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Learn about the masculine, feminine, and neuter genders of Russian nouns

What’s the Difference Between Какой and Каков?

When you’re first learning Russian, you usually learn the question word for “what/which” – “Какой / Какая / Какое / Какие” – fairly early on in your studies. Какой is used very often by beginners when learning how to ask questions and get to know other people.

Ex.

  • Какой твой любимый фильм?
  • Какая твоя любимая книга?
  • Какие у тебя хобби?

Only in my third year of learning Russian did I start seeing this new translation for “what” appear: “Каков / Какова / Каково / Каковы.” Although they have the same definition, there are used in slightly different contexts.

Last updated: 5/23/2022

Let’s take a look . . .

What’s the Difference Between Какой и Каков?

Difference between Какой and Каков

Какой – “What kind? Which? Some, Any” 

  1. Interrogative pronouns (What / What kind / Which): It can be used as a question word or as a conjunction between two clauses. *Note: The answer can be both a noun and an adjective.

  • Какая сегодня погода? – What’s the weather like today? (В ответе: хорошая, плохая, и т.п.)
  • Какая твоя любимая обжарка кофе? – What’s your favorite kind of coffee roast?
  • Какой ваш любимый цвет? – What’s your favorite color?
  • Какой сегодня день? – What day of the week is it?
  • Я не знаю, какой твой люби́мый вид иску́сства. – I don’t know what your favorite type of art is.
  • К какому времени мне быть готовым? – What time should I be ready by?

  1. Exclamatory statements (What! / What a(an)!): It denotes surprise, joy, or indignation at the quality of something /someone.

  • Кака́я краси́вая ра́дуга! – What a beautiful rainbow!
  • Како́й кошма́р! – What a nightmare!
  • Како́е совпаде́ние! – What a coincidence!

  1. Indefinite pronouns (Some, Any): Here, какой is used to describe something not exact. It is often followed by an added suffix (-то, -нибудь, -либо).

  • В какой-то сте́пени я согла́сна с тем, что ты говори́шь. – I agree with what you’re saying to an extent.
  • По какой-то причи́не э́то не рабо́тает. – For some reason it isn’t working.

Каков – “What? What!” 

  1. Interrogative pronouns (What / What kind): indicates a question about quantity, substance or content. *Note: The answer can only be a noun or a sentence – not an adjective. The purpose is to identify exactly what something is.

  • Какова цель вашего приезда? – What is the purpose of your trip? (В ответе: туризм, работа, и т.п.)
  • Какова длина́ э́того моста́? – What’s the length of this bridge?
  • Каково предназначение этого инструмента? – What is the purpose of this tool?
  • Каковы́ ваши дальнейшие планы? – What are your future plans?
  • Я не зна́ю, каковы́ будут после́дствия. – I don’t know what the consequences will be.

  1. Exclamatory statements (What! / What a(an)!): Каков can be used to express something with a strong emotional feeling. Often used in exclamatory sentences.

  • Каков фрукт! – What a piece of work!
  • Каков негодяй! – What a scoundrel!

Extra Resources to Understand the Difference Between Какой and Каков

Need some extra explanation to understand this topic? Check out these resources below!

In need of a better way to organize your language notes? Check out my planner below!

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