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  5. "Was magst du an ihr?"

"Was magst du an ihr?"

Translation:What do you like about her?

February 19, 2013



If I want to say "What do you like about him"? "Was magst du an ihm?" is correct?


That would also translate to 'What do you like about it"?


This is difficult to answer since it depends on what you describe with "it", what article the noun you describe with "it" has, and what the context is.

For objects/actions I'd say: "Was magst du daran?" eg:

  • "Ich mag den Tisch. - Was magst du daran?" (I like the table. What do you like about it?)
  • "Ich mag Lesen. - Was magst du daran?" (I like reading. -What do you like about it?)

Generally you can use ihm/ihr for objects/actions like this too, but usually it is more often used for people/animals/living things. It sounds a bit weird/unnatural if you use "ihm" but refer to a table.


My German professor says the long words are simple, it's the short ones that get you in trouble. "Well, I didn't feel well after I fell in the well."


Verb Mögen requires Dative?


No, requires Akkusativ


When do you use 'über' vs when do you use 'an' to mean 'about'?

For example, from before, "das ist alles, was ich über ihn weiß", or "that is all I know about him".


Prepositions are in most cases not translated directly, but used to modify or specify the meaning of another word. You just have to learn it. There is no regularity or tendency that could help you. It is like that with every language I know.

to get ON the bus = IN den Bus einsteigen

to go TO school = IN die Schule gehen

to laugh AT sb = jmd AUSlachen

to smile AT sb = jmd ANlachen


Hang on it is jdN anlächeln... But jdM zulächeln


Take it your third example is dative giving there is an aus.... What case does an lachen take?


Even in the same country you can have variations regarding which is the "correct" way to phrase things. For example, "standing on line" in New York versus "standing in line" for most of the other places in USA.


"What do you like on her?" Why not?


In English, it's "... like about her"


What if you are talking about something she is wearing though? I could ask "What do you like on her?" And the answer could be, "I like those earrings on her," or something like that.


Good question. What preposition do you use if you want to say, "What do you like on her?" in German? . . .


Yes, I had the same question. I thought it made sense to ask, "What do you like on her?" Is their another verb phrase or idiom to ask what clothing I like on a person?


Was magst du auf ihr?


In english is "about". "On her"? Sounds really weird!


Or "What do you like at her?"


Why can't it be 'What do you like about it?' ? Is there something that modifies 'ihr' to mean 'her' and not 'it' ?


It is in dative. The dative case of 'it' (and of 'him' as well) is 'ihm', the dative case of 'her' is 'ihr', so "What do you like about it?" translates as "Was magst du an ihm?". See the second green table on this page: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/german/hmr/grammatik/Basic_Chart.html


How does that apply to examples where the 'it' refers to a feminine noun? For example: "die Katze laeuft nachdem sie die Maus sieht."


I assume that what Susande means is that the dative case of "es" is "ihm". As far as I know, if you were talking about that cat you would indeed say "Was magst du an ihr?".


Thanks - let me clarify, because even I couldn't figure out what I was asking above.

My question goes to the translation, too. "Was magst du an ihr?" translates as "What do you like about her?" but I'm also wondering, couldn't it be translated as "what do you think about IT?" if the 'it' that is being referred to is a feminine noun?

E.g., "Ich habe eine neue Katze; was magst du an ihr?" Is 'ihr' correct here? Or should it be 'ihm' because a cat can also be referred to as 'es'?


Well, I am not a native German speaker, so I cannot say for sure, but my understanding it that if you are talking about a feminine object, you use the feminine pronouns. I read once in a German Textbook that if you ask "Wie ist der Abend?" the answer is, "Er ist gut.", and I assume that the same thing happens here.

Where the doubt comes in is in regard to that cat; what happens if the cat is a male? Taking "Katze" as the feminine noun it is, you can refer to any and all cats generally with the feminine articles, adjectives, and pronouns, but I would imagine that if you were talking about a particular cat which you knew to be a male, you could use the masculine pronouns . . . I think? I know I would want to translate your sentence "what do you think about him/her" just because that is how you talk about cats whose gender you know in English.

The thing I wonder, though, is whether you might actually not use "ihm" or "ihr" at all in some cases, instead using "dies", "das", "jene" or nothing at all - perhaps especially with an inanimate object. Maybe something like this (no guarantees on the correctness of the following):

"Ich habe einen neuen Messer. Was meinst du?" "Er gefällt mir." "Was magst du an ihm?" "Seine Schneide ist sehr gut."

(In case comparing to Spanish helps, the following is correct Spanish: "Tengo un nuevo cuchillo. ¿Qué opinas?" "Me gusta." "¿Qué te gusta de él?" "Su arista es muy buena.")

So, to sum up my ramblings . . . as far as I know, "what do you like about it?" is a perfectly reasonable translation, but without the context there to tell you you're dealing with an inanimate object, I think "what do you think about her?" is probably the better translation.


"Katze" ist weiblich, "ihr" ist korrekt "der Kater" ist männlich, "ihm" "es" ist ein neutrales/nicht lebendiges Ding: no, you can't use "es"


This is similar to my thinking. I wrote, "What do you make of her." meaning, "What is your impression of her." Duo didn't recognize it as correct, but I'm wondering if I was, idiomatically.


yes but why is it in dative and not acquisitive? I don't understand, an action is being done "liking" so why isn't it in acquisitive?


Because the object here is 'was', not 'ihr'.

'What do you like about her?" as a statement becomes "You like [xxx] about her"; the [xxx] is what would be in the accusative.


Thanks. I've been wondering about this for a while now.


It is not acquisitive because there is no purchase or acquisition in the phrase ;)


Thanks. for asking I've been wondering about this for a while now.


Is it just me or anybody else heard it as "machst?


Me too, they sound identical.


When would an trigger accusative?


When it is the destination of motion.

For example, if so stick something to her, so that the sticker moves until it is at her, that would be etwas an sie kleben.


But previously I found a sentence that use the preposition 'an' that triggers accusative yet it doesn't imply any motion at all. For example like the sentence "I think about her" would be "ich denke an sie". As you can see it's not a motion but it is still using accusative case. Can you explain this please?


When two-way prepositions are used metaphorically (not in relation to location), they often take the accusative: an jemanden denken, auf jemanden warten, über jemanden sprechen, ....


Why is this dative... Über is always accusative when it is translated as about.... And another example ich denke an dich... It is accusative... Why is this different?


I guess that in this interrogative sentence there are two objects: 1)was( more appropriate answer to was) 2) an ihr A dative construction generally has two objects. But considering accusative case it has only one object. Guess this must have cleared your doubt.


Haha thanks... Was a while ago when asked this... But basically different verbs go with different propositions... Like about is with the proposition an.... But something like write is with über... Which is always accusative when means about... It is just things you learn along the way


"What do you all see in her?" How is this a correct answer?


As a native English speaker, that is correct because "to see something in someone" is an idiomatic expression meaning "to like (about someone)"...not physically seeing something. It usually implies that you don't understand why someone likes someone...perhaps they "see" something that you don't. We often say "I don't know what he sees in her." (I don't know why she likes him.)


I'm a native English speaker as well, but I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I posted this question months ago so I don't really remember the context... but I'm pretty sure I was referring to the "you all" part and less about "see". "Du" is singular...


Aha! I hadn't noticed that. And I agree, du is singular so you all shouldn't be counted. Thanks!


Wait, it is?! I thought "mögen" meant "to like" not "to see".


Agreed. It was one of the alternate correct solutions listed after answering.


Why is "what do you like on her" wrong? Thought it has the exact same meaning as "what do you like about her"And how would you translate it in case they differ. Thank you


I can't speak to the German, but "what do you like on her?" is not the same as "what do you like about her?"

"What do you like on her" sounds like you're asking about the clothing she is wearing.


It confuses me cause about has like 5 other words for the same word in english and i dont know when to use the right one


Why not " was magst du an sie" ?


Because the appealing things are “at her” (an ihr), with dative of location, rather than “to her” (an sie), with accusative of destination of motion.


Why dative and not accusative?


Why dative and not accusative?

The meaning is closer to "What do you like at her?" than "What do you like to her?"

That is, what is it about her (location) that you like? -- location gives dative.


What about "What do you like at her ?"


No, that's incorrect. In English you like something about somebody


Is it valid to write this as "Was du magst an ihr?"



In German there is a rule that the main verb must always come second. (When I say "main" verb, I mean that if you have more than one verb or part of a verb, e.g. "haben gegessen" [have eaten], only the "haben" comes second, and the "gegessen" goes at the end of the sentence.) The only exception is in dependent clauses (starting with words like "because" etc.) in which case all the verb come at the end.

For more information, see: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/WordOrder/WordOrder.html


What's wrong with "What about her do you like"?


What do you like of her. Why is this not accepted?


Native US English speaker here: that's not how it's said in English. It has to be "what do you like about her"


Sounds really close to dir


"Was hat sie, was ich habe nicht?"


habe should be at the end :)

(Relative clauses are subordinate clauses.)


Can i ask why 'what about her do you like?' isn't valid?


could you use "über" or "um" instead of "an"?


Can über be used instead of an? Why is an used here?


No, you can’t use über sie here; that works when you are speaking “about her” (as a topic of discussion), but here, what you like “about her” is “what makes her appealing”, and there Germans consider that the appealing thing is “at her” (an ihr).


Is there a difference in the sound of "machst" and "magst"?


In northern German colloquial, often not.

In standard pronunciation, there is a difference: machst has a short a sound followed by an Ach-Laut [x], while magst has a long a sound followed by a [k] (an unvoiced /g/ sound).


How do i say "everything" in german


What about "über"?

Doesn't work here, with mögen.


Why doesn’t it work with mögen? Doesn’t it mean “about”?


Doesn’t it mean “about”?

Define "mean" :)

If you mean "has exactly the same range of meanings as, and is always interchangeable with", then no.

Prepositions rarely translate 1:1 between languages.

Some uses of "about" translate to über and some uses of über translate to "about", but they are not completely identical and interchangeable.


How do you make the difference between ihr and hier?


Instead of saying "an ihr" could you say "uber ihr"?


Instead of saying "an ihr" could you say "uber ihr"?


  • uber is not a German word. (If you can't make an ü, write ue: ueber.)
  • über ihr means "above her". When über means "about, concerning", we use the accusative case.
  • But we don't etwas über jemanden mögen -- it's simply not the right preposition for this context.


how do we know the right preposition of a particular context or verbs, exactly? still confused


There are no strict rules for prepositions, you just have to remember which verbs take which prepositions and what their meanings in these specific contexts are. The same goes for English - a book or a film can be "about" something, to like something "about" someone is not very logical (in my opinion it should be "in"), yet correct.


why do we use "an" instead of "über"? I thought "über" is the same as "about". I searched for "an" in the translator and I did not find that "an" is the same as "about". I am still confused about the use of "preposition"


You will be confused about prepositions in every language because their use is always language specific. I'm also confused as to why one should say "I have been TO Italy" and not "in Italy". It doesn't make much sense since you're always IN a particular country. Prepositions live their own life in the native speakers' minds.


So basically an can mean at/of/along/by/about.


Why "an" and not "über"?

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