Can someone explain to me how doch and gleich work in this sentence:

Wie war das doch gleich?

I get that “Wie war das?“ translates to “How was that?” but then I can’t understand really how doch and gleich work.

1 Answer 1


Those are particles that German uses where other languages use inflection, speech rhythm, etc. to express subtle shades of meaning.

"Wie war das?"

simply means

"What/How was that?"

"Wie war das gleich?"

equates to

"How was that again?"

You're still asking for repetition or clarification, but the implied context is that you expect a relatively mundane and predictable explanation. The opposite particle would be 'denn':

Was war das denn?

approximately means

What on Earth was that??

Here you express that whatever it is, you expect the explanation to be complicated and unexpected, if there is an explanation at all.

"Doch" is harder to nail down to a specific implication.

Wie war das doch gleich?

approximately expresses that you assume you really already know the explanation, and only need a quick reminder to jog your memory. Compare:

Wie schön du bist! (How lovely you are!)

is an exclamation you can utter in pretty much every context.

Wie schön du doch bist!

implies that you already know of the listener's beauty, and you're expressing that you can't say this often enough.

(Our modal particles are fascinating and frustrating for second-language learners; they're way easier to acquire in conversation than out of written text.)

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