Question Words in German 1

Question Words in German

They are in the first place of the interrogative sentence.

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Was? What? – It can refer both to the subject and to the direct object. It is not used for persons, just for things.

Was ist das? – What is this?
Was liest du? – What are you reading? / What do you read?
Was ist passiert? – What happened?

Wer?Who? – It refers only to the subject, it is used for persons, not for things.

Wer ist das? – Who is it?
Wer liest die Zeitung? – Who is reading the newspaper?
Wer arbeitet hier? – Who works here? / Who is working here?
Wer hat dich eingeladen? – Who invited you?

Wen? Who(m)? – It refers only to the direct object, it is used for persons, not for things. You cannot use wer instead of wen, however both of them can be translated into English with the word “who”.

Wen hast du eingeladen? – Who (Whom) did you invite?
Wen hat er gestern gesehen? – Who(m) did he see yesterday?

Wem? – (to) who? – It refers to the indirect object. Certain verbs can take an indirect object expressing that someone gives (shows, says, wishes and so on) something TO someone. (E.g. I wish you a merry Christmas. I give you a pen / I give a pen to you.) If we want to ask a question concerning this indirect object we use wem in German:

Wem gibst du das Buch? – Who do you give the book?

If we ask questions concerning the direct (not the indiriect) object we use was or wen:

Was gibst du ihm? – What do you give him?

Wessen? – Whose?

Wessen Auto ist das? – Whose car is it?

Prepositions precede wessen:

Mit wessen Auto bist du angekommen?Whose car have you arrived / did you arrive by?

Wo? – Where

Wo bist du? – Where are you?

Wohin? – Where to?

Wohin gehst du? – Where are you going to?

Woher? – Where … from?

Woher kommt er? – Where does he come from?

Wie? – How? / What … like?

Wie geht es dir? – How are you?
Wie kannst du dieses Gerät reparieren? – How can you repair this machine?

Wie ist das Wetter heute? – What is the weather like today?

Wann? – When?

Wann wird die Ausstellung beginnen? – When will the exhibition begin?

Warum? – Why?

Warum sagt er das? – Why is he saying that? / Why does he say that?


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