The Many Forms of Why in German

Flensburg’s skyline at night- it is just as active as its looks. Photo taken in April, 2011

In English, we have several ways to ask questions, among them the Seven Golden Ws, consisting of Who, What, When, Where, Why, How (and its many forms) and Which. Each one has a different meaning in context.

In German, we have not only the Seven Golden Ws for asking questions: Wer, Was, Wann, Wo, Warum, Wie and Wessen, but each of the golden Ws is subdivided unto several types. For example, we have for Wer, which includes Wen and Wem. The division is based on the personal form- here with the nominative Wer, it’s accusative and dative, respectively.

For the Golden W Warum, there are many types one can use. This German linguist decided to use the comparison of Warum by using the Book of Genesis in a parodiable way.  Believe it or not, these variants are the same but have a slight difference. Can you find these differences? 🙂


flefi spring