Question words in German- and how to use them

Question words in German helpfully all begin with a "w" and are fairly easy to use. In direct questions, they are normally followed by the conjugated verb and the subject (I mention the exceptions below). Let's look at some examples.


‪Wo finde ich den Marktplatz? (Where do I find the market place?)

Wo bist du? (Where are you?)


Wohin gehst du? (Where do you go?)

Wohin reist er in Urlaub? (Where does he travel/go on holiday?)


Woher kommen Sie? (Where do you come from?)

Woher hast du diesen Wein? (Where did you get this wine from?)


Was sind/machen Sie von Beruf? (What do you do for a living?)

Was bedeutet dieses Wort? (What does this word mean?)


Wann hast du Zeit? (When do you have time?)

Wann bist du angekommen? (What time did you arrive?)


Wie heißt du? (What's your name?)

Wie buchstabiert man das? (How do you spell this?)


Warum hast du das gemacht? (Why did you do that?)

Warum glaubst du mir nicht? (Why don't you believe me?)


Welche Themen interessieren dich? (Which topics do you find interesting?)

Welches Buch hast du gelesen? (Which book did you read?)


NB. welch can take on different endings depending on the case of the noun that follows and is not immediately followed by the conjugated verb but by the noun it is referring to.


Some question words are linked with the four cases in German


NOMINATIVE

Wer ist sie? (Who is she?)

Wer hat dir geholfen? (Who helped you?)


ACCUSATIVE

Wen hast du gesehen? (Whom did you see?)

Wen rufst du an? (Whom are you calling?)


DATIVE

Wem hast du den Brief gegeben? (To whom did you give the letter?)

Mit wem hast du dich gestern Abend getroffen? (With whom did you meet last night?)


GENITIVE

Wessen Freund ist er? (Whose friend is he?)

Wessen Computer ist das? (Whose computer is this?)


Finally, some question words are only used in the context of German verbs with prepositions:


Worüber hast du dich geärgert? (Literally: What were you angry about? What made you angry?)

Worüber redest du? (What are you talking about?)


Woran denkst du gerade? (What are you thinking about?)

Woran erinnerst du dich? (What do you remember?)


Wofür hast du das Geld bekommen? (What do you get the money for?)

Wofür hast du das Geld ausgegeben? (What did you spend the money on?)


NB. wofür is either used as alternative to "warum" or also linked with some verbs as in the examples above.


Any questions? Habt ihr Fragen? What’s your favourite? Mine is „Warum?“ 😀 To learn about indirect questions in German, just check out our post on the topic.


Learn about other grammar topics, such as separable verbs (trennbare Verben) in German, reflexive verbs in German or read about language learning more generally. We have articles on the most common online dictionaries and their advantages and disadvantages, and a review of the apps Duolingo, Memrise, Busuu, Babbel, and Quizlet.



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