Introductions, Jobs, Numbers, and Pronunciation

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  • Hallo Stephan!
    Thank you very much for these wonderful lessons. I didn’t fully understand the difference between «Was ist» and «Wer ist».

    When students asked each other about their professions, they used a question «Was ist Derek?» I thought we should ask through a question «Wer» (who). Like «Who is Derek?».

    But they used Was (what). I would be very grateful if you could explain why they used the question with «what» and not with «who».

    • Great question, Katya. This is just like English. The short answer is that I am using a typical first-lessons simplification here, where I essentially use the question word “what” to ask for the specific thing that I’m teaching (in this case, the student’s job). In reality, when Germans ask about jobs, they would more likely say “Was macht er (beruflich)?” or “Was ist sein Job?”, but that would have complicated the lesson at this stage (we’ll get to that later). I also believe that, in English and in German, the question “who” is much deeper, more essential, and more personal than the more superficial “what”. I hope this clarifies things!

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