1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Is he reading?"

"Is he reading?"

Translation:Liest er?

March 24, 2018

41 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AhmadShuma1

Why is it Liest er instead of Er Liest? Asking because in english "Reading" is the second part of the phrase


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jdgamble555_new

It is a way to ask a question. It is the same thing in English using the progressive and emphatic tenses. DO I read? ... I DO read. ... Am-I reading? ... I AM reading.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizzid

In English all of those would be acceptable answers. You could have "I do read?" as well as "do I read?" - although you might use it in fewer circumstances it'd still be correct.

Is the same not the case for German? Is there no case in which "Er liest?" would work?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LifyaKH

Is there a native


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LifyaKH

Oops. Is there a native speaker who can say if 'Er liest?' is possible? In English we can say 'he's reading?' and it's perfectly fine - does this translate to German?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Domino5700527

You can say it in some cases. Like when you’re suprised someone’s actually reading. Like „you’re telling me he reads?“ would be „du sagst mir dass er liest?“ But usually ist would be liest er


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judithmack

That's what I understood, that on being told, for example, that someone-or-other is drinking you could, if you were surprised and wanted confirmation, say "Er trinkt?" with your voice going up in pitch so people would know it to be a question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Why is it Liest er instead of Er Liest?

In yes-no questions, the verb comes first in German.


[deactivated user]

    I do not get this... and really do not understand the explanation above


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SaintDayz

    In a German question, the subjects come first. For example if you asked if a man came from Germany, youd say "Kommst der Mann aus Deutschland?" In this sentence, "Kommst and der Mann are both the subjects, and go first in the beginning.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Domino5700527

    You made a small fault actually. It’s „kommt der Mann aus Deutschland?“ not kommst. Believe; I’m german and the only reason I’m here is boredom and probs helping ppl


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WTGreat

    But when it comes to "Hast du ein Buch?" the verb came first??


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kannos

    It is the verb that comes first, I believe the commenter above mistakenly typed "subject".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SaintDayz

    Yes I meant verb. Sorry still new to this also and thought I knew it enough to help


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Venicci0

    You're still a good lad for helping but that would complicate things for others. I'm just saying.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judithmack

    Please go on helping, SaintDayz. We need to be here for each other through this. If someone is trying to help and makes a mistake, hopefully someone else will point it out. A little temporary confusion is a small price to pay.

    On the subject of questions, it's in yes/no questions that the verb comes first. You can ask a question with an interrogative word followed by the verb, e.g. "Wo ist der Mann?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Takijana

    The words are reversed in questions.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/veganpanda

    "Liest" is not even in the dictionary hints!!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Will_Hitt

    Yeah that caught me out as well, from the hints I thought it was "Macht er lese".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kilagen

    can you also say ist er liest? or do you not use ist and why?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheM11Mum

    I believe that the verb lesen in german already means 'to be reading' or 'to read'. So 'er liest' means 'he reads' and 'he is reading'. Adding 'ist' would make it 'is he is reading'. Someone with much better grasp of languages will be able to explain with all the applicable grammatical terminology about tenses.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Domino5700527

    So I‘m a native and I’ve come to inform you! There is in fact another way to say someone is doing something. You can say they’re „am“ and then the infinitive of the verb. So for example: „Er ist am lesen.“ that actually means „he is reading.“ yet; this is usually used as an explaination for why someone can’t do something else. So if someone asks for help you can say „Ich bin am lesen“ to use it as an excuse for not helping them. It is also sometimes used casually in other kinds of situations but I think it’s less common than just saying „ich lese“. Yet; I’m quite disappointed Duo doesn’t accept the „am“-Version...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judithmack

    Das ist hilfreich, Domino. Danke.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dereck282095

    I was also confused at first. However, reading comments here has further broadening my psyche on the subject matter.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bubblegod22

    Questions are generally formed with verb - subject inversion. German does not have as many verb aspect as English so there is no word-for-word translation of Is he reading?, but:

    The typical non-question form of that is He is reading. To form a standard question, we move the to be verb so that it precedes the noun. This happens in German too, just slightly differently due to variations in grammar rules.

    He is reading translates to Er liest. In simple sentences like this, it's actually simpler to form a German question. Just put the verb in front of the noun. Liest er?

    On the other hand, you can say He reads in English, but to form a question, you can't just switch the words. Reads he? doesn't make sense. We have to add a word. Does he read? So don't panic, it's simple.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertHJMa

    'Ist er liest' ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    'Ist er liest' ?

    No. German does not need a helping verb for the present tense. That ist in there is wrong.

    It's just Liest er?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElGoorf

    Can't say "Er Liest?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    Can't say "Er Liest?"

    Only when you're surprised and want to confirm that what you saw or heard was indeed true.

    "Really? He's reading???"

    But for a normal yes-no question, the verb goes first: Liest er?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nelly2E0DT

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the German language.. I keep getting a mind block when it comes to remembering that the verbs go first in German..


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MagierT0

    Why is it that it is written this way?

    Why does "Liest" come before "he"? The comments do not help too much; not enough of an explanation...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheM11Mum

    Because in some languages such as German and French the verb and the subject are transposed to form a question. You can say (I believe, and I am no expert but having been trying to learn languages for yrs) Er liest? and Liest er? and they both mean Is he reading?/He reads? Intonation is also a factor, just as in English, when asking a question the tone rises at the end of the phrase/sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judithmack

    As I understand it, you would say "Er liest?" only if you were surprised and wanted confirmation. You would say it with a rising intonation so people would know it wasn't a statement.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/confused.sloth

    Why doesn't English do this? It would be SO much easier instead of saying "Is he reading?" we could just say "Reading he?" Of course it is not grammatically correct but still


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/judithmack

    It would help learners of English who must find using "do" in questions difficult. That said, we do invert subject and verb in English to ask questions but in a limited way, e.g. "May I?" "Would you?" "Can he?" "Will she?"

    Isn't it strange how we absorb syntax as babies yet don't know the grammatical rules. What is the rule here? I don't know and I'm a native speaker. Is it a rule about modal verbs and about the future tense?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Natman96101

    I don’t understand it entirely, but I think it seems weird as a native english speaker because of the fact that it doesn’t align with English grammar rules. That being said, I am not learning English. The grammmer rules are different.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saurabh168904

    How about....

    Ist er liest


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    How about....

    Ist er liest

    That's grammatical nonsense in German. A bit like "Does he is reading?" -- you added a helping verb that does not belong in the sentence.

    German does not need a helping verb "to be" to form the present tense. Liest er? is quite enough to ask "Is he reading?".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertHJMa

    'Reading he' would never be said in English. maybe 'Reading ?' but not 'Reading is he' or Reading he' !


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LifyaKH

    I definitely say 'reading, is he?', like when you've just found out some useful information. But it's more rhetorical, I suppose


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CapnDoug

    If you wanted to translate it word by word, as you frequently (and incorrectly do), it would be "Reads he?"

    Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.