1. Das war der Tag, wo wir in den Urlaub gefahren sind
  2. Die Zeit, wo wir froh waren

Is this temporal usage of "wo" correct?

  • 1
    gutzitiert.de/… "Verloren sei uns der Tag, wo nicht ein Mal getanzt wurde!" – blutorange Jun 2 '14 at 21:00
  • Die wo da so, weißte, ne? – Raphael Jun 2 '14 at 21:58
  • @Raphael? Are you trying to be funny? You're not. – Ingmar Jun 3 '14 at 3:20
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    @Ingmar: My midnight brain thought it was a good (and maybe funny) idea to give a non-sentence (with "wo") that you might very well hear on the street. My morning brain does not agree, but that one's grumpy. – Raphael Jun 3 '14 at 6:18
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    It's also not a recent phenomenon: "Es war eine Zeit wo ich nicht schlafen konnte, wenn ich mein Nachtgebet vergessen hatte.", "[...]es könnten Augenblike kommen, wo du – aufwachst – und dann:[...]" (Schiller, "Die Räuber", 1781) Equating time and space is a common metaphor. – blutorange Jun 3 '14 at 6:35

In your examples, wo stands for als. It does indeed have a temporal meaning and everyone uses it, although it is horrible grammar. Correct is:

  1. Das war der Tag, als wir in den Urlaub gefahren sind.
  2. Die Zeit, als wir froh waren.

You should avoid it in written language, but it is very common in spoken language. Many german teachers have tried to teach their pupils to not use this - in vain. Noone will suspect you if you use this in a conversation.

There is another usage of wo in spoken language, though, that you should avoid under all circumstances:

Das ist der, wo mir weh getan hat.

Here, wo replaces der or welcher and it's absolutely terrible, but often heard on schoolyards.

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  • 2
    I would say, "...der Tag, an dem wir..." and "Die Zeit, zu der wir..."; imho, "als" is just another crutch. – Raphael Jun 2 '14 at 21:52
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    It depends on the region if you can use it in the first way without people looking at you funny. For me as a northern German guy "wo" instead of "als" sounds horrible, whereas in other regions of Germany you might be in the majority with this usage. – Axel Jun 2 '14 at 22:56
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    This really depends on the region - in Austrian German, this use of als would be very unusual (at least in spoken language) – Hulk Jun 3 '14 at 6:52
  • If "als" sounds weird for and northern Germans and Austrians, where does it sound okay? – Raphael Jun 3 '14 at 9:07
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    I just wanted to add that you can't really call this "horrible grammar". You can't call something horrible just because it's not part of your dialect. If a native speaker thinks it's fine, who are we to say it's wrong/horrible/etc.? – clinch Jun 3 '14 at 19:57

According to Duden, this is indeed a correct use of "wo".

zeitlich; zu welcher Zeit

Grammatik: relativisch

Beispiel: in dem Augenblick, zu dem Zeitpunkt, wo er hier ankam

However, this sounds wrong and slang-like to me; it may be a recent development, or a regional thing. I'd recommend the phrasings from marstato's answer.

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No. wo denotes a place but never time. Correct german is:

  1. Das war der Tag, an dem/welchem wir in den Urlaub gefahren sind.
  2. Die Zeit, zu der wir froh waren.
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  • 2
    One can use it in spoken language. Furthermore, your examples don't have a temporal meaning either. Als would be the best choice. – dervonnebenaan Jun 2 '14 at 21:20
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    @dervonnebenaan: You can use anything you want; whether you should is another question. – Raphael Jun 2 '14 at 21:53
  • I can confirm such usage (only) in spoken language. It's not exactly egregious, for want of a better word. Kannst du dich an den Urlaub erinnern, wo es tagelang nur geregnet hat? is fine, if colloquial. – Ingmar Jun 3 '14 at 3:22
  • @dervonnebenaan both sentences have no grammatically temporal meaning. The first one refers to a day which semantically means a time but could grammatically also be a place or a situation. – marstato Jun 3 '14 at 11:04

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