"Ist gestern was passiert?"

Translation:Did something happen yesterday?

January 4, 2013

56 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/jon_na

Is "What happened yesterday?" a correct translations as well?

January 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

Nope. The speaker is not asking >what< happened. They're asking >if< something happened.

January 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/UomoLumaca

Why is it among the correct answers now???

September 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

The last person to touch the sentence is an account belonging to the Pearson team, so you would have to ask them. (See https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24066422/Interference-from-the-Pearson-course for some background on the Pearson sentences if you're not already aware of the situation.)

I think it's a mistake adding that to the accepted answers.

February 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CatMcCat

Well, that's annoying. I came here because I actually did say "What happened yesterday?" and it was marked correct, and immediately I wondered about it, thinking that it was probably wrong. So, if we report their "correct" answer as wrong, I wonder what happens?

*edit: tried to report it, but didn't get that option. Sigh.

June 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jon_na

How can you tell the difference? According to the translation hints "was" is "what" as well. What part of the original sentence is the "if"?

January 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

In this case, "was" does not mean "what". It's actually short for "etwas" (something). Maybe it'll become clearer if you turn the whole thing into a declarative sentence. "Gestern ist etwas passiert." (Yesterday, something happened.)

If you want to ask >what< happened, you'd say "Was ist gestern passiert?"

January 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Soglio

Thank you. That contraction eluded me.

March 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/mah2013

Thank you! Is it generally accepted to use "was" in that way? It looks very strange to me.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

In spoken German, "was" tends to sound more natural than "etwas".

Duden lists a few common examples: http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/was_etwas_jemand#Bedeutung1

In formal written German, you should stick with "etwas" though.

July 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/hechap

so you could use "etwas" instead of "was" and be clearer? Ist gestern etwas passiert?

March 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

Ist gestern etwas passiert? is also possible, yes.

I'd say that both sentences are equally clear to a fluent German speaker, though.

March 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/phle

Thanks much! I did the same thing as jon_na

April 11, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchForAll

Thanks very much, that makes a lot of sense! :)

February 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Sokr

I think "What happened yesterday?" Would be "Was hat(ist?) gestern passiert?"

November 5, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Danmoller

"Ist", yes.

"Passieren" takes "sein" instead of "haben" when building the "present perfect" equivalent.

  • Something has happened = Etwas ist passiert

You are right about your sentence, when asking "what", "was" comes first.

But being "ist" the first word, it sounds just like putting "has" at the start, thus changing that "was" into "etwas":

  • Ist was passiert? = Has anything happened?
  • Was ist passiert? = What (has) happened?
November 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/HamzaBashir1

So why isn't it "Ist etwas passiert"?

November 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ElliottofRivia

From what I understand, "was" is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "etwas". I guess it's just shorter, and more common to hear spoken.

June 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/VellamoRinne

Can someone explain like I'm 5 how this sentence works? I've been looking at it and I have no idea how it translates the way it does and the structure of it :S

November 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Danmoller

Ok, but it takes 10 to understand it :p

First, "passieren" doesn't use "haben", but "sein", when making the "present perfect" equivalent:

  • Ist passiert = has happened (some verbs do that, especially when the action is somehow towards oneself - a change of state)

Now, it's a matter of word order in questions (that is similar in both languages):

  • Was ist passiert? = What (has) happened?
  • Ist (et)was passiert? = Has anything happened?

The tricks are:

  • "was" can be used instead of "etwas" in this kind of sentence (gotcha!)
  • German doesn't change "something" into "anything" in questions, it remains "etwas" in all cases.
November 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/highstaker

Ah, so "was" here is not a "What..?", but a colloquial for "etwas"? Are "was" and "etwas" interchangeable?

October 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Danmoller

Yes. "Was" here is a colloquial "etwas".

You can do that, but I'm not sure about how colloquial and acceptable it is.

October 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/VellamoRinne

ahhhh thank you!

November 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LowTide3L

Shouldn't gestern be capitalized?

November 22, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Raizzzz

It is an adverb, not a noun

October 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/turidbrox

Is it OK to write "was" instead of "etwas", or is it considered colloquial?

October 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Dirk1982

That is indeed colloquial.

December 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/averoes

Will Perfekt work for today? I mean can one say "Ist heute etwas passiert?"

April 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/JoelReiman1

Yes, it'll work. E.g. a family sits at the table in the evening and a family member asks: "Ist heute was interessantes passiert?" (Did something interesting happen today?).

November 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Raizzzz

Is "Ist was gestern passiert?" correct?

October 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

No.

October 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LelandSun

Would you kindly expand on your answer, Mizinamo? I came to this discussion looking for an explanation why the subject (et)was does not follow the finite verb in this interrogative sentence.

April 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

I'm afraid I cannot -- I just learned to speak the language as a child by listening to native speakers, not be studying the grammar.

It may be connected to the fact that (et)was is indefinite, but I don't know the reason why it's not right after the verb except that "it sounds wrong that way". (Which is no help to a learner, I admit.)

April 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LelandSun

Thanks, all the same. I guess we just need to learn and get used to this as a standard expression. Say, can you think of other examples of this word order?

April 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/torg

Does this really make sense? Google translate didn't recognize the phrase.

January 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

Yes, it makes sense. Don't use Google Translate.

January 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ssmusic

How do I say "Is 'yesterday' what happened?" It doesn't make much sense, but I can picture it in a drama/romantic movie or something...

November 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

It really doesn't make any sense. You're not going to find a meaningful translation.

November 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/ssmusic

Ok, thanks!

November 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/celerywitch

That's a ❤❤❤❤❤❤ answer, sorry

March 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

That could be Ist 'gestern' das, was passiert ist?.

A rather unlikely sentence, though.

February 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/morrest_gump

anyone knows why "what has happened yesterday" is not accepted ?

October 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Pisan_de_Paris

That is a very good question. The short answer is that native English speakers just would not use the perfect tense there ("has happened"), just the simple past ("happened"). But I'm not really sure why. If I find out, I'll let you know.

November 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Danmoller

"Was" is not at the beginning of the question as it should be for meaning "what".

"Ist" is instead. And "ist" correlates to "has" in English. (Because "ist passiert" = "has happened").

Putting "ist" at the start is like putting "has" at the start:

  • Ist (et)was passiert? = Has anything happened?
November 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Domleschg

"What has happened," being present perfect, is only used in reference to the present time.

November 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexSantelle

is it correct to say was ist gestern passiert.as and if so does that sound any more or less natural?

October 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Danmoller

That is natural, but it means: "what happened yesterday?"

November 19, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Omri506711

Why is it not 'irgendwas'?

March 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Raizzzz

irgendwas is more like 'anything' than 'something'
Plus, it is a pronoun and here etwas is used as adverb

October 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/waggish_wallaby

I am fairly certain "Did yesterday something happen" is equally correct and rather common. Any reason on the German side not to allow it?

September 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Domleschg

Sorry, "Did yesterday something happen?" doesn't work in English.

September 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Melody976028

It seems like it should accept either 'was' or 'etwas' as a correct answer

November 23, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/FafA196968

How do you say "Did yesterday happen"?!

July 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo

Hat gestern stattgefunden?, perhaps.

It's a rather odd thing to ask.

July 9, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkGrand

One of the difficulties I have understanding spoken German is these shortened words. Is there a list of words like "was" that are shortened forms of words that are longer in written German?

September 2, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JoelReiman1

Not as far as I know. See them more as a synonym and not as a shortened form, this could possibly help.

November 29, 2017
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