Deutsch Lektionen


Spannend, entspannt, gespannt, and verspannt

If you look carefully at the words gespannt and entspannt in the sentence below, you'll notice that gespannt is a participle (of spannen), whereas entspannt is an adverb. 


Dann werden die Pferde vor die Kutsche gespannt und man kann ganz entspannt durch Dahlem fahren.     
Then the horses are hitched up in front of the coach and one can ride very leisurely through Dahlem.   
Captions 39-40, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem


However, you have probably also seen gespannt used as an adjective, and also perhaps come across spannend or verspannt. Let's take a look at some examples and clarify the meanings of all of these words. 


Above, entspannt is used as an adverb to mean "leisurely" or "in a relaxed way." As an adjective it means "relaxed," or you might see it as the verb entspannen, which means — you guessed it — "to relax." 


Aber es entspannt mich. -O ja.
But it relaxes me. -Oh yes.    
Caption 15, Kolkhorst: Konzert


Und das ist sehr, sehr, sehr entspannt im Gegensatz zu München, Hamburg, Berlin.
And that's very, very, very relaxed in contrast to Munich, Hamburg, Berlin.
Caption 19, Fernsehmoderatorin: Sonya Kraus


Spannend is an adjective used to describe something that is "exciting," "interesting," or "intriguing."


Auf der Berlinale zu laufen ist schon wahnsinnig spannend.
Attending the Berlinale, indeed, is insanely exciting.
Caption 7, Berlinale: Schauspieler Jürgen Vogel


Ich finde es sehr spannend, wie viele Facetten so ein Film hat
I find it very exciting how many facets a film like this has.
Caption 48, Filmtrailer: Der kleine Rabe Socke


Be aware: spannend almost never describes people. It means "exciting" and NOT "excited," which is the meaning of the adjective gespannt. 


Ich bin mal gespannt, wie es klappt. Ich hoffe, es gefällt euch.
I am excited to see how it will go. I hope you like it.
Caption 41, Eva Croissant: Interview


Two other words you should know are angespannt and verspannt. They both translate as "tense" in a more negative sense, and often refer to the body rather than the mind.


Bauch ist leicht angespannt. Wenn wir hochkommen: ausatmen...
The belly is slightly tensed. When we come up, breathe out...
Caption 34, Workout mit Erik: Übungen für Arme, Beine, Po, Rücken


Genau da, wo er so verspannt ist, da muss er ziehen.
Exactly where it is so tense, it has to stretch there.    
Caption 32, Nackenschmerzen, steifer Nacken, steifer Hals: Übungen gegen Nackenverspannungen


Further Learning


Make sure that you understand all related words and can identify what part of speech they occupy in sentences using context clues. This includes the verbs spannensich entspannen(sich) verspannen, and anspannen. There are many examples available on Yabla German.

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All about auswärts

You are probably familiar with the name of the German governmental department responsible for relations with foreign countries: das Auswärtige Amt. This is the German equivalent of the Department of State in the United States or the Foreign Office in the United Kingdom. The adverb auswärts, however, is often used in sports: 


Und wir fangen noch auswärts an...
And we are still starting with an away game...
Caption 49, Basketball: Deutsche Bank Skyliners


A literal translation of the above would render auswärts as only "away," but for clarity it's been translated for meaning as "an away game." In the next captions, you see the word as part of some nominalizations:


In dieser Saison gab es beim zweimaligen Aufeinandertreffen für beide Seiten einen Auswärtssieg.
In this season there was, during the two-time clash, an away victory for both sides.
Captions 40-41, Basketball: Deutsche Bank Skyliners


In der vergangenen Auswärtspartie durfte der US-Amerikaner schon ran.
In the last away game, the American could already participate.
Caption 7, Deutsche Bank Skyliners: Basketball-Bundesliga


Typisch Auswärtsmannschaft.
Typical away team.
Caption 32, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV


The adverb auswärts has some practical usages outside of sports, however! Let's take a look at some examples as shown on the German dictionary site Duden


Lass uns doch auswärts essen!
But let's eat out


Or optionally:


Lass uns doch auswärts essen gehen!
But let's go out to eat! 


This is a very good one to know when you're tired of cooking and washing dishes at home!


Viele Schulkinder kommen von auswärts.
Many schoolchildren come from elsewhere.


This usage of auswärts means von einem anderen Ort or "from another place."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and take a look at some of the links above to see how auswärts is used in a real-world context.

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Neuter Relative Pronouns: das or was?

Putting it in the simplest possible terms, a relative pronoun is a specific word in a sentence that has a relative clause. It's much easier to understand when you see an example: 


The book that I read is quite old.


This sentence is dependent upon "that I read" because without these words, it would not be clear which book is meant. The word "that" is the relative pronoun in the sentence. 


In the German language, the relative pronoun is dependent upon the gender of the subject noun: 


Das Buch, das ich gelesen habe, ist ganz alt. 
Der Mann, den ich gesehen habe, war ganz alt. 
Die Frau, die ich gesehen habe, war ganz alt.


As you can see, the definite articles in the nominative case must take on the accusative case as relative pronouns: das/das, der/den, die/die.


But in the case of neuter nominatives, the German word was (usually translated as "what") is also used as a relative pronoun. The use of was as a relative pronoun is generally restricted to two usages, one of which is for neuter substantivized superlatives (nouns based upon adjectives), such as das Beste or das Schönste:


Das Schönste, was ich gelesen habe, war ein Buch von Goethe.


The German word was is also used as a relative pronoun with neuter demonstrative and indefinite pronouns, such as das, dasjenige, dasselbe; alles, einiges, nichts, vieles, manches, weniges, etwas, and so forth.


Das, was Sie hören, ist Musik von Mozart.
Es gibt einiges, was ich noch lernen sollte.


It is incorrect to use the relative pronoun das in the three examples above. 


Further Learning
Here are some examples featuring relative pronouns on Yabla German. See if you can fill in the missing relative pronoun with either das or was:


Gab's etwas,           nicht so gut war?
Was there something that wasn't so good?
Caption 30, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Weil oder obwohl?


Das Mädchen,            am Spielfeldrand niedlich zu den Jungs hinsah...
The girl who, on the edge of the playing field, looked sweetly at the boys...
Captions 2-3, Olli Schulz: Spielerfrau


Als wäre das Leben,           hier einmal war, verbraucht.    
As if the life that once was here were used up.
Caption 8, Christina Stürmer: Millionen Lichter


Er ärgert sich auch über manches,           über ihn geschrieben wird.
He also gets angry about some of what is written about him.
Caption 19, Thomas D: Ärgernisse


Aspirin ist ein Medikament,           ich nehme, wenn ich Kopfschmerzen habe.
Aspirin is a medication that I take if I have a headache. 
Captions 13-14, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz


Das ist das Beste,           es gibt auf der Welt.
That's the best thing that there is in the world.
Caption 36, Monsters of Liedermaching: Ein Pferd


Milch ist ein Getränk,           ich nicht mag.    
Milk is a drink that I do not like.
Caption 29, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

Alles,           mit Kommunikation und Sprache zu tun hat.
Everything that has to do with communication and language.
Caption 26, Anja Polzer: Interview


Deinen Namen zu nennen ist wohl das Schönste,           ich sage.
Naming your name is absolutely the most beautiful thing that I say.
Caption 35, Xavier Naidoo: Ich kenne nichts


Es gibt am Flughafen wohl nichts,           es nicht gibt.
Indeed, there's nothing that you won't find at the airport.
Caption 42, Flugreisen: Was mache ich, wenn...


Click on the video links to see if your choices were correct!


Don't feel bad if this seems hard—even native speakers sometimes get it wrong by accident or as slang usage. The full title of the song above by Xavier Naidoo is "Ich kenne nichts (das so schön ist wie du)." According to grammar rules, the das should have been was. It's also a common mistake among native speakers to say or write things like Das Buch, was ich gelesen habe and Das Buch, dass ich gelesen habe. Luckily, we now know the correct way to write it!

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Adjectives with  un- and -los

In English, the prefixes "in-" and "un-" and the suffix "-less" are used to suggest a lack or negation when they are added to an adjective. In German, you will see un- and -los for negative adjectives (and adverbs!). Sometimes the resulting adjective will look similar to its English equivalent:  


Allein bin ich hilflos, ein Vogel im Wind.
Alone I am helpless, a bird in the wind.
Caption 19, Nicole: Ein bisschen Frieden


Und keinen Schreck kriegen, das fühlt sich erst mal völlig unbequem an.
And don't be scared, at first it feels completely uncomfortable.    
Caption 50, Die Schmerzspezialisten: Diese Schlafposition solltest du unbedingt vermeiden!


Also ich finde Dramen wirklich unnötig und versuche ich auch zu vermeiden.
Well, I find drama really unnecessary and I also try to avoid it.    
Caption 20, 2raumwohnung: Liebe mit Musik am Laufen halten


Drei Lehrstellen blieben in diesem Jahr unbesetzt, es gab einfach zu wenig Bewerber.
Three apprenticeship positions were left unfilled this year, there were simply too few applicants.    
Caption 13, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium


At the same time, you will need to be careful and learn the words individually, as there are plenty of adjectives that don't translate so clearly. Sometimes, a different suffix or prefix is used in the other language, and other times the real translation is a word that looks completely different. There are also plenty of false friends lurking about!


Es sind so wenig Menschen arbeitslos wie seit zwanzig Jahren nicht.
There haven't been so few unemployed people in twenty years. 
Caption 43, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache


Fast lautlos schwebt das größte Passagierflugzeug der Welt über den Rhein-Main-Airport.    
The largest passenger plane in the world hovers almost silently above the Rhein-Main-Airport.
Caption 5, Rund um den Flughafen: Der neue Airbus A-380


Also, ich bin komplett fassungslos, weil ich nie gedacht habe, dass ich gewinnen werde.
Well, I am completely stunned because I never thought that I would win.
Caption 4, Wintersport: 7. Austrian Freeski Open


Further Learning
Do you know what the following adjectives/adverbs mean? Take a guess, and then see if you are right using a German to English dictionary. Mackellos, zeitlos, gehörlos, hoffnungslosgnadenloserfolglos, beispiellos, drahtlos, unverschämt, unfähig, unabhängig, unabsehbar, unerträglichunfassbar, unflexibel, unverbindlich.

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Populist Movements in Germany

Some people see the rise of populism, with Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit movement in the UK, as a threat to democracy. Fans of Trump and Brexit, however, see these developments as a legitimate expression of democracy. Germany too has seen a rise in populist movements in recent years, but with Germany's history—the Nazis, the Second World War, and the Holocaust—the country is particularly sensitive to extreme right-wing political movements.


There was a major controversy in 2011 when it was discovered that the murder of nine immigrants in Germany, all previously falsely attributed by the German police to immigrant criminal gangs, turned out to have been committed by a group of German neo-Nazis called the NSU (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund).


Weil die parlamentarische und politische Aufbereitung des NSU-Komplexes erfolgt ist...
Because the parliamentary and political preparation of issues surrounding the NSU have taken place...
Captions 9-13, Aufklärung der NSU-Verbrechen: SPD fordert Sonderkommission


Die NSU-Morde scheinen bei ihm großen Eindruck hinterlassen zu haben.
The NSU murders seem to have left a great impression on him.
Caption 23, Blumio: Rappen für gute Unterhaltung


In 2014, a political movement called Pegida was founded in Dresden. The name stands for Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident." The founder of Pegida resigned in 2015 after releasing images showing him posing as Adolf Hitler and making racist statements, but he was later re-elected to lead the movement. 


Ich war auch nur einmal bei Pegida
I’ve only been to one Pegida demonstration.
Caption 62, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?


Also in München: 100 Leute Pegida, 45 000 Gegendemonstranten.
So in Munich: 100 Pegida people, 45,000 counter demonstrators.
Caption 70, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?


The AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) political party, however, which was founded in 2013, has been far more successful. 


Man sollte auch nicht den Fehler begehen, AfD immer nur mit Flüchtlingen zu verknüpfen und jeden Menschen, der die AfD wählt, mit Antiflüchtlingsbewegung zu verknüpfen.
You shouldn't make the mistake of always just linking the AfD with refugees and associating every person who votes for the AfD with the anti-refugee movement.
Captions 47-49, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um? 


The AfD party currently (February 2019) occupies 91 (12.8%) of 709 seats in the German Parliament. 


The conservative Bavarian CSU leader Franz Josef Strauß once declared, "Rechts von der CSU darf es keine demokratisch legitimierte Partei geben," or "No democratically legitimate party should be allowed to exist to the right of the CSU." But with the AfD firmly established in German parliament, it appears Strauß's idea of limiting the right wing has now been overstepped. German voters, like voters in many countries in recent years, appear to be fed up with career politicians who seem to do nothing for the common man. Whether these right-wing parties and movements will actually change things for the better remains to be seen.


Further Learning
Read some German Wikipedia articles on Pegida and the AfD and get more insight into the rise of populism in recent years in Germany.

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The verb ziehen

This week, let's take a look at the verb ziehen. It's true that there are many nuances, but we'll focus for now on the two main translations, the first of which is "to pull":


Super, Jo. Und ihr helft mit ziehen, ja?
Super, Jo. And you'll help us pull, right?
Caption 6, JoNaLu: Heiß und kalt


Viele haben aber wohl schon darüber nachgedacht, wie es wäre, einfach mal den Stecker zu ziehen.
Many have, however, likely already thought about how it would be to simply pull the plug.
Caption 5-6, Vierzig Tage offline: Ein Selbstversuch


Relatedly, in English, we say "to take a ticket" or "to draw a number," but in German ziehen is also used for this purpose: 


Zieht sich 'n Ticket, vier siebzig für die Fahrt ist ja ganz schön hart.
She takes a ticket, four seventy for the ride, it's quite hard indeed. 
Caption 27, Cro: Bye Bye


The second common meaning of ziehen is "to move," "to migrate," or "to proceed."


Rötlich-violette Schwaden ziehen durchs Wasser, das hier fast frei von Sauerstoff ist.
Reddish-violet vapors move through the water, which here is almost oxygen-free.
Caption 8, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Sie ziehen von Haus zu Haus und verlangen Süßigkeiten.
They proceed from house to house and demand sweets.    
Caption 16, Cettina erklärt: Halloween


Interestingly enough, there is a common usage of ziehen which can be translated as "to draw," but also implies movement towards something. In a way, it is a combination of the two meanings.


Kaum scheint die Sonne, zieht es die Schleckermäuler an die Eisdielen.
As soon as the sun is shining, it draws those with a sweet tooth to the ice-cream parlors.
Caption 1, Eis: Eiskalte Leidenschaft


Ich als Hamburger bin hier eigentlich als Flachlandtiroler und dennoch zieht es mich immer wieder in die Berge.    
As a resident of Hamburg, I am actually known as a "flatland Tyrolean" and yet I am still repeatedly drawn to the mountains.
Caption 3-4, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps


Further Learning
There are many sentences that include the verb ziehen on Yabla German, so do a quick search if you need more examples. You can also review past newsletters in which we looked at the phrases Bilanz ziehen and Es zieht! 

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Don't Lose Your Head!

There are a number of expressions in English that involve the noun "head," among them ones like the headline above, "to give someone a heads up," or "out of their head." Most phrases like this can't be translated into German directly, and the slang or idiomatic phrases in German that use der Kopf are not directly translatable to English either.


Ach, mach dir keinen Kopf, Lothar. Du kannst ja gar nichts dafür.    
Oh, don't make yourself a head, Lothar. You can't do anything about it.
Caption 36, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur


Warum machst du dir einen Kopf?    
Why do you make yourself such a head?
Caption 1, Mark Forster: Chöre


It's a bit difficult in a literal translation to understand what is meant by sich keinen Kopf machen, but luckily the Yabla videos also clarify the meaning: The Großstadtrevier video states "slang, don't worry," and the Mark Förster video states "idiom, why do you worry so much?"


Wann finde ich endlich die Zeit, meinen Kopf freizubekommen?
When will I finally find the time to get my head free? 


This doesn't mean that your head is literally stuck in something, but rather that you want to find the time to "clear your mind." Another variation is den Kopf freimachen


Although we all know the English expression "to lose your head," it's usually a figure of speech meaning somebody is becoming irrational.


Wir machen ihn einen Kopf kürzer
We'll make him a head shorter.


This expression, like the origin of the English expression, could mean to execute somebody by lopping off their head, but einen Kopf kürzer machen is usually used figuratively to mean that you will reprimand somebody or "teach them a lesson."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for the term Kopf and see the various ways such expressions are used.

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Die Grippe and other winter ailments

Winter in Germany means it's cold season. Luckily, we at Yabla German have you covered if you find yourself needing to discuss your ailments in German.


With the lack of sunlight in regions of northern Germany, it's normal to feel a bit under the weather or have a low energy level in the winter months. 


„Frederick“, jammerte Piggeldy, „ich bin schon ganz schlapp“.
"Frederick," yammered Piggeldy, "I am already totally exhausted."
Caption 19, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Himmel


But sometimes being particularly exhausted can also be the sign of an impending cold. 


Sie leiden unter Erkältung oder bekommen sogar eine Grippe.
They suffer from a cold, or even get the flu.
Caption 3, Eva erklärt: Gesundheit


Bei Husten oder Schnupfen kann man in der Apotheke Hustenbonbons oder zum Beispiel Nasentropfen kaufen.
If you have a cough or runny nose, you can get cough drops in the pharmacy or buy nose drops, for example.
Caption 23, Eva erklärt: Gesundheit


In particular, nausea or fever can be a sign of the flu.


Davon wurde manchem übel.
Some people became sick to their stomachs from that.
Caption 13, Deutsche Welle: Was ist das Reinheitsgebot?


Wenn man übermäßig schwitzt oder Schüttelfrost bekommt, sollte man auf jeden Fall mit einem Fieberthermometer Fieber messen.
If you sweat excessively or get the chills, you should definitely take your temperature with a thermometer.
Caption 31-32, Eva erklärt: Gesundheit


The flu can luckily often be prevented with immunization, or die Impfung.


Bist du eigentlich gegen die Schweinegrippe geimpft?    
Are you actually immunized against the swine flu?
Caption 24, Deutsche Musik: Thomas Godoy


Further Learning
Watch the video Eva erklärt: Gesundheit in its entirety to get an overview of various symptoms and cures for winter ailments. If you already have a cold, we at Yabla wish you gute Besserung! Otherwise, bleib gesund!

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What's the difference between gern and gerne?

I recently received an email in German in which the writer replied gerne geschehen, a standard response when somebody has thanked you for something. I often hear this phrase in spoken German, but usually as gern geschehen, without the -e after gern. The adverbs gern and gerne have the same meaning, usually translated as "gladly" or "like," so how do we know which one to use in which contexts? 


The answer is very simple: you can use both interchangeably. The original Old German word, from which our modern usage originates, is gerno. This eventually became the modern German word gerne. Even as recently as 20 or so years ago, teachers may have admonished students for using gern instead of gerne in their written German. But eventually, the language as it is spoken began to have an impact on what was considered correct usage, and with time, the dropping of the extra syllable -e allowed for the word to be accepted on equal footing as either gerne or gern: they are, for all intents and purposes, the same word! 


Let's take a look at some examples of gern and gerne being used in a spoken context on Yabla German


Ich würde gern mit dir in einer Altbauwohnung wohnen.
I would like to live with you in an apartment in an old building.
Caption 7, AnnenMayKantereit: 3. Stock 


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren.
I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons.
Caption 10, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern


Ich würde in der Tat gern wissen, wie groß das Team ist, mit dem ich dann zusammenarbeite.
In fact, I would like to know how big the team is that I would be working with.
Captions 48-49, Eva erklärt: Bewerbungen


Danke, aber Sie dürfen mich gerne duzen.
Thanks, but you can gladly address me informally.
Caption 36, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung


Wir würden gern mal auf Deutschlandtournee gehen.
We would like to tour Germany.
Caption 34, 3nach9: Ehrlich Brothers, Show-Magier


Die kannst du gerne haben.
You can gladly have them.
Caption 26: JoNaLu: Der Piratenschatz


Further Learning
Take a look at these interesting articles about gerne and gern at Tandem GöttingenGerman with Nicole, and the Zwiebelfisch series at Der Spiegel magazine. You can also search Yabla German for other examples of gerne and gern being used in conversations. In a forthcoming lesson, we'll discuss the the difference between gerne and mag!

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German Computer Verbs

This week, let's look at some verbs related to computers and technology! Many of these phrases are intuitive for anyone who speaks English, for example eine Mail öffnen or ein Fenster schließen, or ein Programm neu starten


Below, you can see that the verb anhängen ("to attach") also works for email attachments:


Es sieht so aus, als hätte ich die PDF-Datei an die E-Mail angehängt.
It looks as though I attached the PDF file in an email.
Caption 36, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern


However, it is often necessary to learn some new vocabulary. For example, to unlock a computer or cell phone, we use the verb entsperren or freischalten, and not aufschließen or entriegeln as you would for a door. And then, of course, there are the words that are relatively new to both languages. 


Den Mac-Nutzern empfehlen die Spezialisten, ein von Apple bereitgestelltes Sicherheitsupdate herunterzuladen und zu installieren.
The specialists recommend Mac users download and install a security update that has been provided by Apple.
Caption 15-16, Apple-Trojaner: Wie man ihn beseitigt


Mein Management hat mir eine E-Mail weitergeleitet.
My management forwarded me an e-mail.
Caption 23, Schauspielerin: Jessica Schwarz


Ich habe auch ein E-Mail-Konto für Sie eingerichtet, welches Sie überprüfen können, sobald Sie eingeloggt sind.    
I have set up an email account for you as well, which you can check as soon as you are logged in.
Caption 34-35, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch


The infinitive forms of the verbs and participles from the examples above are anhängen ("to attach"), herunterladen ("to download"), installieren ("to install"), weiterleiten ("to forward"), and sich einloggen ("to log in").


Further Learning
For a list of words (including nouns and adjectives) related to computers and technology, you can look at this extensive list. Missing from this list are many "Denglisch" verbs related to technology (downloaden, updaten...), but these should not be used in your German class anyway! They are often used in office settings, but are still essentially slang and used mostly among younger co-workers. It is best to know the real German words.

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Heiraten vs. Verheiraten

It's quite easy to make mistakes with German words that sound nearly the same but have different prefixes and thus different meanings. For example, some verbs using the root verb lassen (to let, to leave):


Der Witzleben ist doch vor zwei Jahren vom Führer entlassen worden.
Witzleben was let go by the Führer two years ago.
Caption 23, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944


Sie verlassen den amerikanischen Sektor.
You are leaving the American Sector.
Caption 1, 25 Jahre Mauerfall: Radtour durch die Geschichte


The verb entlassen can mean "to be fired" or "to be let go," but it can also mean "to be released" as in released from prison. Depending upon its context, the verb verlassen can mean "to leave" or "to abandon."


But what about German words with different prefixes that can be translated as the same word in English? It can be even more confusing to keep these straight. A very good example of this are the verbs heiraten and verheiraten.


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da heiraten wir.
I know someday we'll marry.
Caption 32, Monsters of Liedermaching: Für immer


Using the example below with verheiraten and the subject reflected as the direct object (example 1: wir/uns, example 2: sie/sich), we arrive at the same meaning: 


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da verheiraten wir uns.
I know someday we'll marry.


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da verheiraten sie sich.
I know someday they'll marry.


Both of the examples could use "get married" instead of "marry". The verb verheiraten, when used without a reflective direct object, has a different meaning, however: 


Die Großmutter wollte den Sohn auf jeden Fall verheiraten.
The grandmother wanted badly to get her grandson married off. 


Another easily confused pair are geheiratet and verheiratet: 


Mein Bruder Martin hat letztes Jahr geheiratet.
My brother Martin got married last year.
Caption 19, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch


Der König freute sich, dass seine Tochter endlich verheiratet war.
The King was delighted that his daughter finally got married.
Caption 37, Märchen, Sagenhaft: König Drosselbart


Both geheiratet and verheiratet can be translated as "got married," but there's a big difference in how you use the words. The word geheiratet is a past participle of the verb heiraten. The word verheiratet, on the other hand, is an adjective which stems from the verb heiraten. Thus you can can say: Ich habe geheiratet ("I got married") or Ich bin verheiratet ("I am married") but not vice-versa! A good way to remember the difference is that the prefix ge- ist one of the most common prefixes used in past participles of German verbs. 


Further Learning
Look for variations of heiraten and verheiraten on Yabla German to see them in a real-world context, and take a look at this article on the topic!

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Verbs with gehen

Frohes neues Jahr from all of us at Yabla German!


If a German friend had asked you what your plans were for New Year's Eve, would you have said Ich gehe aus or Ich gehe raus? As you may already know, rausgehen means simply “to exit,” while ausgehen means “to go out” in the sense of going out on the town. 


There are many verbs that contain the verb gehen in German, and only some of them involve the physical act of going somewhere. Let’s look at some examples. 


The verb aufgehen has many possible meanings, from simply “to open,” to “to rise” or “to expand.” 


Man muss viele Türen öfter probieren, bis sie aufgehen.
One has to try many doors more times till they open.
Caption 65, Singer-Songwriter: Sebastian Niklaus


The verb eingehen can mean "to shrink," but auf etwas eingehen or auf jemanden eingehen means "to respond to" or "to agree to."


Ich hoffe, ich konnte Ihnen so ein bisschen zeigen, dass man auf unterschiedliche Zielgruppen unterschiedlich eingehen muss.
I hope I was able to show you a little bit that you have to respond differently to different target groups.
Caption 56, TEDx: Lebenslange Fitness


Umgehen means "to go around" in the sense of "to circumvent", but mit etwas/jemanden umgehen means "to deal with someone or a situation."


Wir wussten eigentlich nicht so richtig, wie wir damit umgehen sollten.
We actually didn't really know how we should deal with it.    
Caption 14, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers: Show-Magier


Further Learning
Look up the following related phrases and additional verbs: davon ausgehenin Flammen aufgehen, das Risiko eingehen, fremdgehen. You can see a large list of verbs that include gehen here and search for them on Yabla German.

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Good intentions

In German, there are two words that can be translated as "the accident": der Unfall, which is when you fall off your bicycle, and der Zufall, which refers to a random occurrence or coincidence. When you talk about something happening zufällig ("accidentally"), it implies this aspect of randomness. When we want to talk about something happening "accidentally" simply in the sense of it being "unintentional," there is a better adverbial phrase to use:


Jetzt bin ich aus Versehen zu weit gelaufen und muss den Bus nach Hause nehmen.
Now I've accidentally walked too far and have to take the bus home.    
Caption 38, Shuah: Auf der Straße in Berlin


A less commonly used synonym for aus Versehen is ohne AbsichtDie Absicht means "the intention," "the aim," or "the purpose." 


Das war Absicht.
That was on purpose.    
Caption 16, JoNaLu: Überall Banditen 


When we speak about something done "intentionally" or "on purpose," we can use either mit Absicht or the adverb absichtlich


Ich konnte ja nicht wissen, dass du Max mit Absicht belogen hast.
I couldn't indeed have known that you lied to Max on purpose.    
Caption 25, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing


Jemand hat Jannik Sternberg absichtlich vom Gerüst geschubst.
Someone intentionally shoved Jannik Sternberg off the scaffolding.
Caption 50, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern


Further Learning
Look absichtlich and aus Versehen up on Yabla German. Think of a few scenarios in which you would need to clarify whether an action was intentional or not and build a few sentences in the past tense. Here are a few pairs of nouns and verbs to get you started:
die Mail / weiterleiten
dich / anrufen
seinen Kaffee / trinken
die Tasche / zu hause lassen

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Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives express a higher degree of a particular quality, whereas superlative adjectives express the highest degree. In order to create comparative adjectives in English, we add "-er" to the end of shorter adjectives (such as "cheaper") or add “more” in front of longer adjectives (“more expensive”). In German, -er is added to all adjectives regardless of how many syllables they have. Mehr is never used for this purpose. 


„Nichts leichter als das", antwortete Frederick.
"Nothing's easier than that!" answered Frederick.    
Caption 4, Piggeldy und Frederick: Arm


Aber was noch viel wichtiger ist als der Saft zum Frühstück, ist natürlich der Kaffee.
But what's far more important for breakfast than juice is, of course, coffee.
Caption 14, Jenny beim Frühstück: Teil 1


Superlative adjectives in English either have "-est" at the end or are preceded by the adjective “most” ("cheapest," "the most expensive"). In German, the suffix -ste or -sten is used, depending on the declension. Take note: Putting meist in front of an adjective will give it a fully different meaning (similar to "mostly"). 


Das ist das schönste Gefühl auf der Welt.
That is the most beautiful feeling in the world.
Caption 66, Kinotipp: Kokowääh


Am einfachsten ist es bei Papier und Pappe.
It is easiest with paper and cardboard.    
Caption 11, Eva erklärt: Mülltrennung 


Jeden Tag trug die Prinzessin die schönsten Gewänder und den teuersten Schmuck.
Every day the Princess wore the most beautiful garments and the most expensive jewelry.
Caption 7-8, Märchen - Sagenhaft: König Drosselbart


Further Learning
When you learn a new adjective on Yabla German, take a moment to learn its comparative and superlative forms. Keep in mind that there are irregular forms where a slight spelling change (such as an umlaut) is required. Take a look at this table for some examples.

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Nichts , nix , and nüscht

The alternate title to this week's lesson could be taken from Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, in that we'll be kept busy discussing the ways that Germans pronounce the word nichts, which means—well there you have it—"nothing":


„Frederick, was ist eine Wiese?“ -„Nichts leichter als das“, antwortete Frederick.
"Frederick, what is a meadow ?" -"Nothing's easier than that," Frederick answered.
Captions 4-5, Piggeldy und Frederick: Wiese 


Aber du hast hier einfach nichts zu suchen, versteh das doch endlich.
But there is nothing for you here, you have to finally understand that.
Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden: Vergangenheit und Zukunft


The word nichts is sometimes mispronounced by non-native German speakers as "nix," whereas the proper pronunciation requires that difficult soft back-of-the-mouth "ch" sound that lies somewhere between "k" and "sh." Click here (courtesy of Duden) to hear nichts pronounced correctly. 


But while some non-Germans may not get the proper register for the word, you'll find many native Germans regularly pronouncing nichts as nix! That's because nix is common as a slang pronunciation of nichts. Unlike the soft -ch sound in nichts, this is pronounced as it is written with the X, and rhymes with the English words "ticks" and "bricks":


Man sagt: „Nix hält für immer“, doch ey, warum denn nicht?
People say, "Nothing lasts forever," but hey, why not actually?
Caption 6, Mark Forster: Wir sind groß


Aber heute ist es total sicher, kann nix passieren.
But today it's totally safe here, nothing can happen.
Caption 70, Unterwegs mit Cettina: Schlittschuhlaufen


This leaves us, of course, with nüscht, which also means "nothing," but does so with a distinctly Berliner accent. The Duden dictionary classifies nüscht as Berlin and Northeast German slang. 


A good example of nüscht—or in this case, the variant nüschts—is found in a German-overdubbed version of  the 1993 comedy film Loaded Weapon. Two cops, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Emilio Estevez, enter a hotel room occupied by a criminal, played by Jon Lovitz, who has just emptied a machine gun at them through the hotel door: 


Jon Lovitz: Hey.... ich weiß nüschts. Ich habe nüschts gesehen und ich sage auch nüschts

Samuel L. Jackson: Nichts. Das Wort heißt „nichts“ und nicht „nüschts“. Da ist kein Ü und kein -sch, es heißt „nichts“. 

Jon Lovitz: Na gut, OK. „Nichts, nichts, nichts“! OK? Jetzt zufrieden? 

Samuel L. Jackson: Schon besser. 


The German script was adapted from the American, which had Jon Lovitz saying "nothin'" and getting a grammar lecture from Samuel L. Jackson about the word "nothing" having a G on the end.


Further Learning
Read the Wikipedia article on Berlin dialect, it could prove useful the next time you visit Berlin to help get your head around some of the different pronunciations found here.  You can also read up more on the topic here. As an ending note, the German title of the Shakespeare play is Viel Lärm um nichts. How would you translate that directly?

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Plural vs. Singular Nouns

This week, we're going to take a look at a few nouns that are automatically plural in English but singular in German. It is important for English speakers to take note of these before the wrong conjugation gets used, or an article gets left out.


A classic example of this is die Brille, which unlike its English translation "the glasses" is singular in German:


Wo ist meine Brille?
Where are my glasses?
Caption 3, Nicos Weg - Folge 21: Was ist das?


As you can see, the third person singular form of sein is used with die Brille, and NOT the third person plural like in English. Die Brillen sind... would indicate multiple pairs of glasses.


There are quite a few of these nouns, for example, die Hosedas Geschirr, and die Schere:


Ich habe mir auch gleich eine neue Hose gekauft.
I just bought myself new trousers as well.
Caption 23, Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze 


Hier gibt's viel Geschirr, aber ich glaube, Christiane hat genug Geschirr.    
There are a lot of dishes here, but I believe Christiane has enough dishes.    
Caption 37, Fine: bringt ihre Sachen vorbei


Das hier ist eine Schere, mit der kann ich Metall schneiden. 
These here are scissors with which I can cut metal. 
Caption 5, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug


While we say "the police are" in English, the noun is actually singular in German. Take a look at the conjugation of ermitteln below:


Die Polizei ermittelt wegen Hausfriedensbruch.
The police are investigating because of criminal trespassing.
Caption 12, Atomkraft: Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten


Further Learning
Take a note of any similar nouns you find on Yabla German and make sure to memorize them. Can you find any nouns that follow the opposite pattern?

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Some German Sayings

Let's take a look this week at some German idioms as outlined in the Yabla video series Eva erklärt Sprichwörter


Wenn du so dreinschaust, ist nicht gut Kirschen essen mit dir.
When you look like that, it's not good to eat cherries with you.
Caption 41, Marga Engel schlägt zurück


The above saying has little to do with the pleasant pastime of eating cherries, but as Eva explains: 


Wenn mit jemandem nicht gut Kirschen essen ist, dann meinen wir damit eine unfreundliche Person.
If it's not good to eat cherries with someone, then we mean by that an unfriendly person.
Captions 10-11, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter


From eating cherries, we move up to the nose:


Früher habe ich Fußball gemocht, aber seit dem gestrigen Halbfinale hab ich die Nase voll!
I used to like soccer, but since yesterday's semi-finals, I have the nose full!
Captions 22-23,  Konjugation: Das Verb „mögen“


The person above is not literally suffering from nasal congestion, but rather:


Wenn man die Nase voll hat, dann bedeutet das, dass man auf eine bestimmte Situation keine Lust mehr hat, verärgert ist oder einer Sache überdrüssig wird.


If you have your nose full, then it means that you have no more patience for a certain situation, are annoyed, or have become weary of a matter.
Captions 34-36, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter


And lastly we go from nasal situations to an apparent lack of pigs:


„Das“, sagte Frederick, „tja... das weiß kein Schwein.“
"That," said Frederick, "well... no pig knows that."
Captions 39-40, Piggeldy und Frederick: Das Fernweh


„So lange Vorderfüße hat doch kein Schwein und damit basta!“    
"But no pig has such long front feet, and that's the end of it!"
Caption 38, Piggeldy und Frederick: Unendlichkeit


Vom Schwein spricht man übrigens auch, wenn man Desinteresse ausdrücken möchte. Dann sagt man: „Das interessiert doch kein Schwein.“
By the way, you also speak about pigs when you want to express disinterest. Then you say: "But no pig is interested in that."
Captions 55-56, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter


The simplest straightforward translation of the idiom kein Schwein is thus "no-one."


Further Learning
Kein Schwein should be misunderstanding German idioms: Go to Yabla German and watch the Eva erklärt Sprichwörter series and find other examples of these expressions in different contexts. Later in the month we will be bringing you some more examples of idioms from this Yabla series!


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For the Sake of Learning German

As you certainly know by now, a German adjective in the nominative or subject case for a masculine noun with an indefinite article usually takes an -er as an ending. 


For example, with the adjective halb:


...ein halber Teelöffel über drei Stücke Wurst.
... a half a teaspoon on three pieces of sausage.
Caption 39, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück


So ein halber Marathon sind 20 Kilometer.
Such a half marathon is 20 kilometers.
Caption 10, Internationale Automobilausstellung: IAA in Frankfurt öffnet die Pforten


Ein halber Mond versinkt vor mir.
A half moon sinks before me.
Caption 17, Tokio Hotel: Durch den Monsun


From knowing that the adjective halb, seen here as halber, means "half," you might make a mistake when you see a word of the same spelling in some other contexts: 


Der Ordnung halber... 


When you find a noun in the genitive case followed by halber, this is the preposition halber and means "for the sake of..." The above could be translated as "for the sake of orderliness" or "for the sake of clarity." Here are few other examples: 


Der Einfachheit halber = for the sake of simplicity
Der Transparenz halber = for the sake of transparency
Der Vollständigkeit halber = for the sake of completeness
Der Datenqualität halber = for the sake of data quality
Der Ehrlichkeit halber  = for the sake of honesty


In some cases, the use of the adjective halber became so common that it fused with a noun to become an adjectival suffix, or the ending of an adjective. The meaning that the suffix -halber lends a word is usually the same as the adjective: 


gerechtigkeitshalber = der Gerechtigkeit halber = for the sake of justice
sicherheitshalber = der Sicherheit halber = for the sake of security


But sometimes it can have a slightly different meaning as the cause of something rather than for the sake of something: 


krankheitshalber = because of illness
umständehalber = due to circumstances


Further Learning
Go to the German Duden dictionary and read the definitions of the adjective halber and the adjectival suffix halber. See if you can translate the title of this lesson to proper German, too! (Hint: it will use the genitive case of das Deutschlernen.)

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