German Lessons


gemeinsam vs. zusammen

Although both of the words above are most often translated as "together," and there are instances in which either one can be used, there are also some nuances to be aware of. 


The word gemeinsam will often be used when there is a mutuality, an act of cooperating or working together, or an idea of having a common goal. Another translation could be "collectively" or "conjointly." With gemeinsam, there is an indication that a group exists or has been formed.


Heute wollen wir mal wieder gemeinsam kochen.

Today we want to cook together again.

Caption 2, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte - Hessen

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Der Lehrer bespricht die Aufgaben gemeinsam mit den Schülern.

The teacher discusses the assignments with the students.

Caption 50, Deutsch mit Eylin - Pronomen

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Heute machen wir gemeinsam einen Einbürgerungstest.

Today we'll do a citizenship test together.

Caption 2, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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The word zusammen refers to the state of being together with another person, but both people might still act independently or have different goals. 


Wie verbringt ihr Silvester?

How do you spend New Year's Eve?

-Mit meiner Familie und wir essen schön zusammen.

-With my family and we have a nice supper together.

Caption 59, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Karlsruhe

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Aber ihr seid doch erst seit ein paar Wochen zusammen

But you've only been together a few weeks. 

Caption 18, Nicos Weg - A2 Folge 15: Kinder

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Wir haben zum Beispiel Karten zusammen gespielt.

We played cards together, for example.

Caption 32, Angelique Kerber - Ihre tennisfreie Zeit

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This distinction is easy to remember if you can remember that there is also the phrase etwas gemeinsam haben, which means "to have something in common." 


Wir haben ja vieles gemeinsam.

We have a lot in common.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsmann gesucht - Der Engel

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Further Learning
When you watch videos on Yabla German, note when the word gemeinsam is used rather than zusammen. You can also write some sentences about what you and your friends have in common. 

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May 8th: Tag der Befreiung

Was war am 8. Mai 1945?

What happened on the 8th of May, 1945?

Caption 31, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 10

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On the evening of May 8th, 1945, German forces surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces in Berlin, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. This also meant the end of Nazi Germany, which had been committing crimes against humanity in Germany and in occupied countries for more than twelve years.


Wann waren die Nationalsozialisten

When were the National Socialists

mit Adolf Hitler in Deutschland an der Macht?

in power with Adolf Hitler in Germany?

1933 bis 1945.

From 1933 to 1945.

Captions 18-19, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 11

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In the United States and Great Britain, the day is called Victory in Europe Day (often shortened to "VE Day"). A national holiday is celebrated on this date in a number of European countries. In Germany, the day is known as Tag der Befreiung, or "Liberation Day." Although not a national holiday in Germany, there are often events organized on this day to celebrate the country's liberation from the Nazis and to memorialize the millions of victims. For May 8th, 2020, the city-state of Berlin declared a regional holiday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation.


It may seem strange to some that a country would celebrate its own surrender, but by doing so the Germans create a clear break between the authoritarian Nazi state and the democratic German Federal Republic which followed. It is simultaneously a way to remember the human destruction caused by the criminal Nazi Regime.


Die Städte fallen unter den alliierten Bombern in Schutt und Asche.

The cities are falling into debris and ashes under the Allied bombers.

Caption 26, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Although the Allied bombing of civilians in the Second World War would be judged a war crime by modern standards, it was practiced by all sides in this conflict. Most Germans today recognize that it was the Nazi Regime that ultimately bears responsibility for the destruction inflicted upon Germany during the war by its enemies.


Welche Länder wurden nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg in Deutschland

Which countries were, in Germany after the Second World War,

als alliierte Besatzungsmächte bezeichnet?

named Allied occupying powers?

USA, die Sowjetunion, Großbritannien und Frankreich.

USA, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France.

Captions 33-35, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 10

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Although the Allied forces eventually withdrew most of their troops from Germany—the Soviets completely, after the dissolution of the GDR and the Soviet Union—there is still a continuing problem with right-wing extremists in Germany.


Wir ignorieren seit 1945,

Since 1945, we've been ignoring

dass es noch so viel Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland gibt.

that there is still so much right-wing extremism in Germany.

Captions 54-55, Böhmermann - Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?

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Und im Rahmen dieses besonderen Tages

And in the framework of this special day,

wurde auch die Gedenkstätte

the Memorial

für die ermordeten Wiesbadener Juden

for the Murdered Jews of Wiesbaden

ihrer Bestimmung übergeben.

was consigned to its set purpose.

Captions 8-10, Holocaust-Gedenktag - Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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It is through Holocaust memorials, such as those in Michelsberg and Wiesbaden, that Germany hopes to steer young people away from right-wing racist extremism. But the infiltration of the German police and military by right-wing extremists has only started to be investigated in recent years, and 2022's coup attempt to seize the military and overthrow the German government has hopefully awakened the German government to the need to take stronger measures.


Further Learning
Today, the 8th of May 2023, is the 78th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the liberation of Europe. You can read on Wikipedia about the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8th, 1945, and about the Allied holiday that celebrated the event. Go to Yabla German to watch some of the videos above about related topics.

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Translations of der Gang

Not too long ago, we sent out a lesson on homographs, which are words that are spelled the same and sound the same, but have different meanings. You could also say that it's when one word has various definitions. Anyway, the noun der Gang falls into this category.


One translation of der Gang is "the course," as in a course of events, or the way something happens.


Hier geht alles seinen ruhigen Gang.

Here, everything runs its quiet course.

Caption 21, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen - Part 9

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Just as a course can also refer to part of a meal in English, Germans say der erste Gang for the first course (though probably more often die Vorspeise / "the appetizer") and der Hauptgang for the main course.


Und da kommt auch schon der nächste Gang.

And here comes the next course already.

Caption 18, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen - Part 5

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Now it's time to shift into high gear, for which we can also use der Gang, as it is used to refer to a gear that you would shift into on a bicycle or in a car. Unlike in English, it does NOT refer to a gear in a wristwatch, which is das Zahnrad (die Zahnräder as a plural noun).


Dann legen wir den ersten Gang ein.

Then we shift into first gear.

Caption 17, Fahrschule - Wie man die Kupplung bedient

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Here you can see how der Gang is used to refer to someone's gait or the act of doing a walkthrough.


Es gibt ja viele Frauen, die...

There are many women that....

ja, ihren Gang auch ein bisschen verbessern können.

yes, can also improve their walk a little bit.

Caption 15, Auf dem Laufsteg - Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

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... deshalb schwingt bei einem Gang durch das Museum auch viel Nostalgie mit.

... therefore a tour through the museum also resonates with a lot of nostalgia.

Caption 23, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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And then there's the very common translation of der Gang as a hallway or corridor:


Der rechte Gang und dann ganz hinten links.

The right hallway and then all the way in the back on the left.

Caption 18, Mein Weg nach Deutschland - Auf Arbeitssuche

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Further Learning
You'll find many instances of der Gang used on Yabla German, but why not also try to formulate your own sentences?

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Time to pay: bezahlt vs. gezahlt

In a previous lesson, we discussed the difference between the German verbs zählen and zahlen. Although only an umlaut differentiates the two words—and their meanings can both relate to numbers or money—let's quickly recap the distinctions in meaning. The verb zählen means "to count," and the verb zahlen means "to pay." The first video below talks about counting money (zählen), and the second about paying money (zahlen):


Ja, manchmal muss ein Bankkaufmann auch Geld zählen.

Yes, sometimes a banker has to count money too.

Caption 9, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 38: Mein Beruf

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Wer eine Bar, eine Disco oder ein Fitnessstudio weiterbetreibt,

Anyone who continues to run a bar, club, or gym

muss 5.000 Euro zahlen.

will have to pay 5,000 euros.

Captions 16-17, Die Corona-Krise - Null Toleranz & Strafen bei Verstößen in NRW

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But what about the verbs bezahlen and zahlen? In their infinitive forms, they are easy enough to differentiate, but in their Partizip Perfekt form, they look very similar (bezahlt / gezahlt) and even rhyme:


Du hast mir monatelang kein Gehalt bezahlt!

You have paid me no salary for months!

Caption 22, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

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Süß. Aber du hast nur 50 gezahlt.

Cute. But you have only paid 50.

Caption 31, Die Pfefferkörner - Cybermobbing

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Whether to use bezahlen or zahlen is a complicated topic indeed, but there are a few general rules that make it easier.


1. When a person is being paid (in the case below, the models), you always use bezahlen:


Übrigens, wir haben nur zwei Models bezahlt.

By the way, we only paid two of the models.

Caption 25, Bausa - Was du Liebe nennst

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2. The verb bezahlen generally suggests that something has been fully paid or "paid up," whereas zahlen means a payment has been made, but it may have been just a partial payment. A clever article entitled "Haben Sie schon gezahlt oder bezahlen Sie erst später?" illustrates this well. A literal translation could be: "Have you already partially paid or are you going to completely pay up later?"


A more literal translation of the following could be: "I don't have to pay for all of it, the German Film Academy is making payments for that."


Keine Ahnung, ich muss das nicht bezahlen,

No idea, I don't have to pay for it,

das zahlt die Deutsche Filmakademie.

the German Film Academy is paying for it.

Caption 38, Ball des Weines - Barbara Schöneberger

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3. The verb zahlen is usually used for more general purposes, such as "to pay any price":


Die kleine Meerjungfrau war bereit, jeden Preis zu zahlen,

The Little Mermaid was ready to pay any price

um bei dem Prinzen zu sein.

to be with the Prince.

Caption 50, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die kleine Meerjungfrau

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4. In many cases, either bezahlen or zahlen will work. It would be somewhat more correct to use gezahlt and zahlen in the second sentence, but it works either way:


Wurde der Computer schon bezahlt? –Nein, er hat vorerst nur 500 Euro bezahlt / gezahlt und wird den Rest nächsten Monat bezahlen / zahlen.
Has the computer already been paid for? –No, he has only paid 500 euros for now and will pay the rest next month.


To conclude: Always use bezahlen when paying a person—as a rule, use bezahlen for paying something completely and zahlen for a partial payment and just paying in general. However, it's not a serious grammatical mistake in most cases to use either one.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for variations of bezahlen and zahlen. Tip: add an asterisk in your search (bezahl*, zahl* and gezahl*) and you will get all of the cases in the search results. Be careful to note the different contexts in which the verbs appear. Then read the above-mentioned article "Haben Sie schon gezahlt oder bezahlen Sie erst später?" It's pretty funny, considering it's about grammar!

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Expressing Urgency and Immediacy in German

How do we emphasize the urgency of a situation or immediacy of an event? How can we reassure someone that something will be taken care of right away?

The adverb gleich is used a lot and has many possible translations in this context. You might be thinking about it as an adjective meaning "same" or "alike," and we also have a lesson on that topic. But here we are looking at how it is used to define something as happening "in just a minute," "immediately," or "momentarily." 


Gut, vielen Dank. Ich mache mich gleich auf den Weg.

Good, many thanks. I'll be on my way immediately.

Caption 14, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Warum hab ich das nicht gleich erkannt?

Why didn't I realize that right away?

Caption 80, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt - Part 12

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Ja, Moment, ich habe es gleich.

Yes, one moment, I'll have it momentarily.

Caption 30, Der Merkelpilot - der kleine Mann, der es macht

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There is another way to say that something will happen "any minute now," and it's very similar to how it's said in English:


Aber der Reparaturdienst müsste jede Minute da sein.

But the repair service should be here any minute.

Caption 8, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt - Part 18

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Another adverb to know is sofort, which is even more urgent than gleich, and is pretty much always translated as "at once," "right away," or "immediately."


Kein Problem, Frau Schmidt. Ich werde es Ihnen sofort schicken.

No problem, Ms. Schmidt. I will send it to you immediately.

Caption 67, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Sie ist sofort abgehauen, als Frau Lenz die Sache angesprochen hat.

She immediately took off when Ms. Lenz raised the matter.

Caption 65, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt - Part 2

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In more formal contexts, you may hear unverzüglich ("without delay") and umgehend


Er muss unverzüglich Waffenstillstandsverhandlungen mit Eisenhower und Montgomery aufnehmen.

He must immediately begin armistice negotiations with Eisenhower and Montgomery.

Caption 81, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Oder noch besser, komm umgehend ins Kontor.

Or better yet, come to the office immediately.

Caption 65, Die Pfefferkörner - Alles auf Anfang

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Although unmittelbar is also translated as "immediate," it is often related to space rather than time: 


Wir sind, äh, hab ich schon gesagt,

We are, uh — as I've already said —

in unmittelbarer Nähe, äh, von Saarbrücken.

in the immediate vicinity, uh, of Saarbrücken.

Captions 37-38, Nachbarn - Andrea aus Forbach

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Daher ordne ich an, dass Sie unmittelbar wieder die Ehe schließen.

Therefore I order you to remarry immediately.

Captions 34-35, Yabla Gerichtshof - Probleme des Zusammenlebens

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For urgency, there is the word dringend, which like many German words functions as both an adjective and an adverb depending on how it's integrated in the sentence: 

Ich brauche dich hier dringend im Innendienst.

I need you urgently here in the office.

Caption 63, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Further Learning
You will find many examples of these words used on Yabla German. In particular, keep an eye on how the translation of gleich changes depending on the context. 

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ganz schön pretty

You're probably very familiar with the German adjective schön. It's one of the most commonly used words in the German language, as well as one of the first words you encounter when learning to speak German. The crowd-sourced online dictionary lists up to 20 possible English translations for schön, although it is usually translated into English as "nice," "beautiful," or "pretty," depending upon the context.


Es gibt viele schöne Lindenalleen in Deutschland.

There are many beautiful linden avenues in Germany.

Caption 2, Deutsch mit Eylin - Bäume

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Es ist ein sehr schönes Land und die Hauptstadt heißt Bern.

It is a very beautiful country, and the capital is called Bern.

Captions 14-15, Deutsch mit Eylin - Denk schnell!

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You are probably also familiar with schön as an adverb directly modifying a verb. In the first case below, schön ("beautiful") modifies aussehen ("looks"), and in the second case, schön ("beautiful") modifies sich machen ("makes herself"):


Lavendel sieht schön aus und duftet natürlich sehr gut.

Lavender looks beautiful and, of course, smells very good.

Caption 25, Deutsch mit Eylin - Kräuter aus meinem Garten

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Wenn Lothar eine Party macht, macht Sabine sich extra schön.

When Lothar has a party, Sabine makes herself extra beautiful.

Captions 4-5, Deutsch mit Eylin - Machen vs. tun

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You may be a bit less familiar, however, with schön as an adverb modifying another adverb, as these are not usually translated literally into English:


Allerdings sind die oft ganz schön teuer.

However, they are often pretty expensive.

Caption 56, Deutsch mit Eylin - Erkältungszeit

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Puh, das war ganz schön streng, fand ich.

Phew, that was really pretty strict, I thought.

Caption 9, Deutsch mit Eylin - Ernährungsformen

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The above construction, ganz schön... followed by an adverb, is common in German. If you translated it literally word for word, you would wind up with something clumsy like "very prettily strict," which doesn't really work. Since the adjective schön is sometimes translated as as "pretty," in the sense of "beautiful," it is convenient to translate the adverb schön as "pretty" too. But while "pretty" and "beautiful" are largely interchangeable when using them as adjectives, the adverb "pretty" has different connotations than the adverb "beautifully." And there is another potential problem with translating the phrase ganz schön as "pretty": In German, the adverbial phrase ganz schön is a strengthening modifier, meaning it makes whatever it is modifying stronger, the equivalent of "quite" or "really quite." Note that the second example above emphasizes ganz schön as a strengthening modifier by translating it as "really pretty."


As a colleague of mine aptly pointed out, ganz schön also "often reflects that there's a bit of surprise or unexpectedness (on someone's behalf, not necessarily the speaker) regarding the extent something is the way it is."

In English, the adverb "pretty" is either a strengthening or a weakening modifier, depending upon the context and the way in which it is spoken. If spoken with confidence and the emphasis on the main adverb, it strengthens the main adverb. If spoken with doubt, with the emphasis on "pretty," it weakens the main adverb:


How was your tennis match today?
Pretty good. ("Very good")

How was your tennis match today?
Pretty good. ("fairly good," "okay")


If the text above were printed without the emphasis shown in bold print, with no other context to tell if the person was pleased or not so pleased with the tennis match, you would not be able to say with certainty whether they thought the match went really well or was slightly disappointing. The adverb "pretty" is pretty—no, very—ambiguous. The German adverb ziemlich is similar to the English adverb "pretty," in that it can be either a strengthening or weakening modifier, depending upon the context.


If you are ever translating the adverbial phrase ganz schön to English, it may be generally better to use an English adverb that is unequivocally a strengthening modifier, such as "really," or "quite." There is a certain beauty in the parallel of translating ganz schön into the English adverb "pretty," but you should be certain in that case that it is very clear to potential readers that "pretty" is meant as a strengthening modifier. If the context is ambiguous, using "pretty" can lead to an ambiguous translation!


The same applies vice-versa, should you ever be translating English to German: if the English text is "pretty sure" (in the sense of "somewhat unsure"), then you do not want to translate that to ganz schön sicher, because this translates back to "very sure."


Further Learning
How would you translate Sie ist ganz schön schön—as "She is pretty pretty"? Translating can sometimes be a tricky process: equivalent words in different languages often have subtly different cultural contexts and meanings. Go to Yabla German and search for the adverbial phrase ganz schön to learn different ways that it can be translated according to the different contexts, including into the English adverb "pretty."

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Extreme Weather

In these lessons, we've looked at the climate crisis as well as vocabulary for different types of wind and rain in German. This week, let's look at words and phrases for talking about extreme weather. 


While many places in the world deal with hurricanes, a bad storm with high winds and terrible rain that occurs in Europe is generally called der Orkan and not der Hurrikan in German:


Im März dieses Jahres

In March of this year,

ist der Orkan Niklas über Deutschland hinweggezogen.

Hurricane Niklas passed over Germany.

Captions 5-6, Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft - Naturgefahrenreport

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In the winter, of course, it would be a snowstorm or hailstorm:


Auf dem Nachhauseweg verirrte er sich in einem

On the way home, he lost his way in a

furchtbaren Schneesturm.

terrible snowstorm.

Caption 19, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Schöne und das Biest

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Sturm, Hagel und Starkregen.

Storms, hail, and torrential rain.

Caption 1, Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft - Naturgefahrenreport

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Though Germany rarely has natural disasters such as earthquakes or tornados, the weather has become increasingly unstable. In particular, flooding has been a problem in recent years:

Überschwemmungen wie in der Region Ahr und Erft im Juli 2021 ...

Floods, such as in the Ahr and Erft region in July 2021...

Caption 23, Klimaschutz - Es geht um das Überleben der Menschheit

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Im März wurde Japan von einem gewaltigen Erdbeben,

In March Japan was ravaged by a powerful earthquake,

einer furchtbaren Flutwelle und, in der Folge,

a horrendous flood and, subsequently,

einer verheerenden Reaktorkatastrophe heimgesucht.

a devastating nuclear reactor catastrophe.

Captions 5-6, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache

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Hier zum Beispiel ihre Performance bei der

Here, for example, her performance at the

Hamburger Sturmflut 1962.

Hamburg storm flood 1962.

Caption 14, heute-show - Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Around the world and in Germany, a lack of rain and high temperatures in certain months has dire circumstances as well:


Wo Dürre ist, herrscht auch geistige Dürre.

Where there is drought, there is also intellectual drought.

Caption 45, heute-show Wasserknappheit - Verkauft eure Aktien und investiert in Wasser!

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Kleines Beispiel: Stell dir einen großen Waldbrand vor.

Small example: Imagine a big forest fire.

Caption 63, heute-show - Wer ist schuld an der Klimakrise?

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Further Learning
In addition to reading the lessons linked above, you can look at the linked videos on Yabla German to learn more about extreme weather and the environment.

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Adjective vs. Adverb / schön + schon

I've had native German-speaking colleagues tell me that I speak German with a very good accent. So it came as a shock to me a couple of years ago when a British friend (who had studied at a German university and whose accent is excellent) said to me: "You just said danke schon back there. It's danke schön!" I realized that I'd somehow slid from the uniquely German sound of the umlaut Ö into a standard O. I spent the next couple of months working to consciously improve my umlaut pronunciation awareness.


When you are first learning a foreign language, you will likely encounter letters and letter combinations that are unlike anything in your native language. We all know that it takes a while to learn to pronounce them, getting your mouth's muscle memory used to making completely new movements to get that sound to come out right.


But what we may be a bit less conscious of is the fact that it is also difficult to hear the sounds of some letters and letter combinations in a new non-native language. A native English speaker may, hearing German for the first time, try to mimic danke schön as "donkey shown." This is not only due to its difficult pronunciation. To some extent, a beginner may even hear it the way they mispronounced it.


You'll likely be familiar with the adjective schön, which is usually translated as "nice," "beautiful," or "pretty."


Die beiden sind doch ein richtig schönes Paar.

The two of them make a really nice couple.

Caption 83, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt

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Es war einmal eine schöne, junge Frau namens Jorinde.

There was once a beautiful young woman named Jorinde.

Caption 5, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Jorinde und Joringel

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The adverb schön, however, is rarely translated the same as the adjective. In the case of danke schön, it is usually translated as "thank you" or "thank you very much." The "very much" addresses the adverb schön, since with only danke then "thank you" or "thanks" is enough. The key to the adverb schön, however, is that it strengthens whatever it is modifying.


Hast es dir schön gemütlich gemacht hier.

You've made yourself nice and comfortable here.

Caption 30, Lerchenberg - Viva La Television!

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Ich liebe die Atmosphäre bei mir zu Hause,

I love the atmosphere in my home,

besonders, wenn alles schön sauber gemacht worden ist.

especially when everything has been made nice and clean.

Captions 1-2, Deutsch mit Eylin - Putzen

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In the two captions above, schön was translated as "nice" with the additional conjunction "and" so that it correlates with the standard English construction "nice and..." The above could have been translated, albeit it less gracefully, as "nicely comfortable" or "nicely clean." The above two captions are also perfect examples where somebody starting to learn German may misinterpret schön as schon, which would have a different meaning:


Du hast es dir schon gemütlich gemacht hier.
You've already made yourself comfortable here.


Ich liebe die Atmosphäre bei mir zu Hause, besonders, wenn alles schon sauber gemacht worden ist.
I love the atmosphere at my house, especially when everything has already been made clean.


Note that some of the German above is not quite grammatically correct, but it's written as a misheard statement. In the first one, the person who misheard might reply "Yes, of course I'm already comfortable, should I not be?" In the second, someone might reply "Oh, do you have a housekeeper who cleans for you in advance?" Mild misunderstandings to be sure, but misunderstandings nonetheless. Just imagine the confusion when this poor soul hears the following:


So, jetzt weißt du schon ganz schön viel

So now you already know quite a lot

über mich und meine Familie.

about me and my family.

Captions 51-52, Deutsch mit Eylin - Die Familie

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Or better yet:


Ist schon schön, ne?

It is nice, isn't it?

Caption 44, Angelique Kerber - Ihre tennisfreie Zeit

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Say that twenty times fast as a tongue-twister, or as the case may be, an umlaut twister! Note that schon isn't translated. That is because although it is technically an adverb, it's really more of a "filler word" or modal particle.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for schön being used as an adverb, which is any use of schön that does not appear before a noun. See all of the different ways that it can be translated according to the different contexts, including into the English adverb "pretty." But more about the strange relationship of schön and "pretty" in an upcoming lesson!

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Verbs and Phrases with tun

So many German verbs are constructed with the verb machen, but only a few are constructed with tun. The verbs machen and tun may have overlapping meanings, but the verbs we will look at here use tun exclusively. 


One phrase you learned early on was Es tut mir leid ("I'm sorry"). The verb leidtun can literally be translated as "to be sorry (for someone)."


Es tut mir leid, ich wusste das nicht!

I'm sorry, I didn't know that!

Caption 30, Nicos Weg - A2 - Folge 71: Meiner Meinung nach

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Frederick tat das leid, dass Piggeldy so schlottern musste.

Frederick was sorry that Piggeldy shivered in such a way.

Caption 19, Piggeldy und Frederick - Die Treppe

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The verbs guttun and wehtun can be seen as opposites, though wehtun is also used to refer to physical pain.


Was tut gut, was tut weh?

What does good, what causes pain?

Caption 6, Clueso - Neuanfang

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Oh, meine Hand tut weh!

Oh, my hand hurts!

Caption 21, Felix und Franzi - Das Training

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Der Bauch tut mir weh, der Kopf tut mir weh.

My stomach hurts, my head hurts.

Caption 45, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Verben der 3. Kategorie

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The phrase tun als ob means to act like or to pretend.


Schorsch tut so, als wäre er ein Dinosaurier.

Schorsch is pretending to be a dinosaur.

Caption 49, Peppa Wutz - Einkaufen und mehr

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Und ich tue, als täte nichts weh.

And I act as though nothing hurts.

Caption 12, Andreas Bourani - Eisberg

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Und Sie tun hier so, als hätten Sie einen Doktortitel?

And you are pretending to have a doctorate here?

Caption 20, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung

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Further Learning
In addition to doing a search on Yabla German, write your own sentences to practice using these verbs and phrases in the present and past tense. 

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1933: 90 Years Later

Neunzehnhundertdreiunddreißig: This many letters in one single word looks pretty difficult, but the year it's expressing, 1933, is more difficult yet. It's now 90 years since the Nazis came into power in Germany, and many German states and communities are organizing events in remembrance of the lives that were lost as a result. There will also be lot of stories in the German media about the first terrible actions taken by the Nazis after they came into power.


Es gibt keine guten Nachrichten mehr,

There is no good news anymore,

jedenfalls nicht mehr seit Januar 1933.

at least not since January 1933.

Captions 77-78, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany on January 30th, 1933. This is sometimes referred to as die Machtergreifung ("seizure of power"), but this term is often perceived as incorrectly suggesting that the German populace was passively, rather than actively, participating in and approving the event. Hence, when it appears in German media, it is usually seen with quotation marks as die sogenannte „Machtergreifung“ (the so-called "seizure of power"). A better and more neutral term is die Machtübergabe ("the transfer of power").


Den Anfang macht das Reichstagsgebäude.

The parliament building started it.

Caption 11, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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The caption above is in an entirely different context, but one of the first actions the Nazis took, on February 1st, 1933, was to dissolve der Reichstag, or parliament. This marked the end of democracy in Germany until the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 in the west, and the re-unification of the former German Democratic Republic in 1990 in the east. In today's context, only the building is referred to as der Reichstag. The modern name for the German parliament that meets in the Reichstag building is der Bundestag.


1933, als der Reichstag brennt,

In 1933, when the Reichstag burned,

beginnt eine Zeit, die man Drittes Reich nennt.

a period called the Third Reich began.

Captions 34-35, Rapucation - Lernen durch Rapmusik

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The decree that robbed German citizens of any protection under the constitution was put into effect on February 28th, 1933, the day after the Reichstag fire. Regardless of who set the Reichstag ablaze, the Nazis exploited the fire to issue an "emergency decree," which suspended all civil liberties for German citizens and paved the way for the Nazi dictatorship.


Die Konzentrationslager sind beschleunigt zu besetzen ...

The concentration camps are to be occupied immediately ...

Caption 52, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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As soon as the Nazis were in power, they began arresting and murdering their first victims, who were mostly political opponents, including members of parliament, city mayors, and other members of opposition parties such as the SPD and KPD. They were taken to so-called wilde Konzentrationslager ("spontaneous concentration camps") such as KZ Columbia-Haus, a building near Tempelhof Airport in Berlin that was later torn down. Dachau Concentration Camp was already constructed and taking in prisoners by March 22nd, 1933. Unfortunately, it was the first of many hundreds of such facilities designed to exploit prisoners by working them to deathVernichtung durch Arbeit, "extermination through work"—or outright murdering them.


Germany has accomplished a lot in memorializing the terrible events that resulted from the Nazi Regime coming to power in 1933. A large part of the German government's hesitation in getting involved in armed conflicts probably comes from historical experience of the potential cost to human life and infrastructure. So although other wars and genocides have occurred after the Second World War, let us hope, especially in view of the current conflict in Ukraine, that rational humanitarian thinking and peace can prevail.


Further Learning
Make a list of some of the German terms above and read the linked Wikipedia articles. If you're feeling brave, you can find the German-language versions and give them a go. Then find the terms on Yabla German and see how they are used in different contexts.

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International Women's Day

This Wednesday, March 8th, is International Women's Day. In the federal states of Berlin and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Internationaler Frauentag has been an official holiday since 2019, meaning that offices, stores, and schools are all closed. However, the holiday has existed since the early 20th century as part of the women's rights movement.


The word for gender in German is das Geschlecht, so "gender equality" in German is die Gleichstellung der Geschlechter (note the genitive construction!). 


Ein Zeichen dafür, dass Frauen in Deutschland

A sign that women in Germany,

trotz der rechtlichen Gleichstellung

despite legal equality,

noch immer in bestimmten Aspekten des Lebens benachteiligt werden.

are still disadvantaged in certain aspects of life.

Captions 26-28, Gleichberechtigung - Internationaler Frauentag am 8. März

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What does gender equality look like? Getting the right to vote, which women have had in Germany since 1919, was certainly a watershed moment.


Was regelt das Wahlrecht in Deutschland?

What does the right to vote control in Germany?

Caption 29, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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However, today's work is focused on women around the world being free from violence, oppression, and discrimination. In Germany, there are also questions of political representation and equal pay. 


Wir wollen eine Gleichberechtigung, keine Diskriminierung.

We want equality, not discrimination.

Caption 39, Integration von Nationalitäten - Hessen miteinander

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Here, there's still room for improvement in German politics and offices. However, there are some structures that support women in their work and family life. The noun die Elternzeit is used to describe time taken off by any parent of a new baby.


Da kannst du nur hoffen, dass dein Mann Elternzeit nimmt.

Then you can only hope that your husband takes parental leave.

Caption 48, Großstadtrevier - Nicht mit mir

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Of course, some older traditions still carry forward a slightly misogynistic viewpoint, as beautiful as the costumes may be:


Sind die Bollen rot, bedeutet das, dass die Frau unverheiratet ist.

If the balls are red, it means that the woman is unmarried.

Schwarze Kugeln sind das Zeichen für eine verheiratete Frau.

Black balls are the symbol for a married woman.

Captions 7-8, Cettina erklärt - Sitten und Bräuche

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Further Learning
Be sure to watch Cettina's video about Internationaler Frauentag on Yabla German!

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Homophones Part II: Homographs

In a previous Yabla German lesson, we discussed heterographs. Today, we'll be taking a look at homographs. These are homophonic words, which means they are words that sound the same and are spelled the same, but have different meanings. Homographs can be quite confusing in spoken language, because the only way to know the meanings of the words—since they sound the same—is by the context in which they are used. In German, the gender of the word can play a significant role. The word "homograph" comes from Ancient Greek and literally means "written the same."


Note too that in German, regional differences in pronunciation can sometimes make a set of words homophones in one region, but not in another. Keep in mind that because of the capitalization of nouns in German, in order for two words to be true homographs, they must both be the the same case, with the first letters either lower or upper case. So while the adjective arm ("poor") may be the same letters and sound the same as the noun der Arm ("arm"), they are homophones but not strictly homographs because of the difference in cases. Since all nouns are capitalized in German, this means that a noun can never be a homograph of a verb, adjective, or adverb in German. This makes for very few homographs in German compared to English and other languages! Here are a few examples.


Zu seiner Überraschung fielen alle sieben Fliegen auf den Tisch.

To his surprise, all seven flies fell onto the table.

Caption 12, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das tapfere Schneiderlein

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Angst vor dem Fliegen hat sie jedenfalls nicht.

Fear of flying, in any case, she does not have.

Caption 4, Im Höhenflug - Ariadne (die Ex von Lothar Matthäus)

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The plural of the insect "fly" (die Fliege) is die Fliegen, and the noun das Fliegen comes from the verb fliegen ("to fly"). We can invent some funny sentences with these word combinations: Haben Fliegen Angst vor fliegen? ("Are flies afraid of flying?") What a silly question!


Im Sommer verschmäht er auch Insekten und Spinnen nicht.

In summer, it does not reject insects and spiders, either.

Caption 15, Die letzten Paradiese - Schätze der Natur: Südtirol

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Dieses Konzept ermöglicht das Spinnen von zwei verschiedenen Garnfeinheiten gleichzeitig.
This concept enables the spinning of two different yarn counts simultaneously.


The plural of the arachnid "spider" (die Spinne) is die Spinnen, and the noun das Spinnen is yet again a noun derived from the verb spinnen ("to spin"). Sind die Spinnen an all das Spinnen gewöhnt? ("Are the spiders used to all the spinning?") It's logical that the German words for "spinning" and for "spiders" are nearly the same. Spinning webs is what spiders do best, right?


Mit dem ersten Band kündigt die junge Autorin ihre literarischen
Ambitionen an.

With the first volume, the young author is announcing her literary ambitions.


Die Band ist eingespielt; die Models wissen, wie sie laufen müssen.

The band has warmed up; the models know how they must walk.

Caption 29, Mode - Backstage auf der Modenschau

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Daher umsäumt ein helles Band den Weißensee und gibt ihm seinen Namen.

From that, a bright band surrounds the Weissensee and gives it its name.

Caption 14, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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In the three examples above, we see der Band, die Band and das Band, three words that are spelled and pronounced the same, but have different genders and meanings. Der Band means a volume in a set of books; die Band comes from the English word "band" as in a musical group; das Band has the most meanings, and can mean a band such as a silk band, or a belt, ribbon, strap, tie, tape or even the belt in a conveyor belt, depending upon the context. Note too that the three words have different plurals: Der Band = die Bände; die Band = die Bands; das Band = die Bänder (alternately: die Bande). The easiest one here to remember is that since die Band comes from English, its plural is from the English too with -s.


Let's go for all three in one sentence, shall we?


Welcher Band der Diskografie der Band wurde auf Band aufgenommen?


We can decrypt the above by gender: Welcher Band in the nominative case makes for der Band, thus "volume"; der Band is in the genitive case, thus in the nominative case is die Band, or "band" as in musical group; the last Band has no pronoun, but the verb aufgenommen (recorded) tells us it must be referring to magnetic recording tape, thus das Band.


Which volume of the band's discography was recorded on tape?


Or in plural:


Welche Bände der Diskografien der Bands wurden auf Bänder aufgenommen?
Which volumes of the bands' discographies were recorded on tapes?


Luckily, this is about as complicated as German gets! In most cases, people would use das Tonband (die Tonbänder) for "recording tape" too. Let's just take a deep breath now and know that even some native German speakers might have some problems with this one.


Further Learning
Take a look at these examples of German homophones on Wikipedia and find some examples of the words used in a real-world context on Yabla German. Then see if you can create some German sentences using both homophones in the same sentence. You are allowed to make up silly sentences if you want to, of course!

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Reported Speech

You may have occasionally seen sentences like the following: Sie sagte, er spreche sehr gut Deutsch. 


You may think, er spreche? What is going on here?


This structure is an example of what is known as the indirekte Rede (in English "reported speech"), which is used more often but not exclusively in written German and formal reporting or storytelling. Sentences like this will involve the verb sagen or other verbs used to talk about what people think and say, such as antworten, äußern, behaupten, berichten, denken, erklären, fragen, glauben, or meinen.


In instances where someone's speech or thoughts are reported, you may see the subjunctive (Konjunktiv I) employed, like in the sentence above. For regular verbs, some of the endings are indistinguishable from other tenses, but some are very different. Here is the complete Konjunktiv I conjugation of the verb sprechen, and here are examples of how it would be used with reported speech:


Er sagte, ich spreche sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said I speak very good German.")
Er sagte, du sprechest sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said you speak very good German.")
Er sagte, er/sie spreche sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said she/he speaks very good German.")
Er sagte, wir sprechen sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said we speak very good German.")
Er sagte, ihr sprechet sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said you speak very good German.")
Er sagte, Sie/sie sprechen sehr gut Deutsch. ("He said they speak very good German.")


In the following examples, you can see the same conjugation pattern with a few other verbs: 


Der König hatte sie nicht eingeladen,

The King hadn't invited her,

weil es hieß, sie habe ein böses Herz.

because it was said she had an evil heart.

Caption 19, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Dornröschen

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Er verband ihm das Bein,

He bandaged his leg,

fragte ihn nicht, wohin er wolle, woher er käme.

did not ask him where he was going, where he had come from.

Captions 7-8, Janoschs Traumstunde - Der Wettlauf zwischen Hase und Igel

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Der hat mir erzählt, er sei echt nur...

he told me that he really just is...

Er fahre eigentlich Mercedes

He actually drives a Mercedes

und kleide sich deshalb so schräg ...

and the reason he dresses so weirdly...

Captions 30-31, Yello-Biographie - Ein Leben für die Avantgarde

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You may have noticed that kommen is irregular. One other irregular verb that you have likely seen conjugated like this is sein:


Von daher werde ich nicht tanzen,

Therefore I won't be dancing,

so dass ich behaupten kann, ich sei ein brillianter Tänzer,

so I can claim that I'm a brilliant dancer

und niemand kann es konterkarieren.

and nobody can disprove it.

Captions 25-26, Deutsche Sporthilfe - Ball des Sports

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Hans erklärte, er sei nicht verzaubert,

Hans explained that he was not bewitched,

sondern wirklich ein Igeljunge.

but really a hedgehog boy.

Caption 71, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hans mein Igel

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Sie behaupteten, sie seien Weber eines seltenen,

They claimed that they were weavers of a rare,

besonders schönen Stoffes.

especially beautiful cloth.

Caption 25, Märchen - Sagenhaft Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Further Learning
You will likely come across examples of reported speech on Yabla German from time to time, but structures like Sie sagt, dass er Italienisch spricht are simply more common in spoken German. When you do see an example that uses Konjunktiv I, check to see if it's a regular or irregular verb in terms of its conjugation. 

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Homophones Part I: Heterographs

Don't be afraid of the difficult-looking words above! It's really quite simple: Homophones are words that sound the same, but have different meanings. Heterographs are homophones that also have different spellings. This can be quite confusing in spoken language, because the only way to tell homophones and heterographs apart is by the context in which they are used. The word "homophone" literally means "sounds the same," whereas the word "heterograph" means "written differently." In German, both nouns are neuter: das Homofon (or das Homophon) and das Heterofon (or das Heterophon).


Note too that in German, regional differences in pronunciation can sometimes make a set of words homophones in one region, but not in another. Let's take a look at some German heterographs today.


Monika sehr viel gekochtes Getreide.

Monika ate a lot of cooked grains.

Caption 4, Deutsch mit Eylin - Ernährungsformen

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Wenn die Nahrung knapp wird, begnügt er sich mit Aas.

When food becomes scarce, it makes do with carrion.

Caption 26, Die letzten Paradiese - Schätze der Natur: Südtirol

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It's ironic (and a bit disgusting) that the past tense of "to eat" (, from essen) sounds the same as the word for cadaver (das Aas). There's a certain logic, however, in the fact that most animal cadavers in the wild tend to get eaten by scavenger animals. When a homophone pair consists of a verb and a noun, you can construct funny-sounding sentences from them, such as: Er das Aas. By the way, only humans are referred to with the verb essen ("to eat"), whereas animals always take the verb fressen ("to devour"). And indeed, fressen also has a heterograph.


Das Pferd frisst gerne Äpfel.

The horse likes eating apples.

Caption 38, Deutsch mit Eylin - Pronomen

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Diese Frist kann verlängert werden,

This deadline can be extended

und zwar wieder nur durch einen einstimmigen Beschluss.

and only—indeed once again—through a unanimous ruling.

Caption 19, Brexit-Votum - Merkel warnt vor Spaltung Europas

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The third-person present tense of "to devour" (fressen) is frisst, and die Frist is a deadline or time limit. Der Pferd frisst Äpfel lieber ohne Frist. Nobody likes to be hurried to eat, right?


Er bot den Frauen ein Abkommen an.

He offered the women a deal.

Caption 55, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Oje, das Boot von Opa Wutz hat kein Benzin mehr.

Uh oh, Grandpa Wutz's boat is out of gas.

Caption 16, Peppa Wutz - Sport

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Thus the past tense of "to offer" (bot, from bieten) is a heterograph of das Boot. Using both words in the same sentence, you can say something like: Das Boot bot uns viele Reisemöglichkeiten.


Wenn diese Temperatur so anhält,

If this temperature continues,

frieren die ganzen Seen in der Umgebung, wie ihr auch hinter mir sehen könnt, komplett zu.

all the lakes in the area will completely freeze over, as you can see behind me.

Captions 6-7, Unterwegs mit Cettina - Schlittschuhlaufen

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In this case, the plural of "lake" (der See) is Seen, and the verb "to see" is sehen. In the above example, both words of this heterograph pair are already in a single sentence.


Further Learning
Take a look at these examples of German homophones on Wikipedia and find some examples of the words used in a real-world context on Yabla German. Then see if you can create some German sentences using both homophones in the same sentence. You are allowed to make silly sentences, of course!

Continue Reading

Using um... zu... 

In English, when we talk about something being done for a purpose, we might use the phrase "in order to" or simply "to." In German, you will see the prepositions um and zu used in combination to express this, but they have to be implemented in a certain way.

In both of the examples below, one action is taken so that another may happen. Notice that the "to" in each English sentence could also be replaced with "in order to."


Wir lesen sie, um zu erfahren, was in der Welt passiert.

We read it to find out what's happening in the world.

Caption 2, Deutsch mit Eylin - Denk schnell!

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Die Seekuh muss mindestens einmal alle zwanzig Minuten auftauchen, um zu atmen.

The manatee must surface at least once every twenty minutes to breathe.

Captions 60-61, Die Top Ten - Die 12 freundlichsten Meerestiere der Welt

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In some more complex examples with direct objects and dependent clauses, you can see that there can actually be quite a lot of space between um and zu. However, zu and the infinitive are always at the very end. 


Und es wird benutzt, um Dinge und Lebewesen zu identifizieren.

And it's used to identify objects and living things.

Caption 49, Deutsch mit Eylin - Haben und Sein

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Wir beide arbeiteten,

We both worked

um neben der Schule etwas Geld zu verdienen.

to earn some money alongside school.

Captions 17-18, Konjugation - Das Verb „arbeiten“

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Da können Sie dann im Wartebereich das Mobiliar zerhacken,

With that, you can then chop up the furnishings in the waiting area

um sich ein Lagerfeuer zu machen.

to make yourselves a campfire.

Captions 16-17, Extra 3 - Das ehrliche Reisebüro

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Dann bist du nämlich ziemlich bald startklar,

Then pretty soon you'll be ready

um über Zukünftiges auf Deutsch zu sprechen.

to talk about the future in German.

Captions 63-64, Deutsch mit Eylin - Das Futur bilden

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Have you noticed that there is always a comma before um in these sentences that involve the um... zu... structure? This is a rather easy rule that you should keep in mind when writing. 


Further Learning
There are many examples of this construction on Yabla German, but why not also make up some sentences that are related to your life? 

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Diagonal or Just Plain Weird?

The Duden German Dictionary has the definition of the standard form of the adjective/adverb schräg as "deviating from a vertical or horizontal line at an acute or obtuse angle." With this standard meaning, schräg is usually translated into English as "diagonal" or "diagonally."


Sie lehnen den Kopf schräg nach links...

You'll turn your head diagonally to the left...

Caption 12, Nackenschmerzen - steifer Nacken

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In dem er sich senkrecht oder schräg positioniert,

By positioning itself vertically or diagonally,

lauert der Trompetenfisch seiner Beute auf.

the trumpet fish lies in wait for its prey.

Captions 47-48, Evolution - Meeresbewohner

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The second definition of schräg as a slang term is more interesting. Duden's definition describes schräg as "deviating from the norm, customary, or expected, and therefore unacceptable." In other words, "weird"—and not in a good way.


Although the German dictionary mentions that the slang usage of schräg is usually a pejorative or put-down, it does not give any examples of schräg used in a complimentary sense. In fact, the slang adjective—probably originally used as a put-down of jazz, experimental music, and modern art—eventually had its negative connotation turned on its head. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the advent of punk and industrial music, as well as increasingly "difficult" contemporary art, describing music or art as schräg was often meant as a compliment.


It might seem a bit tricky to tell if something somebody describes as schräg is meant as an insult or a compliment, but it's usually pretty easy to tell in context.


Alles frei nach dem Motto:

Everything freely according to the motto:

„Je schräger desto besser."

"the more eccentric, the better."

Caption 12, Auftrumpfen - Mit Kitsch und Protz

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Der war irgendwie psychisch ziemlich... schräg drauf.

Who was, in a way, quite psychologically... skewed.



Caption 75, Sons of Sounds - Interview

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Die Kanzlerin auf einer vom schrägen Designer gepimpten Glitzer-Harley?

The Chancellor on a glittering Harley pimped out by the weird designer?

Caption 13, Stardesigner Harald Glööckler - Jetzt auch noch "Bling-Bling"-Motorräder

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Er fahre eigentlich Mercedes und kleide sich deshalb so schräg,

He actually drives a Mercedes and the reason he dresses so weirdly

weil er vor 20 Jahren Boris Blank getroffen habe.

is because he had met Boris Blank 20 years ago.

Captions 31-32, Yello-Biographie - Ein Leben für die Avantgarde

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The most common English translation of the slang meaning of schräg is "weird," but as you see above, there is a lot of latitude in translation, depending upon the context. The translation in the "Sons of Sounds" video as "skewed" is very clever, since it also acknowledges the translation of the standard meaning of schräg as "diagonal" yet still conveys the slang meaning!


Further Learning
Think of a concert or some kind of art event that you have attended that surprised you by being strange in a way that you liked. Make up a few sentences describing the event in a positive way using the slang meaning of schräg. Now think of some events you attended that were just too strange for you to like. Think up a few sentences describing these events in a negative way using schräg. Then go to to Yabla German and watch the full-length videos quoted above to get a better sense of the contexts in which schräg was used.

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Permitted or Forbidden?

In the German language, there are a number of words that can be used to describe whether something is allowed or not. Generally, each adjective is also the participle of the related verb.

For something that is allowed, permitted, or approved, there are the adjectives erlaubt (verb: erlauben), gestattet (gestatten), gewährt (gewähren), and zugelassen (zulassen).


Was ist bei Bundestags- und Landtagswahlen in Deutschland erlaubt?

What is allowed in the national and state elections in Germany?

Caption 19, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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Das dürfen wir nicht gestatten, König.

We must not allow that, King.

Caption 31, Deutsche Sagen - Die tapferen Weiber von Weinsberg

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Einen kleinen Einblick gewährt er uns aber trotzdem.

He grants us a little glimpse, but nevertheless.

Caption 10, Der Papst - Hier wohnt der Papst

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Nun, die politischen Umstände in Nordafrika

Well, the political circumstances in North Africa

haben das erst mal nicht zugelassen.

didn't allow that at first.

Caption 66, Terra X - Ohne Kohle und Atom - Geht uns der Strom aus?

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Some words that have the opposite meaning are verboten (verbieten) and untersagt (untersagen)


Du weißt, dass Handys in meinem Unterricht verboten sind.

You know that cellphones are banned in my classroom.

Caption 31, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Schulen wurden geschlossen, Spielplätze gesperrt,

Schools were closed, playgrounds closed off,

der Kontakt zu anderen Menschen wurde untersagt.

contact with other people was prohibited.

Captions 12-14, Cettina erklärt - Auswirkungen des Coronavirus

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In general, the adjectives gestattet and untersagt are used in more formal contexts than erlaubt or verboten. The adjective zugelassen can also be translated as "licensed" or "registered."


61,5 Millionen Kfz sind in Deutschland zugelassen.

61.5 million motor vehicles are registered in Germany.

Caption 2, Richter Alexander Hold - Richtig parken

 Play Caption


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for the verbs and the adjectives that are derived from them. Pick a place and write some sentences about what is allowed or not allowed there. Some examples are Glasflaschen sind im Freibad nicht gestattet or Handys sind während der Prüfung verboten. 

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Pronouncing "Berlin"

It's hard to break old habits of speech when you are learning to pronounce words in German that you already knew before, such as many place names. It can take a while to change the pronunciation that you learned a long time ago in your native language. Such may be the case with the capital city of Germany, Berlin.


In English, "Berlin" is pronounced bur-LIN. The first part sounds like "brr," when you are cold, and it's certainly a cold enough place in winter. The second part rhymes with "win" and is the stressed syllable. You probably pronounce it this way already, though if you happen to come from Berlin, Connecticut or Berlin, New Hampshire, you might naturally put slightly more emphasis on the first syllable. Don't do that if you are talking about bur-LIN, Germany!


Ironically, a number of Germans I know, when they are speaking English, mispronounce the English pronunciation of Berlin as BURR-lin. Maybe they're trying to sound more American with the heavy emphasis on the R, but I usually don't have the heart to correct them. In the following video, a male American student says "Berlin" with the American pronunciation, followed by his female native German teacher saying "Berlin" with a proper German pronunciation:


„Wenn ich Urlaub habe, gehe ich nach Berlin... -nach Berlin." Gut.

"When I am on vacation I go to Berlin... -to Berlin." Good.

„Nach Berlin." -„Gehe ich nach Berlin", ja.

"To Berlin." -"I go to Berlin," yes.

Captions 64-65, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Nebensätze als Satzanfang

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In German, of course, "Berlin" is pronounced very differently. The first syllable sounds like "bear" and the second syllable like "lean": bear-LEAN. Of course, the bear (der Bär) is the symbol of Berlin! The German teacher above is in Southern Germany, but in Northern Germany and especially in Berlin, people tend to emphasize the "i," sounding more like bur-LEEEN :


Aber seit ich in Berlin lebe,

But since I've lived in Berlin,

arbeite ich als Kellnerin und Barista in Cafés.

I've worked as a waitress and barista in cafés.

Caption 16, Berlin - Judith und die „Brezel Bar“

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Das ist tatsächlich ein Hotel in Berlin mit einem ganz verrückten Konzept.

This is, in fact, a hotel in Berlin with a completely crazy concept.

Caption 2, Berlin - Indoor-Camping im „Hüttenpalast“

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Kommst du auch aus Hamburg?

Do you also come from Hamburg?

Nee, aus Berlin.

No, from Berlin.

Captions 33-34, Großstadtrevier - Nicht mit mir - Part 4

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Du kommst gar nicht aus Berlin.

You're not from Berlin at all.

Caption 24, Großstadtrevier - Nicht mit mir - Part 5

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for videos about Berlin. You can also watch the music video of the song "Berlin" by the 1980s German punk band Ideal. The chorus repeats Ich steh auf Berlin, which means "I like Berlin." It shows a lot of street scenes and demonstrations from the early 1980s West Berlin, when the city was much rougher than it is today!

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