Just as in English, there are two types of questions in the German language: 'yes' or 'no' questions, and interrogative questions.
These questions are formed by changing the normal word order of the sentence. This is done by swapping round the position of the verb with the subject.
As mentioned in an earlier lesson, the German present tense is used for both the continuous and the simple present. Thus, a question like 'trinkst du Kaffee?" could either mean 'do you drink coffee?' or 'are you drinking coffee?'.
Examples of 'yes' or 'no' questions:
When used with a modal verb, the second verb's position is not affected, it remains at the end of the sentence.
Same rule applies when using separable verbs, the prefix remains at the end of the sentence.
This rule is also valid for interrogative questions.
An interrogative question is a question that begins with a question word, such as 'who', 'where' and 'what'. Unlike the 'yes' or 'no' questions, these questions could have a variety of answers. The table below shows some of the most common German question words.
|Most common German question words|
The rule used to form interrogative questions is very similar to the 'yes' or 'no' questions' rule. The verb precedes the subject of the sentence, and the interrogative word precedes the verb.
Some examples of interrogative questions:
Certain interrogatives, such as 'wer', can be the subject of the sentence, in that case the interrogative word begins the sentence and is followed by the verb.
Several new interrogatives are formed by combining certain words, prepositions, and adverbs with the interrogatives 'wie' and 'wo'.
Some example combinations:
|wie alt||how old||wie viel||how much|
|wie groß||how big||wie lange||how long|
|wie oft||how often||wie spät||how late|
|wohin||where to||woher||where from|
|wobei||at what||womit||with what|
Some example questions:
Although the four German cases haven't been discussed yet, this topic is worth mentioning here for the sake of completeness.
The German interrogatives 'wer' and 'welcher' have other forms depending on the case. The interrogative 'wer' has only one form for each case, while 'welcher' has different forms within each case, depending on gender and number. The table below shows the different forms of the interrogative 'wer'.
|Forms of 'wer'|
This brings an end to this lesson and the unit as a whole. Make sure you've understood all the lessons and concepts covered in this unit before proceeding to the next one!