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Eben: Exactly just even!

While watching Yabla videos, especially interviews, you may well have noticed that German speakers love using the word eben. Used as an adjective, eben means “even” or “flat or level”; as an adverb it means “evenly.”


But there’s more to it. Let’s take a closer look! 


Der kultivierte Camper ist eben anspruchsvoller geworden.

The cultivated camper has just become more discriminating.

Caption 5, Glamping - Camping mit Stil

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Eben is used in this video to emphasize the fact that there are some people who are used to high standards and will not be satisfied spending their holidays in a simple tent made of four poles and a piece of cloth (whereas others surely will!). People are different. Das ist eben so!  (That’s just the way it is!) So the example of eben in this video is used in the sense of "just" or "simply."

In Unser Universum - Der tiefste Blick ins All, we learn that eben also means "exactly" or "precisely":


Was wir oder unsere Teleskope sehen, ist das Licht,

What we or our telescopes are seeing is the light

das von eben diesem Himmelskörper ausgeht.

that radiates exactly from this heavenly body.

Captions 35-36, Unser Universum - Der tiefste Blick ins All

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Eben can also describe something that has happened just now:


Marco du hast eben schon aufgelegt.

Marco you just DJed.

Caption 2, Big City Beats - DJ Marco Petralia

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Further Learning

Sicher ist es nicht eben einfach (of course it’s not exactly easy) to implement eben correctly in your conversation right away, but as with everything: Übung macht eben den Meister! (practice just makes perfect!). So why not start right now and create three sentences in which eben is used as “exactly,” another three in which it is used as “just,” and three more in which it has the meaning of “just now.”


Das ist eben der Film, den wir gestern in der Vorschau gesehen haben.

That’s exactly the movie we saw yesterday in the preview. 

Ich esse eben gerne mein Frühstück im Bett.

I just love having my breakfast in bed.

Ich bin eben am Flughafen angekommen.

I have just arrived at the airport. 

Viel Spaß! (Have fun!)


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