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Lesson Transcript

Hallo, ich heiße Laura. Hi everybody! I’m Laura.
Welcome to GermanPod101.com’s “Deutsch in 3 Minuten”. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn German.
In the last lesson, we learned how to use the verb kommen.
In this lesson, we will jump into our series dedicated to question words in German. First will be the one that is most commonly used to ask a question in German, and that is "What."
So imagine you want to ask your friend "What are you doing?" How will you do it?
You will ask- Was machst du?
[slowly] Was machst du?
So let’s break down this question-
Was is the word to say "What" in German.
Machst is the 2nd person form of the verb machen, which we already learned.
And finally du is the informal for "you"
So, all together it is Was machst du?
“What are you doing?”
As you can see, in German, "What" is mainly translated as was.
If you want to sound even more formal, you can use "Was machen Sie?" with the formal "you", Sie.
You can use it if you are talking to an older person or your boss.
The rule is simple: each time you want to ask a "what" question, you have to use was in German.
For example with the verb "to want", "What do you want" will be Was willst du?
Also with the verb essen "to eat", it will be - Was isst du?
In the case of "What are you talking about?” "about" is von and comes before “what” Von was sprichst du?
Before nouns, "What" is still "was".
So, for example, if you want to ask somebody’s name very politely you can ask Was ist Ihr Name?
To ask about his job, say Was ist Ihr Beruf?
Now it’s time for Laura’s Insights.
You can use "Was?" if you didn’t understand the other person, but just with your friends or family. It’s more polite to say Wie bitte? which literally means "What please?" Of course you can also just say Was! if you are astonished or also shocked. So was is a very useful expression, as you can see!
Before ending this lesson, let’s go back and look at all the different usages of "was."
- Was machst du? "What are you doing?"
- Von was sprichst du? "What are you talking about?"
- Was ist dein Name? "What is your name?"
In this lesson, we learned how to translate the word "What"
Next lesson, we will talk about the German word for "Where".
Do you know it already? I can promise it’s as easy as "what"!
I’ll be waiting for you in the next Deutsch in 3 Minuten lesson.
Bis bald!