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In a questionary I got wrong the following multiple choice question

— Wir bieten Ihnen wunderbares Bier an!
1. — Welches?
2. — Was für eins?
3. — Was für welches?

The number I selected was 2, while the correct answer is 3. Why is better to say welches? or rather, why is it incorrect to say was für eins? I'm assuming that the interlocutor wanted to ask what kind (of beer)?.

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Actually, 3 is not standard language. The Duden grammar says it is common in northern German colloquial language. –  chirlu Sep 16 '13 at 9:35
    
@chirlu ok, thanks, but is 2 wrong? –  c.p. Sep 16 '13 at 9:46
3  
I would say "Was für eins denn?" or "Welches denn?", so I vote for (1) and (2) being correct. –  Em1 Sep 16 '13 at 10:16
    
Gedanklich ist "Wasfürein(s)" schon fast ein eigenes Wort :) –  falkb Sep 26 '13 at 21:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'd say every single option is acceptable (making this a rather pointless question in an exam), though option 3 is not standard German, but a regionalism of northern Germany.

There is a difference in meaning between option 1 on the one hand and options 2 and 3 on the other; however, this difference is blurring in everyday language. Was für ein? is more open, asking for a description (ein flaschengegorenes Weizenbier aus einer kleinen fränkischen Brauerei); welches? asks for one item out of a limited set and would in this case usually be answered with a name (ein Radebrecher Weizen).

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Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier... This is actually something which confuses a lot of language learner and this question is already answered by "Dr. Bopp".

I 'quote' the most important passages (though I recast the sentences a little; no changes of the actual statement):

Die Wendung was für (ein) leitet eine Frage oder einen Ausruf ein und kann mit allen vier Fällen stehen: [...]

Dadurch unterscheidet sich was für ein von welcher, das eine „auswählende“ Bedeutung hat. Mit welcher fragt man nach einem einzelnen Wesen, einem einzelnen Ding aus einer Gruppe, einer Klasse, einer Gattung usw.

Und man sagt besser nicht:

Was für welches Papier brauchst du?

So, you can ask both "Welches Bier?" and "Was für ein Bier?" but you avoid to say "Was für welches Bier?"

For the full discussion look at Wenn nach „für“ der Dativ steht.

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1  
Was für welches Bier? is considerably "more wrong" than Was für welches? by itself; the full treatment on canoo.net also mentions this (no attributive usage of the welcher forms). Canoo apparently considers predicative usage in plural to be standard language, but I don't agree, nor does Duden grammar. –  chirlu Sep 16 '13 at 14:17

If you are just a beginner then this is one trick you can use when you are asked to make questions:
If in a statement the object on which you have to ask a question is regarded by ein then you will in most of the cases use "was für ein" and if the object is regarded by der then you will again in most of the cases use "welche".

But this is a temporary measure.

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Consider the following:

A: "Ich trinke Bier gern"

B: "Ich trinke auch gerne welches" (you don't realy say this, but for the sake of citing an example here)

A: "Ach so, welches? (Pils, Kölsch, usw.)"

B: "Kölsch, und du, was für welches trinkst du am liebsten?"

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