HOW to ASK Questions in German (like the Germans do)

HOW to ASK Questions in German (like the Germans do)

SELMA
Ich will dieses Brot kaufen. Kannst du fragen, wie viel es kostet?
(I want to buy this bread. Can you ask how much it costs?)

DENISA
Traust du dich nicht?
(Don’t you have the courage to do it?)

SELMA
Nein.  Ich bin mir nicht sicher, wie man Fragen auf Deutsch stellt.
(No. I’m not sure how to ask questions in German.)

DENISA
Das geht ganz einfach. Komm, ich erklär’ es dir.
(That’s very easy. Come, I’ll explain it to you.)

Not sure about asking questions in German? Das ist ab jetzt kein Problem mehr. (That’s from now on not a problem anymore.) Learn everything about questions in German in this video. Ich bin Spring German Lehrerin Denisa. Los geht’s (Let’s go).

1. Structure of a question sentence

I have already used questions in videos before. Schauen wir uns ein Beispiel an. (Let’s look at an example.)

VANESSA
Gehst du schon nach Hause?
(Are you already going home?)

DENISA
Ja. Ich besuche meine Großeltern.
(Yes. I visit my grandparents.)

VANESSA
Kommst du dann morgen wieder?
(Will you come tomorrow again?)

DENISA
Nein. Ich bleibe da für drei Tage.
(No. I stay there for 3 days.)

The structure of a question in German is: Verb – Subjekt – Objekt (Verb – subject – object).

Let’s transform the sentence Du gehst schon nach Hause. (You are already going home.) into a question. First thing is switching the subject du (you) with the verb gehst (go). And second… oh wait, that’s it! After switching these two, you get the question Gehst du schon nach Hause? (Are you already going home?)

Other examples are:

  • Bist du schon achtzehn Jahre alt? (Are you already 18 years old?)
  • Kommt er heute zur Arbeit? (Is he coming to work today?)
  • Lest ihr gerne Bücher? (Do you like to read books?)

Most of the questions work like that. But what if there’s a question word before that? Like wer, wie oder was? (who, how or what?)

2. W-Fragen (W-Questions)

In German we call the question words “W-Fragen” (W-Questions) because they all start with a W.

There are:

  • Wer bist du? (Who are you?)
  • Wie geht’s dir? (How are you?)
  • Was ist los? (What’s going on?)
  • Wo ist mein Buch? (Where is my book?)
  • Wieso/Warum bist du traurig? (Why are you sad?)
  • Welche Farbe ist deine Lieblingsfarbe? (What color is your favorite color?)
  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?)
  • Wie viel kostet das Brot? (How much is the bread?)

Chunk alert!

All the sentences I used are phrases that are used very often. But Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?) is probably the sentence you will hear a lot when visiting another country. You can answer this question with Ich komme aus … (I’m from…) and then say the country you are from.

You could say for instance Ich komme aus (I’m from):

  • den USA (the USA)
  • dem Iran (Iran)
  • der Türkei (Turkey)
  • der Ukraine (Ukraine)
  • Ägypten (Egypt)

I’d love to read your answers in the comments down below to see how big our community is.

So. Ich komme aus Deutschland. Woher kommst du? (I’m from Germany. Where are you from?)

Watch until the end of the video to learn more about the word Woher (From where).

If you don’t know what chunks are: Chunks are word combinations or full sentences that native speakers use all the time and that you can learn by heart as a whole. You can get the most important chunks in our free essential German chunking kit. The link is in the description.

Now, let’s start with Wer, Was und Wo (who, what and where).

3. Wer, Was, Wo (who, what, where)

DENISA
Hey! Was machst du denn hier?
(Hey! What are you doing here?)

VANESSA
Was für ein Zufall! Ich arbeite hier seit drei Wochen. Was machst du hier?
(What a coincidence! I’ve worked here for 3 weeks. What are you doing here?)

DENISA
Cool. Ich hole mir nur schnell einen Kaffee.
(Cool. I’m just getting a coffee real quick.)

Was (what) already sounds similar to what. Was für ein Zufall! (What a coincidence!) The question is built like this:

  • Was + Verb + Subjekt (what + verb + subject)

DENISA
Wer ist das?
(Who is that?)

VANESSA
Das ist Julian. Wer ist das Mädchen?
(That’s Julian. Who is that girl?)

DENISA
Das ist wahrscheinlich seine Freundin.
(That’s probably his girlfriend.)

Even tough Wer (who) might sound like where, it’s a false friend! Wer (who) means who and you ask the same way as in English: Wer + Verb + Subjekt (who + verb + subject)

DENISA
Wo wohnst du denn mittlerweile?
(Where do you live in the meantime?)

VANESSA
Ich wohne jetzt in München. Wo wohnst du?
(I live in Munich now. Where do you live?)

DENISA
Ich wohne auch in München. Willst du dich mal mit mir treffen?
(I live in Munich, too. Do you want to meet up?)

VANESSA
Sehr gerne!
(I’d love to!)

Wo (where) means where. You ask like this: Wo + Verb + Subjekt (where + verb + subject)

4. Wie, Wie viel (how, how much)

VANESSA
Wie kann ich zu dir kommen?
(How can I get to you?)

DENISA
Du kannst den Bus nehmen oder die U-Bahn. Egal wie, von hier bist du in zwanzig Minuten bei mir.
(You can take the bus or the subway. Either way, from here you’ll be at my place in 20 minutes.)

VANESSA
Wie gut!
(How great!)

Wie (how) means how in English. You use it completely the same way as in English. Wie leicht, oder? (How easy, right?)

Wie viel (how much) means how much. Here it’s the same: you ask the question like this: Wie viel + Verb + Subjekt (how much + verb + subject). This way, you can ask how much something costs. Let’s see how Selma is doing.

SELMA
Ich will dieses Brot kaufen. Kannst du fragen, wie viel es kostet?
(I want to buy this bread. Can you ask how much it costs?)

DENISA
Traust du dich nicht?
(Don’t you have the courage to do it?)

SELMA
Doch. Entschuldigen Sie bitte? Wie viel kostet das Brot?
(I do. Excuse me please? How much is this bread?)

DENISA
Perfekt!
(Perfect!)

5. Welche (which / what kind of)

VANESSA
Welche U-Bahn muss ich nehmen?
(Which subway do I have to take?)

DENISA
Nimm die 3er Richtung “Fürstenried West”.
(Take the subway number 3 in the direction “Fürstenried West”.)

VANESSA
Und welchen Bus muss ich nehmen?
(And which bus do I have to take?)

DENISA
Nimm den achtunddreißiger Richtung “CityRing”.
(Take the 38 direction “CityRing”.)

VANESSA
Eine Frage noch: Welche Fahrkarte brauche ich?
(Just one more question: What kind of ticket do I need?)

DENISA
Du kannst dir ein Einzelticket oder eine Streifenkarte kaufen.
(You can buy a single ticket or a ticket strip.)

VANESSA
Alles klar. Danke dir.
(Alright. Thank you.)

Welche (which / what kind of) means “which” or “what kind of” in English. As seen in the dialogue, there can be other endings on Welche (which / what kind of), depending on the noun that follows.

  • Welchen Bus muss ich nehmen? (Which bus do I have to take?)
  • Welche U-Bahn muss ich nehmen? (Which subway do I have to take?)

Der Bus (the bus) is masculine so you have to ask “Welchen Bus muss ich nehmen?” (Which bus do I have to take?)

Die U-Bahn (the subway) is feminine so you have to ask “Welche U-Bahn muss ich nehmen?” (Which subway do I have to take?)

If something is neutral, e.g. das Buch (the book), you ask Welches Buch gefällt dir am besten? (What kind of book do you like the most?)

6. Woher (from where)

I have already used a question with Woher (from where) in another lesson:

VANESSA
Das Kissen ist schön. Woher hast du es?
(The pillow is pretty. Where do you have it from?)

Woher (from where) is often used when you asked about someone’s or something’s origin. In this dialogue I asked about the origin of a pillow. But what if you want to ask a person where she is from?

DENISA
Woher kommst du?
(Where are you from?)

SELMA
Ich komme aus der Türkei. Und  woher kommst du?
(I’m from Turkey. And where are you from?)

DENISA
Ich komme aus Deutschland.
(I’m from Germany.)

You’ve already learned the chunk Woher kommst du? (Where are you from?). Subscribe to our channel to get recommended more useful videos like this.

VANESSA
Entschuldigen Sie? Wie komme ich zum Bahnhof?
(Excuse me? How do I get to the train station?)

DENISA
Sie müssen noch fünf Minuten in diese Richtung laufen. Dann sind sie da.
(You have to go in this direction for 5 more minutes. Then you are there.)

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