"Was soll das?"

Translation:What is the point?

April 7, 2013



Is this translation accurate?

April 7, 2013



April 7, 2013


Is it an idiom?

September 3, 2013


It's more of a shortened expression.


September 3, 2013


Hi, Christian

Your link gives (amongst other phrasea)

'was soll das für einen Zweck haben?'- is this the expression you mean?

In English, 'What's the point of that?''- means - what purpose does that serve? How does that help?

However, 'What's the point?' can often mean - I give up, there is no point in trying. [More colloquially: #@$! this for a game of soldiers.]

So the two are rather different. :)

January 16, 2016


To give up is rather:
Was soll's (soll es),
as an expression of resignation, whereas
Was soll das (werden / sein / bedeuten / darstellen / bezwecken / bewirken / erreichen / ...) demands an answer and is showing your interest or (felt) involvement.

June 30, 2018


I guessed it means "What is it supposed to mean?" and it was amongst the translation!

May 27, 2017


Alas, dear Christian, your link now yields only "Not Found."

If you're still following this discussion, could you give us an example or two of the expressions "Was soll das?" is a short version for?

Addendum: The link goo.gl/GQbg2m suggested by Laruthell leads to "Was soll das?" on pons. Vielen Dank!

March 10, 2018


He is wrong, it does NOT mean "What's the point".

What's the point would be "Wozu das alles".

Was soll das means something among the lines of "What's that about" , "What are you doing?"

March 16, 2018


I think it will have been this: goo.gl/GQbg2m

March 11, 2018


Christian's link worked fine for me.

February 7, 2019


Here are a couple of other ways to translate 'Was soll das?' What is that supposed to mean? What's that for / about?

August 14, 2017


Thank you.

April 7, 2013


personally, i think not because the english sentence is asking about the meaning of a thing e.g. whether it's worth doing or not whereas the german sentence is more of a "what the heck are you doing?"

January 20, 2015


Yeah, it seems the default/official translation is a poor one, if you're right.

I would still really like to see this phrase written out completely and explained, because right now it's clipped to the point of being enigmatic in terms of how it derives its supposed meaning.

The jump from "what shall that?" to "what are you doing?"/"what does that mean?"/"what is all that about?" is a rather big one indeed.

August 29, 2018


How about: What's that supposed to mean?

August 23, 2014


Yes, I think you are right. When I was in Germany and someone said, "Was soll das?", they usually meant "What's that all about" or "What does that mean?" or exactly what you have suggested.

November 8, 2014


If you're correct, Duo's default answer is quite misleading, imho.

"What's the point?" usually carries a negative connotation, to the point of suggesting giving up, in my experience.

August 29, 2018


Bad news, guys - 10 months down the line, and they still don't accept this as a valid translation.

Since you all agree, I'm off to report it.

Have a good one.


July 2, 2015



May 25, 2016


PONS recommends your translation.

August 27, 2014


Beneficium - you are well named!

Thanks you for PONS - it is a cool site.


July 2, 2015


Another good site: www.dict.cc

August 24, 2015


Thank you and you're welcome. :)

July 4, 2015


It also accepts: "What is it?" Is that also a good translation?

July 15, 2014


But it doesn't accept "What should that be?"

July 18, 2014


which is not exactly the same... "was soll das?" is more in the sense of "what is going on?" in a general sense whereas "what should that be" is object-specific e.g. a child paints something and the parents cannot recognize what it is supposed to be, so they ask "what should that be?" (German: was soll das sein?)

January 20, 2015


Well, these are subtleties, my duo friend! Was soll das bedeuten matches the English "what's that supposed to mean"?

January 15, 2018


Which is a perfectly correct translation. Report it!

February 25, 2016


To this bilingual Englishman living in Dortmund / NRW, "Was soll das?" is so highly idiomatic that it's difficult to express in English even though I "know" exactly what it means.

I'm most familiar with it as an expression of extreme annoyance in reaction to an apparently arbitrary action which causes the speaker unnecessary inconvenience.

Beispiel 1:
Vorgesetzter: "Die neue Geschäftsleitung ersetzt die bisherige gleitende Arbeitszeit durch drei Schichten. Ab Montag haben Sie die Wahl zwischen Früh-, Spät- und Nachtschicht; Sie beginnen und enden jede Schicht gleichzeitig mit dem restlichen Personal."
Angestellte: "Was SOLL das? Wer bringt nun meinen Sohn in den Kindergarten und holt ihn wieder ab?"

Beispiel 2:
[Eine unbekannte Frau im Restaurant schüttet einem Mann ein Glas Rotwein ins Gesicht]
Er: "Was SOLL das?"

Example 1 (English):
Supervisor: "The new management is switching from flexitime to three shifts. From Monday you have the choice of early, late or night shift, and you start and end each shift at the same time as the other staff."
Employee: "But WHY? Who'll take my son to kindergarten and pick him up later?"

Example 2 (English):
[In a restaurant, an unknown woman throws a glassful of red wine into a man's face]
Man: "WTF? Why did you do that?"

Some good Was soll das? translations have been proposed by other Duo users elsewhere on this page:

  • What's that about? – ArtBurnap
  • What's all this about? – Aynmon
  • What the hell? – savage516054
  • What are you doing – FreekVerkerk
  • What the hell are you doing? – Krizzards
                             [12 Mar 2019 14:08 UTC]
March 12, 2019


Sounds like "WTF?!! " fits all or most cases.

Or just "What the ... !"

March 12, 2019


It accepts now "what's that all about", but not "what's that about" which I think is the closest translation in meaning. I don't think Was soll das? really means what is the point. That would be "Was ist der Zweck?"

March 23, 2018


I remember it being used often for "What the hell?" as well. Like if you punched a friend in the arm or smacked your partner in the behind and they were annoyed by it, "Was soll das?" Or" Why the hell did you do that?"

August 30, 2018


What is the point...I ask myself that every day. What is the point of existence. Then somebody calls me and interrupts my creeping thoughts.

April 25, 2016


How about: "What are you doing".

Like when you meet somebody walking in your garden. Or touching your car.

February 28, 2015


"Or what do you want." The german expression is not something you say to your beloved one, it is quite aggressive.

May 2, 2016


What is the point? What is the matter? What's up? Why are you doing that? These are all possible translations, depending on the context.

June 23, 2017


I answered, "What is that about?" but was marked wrong with the suggestion of, "What is that ALL about?" Sorry, I don't see a significant difference. And this is an idiom anyway. Come on DL... I don't think the suggested translation is particularly accurate--it's not what I would think of when I hear this.

July 2, 2017


Please exclude idioms from topical lessons.

August 12, 2018


All the lessons are either topical or grammatical (present tense, dative case, etc.) . Are you suggesting that grammatical lessons are more appropriate for introducing idioms? Why?

Idioms are a part of every language. So obviously we need to see them in moderation.

August 12, 2018


While this translation is in general appropriate, as a German native speaker I only ever use "Was soll das?" like "What's all this about?", which is much more colloquial.

January 3, 2019


I wrote 'what should that be' as in a situation where a kid draws something and someone asks him what he wanted to draw because it's not clear. Could that be used in this context? Duolingo clearly says this translation is wrong.

June 18, 2015


I think you would probably say, Was soll das sein? or Was ist das? "Was soll das?" usually has a negative connotation.

March 26, 2018


I wrote: "What does that mean?" (Sept 2015). Not accepted.

September 4, 2015


I think of this like "What is that supposed to be?" as "Ich soll studieren" means I am supposed to study.

December 2, 2016


'there's no reason for it' & 'why carry on' are two other interpretations of 'Was soll das' too.

September 9, 2017


"What is that meant to be?" soll akzeptiert werden

September 14, 2017


yes, that's what I answered but it is still not accepted.

January 23, 2018


For "was soll das" Collins says: what’s all this?; (= warum denn das) what’s that for? of course, those answers are not accepted

November 5, 2018


Just wait for the upcoming "Owl's Universal Dictionary"

May 24, 2019


Why "big"? Why not just "what's the idea?"

March 2, 2016


I think you can say "Was soll es?" too. And equally, " Was soll das bedeuten?" ... "Was meinst du damit?" I am waiting for a confirmation from a german speaker.

November 18, 2016


"What do you mean by that?"

March 22, 2018


Was soll das (bedeutet) means what are you doing ! Why are you doing that ! But it's very abstract. For sure it doesn't mean what the point !

April 2, 2018


Could it mean, "So what?" That seems rather aggressive, but is that the sense of the sentence in German?

May 20, 2018


The german phrase is also rather aggressive it is supposed to stop somebody from doing what they are doing. I would say: "What are you doing" would be a good translation. What you would say to a child who is throwing stones at your car.

May 21, 2018


How about, "what the hell was that all about?"

August 30, 2018


No, "So what?" would rather be "Na und?" or "Und jetzt?" (literally translated to "and now?").

Some think "What's the point of that?" would be a good translation but "Was soll das?" (as in with no other word complementing it) is used in a rather indignant manner, so it's maybe even more of a "What the ❤❤❤❤?" to some degree, "What's your problem?", "What's that about?", "What/why are you (even) doing it?".

There really is no perfect translation for this phrase.

May 20, 2018


"What the hell?" or even "WTF" seems as good a translation as any, but the prudish owl won't have it.

May 11, 2019


That's not really a good translation. "Was soll das" has the specific meaning of asking for the meaning or point of something, but "What the hell" is really just a generic multipurpose expression of confusion or annoyance. There's certainly some overlap in usage, but just "What the hell" doesn't really capture the meaning of "Was soll das."

May 11, 2019


What iis the point of this sentence??!!

July 18, 2019


What's up? is a valid translation.

January 3, 2018


Eh? I don't think so.

"What's up?" sounds to me like a greeting, or asking about current events in general.

Was soll das? refers to something in particular that has happened (or is happening) and asks what the purpose of that action is.

January 3, 2018


I'd agree and add that it has a "sarcastic-tone" of voice, like "What the #@ll are you doing?" and is asking about an action that is wrong or stupid. I like Freekverkerk's description of saying this to a child throwing rocks at a car.

May 21, 2018
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