Help with German, v. off-topic

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Wed Dec 20 08:58:26 EST 2000

Sorry to bring up such an old thread - and off topic, too - but this is
bothering me, and won't stop until I do something about it.

Bettina was giving some good advice:

> Everything's o.k. with the "Where are you?" (not that I would have
> expected something else from this list :-)
> Just  a small correction to this What's your name?
>> Literally, "Was ist dein Name?" (familiar) ::. that should be "Wie ist
>> dein Name?"
> or "Was ist Ihren Name?" (formal). ::: and that's "Wie ist Ihr Name?"
> (without the "n") but that doesn't really matter, because
>> But commonly, you would ask "How are you called?" - "Wie heisst
>> du?" (familiar) or "Wie heissen Sie?" (formal)
> Exactly. Ich bin beeindruckt. (I'm impressed.)


> you know, although I'm a native speaker, the "how" and "what" had me
> confused for a moment... But I'm reasonably sure you wouldn't say
> "was"... hm... quite sure...

And she raised the "Wie" versus "Was" question.  This came up at my German
lesson today.  We had a number of questions of the form "Was kostet ... ?",
meaning "What does ... cost?"  Our tutor says that this is the most common form,
but you could use "Wieviel kostet ... ?", "How much does ... cost?"

My problem is that when in Germany (well, we were actually in Egerland at the
time, but we were speaking German) I started to ask "Wieviel ..." and was
corrected by my companion (Retired teacher, father of my German penfriend) to
"Wie kostet das?".  I have ever since assumed this to be the normal form, used
it without problem, etc., but our tutor says she has never observed it.

Do our German-speaking list members have any comments to make on this?

My apologies for list noise...



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