Wo? Wohin? Woher?What's the difference?

The difference between Wo?, Wohin? & Woher? in German is easy to understand. With a few tricks, you'll remember it in no time!

17.05.2022
💡Quick Answer

Use "Wo?" when you want to ask "Where at". Use "Wohin?" when you want to ask "where to". And lastly, use "Woher?" when you want to ask "Where from?".

The difference between "Wo", "Wohin" & "Woher" in German is very straightforward. While we would mostly just use "where" in English, the German language distinguishes 3 kinds of "where" (in English, this used to be the case, too: Where, whence & whither).

Deutsch Englisch
Wo? Where (at) Where
Wohin? Where (to)? Whither
Woher? Where (from)? Whence

"Wo" indicates where someone (or something) is. "Wohin" asks where someone (or something) is going to. "Woher" asks where someone (or something) is coming from.

Let's have a look at some examples.

Wo?

Wo asks: "Where are you right now?" / "Where are you at?".

🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Wo bist du?
👩🏽‍🦱Sarah
Ich bin im Park!

You would use "Wo" to ask where someone is (or was) at a specific point in time:

🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Wo warst du gestern? Wir waren alle bei dem Fussballspiel!
👩🏽‍🦱Sarah
Ich war krank! Ich konnte leider nicht kommen.

Wohin?

With "Wohin", direction is introduced. Namely, moving away from the speaker.

🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Wohin gehst du? Ich dachte, wir gehen gleich zusammen ein Eis essen?
👩🏽‍🦱Sarah
Oh, ich wollte nur schnell etwas Geld holen! Ich komme gleich wieder.

Woher?

The opposite to "Wohin" is "Woher": Now we're not asking "where to?", but "where from?":

🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Woher kommt dieser Geruch?
👩🏽‍🦱Sarah
Von oben! Ich glaube, unser Nachbar hat sein Essen im Ofen vergessen!

You can also use "Woher" to ask "How do you know this?"

🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Ich habe geheiratet!
👩🏽‍🦱Sarah
Ja, ich weiß.
🧑🏻‍🦱Peter
Was? Woher weißt du das?

Translated literally (in bad English 😅): "Where from do you know this?"

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