In this question the person answering says

Fragewörter lassen sich durchaus auch erweitern, wenn auch nicht durch Nomen.

However he then proceeds to list the following:

Was haben Sie bei Newtopia Neues gesehen?

"Neues" is a nominalised adjective, right?. "Was" is supposed to not allow for nouns, then why is "Neues" accepted?

Also, why are can seemingly only nominalised adjectives be used this way? What is the grammar going on here?

  • I wonder whether we could really say: - "[Was Neues] hast du zu erzählen?" - "[Was Beleidigendes] hat er denn gesagt?" - "[Wen Sachkundingen] hast du denn gefragt?" If this is not possible, then "was... Neues" would simply be two separate parts of the sentence.
    – Alazon
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 19:44
  • @Alazon Do you have an explanation why nobody (other than what you've commented) seems to be willing to interact with this question? Is it too stupid? Is it nonsense? I would like to know. If it would be a basic question, has simply nobody bothered? Usually, even easy questions are quickly answered, which I am thankful for. Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 4:52
  • Maybe you should post your question as a comment at the answer you mentioned. Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 5:43
  • And to your question: I think “was” is a pronoun here. Like in “etwas Neues”? Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 5:46
  • @KaiHuppmann So you disagree with the answer on the question I hyperlinked? Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


So your question is about

Was an Neuem haben Sie gesehen?

Was haben Sie an Neuem gesehen?

Was haben Sie Neues gesehen?

Was Neues haben Sie gesehen?

The latter is the only uncommon form. But you can heal even that one:

Was genau Neues haben Sie gesehen?

So the answer is that such a simple grammatical rule that excludes nouns from extending a question word does not exist. It's about semantics.

There are two things to this. First, the noun can't describe a specific thing as that doesn't match the semantics of the question word. You can't ask which thing it is when at the same time you name the specific thing. It must be a class of things one can pick from.

Nominalized adjectives are semantically still adjectives. They don't described a specific thing but they classify all things by a certain quality. That's reference to all things is the reason they can be combined with a pretty unspecific question word as was that asks which thing in the first place. So nominalized adjectives are okay at that place.

Second, the problem must be about the difference between

Was Neues haben Sie gesehen?

Was genau Neues haben Sie gesehen?

as one form is not used but the other.

The answer is that allowing was Neues as the extended question word was would lead the listener astray in the majority of cases. In practice, the question

Was Neues haben Sie gesehen?

always means

Etwas Neues haben Sie gesehen?

and this is a yes/no question rather than a question in which the listener should pick one from a selection of new things.

  • 1
    "Was genau Neues haben Sie gesehen?" does not sound grammatical to me. I would need "Was genau haben Sie Neues gesehen?"
    – Alazon
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 6:04
  • Thanks. "Was alles" and "Was ... alles" both seem common. There seems to be a difference between adjectives and indefinite pronouns in what is accepted. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 21:57

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