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Expressions using Tisch, Part I

In English, we have a number of expressions that use the word "table," such as "to sweep something under table" (to hide something), "to take something off the table" (to make something unavailable), or "to bring something to the table" (to provide or offer a useful skill or attribute). The German language also has a wide variety of expressions relating to der Tisch. Let's take a look at some of them today!


Die Suppe aß er hübsch bei Tisch.

He ate the soup nicely at the table.

Caption 23, Kindergeschichten: Der Suppenkasper

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Of course, am Tisch is also "at the table." Depending upon the context, the expression bei Tisch could also be translated as "during the meal."


Das Thema ist endlich vom Tisch.
The issue has finally been resolved.


The German expression vom Tisch sein is kind of a false friend, because in German, it means that something is resolved or finished, which has a positive connotation. But if you say that something is "off the table" in English, it means that something (like an offer) has been withdrawn and is no longer available. A very different meaning indeed!


Ich kann den Tisch decken und Milch eingießen oder Brot holen.

I can set the table, and pour milk, or get bread.

Caption 38, Heidi: Heidis erster Tag beim Großvater

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You probably knew this one already, but it's also easy to misunderstand, since den Tisch decken translates literally as "to cover the table," which could be misinterpreted to mean to cover it with a tablecloth or something! Of course, it just means to set the table with silverware and such.


Lass die nicht im Stich, Eddie! Mach reinen Tisch.

Don't leave her in the lurch, Eddie! Make a fresh start.

Captions 34-35, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The expression einen reinen Tisch machen is very close to the English expression "to start with a clean state," which means to start something over again despite old mistakes.


Das Angebot liegt auf dem Tisch.
The offer is on the table.


The expression auf dem Tisch liegen is pretty easy, because it has the same meaning as the English idiom: to be presented, to be put forth, to be offered, or to be shown.


Und wenn da jemand die Frauen unter den Tisch fallen lassen wollte...  dann verschwinden sie eben aus der Kunstgeschichte.

And if someone, didn't want to take the women into account... then they simply disappear from art history.

Captions 30-31, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

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In English, to be paid "under the table" means that somebody is getting paid off the record, but "to fall under the table" usually just means that something got dropped on the floor! And in German, to "let something fall under the table" means that something has been omitted, ignored, is no longer considered or mentioned, or is not taken into account.


Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions we just learned about and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work:


bei Tisch

vom Tisch sein

den Tisch decken

einen reinen Tisch machen

auf dem Tischen liegen

unter den Tisch fallen lassen


Afterwards go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which these expressions have been used.

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