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Yes No Questions in German

(Asking questions in German without interrogative pronouns - Ja-Nein Fragen)


Ja-Nein Fragen (yes-no questions) are easy and we have used them a lot in previous lessons. In "Ja-Nein Fragen", there is no interrogative pronoun or interrogative adverb at the beginning of the sentence. The sentence starts directly with the verb. The structure of German yes-no questions is similar to their English counterparts.

Sind Sie Student? (Are you a student?) Ja, ich bin Student. (Yes, I am a student.)

Studieren Sie? (Do you study? / Are you studying?) Ja, ich studiere. (Yes, I study. / Yes, I am studying.)

Sind Sie Medizinstudent? (Are you a medical student?) Nein. (No.)

Studieren Sie Medizin? (Are you studying medicine?) Nein, ich studiere Biologie. (No, I study biology.)

Ist Biologie schwer? (Is biology hard to study?) Ein bisschen, aber es geht. (A little bit, but it works.)
"Es geht" or "Das geht" is used as a proverb, which in English can be translated as "it works".

Haben Sie Hunger? (Are you hungry?) Ja, aber es geht. (Yes, but it works.)

Hast du Durst? (Are you thirsty?) Ich habe ein bisschen Durst, aber es geht. (I'm a little thirsty, but it works.)

"der Hunger" (hunger) and "der Durst" (thirst) are nouns. These questions can also be asked with adjectives, "hungrig" (hungry) and "durstig" (thirsty). Bist du hungrig? (Are you hungry?)
Bist du durstig? (Are you thirsty?)

Arbeiten hier viele Leute? (Do many people work here?) Nein, nur einige. (No, only a few.)

Arbeitest du auch hier? (Do you work here too?) Ja, manchmal. (Yes, sometimes.)

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Ja-Nein Fragen (Yes-No Questions) with modal verbs

In a ja-nein interrogative sentence, the modal verb comes at the beginning of the sentence and pushes the dependent infinitive at the end of the sentence.

Ich habe zwei Pizzen. Will jemand essen? (I have two pizzas. Does anyone want to eat?) Ja, Ich will die beide essen. (Yes, I want to eat the both.)

Darf ich reinkommen? (May I come in?) Ja, bitte kommen Sie rein. (Yes, please come in.)
"reinkommen" (to come in) is a separable verb. We'll discuss separable verbs in Lesson 23 (Separable Verbs in German).
The above question can also be asked in a short form: Darf ich rein?
Now, this question would give meanings of both May I come in? or May I go in? Because now it can be short form of either,
Darf ich reinkommen? (May I come inside?)
or
Darf ich reingehen? (May I go inside?)

Müssen alle Studenten nach Berlin fahren? (Do all students have to go to Berlin?) Nein, manche können hier bleiben. (No, some can stay here.)

Willst du Pizza oder Spaghetti? (Do you want pizza or spaghetti?)

Willst du Pizza oder Spaghetti essen? (Do you want to eat pizza or spaghetti?) Ich will beide zusammen essen. (I want to eat both together.)


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