Learning to ask questions in German is crucial for effective communication. German questions come in various forms, each with unique rules for word order and structure. In this article, we explore the different types of questions in German and their specific formations, ensuring you can confidently engage in conversations.

Types of Questions in German

In German, questions can be broadly classified into four types:

  1. Yes/No Questions
  2. WH-Questions
  3. Alternative Questions
  4. Combination Questions

Yes/No Questions

Yes/No questions are straightforward, lacking a question word. They seek affirmation or negation, like “Are you coming?” (Kommst du?). The structure is simple:

  • Verb → First Position
  • Subject → Second Position
  • Other Elements → Follow


  • Geht (verb) er (subject) zur Schule? (other elements)
  • Ist (verb) das (subject) dein Buch? (other elements)

When dealing with compound verbs, the conjugated part (V1) goes to the beginning, and the non-conjugated part (V2) remains at the end:

  • Kann (V1) ich heute arbeiten? (Can I work today?)
  • Habe (V1) ich heute gearbeitet? (Have I worked today?)

If there’s a negation (nicht), it appears at the end (for simple verbs) or before V2 (for compound verbs):

  • Gehst (verb) du (subject) nicht? (Are you not going?)
  • Habe (V1) ich viel zu tun (other elements) nicht? (Do I not have much to do?)


WH-Questions use a question word to request specific information, like “When are you coming?” (Wann kommst du?). The word order is:

  • Question Word → First Position
  • Verb → Second Position
  • Subject → Third Position
  • Other Elements → Follow


  • Wann (question word) gehst (verb) du (subject)?
  • Wie (question word) ist (verb) das Wetter (subject)?

For compound verbs, V1 is in the second position, and V2 at the end:

  • Wie (question word) kann (V1) ich heute (subject) arbeiten (V2)? (How can I work today?)

Alternative Questions

Alternative questions offer options, often connected by “oder” (or), like “Are you coming, or not?” (Kommst du, oder nicht?). The word order follows yes/no questions, with “oder” introducing the alternative:

  • Verb → First Position
  • Subject → Second Position
  • Other Elements → Follow


  • Gehst (verb) du spazieren, oder (alternative)?
  • Ist (verb) das (subject) ein Tisch, oder (alternative)?

Combination Questions

These combine elements of different question types, such as a polite indirect question. For instance, “Could you tell me what time it is?” (Könnten Sie mir sagen, wie spät es ist?). Here, the main question has a different structure from the embedded one:

  • Main Question Structure → First Part
  • Embedded Question Structure → Second Part


  • Könnten Sie mir sagen (main question), wie spät es ist (embedded question)?

Practical Tips for German Question Formation

  1. Identify the Question Type: Determine if your question is a yes/no, WH-, alternative, or combination question.
  2. Start with the Verb or Question Word: This dictates the structure.
  3. Mind the Subject Position: In German questions, the subject’s position can shift compared to statements.
  4. Handle Compound Verbs Carefully: Split them properly between V1 and V2.
  5. Consider Negations: Place “nicht” correctly based on the verb structure.


Mastering the various types of German questions enhances your ability to interact effectively. Practice constructing different questions and pay attention to the word order rules. For a deeper dive into German grammar, check out our advanced courses and grammar guides, such as the 5+5 Grammar Superstar for an in-depth understanding of German grammar structures.

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