"Who do you thank?"
Translation:Wem dankst du?
'they' said the answer was 'wem dankt ihr' not'wem dankst du'? Now I'm really confused!
Both of those are correct translations -- so it's not appropriate to speak of "the answer" as if there can only be one.
You would ask Wem dankt ihr? if you are speaking to several people at once. You would ask Wem dankst du? if you are speaking to just one person.
Oddly enough, English doesn't make a distinction here, using "you" for both, even though it has kept the distinction between "I / we" and between "he / they". German has kept the distinction between du / ihr as well.
wer is the nominative case, used for the subject.
But "who" here is the object of the verb "thank", so it should be in the dative case in German, as danken takes an object in the dative case.
Also, sie means "they", not "you".
So it would have to be Wem danken Sie?, with capital Sie, if you want to use the polite "you".
It may be a silly question but, why is it WEM and not WER, fem. dative ends in "er" and the plural in "en" Do the W-questions have a special declension of their own?
While "wem" can translate to either "who" or "whom" in English, the example English sentence calls for "whom, as it is in the form of a direct object., "we" being the subject and "who(m)" the direct object"Whom" is the dative (because of dankst)"wem" in German. Separate words. As mizinamo says, it's not a declension or gender issue.
"Wem" translates only to "whom". The English sentence given is grammatically incorrect, it should be "Whom do you ask". As a complete statement (indicative mood) one could say "I ask a question OF HIM [dative]. The direct object a question is understood.
It seems "whom" is disappearing from English, though. And I'm aware of the controversy around gendered pronouns in English but still it's helpful to me to remember that the M in hiM corresponds to the M in whoM.
It seems "whom" is disappearing from English, though.
That's right. It is no longer natural for many native English speakers.
In this course, we usually do not use "whom" (though we usually accept it in free-text translations into English for those who do still use it).
No -- German, like English, moves WH words such as "who, what, how, why" to the beginning of a question sentence, rather than leaving them in the position where the answer would be.
Even more strongly, in fact, than English -- if you were particularly surprised at something you just heard, you might say (e.g.) "You thank WHOM???!" in English but the German would still be "WEM dankst du???!"
I always find your knowledge very useful thank you. Are you a native speaker of German?