"Whose horse is it?"

Translation:Wessen Pferd ist es?

January 8, 2013



Why wouldn't it be "Wesses Pferd ist es?" Wesses being my idea of the neuter form of Wessen...

edit: 1 year later - pleeeease someone answer me

November 28, 2013


Because "Wessen" is not an adjective. It's an interrogative pronoun (of whom) even though it seems to be being used in the same way we would say "Whose horse?" in English. It is its own pronoun in the genitive case, whereas Pferd is a noun in the nominative case.

May 12, 2015


You're my hero, but any chance you could elaborate a little? I feel like I'm this close to finally getting it.

I can imagine why it's not 'Wesses Pferd' - I wouldn't say 'meines Pferd'; it's 'mein Pferd'. But then wouldn't that mean that 'Wessen' should be nominative?

I can see how semantically it's clearly genitive, though...

May 13, 2015


Sure! First try to really wrap your mind around the very first thing: 'wessen' is a pronoun, not an adjective. You compared it with 'mein(es)' but in the phrase 'mein Pferd,' the word 'mein' is an adjective and is modifying the horse.

In the sentence 'Wessen Pferd ist das?' the word 'wessen' is not an adjective describing the horse, but a pronoun referring to whoever owns the horse. Its gender is either masculine or feminine (we don't know who owns it, hence the question). It is not related syntactically to Pferd in the way that the 'mein' in 'mein Pferd' is, but only semantically in that it represents the owner of the horse. "Wessen" literally means "of whom", so the sentence could also be clunkily translated "Of whom is the horse?", which might better reveal what I'm trying to convey.

This is a particularly difficult construction because the words are right next to each other and it's natural for us English-speakers to interpret the first one as an adjective. If you're looking for a morphological explanation of why the word "Wessen" is formed that way, I'm not sure, but you can see the forms here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_articles#Possessive_.22article-like.22_pronouns. My guess (this is totally a guess) is that the form was originally considered dative, as some older European languages (I'm thinking of Latin and Greek in particular) used the dative case to express the possessor of a thing (they said 'to whom is the X?', ie 'to whom does X belong?'), and so the interrogative possessive just looks like a dative plural (-en). As you can see at the Wikipedia article I linked, the masc, fem, neut, and pl forms all look the same.

I hope this helps! Feel free to ping me if there's anything I can try to clarify further.

May 13, 2015


Ivelin_Peychev did have a point when saying "mein" is not an adjective (even if some people call it a possessive adjective). It is usually called a possessive pronoun. See for example this table for all forms.

The form of "wessen" is similar to the masculine/neuter form of the relative pronoun "dessen" which is a genitive that means "of which".
table of relative pronoun source: Wikipedia relative clause in German

November 2, 2018



January 21, 2019


What the hell? 'Mein' is an adjective? In what universe a possesive pronoun is rendered an adjective? Or should I say in what idiotic language? And in your example 'Wessen Pferd ist das?' You are making the inversion that you say in your first post that should not be used.

February 29, 2016


Yes, "mein" is a possessive adjective. It inflects like other adjectives to agree with the noun it modifies (Mein Mann vs. Meine Frau). If you don't believe me, just do a google search for "German possessive adjectives."

March 27, 2016


Very short answer. Because "wessen" has only one form. It is an interrogative pronoun and means "whose".

Some example sentences:
- Wessen Auto ist das?
- Wessen Kugelschreiber hast du?
- Wessen Kinder sind durch das Zimmer gelaufen?


November 2, 2018


in the case of different noun genders,i suppose wessen would end different according to the table posted above?

November 7, 2018


No, as I said before: wessen has only one form.
But that form is similar to the masculine/neuter form of the pronoun "dessen", which might make it easier to remember.

November 7, 2018


I'm not sure, but isn't it here the Dative case being used? (Pferd is the subject in the above sentence, isn't it?)

April 8, 2014


Oops... in another "discussion" I read "Wessen" is the genitive case!!!

April 8, 2014


Sure, it is the genitive form.

January 4, 2015


This structure is Difficult :-(

February 12, 2015


Whose should not have been included in the test unless it has been introduced already

August 23, 2015


Normally i get it wrong for putting es ist but now it doesnt accept ist es ?

June 8, 2014


Do we ignore Wessen as the first part of the sentence in terms of structure? I know verb is supposed to be second item typically, so is Wessen just not considered the first element and Pfered is?

October 7, 2014


'Wessen Pferd' functions as the first part. Think about when you use an article and an adjective to start a sentence:

'Ein rotes Pferd isst Brot' --- 'ein rotes Pferd' is the subject of the sentence, and it is one 'part' by itself.

October 8, 2014


Why isn't "Von wem ist dieses Pferd" correct?

January 5, 2015


"Von wem" means "from whom." It would expect an answer like, "It was a gift from my parents." "Wessen" is asking who the horse belongs to, expecting an answer like "It's MY horse."

May 12, 2015


I answered "Wessen Pferd ist das?" and it was accepted but after thinking about it, shouldn't my answer have been marked 'Wrong"?

March 9, 2015


Why do you think it should have been marked wrong?

May 12, 2015


How is wessen different from wellches?

May 8, 2015


"Welches" is an adjective and means "which." "Wessen" is an interrogative pronoun and means "of whom" in the way English uses "whose."

May 12, 2015


I naturally fell towards "Wem sein Pferd ist das".

April 29, 2017


Is it possible to replace "wem" for wessen?

August 4, 2017


Just curious... can we not say "Wessen Pferd es ist?", German being flexible in sentence structure and all?

January 31, 2018


Verb should be present in second position , right?? Why it is not " Wessen ist pferd es"

July 10, 2018


What's the difference between 'wessen' and 'wem gehört'. Is there a variance in when you'd use one over the other?

July 11, 2018


why is this 'wessen' and not 'wem'?

January 16, 2019


why can't it be " wem gehort das pferd" ?

May 2, 2019


wessen auto ist das? - ist das auch korrekt? Kann man es auch benutzen? vielen dank.

May 10, 2019
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