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This question already has an answer here:

I believe it means "How much cost the carpet?", but why adding denn?

I know that denn, in a normal context, means because.

marked as duplicate by Em1, tillinberlin, Hubert Schölnast, boaten, Wrzlprmft Mar 12 '15 at 20:17

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Used as a modal particle, denn makes the question a little more casual.

Was machst du denn später?

Is something like

So, what will you do later?

  • I understand a bit better, but while u gave a great example, i would like to take this opportunity to see with you another case. You wrote: "So, what will you do later", but where is the verb "to be" in the question? – Lora85 Mar 12 '15 at 15:16
  • @Lora: It is not so much modifying the verb but the mode of the question, taking it from a straight question to a more conversational, even tentative mode. – TaW Mar 12 '15 at 17:29
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It's just for added emphasis, as in "so how much does the carpet cost, then?"

  • I don't think this is so. The emphasis is made by either putting it on kostet or on Teppich, regardless of the doch. "Was kostet denn der Teppich?" emphasises the question for the price. "Was kostet denn der Teppich?" emphasizes the fact you're asking the the price of the carpet, not of anything else. – Thorsten Dittmar Mar 12 '15 at 15:41
  • Which doch are you talking about? – Ingmar Mar 12 '15 at 15:45
  • Sorry, meant to write "regardless of the denn" - can no longer edit the comment, unfortunately... -.- – Thorsten Dittmar Mar 12 '15 at 15:47
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The word »denn« in this sentence is a modal particle. This is a part of speach that does not exist in English and therefore can't be translated. For a more detailed answer see: How can I translate the adverb "doch" in sentences?

  • While I really like your explanation you linked here, it's in German - might be difficult for learners... – Stephie Mar 12 '15 at 17:11
  • @Stephie: In which language do you want to talk about German? In Russian? Japanese? English? Suaheli? You will always find lots of people who have difficulties to understand the text. But ALL of them (meaning 100,00 %) are learning German and so are willing to understand German. So I think that German is the best language to talk about German. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 12 '15 at 21:55
  • I read you comment on meta a while ago, but afaik there is an agreement on German SE that questions should be answered in the language asked. Which led me to writing two short answers on verb positions, one in English, one in German.... And your style in the other post is not exactly on a beginners level but rather complex, language-wise. (No offense, I appreciate well-written texts.) – Stephie Mar 12 '15 at 22:01

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