The question words wer, wen, wem and wessen

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The question words wer, wen, wem and wessen

To ask about a person in German, we use one of the following words: wer, wen, wem or wessen.

Nominativ Akkusativ Dativ Genitiv
wer? wen? wem? wessen?

These correspond to the different grammatical cases.

  • We use wer (who) to ask about the subject of the verb.

Das ist Anna. Wer ist das?

That's Anna. Who is that?

  • We use wen (whom) to ask about the object of the verb.

Ich rufe Magda an. Wen rufst du an?

I'm calling Magda. Whom are you calling?

  • We use wem (whom, to whom) to ask about the indirect object of the verb, or the object in the dative case.

Ich schenke meiner Tante ein Fahrrad. Wem schenkst du ein Fahrrad?

I'm giving my aunt a bike. Whom are you giving a bike to?

  • We use wessen (whose, whom) to ask about the object of the verb in the genitive case, or about possession.

Wir gedenken der verstorbenen Betty Brandenbutt. Wessen gedenken wir?

We are commemorating the deceased Betty Brandenbutt. Whom are we commemorating? (Note: the verb gedenken takes the genitive case.)

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