What's the difference between the following two sentences?

Was machen Sie heute vor?
Was hast du heute vor?

Which one is correct?

  • 3
    Is the question about the difference between machen / vorhaben or about Sie / du?
    – Kristina
    Jan 29 '17 at 19:38
  • As the questions is about correcting a sentence, I would prefer to revert the changes back to the first version (with the incorrect first sentence). But I like your improvements of the title and the tags, @Kristina. :)
    – biolauri
    Jan 29 '17 at 20:01

Your first sentence is wrong (in this context, as it has a different meaning; see last heading). Instead of machen, you have to use haben (like in the second one) from the verb vorhaben:

  1. Was haben Sie heute vor?

Instead, you could als use the verb machen, but without vor, so the sentence would be:

  1. Was machen Sie heute (noch)?

Your second sentence is correct. But you can use both verbs, too:

  1. Was hast du heute vor?

  2. Was machst du heute (noch)?

Comparison of 1st & 2nd with 3rd & 4th

The first two are the formal form of the second ones and more polite. In German, you have two forms to address someone:
Talking with a friend, you could use one of the second sentences, but if you're talking to a stranger or (maybe) your boss, you should pick one of the first two sentences.

Some further information:

Comparison of 1st & 3rd with 2nd & 4th

All in all, you can use them both and they don't differ much. I would say, the number 1 and 3 are a bit more formal than 2 and 4.

By the way: the word noch is optional.

What your first sentence mean

Thanks to @Hubert Schölnast's comment, I realised that the first sentence is grammatically correct, but makes no sense in this context as it uses a different verb.

Was machst du/machen Sie heute vor?

It uses the verb vormachen, which means to show something. It isn't used in the context of asking or talking about your plans (today).

  • 1
    Der erste Satz ist nicht falsch! Er bedeutet nur etwas anderes. Ein Beispiel: Der Kursleiter hält ein kompliziert verknotetes Seil hoch und sagt: »Ich werde Ihnen nun zeigen, wie man aus diesen Knoten macht. Schauen Sie bitte genau zu. Ich mache es langsam vor, und Sie machen es mir dann nach.« Ein Teilnehmer hat nicht aufgepasst und fragt nach: »Entschuldigung, ich war abgelenkt. Was machen Sie heute vor?« Jan 30 '17 at 5:42
  • @Hubert Schölnast Danke! Ich habe das in die Antwort mit aufgenommen, damit dies auch englischsprachigen Personen klar wird.
    – biolauri
    Jan 30 '17 at 7:57

Was haben Sie heute vor?

This is more polite than your second version (which is correct).

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