German Lessons


The World of Work, Part II: Fields and Professions

This week, we'll look at professional fields and how they are described in German. Of course, there are too many jobs to cover all of them, but we can look at some common ones and resources on Yabla and elsewhere. 


One important field is healthcare and social services, which in German is die Gesundheitsfürsorge, or der Sozialdienst. This includes so many jobs, such as der Arzt die Ärztin (the doctor), der Chirurg die Chirurgin (the surgeon), der Anästhesiologe die Anästhesiologin (the anesthesiologist), der Sozialarbeiter / die Sozialarbeiterin (the social worker), and der Pfleger / die Pflegerin (the caregiver). 


Wenn ich weniger Schokolade essen würde, wäre mein Zahnarzt bestimmt zufriedener mit mir.

If I ate less chocolate, my dentist would certainly be happier with me.

Captions 30-31, Konjugation: Das Verb „essen“

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Die gelernte Krankenschwester Anita Ackermann hat das Kitz in den ersten Tagen mit der Milchflasche gepäppelt.

The trained nurse Anita Ackermann pampered the fawn with the milk bottle during the first days.

Captions 12-13, Ein etwas anderes Haustier: Reh Mia hält sich für einen Hund

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Jetzt bin ich Psychotherapeutin.

Now I'm a psychotherapist.

Caption 42, TUDYKA: Interview mit Uschi

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Let's look at a few more professional fields. Another area is what we call STEM in English (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and MINT in German (Mathematik, Informatik, Naturwissenschaften und Technik). This would involve jobs like lab technician (der Laborant / die Laborantin) or electrician (der Elektriker / die Elektrikerin) and mechanic (der Mechaniker / die Mechanikerin), of which there are many types. 


Die Programmierer haben sich ihre Ziele für die Zukunft hoch gesteckt.

The programmers have set their goals for the future very high.

Caption 45, Roboter: Fußball-Robocup

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Mein Vater ist Anwalt und meine Mutter Ingenieurin.

My father is a lawyer and my mother is an engineer.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Meine Eltern

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As a final category for today, let's look at jobs in the fields of law (das Recht), administration (die Verwaltung), and public safety. In the example above, Nico mentions that his mother is a lawyer, and though law firms or accounting firms are often private, many of the jobs in this category are government jobs. In this case, the person is a public official (der Beamte / die Beamterin). Der Sachbearbeiter / die Sachbearbeiterin and der / die Fachangestellte are two titles that are most often paired with a job description. Essentially, the person is a clerk or administrator in a specific area. 


Ich wollte eigentlich ja auch nur fragen, ob du schon einen neuen Steuerberater hast.

I actually just wanted to ask if you had a new accountant yet.

Captions 8-9, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Ich weiß genau, wie Sie sich fühlen

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Der Polizist zeigt der Frau den Weg.

The policeman shows the woman the way.

Caption 54, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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Further Learning
We'll look at more categories of professions soon, but for now, you can look at this website, which has an exhaustive list of jobs, and watch this video on Yabla German, in which Nico and his friends discuss different professions.

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Inconvenient, unsuitable and just plain annoying!

Some days, everything seems like a pain. But then sometimes, things really are not working as they should and can sour even the best of moods. For instance, today I tried to update the payment method on the Berlin subway (BVG) app called Fahrinfo ("ride information") and got the spinning wheel of nothing happening every time. Eventually I wound up downloading another BVG app, and it accepted my payment method the first time. I have to admit that the inconvenience–it was a good half hour of messing about–got me quite annoyed!


So breathe in, breathe out, take a chill pill. Let's take a look today at some common German expressions for English terms like "inconvenient" and "unsuitable."


Also, umständlicher geht's nun wirklich nicht.

Well, more inconvenient is really not possible.

Caption 65, Pastewka: Hochzeit mit Hindernissen

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... Armbrustpfeile aber nur zwei, weil das zu umständlich war.

... but crossbow arrows only two, because it was too cumbersome.

Caption 47, Die Armbrust: im Mittelalter

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So while the adjective/adverb umständlich may be translated into English as "inconvenient," depending upon the context, it could also be translated as "cumbersome" or simply "awkward."


Entschuldigen Sie die Umstände.

Please excuse the inconvenience.

Caption 18, Nicos Weg: Im Hotel

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Doch trotz der Unannehmlichkeiten zeigen sich die Eltern solidarisch.

But despite the inconvenience, the parents show themselves solidly united.

Caption 7, Rheinmain im Blick: Eltern unterstützen streikende Erzieherinnen

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If you look at translations of the English noun "inconvenience," you'll note that it's usually in plural form in German as die Umstände or die Unannehmlichkeiten. In other cases, die Umstände may be translated as "the circumstances" or "the conditions." A more casual translation of die Unannehmlichkeiten could be simply "the hassle."


... indem man ungeeignet erscheinende Wahlmöglichkeiten einfach ausschließt-

... by simply excluding choices that appear unsuitable.

Caption 8, Jenny: Reiseziele

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The adjective/adverb ungeeignet may also be translated as "inadequate" or "improper." Alternately, "unsuitable" may be translated as unpassend or unangemessen, depending upon the context.


Last but not least, "annoying" has a wide choice of German words available: ärgerlich, nervig, lästig, störend, unangenehm, nervend, belästigend, nervtötend, leidig, unerfreulich, and verdrießlich, for example. Any one of these qualifies as a description for my recent experience with the Berlin subway Fahrinfo app!


Further Learning
Look up the "annoying" words above on your favorite online dictionary to discover the subtle nuances that differentiate their meanings. Then look for some of them on Yabla German to see them used in a real-world context.

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The World of Work, Part I: Describing Employment

The relationship people have with work evolves throughout their lives, and our relationship with work as a society is also currently seeing some changes. 


First of all, there is the type of employment: full-time or part-time? Employed, self-employed, or freelance?


Die meisten Leute, die bei einem Arbeitgeber angestellt sind, werden für diese Arbeit am Ende des Monats bezahlt.

Most people who are employed by an employer are paid for this work at the end of the month.

Captions 4-5, Eva erklärt: Bankkonten

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Und bin selbstständig und habe also diese Probleme nicht mehr.

And I'm self-employed and don't have these problems anymore.

Caption 43, TUDYKA: Interview mit Uschi

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Für die Wirtschaft, die großen Unternehmen genau wie die kleinen Betriebe, für Geschäfte, Restaurants, Freiberufler . . .

For the economy, for large companies as well as small businesses, for shops, restaurants, freelancers ...

Captions 44-45, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Wollen Sie Teilzeit oder Vollzeit arbeiten?

Do you want to work part-time or full-time?

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Bewerbungsgespräch

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People work in offices, factories, institutions, businesses, and any number of other places. And of course, we can't forget working from home, the word for which has been adopted into the German language.


Nun, wenn Sie morgen früh um neun Uhr ins Büro kommen könnten, können wir Sie direkt einarbeiten.

So, if you come to the office tomorrow at nine a.m., we can train you right away.

Captions 29-30, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Ich arbeite fünfzehn Stunden in der Woche und, äh, habe auch ein Homeoffice.

I work fifteen hours a week and, uh, have a home office too.

Caption 13, Finanzassistentin: Sarah interviewt Cettina

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In German, you can talk about der Job, die Arbeit, die Stelle, der Beruf, or die Karriere. These words may reflect different levels of dedication and permanence. 


Mein eigentlicher Beruf ist Buchhändlerin, aber seit ich in Berlin lebe, arbeite ich als Kellnerin und Barista in Cafés.

My actual occupation is book dealer, but since I've lived in Berlin, I've worked as a waitress and barista in cafés.

Captions 15-16, Berlin: Judith und die „Brezel Bar“

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Further Learning
How would you describe your job or the career of someone you know? Find the right words in examples from Yabla German and then write up a few sentences of your own.


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Phrases with es

You've likely already encountered them: In German, there are many verbs that are always used with the personal pronoun es, and some common phrases that employ it as well.


Some of these are related to weather, such as regnen, schneien, donnern:


Glaubst du, dass es morgen regnet?

Do you think that it will rain tomorrow?

Caption 50, Deutsch mit Eylin: Satzanfänge

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Das geht zwar nicht, wenn es schneit.

True, it's not possible when it's snowing.

Caption 16, Nicos Weg: Praktisch!

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You have likely already seen sentences with es geht and es gibt:


In diesem Video geht es um Personalpronomen.

This video is about personal pronouns.

Caption 2, Deutsch mit Eylin: Personalpronomen

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Und es gibt letztendlich noch eine Menge anderer Faktoren.

And there are ultimately a lot of other factors.

Caption 49, Deutsch mit Eylin: Tierkreiszeichen

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Two verbs to distinguish between are fallen (also auffallen and sich einfallen) and fehlen, which in this form appear as es fällt (auf, ein) and es fehlt. 


Vielleicht fällt es dir auch schon auf, dass es an treffenden Beschreibungen von Geschmacksrichtungen fehlt.

Maybe you have already noticed that there is a lack of accurate descriptions for flavors.

Captions 26-27, Deutsch mit Eylin: Geschmack beschreiben

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Oder fällt es dir leicht, andere Menschen für deine Ideen zu gewinnen?

Or do you find it easy to win other people over to your ideas?

Caption 33, Deutsch mit Eylin: Weniger müssen, mehr dürfen

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Further Learning

Create some more sentences using es and verbs like dauern, klingeln, and weather verbs like hageln or nieseln. If you're not sure where to start, first search for examples on Yabla German. You can also search for variations such as es gab in the past tense, or es fehlen for plural.

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Actually, indeed, and in fact

We use words like the ones above to add emphasis or clarification and generally aid the flow of conversation.


The word eigentlich is both an adjective meaning "actual," "proper," or "real," and an adverb meaning "actually" or "in fact."


Also, die Seegrube ist eigentlich mein Lieblingsberg.

So, the Seegrube is actually my favorite mountain.

Caption 14, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Aber wie viele Legosteine eigentlich insgesamt?

But how many Lego bricks in total, actually?

Caption 4, 500 000 Legosteine Lübecker Museum zeigt Hansegeschichte

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Then there are in der Tat and tatsächlich, which both are used to emphasize that you are talking about how something really, truly is. 


Na, ob das Hotel Adlon tatsächlich so volksnah und zugänglich für jeden werden kann, das bleibt abzuwarten, denn hier schreibt man Luxus ganz groß.

Well, whether the Hotel Adlon can in fact become so casual and accessible for everyone, this remains to be seen, for here "luxury" is written in capital letters [idiom: extremely important].

Captions 20-21, Berlin: Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

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Ich bin Linkshänderin aufm Tennisplatz, aber ansonsten bin ich tatsächlich Rechtshänderin.

I'm left-handed on the tennis court, but otherwise I'm actually right-handed.

Captions 15-16, Angelique Kerber: Generali fragt Angelique Kerber #2 | Ist Angie Frühaufsteherin?

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Nun, Sie scheinen sehr selbstbewusst zu sein, in der Tat.

Well, you seem to be very confident indeed.

Caption 33, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Die irischen Nationalisten denken in der Tat schon über eine Wiedervereinigung mit Irland nach.

The Irish nationalists are, in fact, already thinking about a reunification with Ireland.

Captions 16-17, BREXIT - Briten für EU-Ausstieg: Politisches Erdbeben in Europa

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The word zwar is also used for emphasis: 


Und zwar haben wir mega viele Skateparks bekommen, hier zum Beispiel die Zoobrücke.

And we did, in fact, get a mega ton of skate parks, like the Zoobrücke [Zoo Bridge] here, for example.

Captions 29-30, #180sec Köln Aggressive Inline-Skating

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One thing to watch out for is the adjective aktuell, which has nothing to do with "actually," but means "current." You'll find this in our previous lessons about false friends.


Further Learning
Try to write your own sentences with tatsächlich, in der Tat, zwar, and eigentlich. You'll find many reference examples on Yabla German.

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To Du or not to Du?

That is the question that we'll be looking at today! In English the formal "you" ("thee," "thy," "thou" etc.) has fallen out of formal use. But as you probably know, the formal Sie and all of its grammatical forms are still used in German as polite forms of social address to people you don't know and to show respect for elders, figures of authority, and colleagues in the workplace.


I have known people who were friends in their personal lives, but who as colleagues at work addressed each other with the formal Sie. When uncertain whether to call somebody du (the verb is duzen) or Sie (with the verb siezen), it's usually best to start with Sie.


But if it's a less formal situation, and you note that others are using the informal du, there is a polite way to suggest using the informal du:


Hm, hm, danke, aber Sie dürfen mich gerne duzen, ich bin Eva.

Hm, hm, thanks, but you can gladly address me informally, I am Eva.

Caption 36, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

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And you can simply ask, too:

Darf ich dich duzen? Oh, ungern.

May I address you informally? Oh, grudgingly.

Captions 32-33, 18 Miss-Kandidatinnen: beim Friseur

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Luckily, the person in the last caption was kidding, as they continue the conversation using the informal du. After spending some time among native Germans, it's actually much easier than you think to get a feel for when it's more appropriate to be less formal.


Fremde Menschen werden üblicherweise gesiezt. In der heutigen Zeit sind die Umgangsformen lockerer als früher.

Strangers are usually addressed formally with "Sie." Nowadays, manners are more relaxed than in the past.

Captions 29-30, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

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Being addressed for the first time as Sie can also be a bit alarming for younger adults:


Hat der mich grade gesiezt? Ja. -Oh, Janosch hat mich gesiezt, jetzt bin ich... Jetzt bin ich wirklich alt.

Did he just address me with "Sie"? Yes. -Oh, Janosch addressed me with "Sie," now I'm... Now I'm really old.

Captions 23-24, Free Birds Interview: mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

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So while there's a very small chance that somebody might be offended if you accidentally address them informally, as a rule most Germans will be pleased to find a foreigner speaking German and make allowances for the fact that US Americans, at least, are generally less formal. In my experience, they'll even find it charming.


There's a likely apocryphal story that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl once told US President Ronald Reagan—or was it British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?— "You can say 'you' to me." The point of the joke being that Kohl's English was so poor that he directly (mis)translated Sie dürfen mich duzen.


Further Learning
Do a search for videos on Yabla German for duzen and watch the video results in their entirety to get a feel for when people feel comfortable shifting to a less formal means of communication.

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German Expressions for Crazy, Part II

We already discussed a number of German words that may be translated as "crazy" in a couple of previous lessons, including Part I of this lesson. These include the adjectives verrückt, wahnsinnig, irre, and bescheuert, as well as the verbs spinnen and piepen. Let's take a look today at some more German expressions and idioms relating to "crazy."


But please remember: while it may be perfectly polite to use such expressions regarding objects or situations, it may be rude to use them to describe people. The German Duden dictionary even warns: The reference of the adjective "crazy" (and words derived from it) to mentally or psychologically ill people is strongly discriminatory. It also might get somebody very angry with you, so it's a better policy to be polite!


Also, die hat so derart einen Sprung in der Schüssel, du!

That is, she's crazy, you know!

Caption 4, Tatortreiniger: E.M.M.A. 206

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The German idiom einen Sprung in der Schüssel haben literally means "to have a cracked bowl." One meaning of the English idiom "to be cracked" means "crazy" too.


Ja, vielleicht bin ich auch irgendwie durchgeknallt.

Yes, perhaps I am also somehow crazy.

Caption 3, Luxuslärm: Einmal im Leben

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Bist du völlig durchgeknallt?

Are you completely insane?

Caption 27, Gran Paradiso Kapitel 2: Eine Bergtour

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Hat die einen Knall?

Is she crazy?

Caption 36, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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The adverb/adjective durchgeknallt could be literally translated as "popped through," but the proper translation is "crazy" or one of its many synonyms. The German noun der Knall means a loud noise like a "bang" or a "pop," but einen Knall haben means "crazy." 


Nur Flausen in der Birne und nichts im Gehirne!

Only fluff in the head and nothing in the brain!

Caption 27, Es war einmal: das Leben Die Zelle

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The noun die Birne actually means "pear" but is used in much like the English slang "noggin" or "bean" to mean "head." The phrase eine weiche Birne haben is similar to the deprecating English phrase "to be soft in the head" or "crazy."


Er sei vollkommen unsichtbar für jeden, dem etwas im Oberstübchen fehlte.

It was entirely invisible to anyone who is stupid.

Caption 27, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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If somebody "is missing something upstairs," they don't feel that this person is very smart. But if something "is not quite right in their back room" (nicht ganz richtig im Hinterstübchen sein), then somebody thinks this person is crazy!


Die sind total bekloppt. Los! Kommt mit!

They are totally nuts. Get moving! Come on!

Caption 8, CHoE Rocker: Wahlbetrug 2009? Der Videobeweis!

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The translator of the caption above chose "nuts" for bekloppt, but any synonym of "crazy" could work. According to DWDS, the word originates from the verb klopfen ("to knock").


Further Learning
You can review the first part of this lesson, and then go to Yabla German and watch the full videos for the above captions to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Today's lesson is about—you guessed it—birthdays, and how we ask about and talk about them. 


First of all, here's how you wish someone "Happy Birthday" in German:


Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!

Happy birthday!

Caption 13, Nicos Weg: Einfach super!

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Zum Geburtstag viel Glück, Franzi!

Much happiness on your birthday, Franzi!

Caption 8, Felix und Franzi: Franzis Geburtstag

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The noun der Geburtstag is often used with the verb haben ("to have") rather than sein ("to be").


Franzi hat heute Geburtstag!

Today is Franzi's birthday!

Caption 2, Felix und Franzi Franzis Geburtstag

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Wie ist Ihr Geburtsdatum? Ich meine, wann haben Sie Geburtstag?

What is your date of birth? I mean, when is your birthday?

Caption 8, Nicos Weg: Auf dem Amt

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As you've noticed, the preposition zu is often used, and because der Geburtstag is masculine, it becomes zum


Und zum Geburtstag bekam ich manchmal bunte „Edelsteine“ geschenkt.

And for my birthday, I sometimes got colorful "gemstones" as a present.

Caption 4, Deutsch mit Eylin: Mineralien

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When we talk about particular birthdays, we can use ordinal numbers to state how old the person is becoming. A significant birthday, like when a person turns a multiple of ten, is known as a runder Geburtstag


Als sie endlich ihren fünfzehnten Geburtstag feierte, durfte sie selbst an die Oberfläche schwimmen.

When she finally celebrated her fifteenth birthday, she was allowed to swim to the surface herself.

Captions 22-23, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die kleine Meerjungfrau

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Runder Geburtstag für den Panikrocker.

Milestone birthday for the panic-rocker.

Caption 1, 65 Jahre Udo Lindenberg

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Further Learning

After watching more videos on Yabla German to hear people talking about birthdays, practice wishing some people happy birthday in German!

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German Expressions for Crazy, Part I

We already discussed a number of German words that may be translated as "crazy" in a couple of previous lessons. These include the adjectives verrückt, wahnsinnig, irre, and bescheuert, as well as the verbs spinnen and piepen. Let's take a look today at German expressions and idioms relating to "crazy."


But please remember: while it may be perfectly polite to use such expressions regarding objects or situations, it’s rude and aggressive to use them to describe people. The German Duden dictionary even warns: The reference of the adjective "crazy" (and words derived from it) to mentally or psychologically ill people is strongly discriminatory. It also might get somebody very angry with you, so it's a better policy to be polite!


Ich will den Verstand verlieren.

I want to lose my mind.

Caption 12, Christina Stürmer: Neue Single

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The expression den Verstand verlieren is perfectly paralleled in English. The expression nicht bei klarem Verstand sein has the similar meaning "to be out of one's mind."


Erst mal muss man eine Macke haben, denn wir haben einen Haufen Geld investiert.

First of all you have to be crazy, because we've invested a bunch of money.

Captions 26-27, Summer Cheergirl: Fotoshooting mit lebendigen Spinnen

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This idiom is slang, and the literal translation of eine Macke is "a defect" or "deficiency."


Hast du noch alle Tassen im Schrank?

Have you gone crazy?

Caption 35, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The above phrase translates literally to "Do you still have all of your cups in the cupboard?" This expression is similar to the English expression "Have you lost your marbles?"


Du bist nicht ganz dicht!

You're crazy!

Caption 4, Es war einmal: Archimedes

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The adjective dicht means, in this context, “sealed,” “waterproof,” “airtight,” or “leakproof.” The expression is somewhat similar to the English expression "to come unhinged."


Du tickst doch nicht mehr ganz richtig.

You've lost your mind.

Caption 54, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The slang idiom nicht richtig ticken is literally "not ticking correctly," such as when a clock is not working correctly. This is similar to the English expression "to become unwound."


Further Learning
You can review the lessons Are You Crazy? and "Crazy" in Slang and Idiom to review the adjectives and verbs mentioned above. Then go to Yabla German and watch the full videos for the above captions to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Expressions with drauf

The preposition auf can be translated as "on," but it takes on numerous other meanings in combination with various verbs. Today we are going to look at drauf, which appears in many commonly used phrases and is basically synonymous with daraufDa- is a prefix that appears in front of a number of prepositions and is used to refer to an object that has already been identified. 


You likely know the phrases Lust auf etwas haben and Bock auf etwas haben. In both of the sentences below, the object is missing from the sentence, as it has already been mentioned. You can note that in English, it's just referred to as "it." 


Ich habe so Lust drauf!

I'm really in the mood for it!

Caption 53, Reisen: Ein Tag in Freiburg

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Da habe ich einfach keinen Bock mehr drauf.

I just don't feel like doing it anymore.

Caption 10, heute-show: Hazel Brugger will Lehrerin werden

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The phrase Bock haben can be considered slang, and many phrases with drauf are colloquial...


Aber ich will jetzt nicht drauf eingehen.

But I don't want to go into it now.

Caption 69, Frida Gold: Interview

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Es kommt immer drauf an.

It always depends.

Caption 41, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Baden-Württemberg

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Es war ein schöner Tag und beide waren richtig gut drauf.

It was a nice day and both were in a really good mood.

Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Brief

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(You can also say schlecht drauf, which would be the opposite!)

... or even idioms:


Die Büchse da hat viel drauf!

That tin can has a lot on it [idiom, is very capable]!

Caption 10, Es war einmal... der Weltraum: Die Saurier

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Further Learning

Most of these phrases are quite common, so you'll find many examples on Yabla German.


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All About Feet, Part III

In Part II, we took a look at the German phrases mit einem Fuß im, am Fuß des, einen Fuß in etwas reinkriegen, auf falschem Fuß, and auf die Füße treten. In this lesson, the final Part III about feet expressions, let's check out some other German phrases using der Fuß.

Und das war der Moment, wo wir Angst bekamen, kalte Füße.

And that was the moment where we got scared, cold feet.

Caption 18, TEDx Der Supermarkt der Zukunft

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The idiom kalte Füße bekommen (to get cold feet) is the same as the English expression. It means, as the video implies, "to become afraid."


Ich nehme mein Herz und leg's dir zu Füßen.

I'll take my heart and lay it at your feet.

Caption 3, Deutsche Musik: Chris und Croissant

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Die Welt liegt uns zu Füßen.

The world lies at our feet.

Caption 21, Heino: Neue Volkslieder

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The phrase etwas zu Füßen legen means "to give something to somebody." Compare this to die Welt zu Füßen legen: To "have the world at your feet" means that you have many opportunities open to you, perhaps relating to career improvements.


Da können Sie sich dann hinsetzen und ganz entspannt die Füße hochlegen.

Then you can kick back and put your feet up in total relaxation.

Captions 45-46, extra 3: Das ehrliche Reisebüro

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The expression die Füße hochlegen, or "to put your feet up," may be literally just that, but it also is a general expression meaning "to rest."


Was ich absolut nicht gebrauchen kann, ist jemand, der alles, was mir etwas bedeutet, mit Füßen tritt.

What I absolutely don't need is someone who stomps on everything that means something to me.

Captions 5-6, Küss mich, Frosch: Sei kein Frosch

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Mit Füßen treten literally means "to kick with your feet " or "to step on something with your feet." But its figurative meaning is that somebody treating you or something of yours disrespectfully.


Und das war, bevor Sie mir diesen Quotenleichnam vor die Füße geworfen haben.

And that was before you threw that cadaver of a quota down at my feet.

Captions 53-54, Lerchenberg: Die Zombieklinik

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If somebody throws something at your feet (vor die Füße werfen), it means they've "burdened you with a responsibility."


Further Learning
Review Part I and Part II of the All About Feet series and see if you remember the meaning of the German phrases from these two previous lessons. If you want to dive deeper into the topic, read the article Redewendungen mit Fuß / Füße in German. You can also search for other videos using the search words Fuß, Füße, and Füßen on Yabla German to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Decreasing, shrinking, and falling

Two weeks ago, we looked at verbs that express growth or increase. Now we'll explore the opposite and have a look at transitive and intransitive verbs that express something that's becoming less in number, capacity, or extent. 


The three following verbs can refer to numbers or amounts. For temperature, sinken is the verb you will generally hear people use. 


Die Bestände der Elefanten sind in den letzten Jahrzehnten weltweit stark geschrumpft.

In recent decades, elephant populations have shrunk sharply worldwide.

Captions 33-34, Evolution: An Land

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Allerdings... die Arbeitslosenzahlen werden wohl nicht in gleichem Maße zurückgehen.

However... the unemployment numbers will certainly not decrease to the same extent.

Caption 26, Rheinmain im Blick: Mehr Beschäftigung in Rhein-Main

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Bevor die Temperaturen wieder sinken und das Wetter wechselhaft wird.

Before temperatures fall again and the weather becomes changeable.

Caption 25, Rheinmain im Blick: Der Frühling ist da

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However, not everything can be quantified, and there are many verbs that can refer to lessening, minimizing, and downsizing.


Und die mindert sich erst, nachdem Charlie zusammen mit seinem Bruder eine Glückssträhne erwischt hat.

And it lessens only after Charlie, together with his brother, goes on a winning streak.

Captions 78-79, Theater: Rain Man

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Die Risiken, die natürlich vorhanden sind, die kann man aber durch, äh, entsprechende Schulung und Ausbildung so weit verringern.

Those risks, which naturally exist... you can minimize them, uh, through appropriate training and education.

Captions 48-49, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

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Er sagte jedenfalls was von „sich verkleinern wollen“.

At least he said something about "wanting to downsize."

Caption 71, Wendy: Pferde sind ihr Leben Pferdeklau

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When it comes to wanting to take action to reduce something, there are a number of relevant verbs (etwas mindern) but the easiest is very simple: reduzieren


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren.

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons.

Caption 10, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Further Learning

An online dictionary can help you find many different translations for each of these verbs, which will help you to understand their nuances. For example, sinken can be translated with "to drop" or "to decline," but not "to lessen" or "to minimize." This tells you that it's an intransitive verb, as are schrumpfen and zurückgehen

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All About Feet, Part II

In a recent lesson, we took a look at the German phrases zu Fuß, Kopf bis Fuß, ohne Hand und Fuß, Fuß fassen and der Fuß (the US and UK standard measurement "foot"). Today, let's check out some other German phrases using der Fuß.


Doch ich steh mittlerweile mehr als mit einem Fuß im Knast

But I've got more than one foot in jail now

Caption 39, Cro: Bad Chick

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The phrase mit einem Fuß im... is similar to the English phrase: "with one foot in the grave", and generally means "to be near" to whatever is referred to. German also uses mit einem Fuß im Grab and, with the same meaning, mit einem Fuß im Jenseits (" the afterlife"). The caption above means he was close to being in prison before, but is now actually in prison!


Doch dann stößt er am Fuß des Conturines-Massivs in 2.008 Metern auf eine riesige Höhle.

But then he comes across, at the foot of the Conturines massif at 2,008 meters, a huge cave.

Captions 5-6, Die letzten Paradiese: Schätze der Natur

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A "massif" is the main mass of a mountain, and indeed the expression "at the foot of the mountain" —that is to say, "the base of the mountain"—is the same as the German am Fuß des Berges.


Wenn wir da einen Fuß reinkriegen, dann ziehe ich ganz runter und schaffe mir einen Harem an.

When we get a foot in the door  then I'll move down there completely and get myself a harem.

Captions 8-9, Mama arbeitet wieder: Alle haben sich lieb

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The German idiom einen Fuß reinkriegen (literally "to get a foot in") means the same as the English idiom "to get one's foot in the door," a figurative way of saying "to gain entry" or "to get an opportunity."


Da haben Sie mich gerade auf dem falschen Fuß erwischt.

You have just caught me on the wrong foot.

Caption 34, Tanz in den Mai: "Ladies Get Wild"

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The German idiom auf dem falschen Fuß erwischt means "to be caught unprepared" or "to be surprised." This is somewhat different from the English expression "to get off on the wrong foot," which means "to have a bad start."


Ich will ja niemandem auf die Füße treten.

I don't want to step on anyone's feet.

Caption 10, Coronavirus: Nikolaus mit Mundschutz

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The German and English idioms are the same here: "to step on someone's feet" is a figurative way of saying "to upset someone."


Further Learning
It's always interesting how some languages have idioms that are the same as your native language. But it's especially interesting to learn the expressions that are different and sound very odd if you translate them directly! Take a look at the videos above on Yabla German to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Increasing, growing, and rising


Und Piggeldy fühlte, wie er immer kleiner und kleiner wurde und Frederick immer größer.

And Piggeldy felt that he was becoming smaller and smaller and Frederick bigger and bigger.

Captions 28-29, Piggeldy und Frederick: Sprichwörter

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When we talk about the size, number, or extent of something changing, there are a number of verbs we can use in order to not always just say kleiner werden or größer werden. The German verbs we pick often depend on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. An intransitive verb doesn't require an object; something is simply happening almost as if on its own. The verbs above, and the verbs in the next examples are intransitive, and you can note that no cause is mentioned that is making the growth happen. 


Der Bedarf an Flugreisen wird mit der Zeit immer größer, und die Anzahl der Flugzeuge wird stark zunehmen.

The need for air travel will increase over time, and the number of planes will rise sharply.

Captions 34-35, Die Welt in der Zukunft: Flugzeuge im Jahr 2050

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Der Anteil der Kinder mit Migrationshintergrund in dieser Gruppe wird ansteigen.

the percentage of children with migration backgrounds in this group will rise.

Caption 9, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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If you want to describe humans, animals, or objects that are growing in size, wachsen is quite often the appropriate verb to use. It should be noted that the verb for plants growing is wachsen, but this is only intransitive. If you are growing flowers or vegetables, your activity "to grow something" is etwas anbauen or etwas züchten


„Du malst die blauen Blumen, die im grünen Wald wachsen“, sagte Frederick.

“You paint the blue flowers that grow in the green forest," Frederick said.

Caption 17, Piggeldy und Frederick: Malen

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Now let's look at some examples with transitive verbs, in which something is being done by someone. In these sentences, that which is increasing or rising is an object:


Dies hat uns dazu genötigt, unsere Preise stark anzuheben.

This has made it necessary for us to increase our prices significantly.

Caption 20, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Ziel der Aktion: die Attraktivität der Innenstadt erhöhen.

The aim of the campaign: to increase the attractiveness of the city center

Caption 9, Rheinmain im Blick Stadtmomente: Wiesbaden

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Um die Attraktivität der Elektrofahrzeuge zu steigern, wird es ab Mitte zweitausendfünfzehn zwei Dinge geben.

In order to increase the attractiveness of electric vehicles, there will, starting in the middle of two thousand fifteen, be two things.

Captions 5-6, Rhein-Main-TV: Veränderungen für das Autofahrerjahr 2015

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Further Learning

We'll be back soon with a lesson on verbs that describe decreasing, shrinking, and falling. In the meantime, try to make your own sentences with the verbs above or do a search on Yabla

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All About Feet, Part I

Today we're going to take a look at some standard expressions and idioms relating to the noun der Fuß ("the foot").


Ich gehe lieber zu Fuß, statt mit dem Fahrrad zu fahren.

I prefer to walk instead of riding my bike.

Caption 32, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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Dieses Naturreservoir ist zu Fuß in nur gut zwei Stunden zu erreichen.

This nature reserve can be reached by foot in just over two hours

Caption 6, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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The phrase zu Fuß gehen means "to walk," but the more literal translation "to go by foot" also works interchangeably. I've occasionally hear German friends jokingly use the Latin term per pedes to mean zu Fuß, and the phrase is common enough that it appears in the Duden dictionary!


Es schüttet wie aus Eimern Klitschnass von Kopf bis Fuß.

It's raining buckets Drenched from head to toe.

Captions 16-17, Die Toten Hosen: Unter den Wolken

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The phrase von Kopf bis Fuß translates best to the English idiom "from head to toe." Normally one says the verb regnen for "to rain," but in the above caption, the slang usage of the verb schütten is used, which means "to pour." Incidentally, both klitschnass and pitschnass are slang words for "very wet."


Diese Pyramide ist zweihundertfünfzig Fuß hoch.

This pyramid is two hundred and fifty feet high.

Caption 18, Es war einmal: Entdecker und Erfinder Archimedes

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The noun der Fuß is also used for the English measurement "foot." Note that unlike the plural of the anatomical foot (die Füße), when used to mean measurement, die Fuß is the proper plural of the noun.

Auch das ist ein Vorurteil ohne Hand und Fuß.

Even this is a prejudice without rhyme or reason.

Caption 41, Flüchtlingskrise: 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Of course, the literal translation of the idiom ohne Hand und Fuß is "without head and foot," but it means "makes no sense" and translates best to the above English idiom.


... dass meine Kernaufgabe nicht die ist, im Fernsehen irgendwie Fuß zu fassen.

... that it is not my main task to somehow gain a foothold in television.

Caption 5, Peyman Amin: Der Modelmacher

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The phrase Fuß zu fassen is a practical one to learn. It can also be alternately translated into English as "to find a foothold" or "to establish a foothold."


Further Learning
I think it's fair to say that we've established a foothold in our understanding of some uses of the noun der Fuß! Read some of our other lessons relating to feet: Get off on the right foot and Von Kopf bis Fuß Part I and Part II. You can also search for other examples of der Fuß on Yabla German.

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Shapes and Patterns

When it comes to learning the basic shapes in German, Eva's got you covered with a video about exactly that:


Als Erstes haben wir hier einen Kreis.

First, we have a circle here.

Caption 13, Eva zeigt uns: Formen

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However, we often talk about shapes with a bit more nuance. For example, we might talk about spots and dots, or ovals rather than circles:


Alle Möbel mit roten Punkten gehören deiner Mama und die mit grünen gehören mir.

All of the pieces of furniture with red dots belong to your mother and those with green belong to me.

Caption 21, Mama arbeitet wieder Kapitel 4: Die Trennung

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Die Trainerschüler müssen die Hühner zum Beispiel dazu bringen, im Oval um zwei Kegel zu laufen.

The training students, for example, must get [their] chickens to walk around two cones in an oval.

Captions 24-25, Tierakademie Scheuerhof: Tiertrainer im Hühner-Seminar

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When we look at three-dimensional forms, there's a whole other set of vocabulary to learn. The word for a cube is actually der Kubus, but people describing objects will often use der Würfel, which is also the word you use for dice. 


Eine Masse von eineinhalb Sonnen, gepresst in eine Kugel mit gerade mal zehn Meilen Durchmesser.

A mass of one and a half suns pressed into a sphere with only a ten-mile diameter.

Captions 20-21, Unser Universum Sternengeburt: Das Leben nach dem stellaren Tod

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Wir haben hier fünfhundert Gramm Mehl, einen ganzen Würfel Hefe.

We have here five hundred grams of flour here, a whole cube of yeast.

Captions 8-9, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Even though most patterns are repetitions of certain shapes, most of the words don't relate to the original forms. This makes sense, because even if a stripe is technically a long, thin rectangle, we don't perceive it as such. 


Oh, das Muster und... und diese Farben! Es ist wirklich überwältigend, wirklich!

Oh, the pattern and... and these colors! It is really overwhelming, really!

Caption 41, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Die Flagge hat oben und unten einen roten Streifen.

The flag has a red stripe on the top and bottom.

Caption 48, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Ein gestreiftes Hemd und eine warme Hose und ganz schicke Schuhe.

A striped shirt and warm trousers and very stylish shoes.

Caption 17, Nicos Weg: Schick!

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In case you are like Nico and also like wearing patterned clothing, you might like to know that the word for "polka-dotted" is gepunktet, and kariert means "plaid," "checked," or "checkered." 


Further Learning
After you watch Eva's video on Yabla German in its entirety, look up the German words for some 3-D forms such as the pyramid, cone, cylinder, and prism. 

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Tell Me Why

Although it's also the title of a Beatles song (covered by the Beach Boys too!), today we're taking a look at German variations of the adverb warum (why).


Und warum schickt die Lehrerin dann immer ihn Kreide holen?

So then why does the teacher always send him to get chalk?

Caption 40, Der kleine Nick: Nachmittag bei Adalbert

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Ich weiß nicht warum, aber auch die Luft ist in dieser Jahreszeit oft wunderbar klar.

I don't know why, but the air is often wonderfully clear at this time of year.

Captions 15-16, Deutsch mit Eylin: Herbst in Hamburg

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Ja? Warum nicht, warum nicht, warum nicht.

Yes? Why not, why not, why not.

Caption 14, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Warum, weil - Erklärungen

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It's probably pretty clear that warum can be used in a variety of contexts. But there are also—in English as well as German—different ways of saying "why."


Weshalb hatte er dann eine Pistole?

Why did he have a pistol then?

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier: Schatten der Vergangenheit

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Weshalb hast du Entspannung gebraucht?

Why did you need relaxation?

Caption 18, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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As you see above, the adverb weshalb has been correctly translated into English as "why." But these two German sentences could just as well have been translated in different ways:


Weshalb hatte er dann eine Pistole?
What did he have a pistol for, then?
How come he had a pistol, then?
For what reason did he have a pistol, then?


Weshalb hast du Entspannung gebraucht?
What did you need relaxation for?
How come you needed relaxation?
For what reason did you need relaxation?


The adverb weshalb can be used when you are explicitly asking about the purpose of something, and is, to some extent, the equivalent of the English "what for." The adverb weshalb tends to be used more often in a written context, but is also commonly used in spoken German.


Everything in a word's meaning will vary depending upon the context. It's simply more natural to say something one way than another, with varying factors such as the subtlety of the intended meaning and the formality or informality of the context all playing roles. In the following case, three different equivalent English words and phrases were used just to differentiate the German words— plus it would read pretty badly using "why" three times in a row!


Die Frageworte „wieso“, „weshalb“, „warum“ bedeuten alle das Gleiche. Aber „wieso“ und „warum“ werden am häufigsten verwendet.
The question words “how come,” “for what reason,” “why” all mean the same thing. But “how come” and “why” are the most commonly used.
Captions 6-7, Deutsch mit Eylin: Fragewörter


So while they may mean approximately the same thing, it's up to you to decide which German word works best in context. Here are some more words with similar "why" meanings:


Also, kann's Gründe geben, weswegen wir dann doch 'n bisschen später ankommen?

That is, is there any reason why we might arrive a little later?

Caption 60, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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The adverb weswegen is used more in writing than in speech, but if somebody ever asks you Weswegen?—and you want to be flippant—you can answer Deswegen! ("Why?" —"Because!")


Wozu braucht man einen Fruchtbarkeitstee, wenn man bereits schwanger ist?

Why do you need fertility tea if you are already pregnant?

Caption 9, Großstadtrevier Nicht mit mir - Part 5

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The adverb wozu is also often translated as "what for."


Further Learning
Look for the German "why" adverbs warum, weshalb, wieso, weswegen, and wozu on Yabla German and see some of the various contexts in which they are used. Then write a list of English sentences and see if you can make multiple translations to German using the words above.

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Words with -mal and -malig

When talking about time in German, one word that is often found alone or as a root is das Mal. Not to be confused with das Mahl, which means "the meal," das Mal without an "h" means "the time" in the sense of "the instance." You've certainly seen sentences like this on Yabla German:


Bis zum nächsten Mal.

Till next time.

Caption 53, Abendessen: mit Marko

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There are a number of words that employ this word as a root to express a more specific relation to time. For example, einmal means "once," and so einmalig is an adjective that describes something that happens only once, or is exceptionally unique. 


Diese Ansprache, die gibt es ja normalerweise nur einmal im Jahr.

This address is usually only given once a year.

Caption 3, Coronavirus: Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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Wir haben heute eine einmalige Aktion vor uns ...

We have a one-time special ahead of us today...

Caption 6, Coronavirus: Drei Musiker geben Ballonkonzert über Cloppenburg

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Ja, also wir bauen einen Baum auf, der ist drei Meter fünfzig hoch, das ist so... so einmalig.

Yes, well, we put up a tree there which is three meters fifty tall, that's so... so unique.

Captions 11-12, Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser

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You may have also seen erstmal, which means "first," temporally speaking. If something is erstmalig, it is happening for the first time (zum ersten Mal).


Und dieser Boden ist hier in Darmstadt in der Centralstation ja erstmalig in Deutschland im Einsatz.

And this floor is here in Darmstadt in the Centralstation  is in use for the first time in Germany.

Captions 1-2, Organic Disco: Tanzen gegen den Klimawandel

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Now let's look at ehemals/ehemalig and damals/damalig, which both refer to the past. You'll see these words translated in different ways on Yabla, but often with "back then," "at the time," and "former," depending on whether an adverb or adjective/adjectival phrase is required. 


Es war damals irgendwie total uncool, ein Auto zu haben.

It was somehow totally uncool to have a car back then.

Caption 33, Deutsch mit Eylin: Menschen beschreiben

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Und die damalige Geschäftsführerin hat den Sender hier rübergebracht ... 

And the former managing director brought the station over here... 

Caption 52, Rhein-Main-TV: Interview mit Edmund Stössel

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In Pforzheim steht nach Angaben des Betreibers das einzige DDR-Museum auf ehemals westdeutschem Boden...

In Pforzheim, according to accounts of the operator, stands the only GDR museum on former West German soil...

Captions 7-8, DDR zum Anfassen Ganz tief im Westen

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Rund viertausend Besucher kommen jährlich nach Pforzheim, um etwas über die ehemalige DDR zu lernen.

Around four thousand visitors come yearly to Pforzheim to learn something about the former GDR.

Captions 39-40, DDR zum Anfassen Ganz tief im Westen

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Further Learning
Build some sentences with einmal, zweimal, dreimal, and viermal that describe how often you have been to certain places or how often you do certain tasks during the week. Then look for examples of damals, ehemals, damalig, and ehemalig translated on Yabla German to get a sense of the nuances. 

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