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Russian grammar - The interrogative particle ли

The interrogative particle ли

Using upward inflection (raising tone at the end of a sentence) and word order is a common way to ask a question in Russian.

Russian also has the interrogative particle ли for formulating questions.

The particle ли can function like the interrogatives 'if' or 'whether'.

The particle ли is commonly used in reported speech: 'He asked if/whether'

This particle comes immediately after the emphasised or stressed word - the word at the core of what is being said or asked.

And the emphasised word-ли pair is typically moved to the beginning of the phrase.

Examples:
Давно ли он умер?
Is it long since he died?
Не он ли опоздал?
Wasn’t it he who was late?
Много ли там было народу?
Were there a lot of people there?
Знаете ли вы?
Do you know?
Хорошо ли ему?
Is he okay?
Отправил ли я письмо?
Did I send the letter?

отправить / отправлять means 'to send' or 'to mail'

Он спросил, знаю ли я.
He asked if I knew.
Я не помню, хорошая ли это книга.
I don’t remember if that is a good book.
Работает ли он?
Is he working?
Нормально ли ему?
Is he ok?

нормально means 'ok' or 'fine'

Он спросил, видел ли я Веру.
He asked whether I saw Vera.
Мама хотела знать, купил ли ты компьютер.
Mum wanted to know whether you bought a computer.
Мама хотела узнать, хороший ли компьютер ты купил.
Mum wanted to find out whether it was good - the computer you bought.
Купил ли Иван словарь?
Did Ivan buy a dictionary?
Здесь ли выдают анкеты?
Is it here they give out questionnaires?
Не холодно ли вам?
Aren't you cold?
Неужели он прав?
Surely, he can’t be right?

неужели means 'surely' and is stronger than разве and has the -ли 'built in'