I came across this kind of sentences multiple times and I have a clear understanding of its meaning but I lack the grammatical knowledge of it.

Was bin ich froh! = Bin ich froh!

I think this means:

Ich bin sehr froh.

Another example:

Ist die Frau schön!

Can you guys explain the grammar behind this type of sentences?


2 Answers 2


Your two examples are different constructions.
Both are have the form of questions, but their intonation in speech and punctuation in writing, and usually also one or more modal particles make clear that they're not questions.

Verb-first sentences can be used as exclamative sentences.
With these, modal particle aber is often added for emphasis.

Du bist schön. (Aussagesatz)
Du bist schön! (Exklamativsatz)
Bist du schön? (Ergänzungsfrage)
Bist du (aber) schön! (Exklamativsatz)

Your first example shows how W-Pronomen can be used in first position with either the verb at second or last place for exclamative sentences as well.
When using a copulative verb, the similarity to questions drifts away:

Was hast du gemacht? (Question)
Was hast du (schon wieder) gemacht!
Was du gemacht hast. (Elliptical Echo-type "question")
Was du (schon wieder) gemacht hast!

Du bist rot.
?Was bist du rot? (With copulative verbs, we can't use "was" in questions like this.)
Was bist du rot!
Was du rot bist!

Why? I don't know. There is a book written on exactly this but it's made for linguists and costs $100. Exklamativsätze seem to be a bit mysterious.


This is a Exklamativ-Satz and it comes in the form of a question but is actually a statement. It is the german equivalent to english sentences like:

What a beautiful morning (this is)!

Where a statement comes veiled as a question. It is basically a rhetorical question addressed to a hypothetical bystander, expected to be answered by something like "yes, very much so".

I think this means:

Ich bin sehr froh.

Yes, that is correct. In English this could be:

How joyous I am!

Although (that only as an aside), depending on context, "froh" in German might mean various things in English: "happy", "relieved", "joyous" or "glad" could all be valid translations.

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