-1

How to ask or form a question in German beginning/starting with Am, Is or Are?

For example, how do I say the following?

Are you willing to be plundered?

Is he coming, now?

  • 1
    Comments purged. For everybody: Please adhere to Be nice and in particular assume good intentions on all sides. Also, if you feel that some of our community’s rules need specification or change, please take it to German Language Meta. As a sidenote: One of the reasons why we prefer askers to elaborate on their previous research is that it allows us to give better answers because we know where to begin explaining (also see How do I ask a good question?). – Wrzlprmft Aug 6 '16 at 21:36
4

Like in almost all languages, there are three major types of sentences:

  • Statements

    Walter ate apples.
    Walter aß Äpfel.

  • Questions

    Ate Walter apples?
    Aß Walter Äpfel?

  • Commands

    Eat apples!
    Iss Äpfel!

Commands are special, because the subject (which is the pronoun »you/du«) is very often omitted, but they are not topic of this posting.

In German the order of the words within a sentence is much more free than in english, but there are some hard rules too. One of this rules is:

  • The position #2 in a German statement is occupied by a word that belongs to the predicate. if there is an auxiliary verb in the predicate, then this auxiliary verb occupies position #2. But be careful! Do not count words, but parts of speech (position 2 is marked bold):

Die Frau mit den roten Schuhen hat gestern Bücher gekauft.
The lady with the red shoes has bought books yesterday.

In this sentence »Die Frau mit den roten Schuhen« (The lady with the red shoes) is one part of speech, it is a nominal group, and this nominal group is the sentences subject.

»Hat ... gekauft« (has bought) is the predicat, and on position #2 is one word from this predicate (»hat«). »Gestern« (yesterday) is an adverb, i.e. a word that describes a property of the predicate, and »Bücher« (books) is an accusative object.

You can rearrange the words, and as long as you have a part of the predicate at position 2 (which has to be the auxiliary verb if there is one), the sentence stays a statement:

Gestern hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen Bücher gekauft.
Bücher hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen gestern gekauft.
Gekauft hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen gestern Bücher.

(The last sentence is only a good choice if you have a special context, that makes it important to stress the word gekauft, but it is grammatically correct anyway. I just wanted to give an example for a sentence, where the last position is not occupied by a part of an predicate that contains an auxiliary verb)

If the predicate contains an auxiliary verb, then it is this auxiliary verb that has to occupy position 2. So lets also look at an example for a statement without auxiliary verb:

Die Frau mit den roten Schuhen kauft heute Bücher. (The lady with the red shoes buys books today.)
Heute kauft die Frau mit den roten Schuhen Bücher.
Bücher kauft die Frau mit den roten Schuhen heute.

(again position 2 is marked bold)

But when you move the predicate (the auxiliary verb from the predicate, if there is one) to position 1, then you transform the statement into a question (Now Position #1 is marked bold):

Hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen gestern Bücher gekauft?
Did the lady with the red shoes buy books yesterday?

Kauft die Frau mit den roten Schuhen heute Bücher?
Does the lady with the red shoes buy books today?

(As you can see, you build the question in English in a different way.)

Your example:

The statement is:

You are willing to be plundered.

In German, with position 2 marked bold:

Du bist bereit, geplündert zu werden. (Use »du« if you are talking to a child or a friend)
Sie sind bereit, geplündert zu werden. (Use »Sie« if you are talking to an adult stranger)

The predicate is »bist bereit« or »sind bereit«, and »bist/sind« is an auxiliary verb at position 2.

Move it to position 1 to transform the sentence into a question (Position 1 is marked):

Are you willing to be plundered?
Bist du bereit, geplündert zu werden?
Sind Sie bereit, geplündert zu werden?

All questions from above are closed questions, i.e. Questions that can be answered with »yes« or »no«. The other kind of Questions are open Questions. You transform a statement into an open question, by replacing a part of speech by a special word (»Fragewort« = Interrogative word) which moves to position 1. The answer to such a question is the replaced part of speech:

Wer hat gestern Bücher gekauft? -> Die Frau mit den roten Schuhen.
Was hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen gestern gekauft? -> Bücher.
Wann hat die Frau mit den roten Schuhen Bücher gekauft? -> gestern.

Wer kauft heute Bücher? -> Die Frau mit den roten Schuhen.
Was kauft die Frau mit den roten Schuhen heute? -> Bücher.
Wann kauft die Frau mit den roten Schuhen Bücher? -> heute.

As you can see, in this case (open question) Position 1 is occupied by the interrogative word. So the predicate can not be there. It is in position 2, like in a normal statement. But now we have this interrogative word that turns the sentence into a question.

At least a word to the question mark: This sign is needed when writing down a question. But when you speak, this sign is not spoken (like any punctuation). You just rise your pitch at the end of the sentence. But even without changing the pitch the sentence will recognized as a question. It is the word order that defines this sentence as a question. The question mark is just an extra marker.

  • Thank you so much for your helpful answer, MR. Hubert Schölnast! – K. M. Aug 6 '16 at 19:51

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.