Bist du dir sicher? German Expressions of Certainty

Lesson 56. Vocabulary

Berlinale - Schauspieler Jürgen Vogel

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Wahlspots - Szenen einer Ehe

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Cro - mit „Melodie“ an Chartspitze

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Yabla-Intro - Jenny - Part 1

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Für Tierfreunde - Falknerei Feldberg

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English adjectives for being sure or certain about something are often interchangeable, but German expressions like bestimmt, gewiss, and sicher are more specific to the particular context in which they are used. Let's take a look at all three.

Bestimmt can mean either "definitely"

Du machst Filme und die Leute sagen „Das wird bestimmt so“.
You make films and the people say, "It will definitely be like this."
Caption 34,
Berlinale: Schauspieler Jürgen Vogel

or in the nominalized noun something specific or in particular:

Wenn du mal was Bestimmtes vorhaben würdest…
If you were up to something specific
Caption 12,
Wahlspots: Szenen einer Ehe

Gewiss can mean "certain" in the standard sense

Die Unterstützung des Schirmherrn ist den Fußballfrauen gewiss.
The support of the patron for the women's soccer team is certain.
Captions 13-14,
Frauenfußball-WM: Der Bundespräsident am Ball

or as a suggestion of vagueness or uncertainty, a "certain something":

Aber ein gewisser Druck bleibt trotzdem.
But a certain pressure remains nevertheless.
Caption 23,
Cro: mit „Melodie“ an Chartspitze

Sicher can mean "certain"

Ich bin mir sicher, es wird klappen.
I am sure it will work out.
Caption 39,
Yabla-Intro: Jenny

but in other contexts it means "safe":

Es ist ein sicherer Standplatz.
It is a safe location.
Caption 36,
Für Tierfreunde: Falknerei Feldberg

The words bestimmt, gewiss, and sicherlich can be used interchangeably when meaning "of course" or "certainly": Sicherlich / Bestimmt / Gewiss werden wir die Deutschprüfung bestehen. (We will certainly pass the German test.)

Further Learning
Search for some uses of bestimmt, gewiss, and sicher (sicherlich too) on Yabla German to learn about the ways some of these expressions are used in context.

The "weak masculine" or n-declination

Lesson 55. Grammar

Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der Zauberlehrling

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Fine - sucht einen Hammer

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Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der gestiefelte Kater

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If a German noun ends in an "e," it's usually feminine, but there are also masculine nouns that end with "e" that require special "n" or "-en" endings in all singular non-nominative cases. To complicate things further, there are also masculine nouns not ending in "e" that require the special endings too!

Basically, the n-declination only occurs with masculine nouns, never with feminine or neuter nouns, and only a small percentage of masculine nouns are weak. Besides the rule of masculine nouns ending with -e, there is no hard and fast rule to classify them — they just have to be learned! It's helpful to know that many are professions, animals, and nationalities. Here are a few examples of weak masculine nouns to remember that you will commonly encounter in everyday usage.

Der Junge is a weak masculine noun, which you know because of the masculine der and the -e ending. Note that the -e ending changes to -en:

Der Zauberer sah zu dem zitternden Jungen hinab.
The sorcerer looked down at the trembling boy.
Caption 80,
Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

However, der Nachbar is also a weak masculine noun, despite the -r ending. Note that the -r ending changes to -rn:

Du könntest einfach zum Nachbarn gehen.
You could simply go to the neighbor.
Caption 25,
Fine: sucht einen Hammer

Der Student is a very common weak masculine noun that takes the -en ending in non-nominative singular:

Ich habe einen spanischen Studenten eingestellt.
I've hired a Spanish student.
Caption 22,
Barbara Schöneberger: Bambi-Verleihung Backstage

Der Herr is a weak masculine noun when it's translated as "lord"

Sofort rannte er zu seinem Herrn.
Immediately, he ran to his lord.
Caption 47,
Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der gestiefelte Kater

and in its more common form as the honorific "Mr." or "Mister"

Das war eine Idee von Herrn Singer.
That was an idea of Mister Singer's.
Caption 35,
Modedesignerin Nina Hollein: Floria Prinzessin von Hessen

Further Learning
Here are some examples of weak masculine nouns requiring the -n or -en endings in non-nominative singular (all of them have the masculine article der): Architekt, Astronaut, Bär, Bauer, Diplomat, Elefant, Emigrant, Held, Idiot, Kamerad, Kandidat, Kapitalist, Kommunist, Kunde, Löwe, Mensch, Neffe, Pilot, Präsident, Rabe, Russe, Schimpanse, Schwede, and Soziologe. See if you can find some examples of them in context with -n or -en endings on Yabla German. For more reading about this topic, check out the article Tricky Masculine Nouns in German.

For vs. für

Lesson 54. Vocabulary

Berlin - Judith und die „Brezel Bar“

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Klebt, schmeckt, macht dick - Die Süßigkeitenmesse

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Märchen - Sagenhaft - Dornröschen

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Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Büchse der Pandora

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Deutsche Bands - Cabanossi

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Bioeier - Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

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The English preposition "for" and the German accusative preposition für are not only similarly spelled, but are often interchangeable too — the problem arises in cases where they are not. Let's first take a look at some examples where "for" can be directly translated as für. If something is intended for someone:

Was kann ich für dich tun?
What can I do for you?
Caption 2,
Berlin: Judith und die „Brezel Bar

When indicating quantity or money:

Für Geld machen Sie alles?
For money you'll do anything?
Caption 62,
Klebt, schmeckt, macht dick: Die Süßigkeitenmesse

For stating a length or period of time:

Stattdessen wird sie in einen tiefen Schlaf fallen für viele Jahre.
Instead, she will fall into a deep sleep for many years.
Caption 29,
Märchen, Sagenhaft: Dornröschen

Some English expressions with "for" also use für when translated to German: für nichts or für umsonst (for nothing); für immer (for always or forever); für nächstes Mal (for next time).

On the other hand, the English "for" may also be translated as aus, seit, or zu, with expressions like "for some reason" (aus irgendeinem Grund), "for a long time" (seit langem), and "for sale" (zum Verkauf):

Aber aus irgendeinem Grund wollte Pandora im Haus bleiben.
But for some reason Pandora wanted to stay in the house.
Captions 33-34,
Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Büchse der Pandora

Er ist Ungar und spielt schon seit langem mit uns zusammen.
He is Hungarian and plays with us for a long time already.
Captions 23-24,
Deutsche Bands: Cabanossi

Fast jedes Ei, das zum Verkauf in Supermärkten gedacht ist…
Almost every egg that is intended for sale in supermarkets…
Caption 9,
Bioeier: Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

It's important to remember that prepositions are not always directly translatable; just because "for" is translated as zu in one case does not mean that zu is always translated into English as "for."

Further Learning
Imagine a typical use of the word "for" in an English sentence, then translate it into German and search Yabla German for a similar expression to see how it is translated there. Did you get it right?

Finances in the New Year

Lesson 53. Vocabulary

Rio Reiser - König von Deutschland

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Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Weil oder obwohl - Part 4

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Endlich glücklich - Liebe im Netz

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Jan Wittmer - Leben für den Lebenslauf

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Für Tierfreunde - Tierheim Nied

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Cosma Shiva Hagen - So trägt man Pelz

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Since most of us are probably pretty broke after holiday expenses, here are some money expressions in German that are good to know!

Ich hätte zweihundert Schlösser und wär' nie mehr pleite.
I would have two hundred castles and would never again be broke.
Caption 19:
Rio Reiser: König von Deutschland

The word pleite is slang, but if you are seriously pleite, you wind up thus:

Jetzt sind wir bankrott, obwohl wir zehn Jahre lang [Geld] gespart haben.
Now we are bankrupt, even though we've saved money for ten years.
Caption 2,
Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Weil oder obwohl

The holidays aren't getting cheaper every year, that's for sure. At some point they always start costing money (ins Geld gehen):

Sollte es länger dauern, dann geht es aber auch irgendwann mal ins Geld.
Should it take longer, then at some point, however, it will also start costing money.
Captions 28-29,
Endlich glücklich: Liebe im Netz

And on this, we can all agree:

Zeit ist Geld und Geld ist gut.
Time is money and money is good.
Caption 9,
Jan Wittmer: Leben für den Lebenslauf

Not forgetting, of course, that:

Geld allein ist nicht alles.
Money alone isn't everything.
Caption 62,
Für Tierfreunde - Tierheim Nied

Since after all, the holidays should remind us not to forget that love is the most important thing of all!

Zeigt die Liebe allen Wesen, die da atmen.
Show the love to all beings that breathe there.
Caption 18,
Cosma Shiva Hagen: So trägt man Pelz

Further Learning
Do a search on Yabla German for financial expressions in English and see in what context they are used in German. For a bit of cheer, see what kind of expressions a search for die Liebe brings up. Happy New Year from all of us at Yabla!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Lesson 52. Vocabulary

Frohe Weihnachten - der Christbaum

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Weihnachtsinterviews - Cettina in Linkenheim

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Weihnachtsmärkte - mit Eva

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Weihnachtsessen - mit Eva

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Weihnachten geht baden - Tannenbaum unter Wasser

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Ich hoffe, euch hat's Spaß gemacht, und wünsche euch frohe Weihnachten!
I hope it's been fun and I wish you a merry Christmas!
Captions 71-72,
Frohe Weihnachten: der Christbaum

Beyond "merry Christmas" there are a number of other ways to give season's greetings as well, for instance your Christmas could be schön:

Dann wünsch' ich euch schöne Weihnachten.
In which case I wish you a wonderful Christmas.
Caption 84,
Weihnachtsinterviews: Cettina in Linkenheim

Let's not neglect the period before Christmas, which in German is the same word as in English:

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

And if we're going to make it through all the Christmas shopping, we'd better have some Stollen to see us through:

Das ist der Christstollen. Der wird auch Weihnachtsstollen genannt.
This is the Christstollen. It is also called Christmas stollen [fruit cake].
Captions 22-23,
Weihnachtsessen: mit Eva

If you don't have your Christmas tree yet, you might have to go diving for one!

Nasse Weihnachten: Der Tannenbaum steht fast vier Meter tief unter Wasser.
Wet Christmas: The Christmas tree stands nearly four meters deep under water.
Caption 1,
Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser

Further Learning
Do a search on Yabla German for typical Christmas words and get into the Christmas spirit while improving your German at the same time. Happy holidays!

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