Using während

The German word während means "during" or "while." If you have learned this word, you likely also learned that it is a preposition used with the genitive case. In fact, this is not always the case. But there are two common structures for the implementation of this word, so let's look at some examples.


The genitive case is required when während is used with a noun that expresses a period of time. 


Und wie ist das passiert? Während des Trainings?
And how did it happen? During the training?
Caption 33, Jenny und Alena: Handball


Während der vierzigtägigen Fastenzeit durften sie nur eingeschränkt essen.
During the forty-day fasting period, they were only allowed to eat limited amounts.
Caption 18, Deutsches Bier: 500 Jahre Reinheitsgebot


However, there are instances where it is correct to use the dative (See the link provided in "Further Learning"). Moreover, it is not uncommon to also hear the dative case used with während in colloquial spoken German. The dative case may be used with nominalized verbs, for example: 


Und jetzt geb' ich während dem Rühren nach und nach die Eier mit dazu.
And now I'll gradually add the eggs while stirring.
Caption 14, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern


Während is also implemented as a subordinating conjunction that connects a subordinate clause to a main clause. In this case, remember that the conjugated verb will be at the end of the subordinate clause.


Während ich weg bin, musst du das Haus fegen, Feuerholz hacken und den Kessel mit Wasser füllen!
While I am away, you must sweep the house, cut firewood and fill the kettle with water!
Caption 22-23, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling


So, während ich die Tafel putze, überlegt euch mal Verben mit Präpositionen.
So while I clean the blackboard, think about verbs with prepositions.
Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen


Danach sterben sie, während überall sonst endgültig der Bergfrühling einzieht.
Afterwards they die, while everywhere else the mountain spring finally moves in for good.
Caption 14, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Further Learning
To learn about instances in which the dative is used rather than the genitive, refer to the "Usage Notes" at the bottom of this page. You can review the declensions for the genitive and dative cases here. Then write your own sentences with the word während, or search for more examples on Yabla German.

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An experience or life experience?

For this week's lesson, we will look at the nouns das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung, and the related verbs erleben and erfahren


Consider the three examples below:


Das ist einfach das beste Erlebnis, das man als Künstler haben kann.
That is simply the best experience that you can have as an artist.
Caption 17, Helge Schneider: Auf der Bühne geht's mir gut


Also, das war eigentlich eine sehr tolle Erfahrung.
Well, that was actually a really great experience.
Caption 21, Eva Croissant: Interview


Ich bin selbst Mutter von zwei wundervollen Kindern und spreche aus eigener Erfahrung.
I myself am the mother of two wonderful children and speak from my own experience.
Caption 5-6, Cettina interviewt: Mütter


In English, the word "experience" has a few definitions. In the first two sentences, the speaker is referring to a particular instance of encountering or undergoing something. In the third sentence, they are referring to the knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what they have observed, encountered, or undergone. In German, it is possible to use both das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung to describe this first kind of "experience." However, when we are talking about life experience, only die Erfahrung is appropriate in German. 


The verbs erleben and erfahren similarly can both indicate the process of experiencing something:


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


Jeder muss für sich selber wissen, wo er hinfährt und wie er da ist und welche Länder und was er dort erfahren will.
Everyone has to know for himself where he's heading and how he is there and which countries and what he wants to experience there.
Caption 41-42, Anna: Am Strand in Mexiko


However, erfahren is also often used to express learning of or finding out about something new:


Wir haben nichts gefilmt. -Niemand wird davon erfahren.
We didn't film anything. -Nobody will find out about it.
Caption 30, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche


Further Learning
Conjugate erfahren and erleben and search for the various conjugations (erfahre, erfährst, etc.) on Yabla German to find more examples of the verbs used in context. Try to guess what the words das Erlebnisbad, das Erlebnisgeschenk, der Erlebnispark, erlebnisreich, and die Erlebniswelt mean now that you have an understanding of the word Erlebnis. 

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Frühling and Frühjahr

You may have noticed that there are two words used to talk about springtime in German: das Frühjahr and der Frühling. Sometimes these two words are used interchangeably, like "fall" and "autumn."


However, if we look at the Duden definition of each word, we see that der Frühling is specified as a season in which mild temperatures prevail and plants begin to grow, whereas das Frühjahr is more vaguely defined as the period of time between the end of winter and the end of spring. This may seem like a subtle difference, but means that we will be more likely to hear das Frühjahr used in contexts where we are more generally talking about the transitional months in the early part of the calendar year.


Wir sehen uns im Frühjahr zweitausendneun im Kino.
We'll see one another in the spring of two thousand nine at the movies.
Caption 29, Filmtrailer: Hexe Lilli


Jedes Frühjahr wandern die großen Tintenfische durch das Wehr.
Every spring, the large coleoids travel through the dam.
Caption 19, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen


Im Frühjahr zweitausendundelf sollen die ersten Fohlen geboren werden.
The first foals are to be born in the spring of two thousand and eleven.
Caption 44, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski-Wildpferde


Unlike das Frühjahr, der Frühling clearly indicates the season (March through May in the Northern Hemisphere), along with its positive connotations of warm weather. If spring is named among other seasons, it will much more likely be referred to as der Frühling, and not das Frühjahr.


Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Winter, so heißen die Jahreszeiten auf Deutsch.
Spring, summer, autumn and winter, that's what the seasons are called in German.
Captions 3 and 4, Herbst: mit Eva


Winter muss eben sein, nich'? Aber, ja, Frühling ist mir lieber.
Winter has to happen, right? But yes, I prefer spring.
Caption 7, Berlin: Im Winter


Knallige Farben sind im kommenden Frühling und Sommer ein Muss.
Loud colors for the coming spring and summer are a must.
Caption 2, Das Beauty-Einmaleins: Fingernägel


Further Learning
Check out this previous lesson on compound words featuring Frühling. Look up the meanings of additional compound words such as die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit
der Frühjahrsputz, das Frühjahrsquartal, die Frühjahrsmesse, or die Frühjahrsmode. 


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Speaking about responsibility in German

On Yabla German, you may have come across several different adjectives that are translated with the English adjective "responsible." 


The word zuständig is commonly used to describe responsibility for a particular task, often in professional contexts. 


Ich bin zuständig dort für die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Abfallberatung.
I am responsible for public relations and garbage consultation there. 
Caption 8, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg


Für die Klimatechnik in den Restaurants ist Handwerker Max zuständig.
The handyman Max is responsible for the air conditioning in the restaurants.
Caption 15, Frankfurter Flughafen: Ja zu FRA! Erklärfilm


Verantwortlich is similar to zuständig in how it is used, but often describes a higher level of legal or political responsibility. 


Diese Aktion ist Teil einer internationalen Kampagne, die sich gegen Dänemark richtet, weil Dänemark, äh, politisch verantwortlich ist.
This action is part of an international campaign that is directed against Denmark, because Denmark is politically responsible.
Caption 12, PETA-Aktion: Gegen das Wal-Massaker


Verantwortungsvoll and zuverlässig are used to describe a permanent personality trait. Zuverlässig, however, more specifically means "competent," "dependable," "trustworthy," or "reliable." 


Der Präventionstag soll den Jugendlichen den Anstoß geben, in für sie heiklen Situationen verantwortungsvoll zu handeln.
Prevention Day is meant to give young people a nudge towards acting responsibly in delicate situations.
Caption 44-45, Gewaltprävention: Gewalt an Schulen


Haben wir zuverlässige Leute in allen Wehrkreisen?
Do we have trustworthy people in all military districts?
Caption 39, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944


Further Learning
Search for more instances of zuständig, verantwortlich, verantwortungsvoll, and zuverlässig on Yabla German and practice the declensions of these adjectives. 

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The word scharf

In English, the word "sharp" has a few different meanings. We can use it to describe the blade of a knife, but we can also say that someone is a "sharp dresser." The German word scharf also has a range of meanings beyond "sharp-edged."


One very common translation of scharf that you may already know is "spicy."


Wenn ihr es nicht ganz so scharf mögt, dann könnt ihr diese kleinen Chilischotenkerne entfernen.
If you don't like it quite so spicy, then you can remove these little chili seeds.
Caption 52-53, Cannelloni: mit Jenny


Das Gemisch, das auf Stufe zehn kommt, ist die schärfste Chilisoße der Welt.
The mixture that makes it to level ten is the spiciest chili sauce in the world.
Caption 21, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück


Scharf can also be used as an adjective or adverb to mean "sleek" or "attractive." In this sentence, it's used to describe the design of a car:


Von der Spitze bis zum Heckspoiler ist er richtig schön scharf gezeichnet.
From the front end to the rear spoiler, it's really sharply designed.
Caption 4, AUTO BILD TV: Tops & Flops der IAA 


Finally, scharf is also used to describe images in terms of whether they are in focus or not:


Und dann... die Bilder, die scharf waren, da war wieder der Ausdruck nicht so, wie ich's gerne hätte.
And then... the pictures that were in focus, there again the expression wasn't how I'd like to have it.
Caption 34, Lokalhelden: Art House


Further Learning
Watch the currywurst video above in its entirety on Yabla German for more examples of the word in use. Make sentences with the word scharf, integrating the correct endings based on gender (eine scharfe Suppe, ein scharfes Gewürz), and then try some sentences with the comparative and superlative form (schärfer, schärfste).

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"And" & "Or" in a Single Word 

One of my favorite German words took me a long time to learn to pronounce and even longer to properly understand. The word beziehungsweise not only has a fairly complex meaning, but it is also so long that in most cases people abbreviate the written form as bzw


Often beziehungsweise is translated simply as "or": 


Einen Wohnwagen beziehungsweise eine Hütte bekommt man ab fünfundfünfzig Euro.  
You get a trailer or a hut from fifty-five euros.
Caption 33, Berlin: Indoor-Camping im „Hüttenpalast“


So why not simply say oder ("or") instead of the longer beziehungsweise? One reason is that the latter often goes more in-depth than just saying "or."  You may want to rent either a trailer or a hut, or perhaps both a trailer and hut. Beziehungsweise is thus often translated as "respectively" too:


Sobald beziehungsweise erst wenn der Antrag gemäß Artikel fünfzig der EU-Verträge vorliegt.
As soon as, or respectively, only when the motion in accordance with Article Fifty of the EU Treaties is submitted.
Captions 17-18, Brexit-Votum: Merkel warnt vor Spaltung Europas


Sometimes beziehungsweise is used to narrow down a meaning and in this case is translated as "more specifically": 


Damit man dieses Geld auch bekommt, benötigt man ein Bankkonto beziehungsweise ein Girokonto.
In order to receive this money, you need a bank account, more specifically a checking account.
Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Bankkonten


Further Learning
So whether you are learning German for fun or (beziehungsweise) for business — perhaps both, right? — this is a good word to have in your active vocabulary. Although it is not usually translated as such, for me it helped to think of the word as the "and/or" that you sometimes see in English. Take a look at examples  of beziehungsweise in context on Yabla German.

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Irritated or Just Confused?

If you've followed our lessons, you have likely already heard about "false friends." These are words that sound similar in German and English, but do not have the same meaning. One example of verb that is a false friend is irritieren, which despite sounding very similar to the verb "to irritate," actually means "to confuse." The German adjective irritiert therefore is translated as "confused."


Deine Eltern waren irritiert, dass Fußball dich so interessiert.
Your parents were confused that football interests you so much.
Caption 5-6, Olli Schulz: Spielerfrau


Wenn ich das erste Mal in dieser Figur auftrete, ist das Publikum immer erst mal so 'n bisschen irritiert.
When I appear for the first time in the role of this character, the audience is always a little confused at first.
Caption 26-27, Theater: Rain Man


For "to irritate" or "to annoy," the verb ärgern is a common choice. 


Bleib höflich und sag nichts, das ärgert sie am meisten.
Remain polite and don't say anything, that irritates them the most.
Caption 39, Die Ärzte: Lasse redn


Another similar case is with the verb sich wundern. This means "to marvel" at something and is often used to express surprise, however, it does not share the other meaning of "to wonder." "To wonder" in the sense of contemplating or wondering about a topic is simply sich fragen.


Es wundert mich überhaupt nicht, dass dein Kind so richtig einen an der Waffel hat.
I'm not at all surprised that your child really has one on his waffle [idiom: is crazy].
Captions 26-27, Filmtrailer: Frau Müller muss weg


Und ich frage mich, wann werde ich berühmt sein?
And I wonder when will I be famous?
Captions 21-22, Adel Tawil: Lieder


Further Learning
Take a look at these examples in context on Yabla German and practice conjugating irritieren, ärgern, sich wundern, and sich fragen taking into account the reflexive verbs. Or take at this list of false friends and find other verbs to look out for. 

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Windy Days

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Light, Left and Loose Hands

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Winter Sports

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


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


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


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


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


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

Caption 8, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen


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


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


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


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