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  5. "Wie hatte sie es genannt?"

"Wie hatte sie es genannt?"

Translation:What had she called it?

March 22, 2014



I translated "Wie hatte sie es genannt?" as "What had she called it?" That was marked correct, but the suggested translation was "How had she called it?" Can it really have the same meaning as both English sentences, even though they have different meanings?

"To call it" has several meanings in English; "what" suggest some meanings for it (especially "to refer to it as" & "to name it"), but "how" suggests others (such as "to shout it" & "to predict it").


I'm a native US English speaker, and not a native German speaker, so I can only speak for the English. And in standard US English, "How had she called it?" is different in meaning from "What had she called it?"

"What had she called it?" = "What had she named it?" or "What name had she given it"?

"How had she called it?" in common usage, asks about the method, device, or whatever that she used to summon it. For example, she might have called the dog using an ultrasonic whistle.

There may be some dialects or regional variations in English, however, in which the two questions mean the same thing.


It can also mean what judgement had she made about it.


Aber, nein. I thought the same thing momentarily, but I realized if you were asking how she summoned something, you'd ask "Wie hatte sie es gerufen?" "Nennen" is "to call something by a name" (essentially the active version of heißen.). "Rufen" is to call out to something.

(Also "Anrufen" is to call someone by phone. I always tell Siri "Rufe Mutter an")


I'm assuming this is Duolingo being too literal with the translation. "How have you called it" is certainly a mistake I've heard from German speakers.


In the Midwest it means the same. But I am familiar with the differences. We'd probably say something more complex like, "what did she use to call it" instead of how.


If you said this to a German, it would usually be taken as "What had she called it?"


"Wie" is occasionally used as "What," such as "Wie heißen Sie" - "What is your name" (How are you called)


I'd also like to know how a German would say "How had she called it?" ("With a megaphone." or "For the red team.") as opposed to "What had she called it?" My default is to think that the given English translation is a common foreigner's mistake.


Knowing several northern/western Europeans who learned English as a second language, this IS a common mistake for them. They often say "How is that called?" when they mean "What is that called?".

I could make a short book about the common mistakes made by my ESL friends here... But that seems rude considering they have all learned "my" language while I struggle learning any of their languages!


Yep - the worst is when I start picking up their mistakes in my own mother tongue! :)


Isn't that how languages evolve? If we understand each other no mistake was made.


So would this phrase be used as in "She correctly stated that the light was about to turn green", or "She picked up a phone and pressed buttons"?


Neither. It asks what name/term she had given a particular thing or situation.


Please could a native German speaker tell me how one would say, "How had she called it" when referring to a prediction she had made, about say, the result of a vote?


The sentence I got before this one was "Er hatte mir den Name genannt". I wrote "He had called me the name". Duo marked it as wrong and told me that the correct translation was "He told me the name". But here the correct tranlation is "called"? Can someone clear this up?


"Nennen" means "to call" as in "to refer to [sth.] as".

I don't think "He told me the name" sounds right to me either.


I think of mir as" to me" and mich as "me". If you translate Er hatte mir den Name genannt. "He had to me told the name" , it sounds more natural than" he had to me called the name". If I wanted to say he called me the name , I would say " Er hatte mich den Name genannt. I hope that makes sense to you. Another example was "Er hatte" mich" oft seinem besten schuler genannt. He had often called "me "his best student.


What is the difference between? or it means the same? Wie hatte sie es genannt? Wie hat sie es genannt?


It's a different tense: hatte genannt = pluperfect; hat genannt = perfect. It doesn't really make a difference in meaning here, but you should try to translate as close as possible.


What is gennant from?


"genannt" is the Partizip Perfekt of nennen (= to call)


The first sentence means, "What had she named it", the second sentence means, "What did she name it".


More accurately for the second one: "What has she named it." You are right, but if you're trying to show the difference between Present Perfect and Past Perfect, it's best you show the 'has.'


Can 'Wie hatte sie es genannt?' be used to ask what decision she made about it?


does genannt also mean 'told' ?


previously there was this sentence: Er hatte mir den Namen genannt. And genannt meant 'told'. But here, it is 'called'-- I said 'How had she told it' and marked wrong. But I don't see why it's different.


My opinion Duo is wrong it should translate to what had she called it. Some words just can't be straight substitutions. No one in the US says what color has it but that's the literal translation of Was Farbe hat es.


How had she called it? Perhaps with a dog whistle?


No, this meaning of to call is rufen: "Wie hatte sie es gerufen?"


I wrote "How had she called it?", but that doesn't make sense in English.


I'd go with something like "How did she refer to it?"


Yeah, it doesn't really. A better translation might be "What had she called it?", which sounds better.


The lesson only had one choice in my mind, but nobody says "How had she called it?"! It's a weird sentence.


Wondering about the difference between Heissen and Nennen. Got this info online: Heissen = To be named. Nennen = To be called. e.g. Ich heiße Monika, aber meine Freundinnen nennen mich Money (My name is Monika, but my friends call me Money). Native speakers can confirm if this is correct.


For one thing, the grammatical usage is different. "Heißen" is "be called/named" while "nennen" is "call/name" (not "be called"). So "Ich heiße Monika" but "Ich bin Monika genannt."

Another distinction is that "nennen" can specify who calls you by this name ("Meine Freundinnen nennen mich Money") while there's no way to express this with "heißen." So in general, "nennen" is used when you want to specify who calls you by a particular name, and "heißen" is used when it's irrelevant who calls you that or that's simply your name in general. Your sentence is a good example of this: "Ich heiße Monika (in general-- that's my name), aber meine Freundinnen (specifically) nennen mich Money."

Also, in addition to names, you can use "heißen" to show the meaning of something ("Was heißen die seltsame Runen?), which you can't do with "nennen."


Ich bin Monika genannt sounds odd to me -- I would say Ich werde Monika genannt.

(Are you a native speaker?)


Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the correction!

Far from it! Been learning for two years.


You often have very good comments, so I had been assuming so far that you were! Well done then!


Sorry if I sound stupid, but isn't werden used for future tense? Why is it used here with the past participle form of nennen?


No worries! "Werden" is quite tricky. "Werden" can be used for either the future tense or the passive, with slightly different constructions.

You use "werden" with an infinitive verb for the future tense:

  • Ich werde sie Monika nennen-- I will call her Monika
  • Das Kind wird das Spielzeug finden-- The child will find the toy

You use it with a past participle for the (present) passive (Since "werden" also means "become," this is effectively "become called"--> "be called"):

  • Ich werde Monika genannt-- I am called Monika
  • Das Kind wird von seinen Eltern gefunden-- The child is found by his parents

For a future passive sentence, you use "werden" twice:

  • Ich werde Monika genannt werden-- I will be called Monika
  • Das Kind wird von seinen Eltern gefunden werden-- The child will be found by his parents

Here's a more detailed reference


Thanks for the detailed explanation :) Just realized that there is a lesson on passive voice still to come in the course. Hopefully that will provide some additional insights into this concept.


In this usage, I like to think of 'werden' as Dictionary.com's 22nd definition of 'get', such as "to get angry" or "to get sick" (which is really just another way to say 'become')

Or in terms of the previously mentioned sentence "I get called Monika"

That helps me to remember that the word is 'werden', whereas 'I am called Monika' would make me incorrectly think of 'sein'.


As a native German: You are correct with "Ich werde Monika genannt" instead of "Ich bin Monika genannt". But apart from that, the explanation from Copernicus is very good! One little thing ... the short form of "Monika" is written "Moni" not "Money"


What not how, please. Unless you're describing the way in which you called it...even then is not normal English.


The English translation sounds unnatural but there is no way to report it.


There doesn't seem to be an option to report that "the correct solution is unnatural or has an error" for this exercise. I assume that's why it's still not fixed after 4 years…


Which sentence do you think is unnatural or erroneous? What do you think is wrong with it and what should it be in your opinion?

“This solution is unnatural or has an error” reports are pretty much useless, because they are so vague: they provide zero information about the location of the supposed error.


The English sentence is unnatural, as has been discussed over and over in these comments. The most obvious natural-sounding alternative is "What had she called it?" which is accepted but is not the single "definitive" answer shown.

Edit: By the way, I would be happy to include an explanatory note with such a report, but there's no way to do that any more either.


How had she called it = incorrect english


How had she called it = incorrect english


Which part of it is incorrect, and why? What should it have been instead?

  • Tom bought a dog from Sarah. He didn't like the name that Sarah had given the dog, so he called it Fido.
  • Why? How had she called it?


Many other comments have already explained this, but I'll give it one more shot...

"How had she called it?" is not right in this context for the same reason you don't translate "Wie ist dein Name?" as "How is your name?". The word "how" simply isn't used that way with regard to names in English. Like much of English, there's no particular theoretical basis for why that should be, it just is.

As a native English speaker, that usage sounds immediately "foreign".

As for what it should be instead, "What had she called it?" or "What had she named it?" are the two alternatives that immediately spring to mind.

Finally, maybe a further example might help: The answer to the question "How had she called it?" could be "Badly." But it would not be expected to be a specific name.


Ah - I had been focussing on the verb form.

Yes, I suppose you're right. I'll try to change this sentence to accept "how" but use "what" as the preferred/default choice.

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