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"What do we pay for the food with?"

Translation:Womit bezahlen wir das Essen?

September 25, 2017



Can someone explain the grammar in this?


This is one situation where the German sentence is actually simpler than the English.

Ok, so we want to "pay for something". Like, you've ordered food in a restaurant and now you need to give money for it. The verb for this is German is bezahlen. In English you usually need a preposition as well: the word "for", as in "We pay for the food". German does not need a preposition: It's simply Wir bezahlen das Essen. The direct object of bezahlen is the thing being paid for.

There are many other ways of adding more information to this simple sentence. You could ask "How do we pay for the food?" or "Who pays for the food?" or "Where do I pay for the food?". The question here is "With what do I pay for the food?" (i.e. "cash" or "credit card" or "Euros"). In English you've got the flexibility of splitting the "with what", giving the phrasing in Duolingo's example. In German, that's not possible here - because "with what" is actually one word in German: womit.

You might thing that it should be mit was but that's not so. There's a general category of German 'question-words' that are made up of wo- and a preposition. You can think of it as a compulsory contraction, if you want. You've got womit, wovon, wonach, wofür... and sometimes you need to add in an extra letter to make it sound good: woraus, worüber, worauf.... You can find more information about these words here.

When asking a question in German with a question-word, it goes first. Then you've got the verb in second position as usual. The subject then has to come next, because it's been bumped out of first spot. Duolingo explains questions more on the lesson tips page.


Fantastic answer and very comprehensive thank you very much.


Great explanation, thank you!


Brilliant explanation! Very well done, flawless all inclusive presentation. I am impressed that I was able to glean so much from this informative elucidation. Thank you so very much.


az_p: You might thing that it should be mit was -> You might think that it should be mit was


Really great explanation! Danke schön!


You must be a teacher or something, thanks for the answer.


Danke schön! That helps a lot.


okay, I already speak English for quite a while, but I learned something new today, thanks :) My question though would be ... which English speaking country is actually using this construction?


Fantastic answer. Thank you!


Hints did not help at all. :(


If both: "Wohin gehts du" and "Wo gehts du hin" are grammatically correct, shouldn't: "Wo bezahlen wir das Essen mit" be fine here?


No -- hin and her act differently in this respect.


Why so? Are there other prepositions with this behaviour? How to differentiate between them?


hin and her are not prepositions; that might be part of the reason. They're adverbs.

You can say ich gehe hin but not ich gehe hin das Haus.


My mother tongue is not English, but I find the phrase a little bit strange. Is this the way you normally speak in English? I would say "with what do we pay for the food".


You are correct, "What do we pay for the food with?" is a bit unusual for an English speaker to actually say. It's not quite how people would talk. If I were in such a situation to say such a comment I'd probably say something like:

"How are we paying [for this food]?" (meaning, with what and by whom),

or "What are we paying with?" (assuming we just now discovered we have no money)

There are many ways to say the same things. But, with Duolingo, they seem to toss us the most unused, unusual, and unnatural word phrases I've ever heard. It would be nice if the phrases they gave us were things we could actually use: "I don't see my bike.", "How much is the pizza?", "Where is the train station?", "Is the restaurant open?", "More beer, please!"

But, "The bear drinks my beer", "The humans are reading a newspaper", and "My cat wears trousers" are all phrases never spoken by mankind for any reason what-so-ever. Maybe a bit cute and funny at first, but come the 50th it's just annoying.


I agree completely with you. That English sentence looked and sounded "ugly, unnatural and bizar". That is the reason I am reading these comments. Thank you very much for your input.


i enjoyed this reply until you started complaining. the reason the english phrases seem strange is because theyre the simplest way to get the concepts of the german sentences across, for example this sentence. they're trying to communicate that "womit" means "with what" because that's a word that's used in german and if you don't learn it then you're gonna be confused in a real german-speaking situation.

as for the silly ones like my cat wears trousers... it's just a sentence. it makes perfect sense in english, and its an effective way to communicate the grammar rules. why be upset that something is a little bit silly or abstract, if it does its job anyway? i could even argue that its more effective if something silly or fun sticks better in the mind.


It is not grammatically correct. It should really say 'with what are we going to pay' but colloquially people might say 'how are we going to pay for the food?'


Both are normal and correct. There is a popular saying that "you should never end an English sentence with a preposition", but it's wrong.


"With what do we pay for the food?" could work, and it does avoid ending the sentence with a preposition. But Duolingo's sentence sounds much more natural.


Here my gut says the English sentence's grammar is just wrong.


This question left me guessing for hours on end

Absolutely nothing made sense


With what do we pay for the food.


Ok. In English this sentence is wrong. It would be "With what do we use to pay for the food" or, more precisely, "How are we paying for the food"


In English this sentence is wrong. It would be "With what do we use to pay for the food"

Er, what? "with what do we use"?

And the answer would be "I use with the credit card to pay for the food"?


The first sentence is very awkward (With what do we use to pay for the food) but uses the words Duolingo used but without ending in a prepositional phrase. Normally we would just say "How are we paying for the food" or "What are we using to pay for the food". Hence the "more precisely" comment..


Mizinamo defending the indefensible.


Hey now. I never claimed that any sentence with "use with" was defensible.

If you want to start with "with what", then go with "With what do we pay for the food".

But "With what do we use..." -- would you defend that?


Lebensmittel should be accepted as well as Essen. I marked me incorrect, even though it is one of the definitions it gives when you hover over the English word food. It ought to be added as an option.


Lebensmittel is almost always used in the plural: die Lebensmittel.

In the singular, I suppose it might be something like "the foodstuff". Or perhaps "the victual", to give an idea of how rarely the singular is used.

Also, it's important to remember that Lebensmittel are basically raw materials. They're the things you buy in a shop.

Once you've prepared them, cooked them, especially if you've combined several raw materials together (e.g. potatoes + leeks + water into a soup), you have Essen rather than Lebensmittel, though in English you can call both of them "food".


My answer was 'Mit wem bezahlen wir das Essen' and it's wrong. Apparently the answer is 'mit was'. Why is it so? Shouldn't mit be followed by a dative form (wem)? Or is it my memory's fault?


wem is the dative of wer, so mit wem means "with whom".

"with what" is womit or, sometimes, mit was.

was doesn't really have a dative case; with prepositions, it usually appears was wo(r)-, and inanimate things don't usually act as indirect objects.


Isn't it obvious- money?


I hope they will ask to answer at some point


What is wrong with 'Was zahlen wir fur das essen mit'?

  • für is misspelled
  • Essen is miscapitalised
  • was ... mit cannot be split up like that; it has to be womit


Is "Womit bezahlen wir für das Essen" correct?


Could one say "Womit bezahlen wir um das Essen?"


Could one say "Womit bezahlen wir um das Essen?"



"How do we pay for the food" sounds better


Yes, what a mangled English sentence. Lol


Is "womit" really the normal way the question would be asked (inquiring how we will pay for the food), and not "Wie bezahlen wir das Essen"?


Danke Thanks شكراً nice explanation


The correct choice for this question is to vomit.... I mean womit.


The correct word "womit" isn't offered as a suggestion when you tap on "what for", and it's the first time I've encountered the word so far afaik.


why is 'womit bezahlen das Essen wir?' wrong? Does the subject need to be fixed in the third position in sentences like this, regardless of the direct objects? Or maybe they always come in the end when there's no dependent clause.


Does the subject need to be fixed in the third position in sentences like this, regardless of the direct objects?

Pretty much, yes.

If the subject is not in front of the verb in a main clause, it will almost always come right after the verb.


This is a bizarre English to speak!


Why it is womit not was

mit was (with what) turns into womit (with what).

As a general rule, preposition + was turns into a single word, wo(r)- + preposition: womit, wobei, woran, worunter, worüber, wozu, wofür, etc. instead of mit was, bei was, an was, unter was, über was, zu was, für was, etc.

Similarly with preposition + es or preposition + das which turn into da(r)- + preposition: damit, dabei, daran, darunter, darüber, dazu, dafür, etc. instead of mit es, mit das, etc..


Is it common for natives to confuse "womit" (what with) with "vomit" (belch)?


Eh? What kind of "natives"?

Also, womit is a German word and vomit is an English word (and it doesn't mean "belch", at least not to my knowledge). They're not (usually) stressed on the same syllable, either.

I don't think that pair would cause a lot of problems.

I think learners tend to have more difficulties with wo = where and wer = who, or with the fact that sie (in German) and you (in English) seem to have so many meanings.


Can I aslo write: Womit bezahlen wir für das essen?


I have come back to duo lingo. I must have missed something. please explain womit, vorüber, whine, etc


"Womit bezahlen wir das eßen?" is a bit hard do remember.


Essen, not eßen.

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