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Office Supplies, Part I

Let's talk about office supplies that are not specifically related to the ever-present digital devices in the workplace and at school. With the shift to digital over the last 30 years, we don't use nearly as many office supplies (like paper) as we used to, and perhaps this is good for the environment in some ways. But it's still important to know the words for some of these everyday objects if you ever plan to go to Germany to work or to study! Some words, like der Kugelschreiber (ballpoint pen), you probably know already, so let's take a look today at some items that may be new to your vocabulary.


Fangen wir mal an mit dem Tacker. Das ist ein kleiner Bürotacker, mit dem kann man Seiten zusammenheften.

Let's start with the stapler. This is a small office stapler, with which you can staple pages together.

Captions 9-11, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The German word for "stapler" is der Tacker, and an office stapler is der Bürotacker. Der Tacker is what is called a false friend, because it sounds like an English word that has a different meaning: Although you use der Tacker to affix staples, the German word for "staple" is die Heftklammer. This can be especially confusing since the German word for "tack" is der Tack or die Reißzwecke, and a "thumbtack" is der Reißnagel. Note too, that the verb for the act of stapling something together is zusammenheften.


Und das hier ist Klebeband. Auf Deutsch sagen aber fast alle „Tesafilm“, obwohl Tesa eine Marke ist.

And this here is adhesive tape. In German, however, almost everyone says "Tesafilm," although Tesa is a brand.

Captions 68-70, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The noun das Klebeband can mean any kind of adhesive tape, thus it's easier to distinguish the clear adhesive type by calling it by its brand name der Tesafilm. It's usually just called Tesa for short, and in this form the noun gender is neuter. In American English, we often use "Scotch tape" for clear tape, and the British often use the term "Sellotape"—both of which are brand names too!


Das sind nämlich Haftnotizen, aber jeder sagt „Post-its“, weil wir eben auch ganz oft englische Wörter verwenden,

Specifically, these are sticky notes, but everyone says "Post-its" because we also very often just use English words,

Captions 40-41, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The German word for a sticky note is die Haftnotiz. It's also called der Klebezettel or der Haftzettel. But it's also nice to know that Germans often use the same word for the name brand Post-its that we often use for sticky notes. By the way, it's a neuter noun: das Post-it.


Schreibmaterialien wie zum Beispiel Briefpapier, Briefumschläge wie dieser oder Schreibblöcke sind aus Papier gemacht.

Writing materials such as, for example, stationary, envelopes like this one, or notepads are made of paper.

Captions 17-18, Eva zeigt uns: Materialien

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Gender-wise, these nouns are das Schreibmaterial, das Briefpapier, der Briefumschlag, der Schreibblock (also der Notizblock), and das Papier.


Und hier hab ich ganz viele Buntstifte: dicke Buntstifte, zum Malen oder etwas hervorheben.

And here I have a lot of colored pencils: thick colored pencils for drawing or highlighting something.

Captions 65-66, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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This one is easy to remember, as you probably already know the noun der Bleistift for "pencil." So it's logical that the adjective bunt, which means "colorful," is paired to make the word der Buntstift.


Hier ist eine Schere, brauch ich auch immer, um irgendwas zu schneiden.

Here's a pair of scissors, I always need these, too, to cut something.

Captions 63-64, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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It's taken me years to make myself use a German singular verb with die Schere, because in English, we always use the plural "The scissors are..." and not "The scissor is..." But in German, die Schere is a singular feminine noun, so you always say Die Schere ist... By the way, scissors are not just a topic in office supplies, you will find them playing an important role in many classic German fairy tales, such as Rapunzel and Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot.


Further Learning
Make a list of the English office supply words mentioned above, then see if you can translate them correctly into German, paying close attention to the nouns' genders. Then go to Yabla German and watch the videos above to get a better overview of the words you just learned!

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Caption 64, 63, 66, 65, 41, 40, 70, 69, 68, 11, 10, 9

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