1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Was sind wichtige Bücher?"

"Was sind wichtige Bücher?"

Translation:What are important books?

June 14, 2013



Sentence doesn't sound right in English...


Yes it does

Person A : 'I only bother to read important books'

Person B: 'How do you make that judgement? What are important books?'

Person A: 'I think only factual books about real things are important, I don't like fiction books'

Person B: 'Well I think fiction is important for teaching us about the human condition.'


B : What are 'important books'?


It may make sense in English, but is it really a good translation? Are the contexts you offer here the appropriate ones, or is the sentence supposed to mean something more along the lines of 'which books are important'?


It is correct English but it sounds wrong because it refers to an abstract situation. "What are important books?" - you are searching for a justification of the term 'important books'. An equivalent question is "Why are some books more essential than others?" You would probably only ask this of you are sceptical about the value of a book.

A much more likely question is: "WHICH are important books?" - you are searching for specific books that are considered important. An equivalent to this is "Which are the essential books?" You may ask this question when searching for advice on which books to read or purchase.


The translated sentence means, to expand it, "What are the characteristics shared by important books? For example, they may have influenced the course of political history or address human problems which every society in the world experiences. What/which are the important books? In my opinion, "Das Kapital" is important because it was translated into many languges and the ideas propounded in it affected most of the countries of the world in the twentieth century and "The Interpretation of Dreams" by Freud. I am just learning german and got the interpretation wrong at first but I assume the german sentence has the first meaning.


I agree with you, "polomare."


Why not "Which are important books?"


What are the important books seems more correct in English. Is that right?


    No, as in English the meaning changes if you include the article. "What are important books?" is an odd sentence out of context, sure, but it's not wrong and is the best translation of the given German sentence.


    "What books are important?" sounds more correct to me, but it is not accepted.


    It shouldn't be accepted. "Was sind wichtige Bücher?" basically means "What defines important books?".


    You would need to use 'which' instead of 'what' in your answer for it to be correct English. The equivalent German would then be 'Welche sind wichtige Bücher'.

    The answer "What are important books?" is a strange question to ask, but is still correct. You are effectively asking someone to explain the concept of an 'important book' as opposed to an 'unimportant book'.


    You are right. What or Which books are important makes more sense here.


    "Which books are important" should be accepted


      Welche Bücher sind wichtig?


      Why is "What important books are? " incorrect? If someone can help me, I'll be thankful.


        That's either an incomplete sentence fragment, or the wrong word order for asking a question. As it's really a question of English grammar, do some research yourself on the web - there will be many tutorials on word order for questions.


        English always has a conjugated verb early in the sentence.

        English never puts the only verb at the end of the sentence.

        For example, "Where is he going?" has a conjugated auxillary verb (is) at the beginning of the sentence, and a verb in participle form (going) at the end of the sentence.

        Much more here: https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/questions.htm


        "English never puts the only verb at the end of the sentence."

        Really? Sometimes I do.


        "What books are important?" is now accepted, but it should not be. "What books are important?" and "What are important books?" mean two different things in English and therefore should not be translations of the same German sentence.


        "What books are important" is accepted now. That makes sense to me.


        Why not wichtigen Bücher?


        Could it be that what they're asking is, "What are some examples of important books?" If so, we would say in English,"What are some important books?" German speakers..?


        Sometimes I find myself caught up in the Twilight series, and then I remember this question: what are important books? I then indulge myself in some C.S. Lewis while patting myself on the back and thanking DL for this insightful, helpful question.


        I can’t hear the audio. Really annoying. This happens about once every section. So I am penalised for something I cannot hear. There is no section in the Report but that says I cannot hear the audio.

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