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German Expressions of Disbelief and Frustration

This week, let's look at ways that disbelief and frustration are expressed in German. Some of the expressions below are similar to English expressions, while others have a much harsher meaning than their literal translations. Take a look!


Das kann nicht sein (literally "that cannot be") can be used to express disbelief. More accurate translations in this case would be "No way!" or "That's not possible." 


Aber das kann nicht sein. Wo ist Yara?

But that's not possible. Where is Yara?

Caption 14, Nicos Weg - Folge 44: Vorm Fahrradladen

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In English, we also express disbelief with "You can't be serious." This has a few different translations in German that we have covered in a previous newsletter.  


Das meinst du nicht im Ernst.

You can't be serious.

Caption 17, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 2: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

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The phrase Das gibt's doch gar nicht may literally translate as "that doesn't exist," but it has a similar meaning to Das kann nicht sein. Germans may use this and the expressions above when something both surprises and upsets them.


Was ist das denn? Das gibt's doch gar nicht.

What is that then? That just can't be.

Caption 27, Fußball - Prominente beim Benefizspiel

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The phrase Was soll das? is an expression that has a meaning similar to "What's the meaning of this?" 


Was soll das? Du störst uns, Pettersson.

What's the meaning of this? You are bothering us, Pettersson.

Caption 15, Pettersson und Findus - Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze - Part 1

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Now on to expressions of annoyance. Jemanden ärgern can be translated as "to annoy someone," as can jemanden nerven. In the sentence below with the adjectives ärgerlich and bescheuert, the words ja and doch are used for emphasis. 


Allerdings nervt es mich auch, dass ich die Einzige bin, die für das Essen bezahlt.

However, it also annoys me that I'm the only one who pays for the food.

Caption 34, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Probleme

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Das ist ja wirklich ärgerlich!

This is really aggravating!

Caption 6, Pettersson und Findus - Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze - Part 3

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Ach, ist doch bescheuert.

Oh, that's stupid.

Caption 63, Die Pfefferkörner - Eigentor

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Further Learning
Search for more examples of these phrases on Yabla German so that you can hear the right intonation.

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