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  5. "Was hat er denn?"

"Was hat er denn?"

Translation:What is up with him?

November 21, 2015



I guessed, "what does he have that for." It corrected me with "what does he have?" However, clicking on the suggestions shows "what's up with him?" Can it really mean both things? If it can mean "what does he have," then what is the purpose of "denn?" Anyone?


Yes, it can mean both things.

The literal meaning is "What does he have?" but as a figure of speech, it can mean "What's up with him? What's his problem?", presumably from something like "What problem/worry/etc. does he have?"

I'm not sure whether "denn" can be translated - literally, it's "What does he have, then?", but it doesn't really have a meaning of its own in this sentence, I think, so much as "flavouring" the sentence with a certain feeling. One of German's famous "Abtönpartikel" or modal particles. The "flavour" here might perhaps be translated as "..., I wonder?".

Have a look at http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/denn_verstaerkende_Partikel meaning 1a -- you will see that the word is not defined so much as described (i.e. it isn't given a meaning consisting of a single word or a short phrase, but instead there is a sentence saying when or how it is used):

drückt in Fragesätzen innere Anteilnahme, lebhaftes Interesse, Ungeduld, Zweifel o. Ä. des Sprechers oder der Sprecherin aus; überhaupt, eigentlich

or in English (my translation):

"in question sentences, expresses inner sympathy, vivid interest, impatience, doubts, or similar feelings of the speaker; at all, really"


What kind of flavour does it have?

"What's up with him?" is softer and concerned, like about your friend, "what's bothering him"

"What's his problem is more aggressive and angry, if you were frustrated by someone or a stranger was rude to you… you might say "what's his problem" but not "what's up with him"


Respectfully, I disagree, I think it is pretty likely to say or hear, what's up with him. Or as Judy Judy asks, Are you on any medication?


Why are you disagreeing with a question?


Thank you for your explanation! So it still is possible to be "What does he have, then?" If so, should we be reporting this so it is accepted?


What does he have then? Is a legitimate sentence in English especially when someone is rambling and not giving an answer or an answer is anticipated (e.g. a doctor reporting to parents )


In the Egyptian Arabic, not the standard Arabic, we are used to use some words to make the sentences more polite or soft or friendly, especially when asking for doing things, and it is also untranslatable. May be in English also some words for this purpose, to soften or sweeten the speech, especially when asking to do something or when giving commands.


so sort of like "I'll have what she's having" in "how harry met sally"


In colloquial English, »denn« in this sense can usually be translated as “anyway”.


Bharat Nimbalkar


Bharat Nimbalkar is my name


Bharat Nimbalkar is my name



Wouldn't 'what is with him?' mean the same thing?


Yes, and it was just accepted as an answer.


This is really a silly question. It my be an idiomatic German expression, but if you don't know the correct connotation it does not help you to learn German. Direct translations are always meaningless. Idioms are interesting but not for beginners. The people who always give the (very helpful) explainations in the the discussions are obviously not beginners and probably don't need the course anymore. ( please don't leave !) I am learning to live with this because otherwise DL is very good.(and cheap!)


For any Spanish speakers (or learners) out there, this idiom is very similar to "¿Qué tiene [el], entonces?"


¿Qué tiene? ¿Qué le pasa?¿Qué le sucede al chico? ¿Qué le sucede (a él)?


No, porque denn no es lo mismo que "then" en inglés y por ende no quiere decir "entonces" en español.


Practically an idiom....


Is this similar to "Was ist mit ihm"? And if so, does this add more "flavor" compared to the dative version?


Doesn't dann translate to then and denn to because or for? I can't logically translate it, so I'm chalking it up to an idiom.


That's denn as a conjunction ( http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/denn_Konjunktion ) -- this sentence has denn as a particle ( http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/denn_verstaerkende_Partikel ) which doesn't have a meaning as such but expresses the speaker's feelings of surprise, impatience, compassion, curiosity, or something like that.

"What can he have? Whatever might be the problem with him? What does he have, then? Oh, why, what does he have? What about him - what does he have?" and others might be possible interpretations of the German sentence to try to convey some of the feelings it might evoke. (Note, I'm not suggesting you try them on Duolingo!)


I guess this makes sense to say 'what has he then?' when considering things such as hunger and thirst are considered to be something one 'has' in German. That's how I remember it.


'What has he then?' Should be accepted, surely?


Wouldn't "What's the matter with him?" be a more correct translation?


So I put 'what's with him' and it corrected to 'what's up with him'. I'm confused because these mean almost the same thing. I guess what's up can be taken negatively and positivly but this sounds more negative to me


The same thing just happened with me. I reported it, and hopefully it's fixed.


I put whats with him, which, in my opinion, means the same as whats UP with him, but was marked as incorrect


What the matter with him should be accepted too


'What's up with him then?', which comes very naturally (without any German connections) is marked wrong, which seems a shame... The 'then' doesn't mean anything any more than the 'denn' does.


Could you say "was ist los mit ihm"?


Was ist mit ihm los? Duo makes me crazy. Why don't they precede the exercise with, "This is an idiom," rather than making one guess the possibilities?


The explanatory text for this lesson fails to provide english translations for the vocabulary, making it not very useful. There's no method for reporting issues with the explanatory sections, so sadly I'm mentioning it in the discussion area (which likely isn't going to help improve it)


better question is what's up with these robotic sounding german voices now? they used to sound more natural!


What is he up to?


What the formal version of this sentence then?


What is up with him.. Una frase senza senso senza un riferimento del contesto


"What's the matter with him?" would be the more usual British English equivalent.


My microphone doesn't work properly and I keep getting marked wrong


I just turned my microphone off and started repeating sentences aloud on my own.

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