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Would you say there is a difference between was für ein vs welch when you want to express amazement / surprise?

In written German is it preferred to use Welch ein schöner Tag! and in spoken language Was für ein schöner Tag?

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  • Yes, there is a slight difference in register, I'd consider welch more formal; old-fashioned even. That said, and even tough I cannot explain it, I would leave out the article with welch, i.e. Welch schöner Tag.
    – Ingmar
    Oct 1 at 18:20
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Welch schöner Tag

would be considered (becoming) archaic and somewhat elevated speech. It is definitely not for everyday usage.

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That are two questions.

Would you say there is a difference between was für ein vs welch ein when you want to express amazement / surprise?

There is a difference. But I think almost nobody will notice and maybe at least some will disagree and call it bean-counting. Welche is asking for characteristics. Welche Eigenschaften? - What attributes?

Was für is kind of asking for a purpose since wofür (für) is asking for a purpose. Was für and wofür is not the same - of course. One is a statement and the other one a question. But für clearly points to a purpose.

In written German is it preferred to use Welch ein schöner Tag! and in spoken language Was für ein schöner Tag!?

That's a question of who preferres what and not really about written or spoken language.

Some might say, that using welch ein is elevated speech - even in written language. Some might say using was für is colloquial language.

It's not a big deal, so I think you should use what feels good taking into account what I said so far.

I disagree that welche wouldn't be for everyday usage. I would definitely prefer welche over was für. But that's just because I don't think that a beautiful day needs to have a purpose and (for me) it feels better to keep that in mind. You have to consider, that people in Germany are very shy if it comes to sounding elevated if they don't feel elevated (for a good reason). But that doesn't mean that they would consider you snobby just because you prefer welch ein over was für ein if it's not for just sounding elevated. ;)

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