The question words wer, wen, wem and wessen in German

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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.

These correspond to the different grammatical cases.

Nominativ Akkusativ Dativ Genitiv
wer? wen? wem? wessen?
  • We use wer (who) to ask about the subject of the verb.

-Wer ist das? -Das ist Anna.

Who is that? ‑That's Anna

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

-Wen rufst du an? -Ich rufe Magda an.

Whom are you calling? ‑I'm calling Magda.

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

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

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

-Mit wem sprichst du? -Mit dem Mann.

-Who are you talking to (literally: With whom are you speaking)? -My husband (literally: With my husband).

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

-Wessen Auto ist das? -Das ist Tims Auto.

Whose car is that? ‑It's Tim's car.

Note: wem can also be used to ask about an inanimate object, but it's very rare.

-Mit wem spricht Caroline? -Mit dem Kühlschrank.

-Whom is Caroline speaking to? -To the refrigerator.

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