Warum, darum, and other German questions and answers

Whenever my students get asked a question, I usually encourage them to answer in a whole sentence. It helps with formulating sentences, especially when you want to inform somebody without being asked.

As an easy example, an answer to the question “Woher kommen Sie?” could be “Ich komme aus England”. If you had that question in English you would not answer with a whole sentence, but if you practise the whole answer and you wanted to tell somebody where you are from you would be able to say “Ich komme aus England.” If you just said “aus England” without any prompts beforehand it would sound very strange.

But as your German improves you don’t want to answer in whole sentences all the time. So this post is about quick answers to questions.

And because they are quick answers, this is also a quick post 😉

The easiest one is, of course, the answer to a yes/ no question, which, if you want to be very brief and not even add a thank you or please would be ja or nein.

Many of the question words can be answered just like in English.

Wo wohnen Sie? In Berlin.
Woher kommen Sie? Aus Deutschland.
Wann fährt der nächste Zug nach Berlin? Um zehn Uhr.
Wem gehört das? Mir!

You can also give one word or two answers while pointing to the item/ person (useful when you’ve forgotten the rest)

Welchen Kuchen möchten Sie? Den da, as in that one there, but you can get away with just pointing and saying den/ die/ das (depending on what you are pointing to)

Then you have those ‘why’ questions: warum, wieso, weshalb, weswegen. They require longer answers but instead of copying the beginning, you just start your sentence with “Weil ….

But my favourite answers are those very short ones when you actually don’t want to answer.

Look at this picture, read it, but don’t forget to read the “Warum” in a whiny voice. If you have or had young children, do you recognise it?

Yes, if you’re fed up with answering those ‘why’ questions, just reply with a ‘that’s why!’ answer.

Warum? Darum!
Weshalb? Deshalb!
Weswegen? Deswegen!

(Sadly, there is no similar answer to wieso.)

So, next time, when you get asked for the umpteenth time: “Warum lernst du Deutsch?” Answer with “Darum!”

PS. If you need a reminder of all the German question words, check out my blog post How to ask questions in German

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