Is the sentence

Ob ich bescheuert bin?

a complete german sentence? Or is it only possible to use this sentence as a subclause?

The sentence might be used as a rethorical question in response to the typical question

Bist du bescheuert?


The German word "ob" (if/whether) starts a sub-clause which technically can't standalone. In your example the main clause is omitted. What you mean, is something like:

"Du fragst, ob ich bescheuert bin?"

Simply saying "Ob ich bescheuert bin?" is an acceptable reply to the corresponding question, it is being used as such but grammatically incorrect.


It could be part of an interior monologue. It would mean something along the lines "(I wonder) whether I am an idiot.", or "Am I stupid?".

It is syntactically a subclause, but in that situation the matrix clause ("Ich frage mich, ...") could be implied.

The construction as such is also valid in other cases. For example, you could say "Ob es einen Gott gibt?" That is something like a doubting question/statement. Often it is phrased as "Ob es wohl ..."; you don't really expect an answer for that kind of question.

It is also used as a book title in "Ob ich das schaffe" (https://www.amazon.de/ich-das-schaffe-Gabriele-Strehle/dp/3421056765?tag=duc02-21) and an image caption in http://www.ipernity.com/doc/195656/11119702

It is not a very frequent construction as a self-standing phrase, though.

  • 1
    Very good observation. It is not uncommon (perhaps a bit dated) even when spoken aloud, as you say often with "wohl" to indicate a doubt. People are waiting for somebody, one of them asks: "Ob er wohl noch kommt?" Before a soccer match against Bavaria Munich: "Ob wir heute wohl überhaupt ein Tor schießen?" Etc. It really has the air of a complete sentence, even though formally it isn't one. Whether it's plausible in the OP's case is a bit doubtful though -- the construction is used for speculation about unknowns or even unknowables. Sep 15 '16 at 13:01

I suspect this to be a variation of the common youth language phrase "ob du behindert bist?" or "ob du behindert bist, habe ich gefragt."

This literally translates to "I was asking, if you were retarded."

It is commonly used when you are talking to someone, and he/she doesn't understand what you are saying (be it acoustically or semantically) and asks you to repeat what you are saying:

"Wenn du sowieso zum Baumarkt gehst, bringst du einen Querdübel mit?" "Was?" "Einen Querdübel." "Was?" "Ob du behindert bist?"

It is also used to show general disbelieve in something someone is saying.

I can't really really find any good sources, but searching the phrase on google image shows plenty of meme images containing the phrase, which at least confirms that this saying does in fact exist in the way i described it. It's also sign of recent popularity leading to overuse of the phrase, which could be how its variation found its way into the conversation you heard / read.


This isn't really a complete German sentence, it just can be a rhetorical question, if it would be used as a counter question (as you already have mention). Then you could use the phrase like this or as you wrote before:

Er fragt, ob du bescheuert bist.

Ob ich bescheuert bin?

There wouldn't be an other possible usage for this rhetorical question, I would know.

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