Interrogative and exclamatory adjectives in German
- 1.Definition of interrogative and exclamatory adjectives in German
- 2.The adjective ‘welch-’
- 2.1.'Welch-' as an interrogative adjective
- 2.1.1.Declension of interrogative adjective 'welch-'
- 2.2.'Welch' as an exclamatory adjective
- 3.The adjective 'was für (ein-)'
- 3.1.'Was für (ein-)' as an interrogative adjective
- 3.1.1.Declension of interrogative adjective 'was für (ein-)'
- 3.2.'Was für (ein-)' as an exclamatory adjective
- 4.Difference between interrogative and exclamatory adjectives and pronouns
Definition of interrogative and exclamatory adjectives in German
The interrogative and exclamatory adjectives are used in combination with a noun, either to ask something specific about the noun, or to emphasize it.
There are two different constructions of it: 'welch' and 'was für'. These adjectives stand right before the noun.
- Welches T-Shirt findest du am schönsten? (Which t-shirt do you like the most?)
- Was für Hausaufgaben hast du bekommen? (What kind of homework did you get?)
The adjective ‘welch-’
The special form of 'welch-' is very often used in the expression 'welch ein' (what a) and sometimes stand before attributive adjectives.
The adjective 'welch-' can be used as an interrogative or exclamatory adjective.
'Welch-' as an interrogative adjective
To use 'welch-' as an interrogative adjective, it needs to be declined in order to fit to noun. The interrogatives are often used to ask question and to get special information about the noun.
- Welcher Mantel gehört Paul? (Which coat is Pauls?)
- Welchen Kuchen wollen wir backen? (Which cake do we want to bake?)
- Welche CD hört Anna gerade? (Which CD is Anna listening to?)
Declension of interrogative adjective 'welch-'
'Welch' as an exclamatory adjective
By using an exclamatory adjective you don't need to decline anything. Just use the word stem on his own.
In the following table you can see two different ways to use sentences, while the right one uses the exclamatory 'welch'.
|Without 'welch'||With 'welch'|
|Wie schön diese Reise ist! (How wonderful this journey is!)||Welch eine schöne Reise! (What a wonderful journey!)|
|Er ist so ein kluger Mann! (He is such an intelligent guy!)||Welch kluger Mann er ist! (What an intelligent guy he is!)|
|Das war eine unterwartete Überraschung! (This was an unexpected surprise!)||Welch unerwartete Überraschung! (What an unexpected surprise!)|
As you can see, the exclamatory sentences using the 'welch' construction are very short and emphasize the adjective even more.
The adjective 'was für (ein-)'
The interrogative adjective 'was für' is even more used than the construction of 'welch'. In the singular, the sentence is used with the indefinite article 'ein' that takes adjective endings, depending on the grammatical use of the noun in the sentence. In plural, the indefinite article 'ein' is omitted and the construction therefore is only 'was für'.
'Was für (ein-)' as an interrogative adjective
The construction is often use to ask questions about certain persons, objects or processes.
Was für einen Kaffee hättest Du gerne? (What kind of coffee would you like to have?)
Was für Autos fahrt ihr? (What kind of cars do you drive?)
Declension of interrogative adjective 'was für (ein-)'
Is it also possible to use this adjective to ask a question. To do so, the constructions have to take adjective endigs.
was für ein(er)
was für eine
was für ein(es)
was für einen
was für eine
was für ein(es)
was für einem
was für einer
was für ein(em)
was für eines
was für einer
was für eines
'Was für (ein-)' as an exclamatory adjective
Of course, the construction 'was für (ein-)' can also be used as an exclamatory adjective. This is used to emphasize the noun and its characteristics.
|Was für ein schönes Haus! (What a beatiful house!)||Was für schöne Häuser! (What beatiful houses!)|
|Was für eine tolle Überraschung! (What a nice surprise!)||Was für tolle Überraschungen! (What nice surprises!)|
|Was für ein leckerer Keks! (What a tasty cookie!)||Was für leckere Kekse! (What tasty cookies!)|
Keep in mind, that the indirect article 'ein' has to be declined in order to fit to the related noun. In plural cases the 'ein-' is omitted.
Difference between interrogative and exclamatory adjectives and pronouns
The difference between interrogative and exclamatory adjectives and pronouns is simple. The interrogative adjective is always used in combination with a noun and is emphasizing it or asking for something we don't know. The pronoun on the other side can stand alone.
|Sentence with adjective||Sentence with pronoun|
|Welche Lunch-Box ist deine? (Which lunch-box is yours?)||Welche ist deine? (Which one is yours?)|
|Welche Farbe sieht besser aus? (Which colour looks better?)||Was könnte ich dir zum Geburtstag schenken? (What should I buy you for your birthday?)|
In the second example, 'welche' is an interrogative adjective, because it refers to the noun 'Farbe'. In the other sentence 'was' is an interrogative pronoun, because it stands without a noun.
To get a deeper understanding of words used as interrogative pronouns, have a look at the chapter about it.
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