Wam

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Hampayof
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Wam

Postby Hampayof » 2013-12-18, 13:43

I'm a person who's perpetually on the brink of learning German. The main thing that holds me back is the word order :para:

But anyway, my question. I've seen that wer declines very much like der, but that was - which similarly resembles das - seems to be invariant. Is it indeed invariant, or does it have a das-like declension (e.g. was was wassen wam) ?

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Re: Wam

Postby kevin » 2013-12-18, 15:56

It does have a das-like declension, which happens to have the same forms as masculine der in genetive and dative. Nominative and accusative have the same forms for neuter words, so that part is invariant.

Nom. das / was
Gen. dessen / wessen
Dat. dem / wem
Akk. das / was

(This is the demonstrative pronoun das; the article das would be des in genitive.)

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Re: Wam

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 16:06

I don't think I've ever seen an instance of the independent dative of was. (Generally it occurs as the object of a dative pronoun and thus forms a wo-compound.) Do you have an example, Kevin?
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Re: Wam

Postby kevin » 2013-12-18, 17:14

Hm... This is a tough one.

Are you thinking of cases like Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch - Worauf liegt das Buch?

You can't do that when your dative occurs without any preposition, for example in the boring case of indirect objects: Dem Radio fehlt eine Antenne. I agree that asking Wem fehlt eine Antenne? doesn't feel completely right because it's not about a person. But there is no wo-compound that could be used here*, so I think if I wanted to ask this, I would just say wem anyway.

*) And if there were one, I wouldn't use it in spoken language. It is Wo liegt das Buch drauf? for me.

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Re: Wam

Postby linguoboy » 2013-12-18, 17:31

kevin wrote:You can't do that when your dative occurs without any preposition, for example in the boring case of indirect objects: Dem Radio fehlt eine Antenne. I agree that asking Wem fehlt eine Antenne? doesn't feel completely right because it's not about a person. But there is no wo-compound that could be used here*, so I think if I wanted to ask this, I would just say wem anyway.

That's the problem I was having: coming up with a sentence which felt natural with an inanimate indirect object. I would have similar problem in English. (Though English doesn't allow a syntactic dative here, only a prepositional construction, e.g. To what do I owe this pleasure?; What do I owe this pleasure would have a different meaning.)
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Re: Wam

Postby Hampayof » 2013-12-18, 17:57

Thank you.


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