Wozu diese Wo-Komposita?

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Wozu diese Wo-Komposita?

Last week we talked about “da-compounds”. This week we’re looking at their cousins the “wo-compounds”. Wo-compounds are used in questions when asking about the object of the preposition (‘for what’, ‘about what’, etc.). In these compounds “wo” does not mean “where” as you’ve probably learned, but instead, “what”. Wo-compounds follow the same rules as da-compounds, in particular the difference between people and things. When the object of the preposition is a thing, we must use a wo-compound when asking a question about it. For example:

Womit rasierst du dich?

  • What do you shave yourself with?

Ich rasiere mich mit dem Rasierapparat.

  • I shave myself with the electric razor.

Worüber sprichst du?

  • What are you talking about?

Ich spreche über das Buch.

  • I’m talking about the book

Worauf freust du dich?

  • What are you looking forward to?

Ich freue mich auf das Wochenende.

Worauf freust du dich?

  • I’m looking forward to the weekend.
Womit hast du den Flecken rausgekriegt?

  • What did you get rid of the stains with?
Ich habe den Flecken mit Javel-Wasser rausgekriegt.
  • I got rid of the stains with Javel.

Note that the German wo-compound corresponds to two English words, ‘what’ at the beginning of the sentence and the preposition ‘with/about/to’ at the end.

Also note the -r- added when the preposition begins with a vowel.

Like the da-compounds, German differentiates between people and things when using wo-compounds. When asking about a person, German uses forms of the who-word, wer: these are wen (accusative) and wem (dative).

Auf wen wartest du?

  • Who are you waiting for?

Ich warte auf Karl.

  • I’m waiting for Karl.

Mit wem fährst du nach Luzern?

  • Who are you driving to Lucerne with?

Ich fahre mit meinem Freund.

  • I’m going with my friend.


Write the question to the answer given using a wo-compound. You’re asking for the bold word.

1. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Ich habe nur 100 Franken für diese Schuhe bezahlt.

2. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Wir fangen mit unserer Arbeit an.

3. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Regula und Peter ärgern sich über das Wetter.

4. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Du arbeitest sehr fleissig auf das neue Projekt.

5. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Diana erinnert sich an deinen Geburtstag.

6. ____________________________________________________________________________________

Nina Ruge hat keine mehr Angst vor Spinnen.

If you like our blog posts, like our Facebook page, to stay in the loop and get more information. If you have a question, post it on our wall or send us an e-mail and we’ll try to answer it in the next blog post. Our next blog post will be on wo-compounds.

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