitian No Michel DeGraff
   Hakka No Iris Wu
   Hausa No Michael A. Estrada
   Hebrew No Ur Shlonsky
   Hindi NA Gurprit Bains
   Hittite NA Mattyas Huggard
   Hixkaryana No Laura Kalin
   Hungarian No Anna Szabolcsi
   Ibibio Yes Willie Willie
   Icelandic Yes Jim Wood
   Iha No Mark Donohue
   imbabura quichua No UCLA Linguistics 210
   Indonesian No Mark Donohue
   Iron Ossetic No David Erschler
   Isbukun Bunun No Iris Wu
   Italian No Adriana Belletti
   Italian (Napoletano Antico) Yes Adam Ledgeway
   Italian (Reggiano) No Giovanni Roversi
   Jamaican Creole English No Stephanie Durrleman
   Japanese No Ken Hiraiwa
   Jarawara NA Alan Vogel
   K'iche' Yes Pam Munro
   Kashaya No John Gluckman
   Kayan No Ken Manson
   Khasi Yes Gracious Temsen
   KiLega No Kasangati Kinyalolo
   Kiswahili No Aggrey Wasike
   Kiyaka No Lukowa Kidima but focus constituents must immediately precede the verbal complex (including subject agreement markers)..
   Kom No Richard Kwamong
   Korean No Chung-hye Han
   Kuot No Eva Lindström
   Kurdish (Sorani) No Yadgar Karimi
   Kusaal No Hasiyatu Abubakari
   Kusunda No Mark Donohue
   Laal No Florian Lionnet
   Lango No Arwa Rangwala
   Lao No Alif Silpachai
   Latin No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Latin (Late) No Giovanni Pairotti
  Words: quid generatio ista quaerit signum?
  Gloss: why generation: NOM this: NOM seek: PRS: 3SG a sign: ACC
  Translation: ‘why does this generation seek a sign?’
  Comment: (Marc. 8.12) – Marc. = Biblia sacra iuxta Vulgatam versionem (Novum Testamentum): Evangelium secundum Marcum (ab Hieronymo iuxta graecum emendatum), 4th cent. CE, electronic LLT-A edition (=Biblia sacra iuxta Vulgatam versionem, ed. B. Fischer, J. Gribomont, H.F.D. Sparks, W. Thiele et R. Weber, 1975, p. 1658-1697)
  Contributor: Giovanni Pairotti
   Lebanese Arabic No Lina Choueiri
   Lubukusu No Aggrey Wasike
   Maasai (Kisongo) No Hilda Koopman
   Mada No Bebey Théodore
   Malagasy No Hilda Koopman
+ Mandarin No Timothy Ho
  Words: wei shen me ni fang xue hou hai zong dai zai xue xiao?
  Gloss: why you after-school still always stay LOC school
  Translation: Why do you often stay after school?
  Contributor: Timothy Ho
   Maori No Ray Harlow
   Marshallese No Heather Willson Sturman
  Words: kʉ́ Nʉ̀mí nɛ́ á
  Gloss: what Numi cook Q
  Translation: what did Numi cook
+ Middle Dutch Yes Gertjan Postma
  Words: Egidius, waer bestu bleven?
  Gloss: Egidius, where are-you remained?
  Translation: Egidius, where have you gone?
  Comment: The negative clitic does not count for V2
  Contributor: Gertjan Postma
   Miya NA Michael A. Estrada
   Moroccan Arabic No Arwa Rangwala
+ Muyang No Bebey Théodore
  Words: Lawan á gráy gevi yaw
  Gloss: Lawan 3sg do play Int
  Translation: Does Lawan play?
  Contributor: Bebey Théodore
   N|u No Chris Collins
   Nahuatl (Central Huasteca) No John Garcia
   Nahuatl (Classical) No John Garcia
   Nepali No Mark Donohue
   Nez Perce No Amy Rose Deal
   Nkore-Kiga No Hilda Koopman
   Northern Thai No Alif Silpachai
   Norwegian Yes Marit Julien
   Nupe No Jason Kandybowicz
   Nweh No Hilda Koopman
   Okinawan No Ken Hiraiwa
   Old English Yes Willem Koopman
   Old French Yes Heather Burnett
   Old Norse Yes Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
+ Old Saxon Yes George Walkden In almost all cases. See section 4.2 of Walkden, George (2014). Syntactic Reconstruction and Proto-Germanic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  Words: huî uuilliad gi sô slâpen?
  Gloss: why want you so sleep.INF
  Translation: Why do you want to sleep so?
  Comment: (Heliand 4777)
  Contributor: George Walkden
   Oluwanga (Eji) No Ceciliane Odangah
   One No Mark Donohue
   panjabi No Gurprit Bains
   Papuan Malay No Mark Donohue
   Pashto No Taylor Roberts
   Pima No Marcus Smith
   Polish No Barbara Tomaszewicz
   Portuguese No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Romanian No Oana Savescu
   Russian No Denis Paperno
   Salasaca Quichua No Pieter Muysken
   Samoan No Vincent Homer
   San Dionisio Ocotepec Zapotec No George Aaron Broadwell
   Sandawe No Helen Eaton
   Scottish Gaelic No David Adger
   Shupamem No Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare
   Sicilian No Cristina Guardiano
   Skou No Mark Donohue
   Spanish Yes Michael A. Estrada
+ Swedish Yes fredrik heinat
  Comment: See property definition.
  Contributor: fredrik heinat
   Tagalog No Edith Aldridge
   Taiwanese Southern Min No Arthur Wang
   Teramano No Iara Mantenuto
   Thai No Peter Jenks
   Titan No Claire Bowern
   Tlingit No James Crippen
   Tommo-So No Laura McPherson
   Tongan No Hilda Koopman
   Tukang Besi No Mark Donohue
   Tuki (Tukombo) No Edmond Biloa
   Tupi (Ancient) No Fabricio M. F. Gerardi
   Turkish No Murat Kural
   Tuvan No Mark Donohue
   Twi No Cansada Martin
   Ukrainian No Roksolana Mykhaylyk
   Vata No Hilda Koopman
   Vietnamese No Jimmy Nguyen
   Wan No Tatiana Nikitina
+ West Flemish Yes Liliane Haegeman
  Words: 'Wanneer komt Valère were?'
  Gloss: when come-3sg Valère back
  Translation: 'When is Valère coming back?'
  Contributor: Liliane Haegeman
   Western Armenian No Hrayr Khanjian
   Wolof No Hilda Koopman
   Wuhu Chinese No Zhuo Chen
   Xhosa No Xiujie Ma
   Yémba No Elsie Mawamba
   Yawa No Mark Donohue
   Yoruba NA Johnson Folorunso Ilori
   Zamboageño Chabacano No Grace Gaspardo
   Zulu No Claire Halpert