"What does it look like?"
Translation:Wie sieht es aus?
The use of ''aus'' here is a part of separable verb aussehen which means '' to look like''. For example, ''Du siehst gut aus'' You look good. In the separable verbs, the preposition goes to the end of the sentence. Other example is the verb anrufen= let someone know. Ich rufe dich an= I let you know
I spent almost an hour researching and looking at dozens of dictionaries, videos, and forums trying to figure out how "anrufen" could even remotely mean "let someone know" and I came up with nothing. From what I have found so far, anrufen means "to call" .... Can someone explain how "ich rufe dich an" goes from "I call you" to just "I let you know" or is this person just mistranslating?
No, they're not interchangeable, it's just that sometimes German uses 'how' (wie) in situations where we would say 'what', so they can't always be translated literally.
For instance, "wie heißt du" is literally "how are you called" etc. I don't think there's a rule to determine which one to use in which situation, you just have to memorize it like with prepositions
Couldn't it also mean "Wonach sieht es aus?" Since that would be a valid question to ask in this context. And English doesn't seem to exactly distinguish the "Wie" and "Wonach" in this sense as German can. Feel free to correct me if I missed anything since I'm a little tired while I'm doing this as a native speaker to see how well I'd do in this course for "German as foreign language" ;-) Cheers