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Lesson Transcript

Hallo, ich bin 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 ask "When" questions in German.
This time, we are going to ask questions with the interrogative word "Who?"
Imagine you want to ask your friend who the attractive girl just behind him is.
Here, the question you can ask is-
Wer ist das Mädchen hinter dir?
[slowly] Wer ist das Mädchen hinter dir?
So let’s break down this answer.
First we had-
Wer which is the basic translation of "Who" in German.
Ist which is "is", the 3rd person form of the verb sein, which we have already studied.
Das Mädchen means "the girl."
And finally hinter dir which is "behind you."
Dir is the informal pronoun for "you."
All together it is - Wer ist das Mädchen hinter dir?
So in German, "Who" is mainly translated as Wer to ask about someone's identity.
For example, if you want to ask "Who are these people?" You will say Wer sind diese Leute? when talking about a group of unknown people.
As in English, the interrogative word “Who” is placed in the 1st position here, and is followed by the the verb and then the subject.
Wer only works for people, so you can't use it to ask information about things or places. As an interrogative word, Wer can also be used to ask who did something, for example.
If you are in a museum for instance, you can ask Wer hat dieses Bild gemalt? This means "Who painted this painting?"
Another interrogative formula with Wer that is used quite a lot, is Wessen? In this case, the meaning is different as it can be translated to "Whose."
So if you want to ask "Whose pencil is it?" you will have to say Wessen Stift ist das?
If we break down this question, it is-
Wessen which is "whose" Stift means "pencil”.
Ist is the verb sein in the 3rd person form in the present tense indicative.
Finally das means “it” or “that” in German.
Another way to talk about “who” in German is with the word wen. For example, if you ask "for which person is it?" Then we use the formula Für wen?
So if you want to know "For which person is this piece of cake?" It will be
Für wen ist dieses Stück Kuchen?
Now it’s time for Laura’s Insights.
If someone that you didn't expect is knocking at your door in Germany, the common question you can ask is Wer ist da? before opening the door.
This literally means "Who is there?"
The very casual way to ask it is Wer? which is much more informal but can be used, but only if your tone is cheerful, otherwise it will sound a bit rude!
Before ending this lesson, Let’s go back and look at all the ways to translate "Who" in German:
- Wer is the basic "Who" as in Wer ist dieses Mädchen ?
- Wessen is insisting on the ownership, it is the equivalent of "Whose", as in "Whose pencil is it?" Wessen Stift ist das?
- Für wen, which is the direct translation of "For who?" As in "For who is this piece of cake?"
Für wen ist dieses Stück Kuchen?
In this lesson, we learned how to correctly use the interrogative word for "Who" which can be Wer, Wessen or Wen depending on the case.
Now you can easily know who is who!
The next lesson will be our last of this absolute beginner series.
We will deal with the last but not least common interrogative word Warum. Do you know what it means?
I’ll be waiting for you with the answer in the next Deutsch in 3 Minuten.
Bis bald!