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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

The interrogative Pronouns

The interrogative Pronouns.

The interrogative pronouns are wai, aha, tehea, and its plural ehea, kohea, and sometimes, (particularly in Waikato,) pehea.

Wai is applied (1) to persons, and (2) to animals or things, as canoes, ships, &c., to which the name of a man has been given, and is always the pronoun used in asking the question, What is his name? It is some times applied to countries, &c.; but, in such cases kohea is the pronoun most frequently used.

The following are examples of the uses of wai and kohea:

  • Ko wai tena? Who is that?

  • Na wai tenei? Whose is this?

  • Ko wai tena kuri? Who is that dog? i. e., what is his name?

  • Ko wai tena poti? ko Wikitoria, what boat is that? ans. Victoria.

  • Ko wai tona ingoa? What is his name?

  • Ko wai tena whenua? What country is that?

  • Kohea tenei? What place is this?

Note.—Wai will sometimes take the plural form by having ma postflxed; e. g., Ko wai ma ena? Who are they?

Aha is applied to everything in which kind is denoted; so also is pehea sometimes:


  • He aha tena mea? what (insect, animal, or thing) is that

  • Ko Hone aha? which John was it?—(was it John the Baptist, or John the Apostle?)

  • He aha a Erihapeti ki a Hone? what (relation) is Elizabeth to John?

  • Na te aha? from what cause? (why?)

  • Pehea ana to whakaaro? what is your thought? i. e., what do you think?

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  • E taea te pehea? what can be done? how can it be helped?

  • He kai pehea tena kai? what kind of food is that?

Note.—The above sentence decides the right of pehea to be considered a pronoun. Most of the compounds however of hea; such as, kohea, pehea, nohea, ihea, mohea, &c., ought most probably to be considered as belonging to the class of adverbs.

The student will find, as we proceed, that the lines of distinction between the various classes of pronoun, adverb, preposition, noun, verb and adjective, are frequently but faintly marked, and that the same word may be often noticed as standing as standing in four or five different ranks.

Tehea, and its plural ehea, is applied to which of a number, and is used to denote persons, or things; e. g.,

  • Ko tehea tau e pai ai? which do you choose?

  • Ko ehea tangata au e ki nei, which men do you speak of?

Note.— Pronouns are sometimes employed to denote the time of the sentence, as will be seen hereafter. (vid. verbs.)