Was verstehen Sie unter Yoga? To me this means "What do you know about yoga?" or "What does yoga mean to you?" Is this correct?

3 Answers 3


A noun is a name for something. Such a name assembles images, associations, connotations and relations between parts of named thing. All of that is more specific than the name and comes under that thing.

Was verstehen Sie unter Yoga?

means: What do you understand by Yoga? or What do you mean by Yoga?


What does Yoga mean to you?

comes close. But I as a none-native English speaker would read that question as something like Does Yoga mean a lot to you? and in German the question has nothing to do with that.

What do you know about Yoga?

would be something like

Was verstehen Sie von Yoga? (at what level are you)


Was wissen Sie über Yoga?

So if you will: Have you thought about the categorial aspects of Yoga?

The preposition unter itself has no other meaning than under, below, ....


What does yoga mean to you?

comes closer to what I would understand as the meaning of the question (Was ich unter dieser Frage verstehe.):

Was verstehen Sie unter Yoga?

It would not specifically mean

What do you know about Yoga?

although the person who asks this question might imply that someone is not specific/informed enough when they talk, e.g., about yoga,

Maybe think about “unter” as asking for the underlying definition.


Was verstehen Sie unter Yoga?

If the question is meant literally this would be translated as "What do you understand by (the term) yoga?" and a possible answer would be "It's an old Indian set of practices ...", and of course the answer can be long, but the question really is just asking for a definition from the view of the person that is asked. "Was verstehen Sie unter ... " is often used when the definition of a word is unclear or the word is used differently by different persons:

Was verstehen Sie unter Sozialismus?
Was verstehen Sie unter Pfannkuchen?

Since the definition of yoga is pretty clear to most people, this particular question could also be meant less literally, as a more personal question, in the sense of "What does yoga mean to you?", where a possible answer could be "For me, it's great way to relax and work out." In that case, a better way to put it would be "Was bedeutet Yoga für Sie?" though.

I wouldn't translate it as "What do you know about yoga?", which, at least in its literal sense, is a much more general question ("Was wissen Sie über Yoga?" or maybe "Was verstehen Sie von Yoga?" - note the "von" instead of "unter").

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