Der, die, or das? Part 1: Masculine Nouns

As we know, German nouns can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and the article used with a noun is dependent on its gender. You may have already been advised to memorize the definite article der, die, or das as an essential part of the noun itself, as there are few patterns that will reliably help you retrieve the gender of the noun later on. At Yabla, we try to help with this by always including the definite article of any new vocabulary words presented in our newsletters.

 

However, because new words are not always presented with their definite article in Yabla videos or in real life situations, it may be good to learn a few tendencies that exist for certain word endings. Let’s start with some typically masculine endings, keeping in mind that these rules do have exceptions and that memorizing the article along with each individual noun will always be a better idea.

 

Often, words ending with -er, -or, -en, -ling, -smus, -ig, -eig-ant, or -eich are masculine and require the definite article der.

 

Der Teig hat doch eine ganze Stunde gebraucht, um fertig zu werden.
The batter did indeed take a whole hour to be ready.
Caption 17, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

 

Dann wird der Honig in Gläser abgefüllt.
Then the honey is poured into jars.
Caption 28, Piggeldy und Frederick: Vergessen

 

Der Garten, den ihr hier seht, der gehört zur Domäne Dahlem.
The garden, which you see here, belongs to the Dömane Dahlem [name of museum].
Caption 4, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem

 

It is important to note that these rules often don’t apply to monosyllabic words. For example, words ending in -eich are often masculine, but not das Reich ("the empire").

 

Und der hintere Bereich jetzt hier, wo kommen wir jetzt hin?
And the area now behind here, where are we going now?
Caption 14, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

 

And don't forget: these “rules” are really only tendencies due to exceptions. As we see here, there are words ending with -ant that are not masculine.

 

Der Elefant wollte an seine Frau nach Afrika schreiben.
The elephant wanted to write to his wife in Africa.
Caption 34, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

 

Wie heißt das Restaurant, dessen Essen so... dessen Essen so gut sein soll?
What is the name of the restaurant whose food... whose food is supposed to be so good?
Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

 

Further Learning
We will be back next week with typical endings for feminine nouns. In the meantime, make some flashcards with vocabulary from past lessons or your favorite videos on Yabla German, and always include the definite article so that you learn the gender of the noun. If you have flashcards but have not included the articles, add them now! It is important to get into the habit of doing so.

 

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New Year's Resolutions

The custom of making a New Year's resolution, where we promise to try to make improvements in the coming year, is common in many western European countries. A recent newspaper report states that the most popular New Year's resolution for Germans this year is to try to pay more attention to their personal finances, with the specific goal of saving more money.

 

The German word for "resolution" in the context of a New Year's resolution is der Vorsatz, as in der Vorsatz für das neue Jahr, or less commonly, der Neujahrsvorsatz

 

Haben Sie irgendwelche Vorsätze für nächstes Jahr?    
Do you have any resolutions for next year?
Caption 8, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Linkenheim

 

Haben Sie Vorsätze? -Ja, es wird alles besser!
Do you have resolutions? -Yes, everything will get better!
Captions 30-31, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Linkenheim

 

Haben Sie sich schon gute Vorsätze fürs neue Jahr vorgenommen?
Have you already made good resolutions for the new year?
Captions 8-9, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Karlsruhe

 

Machen Sie sich Vorsätze fürs neue Jahr? -Nein, weil wir sie sowieso nicht einhalten.
Do you make resolutions for the new year? -No, because we don't keep them anyway.
Captions 39-40, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Karlsruhe

 

We hope you can be a bit more optimistic about your New Year's resolutions than this last fellow, perhaps it helps if the resolutions are realistic!

 

Further Learning
Watch both of the Yabla German videos about New Year's resolutions in Linkenheim and in Karlsruhe in their entirety and write some New Year’s resolutions for yourself in German.

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Am Silvesterabend

We have already devoted a Yabla German lesson to the celebration of New Year's Eve in Germany with an explanation of the phrase Guten Rutsch ("a good slide into the new year"), but let's take a detailed look at the German word for New Year's Eve: der Silvester (or das Silvester, either way is correct).

 

The term Silvester originates from the Christian feast which takes place on the anniversary of the death of Pope Silvester I on December 31st, and is also used (with language-specific variant spellings) to denote New Year's Eve in many countries, including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia.

 

Was machen wir eigentlich an Silvester?
What are we actually doing on New Year's Eve?
Caption 2, Im Zoo: Der Jahreswechsel für die Tiere

 

Wie verbringen Sie Silvester? -Ganz gemütlich zu Hause.
How will you spend New Year's Eve? -Very comfortably at home.
Caption 7, Silvester: und Vorsätze für das neue Jahr

 

Wer an Silvester nicht alleine Raketen kucken will…
Those who do not want to watch fireworks by themselves on New Year's Eve
Caption 42, Leidenszeit für Singles: Online-Dating-Hochsaison

 

Wie feiert ihr den Silvesterabend? Ich feier mit meiner Mama und meinem Papa zu Hause.
How do you celebrate New Year's Eve? I celebrate with my mom and my dad at home.
Captions 17-18, Silvester: und Vorsätze für das neue Jahr

 

As you see in the last example, Silvester can be combined with Abend (evening) to form the compound noun der Silvesterabend.

 

Further Learning
So regardless of whether you celebrate Silvester at home with family or out with friends, we at Yabla wish you all a happy and safe guten Rutsch into the New Year!

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Homemade and Handmade

For this week’s lesson, we wanted to look at some more examples from the video Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt. One of the lovely things about these markets is the fact that one can find so many “homemade” and “handmade” items, which was expressed in a number of different ways in the video. In a spirit of solidarity with the people of Berlin and German holiday traditions, let’s take a look at some of the phrases that were used for our future Weihnachtsmarkt visits!

 

Ah, OK. -Und alles selbst gebastelt natürlich,
Oh, OK. -And everything is handmade, of course,
Caption 44

 

...selbst gebacken... -Alles selbst...
...home-baked... -Everything yourselves...
Caption 45

 

You may have also seen "selber" used instead of "selbst." This is not incorrect, but certainly more of a slang expression.

 

Oh, super. OK, also alles... -Ja, also, isch [ist] alles selber gemacht.
Oh, super. OK, so everything... -Yes, so it's all homemade.
Caption 17

 

Ist alles von den Eltern und von den Omas selber gebastelt.
It is all made by the parents and the grandmothers themselves.
Caption 15

 

Selber gebackene Plätzchen. -Oh, lecker.
Home baked [Homemade] cookies. -Oh, delicious.
Caption 14

 

In these examples, we can note that there are specific ways to express “homemade” or “handmade” based on the item in question and how it is created. It is good to familiarize yourself with these various phrases, because the adjective hausgemacht is actually more specific than the English word "homemade." This word is particularly used by restaurants or cafés for items that are baked or cooked on the premises.

 

According to Duden, it is preferable to write adjectives other than hausgemacht as two words when they precede a noun, for example die selbst gebackenen Kekse ("the homemade cookies") or der selbst gebastelte Engel ("the handmade angel"). Most importantly, don't forget the appropriate ending (declension) for the adjective!

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and review examples of selber and selbst as they are used in other contexts. Indeed, these words are more often used completely removed from this context to describe an action a person has carried out themselves personally.

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Der Weihnachtsmarkt

Although Christmas decorations started appearing in the shops at the end of October, the holiday season in Germany really begins with the first Sunday of Advent. A clear sign of this is the opening of a Christmas market in most towns and cities. This is referred to as either der Weihnachtsmarkt, der Adventsmarkt, or der Christkindlesmarkt.

 

Hallo, ich bin auf dem Karlsruher Weihnachtsmarkt.
Hello, I am at the Karlsruhe Christmas Market.
Caption 1, Diane auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Der Advent, das ist die Zeit vor Weihnachten.
Advent, that is the time before Christmas.
Caption 3, Weihnachtsmärkte mit Eva

 

In the evenings, people gather on the town square or in an enclosed market hall to do Christmas shopping, listen to music, and eat and drink a number of winter specialties. These include savory dishes, but also many types of sweets, such as almonds roasted with sugar, which are served in a small paper bag.

 

... eine Tüte gebrannte Mandeln.
... a bag of almonds roasted with sugar.
Caption 49, Rhein-Main-TV: Eva Padberg beim Weihnachtseinkauf

 

Selber gebackene Plätzchen. -Oh, lecker.
Homemade cookies. -Oh, delicious.
Caption 14, Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt

 

A typical Weihnachtsmarkt has small wooden cabins or tables with heaters, stands selling assorted gifts and sweets, and rides for children. And of course, we should not forget the centerpiece: a large Christmas tree, known as der Tannenbaum or der Weihnachtsbaum.

 

Hier kann man schöne Weihnachtsgeschenke kaufen.
You can buy beautiful Christmas presents here.
Caption 14, Diane am Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Einen Tannenbaum im Wasser zu schmücken...
To decorate a Christmas tree in the water...
Caption 7, Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser

 

Further Learning
Watch the Yabla German videos that have featured a Weihnachtsmarkt and take note of vocabulary related to things to eat and do there. This article on Wikipedia has an interesting overview of the history of the traditional Christmas market in Germany, as well as the tradition as it exists in other countries.

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Funny as in “Ha Ha Funny” or Funny as in Weird?

When something is funny in the sense of humorous and you can laugh about it, the usual adjective in German is lustig, which is nearly always translated as “funny.”

 

Ja, das ist ganz lustig.
Yes, that is pretty funny.
Caption 27, Wissenschaft, Neues Element: das Copernicium

 

The English “making fun” of something or somebody, meaning to mock them, has a direct parallel in German that also uses the word lustig, as in sich lustig machen:

 

Sie lachten über seine großen Füße und machten sich über seinen plumpen, grauen Körper lustig.
They laughed about his big feet and made fun of his plump, gray body.
Captions 36-37, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein

 

Beware, however, as there is a partial false friend to be found in the German adjective (and adverb) komisch. This is occasionally used for the similar English word “comic” or “comical,” as in the Komische Oper (or “Comic Opera”) in Berlin, but usually it is meant in a more derogatory sense:

 

Die entstehen immer komischer.
They form more and more oddly.
Caption 57, Wissenschaft, Neues Element: das Copernicium

 

Es war schon ein bisschen komisch.
It was indeed a little bit weird.
Caption 35, 25 Jahre Mauerfall: Bürger Lars Dietrich erinnert sich

 

Auch wenn das etwas komisch klingt, viele Leute mögen das.
Even though it sounds a bit strange, many people like it.
Caption 7, Eva zeigt uns: Currywurst 

 

Aber das aktualisiert immer ganz komisch.
But it always updates really peculiarly.
Caption 12, Killerpilze: Platz 1 oder nicht?

 

Of course, sometimes even English “funny” is also meant somewhat derogatorily rather than in a humorous sense: 

 

Aber das ist ein komisches Beispiel.
But that is a funny example.
Caption 18, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Konjunktionen

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and find more examples of the adjectives lustig and komisch in a real world context to get a better feel for which is the appropriate word. 

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Austrian, Swiss & Southern German Dialects

You may at some point go to Austria, or watch a film or TV program made in Southern Germany, or read an article that is written in Swiss German. Let's talk today — all difficulties in understanding the accents aside — about some words in Austrian, Swiss, and Southern German dialects that are different from words used in Standard German. Such dialects are occasionally found on Yabla German too!

 

In der Früh ist er ganz stolz gewesen wieder.    
In the morning he was very proud again.
Caption 81, Oktoberfest München: Auf der Wiesn

 

Die Früh is a standard Austrian and Southern German expression for "morning," which is der Morgen in Standard German.

 

Ich wurde eben von meinen Freunden da so 'n bisserl inspiriert.    
I was just inspired a little bit by my friends.
Caption 8, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Börsen-Gewinnspiel 

 

Wird 'n bissel später heute.
It will be a little bit later today.
Caption 9, Mama arbeitet wieder: Alle haben sich lieb

 

Bissel and bisserl are typical dialect for the Standard German bisschen.

 

Als besonderes Zuckerl für die Rider zum Training…
As a special treat for the riders to train on…
Caption 8, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open

 

Das Zuckerl is Bavarian dialect for a "candy," "sweet," or "treat," rendered as der (or das) Bonbon in Standard German.

 

Patrick Hollaus zählt auch heuer wieder zu den heißen Favoriten.
Patrick Hollaus is counted among the hot favourites again this year.
Caption 34, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open

 

Heuer is Southern German, Austrian, and Swiss dialect for "this year," or dieses Jahr in Standard German.

 

Ist der Brief im Kuvert? Ist eine Marke drauf?
Is the letter in the envelope? Is there a stamp on it?
Caption 22, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

 

The word das Kuvert is indeed acceptable Standard German, but is primarily used instead of der Briefumschlag for "envelope" in Austria and Switzerland.

 

Further Learning
Some other very typical Southern German dialects are found in names of food. Here are a few examples, with the first word as dialect in bold, followed by the English word and the Standard German word in parentheses: der Erdapfel (potato, die Kartoffel); der Kukuruz (corn, maize, der Mais); die Marille (apricot, die Aprikose); der Paradieser (tomato, die Tomate); die Ribisel (currants, die Johannisbeere); das Schwammerl (mushroom, der Pilz); die Semmel (bread roll, das Brötchen); die Zwetschge / die Zwetschke (plum, die Pflaume). Now that you are prepared, you can watch this three-part video series on Yabla German to hear some real-life Austrians in action!

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German Interjections

According to the third edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, an interjection is a grammatical term "expressing emotion, viewed as a Part of Speech." Wikipedia describes an interjection as "a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction" that furthermore "partly overlaps with categories like profanities, discourse markers and fillers."

 

In German too, some interjections are also standard nouns, but most are basically sounds that express emotion. Here are some examples of German interjections that are nearly identical to English: 

 

Jetzt weiß ich, warum wir verschlafen haben. -Aha, warum denn?
Now I know why we overslept. -Aha, why then?
Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

 

The next one is pretty easy, because even though it's spelled differently, it sounds the same:

 

Sonst gibt es keine Krone. -Autsch!    
Otherwise there won't be any crown. -Ouch!
Caption 8, JoNaLu: Prinz Dreckspatz

 

The more common expression of pain in German, however, is aua, which is similar in sound to the English "ow."

 

Bingo, wir sind im Geschäft!
Bingo, we're in business! 
Caption 61, Rücksicht im Verkehr: Christophorus

 

Es ist schön, dass wir in Deutschland sind. -Bravo.
It is nice that we are in Germany. -Bravo.
Caption 29, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Die Konjunktion "dass"

 

There are also many German interjections that sound entirely different from their English counterparts: 

 

Ach, ich bin klein!
Oh, I am small!
Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Obwohl

 

Na ja, wer's glaubt, wird selig.
Well, he who has faith shall be blessed. 
Caption 12, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 

Mensch, wo bleibt sie denn?
Man, where is she then?
Caption 25, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

 

Further Learning
See this list of German interjections and find some of them used in a real-world context on Yabla German.

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Discussing Politics in German

The results of the recent national elections in the United States have been making headlines around the world this week. Regardless of your opinion of the outcome, politics will remain a major topic of discussion in the upcoming months and probably in the foreseeable future. As a means of brushing up on German political expressions and dialogs, here is a selection of Yabla German videos with historical and contemporary political themes.

 

1933, als der Reichstag brennt, beginnt eine Zeit, die man Drittes Reich nennt.
In 1933, when the Reichstag burned, a period called the Third Reich began.
Captions 33-34, Rapucation: Lernen durch Rapmusik

 

Der wurde im Oktober 1941 als Sammelplatz zur Deportation der rund zehntausend Juden aus Frankfurt bestimmt.    
It was, in October 1941, assigned as a collection point for the deportation of about ten thousand Jews from Frankfurt.
Captions 4-5, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Neue Gedenkstätte an der EZB

 

Das 21. Jahrhundert ist noch ziemlich jung und vorrangig von den Anschlägen des 11. September geprägt, die schließlich zum Ausbruch des dritten Irak-Kriegs führten.
The 21st century is still pretty young and largely shaped by the attacks of September 11th, which ultimately led to the outbreak of the third Iraq War.
Captions 14-16, Zeit: Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem

 

Nicht, dass wir heute keinen Rassismus mehr haben,aber er lebt sich oft subtiler aus.
Not that we don't have racism anymore today, but it is often lived out more subtly.
Captions 43-44, LUCAS-Kinder-Filmfestival: Tom Sawyer

 

Max Brauer gibt seine amerikanische Bürgerschaft auf, um wieder deutscher Staatsangehöriger zu werden.
Max Brauer relinquishes his American citizenship to become a German citizen again.
Captions 5-6, Hamburg 1946/47: Wiederaufbau

 

Flüchtlinge können bei ihrer Ankunft oft nur wenige Worte oder gar kein Deutsch.
Refugees can, upon their arrival, often speak only a few words of German or none at all.
Caption 3, Flüchtlingskrise: Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge

 

Further Learning
You, however, have one advantage that many refugees do not: Watch the above videos to improve your German political conversation abilities and search on Yabla German for more videos related to the topic. 

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Freedom of Choice

If you are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional democracy, I'd like to remind those of you who are eligible voters to be sure and make your voices heard. If you are too young to vote, please encourage your friends and family to make their votes count! Here are some examples of references to democracy in Yabla videos.

 

In einer Demokratie ist eine Funktion von regelmäßigen Wahlen… nach dem Willen der Wählermehrheit den Wechsel der Regierung zu ermöglichen.
In a democracy a function of regular elections is… to allow the change of the government according to the will of the majority of voters.
Captions 10-11, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 

Weil es hier um Freiheit und Demokratie geht, die tagtäglich gefährdet sind, und wir müssen dafür kämpfen, dass Freiheit und Demokratie uns erhalten bleiben. 
Because it is about freedom and democracy here, which are in danger on a daily basis, and we have to fight to ensure that freedom and democracy are preserved for us.
Captions 17-19, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung: Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen

 

Es hat uns über ein halbes Jahrhundert Frieden, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, Menschenrechte und Demokratie gebracht.
It has brought us more than a half century of peace, freedom, justice, human rights and democracy.
Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache

 

Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden, ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.
It should become a place of living democracy, a building for everyone who wants to experience politics up close.
Captions 16-17, Berlin: Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

 

Was ist kein Merkmal unserer Demokratie? Pressezensur. Warum gibt es in einer Demokratie mehr als eine Partei? Weil dadurch die unterschiedlichen Meinungen der Bürger und Bürgerinnen vertreten werden.
What is not a characteristic of our democracy? Censorship of the press. Why is there more than one party in a democracy? Because the various opinions of the citizens [male] and citizens [female] are thus represented.
Captions 3-15, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 

Ja, das ist ein krasser Einschnitt in unsere Demokratie, Marktdiktatur kann entstehen, ganz viele Sachen, die einfach sehr negativ sind für uns.
Yes, this is a crass break in our democracy, a market dictatorship can arise, quite a lot of things that are just very negative for us.
Captions 10-11, DW-Nachrichten: Massenprotest gegen TTIP

 

Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety on Yabla German and learn more German words related to politics. And don't forget to vote in the elections tomorrow and to remind your friends and family to do so too!

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