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German word order: Imperatives and Questions Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in Grammar, Language


Imperatives are sentences in the command form.

Setz dich! – Sit down! (2nd person singular; informal)

Setzt euch! – Sit down! (2nd person plural; informal)

Setzten Sie sich! – Sit down (2nd person; singular and plural; formal)

Hör auf! – Stop that! (2nd person singular; informal)

Hört auf! – Stop that! (2nd person plural; informal)

Hören Sie auf! – Stop that! (2nd person; singular and plural; formal)

As you can see, you have to put the verb in the first position and conjugate it according to number and gender.



There are two main types of questions: yes/no-questions and so-called w-questions – questions that start with question words, that is, why (warum), what (was), how (wie), when (wann), where (wo), who (wer), etc.

When you want to form a yes/no-question you simply have to invert the subject and the full verb of a simple sentence. Compare:

Peter spielt Klavier. (Peter play the piano.)

Spielt Peter Klavier? (Does Peter play the piano?)


Claudia trinkt Kaffee. (Claudia drinks coffee.)

Trink Claudia Kaffee? (Does Claudia drink coffee?)


Martin arbeitet bei Porsche. (Martin works at Porsche.)

Arbeitet Martin bei Porsche? (Does Martin work at Porsche?)


Sabrina isst gerne Schokolade. (Sabrina likes to eat chocolate.)

Isst Sabrina gerne Schokolad? (Does Sabrina like to eat chocolate?)


When you want to form w-questions your sentence has to start with a question word (warum, wer, wie was, wann, wo, etc.). The following element in your sentence has to be a conjugated full verb = finite verb.


1. Warum weinst du? (Why are you crying?)

2. Wer sagst das? (Who says that?)

3. Wie steht mir der Mantel? (How does the coat suit me?)

4. Was hast du? (What do you have? / can also mean: What’s wrong with you?)

5. Wann treffen wir uns? (When do/will we meet?)

6. Wo bist du? (Where are you?)


Unfortunately, most German questions contain more than one verb: a full verb and an auxiliary verb or modal verb. In such cases, the auxiliary verb/modal verb comes in the second position and the full verb comes at the end of the sentence:


7. Warum hast du mich nicht angerufen? (Why didn’t you call me? / Why haven’t you called me?)

8. Warum möchtest du nicht mit uns mitkommen? (Why don’t you want to accompany us?)

9. Wer hat dir das erzählt? (Who told you that?)

10. Wer soll dich abholen? (Who should pick you up?)

11. Wie hast du davon erfahren? (How come that you have heard about that?)

12. Wie kannst du nur so etwas sagen? (How can you say something like that?)

13. Was hast du gesagt? (What did you say?)

14. Was soll das bedeuten? (What does it mean?)

15. Wann wird Susanne ankommen? (When will Susanne arrive?)

16. Wann muss ich die Arbeit einreichen? (When do I have to hand in the paper?)

17. Wo hast du das Auto geparkt? (Where did you park the car?)

18. Wo darf ich mich setzten? (Where may I take a seat?)

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Carlos R, Barron:

    Sandra danke for the hilfe,Ich have a word off the day, meine Deutsh is besser ein wening.
    Carlos in Milwaukee.WI
    macht gut