Windy Days

For this week, Yabla has released a video reporting on recent extreme winter weather conditions in Germany. You may have noticed that, like English, German has several words that describe different types of wind. 

 

The easiest to remember is “der Wind," although the German word for "the breeze" is quite similar as well: 

 

Der Wind muss nur ein wenig drehen, dann steigt die Luft an den Bergen auf.
The wind has to change direction, then the air rises up the mountains.
Caption 9, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Die leichte, die frische und die steife Brise...
The light, the fresh, and the stiff breeze...
Caption 12, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Wind

 

Die Böen, the plural of die Bö, refers to stronger wind, and can be translated as "squalls" or "gusts." 

 

Also lokal sind auch orkanartige Böen mit dabei.
Thus, in parts, hurricane-like gusts will also be present.
Caption 24, Wettervorhersage: Winterwetter

 

The words Orkan and Hurrikan are both used to describe storms caused by traveling low pressure areas. Generally, Hurrikan will refer to tropical storms, while Orkan is a general term for a fierce storm. 

 

Im März dieses Jahres ist der Orkan Niklas über Deutschland hinweggezogen.
In March of this year, Hurricane Niklas passed over Germany.
Caption 5-6, Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft: Naturgefahrenreport

 

However, extreme winds in Germany are relatively rare. If you ever live or study in Germany, you’re much more likely to hear this sentence:

 

Mach aber die Tür richtig zu, es zieht immer so! -Hm.
But close the door well, it's always so drafty! -Hm.
Caption 23, Monopoly: Geheime Tipps und Tricks

 

The use of the verb ziehen ("to move") is related in this case to the word der Luftzug, or “draft of air.”

 

Further Learning
Watch the classic German cartoon Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Wind in its entirety, as it features many types of wind and some nice adjectives to describe them.

 

You can also go onto Yabla German and look up examples with any of the following verbs, which are used to describe how wind blows: peitschen, blasen, wehen, pustenrauschen.

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Light, Left and Loose Hands

In English, we are used to using a number of idioms to express that something is easy without thinking much about the literal meaning of what we are saying. For instance, to someone who is not so familiar with English, the expression "it's a piece of cake" might sound like you are discussing pastries, when really you are just attempting to express that something is easy. 

 

The German language also has a number of idioms expressing that something is easy or easily done, and many of them are related to the hands. 

 

Heute wird das alles mit leichter Hand so weggewischt.
Today that is all erased with a light hand.
Caption 80, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 

This means that you don't have to use much energy for something and can use a "light hand" to easily get something done.

 

Das machen wir dann mit links.
We'll do that then with our left hand.
Caption 29: Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze

 

This does not mean to literally use your left hand to do something, but rather that something is so easy that a right-handed person could even manage it with their less nimble left hand.

 

Dann ging mir das eigentlich locker von der Hand.
Then it actually went very loosely from the hand.
Caption 72: Frankfurter Flughafen: Flugzeugschlepper

 

This might suggest that something has fallen out of your hand, but actually means that something was accomplished with very little effort or quite easily.

 

Further Learning
Go onto Yabla German and find more examples of phrases expressing "easy" and "easily." As Piggeldy and Frederick always say: Nichts leichter als das!

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Winter Sports

In many German-speaking countries, winter sports are a popular pastime this time of year. The mountainous areas of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the region of South Tyrol in Italy are all popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding, and other activities. 

 

Was ist denn Ihre Lieblingswintersportart?
What is your favorite type of winter sport?
Caption 42, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 

The nouns and verbs for many winter sports are quite easy to remember. The nouns Das Schlittschuhlaufen ("ice skating"), das Skifahren ("skiing"), and das Snowboardfahren ("snowboarding") correspond directly to the verb constructions Schlittschuh laufen  ("to ice skate"/"to go ice skating"), Ski fahren ("to ski"/"to go skiing") and Snowboard fahren ("to snowboard"/"to go snowboarding"). 

 

Frederick, was ist Schlittschuhlaufen?
Frederick, what is ice skating?
Caption 3, Piggeldy und Frederick: Schlittschuhlaufen

 

Ich fahr' eigentlich auch total gerne Schlittschuh.
I actually also really like to go ice skating.
Caption 3, Diane: Auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Ich selber bin jahrelang Snowboard gefahren in den Alpen, äh, in Europa in der Schweiz.
I myself snowboarded for years in the Alps, uh, in Europe, in Switzerland.

Caption 8, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

 

Ähm, ich fahre relativ gerne Ski und fahre gerne Snowboard.
Um, I like to ski, more or less, and I like to snowboard.
Caption 51, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 

Further Learning
Watch any of the Yabla German videos above in their entirety, or click on the extra videos below to learn vocabulary related to equipment and technique: 

 

Skifahren lernen: Schneepflug zum Bremsen und Pflugbogen
Wintersport: Engadin Snow 2009

 

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Montag montags

Days of the week in English are, as proper nouns, always capitalized. In North American English, days of the week can also be used in an adverbial sense, such as "I go grocery shopping Mondays." So even though "Mondays" is technically an adverb in this sentence, it is still capitalized because of its origin as a proper noun. 

 

Of course in German, all nouns are capitalized, and days of the week too. However, there are also cases in German where the days of the week are used in an adverbial sense, and we English native speakers must fight our instinctive tendency to try and capitalize these words. The days "Wednesday" and "Thursday," for example: 

 

Ich möchte euch gerne die Wochentage beibringen... Mittwoch, Donnerstag
I would like to teach you the days of the week... Wednesday, Thursday
Captions 2-7, Lydia erklärt: Wochentage, Jahreszeiten und Monate

 

Wir unterrichten an zwei Tagen während der Woche, mittwochs und donnerstags.
We teach on two days during the week, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Caption 25-26, Lokalhelden: Art House

 

In the first example, the nouns Mittwoch and Donnerstag are capitalized, but the second example mittwochs and donnerstags are adverbs and thus remain lower case. 

 

Man kann einfach sich wirklich mal schön locker machen am Freitagabend.
One can simply be really nice and relaxed on a Friday evening.
Captions 42-45, Frankfurt: Der Friedberger Platz

 

Was ist das Schöne hier freitagabends herzukommen?
What is the nice thing about coming here on Friday evenings?
Captions 42-45, Frankfurt: Der Friedberger Platz

 

In the above examples, it is clear that am Freitagabend is dealing with a noun, because of the definite preposition am, and the -s ending is a sure clue that freitagabends is an adjective that should be written lower case. 

 

Further Learning
Brush up on your days of the week in their noun and adverbial forms on Yabla German and take a peek in the Oxford Duden German Dictionary page on the subject!

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Der, die, or das? Part 3: Neuter Nouns

To conclude our series on noun endings and gender, let's look at the neuter article das. For neuter nouns, there are really very few patterns that we can rely on. The ending -nis, for example, is often listed as a typical neuter ending, but can just as often signify a feminine noun, as we can see with the words das Ergebnis ("the result") and die Kenntnis ("the knowledge"). 

 

Das Ergebnis kann sich sehen lassen.
The result speaks for itself.
Caption 32, Das Beauty Ein-Mal-Eins: Fingernägel 

 

Der Fluglehrer hat dann immer, hoffentlich, die Vorausschau und die Kenntnis des Wetters.
The flight teacher always has, hopefully, the foresight and the knowledge of the weather.
Caption 28, Lokalhelden: Mini Aeroplane

 

Endings such as -ing-ment-ma and -um are similarly unreliable. However, there are three types of nouns that we would like to mention.

 

First, diminutive nouns with the endings -lein or -chen are always neuter. 

 

Du bist doch bloß zu faul, dich selber um das Mädchen zu kümmern.
You are just too lazy to take care of the girl yourself.
Caption 22, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 

Also, nouns derived from adjectives that end with -e and nouns derived from infinitives that end with -en are generally neuter. 

 

Ja, das Gute ist: Es gibt ja hier mittlerweile auch Internet.
Well, the good thing is there is also in the meantime even internet here.
Caption 16, TV Total: Stefan trifft Dirk Nowitzki

 

Kleinigkeiten wie das Einkaufen, was man jeden Tag macht...
Little things like shopping that you do every day...
Caption 102, TEDx: Der Supermarkt der Zukunft

 

Further Learning
To learn some very specific tendencies for the genders of nouns, consult this list here. But more importantly, start memorizing neuter nouns you find on Yabla German with the article das as an integral part of the word, or you can scroll down to the list of neuter nouns on this useful page.

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Der, die, or das? Part 2: Feminine Nouns

Last week, we discussed how the ending of a noun may indicate whether it's masculine, feminine, or neuter, and looked at some endings like -er and -ig that typically require the definite masculine article der. As we did last week, we must offer the disclaimer that this is not a 100% reliable way to learn the genders of nouns, due to many exceptions. We encourage you as much as possible to simply learn the appropriate definite article (derdie, or das) along with each individual word so that you'll always know the gender of the noun in the future.

 

However, if you ever get stuck, it might help to know that -anz-ei-heit-ik-ion

-keit-schaft-tät, and -ung are endings that often indicate a feminine noun. Let's look at some examples.

 

Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen.
The possibility exists to test every board beforehand.
Caption 41, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

 

Die Region zwischen Amrum und Sylt wurde wegen der Meeressäuger unter Schutz gestellt.
The region between Amrum and Sylt was placed under protection because of the marine mammals.
Caption 2, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

Beim Volleyball im Sand besteht die Mannschaft nämlich nur aus zwei Spielern.
With volleyball in the sand, the team consists, namely, of just two players.
Caption 10, Olympische Spiele: Beach Volleyball

 

As mentioned last week, there are exceptions particularly for one-syllable words, which will most often not follow the rules. For example, die Einladung ("the invitation") is feminine, but der Sprung ("the jump") is masculine.

 

Die Einladung kommt noch.
The invitation is still on its way.
Caption 77, Free Birds: Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

 

Und der Sprung an sich geht vielleicht nur drei Sekunden, aber es kommt einem ewig vor.
And the jump itself lasts perhaps only three seconds but it seems eternal.
Caption 44, Lucas' Hobbys: Achterbahn und Bungee

 

Further Learning
Next week, we will conclude this small series with endings that are usually associated with neuter nouns. In the meantime, you can take a look at this useful list and look for the words used in context on Yabla German. If you use flashcards, make sure you're in the habit of always including "the" on the English side (for example, "the possibility" or "the team"), so that you will be sure to include the correct definite article in the translation on the other side of the card.

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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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