Unit 1, Lesson 9: Question words

Words that will often begin questions include wer (who), wen (whom), and was (what). 

Note that some books refer to question words as “interrogative pronouns.”

A Foundation Course in Reading German, Howard Martin and Alan Ng

Example

»Was machst du da draußen eigentlich, Briefbombenkontrolle?«

Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, chapter 3, page 41

This sentence begins with was. Note that the verb is in the second position in the sentence.

Vocabulary

machen – In this case, “to do” (perform an action). “Was machst du?”, what are you doing.

da — There.

draußen — Out there.

eigentlich — Actually.

Briefbombenkontrolle — “Brief“, letter. “Bomben“, bomb. “Kontrolle“, inspection.

Translation

Actually, what are you doing out there, letter bomb inspection?

The English version says:

“What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, chapter 3, page 34

Example

»Wer sollte dir denn schreiben?«, höhnte Onkel Vernon…

Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, chapter 3, page 42

This example begins with wer.

Vocabulary

sollen — Would. “Wer sollte”, who would?

dir — To you. Dative form of “du”.

höhnen — To mock, to sneer.

Translation

“Who would write to you?” sneered Uncle Vernon…

The English version says this:

“Who’d be writing to you?” sneered Uncle Vernon…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, c

Past lessons

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