Are you crazy?

You probably fall well within the standard psychological definitions of a sane person, but it's possible nevertheless that, at some point, somebody might accuse you in German of being bonkers, nuts, whack, cuckoo, psycho, mad, cracked, bonkers, potty, barmy, mental, unhinged, or just plain crazy. If you are familiar with a few of the German adjectives on the topic, you will be better prepared to react calmly and rationally, belying the accusation by the very coolness of your manner. 

 

Sag mal, spinnst du?
Tell me, are you crazy
Caption 58, Mama arbeitet wieder: Papa ist weg

 

The verb spinnen in formal usage is the spinning of wool, but  "are you spinning?" is a slang idiom for "are you crazy?"

 

Bei euch piept's wohl! 
It's really chirping with you!
Caption 41, JoNaLu: Prinz Dreckspatz

 

The verb piepen in its standard usage means to make a high, whistling sound like a bird, but bei jemandem piept es is a slang idiom for suggesting they are crazy. 

 

Hast du eine Macke oder was? 
Do you have a defect or something?
Caption 6, Einsatz für Christophorus: Gehwegradler

 

The noun die Macke in formal usage is "defect," but in casual use eine Macke haben means to be crazy, to "have a screw loose" so to speak.

 

Further Learning
Some formal German adjectives referring to a loss of sanity include irrsinnig, psychotisch, geistig behindert, and geistig gestört. The term geisteskrank was a formal term in decades past, but is now considered outdated. As in English, there are very many informal or slang adjectives, including verrückt, wahnsinnig, irre, blödsinnigblöd, and bescheuert, to name a few. Go to Yabla German and see how they are used in a real world context, but be careful how you use these words out there. The person you are accusing might really be crazy, after all!

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Sie liebt dich, yeah, yeah, yeah

The classic rock band the Beatles played a lot in Hamburg at the start of their career and thus felt it was important to release some of their first recordings in German too. The song "She loves you" was also released in 1964 as "Sie liebt dich," and you can listen to it here. The expression is also the climax of a classic fairy tale:

 

Oh, Biest! Ich liebe dich. Es ist mir egal, wie du aussiehst.
Oh, Beast! I love you. It doesn't matter to me how you look.
Caption 84, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Schöne und das Biest

 

And another classic German expression for being in love:

 

Ich habe mich in dich verliebt.
I've fallen in love with you.
Caption 31, Filmtrailer: Keinohrhasen

 

The phrase in sich verlieben is one of the times when the German preposition in has the noun following it in the accusative case. In the Berlin dialect, it is often in the dative case (ich liebe dir, ich bin in dir verliebt), but this is not good High German. Let's stick with ich liebe dich and ich bin in dich verliebt!

 

Nacht, mein Schatz. Ich hab' dich vermisst.    
Good night, my precious. I've missed you.
Caption 4, Mama arbeitet wieder: Die Trennung

 

Der Schatz is a classic German term of endearment, but it also means "treasure." When I lived in Germany as a teenager, I often heard male American soldiers using the dialect version of the word, Schatzi, to accost unfortunate female passers-by. The word "schatzi" is even included in a number of American dictionaries as an acceptable English word, evidence of a relatively recent addition of a German word into English. And of course, if you love someone, you miss them (vermissen) when they are gone.

 

Further Learning
Look for further examples of lieben and verlieben on Yabla German and see how they are used in a real world context. 

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Where it's at!

A preposition is a type of word that express spatial or temporal relations. Here is a list of known English prepositions. There is no set of rules for learning prepositions, and the prepositions from one language often do not translate directly into another. It's best to learn English prepositions by getting used to using them in context. Today, let's take a look at the preposition "at."

 

The preposition "at" can be used to express the time of day: 

 

And at three o'clock the Queen comes on and she gives her speech.
Caption 24, Christmas traditions: in the UK

 

Or to indicate a place: 

 

As you can see behind me, we are at Buckingham Palace.
Caption 1, In London with Lauren: Buckingham Palace

 

Or to indicate an activity or proficiency with something:

 

So I'm very good at working as part of a team.
Caption 34, Business English: The job interview

 

Or very commonly when mentioning an email address. The "at symbol" (@) in an email address is also called... at!

 

You can email us at
Caption 50, The Egoscue Clinic of Austin: Exercises for low back pain

 

Further Learning
Search for examples of the preposition "at" on Yabla English to see them used in a real-world context. 

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Happiness is...

In the last lesson, we discussed the uses of das Unglück, often translated as "misfortune" or "bad luck" in English. Let's take a happier approach this week and look at some of the uses of das Glück and some words related to it. Das Glück is often translated as "lucky," especially when combined with the verb haben:

 

Mann, da hab' ich noch mal Glück gehabt!
Man, I was lucky again!
Caption 32, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

 

Das Glück can also mean "happiness": 

 

Und wie lange dauert überhaupt das Glück?
And how long does happiness last after all?
Caption 6,  Die Toten Hosen: Ertrinken

 

Glücklich is an adjectival variant of das Glück

 

Glücklich und zufrieden legten sie sich anschließend zur Ruhe.    
Happy and satisfied, they afterwards lay down to rest.
Caption 62, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten

 

Der Glückwunsch can be translated as "congratulations" or "best wishes": 

 

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag!
Heartfelt best wishes on your birthday!
Caption 22, Mama arbeitet wieder: Kapitel 3, Papa ist weg

 

Further Learning
There are dozens of German compound words that are formed with the noun das Glück, among them der Glücksbringer, die Glückseligkeit, der Glücksgriff, das Glücksspiel, and die Glückszahl. See if you can guess what these words mean without using a dictionary, and then go to Yabla German and see how they are used in a real world context. 

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Luck in Misfortune?

The German noun das Unglück is often translated as "misfortune" or "bad luck" in English:

 

König Priamos erklärte, es würde Unglück bringen.
King Priam said it would bring bad luck.
Caption 51, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Das Trojanische Pferd

 

But das Unglück can also be an accident or a disaster: 

 

Es war ein großes Unglück mit dem Vulkanausbruch in Island.
It has been a big disaster with the volcano erupting in Iceland.
Caption 3, Reisen: während des Vulkanausbruchs

 

There is also an idiomatic usage of das Unglück

 

Wir haben Glück im Unglück, dass wir jetzt ein paar Tage länger hier in Spanien sein dürfen.    
We have luck in misfortune that we may now spend a few more days in Spain.
Caption 24, Reisen: während des Vulkanausbruchs

 

The rendering as "luck in misfortune" is literal, but the idiom is akin to the English "a blessing in disguise," when good things come out of seemingly bad occurrences. 

 

Further Learning
But let's not end this lesson on a sour note, instead let's give it das Happy End or das Happyend (a German pseudo-anglicism for a "happy ending"). The opposite of das Unglück is das Glück, which can be translated as "happiness," "good luck," or "good fortune," among other happier words. Do a search for the word Glück on Yabla German and see how the different contexts of its usage can help you understand it better in a real world context. 

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The Message or the News?

The German noun die Nachricht is often translated into "message" in English, such as a message left on your voicemail:

 

Sie haben eine neue Nachricht.
You have a new message.
Caption 27, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

 

In a slightly confusing twist, both the singular and plural form of die Nachricht (plural: die Nachrichten) are often translated into "news" in English: 

 

Die Nachricht von der schlafenden Prinzessin verbreitete sich in vielen Ländern.
The news of the sleeping princess spread throughout many countries.
Captions 57-58, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Dornröschen

 

Gute Nachrichten für Hessens Wirtschaftsminister Tarek Al-Wazir. 
Good news for Hessia's Minister for Economic Affairs Tarek Al-Wazir.
Caption 1, Frankfurt wird Handelszentrum: für die chinesische Währung Yuan

 

This may seem odd, but the reason that the word is translated the same regardless of whether it is singular or plural in German is that the word "news" is a mass noun in English. The Oxford dictionary defines a mass noun as "A noun denoting something that cannot be counted (e.g., a substance or quality), in English usually a noun that lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article e.g. luggage, china, happiness."

 

Further Learning
Do a search for the word Nachricht on Yabla German and see how the different contexts of its usage can help you understand whether it's best to translate this word as "message" or "news," as well as decide when you should choose die Nachricht or its plural die Nachrichten when using it to mean "news."

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False Friends in Big Numbers

It's easy to get confused by the names of large numbers in German, as many of them are false friends — number names that are the same as in English but represent different numbers entirely. Let's start relatively small with a mere million: 

 

Rund eine Million Menschen wird in der Stadt erwartet.
Around one million people are expected in the city.
Captions 23-24, Rhein-Main-TV: Feier zur deutschen Einheit in Frankfurt wird gigantisch 

 

Thus "million" in English is the same as die Million in German: a 1 followed by 6 zeros, 1,000,000. But when we ramp it up to an English billion, we find our first false friend:

 

Drei Milliarden Jahre lang war kein Lebewesen auf der Erde mit bloßem Auge zu erkennen.
For three billion years no living thing on earth was visible to the naked eye.
Captions 19-20, Zeit: Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem

 

An English billion is die Milliarde in German (plural Milliarden). That's a 1 followed by 9 zeros, 1,000,000,000. Let's get even bigger with our next false friend: 

 

Ich bin eine aus sechs Billionen.
I am one of six trillion.
Caption 7, Frida Gold: 6 Billionen 

 

An English trillion is die Billion (plural Billionen) in German. That's a 1 followed by 12 zeros, 1,000,000,000,000. I'm not sure what Frida Gold is referring to, since the population of planet Earth is 7.4 billion (in English, 7,4 Milliarden in German), so even if she means the English "billion," the count should be 7 billion, not 6 billion! Maybe it just sounded better in the song...

 

So let's recap what we've learned and go a bit further (false friends are highlighted in bold): 

 

English / German 
Million / die Million (1 plus 6 zeros)
Billion / die Milliarde (1 plus 9 zeros)
Trillion / die Billion (1 plus 12 zeros)
Quadrillion / die Billiarde (1 plus 15 zeros)
Quintillion / die Trillion (1 plus 18 zeros)
Sextillion / die Trilliarde (1 plus 21 zeros)
Septillion / die Quadrillion (1 plus 24 zeros)
Octillion / die Quadrilliarde (1 plus 27 zeros)
Nonillion / die Quintillion (or: die Quinquillion) (1 plus 30 zeros)

 

Note that all plurals of these high-count words in German end with -en.

 

Further Learning
Take a look here at the complete list of names of large German numbers and do a search for some big numbers on Yabla German and see some more examples of how they are used in German in a real world context! 

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For or Against

The preposition gegen is usually translated as "against" in English, but there are some exceptions, especially when gegen comes up in a health context. When discussing whether a medicine is effective for a specific health condition, gegen is usually translated as "for":

 

Gegen die Halsschmerzen hilft ein Hustenbonbon.
For sore throats, a cough drop helps.
Caption 9, Krank sein: mit Eva

 

Das kann ganz gut gegen das Bauchweh helfen.    
This can help a lot for a stomachache.
Caption 17, Krank sein: mit Eva

 

However, gegen in regards to allergies is usually translated as "to": 

 

Ich bin erst mal allergisch gegen Pferde geworden…
I first became allergic to horses…
Caption 44, Curly Horses: Pferdeglück auch für Allergiker

 

One exception, however, is regarding immunization, where gegen is usually translated as "against": 

 

Bist du eigentlich gegen die Schweinegrippe geimpft?
Are you actually immunized against the swine flu?
Caption 24, Deutsche Musik: Thomas Godoj

 

Further Learning
Do a search for gegen on Yabla German and see some more examples of how this preposition is used in German in a real world context! 

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Ein Mann will nach oben

There are a number of ways to indicate that something is going "up" in German, but today let's take a look at the prepositional phrase nach oben, which can be translated into English in a number of ways, depending on the context. Let's take a look at some different interpretations of the phrase in German Yabla videos.

 

Vielleicht halten Sie's grad so ein bisschen nach oben.    
Maybe you could hold it up a little bit.
Caption 29, Fußball: Torwandschießen

 

… dass ein unsichtbarer Faden am Kopf den ganzen Körper nach oben zieht.
… that an invisible thread on top of your head is pulling the whole body upward.
Caption 15, Flirt-Coach-Serie: Die richtige Körpersprache

 

Das war ein langer Weg nach oben.
It was a long way to the top.
Caption 3, Preisverleihung: Bestes Magazin

 

Nach oben sind dem Preis keine Grenzen gesetzt.
No price limits are set at the top.
Caption 13, Highend-Fashion aus dem Kloster: Ein Mönch als Maßschneider

 

Als der Frosch nach oben in ihr Bett getragen werden wollte …    
When the Frog wanted to be carried upstairs to her bed …
Caption 57, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der Froschkönig

 

In the examples above, you see nach oben used to mean "up," "upward," "to the top," "at the top," and "upstairs." Note that when you say in German that you are going upstairs, it is more common to simply say you are going nach oben than to use the more literal die Treppe hinaufgehen.

 

The prepositional phrase nach oben also has a number of idiomatic usages: 

 

Das heißt natürlich nicht, dass hier alle Leute die Nase nach oben tragen.
Of course, that doesn't mean that all the people here put their noses up
Caption 5, Rhein-Main-TV: Badesee Rodgau

 

Die Nase nach oben tragen means "to be conceited."

 

Es gibt noch Potential nach oben.
There is still upward potential.
Caption 21, Rhein-Main-TV: Green-Region-Konferenz zur Nachhaltigkeit

 

And here, Potential nach oben means there is room for improvement.

 

Ein Mann will nach oben is the title of a novel by Hans Fallada, whose final novel from 1947, Jeder stirbt für sich allein (English title: "Alone in Berlin"), became a surprise bestseller in its English translation in 2009. Ein Mann will nach oben was made into a 13-part TV film in 1978.

 

Ein Mann will nach oben.    
A man wants to move up.
Caption 1, Mathieu Carriere: Ein Mann will nach oben

 

Further Learning
Do a search for nach oben on Yabla German and see some more examples of how this phrase is used in German in a real world context! 

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Like totally whatever...

Let's take a break this week from the downward spiral of dismal news reports and have a look at something that's, like, totally whatever. The English interjection "whatever" can be rendered as the German phrase wie auch immer, which directly translates to the rather clumsy sounding "as always too." 

 

Na ja, gut, wie auch immer. Wie auch immer.
Well, good, whatever. Whatever.
Captions 17-18, Warten auf: Rihanna

 

If the interjection "whatever" is used in a disparaging way, however, to mean "I don't care" or "it doesn't matter," then there is a somewhat less than entirely polite solution: 

 

… mit oder ohne Bindestrich, scheißegal!
… with or without the dash, whatever!
Caption 82, Frankfurter Oktoberfest: Dirndl und Lederhosen

 

The English pronoun "whatever" is usually simply rendered with the German was

 

Man kann machen und tun, was man will.
You can make and do whatever you want.
Caption 20, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

 

The English adjective "whatever" has several possible translations in German: 

 

In welchen Höhen und welchen Tiefen wir gemeinsam waren...
In whatever ups and whatever downs we were in together...
Caption 11: Die Toten Hosen: Altes Fieber

 

Egal, wo ich hingekommen bin, in irgendein Auto eingestiegen bin, lief immer FFH.
No matter where I went, or whatever car I got inside of, FFH was always playing.
Caption 8, Formel-1-Rennfahrer: Timo Glock

 

The more common translation of welche is "which," and irgendein is usually rendered as "any" or "some," but those would not have worked very well in the examples above. As always with translations, the most important consideration is the context.

 

Further Learning
Do a search for the word "whatever" on Yabla German and see the many examples of how this word is used in German in a real world context! 

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