German Lessons


Taking care

This week, we'll look at German verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that relate to taking care and being careful. 


You may already know the word vorsichtig. As is normal for German adjectives, it is also an adverb, so it means both "careful" and "carefully."


Seid vorsichtig und macht bloß nichts kaputt.

Be careful and don't break anything.

Caption 47, Playmobil: Skispringen mit Familie Hauser

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Fahr vorsichtig, ja?

Drive carefully, OK?

Caption 35, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Other words that can mean "careful" are sorgfältig, which implies a thoroughness or accuracy, and behutsam, which implies gentleness and caution.


Hast du die schon mal so sorgfältig bügeln sehen?

Have you ever seen them iron so carefully?

Caption 19, Playmobil: Skispringen mit Familie Hauser

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Wir alle sollten unsere Kontakte auch weiter behutsam einschränken.

We should all continue to cautiously restrict our contact.

Caption 57, Wir müssen über Corona reden: Mit Olaf Scholz, Luisa & Dr. Daniel Zickler

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Und ich nahm ihn ganz behutsam in die Hand

And I took it very gently in my hand

Caption 5, Nicole: Papillon

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Then there is also the word schonend. This relates to the verb schonen, which has a number of possible translations, including "to treat with care," "to protect," "to preserve," and "to rest" or "to go easy on."


Und es wird schonend mit dem Boden umgegangen, damit er viele Jahre Gemüse bringen kann.

And the soil is treated carefully so that it can produce vegetables for many years.

Captions 27-28, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem

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Um die Pferde zu schonen, werden die Vierbeiner übrigens selbst auch gedoubelt.

In order to treat the horses with care, by the way, these four-legged actors also have doubles.

Caption 21, Für Tierfreunde: Pferde beim Film

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Na ja, Frankfurt ist ja eine Stadt, die sehr früh als Großstadt politische Entscheidungen getroffen hat, Umwelt zu schonen

Well, yes, Frankfurt is a city that, very early on, as a major city, made political decisions to protect the environment.

Captions 50-51, Erstes Frankfurter „Schuljahr der Nachhaltigkeit“ Abschlussfeier

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Other verbs that relate to being careful or watching out are aufpassen and achtgeben, which can both relate to watching out for your own wellbeing or that of others. 


Da muss man aufpassen, wenn man die Straße überqueren will.

You have to be careful when you want to cross the street.

Caption 22, Shuah Auf der Straße in Berlin

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Kannst du auf die anderen achtgeben?

Can you watch over the others? 

Caption 12, Heidi Kann Heidi Peter retten?

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Further Learning
You can look up more examples with the words vorsichtig, sorgfältig, and behutsam on Yabla German in order to better understand the slight differences in their meanings. 

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