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German Preposition Cases, Part I

This week we're going to go through the cases used with German prepositions. If you are an advanced German speaker, this will be nothing new for you, but will hopefully be helpful for beginners as a learning tool and for intermediate German speakers as a refresher. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that come after prepositions take either the accusative, dative, or genitive case, but to make things slightly confusing, some prepositions require either the accusative or dative case, depending upon the context. Let's take a look in Part I today at the prepositions that require only the accusative case for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

 

For a basic start, let's look at the accusative case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the accusative case: 

 

der => den
die => die
das => das

 

And for the indefinite article


ein (masculine) => einen
eine => eine
ein (neuter) => ein

 

And for the personal pronouns "you," "him," "her," and "they":

 

du => dich
Sie (formal "you") 
=> Sie
er 
=> ihn
sie 
=> sie
uns => uns

 

Remember too, that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition.

 

The common German prepositions that require the accusative case of nouns and pronouns are für, um, durch, gegen, entlang, bis, ohne, and wider. The BBC website Bitesize cleverly suggests a good way of remembering them: in that order, the first letter of each word combined makes the phrase "fudge bow." If you can remember that phrase, with very few overlaps into dative and genitive prepositions, you'll be able to know if the preposition you are about to use requires the accusative case!

 

Here are some examples from Yabla German

 

Ich wollte dir gerne ein paar Sachen für den Umzug mitbringen.

I wanted to bring you a few things for the move.

Caption 5, Nicos Weg A2 Folge 22: Freizeitstress

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Wenn es um mich geht, ist es reflexiv.

If it's about me, it is reflexive.

Caption 54, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Akkusativ - Action

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Der schwebt also durch den Raum.

So it floats through the space.

Caption 36, Das 1. Newtonsche Gesetz erklärt am Beispiel des Dodomobils - Part 2

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Ich habe echt nichts gegen dich gesagt.

I've really said nothing against you.

Caption 7, Die Pfefferkörner Gerüchteküche - Part 2

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Sie streute sie die Krümel von ihrem einzigen Stück Brot den Weg entlang.

She scattered the crumbs from her single piece of bread along the way.

Caption 48, Märchen - Sagenhaft Hänsel und Gretel

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Note that the preposition entlang usually appears after the noun when used in the dative case. There is also a genitive use of entlang, but more on that in a later lesson!

 

Das war's von Rhein-Main-Szene. Bis nächste Woche. Ciao, ciao.

That's it from Rhein-Main-Szene. Till next week. Ciao, ciao [Italian: Bye, bye].

Caption 64, Frida Gold Interview - Part 2

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Don't forget that bis ("till" or "until") is more commonly seen as a conjunction than as a preposition. 

 

Wie sollte sie es nur ohne ihn aushalten?

Just how was she supposed to make it without him?

Caption 70, Märchen - Sagenhaft Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Wer wider besseres Wissen vortäuscht...

Whoever pretends despite better knowledge...

Caption 41, Großstadtrevier Schatten der Vergangenheit - Part 12

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take only the accusative case. And don't forget the key phrase "fudge bow" for remembering them, as ridiculous as it sounds! A chocolate violin, anyone? Sounds sweet...

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German Expressions of Frequency

In addition to adverbs of indefinite frequency, such as oft or häufig, and adverbs of definite frequency, such as täglich or morgens, there are also expressions for talking about how often something occurs. In English, we often say that something happens "once a month" or "every other week." How do we express this in German? 

 

You likely know the phrase jeden Tag, or "every day." But do you know how to say "every other day"?

 

Dazu gehört auch, dass den Jungvögeln jeden zweiten Tag ein Tisch mit Knochen gedeckt wird.

This also means that every other day, a table is set with bones for the young birds.

Caption 29, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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You can say jede zweite Woche for "every other week," but generally something happening at particular intervals will be expressed with alle and not jede zweite. Take a look:

 

Die Bergbahn fährt alle zwanzig Minuten hoch zum Königstuhl und alle zehn Minuten zurück runter in die Innenstadt.

The mountain railway goes up to the Königstuhl every twenty minutes and back down to the city center every ten minutes.

Captions 12-13, Jenny zeigt uns: Das Heidelberger Schloss

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Bei warmen Temperaturen gebären sie alle acht bis zehn Tage dreißig bis vierzig Jungtiere.

In warm temperatures, they give birth to thirty to forty young every eight to ten days.

Caption 14, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Wir finden hier alle vier Wochen eine Schildkröte.

We find a turtle here every four weeks.

Caption 42, Ausgrabungen Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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Das Projekt „Lunch Beat“ besteht in Hamburg seit dem vergangenen Sommer und findet in unregelmäßigen Abständen alle zwei bis drei Monate statt.

The project "Lunch Beat" has existed in Hamburg since last summer and takes place at irregular intervals every two to three months.

Captions 9-10, Lunch Beat: Tanzen in der Mittagspause

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To more specifically state that something happens "once" in a particular time interval, we can use the word einmal in + dative.

 

Das tue ich für gewöhnlich einmal in der Woche.

I typically do it once a week.

Caption 2, Wäsche waschen mit Eva

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Einmal in der Woche trainiert Astrid Bittner-Utsch Frauen und Männer, die ihrem Traumberuf ein Stück näher kommen wollen.

Once a week, Astrid Bittner-Utsch trains women and men who want to get a little bit closer to their dream profession.

Captions 9-10, Auf dem Laufsteg: Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

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Leon, wieso? -Einmal im Jahr gibt es diese Mathe-Olympiade.

Leon, why? -Once a year, the Math Olympics take place.

Caption 20, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Further Learning
Based on what you see above, how do you express "once a month"? What about "every five days" or "every five years"? Can you find another way to say "every other day"? For more practice, you can go to Yabla German to look for more examples, or translate some basic sentences about your current routine into German. 

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Gender agreement in the phrase "one of these..."

One of these days, we were going to have to get around to gender agreement in quantifier pronouns, and it might as well be today! When you say the phrase "one of these...", the word "one" is an indefinite pronoun called a "quantifier pronoun." In German, if you refer to two or more of something as a quantifier pronoun, you don't need to worry about the gender of the noun that it's referring to, you just say the number zwei, drei, vier, or however many you mean to say. But if you are referring to just one thing, then the quantifier pronoun "ein" has to match the gender of the noun to which it's referring.

 

There are two common ways to express the phrase "one of these..." in German. In the first way, the quantifier pronoun ein is followed by the dative preposition von and the noun which is being referred to:

 

Wir nehmen eins von diesen Modalverben,

We'll take one of these modal verbs

Caption 20, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Können, dürfen, müssen - Part 1

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Und dann nehmen wir eine von diesen Präpositionen und dann wissen wir, es ist Dativ.

And then we take one of these prepositions and then we know it is dative.

Caption 12, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Wechselpräpositionen

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Such dir eine von diesen vielen Banken aus.

Select one of these many banks.

Caption 9, Kurzfilm-Festival Shorts at moonlight - Part 3

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In the first example above, the quantifier pronoun ein is referring to the neuter noun das Modalverb, thus it is rendered neuter as eins. The same logic proceeds with the following examples: the feminine nouns die Präposition and die Bank require the feminine quantifier pronoun eine. Thus, if you used a masculine noun such as der Mensch, you'd say einer von diesen Menschen...

 

The second way to express the phrase "one of these..." in German is using the quantifier pronoun ein followed by the genitive case of the article: 

 

Und eine dieser Sachen war, äh, und ist auch noch, Plastikverpackung.

And one of these things was, uh, and still is, plastic packaging.

Captions 59-60, TEDx Der Supermarkt der Zukunft - Part 1

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Hinter einer dieser Türen steht ein geiles, neues Auto.

Behind one of these doors is an awesome new car.

Caption 15, Mathematik Das Ziegenproblem/Monty-Hall-Problem

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The first example above is very straightforward, using eine for the feminine noun die Sache. The second example follows the same construct, but since the quantifier noun is preceded by the dative preposition hinter, the feminine quantifier pronoun eine must be rendered dative as einer to agree with both the dative preposition hinter and the feminine noun die Tür

 

It's a bit complicated in theory to always have to think ahead to the gender of the noun you are going to modify, but with a little practice it's something you'll soon get used to!

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to find more examples of "one of these." You may also find a tandem partner that you can work with to make up some phrases using "one of these" in English, and then try making your own translations into German, cross-checking each other's work. Be sure and translate using both the dative and genitive versions that we learned about above!

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German Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

These German adverbs answer the question of how often something happens or is the case — Wie oft? Let's take a look at how to describe the most frequent to least frequent occurrences. 

First of all, we have immer, or "always." Like in English, there are different options for the placement of adverbs in German sentences. In this first sentence, the word einfach is also serving as an adverb, and both adverbs are placed after the verb. 

 

Es ist einfach immer was los und man ist in einer halben Stunde hier oben.

There is simply always something going on and you are up here in half an hour.

Caption 20, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Meistens, häufig and oft describe a relatively common or frequent occurrence. Note that, in this particular example, meistens is in the first position with the verb immediately following, which gives it extra emphasis. In the other two examples, the adverb comes after the verb (although not the participle!). 

 

Meistens sind ja die Fenster dann auch noch recht schmal.

Most of the time, the windows are also really narrow.

Caption 57, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug

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In Deutschland ist das Wetter im Herbst häufig kühl und feucht.

In Germany, the weather in autumn is frequently cool and damp.

Caption 6, Herbst: mit Eva

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Große Erfindungen werden oft von ungewöhnlichen Ereignissen inspiriert.

Great inventions are often inspired by unusual events.

Caption 3, 200. Geburtstag: Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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From manchmal to selten, the frequency of something happening or being the case decreases rapidly.

 

Es ist nur manchmal einfach etwas schwierig, wenn man zusammenlebt und so gut befreundet ist.

It is just sometimes a bit difficult when you live together and are such good friends.

Caption 34, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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Ab und zu kann es aber auch mal ganz schön laut werden.

Once in a while it can, however, get pretty loud too.

Caption 62, Rhein-Main-TV: Badesee Rodgau

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Seinen schicken Umhang trug er gar nicht mehr, und mit seinem Pferd ritt er nur noch selten.

He no longer wore his chic cloak and he rode his horse only rarely.

Captions 38-39, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

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Finally, we come to "never." It is also possible to say fast nie or "almost never."

 

Also, früher wollt ich nie zum Klavierunterricht gehen.

Well, at the time I never wanted to go piano lessons.

Caption 35, Deutsche Bands: Glashaus

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Further Learning
Many examples of these words can be found on Yabla German, and you can also look up the following German adverbs of definite frequency: täglich, wöchentlich, monatlich, jährlich, morgens, nachmittags, and abends. For more information on adverb placement, take a look at this helpful page.

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Distance as Abstand

In German Chancellor Angela Merkel's address to the nation last month (March 2020), she mentioned social distancing a number of times, using the German noun der Abstand.

 

Wir müssen aus Rücksicht voneinander Abstand halten.

Out of consideration, we have to keep a distance from each other.

Caption 30, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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... mindestens eineinhalb Meter Abstand zum Nächsten

... a distance of at least one and a half meters from each other,

Caption 33, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Caption 42, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Let's take a look at der Abstand as used in some other contexts.

 

Der Abstand zum Bordstein ist zwar etwas groß.

The distance to the curb is indeed somewhat large.

Caption 48, Richter Alexander Hold: Richtig parken

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... und immer Abstand halten von Sylvie van der Vaart, dann kann gar nichts schiefgehen.

... and always maintain distance from Sylvie van der Vaart, then nothing at all can go wrong.

Captions 29-30, Barbara Schöneberger Das Roter-Teppich-Einmaleins

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Wenn das rot eingezeichnet ist, sehen Sie hier den Abstand.

If this is shown in red, you see the interval here.

Caption 40, Bildverarbeitung: Sirius Advanced Cybernetics in Pforzheim

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So, und der Abstand hier, der beträgt dann eben zwanzig Zentimeter. -Hey, Sophie!

So, and the distance here, it then amounts to just twenty centimeters. -Hey, Sophie!

Caption 38, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Der Abstand is usually translated as "distance", though as you see above, other terms such as "interval," "space," or "gap" are sometimes more appropriate, depending upon the context. 

 

Further Learning
There are a number of different German words that can be translated into the English word "distance," depending upon the specific contexts in which they are used. Go to Yabla German and find some more examples of der Abstand, then take a look at some of the other words expressing "distance," such as die Entfernung and die Ferne. As a reward for your diligent studies, take a 5-minute break and watch actor Christoph Waltz give talk show host Jimmy Fallon a quiz on long German words, it's pretty funny!

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Around the House

Many of us are spending much more time at home than usual right now, and are therefore acutely aware of how much work it takes to keep a household running. For those of you who might be looking for a way to procrastinate, let's look at how to talk about household chores in German. 

Die Hausarbeit is the German word for "chore." You may know this word already, as it refers to a written work that students complete in order to get credits for a class (similar to a "term paper"). In this case, however, it is related to der Haushalt ("the household"), and is literally translated as "housework."

 

Ich sauge nicht so oft, ich hasse Hausarbeit.

I don't vacuum very often, I hate housework.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Haushaltsarbeit

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Two important verbs to know are putzen, which means "to clean," and aufräumen, which means "to tidy up" or "to pick up." The command "Clean up your room!" is expressed with aufräumen, not putzen.

Ich finde schon, dass du häufiger putzen könntest oder zumindest deine eigenen Sachen aufräumen könntest.

I do think you could clean more often or at least pick up your own things.

Captions 24-25, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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There is always so much to do! Here's a long list of chores, courtesy of Yabla's own Eva:

 

Ich muss die Küche aufräumen, den Abwasch machen, das Bad putzen, Staub saugen und Staub wischen.

I have to tidy up the kitchen, do the dishes, clean the bathroom, vacuum and dust.

Captions 5-6, Hausputz: mit Eva

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Hallo, heute will ich meine Wäsche waschen

Hello, today I want to do my laundry

Caption 1, Wäsche waschen: mit Eva

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A big topic in any German household is die Mülltrennung, which literally translates as "the separation of garbage" and refers to recycling. 

 

In Heidelberg wird der Müll in verschiedene Gruppen getrennt.

In Heidelberg, the garbage is separated into different groups.

Caption 14, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg

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Wischen, fegen, Müll wegbringen. Drei Monate lang.

Mop, sweep, take out the garbage. For three months.

Caption 5, Großstadtrevier: Schatten der Vergangenheit

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Not all household tasks feel like chores, however. After all, for those who appreciate it, cooking can also be a real joy!

Kochen Sie eigentlich auch zu Hause selbst?

Do you actually cook at home yourself?

Caption 22, Ball des Weines: Franz Beckenbauer

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Further Learning
Watch the videos Hausputz: mit Eva or Nicos Weg: Haushaltsarbeit in their entirety on Yabla German to learn even more useful phrases. To get the latest news from Germany and also work on your listening comprehension, you can listen to the first minute and a half of today's report from Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten

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Key Words and Phrases from Chancellor Merkel's Speech, Part 2

Last week, we offered you Part 1 of the vocabulary in Chancellor Merkel's televised speech about COVID-19, and today we're giving you the second and last part. It's pretty rare that a German chancellor appeals directly to the nation on television like this, and we think her message has many aspects that are valid for everyone during this crisis, regardless of where you live. You may not hear some of the words she uses in everyday casual speech, however, so it's important that you focus on some key words to effectively extend your German vocabulary.

 

Ich möchte Ihnen erklären, wo wir aktuell stehen in der Epidemie, was die Bundesregierung und die staatlichen Ebenen tun, um alle in unsrer Gemeinschaft zu schützen und den ökonomischen, sozialen, kulturellen Schaden zu begrenzen.

I would like to explain to you where we currently stand with the epidemic and what is being done at the Federal Government and state levels to protect everyone in our community and limit the economic, social, and cultural damage.

Captions 29-33, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Die Ebene has three distinct definitions in the German Duden dictionary: the first is an area of flat land, the second a geometry or physics term usually translated as "plane" in English, and the third definition is the one used here, "level." Der Schaden means "the damage". This is easy to remember as it correlates to a German adjective you are probably already familiar with: schade ("too bad"). 

 

Zeit, damit die Forschung ein Medikament und einen Impfstoff entwickeln kann.

Time, so that researchers can develop a drug and a vaccine.

Caption 49, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Aber noch gibt es weder eine Therapie gegen das Coronavirus noch einen Impfstoff.

But there is still neither a treatment for the coronavirus nor a vaccine.

Captions 43-44, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Hopefully for all of our sakes this situation will change soon, but in the meantime der Impfstoff ("the vaccine") is an important word to know.

 

Wir müssen das Risiko, dass der eine den anderen ansteckt, so begrenzen, wie wir nur können.

We must limit the risk of one person infecting another as much as we can.

Captions 22-23, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The German verb anstecken means "to infect" and is a separable verb that takes a direct object. The less we have to do with any anstecken, the better!

 

Die verschärften Grenzkontrollen und Einreisebeschränkungen zu einigen unserer wichtigsten Nachbarländer in Kraft.

The tightened border controls and entry restrictions on some of our most important neighboring countries have been in force.

Captions 42-43, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The 6-syllable noun die Einreisebeschränkung, or the "travel entry restriction", has been used often in the last few years as part of the ongoing debate about emigration, since the level of such restrictions determines who is allowed or forbidden entry to a country.

 

Alle staatlichen Maßnahmen gingen ins Leere, wenn wir nicht das wirksamste Mittel gegen die zu schnelle Ausbreitung des Virus einsetzen würden.

All government measures would come to nothing if we didn't employ the most effective means of keeping the virus from spreading too quickly.

Captions 9-11, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 3

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The noun die Ausbreitung may also be translated into English variously as "propagation", "dissemination", or "distribution", depending upon the context.

 

Further Learning
Watch the Chancellor's speech on Yabla German and listen for these key words and phrases. The city of Berlin website has set up a news feed under Nachrichten with updates on the crisis in German and in English. Try reading an article in German, such as their recommendations of what is allowed during the Easter Holiday, then check your comprehension by going to the top right-hand side of the page and choosing the English version of the article. Best wishes from Yabla to you and your family during these times of crisis.

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Key Words and Phrases from Chancellor Merkel's Speech, Part 1

Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't often give televised addresses, however, she recently went on TV to speak about the measures being taken in Germany to slow the spread of COVID-19 and appeal to the public. 

 

Chancellor Merkel opens the speech by acknowledging how difficult recent weeks have been. The word die Begegnung can mean "the encounter," like when you bump into someone on the street, but here it refers to social interaction.

 

Uns allen fehlen die Begegnungen, die sonst selbstverständlich sind.

We are all missing the interactions that are otherwise taken for granted.

Caption 10, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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She refers to the "restrictions" and "closures" that are defining daily life at the moment. 

 

Es sind Einschränkungen, wie es sie in der Bundesrepublik noch nie gab.

They are restrictions such as have never been seen before in the German Federal Republic.

Caption 33, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Ich weiß, wie hart die Schließungen, auf die sich Bund und Länder geeinigt haben, in unser Leben und auch unser demokratisches Selbstverständnis eingreifen.

I know how severely these closures, which have been agreed upon by the federal and state governments, are interfering with our lives and with our democratic self-image as well.

Captions 30-32, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Chancellor Merkel describes Germany as eine Gemeinschaft, which can be translated as "a community," "an association," or "a collective." The community now has the task of practicing social distancing. The word for task, die Aufgabe, can be used to describe a household task, but also a much larger undertaking.

 

Und wir sind eine Gemeinschaft, in der jedes Leben und jeder Mensch zählt.

And we are a community in which every life and every person counts.

Captions 63-64, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Ich glaube fest daran, dass wir diese Aufgabe bestehen, wenn wirklich alle Bürgerinnen und Bürger sie als ihre Aufgabe begreifen.

I firmly believe that we will succeed in this task if all citizens really see it as their task.

Captions 21-22, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Chancellor Merkel uses the adjective solidarisch, as well as its opposite unsolidarisch, to describe different behaviors. 

 

Seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg gab es keine Herausforderung an unser Land mehr, bei der es so sehr auf unser gemeinsames solidarisches Handeln ankommt.

Since the Second World War there has been no challenge to our country that has depended so much on us acting together in solidarity.

Captions 26-28, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Hamstern, als werde es nie wieder etwas geben, ist sinnlos und letztlich vollkommen unsolidarisch.

Hoarding as if nothing will ever again be available is senseless and ultimately completely lacking in solidarity.

Captions 62-63, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Note the use of the word das Hamstern above. This is a nominalization of the verb hamstern, which relates to the food collection method of a certain animal and is slang for horten / "to hoard." The noun der Hamsterkauf is related to der Einkauf, but rather than "the shopping trip" it is more like the English expression "panic buying."

 

When talking about social distancing or keeping a distance from people you encounter when you have to leave the house, the term in German is Abstand halten. Chancellor Merkel says that even though it is difficult, this is one of our greatest weapons against the spread of the virus.

 

Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Caption 42, Coronavirus Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

 

Further Learning
Watch the Chancellor's speech on Yabla German and listen for these key words and phrases. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German. 

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Party like it's 2019?

That's a bad idea at the moment, best not to. But it doesn't hurt to remember better times. The late American president Ronald Reagan once told the United Nations General Assembly, "I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside of this world." Now that we're facing a threat from within this world, we can only hope that it will help people and nations get along better and create a more caring society.

 

It's very strange to be watching television — and that's probably the main leisure activity of most of us most of the time in these COVID-19 days — and see people in large gatherings greeting each other with hugs. It's almost as if we're watching a science fiction movie or some historical drama where people behaved completely differently than they are allowed to now. 

 

In the spirit of better times and in the hope that when things return to "normal," it'll be better than before, let's focus this week on the German noun die Party. It's a loanword from English and in this case takes on the sixth definition listed in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: "a social gathering." 

 

Letzte Nacht haben sie mich zu einer Party mitgenommen mit all ihren Freunden.

Last night they took me to a party with all their friends.

Caption 9, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

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War die Party gut? -Sehr gut. Die Party war super.

Was the party good? -Very good. The party was super.

Caption 3, Nicos Weg: Andere Länder

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Viele machen sich's gemütlich zu Hause oder sie gehen auf  eine Party.

Many people will make themselves comfortable at home or they will go to a party.

Caption 93, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr: Linkenheim

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Die größte Party ist natürlich wie jedes Jahr im Piratenland.

The biggest party is, of course, in Pirate Land as it is every year.

Caption 23, Die Insel Fehmarn: Surffestival

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With eine Party, you have to be careful with the plural. German, unlike English, does not have the rule that "y" becomes "ie" when "s" is added for the plural form of the word. In German, "s" is simply added after the "y." The plural die Partys looks like a misspelling or something from a Shakespeare play, but in German it's quite correct: 

 

Wie hält man so viele Shows und Partys nonstop eine Woche lang durch?

How do you keep up with so many shows and parties non-stop for a whole week?

Caption 45, Modewoche in Berlin Halbzeit für Fashion-Fans

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Hier gibt es ein Café, eine Sporthalle und viele Partys.

Here there is a café, a gymnasium and many parties.

Caption 17, Universität Karlsruhe

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Further Learning
Be sure you don't mix die Party up with another noun, die Partei, as the latter means a political party—not the fun kind. Watch the full videos listed above on Yabla German to get into the party spirit and see the word used in a context that we hope will be more like the "real world" soon. You can also read this Zwiebelfisch article about German Partys vs. English "parties." And when you're done, read this article on Psychology Today about the possible positive effects of an alien invasion and see if some of it might apply to our current situation. Staying positive is one of the most important things of all!

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Delays and Cancellations

In the last weeks, many aspects of our daily lives have been uprooted as we all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even those who are not directly affected or immediately at risk are advised to lay low in order to keep themselves and others safe. Large gatherings such as conferences and concerts have been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety, and smaller events and meetings should be canceled as well.

 

We at Yabla wish you and your loved ones all the best during these uncertain times. Exercising caution, remaining calm, and gathering knowledge are all important strategies. For those of you who might be dealing with practical aspects of the situation in German, we will use this week's lesson to go over the various words for "to cancel" and "to postpone." If you aren't getting news updates about the situation in Germany and would like to be, check out the links posted under "Further Learning" below. 

There are many ways to say "to cancel" in German, but here are the most common verbs used to refer to events, appointments, and plans:

 

Heute ist Dienstag. Wir hatten eigentlich unseren Flug für heute zurück gebucht, aber es ist immer noch alles storniert.

Today is Tuesday. We had actually booked our flight back for today, but everything is still canceled.

Captions 6-7, Reisen während des Vulkanausbruchs

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Die eigentlich mittwochs stattfindende Generalaudienz fällt diesmal aus.

The general audience, which normally takes place Wednesdays, is canceled this time.

Captions 5-7, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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When it comes to events or meetings being postponed, the common verb is verschieben, which has a number of meanings related to "to shift." 

 

Es ist eine wundervolle Sache, denn du kannst die Dinge, die du heute tun solltest, nehmen und nach morgen verschieben.

It is a wonderful thing, because you can take the things that you should do today and postpone them till tomorrow.

Captions 24-26, Lektionen: Morgen

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Wir haben die Tour verschoben, weil ich mit dem Album noch nicht fertig geworden bin [sic, fertig geworden war]

We pushed the tour back, because I still wasn't finished with the album

Captions 58-59, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen

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Further Learning
You can find more examples of these verbs on Yabla German. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German.

 

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(Keinen) Bock haben auf...

The German noun der Bock means a mammal of the male gender, similar to the English word "buck," and is often particularly used to describe a male goat or "billy goat." However, the expression Bock haben auf or keinen Bock haben auf has a meaning quite different from what you might expect based on the direct translation of the noun!

 

Blumio hat Bock auf gute Unterhaltung.

Blumio is keen on good entertainment.

Caption 6, Blumio Rappen für gute Unterhaltung

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Oh, zerkleinern, das macht mir Spaß. Da habe ich Bock drauf.

Oh, chopping, that's fun. I'm up for that.

Caption 10, CHoE Rocker Profi-Grilltipps

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Sie hat Bock auf Shopping, also in die Stadt

She feels like shopping, so it's off to the city

Caption 23, Cro Bye Bye

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Ey, Nina, hast du Bock auf 'ne Wurst?

Hey, Nina, do you want to go out for a wurst?

Caption 6, Die Pfefferkörner Cybermobbing - Part 1

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The slang expression Bock haben auf is the equivalent of the expression Lust haben auf and may be translated in a variety of ways. Note that if a noun follows the preposition auf, then the noun case should be accusative. When you use the expression as a negation, just place the accusative case of kein in front of the masculine noun Bock

 

Jeder kann so seiner Wege gehen, wenn er keinen Bock auf die anderen hat,

Everyone can go their own way whenever they aren't in the mood to be around the others,

Caption 45, rheinmain Szene Selig - Part 2

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Jedes Mal, wenn du von deiner Arbeit, von deinen Führungen, nach Hause kommst, bist du fertig, hast keinen Bock mehr auf irgendwas.

Every time when you come home from your work, from your tours, you are exhausted, don't want to do anything.

Captions 28-29, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich Kapitel 4: Liebe auf den ersten Blick - Part 4

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You may also use the phrase in the form of question, in which case auf becomes worauf:

 

Worauf hast 'n du Bock?

What are you up for?

Caption 29, Mario Barth und Paul Panzer Männersache - Part 2

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Further Learning
Read the Duden dictionary page for der Bock and scroll down to Wendungen, Redensarten, Sprichwörter to read other expressions related to this noun. You can also go to Yabla German and search for other examples using the noun der Bock to see other contexts where the phrase is used.

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The adjective übel

The adjective übel in German has a number of translations, both alone and in various idiomatic contexts. First of all, it can mean "queasy," "sick to one's stomach," or "nauseated": 

 

Davon wurde manchem übel.

Some people became sick to their stomachs from that.

Caption 13, Deutsche Welle: Was ist das Reinheitsgebot?

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It can also be used colloquially to express dislike of something, and means "bad," "objectionable," or "over the top."

 

Na ja, vielleicht ist es ja gar nicht so übel.

Well, maybe that isn't that bad at all.

Caption 51, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Auch diese ganzen Witze, auch vor allem, wie die Frankfurter sie sich über Offenbach ausdenken, die sind übel, ja?

Also, all of these jokes, above all how those from Frankfurt come up with things about Offenbach, they are over the top, right?

Captions 43-44, Badesalz Offenbach gegen Frankfurt

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You also might hear the colloquial expression jemandem etwas übel nehmen. This means "to take something the wrong way" or "to hold something against someone."

 

Deshalb nimmt es Ihnen dort auch niemand übel, wenn Sie es sich mal eben in einem der kostbaren Oldtimer bequem machen.

That's also why no one there will hold it against you if you just make yourself comfortable in one of the valuable vintage automobiles.

Captions 6-7, Rhein-Main Ferien Technische Sammlung Hochhut

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Further Learning
Although übel is not necessarily an adjective we hope you will have to use, you can practice using the word in its various contexts in case a relevant situation arises. Nimm es mir nicht übel = "Don't hold it against me."  Mir ist übel = "I am feeling nauseated."

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erforderlich vs. förderlich

The adjectives erforderlich and förderlich appear and sound very similar, but have very different meanings. I have found myself constantly having to check these words in a dictionary when writing business emails in German, so writing this lesson is hopefully going to help me learn the differences between the two as well!

 

The first of the two adjectives, erforderlich, is usually used to reinforce the serious necessity of a statement, and can be translated variously as "necessary," "required," "essential," "requisite," "needed," and "consequential." 

 

Die Partner sollten dieses Angebot annehmen und die Chance nutzen, denn es ist dringend erforderlich.

The partners should accept this offer and use the opportunity, as it is urgently necessary.

Captions 63-64, Angela Merkel Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama

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Nur bei einem Notruf erfolgt eine Datenübermittlung, und dann werden auch nur die Daten übermittelt, die für die Erbringung der Hilfeleistung unbedingt erforderlich sind.

Only in the case of an emergency call is a transfer of data carried out and then also only the data are transferred that are absolutely essential for the provision of assistance after the accident.

Captions 36-38, Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr Versicherer entwickeln automatischen Notruf für alle Autos

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As you may have noticed, the texts above are respectively from a government official and a statistician, and thus the sentences are quite complicated. In fact, both erforderlich and förderlich are more often used in written German and far less in spoken German. Here are some examples of förderlich from written German sources: 

 

Dabei konnte ich ihm zu meiner großen Freude förderlich sein.
To my great joy I could be of use to him in that matter.

From Heinrich Mann's novel Der Untertan, in the 1921 translation by Ernest Boyd under the title "The Patrioteer."

 

Wenn die Boote gleich reihenweise ausfallen, ist das nicht gerade förderlich.
It's not exactly beneficial if the boats drop out in rows.
 
From a 2006 article in the newspaper Die Welt

 

Jedenfalls reicht aber die Stabilität so weit, dass sie genügt, ein förderliches Ideal einer Wissenschaft zu begründen.
In any case, however, the stability extends so far that it is sufficient to establish a beneficial ideal of science.

From Ernst Mach's article "Erkenntnis und Irrtum" in Philosophie von Platon bis Nietzsche, Berlin 1905.

 

The adjective förderlich can be variously translated as "beneficial," "of use," "advantageous," and "conducive."

 

It's easiest for me to remember the difference between the two in that erforderlich is usually associated with a demanding tone and thus more serious, so I remember: the longer word is more serious. On the other hand, förderlich is usually used in a positive and thus lighter context, so  I remember: the less serious word is the shorter of the two.

 

Further Learning
Write some sample sentences in English mixing the various translations of the two words above, then test your knowledge by translating the sentences into German and see if you translated erforderlich and förderlich correctly. 

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Meinetwegen and von mir aus

The German word meinetwegen is used in several different contexts. Its first meaning can be translated as "on my account" or "for me" in English.

 

Ich weiß, ihr seid nicht meinetwegen gekommen.

I know you haven't come because of me.

Caption 3, Verstehen Sie Spaß?: Sascha Grammel

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Hat Themba wirklich nur meinetwegen ein Eigentor gemacht?

Did Themba really score a goal against his own team just because of me?

Caption 33, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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It can also mean "for example" or "assuming that":

 

Und wenn du dich jetzt meinetwegen dort auf die Seite drehst...

And if you now turn onto your side, for example...

Caption 63, Die Schmerzspezialisten: Diese Schlafposition solltest du unbedingt vermeiden!

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Additionally, meinetwegen can also suggest indifference, translated as "for all I care" or even the very rude "whatever" below. 

 

Machen Sie doch meinetwegen, was Sie wollen!

But do what you want, for all I care!

Caption 61, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Rattenfänger von Hameln

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Meinetwegen“, brummte Frederick.

"Whatever," grumbled Frederick.

Caption 42, Piggeldy und Frederick Unendlichkeit

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Von mir aus is a colloquial expression, and can be translated as "for all I care," "as far as I'm concerned," or even simply "I don't mind."

 

In welcher Form auch immer... bis morgen früh von mir aus.

In whichever form… till early morning, as far as I'm concerned.

Caption 45, Fastnacht: Karneval Quartier Latin

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Von mir aus bleibe ich ewig.

I don't mind remaining forever.

Caption 7, Max Giesinger: Nicht so schnell

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Was meinst du? -Von mir aus. -Vielleicht hat hier jemand was gesehen.

What do you think? -I don't mind. -Maybe someone here saw something.

Caption 43, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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Further Learning
Take a look for additional examples on Yabla German and try working on your own sentences with meinetwegen and responses with von mir aus

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Valentine's Day in Germany

Although Valentine's Day doesn't take over Germany in February like it does the United States, it has a growing presence. In the video Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe, Diane interviews locals to find out what they think of Valentine's Day and what their plans are. Below, you can find some vocabulary about love and relationships to listen for while watching. For more practice, check out this free Valentine's course from Yabla German and smarterGerman!

 

Wir sind hier am romantischen Karlsruher Schloss und hier gibt es auch ein paar Liebespärchen.

We are here at the romantic Karlsruhe Palace and there are also a few couples here.

Captions 47-48, Valentinstag in Karlsruhe

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Und wurden Sie heute Morgen mit einem romantischen Frühstück überrascht oder einem Blumenstrauß?

And were you surprised this morning with a romantic breakfast or a bouquet of flowers?

Captions 58-59, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Die Karlsruher Pyramide befindet sich mitten im Stadtzentrum von Karlsruhe und ist ein beliebter Treffpunkt für Verabredungen.

The Karlsruhe Pyramid is located in the middle of the city center of Karlsruhe and is a favorite meeting place for dates.

Captions 5-6, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Und haben Sie da schon was geplant für Ihre Lieben?

And have you already planned something for your loved ones?

Caption 36, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Achtung! Eine Verabredung is not always a date, and verabredet sein doesn't always mean you have a date. It may just mean you have an appointment. Similarly, it is possible to say Ihr Lieben without it indicating romantic love. 

 

Besonders Diamanten sind ein Symbol für ewige Liebe.

In particular, diamonds are a symbol of eternal love.

Caption 12, Valentinstag in Karlsruhe

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Ich bin dafür, dass, wenn man jemanden richtig gern und lieb hat, man ihm jeden Tag das ein kleines bisschen zeigt...

I am of the opinion that you if you really are really fond of someone and love them, then you show them that a little bit every day...

Captions 41-43, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Further Learning
In addition to Diane's interviews, learn about what Valentine's Day is like in Germany from the point of view of a florist and check out the free Valentine's course from Yabla German and smarterGerman mentioned above!

 

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The prepositional negation nicht ohne

The standard negation in German — when you say that something is "not" by using nicht — is relatively straightforward for native English speakers. Although its placement in a sentence may differ from English, often falling at the end of a sentence (Ich liebe dich... nicht!), it usually parallels the use of the English word "not." A standard German phrase combined with the preposition ohne ("without") might read:

 

Das ist nicht ohne Risiko,

This is not without risk,

Caption 14, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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Nee, nee, nee, mein Lieber, nicht ohne dich.

No, no, no, my dear, not without you.

Caption 75, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Und da bin ich nicht ohne Sorge.

And there I'm not without worries.

Caption 60, Holocaust-Gedenktag: Gespräch mit jüdischen Schülern

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Note that in the above cases, the phrase nicht ohne has an object that defines what is lacking, in the above examples Risiko, dich, and Sorge respectively. But what does it mean when somebody says nicht ohne without an object? To say "Oh, that's not without" in English is a sentence fragment with no clear meaning.

 

To say nicht ohne with no defined object in German, however, is an idiomatic or slang usage that has been in use since at least the 17th century, according to the Redensarten-Index website. To leave a word out of a sentence is what's known in linguistics as an ellipsis. This particular ellipsis is more difficult to immediately understand than most of those in English, however. 

 

Ein Radfahrer... Das ist nicht ohne.

A bicyclist... That is difficult.

Caption 22, Knallerfrauen: Mathehausaufgaben

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Mein Fahrgestell ist nämlich auch nicht ganz ohne.

My undercarriage isn't exactly without its dangers, either.

Caption 27, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist: Nur die Liebe zählt

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Thus, depending upon the specific context, the phrase nicht ohne can mean that something is difficult, dangerous, or to be taken seriously.

 

Further Learning
Read the above link for the Redensarten-Index and search for more examples of nicht ohne on Yabla German to see other ways that the phrase can be used in German sentences.

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The preposition seit: "since" or "for"?

One of the most common mistakes that native German speakers make when translating the preposition seit to English is to always render it as "since," but in contexts where the English word is meant to be used to indicate the passing of a period of time, it should usually be translated as "for." The mistake seems to be common with Europeans speaking English, as I hear it regularly on the streets and in cafés and restaurants in Berlin, where so many Europeans are speaking English as a lingua franca.

 

Yes, I have been going there since (correct: for) many years.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since (correct: for) at least a decade.
I have lived in Berlin since (correct: for) 16 years. 

 

It's easy to see how this mistake is made, as the German sentence uses the word seit and as it's actually correct to use "since" if a specific year is used in the same sentences: 

 

Yes, I have been going there since 2016.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since at least 2010.
I have lived in Berlin since 2004. 

 

Here are some examples of seit used on Yabla German with the correct English translations "for" and "since." Note the way that the context of each sentence changes which English word is used.

 

„Mir ist so“, maulte Piggeldy, „als tue ich das schon seit Tagen!“

"For me it's like," muttered Piggeldy, "as if I have already been doing this for days!"

Caption 11, Piggeldy und Frederick Wanderdüne

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Seit Montag wird das Lied im Radio gespielt

The song has been playing on the radio since Monday

Caption 33, Liza Ein Lied für Opel

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sie schreibt ihr Referat, an dem sie schon seit zwei Wochen arbeitet.

she is writing her paper that she has been working on for two weeks.

Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren Relativsätze mit Präpositionen - Part 6

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Seit vergangener Woche hat die Kranich-Airline nun ihren ersten gebrandeten A dreihundertachtzig in Betrieb.

Since last week, the crane airline has now had its first branded A three hundred and eighty at work.

Caption 9, Rund um den Flughafen Der neue Airbus A-380

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Na ja, ich krieg' ja seit Monaten keine Wochenendzeitungen mehr.

Oh well, I haven't been getting a weekend newspaper for months.

Caption 8, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 4

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OK, ihr seid jetzt seit April in Deutschland, ja?

OK, you have been in Germany now since April, right?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren Relativsätze mit Präpositionen - Part 4

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Ich spiel' jetzt schon seit zehn Jahren Handball

I've been playing handball for ten years now

Caption 7, Jenny und Alena Handball

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Also, die Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie gibt es seit dem Jahr zweitausend-und-acht

Well, the sustainability strategy has been there since the year two thousand eight

Caption 37, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell Nachhaltigkeit

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A general rule of thumb is to translate seit as "since" if it refers to a specific date such as a year, month, or day of the week. If it is referring to a length of time, such as "many years," then seit is usually translated as "for."

 

Further Learning
Compare other contexts in which seit is used on Yabla German and study some other uses of the word in which the preposition seit can also be translated as "because."

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Kannst du berlinern?

Have you ever seen "Berlin" as the verb berlinern? It means to speak with a Berlin dialect. Now you may not necessarily want to learn to speak like a waschechter Berliner (Berlin native), but it's good to get your ears around hearing it a bit so it's easier to understand! This week we'll go through some sample videos of people speaking Berlinerisch. Here are some of the main features of the dialect. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Ick (or icke) instead of ich

 

Ick [ich] hab' die alle manipuliert, ick hab' die alle manipuliert.

I've manipulated them all, I've manipulated them all.

Caption 17, Rapucation Lernen durch Rapmusik - Part 4

 

 

Wat instead of was

 

Und Bananen, so wat [so was] fressen bei uns nur die Affen, du Affe.

And bananas, only apes devour stuff like that where we live, you ape.

Caption 60, Die Klasse Berlin '61 - Part 2

 

 

Keen and weeß instead of kein and weiß; in fact, most standard German "ei" sounds are pronounced as "ee": 

 

Alle keen [kein] Zuhause oder wat [was]? -[„Die Anstalt“, Regie: Axel Bock]

All of you don't have a home or what? -["The Institution", directed by Axel Bock]

Caption 53, Alexander Hauff Showreel - Part 2

 

 

Dett [dass] ick [ich] nicht deine Geliebte bin, weeß [weiß] ick [ich] och [auch],

I do know that I'm not your lover,

Caption 14, Mathieu Carriere Ein Mann will nach oben

 

You probably noticed too that dass in the above is spoken as dett and auch as och: a translation to standard German would be: Dass ich nicht deine Geliebte bin, weiß ich auch.

 

Another typical feature of Berlinerisch is that the hard German "g" is rendered as a soft German "j": janz jenau!

 

Sind janz [ganz] schön viele. -Bärbel.

That is a whole lot. -Bärbel.

Caption 12, Die Klasse Berlin '61 - Part 12

 

 

There are also a number of words that are unique to Berlin, such as der Kiez instead of die Nachbarschaft:

 

Gitarrist Jürgen Ehle wohnt seit fünfundzwanzig Jahren in dem Kiez und schwelgt in Erinnerungen.

Guitarist Jürgen Ehle has lived for twenty-five years in the neighborhood, and luxuriates in memories.

Captions 3-4, Pankow Rolling Stones des Ostens

 

 

Further Learning
Read the German Wikipedia page about the Berlin dialect and look for some of the unique Berlin words on Yabla German to accustom yourself to understanding it.

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