German Grammar Explained /

Questions with prepositions

What do wovon, worüber, wonach and all those other ones mean?
  • They are question words such as woher and warum.
  • Structurally, they are formed using a wo- and a preposition.
But what do they mean?
Don’t focus on the ‘where’ meaning of wo. In fact, forget that wo means ‘where’ and imagine it's a ‘question word converter’, meaning that it takes a preposition and converts it into a question word.
When do I need these converted question words?
Whenever you want to ask a question using verbs with fixed prepositions like träumen von, suchen nach, diskutieren über. In English, you would rather say what for, what about, ... in German, ...
träumen von
Wovon träumst du?
What do you dream of?
sich freuen über
Worüber freut er sich?
What is he happy about?
These wo-words are only used for questions for which a thing is the answer, not a person.
- Worauf wartest du?
- Ich warte auf den Zug. - Auf wen wartest du? - Ich warte auf meine Freundin.