German Indirect Questions – Explanation and Examples

Die Futurzeiten im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

Welcome to language-easy.org! Well, as you have clicked on this article, I think that you are ready to enter the depths of German sentences, and dedicate yourself to this special kind of subordinate clauses. So, German indirect questions can be difficult sometimes. Because of changes in word order and other elements. Nevertheless, it is an important German dependent clause – but for sure you know that – as they are quite similar in their usage to indirect questions in the English language.

In the following, I’d like to talk to you about the difference of word order in German indirect question. After that, we will have a look at a special kind of German indirect questions – where the word “ob” is used. Finally, we will also examine the punctuation in German indirect questions.

By the way, in case you’d like to more about German indirect questions, just click in this article on Wikipedia. Hopefully, it will provide you with all the background information about German indirect question you need.

And now, let’s not lose too much time and come straight to the first part of this article and talk about the word order in German indirect questions. Auf geht’s!

The Word Order of German Indirect Questions

Der Satzbau in indirekten Fragen im Deutschen

Well, let’s have a look at the first part of this article, the word order of German indirect question. But first, let’s clear up what German indirect questions actually are! So, please keep in mind the following description of this term.

Indirect questions are questions that are included within the structure of another sentence.

So, as German indirect questions are subordinate clauses, we have to change the position of the finite verb in the dependent sentence. Well, of course, this differs from the word order of ‘normal’ German questions. Luckily, there is the following rule for the word order in German indirect questions.

Question Word + Subject + Object + Verb

Well, here are some examples that illustrate what I mean by this rule for the word order.

  • “Wann hat Philip Zeit?” – “Ich weiß nicht, wann Philip Zeit hat.”
  • “Wo ist Philip?” – “Er sagt, er weiß nicht, wo Philip ist.”

By the way, I’d like to give you a short list of the most common question words used in German. Of course, you have to decline them depending on the context.

  1. “Er fragt sich, …”
  2. “Sie möchte wissen, …”
  3. “Ihr sagt ihm…”
  4. “Kannst du mir erklären, …”
  5. “Wir wissen nicht, …”
  6. “Sie verstehen nicht, …”

Of course, there are many more introduction words for the German indirect questions. Well, just try to learn you vocabulary and keep in mind the introduction words mentioned in conversations in German. Now, let’s come to the next topic if this article and talk about the German indirect question with the word “ob”.

The Indirect Questions with ‘Ob’

Well, in this short part I just wanted to mention, that the conjunction ‘ob’ can be quite useful. So, in case that there is no question word, you can simply use “ob” to introduce the indirect question.

With ‘ob’ we transform yes / no questions in a indirect question.

  • “Philip, hast du morgen Zeit?” – “Er fragt, ob Philip morgen Zeit hat.”

The Indirect Questions with the W

Like you know we have a second form of doing questions beside the Yes/no questions. This are the W-questions. (Wann, wo, wie, wer, was, warum…). We start here also with the first sentences and put after that the indirect question:

  • “Kannst du mir sagen, wann Philip nach Hause kommt.”
  • “Ich frage mich, wie alt der Vater von Julian ist.”
  • “Er möchte wissen, warum sie so früh gekommen ist.”

And now, let’s come to the last point and talk about the punctuation in German indirect questions.

Punctuation in German Indirect Questions

Finally, we still have to clear up everything about the punctuation used in German indirect questions. Well, usually, they end with a full stop and not with a question mark. Of course, a question mark is only used when the indirect question is an actual question.

  • “Kannst du mir sagen, wann Philip endlich kommen wird?”
German Indirect Questions

Exercises

Übungen

Finally we have reached the last part of this article where you can proof the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and .. auf Wiedersehen!

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