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Why is it In welcher Stadt wohnen Sie? In einer Großstadt oder in einer Kleinstadt? and not In was für einer Stadt wohnen Sie?

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  • colloquially, people make no difference between both ones
    – äüö
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 11:35

2 Answers 2

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With in welcher you ask for the name of the city:

A: In welcher Stadt wohnen Sie?
B: Ich wohne in Hamburg.

A: In which city do you live?
B: I live in Hamburg.

With in was für einer you ask for the kind of the city:

A: In was für einer Stadt wohnen Sie?
B: In einer Großstadt an der Elbe.

A: In what kind of city do you live?
B: In a large city at the river Elbe.

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It's not.

There is a widespread impression that "Was für ein X" is somehow not "proper" German, and a popular way to avoid it is to switch to "welche". However, this is a bad solution since it changes the meaning: "In welcher Stadt" will be understood as "what city" and not "what kind of city".

To say "what kind of city" you'd have to say at least "in welcher Art Stadt ... ?"

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  • but our teacher specially mentioned that it should be welche... i had the same thing in mind what you said Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 7:06

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