A wat ass dat DANN?
You’ve probably learned in your beginners course that dann is a word which translates into “then” and that you have to respect the word order (verb before subject), right? As in this example:
- Ech duschen um 7 Auer an dann doen ech mech un. – I take a shower at 7 am and then I get dressed.
But in questions such as “ A wat ass dat dann?” dann can’t literally be translated by “then” but is used as a modal particle.
Possibly some of the trickiest words to use in Luxembourgish are modal particles. Modal particles usually have other meanings in different contexts (like dann for example), making translating and understanding a tricky task.
Modal particles are small words like dann, mol, eigentlech, jo …. and are used in colloquial speech so in spoken Luxembourgish.
As a learner you’ll often hear or see them in a question and you are just not sure WHY they are there!
For example, someone could ask you:
- Wou wunns du? – Where do you live?
But you could as well here a native speaker asking you:
- Wou wunns du eigentlech? – Where do you live, by the way.
DANN as a modal particle
Is only used in QUESTIONS to
1. make a question sound more casual
- An? Wéi geet et der dann esou? – And? How are you?
- Wéi al bass du dann? – So, how old are you?
- Wéi spéit ass et dann? – What time is it, tell me?
- Säit wéini léiers du da(nn) Lëtzebuergesch? – So, since when do you learn Luxembourgish?
Sometimes you’ll hear da instead of dann.
Well because of the Luxembourgish N-Rule. It is important to be aware of this n-rule so that you understand when native speakers talk and recognize these words in conversations. Listen to the video so that you get familiar with the sound da!
2. to show amazement / surprise
- Wéi hues du dat da gemaach? – Wow, how did you do that?
- Wéi geet dat dann? – Wow, how does this work?
- Wat méchs du dann hei? – Hey, what are you doing here?
3. to show annoyance / anger
- Wat soll dat dann heeschen? – What’s that supposed to mean?
- Wat hues du da schonn erëm gemaach? – What have you done again?
- Wat ass dann hei geschitt? – What the heck happened here?
- Wou waars du da sou laang? – Where have you been so long (all that time)?
Modal particles can be very tricky to learn and to use, but as your language skills continue to grow and develop, start using these particles in your conversations! And remember to pay close attention when talking to native speakers, so you get a better sense of how they’re used.
If you are a beginner or even at intermediate learner I would recommend that you only use dann as in the examples mentioned in this lesson or write down the questions you might here in conversations among native speakers using dann. So that you are sure that you use dann correctly. Don’t try to do your own questions with dann.
Send me your question using the word dann as a modal particle! And I’ll give you my feedback!
Download the PDF so to practice what you’ve learnt in this lesson!
I hope you liked it and found it useful. And …. why not sharing this lesson with your friends:-)