Woher kommst du? – describing your origins and language

To say where you come from, where you live and which languages you speak, you need three new and important verbs:

♦kommen – to come
♦wohnen – to live
♦sprechen – to speak

With these three verbs in your mental dictionary, you can say much more about yourself and ask more questions too.

When you talk about yourself, you use the ich-form. This is also called the first person

When you talk to somebody else, you use the du-form. This is also called the second person.

When you talk about somebody else, you need to use er for he and sie for she. This is also called the third person.

The table below shows you the endings for ich, du and er/sie for these three verbs.

kommen, wohnen und sprechen – Verb Endings
kommen wohnen sprechen
First Person ich komme – I come ich wohne – I live ich spreche – I speak
Second Person du kommst – you come du wohnst – you live du sprichst – you speak
Third Person er/sie kommt – he/she comes er/sie wohnt – he/she lives er/sie spricht – he/she speaks

Do you notice the pattern of endings? Once you have got used to them, you will be able to guess at the verb endings of new verbs as you learn them and you’ll usually be right.

You also need question words to ask questions, just as you do in English. Not coincidentally, the question words in German often begin with W, just as several English question words do (e.g. what? who? when?). You already know wie (how) and wann (when).

Here is a selection of question words that will help you to ask about a person’s origin, living place and language.

  • woher – where…from?
  • wo – where?
  • welche – which (followed by a plural noun) 

By cycling through the Quizlet below, you will be able to learn how these three question words are used.

Then you can try the Scatter Game or…

the Space Race Game (much harder)…

or a Multiple Choice Quiz (fairly easy) …

or a Writing, Matching and Multiple Choice Quiz (slightly harder, but more satisfying)…

The quiz below will allow you to check your knowledge of everything you have learned so far and especially of the verb endings. It is written in German but you will be able to understand it. To see the quiz on a whole page on your screen, click here.

Below is another little quiz on verb endings. This one is based on all the verb endings, including those for ‘we’, ‘you’ (plural) and they. If you have not yet learned these endings in class, you can discover them by clicking on the light globe on the top left of the quiz window.

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