I'm trying to say that I have no idea about what type of noise that was and after spending some time on the internet, I'm not sure which of the two sentences is correct and why:

Ich habe keine Idee (davon/darauf/darüber/...?), was für ein Lärm das war.

Ich habe keine Idee (davon/darauf/darüber/...?), was das für ein Lärm war.

Warum geht "das" hier?

It would also be helpful if you could tell me which preposition to use. As far as I know, keine Ahnung (which is similar) uses "von" (-> davon).

  • 2
    Vocabulary remark, tangential to the question: I think this is a context where "noise" should usually be translated as "Geräusch" rather than "Lärm". "Lärm" means "noise" when the focus is on the sound being very loud and having no recognizeable content; referring to any sounds as "Lärm" implies that the speaker feels disturbed by their mere volume. Likewise, if you say it as in your question, "..., was für ein Lärm das war.", you specifically wonder about something unusually loud rather than just any unexpected "noise" (= sound). Mar 11, 2021 at 12:15
  • 1
    Vocabulary remark #2: "no idea" is better translated as "keine Ahnung" in German. The meaning of "Idee" is a bit more narrow in German than with the English "idea". An "Idee" is specifically a "new thought", something that you came up with. Mere knowledge (or a lack thereof), as in "I have no idea who that is.", is not referred to as an "Idee" in German. Mar 11, 2021 at 12:21
  • @O.R.Mapper Thank you for your help. Anyway, which preposition would I use with Idee ( if it makes sense) and would both sentences be correct just by changing Idee with Ahnung and Lärm with Geräusch? Mar 11, 2021 at 12:59
  • I'd argue that "Ich weiß nicht" is an even more appropriate translation than either "Idee" or "Ahnung" in this case. But it depends on context, I suppose.
    – Andreas T
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


Both of your sentences feel a bit unnatural for reasons that were pointed out in the comments but in theory, both are valid. They might be used in different contexts though.

As an example, let me compare the two sentences "Was war das für ein Geräusch?" and "Was für ein Geräusch war das?" (notice the different positioning of "das", just like in your sentences). These have similar cases in English as well: "What was that noise?" and "What kind of noise was that?". The first one, "Was war das für ein Geräusch?" definitely sees more frequent use in everyday situations.

The second question, "Was für ein Geräusch war das?", would, in my personal opinion, be more likely to be used when being in a quiz sort-of situation. A parent showing different animal sounds to their infant and testing them after every sound would more likely be using the order "Was für ein Geräusch war das?" as opposed to "Was war das für ein Geräusch?". Basically, you were already expecting some noise to be there, you just cannot associate the actual noise that came with its source.

Again, this has a lot to do with personal experience and the difference is only subtle and arguably colloquial. Unless you are at a very high level of fluence in German, you are fine with using either of your two sentences.

Regarding the preposition, none is fine; ("Ich habe keine Idee, was..."). Adding "davon" (the infinitive is "keine Ahnung von etwas haben") is acceptably in theory, but would feel very stiff in this situation.

  • 2
    If you think that the "reasons that were pointed out in the comments" are important for the answer, then you should add them to it. Comments are not necessarily permanent and maybe one day nobody knows what you are referring to.
    – mtwde
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:48

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