German/Lesson 12

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Question Words


Fragewörter meaning Questions or Question words, are the ways to determine certain outcomes, which can be as simple as Wie ist dein Name bitte? (What is your name please?), to some complex ones like Kaufte die Frau einen Koffer? (Did the lady buy any suitcase?)

This lesson deals with letting you know of the Question words, which are in use for daily use and common phrases for the same.

Questions Words[edit]

There are in total 15 major types of Question Words, or Fragewörter, which are used. These are as follows:

S No.  Question Word (German)    Related To (What is this Q about)                    Example

1.     wer                       Subjekt Person (Subject Person)                      Maria / Peter
2.     was                       Subjekt Sache (Subject Thing)                        Kreide (die)
3.     was                       Beruf (Profession / Occupation)                      Arzt
4.     was +(Ploos) machen       Prädikat (Predicative)                               spielt Tennis
5.     wie                       Adjektiv (Adjective)                                 interessant / schön
6.     wie viele                 Zahl / Nummer (Numbers)                              sechs (zecs) (6) Fenster
7.     wie viel                  Betrag (Amount)                                      kostet
8.     wie lange                 Zeitdauer (Time / Duration)                          neunzig / 90 Minuten
9.     wie alt                   Alter (Age - How Old Are You?)                       2 Monate alt
10.    wie weit                  Entfernung (Distance - How far?)                     2 Kilometer weit
11.    wie oft*                  Häufigkeit (Frequency - How often?)                  zweimal
12.    wann*                     Zeit (Time - When?)                                  im Winter
13. a. woher                     Ort (Kommen - Coming from / Where from?)             von zu Haus / aus Berlin
    b. wohin                     Ort (Gehen / Fahren / Fliegen - Going to?)           nach Haus / zum Bahnhof
    c. wo                        Ort (Sein / sich befinden / wohnen                   zu Haus
14.    wen                       Objekt Person (Object Person)                        die Dame
15.    was                       Objekt Sache (Object Thing)                          das Buch

Q.W. Meaning[edit]

1.     wer                           who
2.     was                           what (for non living things, detailing)
3.     was                           what (for profession or occupation)
4.     was +(Ploos) machen           what + does (activity, work or play etc.)
5.     wie                           how (can be count as well, depending on the time frame)
6.     wie viele                     how many (numbers or count)
7.     wie viel                      how much (price)
8.     wie lange                     how long (duration)
9.     wie alt                       how old (age)
10.    wie weit                      how far (distance)
11.    wie oft*                      how often (time gap in between two events, or the same event happening more than once)
12.    wann*                         when has, have, does (certain time period, or specific time period)
13. a. woher                         from where, where from (source of travel)
    b. wohin                         to where, where to (destination of travel)
    c. wo                            where (final reach point or final destination)
14.    wen                           whom (end person, or the other person)
15.    was                           what (for movement of non living or living things)


In Q.W. (Question Word) the first rule is that:

  • The Q.W. takes the first position. Like → (1) Fragewörter → (2) Verb → (3) Subjekt → (4) Alles andere (Everything else) → (5) ? (Fragezeichen)
So, The basic word order in a German sentence is the same as in English: subject — verb — object(s).
  • The second most important rule is that, all objects (objekts) take Akkusative and all subjects (subjekts), take Nominativ artikle.
  • Few Examples:
  • Der Junge spielt Fußball. (Subjekt: der Junge, Verb: spielt, Objekt: Fußball.)
The boy plays football. (Subject: the boy, verb: plays, object: football.)

To change the English sentence The boy plays football. into a question, we insert the auxiliary verb does before boy, change plays to the infinitive form play and place a question mark at the end: Does the boy play football?

The process is very similar in German. However, we don't need an auxiliary verb in German; thus, we just switch the whole verb with the subject, ending up with:

  • Spielt der Junge Fußball?
Does the boy play football?

In German, there are two basic ways of forming a question. The first is the method described above. In addition to this, you can use a question word (an interrogative adverb); for example, howwie as in How are you?Wie geht's?

Other question words are summarized in the following table.

Vocabulary: English language.svg Questions — Flag of Germany and Austria.svg Fragen
English German
who? wer?
what? was?
where? wo?
when? wann?
why? warum?
how? wie?
  • In order to understand better, we will list all of the Question Words that are in language German.

The question Wie heißt ...? literally translates to How is ... called? meaning What is ... called?. This is why the German question does not contain whatwas.

A question word comes first in a sentence; thus, the word order is: question word — verb — subject — object(s). For example:

  • Warum spielt der Junge Fußball?
Why does the boy play football?

Note that in German, the verb almost always comes second in the sentence, except in the case of a question as described above. The subject is almost always next to the verb, if not in front of it then following it. For example:

  • Der Junge spielt nicht Fußball.
The boy is not playing football.
  • Heute spielt der Junge Fußball.
Today, the boy plays football.


We will go backwards, so as to understand the Questions, and their implication properly.

  • Answer 01. Maria ist Lehrerin. (Maria is a female teacher.)
Rule: When the subject person is underlined, the Q.W. will be wer meaning who.
Q 01. Wer ist Lehrerin? (Who is the Teacher?)

  • Answer 02. Die Kreide ist weiß. (The chalk is white.)
Rule: When the subject is non-person (is underlined), Q.W. will be was meaning what.
Q 02. Was ist weiß? (What is white?)

  • Answer 03. Peter is Arzt (Pronounced "Art'z'st"). (Peter is Doctor.)
Rule: When the profession / occupation is underlined, the Q.W. will be was meaning what.
Q 03. Was ist Peter? (What is Peter?)

  • Answer 04. Boris Becker spielt Tennis. (Boris Becker plays Tennis.)
Rule: When the entire predicate is underlined, Q.W. will be was followed by the correct conjunction of the word machen (to do / make).
Q 04. Was macht Boris Becker? (What does Boris Becker do?)

  • Answer 05. Das Buch ist interessant. (The book is interesting.)
Rule: When an adjective (adjektive) is underlined, the Q.W. will be wie, meaning how.
Q 05. Wie ist das Buch? (How is the book?)

  • Answer 06. Das Haus hat sechs (6) Fenster. (The house has six (6) windows.)
Rule: When number (nummer) is underlined, Q.W. will be wie viele, meaning how many.
Q 06. Wie viele Fenster hat das Haus? (How many windows does the house have?)

  • Answer 07. Der Stuhl kostet 120 Rupien. (The stool / chair costs Rupees 120.)
Rule: When amount (unit of monetizing) is underlined, Q.W. will be wie viel, meaning how much.
Q 07. Wie viel kostet der Stuhl? (How much does the stool / chair cost?)

  • Answer 08. Der Unterricht dauert neunzig Minuten. (The class continues for 90 (ninety) minutes.)
Rule: When duration is underlined, Q.W. will be wie lange, meaning how long.
Q 08. Wie lange dauert der Unterricht? (How long is the class? / What is the duration of the class?)

  • Answer 09. Die Katze ist 2 (zwei) Monate alt. (The cat is 2 months old.)
Rule: When age is underlined, Q.W. will be wie alt, meaning how old.
Q 09. Wie alt ist die Katze? (How old is the cat?)

  • Answer 10. Die Universität ist 2 (zwei) Kilometer weit vom Haus. (The University is 2 kilometer away from the house.)
Rule: When the distance is underlined, Q.W. will be wie weit, meaning how far.
Q 10. Wie weit ist die Universität vom Haus? (How far is the University from the house? / What is distance of the University from the

  • Answer 11. Wir kommen hierher zweimal in der Woche. (We come here twice in the week.)
Rule: When frequency is underlined, Q.W. will be wie oft, meaning how often.
Q 11. Wie oft kommen Sie/ihr hierher in der Woche? (How often do you come here in a week?

  • Rule: When the answer is either in ich or wir, the Question is always in Sie.

  • Answer 12. Im Winter hat Indien viele Feste. (In winter India has many festivals.)
Rule: When time (season) is underlined, Q.W. will be wann hat, meaning when has / have / does.
Q 12. Wann hat Indien viele Feste? (When does India have many festivals?)
This is an exception in example, as it is states a particular time span for the festival.

  • Rule: For Place there are 3 (three) Questions.
Wohin To where / Where to
Woher Where from / From where
Wo    Where

  • Answer 13. a. Ich komme aus Hanover. (I come from Hanover.)
Q 13. a. Woher kommen Sie? (Where are you coming from?)
         Woher kommst du? (Where do you come from?)

  • Answer 13. b. Ich gehe nach Haus. (I go to house.)
Q 13. b. Wohin gehen Sie? (Where to?)
         Wohin gehst du? (Where to?)

  • Answer 13. c. Ich wohne in Hanover. (I live in Hanover.)
  • Rule: Other than Kommen, Gehen, Fahren, Fliegen, the place takes the Q.W. wo, meaning where.
Q 13. c. Wo wohnen Sie? (Where do you live?)

  • Answer 14. Er besucht die Dame. (He visits the lady.)
Rule: When the Akkusativ objekt person (subject name) is underlined, Q.W. is wen, meaning whom.
Q 14. Wen besucht er? (Whom does he visit?)

  • Answer 15. Ich lege das Buch hin/beiseite. (I put (down/aside) the book.)
Rule: When Akkusativ non-person is underlined, Q.W. is was, meaning what.
Q 15. Was legen sie hin/beiseite? (What do you put (down/aside)?)


ist                          Is
Maria                        Female first name
Peter                        Male first name
Lehrerin                     Female Teacher
die Kreide                   Chalk
weiß                         Color White
Beruf                        Profession or Occupation
Arzt                         Doctor
spielen                      To play (Verb)
spielt Tennis                Plays Tennis
macht (machen)               To do (Verb)
interessant                  Interesting
das Buch                     The Book
Zahl or Nummer               Numbers (Like, 0-9, etc)
Betrag                       Amount (Monetary Term)
kostet                       Cost(s)
Zeit                         Time
dauern                       To continue
Alter                        Age
Monate                       Months
Entfernung                   Distance
Häufigkeit                   Frequence
zweimal                      Number 2
Ort                          Place or Position
Sache                        Thing
Dame                         Lady
Alles                        Everything
andere                       Else
Artikel                      Article
Katze                        Cat
Unterricht                   Class
Stuhl                        Stool or Chair
Fenster                      Window
sechs                        Six (6)
Universität                  University
Haus                         House
Woche                        Week
Fest                         Festival
Indien                       India
viele                        Many
kommen                       Coming from
gehen                        Going to
fahren                       Driving to
fliegen                      Flying to
besuchen                     To visit
legen                        Put down or Put aside

Excercise / Übung[edit]

Here are a few examples for better understanding the stated methodology and to get a better grip on the daily conversation:

Problems: Forming Questions
  1. Translate the following sentences into German.
    1. Who is called Josef?
    2. Is her name Sabina?
    3. When do we have German?
    4. What is the boy's name?
    5. Where are you?
    6. What is the woman's name?
    7. Why is your name George?
    8. When is he a man?
  2. Explain in your own words why the translation of What is your name?Wie heißen Sie? contains howwie instead of whatwas.
  3. Provide questions (in German) for the following answers.
    1. Sie heißen Johannes und Christine.
    2. Es heißt "Volkswagen".
    3. Sie heißt Helga.
    4. Ich heiße Kirstin.
    5. Wir heißen Fritz und Werner.
    6. Er heißt Dirk.
  1. Translated questions:
    1. Wer heißt Josef?
    2. Heißt sie Sabine?
    3. Wann haben wir Deutsch?
    4. Wie heißt der Junge?
    5. Wo bist du? / Wo sind Sie?
    6. Wie heißt die Frau?
    7. Warum heißt du George?
    8. Wann ist er ein Mann?
  2. In German, the question is changed from What are you called? to How are you called? (Note: This is not the only time wie replaces was. For example, when asking to repeat something someone said, Germans usually say Wie bitte? (or just: Bitte?) instead of Was? In fact, the latter is considered impolite.)
  3. German questions:
    1. Wie heißen Sie?
    2. Wie heißt es?
    3. Wie heißt sie?
    4. Wie heißt du? / Wie heißen Sie?
    5. Wie heißt ihr?
    6. Wie heißt er?

(edit template) 50%.svg Level II Lessons (discussion)

00%.svg II.0 Introduction

Section II.A: 75%.svg II.1 Einfache Gespräche75%.svg II.2 Fremde und Freunde 75%.svg II.3 Die Zahlen75%.svg II.4 Zürich75%.svg II.5 Wiederholung

Section II.B: 75%.svg II.6 Die Wohnung75%.svg II.7 Mathematik75%.svg II.8 Mein, Dein, Sein75%.svg II.9 Einkaufen gehen75%.svg II.10 Wiederholung

Section II.C: 75%.svg II.11 Verbtempus und Wortstellung100 percents.svg II.12 Fragewörter50%.svg II.13 Mein Arm schmerzt75%.svg II.14 Tiergarten50%.svg II.15 Wiederholung