"Who are you writing to?"

Translation:Wem schreibst du?

September 25, 2017

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    The German word for "who" has its ending modified depending on whether it is nominative/accusative/dative/genitive case. It follows the pattern for the definite article der.

    nominative: wer
    e.g. Wer kommt? = "Who is coming?"
    (wer is the subject)

    accusative: wen
    e.g. Wen siehst du? = "Who do you see?"
    (wen is the direct object, du is the subject)

    dative: wem
    e.g. Wem hat sie das gegeben? = "Who did she give that to?" (lit. "To whom did she give that?") (wem is the indirect object, das is the direct object, sie is the subject)

    genitive: wessen
    e.g. Wessen erinnert er sich noch? = "Who does he still remember?" (lit. "Of whom does he still remember?")
    (wessen is the genitive object - not very common)

    More information on Canoo.net.

    In this example, you use the dative case to say who you're writing to: Ich schreibe dir or Du schreibst dem Professor. The question-word "who?" also needs dative case for this question as a result.


    It also doesn't help that the English sentence is incorrect; it should be "Whom are you writing to?" It's much easier to remember wen/wem that way.


    To be perfectly correct, it would be: "To whom are you writing?" But, you know, most of us just say "Who you writing to?" these days.


    "Whom are you writing to" is just fine unless ending sentences with prepositions is something up with which you shall not put.


    Is this Churchill?


    Indeed, that is the correct English sentence. I have reported it, so everyone please help report it too.


    You mean: to whom are you writing. I find it easier to think of it this way.

    I am writing a letter to my friend...to my friend is the indirect prepositional phrase. Wem is for indirect, whom. As in, whom are you writing to, or to whom are you writing.

    So when I see woher, wofür, wem, I think from where, for what, to whom etc.


    In English, both are accepted. "Who" is more common, esp. in speech. "Whom" is typically used more often in academic and formal settings today, in speech or in writing. Many people still believe the myth that "whom" is the only correct choice, but that's .... well, a myth.

    And for the record, Duolingo accepts both.


    Quite correct. In modern English "whom" is obligatory only after prepositions.


    It's areas like this that Duolingo is really poor at teaching. I feel they need to restructure this set of lessons so they teach all of these on building blocks rather than throwing them at you all at once.


    Totally agree. Its less structured than the Spanish course, certainly.


    This is such a great answer, yet i feel so discouraged after realizing this additional complexity for a basic word.


    Don't let it take you down. There are hardships everywhere. Endure, and you shall thrive.


    Thank you SO much.


    When do we use dative? It keeps coming up without any explenations


    But there is no direct object in this task.


    The direct object is implied. It is whatever is being written (a letter, an email z.b)


    that's why we use wem her wem (person - indirect object) wer (person - subject) wen (person - direct object)


    This is a great and illustrative explanation of the most difficult subject of the German grammar I have encounter so far. I don't even dare to think about what is waiting for me further on.


    That was wonderfully helpful thank you!


    You should be a teacher if you're not already


    What is the difference between wen and wem? I keep getting them wrong


    "Wem schreiben Sie?" has to be accepted too.


    'To whom are you writing?' is the correct English. 'Who are you writing to?' is bad English for two reasons. 1, Because the object is 'whom' and 2, "It is not good to end a sentence with a preposition .


    Maybe so, but it the way most English speakers today would frame the question.


    (American) English speakers today don't understand when to use "whom". Most don't even understand when to use first person pronouns when they're paired with another (pro)noun. E.g. "mom and I made the cake for him and me" -- you'll always see people messing up either the subject or the object. You'll hear, "me and him went to the movies" or "she bought a present for my husband and I" with full seriousness.

    Just because bad grammar is common doesn't mean Duo should embrace it.


    Common usage defines grammar, not the other way around.


    And many "Grammar Nazis" overcorrect and use "whom" incorrectly. And let's not make this about Americans. All speakers of English use "who" as a less formal variant and the world needs to get over it - we have.


    I agree except for the American part. People in England make mistakes that are different to ours.

    I hope I didn't confuse too many Americans with a sentence that seems nonsensical. I equally hope that those from England recognize that it was meant as good natured ribbing and I sincerely hope that you know what's wrong with the above statement.


    Why not "Wem schreibt ihr?"


    I tried that earlier and got marked incorrect, so I have reported it, as I believe it should be accepted as an alternative answer.

    7th Feb 2019 ... I have been informed that this has now been added as an accepted alternative answer.


    What's wrong with "An wen schreiben Sie?" ?


    Nothing! Report it as being a correct answer


    You = subject; Letter being written = direct object; Who = indirect object (receiver of object).



    Yes, though the direct object in this instance is assumed to be a letter - it could be an email or a tweet, etc.


    These require knowledge of dative and genitive cases, yet the desktop-exclusive notes don't explain them. They only say they will be explained in the future.


    Why is it not 'Wer schreibst du an?'


    Still not accepting "Wem schreiben Sie".


    I get why the recipient of the writing is not the subject of the sentence but I'm not understanding why that person is an indirect object, rather than the direct object. Can anyone explain?


    The direct object is the recipient of the action, the indirect object is the recipient of the direct object. Also, the direct object answers the question "what". The indirect object answers the question "to whom or for whom". I hit the ball to John. "Ball" is the recipient of the action "hit". It answers the question "what". What did I hit? I hit the ball. Who received the direct object? John did. It answers the question "to whom" did I hit the ball. In the example sentence, there is no "person" stated. It is just the question "to whom". "I am writing (a letter) to whom?"


    Thanks, it's a good explanation and I understand what you're saying, but I'm still struggling specifically with 'Wem schreibst du?'. In this sentence who or what is the direct object, the recipient of the action?


    There is no direct object.

    I am writing a letter. Letter = d.o.

    I am writing a letter to John. John = i.o.

    I am writing a letter to whom? / To whom am I writing a letter? letter = d.o.

    I am writing to whom? / To whom am I writing? The d.o. is no longer in the sentence.

    "Whom" is also the object of the preposition "to".

    Please also look at az_p's comment at the top of the page.


    So the letter (or whatever it is) that's implicitly being written is the d.o. of the action of writing and its recipient (the whom) is the i.o. as a result. Thank you very much; that's helpful and now makes sense.


    Thanks for asking that!


    I have this exact doubt. Someone please help!


    Wem/wen is literally "whom" in english. It would not translate as "who" (wer).

    [deactivated user]

      No love for ihr.


      or for Sie... Keep reporting it.


      The sentence should read in English, "To whom are you writing?" That is correct English. Period. So sad so many people speak English incorrectly.


      I typed Wem schreibst du and it didn't accept the answer


      I'm pretty sure it should be "whom are you writing to" as in "to whom are you writing"


      "Wem schreiben Sie" still isn't accepted as of December 5, 2018


      Education systems of today do not emphasize the teaching of correct grammar. They are only concerned with producing factory workers and slaves. Most adults of today are not interested in correct grammar. We are products of those systems.


      Hi does anyone have a link to an explination of dative, accusative, ...etc? I'm not savvy on these terms. Danke


      Weird I just posted some external links to your post and Duo didn't let me post. Instead I'll tell you where to look. If you're an English speaker, check out "German with Jenny" on Youtube and type just Nominativ and Akusativ to start with. She's a good free compliment to Duo, which lacks theory. Dativ/Genitiv comes after and I suggest you don't confuse yourself. with it.


      wem, wer, wessen!! I will never get this stuff. It is so confusing


      I think that the explanation given by the moderator az_p at the top of this discussion is the most helpful. Please do not feel defeated. You will master it.


      We have not reached dative at this point


      Why is it only for informal you


      Where did these options come from? Why ia Wem rewritable like this and for what circumstance?


      I have lost all my previous lessons which I did and earned more than 4000 ling lots. How can I go to my previous lessons


      Why can't it be "Wofür schreibst du?"


      Wofür does not ask the question about who the recipient of the written communication is.

      Wofür = what for - so your question is seeking to find the reason for writing


      perchè è sbagliata la seguente traduzione an wem schreibst du ? perché non tradurre "to" ?


      Straight from the tips

      "You will soon learn about the Dative case. You have to use web then."

      Nice Duolingo....


      why is wem schreibst du zu wrong, doesnt it basically mean the same thing


      Referencing PONS and dict.cc, zuschreiben does not serve the same purpose. It appears only to be used in the sense of 'attributing/ascribing/blaming somebody/something', not 'writing to somebody'.

      I also believe, and I am not a native German speaker, that were you to use 'zuschreiben' you would need the direct object (the thing you are atributing/blaming the 'somebody' for) in the sentence, rather than it being implied.
      z.b. 'Wem schreibst du <d. object> zu?' ... den Fehler

      [deactivated user]

        It would be nice if Duo taught us the Dative case before asking us about it!


        I don't understand wer, wen wem ?


        Could someone enlighten me on why "wem schreibst dir" is not accepted? I understand that this is a dative form, but isn't this where dir should be used instead of du where it's the nominative form instead?


        It should be "wem schreibst du?"(to whom are you writing ). the person that receives something (example ; a message) is in the Dative case. and the person who writes the message is in the nominative case. And the message that's being written is in the Accusative case. And the answer for the question above would be ; Ich schreibe es(The message) dir/ihr/ihm/Ihnen - ( I write it to you/her/him/you (formal))


        The English translation should be "Whom are you writing to?" or "To whom are you writing?".


        Criticize "Wem du Dchreibst" but can't learn enough English to ask the question correctly: "To whom do you write." Hump!


        Unfortunately, the impact of your retort is weakened by your 'typos' - 'schreibst' and the missing 'h' from your 'Hump'. Humph!


        English is not totally accurated for this case then...


        shouldn't "an web" be accepted?


        Earlier it asked me to translate just the word "who". I was given three choices and I picked Wem, and was told no, they were wanting werren. Now they want me to translate "who" again, but now Wem is okay. Can someone please explain why sometimes Wen means who and sometimes not? Thanks


        Wohin = Where (to) It has nothing to do with this question.


        I have problem with wen and wem . Can some one say a little diffrence between this words please? Thank you

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