Asking questions in German is one of the most important skills a beginner can learn. Not only do questions come in handy in everyday conversations, but they're also crucial if you can't find your way back to your hostel and can be a big time saver in the supermarket.
German question words can be divided into the basic German question words & more advanced German question words. We will shortly have a look at both. For now, all you need to know is that the basic German question words will get you very, very far and unless you are already a bit more advanced, we do not recommend looking at the more advanced question words for now.
Here is the list of basic German question words:
|Wieso / Weshalb / Warum||Why|
Of all the question words, "WhoWer" is a bit special, as it comes in four different flavours. If you've studied German grammar for some time already, you might know that nouns take on different forms, depending on what role they play in the sentence.
And this is exactly what also happens here.
Wer, Wen, Wem & Wessen are just different declinations of Wer, according to the four cases nominative, accusative, dative and genitive.
Let's look at an example sentence for each case.
WhoWer ist dieser Mann?
WhoWen hast du gestern Abend metgetroffen?
To whomWem hast du das Geld givengegeben?
WhoseWessen Hut hat er stolengeklaut?
For those of you interested in learning how to ask simple questions in German, here are the basic German question words you need to know, and some example questions. 💥!
In this section, we'll be going through all German questions words and give you a few examples sentences for each. Feel free to skip this section if you're familiar with the most common German question words.
The first German question word you might want to know is WhatWas. As a question word, "was" means 'what' and is used in exactly the same way it is used in English.
If you wanted to ask somebody what they got up to yesterday, you would say:
Was hast du gestern gemacht?
Or you might ask someone what sort of thing they like. Again, it's pretty similar to how you would say it in English:
Was ist dein Lieblingsessen?
One last example question with "what" that might be useful in German class: "What was the expression I learnt yesterday, again?":
Was war das nochmal für eine Redewendung, die wir gestern gelernt haben?
|Wohin bist du gegangen?||Where did you go?|
|Wo ist mein Stift?||Where is my pen?|
|Wo sollen wir zu Abend essen?||Where should we go for dinner?|
|Wann ist deine erste Prüfung?||When is your first exam?|
|Wann können wir uns treffen?||When can we meet up?|
|Wann ist dein Geburtstag?||When is your birthday?|
"How" in German is "Wie". You have probably already encountered this question word in the question "How are you", which in German is "Wie geht's?" or "Wie geht es dir?". Here are a few more examples on how "wie" can be used to form a question:
|Wie kann ich mich das nächste Mal verbessern?||How can I do better next time?|
|Wie kann ich dir helfen?||How can I help you?|
|Wie geht es deinem Bruder?||How is your brother doing?|
Warum enden die holidaysFerien immer zu früh?
|Why do holidays always end too soon?|
|Warum musst du jetzt gehen?||Why do you have to leave now?|
|Warum kannst du nicht länger bleiben?||Why can’t you stay a little longer?|
For more German language learning tips and examples, why don't you check out these other articles:
5 Ways to Explore Immersive Language Learning
Oh, and if you're into romantic things, you might also want to check out these German romcom's for intermediate learners.
Very simple German questions for beginners:
WhoWer ist das?
WhatWas ist das?
Wo sind die Kinder?
Wo ist das Café?
Und das wars!
|Wie geht's?||How are you?|
|Was geht?||~ What's up?|
|Was machst du morgen?||What are you up to tomorrow?|
|Wie teuer ist das?||How much does this cost?|
|Wieviel macht das?||How much do you get? (e.g. to a cashier)|
Wann hast du timeZeit?
|~ When are you free?|
|Wie alt bist du?||How old are you?|
|Kannst du das bitte wiederholen?||Could you please repeat that?|
|Wieviel Uhr ist es?||What's the time?|
Use this as a reference, or explore the articles linked to in each section, if you would like to dive deeper. Enjoy!
We wrote a full article on How to Ask for the Bill in German. It's a small guide for beginners & early intermediates, with example dialogues & key phrases.
Asking for the restaurant bill in German can be a bit of a challenge if you have only just started learning the language. If so, check out the more detailed article in the box above.
If you do know how to form basic German sentences, you can just remember one or two of the following phrases:
Asking for the time is another subject that German learners have come to dread. And not without good reason: Asking for and telling the time in German could be an article in its own right.
If you're in a hurry, there is no way around it. Just use one of the following questions to ask for the time:
German question sentence structure German question word order