English has rules about the order of words in a sentence. The basic pattern is the order subject – finite verb – object (S–V–O). In comparison German word order is more flexible than English word order. But there are still some patterns and rules in German.
You have two types of word order in questions (same as in English). One Type is with a question word (interrogative) and the second type starts with a finite verb (without an interroagtive) and requires ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as an answer.
Types of questions
- Interrogative questions: The interrogative occupies the first place in this type of question. It is followed by the verb and then the subject. So the usage of most question words in German is very similar to English.
Yes – No – questions: The second type of question can by answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, so you do not need a question word. Instead the question word the verb moves into the first position. The verb is followed by the subject and then the object. English often uses the verb ‘do’ to form Yes – No – questions. In German, these structures do not exist.
You want to know the name of a person and ask this person. This kind of question is an interroagtive question, the answer is not “Yes” or “no”. As you know this kind of question needs a question word.
English: What is your name?
Translation: what (English) -> wie (German)
German: Wie ist ihr Name?
First: question word (wie), second: verb (ist) then followed by the subject (ihr Name)
English: Do you live in Germany?
Tranlation: This is a Yes or No question
German: Wohnen Sie in Deutschland