German Lessons


The Holidays in 2020

In a Yabla interview filmed at a Christmas market a few years back, one couple describes their ideal Christmas:


Gemütlich, mit gutem Essen, Spielen, unsere Kinder sind groß, die brauchen keine Riesenpakete mehr.

Comfortably, with good food, games... Our children are grown up, they don't need huge presents anymore.

Captions 16-17, Weihnachtsinterviews: Diane in Karlsruhe

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It's true that Christmas this year in Germany took a bit of getting used to. Due to the continuing social-distancing regulations prohibiting parties and big gatherings, people stayed indoors with their focus firmly set on increased Gemütlichkeit. The word gemütlich means "comfortable" or "cozy" as an adjective and "comfortably" as an adverb.


Ganz zum Schluss werde ich noch den Kerzenständer aufstellen, damit wir es gemütlich haben.

At the very end, I'll also set up the candle holders so that it's cozy for us.

Captions 13-14, Tisch decken: mit Eva

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Wie verbringen Sie Silvester? -Ganz gemütlich zu Hause.

How will you spend New Year's Eve? -Very comfortably at home.

Caption 7, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Linkenheim

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The current restrictions in Germany will continue through New Year's, but many people are making the most of it and simply appreciating getting to spend time at home (zu Hause) with those closest to them.


Wir haben beide gedacht, dass wir zu Hause bleiben müssen.

We both thought that we would have to stay at home.

Caption 14, Konjugation: Das Verb „denken“

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Es war sehr, sehr spannend, aber jetzt möchte ich lieber zu Hause bleiben, hier bei euch.

It was very, very exciting, but now I'd rather stay at home, here with you."

Captions 100-101, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der kleine Däumling

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Since restaurants and bars will be closed on New Year's Eve, the festivities will be limited and more focused on coziness and quality time than seeing lots of people. To avoid feeling too cooped up, however, it's important to get outside a bit as well. A nice stroll or hike in the few hours of daylight is always a good idea: 


Natürlich kann man auch einfach nur spazieren gehen.

Of course, one can also simply just go for a walk.

Caption 10, Berlin: Eva im Viktoriapark

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Further Learning
If you're spending extra time at home this week, use it as an opportunity to keep up your language skills with Yabla German! Take a look at our latest videos or catch up on recent lessons here

Wir wünschen Euch einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!


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Beleg, belegen, belegt

The noun der Beleg, the verb belegen and the adjective belegt have related roots, but are used differently in a variety of contexts. Let's start with the noun der Beleg.


Du brauchst einen Ort, an dem deine Belege sicher sind.

You need a place where your documents are safe.

Caption 7, Reposito: in 60 Sekunden

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Der Beleg is often translated as "evidence," "proof," "document," "documentation," "voucher," or "receipt." In everyday life in Germany, I probably hear it most often when leaving the cash register at the supermarket after having paid: Möchten Sie den Beleg haben?


Now onto the verb belegen


Nun muss ich meinen Teig nur noch mit den Apfelstücken belegen.

Now I just have to cover the batter with the apple pieces.

Caption 29, Apfelkuchen: mit Eva

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Unfallstudien belegen sogar, dass Autos mit hoher passiver Fußgängersicherheit für den Unfallschutz von Radfahrern kaum helfen.

Accident studies even prove that cars with a higher passive [automatic] protection for pedestrians barely help in the protection of cyclists from accidents.

Captions 12-13, Crashtest: Fahrradfahrer profitieren kaum vom Fußgängerschutz am Auto

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Wie man hier sieht, haben wir auch frisches Gemüse wie Tomaten, Gurken, da wir frisch, äh, Sandwiches und Brötchen belegen.

As you see here, we also have fresh vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers since we  make fresh sandwiches and rolls.

Captions 21-23, Berlin: Judith und die „Brezel Bar“

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In most cases, belegen is usually translated as to "to cover," "to prove," or "to document." In the last example, however, an open-faced sandwich is a belegtes Brot in German. Thus when you literally "cover" sandwiches and bread rolls, you are in fact "making" them. Again, understanding properly all depends upon the context!


The verb belegen can also be translated as "to occupy" or "to take," at least in the sense that you "occupy" a position in a race or "take" a university course: 


Nürnberg belegt jetzt Platz fünfzehn...

Nuremberg is now in fifteenth place...

Caption 46, FC Bayern München: in einer eigenen Liga

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Na ja, in der Justizvollzugsanstalt Fuhlsbüttel kannst du ja einen Kursus belegen als Alleinunterhalter.

Well, at Fuhlsbüttel Penitentiary you can take a class to become a solo entertainer.

Caption 66, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Last but not least, let's take a look at belegt as an adjective: 


Die besten Plätze sind schnell belegt.

The best places are quickly occupied.

Caption 43, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Drei Damen vom Grill, die eine belegte Schrippe mit 'ner Bulette gefüllt haben [Inhaber] und das Hamburger genannt haben.

Three ladies from the grill who have filled an open-faced roll with a meatball [owner] and called that a hamburger.

Captions 14-15, Berlin Die beste Auswahl an Hamburgern

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Further Learning
See if you can find other examples of der Beleg, belegen, and belegt on Yabla German and find a tandem partner to take turns making up and checking your own sentences using these words.

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Expressing Emotional States in German

It has truly been a year of ups and downs, to the extent that it takes a pretty advanced vocabulary to describe what we're feeling sometimes. This week, we'd like to provide a list of some adjectives that are used to express both positive and negative emotions. 

The adjective aufgeregt in German describes a mixture of "excited" and "nervous," like before you do a presentation or go on a roller coaster. On the other hand, gespannt is used to describe a type of excitement more linked to curiosity or looking forward to something. Besorgt could be translated as "worried" or "concerned."


Gleich geht's los, ein bisschen aufgeregt bin ich schon.

It will start momentarily, I am certainly a little bit nervous.

Caption 3, Deutsche Welle - Hin und weg: Best of Europa-Park!

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ich bin mal gespannt, wie es klappt. Ich hoffe, es gefällt euch.

I am excited to see how it will go. I hope you like it.

Caption 41, Eva Croissant: Interview

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Ich bin ein bisschen besorgt, ob ich es zu der Wohnung von den beiden schaffe.

I'm a little bit worried as to whether I'll be able to make it to their apartment.

Caption 21, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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When something turns out well, your reaction may range from zufrieden ("pleased," "satisfied") to erstaunt ("astonished"), depending on whether the outcome was expected or not. 


Ich bin sehr zufrieden. Für diese gute Leistung geb ich dir eine Eins.

I'm very satisfied. I'll give you a "one" for this good performance.

Caption 51, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Eine Freundin von mir war schon einmal in der Hauptstadt Oslo und sie war begeistert.

A friend of mine was already in the capital, Oslo, once and she was thrilled.

Caption 11, Jenny Reiseziele

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Die Menschen waren erstaunt über das, was sie sahen.

The people were astonished at what they saw.

Caption 63, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Of course, many of us have had our share of difficult experiences this year and had to face their corresponding emotions:


Ich war total gestresst, weil mein Chef im Büro mich so genervt hat.

I was totally stressed out because my boss was really getting on my nerves at the office.

Caption 19, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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Müde und erschöpft stand er schließlich vor ihrer Tür.

Tired and exhausted, he finally stood in front of their door.

Caption 20, Märchen - Sagenhaft Die Büchse der Pandora

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Die Leute wären genauso enttäuscht und genauso deprimiert.

People would be just as disappointed and depressed.

Caption 55, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?

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Na ja, also, der Junge ist einfach schlichtweg überfordert mit dem Projekt.

Well... well, the boy is just completely overwhelmed by the project.

Caption 8, Mama arbeitet wieder: Die Trennung

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The hope is, of course, that we can generally find a balance and remain optimistic as the year comes to an end.



Ich bin sehr zufrieden. Für diese gute Leistung geb ich dir eine Eins.

I'm very satisfied. I'll give you a "one" for this good performance.

Caption 51, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Ich versuche, optimistisch zu bleiben, aber ich habe das Gefühl, dass ich die Stelle nicht bekommen habe.

I am trying to stay optimistic, but I have the feeling that I didn't get the job.

Captions 4-5, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Wart ihr sehr aufgeregt oder wart ihr ganz entspannt?

Were you very nervous or were you totally relaxed?

Caption 37, Modedesignerin Nina Hollein: Floria Prinzessin von Hessen

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Further Learning
There are many more adjectives you can look up on Yabla German, of course. You can start with erleichtert, frohverärgert, verzweifelt, wütend, verängstigt, and zuversichtlich. Since adjectives and adverbs can often be identical in German, do not be surprised if you encounter these words being used as adverbs as well — it's a 2 for 1 deal! 

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Advent in Germany

Advent is the time of year in Western Christian practice that starts on a Sunday at the end of November or first week of December and ends on December 24th, though it is popularly celebrated starting on December 1st. Let's take a look today at some German customs of the Advent season.


Der Advent, das ist die Zeit vor Weihnachten. Und an den Adventstagen ist es ein beliebter Zeitvertreib, über den Weihnachtsmarkt zu spazieren.

Advent, that is the time before Christmas. And during the days of Advent it is a favorite pastime to take a walk through the Christmas market.

Captions 3-5, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

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Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmärkte) are going to be very limited this year due to the Corona pandemic. There are, however, plans to allow limited access by selling tickets with specific entry times. Some cities have even introduced drive-through Christmas markets so that people can shop from the relative safety of their cars!


Am Sonntag haben wir den ersten Advent. Und dann machen wir natürlich das erste Lichtlein hier an dem Adventskranz an. Am zweiten Advent kommt dann das zweite Licht, am dritten Advent das dritte Licht, und am vierten Advent ist Weihnachten.

On Sunday we'll have the first Advent. And then we'll, of course, put on the first little candle here on the Advent wreath. On the second Advent comes then the second candle, on the third Advent the third candle, and on the fourth Advent is Christmas.

Captions 58-61, Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt

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Advent wreaths with candles originated in the mid-19th century in Hamburg, Germany, but they were not commonly allowed in German churches until after the Second World War. 


In der Adventszeit oder eben in der Vorweihnachtszeit gibt es viele verschiedene Bräuche.

In the Advent season or in the run-up to Christmastime, there are many different customs.

Caption 5, Eva erklärt: den Adventskalender

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One of these customs is the Advent calendar:


Der Adventskalender hat 24 Türen, und auf jeder steht eine Zahl.

The Advent calendar has 24 doors, and each one has a number on it.

Caption 11, Eva erklärt: den Adventskalender

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The Advent calendar also originated in 19th century Germany, but of course the best-known Christmas tradition with roots in German culture is der Weihnachtsbaum, also called der Tannenbaum or der Christbaum.


Heute wollen wir einen Weihnachtsbaum aufstellen.

Today we want to set up a Christmas tree.

Caption 8, Frohe Weihnachten: der Christbaum

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Further Learning
Watch all of the videos above in their entirety to get a feel for some German Christmas customs and search for more holiday-related videos on Yabla German. Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season from us at Yabla! 

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Apologizing and Expressing Regret and Sympathy

Whether you visit Germany in the future and bump into someone in a train station, or accidentally interrupt someone in an online class or meeting, it's important to know how to excuse yourself or apologize in German to an appropriate degree. 


First, you need to know (and learn to pronounce!) the word Entschuldigung and the verb sich entschuldigen. As you can see in the following two examples from Nicos Weg, our series for beginners, Entschuldigung can mean either "excuse me" or "sorry" depending on the context.


Entschuldigung, wen suchen Sie? -Lisa Brunner.

Excuse me, who are you looking for? -Lisa Brunner.

Caption 4, Nicos Weg: Wo ist der Aufzug?

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Ach, Nico, Entschuldigung, ich komme viel zu spät.

Oh, Nico, sorry, I'm much too late.

Caption 27, Nicos Weg A1 Folge 35: Wann spielen wir?

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Occasionally, you may hear the word Verzeihung used to apologize. This is a bit more formal.


„Oh, Verzeihung, mein Herr!", sagte Frederick.

"Oh, excuse me, sir!" said Frederick.

Caption 37, Piggeldy und Frederick Der Esel

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To apologize for something more serious than just being late or interrupting someone, the phrase Es tut mir leid is used to say "I'm sorry." It can also be used to express sympathy.


Es tut mir wirklich leid, das zu hören, Frau Hoffmann, dass es Ihren Kindern nicht gut ging.

Ms. Hoffmann, I'm very sorry to hear that your children aren't doing well.

Captions 48-49, Berufsleben Probleme: mit Mitarbeitern

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The phrase Mein herzliches Beileid is used to express sympathy in the face of loss. Be careful not to get it mixed up in any way with the verb beleidigen, which means "to insult."


Herzliches Beileid, Lilly.

Heartfelt condolences, Lilly.

Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 1: Im Krankenhaus

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Wenn man etwas durch die Blume sagt, dann bedeutet das, dass man sein Gegenüber nicht beleidigen möchte.

If you say something through the flower, then it means that you don't want to insult the other person.

Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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If you have unintentionally insulted someone or made a decision that affected someone adversely, you can also express regret with the verbs bereuen and bedauern.


Bereut er den Entschluss, sein Studium abgebrochen zu haben?

Does he regret the decision to have broken off his university studies?

Caption 62, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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Doch, doch! Obwohl ich noch immer bedauere, dass er damals nicht zu mir in die Firma gekommen ist.

Yes, yes! Although I still regret that he didn't join me in the company back then.

Captions 20-21, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Further Learning
Search for Entschuldigung, the verb sich entschuldigen, and the imperatives Entschuldigen Sie (formal) and Entschuldige (informal) on Yabla German to hear all of these options used in context. You can also look up the verb verzeihen. This is the best way to get an understanding of which expression is right for a particular kind of situation.

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Before, Part II: bis, bisher, ehe, früher, vorhin, & zuvor

A few weeks ago in Part I, we looked at the most common ways to say "before": vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at some more German words that are commonly translated into English as "before."


Warum hatte man bis vergangene Woche denn so wenig von ihr gehört?

Why had we heard so little from her before this past week?

Caption 65, Coronavirus: Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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The preposition bis, usually requiring the accusative case, is also often translated as "until."


Ist natürlich ein besonderer Umstand, nur mit Leuten, die man bisher nicht kannte...

Of course, it's a particular circumstance to only be with people you didn't know before...

Caption 11, Anja Polzer: Interview

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The adverb bisher is sometimes translated to English as "previously."


Ehe du einschläfst, wollte ich dir schnell bloß sagen,

Before you fall asleep, I just wanted to quickly say to you,

Caption 51, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

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Not to be mixed up with the noun die Ehe ("the marriage"), the conjunction ehe is sometimes spoken in a shortened form as eh


Alles das, was früher war, wischst du einfach weg.

All that was before, you just wipe away.

Captions 20-21, Adel Tawil: 1000 gute Gründe

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The adverb früher (which is also seen as an adjective) is sometimes translated as "previously" or "earlier," depending upon the context.


Die hatte ich vorhin an, zum Beispiel beim Umzug oder als wir noch 'nen Auftritt hatten,

I had it on before, for example during the parade or when we had an appearance,

Captions 14-15, Bretten: Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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The adverb vorhin sounds similar to vorher, which we read about in Part I, but expresses something that happened in the very recent past—just seconds, minutes, or perhaps a few hours previously.


All das wird auf die Probe gestellt wie nie zuvor.

All of this is being put to the test like never before.

Caption 5, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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The adverb zuvor is often translated as "previously" or "beforehand," depending upon the context.


So voll Energie, so hoch wie noch nie.

So full of energy, as high as never before.

Caption 4, Beatrice Egli: Wir leben laut

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The German phrase noch nie would translate literally as "yet never," but that doesn't make any sense in English and it is usually translated as "never before."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for some of the words above that are commonly translated as "before" to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used in a real-world context.

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ansonsten, sonst, and umsonst

The adverbs ansonsten and sonst in German are most often found in contexts where they can be translated as "else" or "otherwise." You will find that they are generally quite interchangeable, though sonst has a wider range of applications and is used more often in casual conversation.


Ich kann zwar ein wenig Eislaufen, aber ansonsten bin ich auch da eher Zuschauer vorm Fernseher ...

I can ice-skate a little bit, but otherwise I'm also more likely the viewer in front of the television...

Caption 46, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

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Ansonsten finde ich Schauspielerei wahnsinnig interessant.

Otherwise, I find acting incredibly interesting.

Caption 57, Bürger Lars Dietrich: Schlecht Englisch kann ich gut

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Hier werden sie Tieren begegnen, die sonst nirgendwo in der Deutschen Bucht leben.

Here they will encounter animals that live nowhere else in the German Bight.

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Brauchst du sonst noch irgendwas? Duschgel oder so?

Do you need anything else? Shower gel or something?

Caption 33, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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Und sonst so? Was geht heute Abend?“

And otherwise? What's going on tonight?"

Caption 22, AnnenMayKantereit: Es geht mir gut

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The last sentence is an example in which ansonsten would sound quite odd due to the colloquial nature of the sentence. 

More importantly, you don't want to confuse ansonsten and sonst with the adjective umsonst, which can mean "for free," "for nothing," or "without reason," depending on the context. Take a look: 


Dass Sie nicht denken, dass in Berlin dann alles umsonst ist.

So that you don't think that in Berlin then everything is free.

Caption 41, Jonathan Johnson: Nahöstliches Essen in Berlin

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Der Freizeitpark heißt nicht umsonst Europa-Park.

The theme park is not called Europa-Park without reason.

Caption 19, Deutsche Welle - Hin und weg: Best of Europa-Park!

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Du bist für mich geboren, ich lebe nicht umsonst.

You were born for me, I'm not living for nothing.

Caption 4, Marius Müller-Westernhagen: Weil Ich Dich Liebe

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Further Learning
Along with umsonst, you can learn about other adjectives that are used to describe how expensive or cheap something is in this previous newsletter. There are many more examples of ansonsten and sonst used in sentences on Yabla German — just do a search on the homepage!

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Before, Part I: bevor, vor, or vorher?

There are a number of German words that may be translated as "before," in the temporal meaning of "at a previous time." Among the most common are vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at these three German words that are commonly translated to English as "before."


The German word bevor is a subordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses. Note that in most cases, where bevor appears in the last half of a sentence, the verb is usually at the end of the sentence: 


Darf ich's Ihnen dann noch schnell erklären, bevor Sie Ihre Platten essen?

May I explain it to you quickly before you eat your platters?

Caption 62, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Drei Wochen lang betteln hier die Jungen, bevor sie sich selber in die Fluten stürzen.

For three weeks, the young beg here before they dive into the waters themselves.

Caption 23, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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Aber bevor du jetzt schneidest, check erst mal, ob der Stoff passt.

But before you start cutting, first check whether the fabric is suitable.

Captions 77-78, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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The German word vor is a preposition and is usually placed in a sentence to modify a noun. Note that when vor is used in its temporal sense, the definite or indefinite article of its noun is usually dative. For clarity, the preposition, the article, and the noun are in bold print:


Du musst den Ball vor dem letzten Schlag der Zwölf verlassen haben,

You need to have left the ball before the last stroke of twelve,

Caption 52, Märchenstunde: Das Aschenputtel

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Soll er die Tabletten morgens, mittags und abends vor oder nach dem Essen nehmen?

Should he take the pills in the morning, at noon, and in the evening—and before or after eating?

Caption 17, Nicos Weg: Nehmen Sie...

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Was bekommen wahlberechtigte Bürger und Bürgerinnen in Deutschland vor einer Wahl?

What do citizens who are eligible to vote receive before an election?

Caption 18, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The German word vorher is an adverb:


Alles andere kommt vorher.

Everything else comes before it.

Caption 35, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Konjunktionen

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Und dann kam es wieder aus dem Gully raus und noch viel größer und noch viel böser als vorher.

And then it came out of the storm drain again, much bigger and much meaner than before.

Caption 54, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Note that vorher is sometimes translated as "beforehand" and "previously," depending upon the context: 


Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen...

The possibility exists, to test every board beforehand...

Caption 41, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

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Dann bekommt man Geld zurück, das man vorher dafür bezahlt hat.

Then you get the money back that you previously paid for them.

Caption 13, Diane: auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

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Further Learning
To recap: bevor usually connects two sentences; vor is a preposition that usually uses the dative case when referring to time; and vorher is an adverb that, as we know, modifies a verb. The best way to get an understanding of which word is appropriate in which context is hear them being used, however. Go to Yabla German and search for each of the three words—be sure that the examples with vor that you find are related to time and not place—and see the different ways that people commonly use them.

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Chancellor Merkel's Recent Appeal

After a relatively stable summer, the recent statistics from Germany related to the coronavirus are alarming, with record highs of new cases being reported in the last weeks. Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel once again gave a televised address and was frank with the public about what is at stake as temperatures drop and it becomes more difficult to meet outdoors and maintain distance. Let's look at some key phrases from her speech.

Here is how the Chancellor describes the current situation: 


Tag für Tag steigt die Zahl der Neuinfektionen sprunghaft.

Day after day, the number of new infections is increasing by leaps and bounds.

Caption 4, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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Die Pandemie breitet sich wieder rapide aus.

The pandemic is again spreading rapidly.

Caption 5, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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The verb ausbreiten means "to spread," and in other contexts "to disperse" or "to extend." As she did in her speech at the beginning of the pandemic, she also uses the related noun die Ausbreitung. If you read our lessons on that speech, the noun die Begegnung in the following sentence may also be familiar to you:


Die Wissenschaft sagt uns klar: Die Ausbreitung des Virus hängt direkt an der Zahl der Kontakte, der Begegnungen, die jeder von uns hat.

The science tells us clearly that the spread of the virus depends directly on the number of contacts, of encounters, that each of us has.

Captions 31-33, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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You may remember the noun der Abstand from the first speech and the related lesson on talking about distance. In this speech, the more specific noun der Mindestabstand is used. 


Das Allermeiste schon einfach dadurch, dass jede und jeder Einzelne konsequent den Mindestabstand wahr.

Most of it is already accomplished simply by each and every individual consistently maintaining the minimum distance.

Captions 26-27, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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Chancellor Merkel then stresses the importance of contact tracing in the fight against the virus:


Dafür müssen die Kontaktpersonen jedes infizierten Menschen benachrichtigt werden, um die Ansteckungsketten zu unterbrechen.

For this, the personal contacts of each infected person must be notified in order to interrupt the chains of infection.

Captions 17-19, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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Another set of words to learn from this speech is the verb auf etwas verzichten ("to refrain" or "to abstain" from something, "to do without," "to forgo") and the related noun der Verzicht, which in this particular case is best translated as something one sacrifices. 


Ich bitte Sie, verzichten Sie auf jede Reise, die nicht wirklich zwingend notwendig ist.

I ask you: Refrain from any trip that is not really absolutely essential.

Captions 41-43, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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Ich weiß, das klingt nicht nur hart, das ist im Einzelfall auch ein schwerer Verzicht.

I know this not only sounds hard, but in individual cases it is also a difficult sacrifice.

Captions 47-48, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

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Further Learning
Watch the speech in its entirety on Yabla German. In addition, you can listen to recent reports from Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten to get more information about what is going on in Germany and around the world. 

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fallen vs. gefallen

Let's discuss two German verbs today: fallen and gefallen


The verb fallen can be variously translated as "to fall," "to drop," "to decline," "to decrease" or "to sink" (as in prices decrease or sink), "to slip" (as in standards slip), and even "to score" (as when a goal is scored in football). 


Im Herbst sind die Blätter rot und orange. Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange. In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin Pronomen

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OK, jetzt gebe ich euch andere Verben, die in diese Kategorie fallen, ja?

OK, now I'll give you other verbs that fall into this category, yes?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Verben der 2. Kategorie - Part 3

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Doch wenn dann immer mehr Tore fallen...

Indeed, if then more and more goals are scored...

Caption 32, Frauenfußball-WM Der Bundespräsident am Ball

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Bevor wir fallen, fallen wir lieber auf

Before we fall, we prefer to be noticed

Caption 23, Heino Neue Volkslieder

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Note that the second instance of fallen in this last example is actually part of the separable verb auffallen, "to be noticed."


The verb gefallen may be translated, according to context, as "to oblige," "to delight," "to be pleasing," "to appeal" (to someone), "to be to (someone's) liking," or "to meet with (someone's) approval." 


Wir hoffen, euch hat dieses Video gefallen und ihr hattet Spaß beim Zuschauen. Gebt uns doch einen Daumen nach oben, wenn's euch gefallen hat.

We hope you enjoyed this video and had fun watching. Give us a thumbs up if you liked it.

Captions 75-76, Playmobil Skispringen mit Familie Hauser - Part 3

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Das gefällt mir richtig, richtig gut.

I really, really like it.

Caption 5, Auto-Bild-TV Tops & Flops der IAA

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„Der Film gefällt dem Zuschauer“. -Super.

"The viewer likes the film." -Super.

Caption 6, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Verben der 3. Kategorie - Part 4

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Note that the subject of gefallen is dative: Mir gefällt der Film or Der Film gefällt mir. It would be an easy mistake to misunderstand the last one to mean "the film likes me!" 


You also have to be careful not to mix up the verb gefallen — a past participle of fallen — with the noun der Gefallen ("a favor"). There is also the adjective gefallen, which is from the verb fallen and may be translated as "fell down" or in a military sense "to be killed in action," in the same euphemistic sense that a soldier "falls" in battle. 


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and read the related lessons Falling, dropping, and slipping and The verb gelingen. Then watch the Yabla video Deutschkurs in Tübingen, where the teacher and students go in-depth into the verb gefallen.

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German Body Idioms

Like English, German has many idioms that involve parts of the body. If you read our past newsletter about idioms that relate to feet, you can see the German idiom von Kopf bis Fuß — from head to foot — and note right away that there is a similar idiom in English. Like its German counterpart, "from head to toe" also means "completely" or "thoroughly."

Often, idioms with the same meaning in both languages will be similar, but not identical. Have a look:


Kopf hoch! Wie heißt es doch so schön?

Head up! What is it indeed that they say?

Caption 34, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

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In English, we say "chin up" when we are encouraging someone to remain optimistic. Another expression for this in German is halt die Ohren steif.


Wir drücken die Daumen.

We'll press the thumbs.

Caption 40, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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In English, we "keep our fingers crossed" when we are wishing for a positive outcome.


Essen kann er auch in Ruh'. Vater drückt ein Auge zu.

He can eat in peace. Father turns a blind eye.

Caption 4, Der Struwwelpeter: Ausschnitte

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"To turn a blind eye" is the equivalent expression in English.


Und jetzt willst du für ihn den Kopf hinhalten?

And now you want to hold your head out for him?

Caption 24, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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English-speakers wouldn't "hold their head out" for someone and take the blame for them. Instead, they would "stick their neck out."


Eine Hand wäscht die andere“ bedeutet, dass Hilfsbereitschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit beruht.

"One hand washes the other" means that helpfulness is based on reciprocity.

Captions 50-51, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

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In English, there is an expression with a similar meaning, which is "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."


Further Learning
You will find more idioms on Yabla German (for example, in this video) and on the Yabla German lessons page. Look up the following German idioms and see if you can figure out their English equivalents: sich ins Knie schießenjemandem auf die Füße tretensich Hals über Kopf verliebenjemandem ein Dorn im Auge seindas Herz auf der Zunge tragen, and viel um die Ohren haben. 

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German verbs connected with lassen

There are at least ten German verbs that have unique meanings when connected with lassen ("to let"). Not so very long ago, they were literally connected with lassen in that they used to be written together as a single verb. However, in the last decades, the arbiter of German grammar, Duden, proclaimed that it is preferable grammatically to write the root verbs and lassen as separate words. Oddly enough, rather than subordinating the version with lassen to the main listing for the verb in question, Duden still has them listed in a dictionary single entry -- for two verbs. Thus if you search on Duden for the old spelling of fallenlassen, the first match will be fallen lassen.


Here are some examples of verbs connected to lassen which in the past would have been written as a single verb, but are now usually separated by a space:


Und als sich der Mond schließlich zeigte, glänzten die weißen Kieselsteine, die Hänsel hatte fallen lassen, wie Silber.

And when the moon finally revealed itself, the white pebbles that Hansel had let fall gleamed like silver.

Captions 31-32, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Hänsel und Gretel

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Ich bin locker. Wenn ich will, kann ich mich total gehen lassen.

I am relaxed. If I want to I can totally let myself go.

Caption 26, Filmtrailer: Keinohrhasen

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Ansonsten gilt im Zoo weiterhin die Frühlingsdevise: einfach mal hängen lassen!

Apart from that, in the zoo the spring slogan still applies: at times simply just let it all hang out!

Caption 48, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell Frühling im Zoo

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Diese Knochen macht dem Greifvogel kein Futterrivale streitig, deshalb kann er sie ruhig liegen lassen.

No rival will fight the bird of prey for these bones, so it can leave them well alone.

Captions 46-47, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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Den Teig lassen wir jetzt fünfundvierzig Minuten ruhen.

We'll let the dough sit now for forty-five minutes.

Caption 33, Bundesländer: Bayern

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Und somit hab ich dann alles, was mit Studium und Musik zu tun hatte, erst mal sein lassen.

And with that, I then let everything go that had to do with university studies and music.

Caption 44, Powerfrau Lina bleibt auf dem Boden

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Sie haben meiner Tochter schöne Augen gemacht und sie dann sitzen lassen.

You made eyes at my daughter and then abandoned her.

Caption 20, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist Loslassen - Part 3

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Man sollte ihn besser für alle Zeiten stehen lassen.

You'd be better off to leave it there for all time.

Caption 35, Piggeldy und Frederick Regenbogen

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As an added note, there are many other verbs ending with lassen that are still written as one word. Most of them have adjectives or adverbs as prefixes. Go to this link at and see many examples.


Further Learning
See if you can guess the meanings of bleiben lassen and fahren lassen and then check a German dictionary to see if you got them right. You can also look for more examples of the above verbs related to lassen on Yabla German.

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German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part II

In a previous lesson, we looked at the topic of verbs that require a different preposition than might be expected if you are familiar with the English language. Let's continue with some common verb-preposition pairings that you should memorize.

In English we ask about something, but in German you will hear nach etwas fragen. There is also sich nach etwas erkundigen — "to inquire about something." The preposition nach is generally translated as "after," but not in this context.


Mit dem Fragewort "wo" fragt man nach dem Ort.

With the interrogative word "wo" one asks about the place.

Caption 8, Diane erklärt: Fragewörter

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Take a look below at the preposition used with the reflexive verb sich entscheiden.


Ich hab mich für ein Entrecôte entschieden.

I decided on an entrecôte.

Caption 5, Kochrezepte: Steak richtig braten

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Although you might hear the verb sich bewerben followed by the preposition für, this is actually incorrect. It is correct to use the preposition um, which is also used with the phrases konkurrieren um ("to compete for") and kämpfen um ("to fight for"). 


Eine Frau, die ein zweijähriges Kind hat, bewirbt sich in Deutschland um eine Stelle.

A woman who has a two-year-old child applies for a job in Germany.

Caption 37, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The preposition an is only sometimes translated as "on" in English. Take a look at this example with the verb "to believe."


Es wär schön blöd, nicht an Wunder zu glauben.

It would be pretty stupid not to believe in miracles.

Caption 11, Wincent Weiss: An Wunder

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Further Learning
How would you translate the following phrases? Sich erinnern anan jemanden schreiben, an etwas leidenan jemanden vermieten, sich an etwas gewöhnen. If you are not sure, search for examples on Yabla German. For more prepositions, check out our recent lessons on sentences with identical prefixes and prepositions if you missed them.  

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part III

Today we'll continue with the third and final part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes coexist in German sentences.


Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:


Preposition: nach (to, after)
Separable verbs: nachahmen (to imitate); nachdenken (to think); nacherzählen (to retell, to relate); nachfolgen (to follow, to succeed); nachgeben (to give in); nachprüfen (to double check); nachschlagen (to look up, to reference); nachtun (to follow someone’s example); nachzählen (to recount, double-check)

This example uses the separable verb nachdenken


Manchmal denken wir Frauen zu viel über die Liebe nach.

Sometimes we women think too much about love.

Caption 7, Konjugation Das Verb „denken“

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Whereas this example uses the verb denken and the preposition nach:


Stuttgart, schön. OK, ich denke, ich fliege nach Stuttgart.

Stuttgart, nice. OK, I think I'll fly to Stuttgart.

Caption 9, Reiseplanung Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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If we were to combine the separable verb nachdenken and the preposition nach, we could make a sentence like this: 


Ich denke über eine Reise nach Stuttgart nach.
I'm thinking about a trip to Stuttgart. 


Preposition: vor (to, before)
Separable verbs: vorbereiten (to prepare); vorbestellen (to pre-order); vorhaben (to plan, to intend); vorkommen (to come up, to happen); vornehmen (to carry out); vorstellen (to introduce, to imagine); vortragen (to perform, to give a lecture)


This example uses the separable verb vorhaben


Und was hast du heute noch vor?

And what else are you planning for today?

Caption 53, Unterwegs mit Cettina an der Rheinfähre

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But this example uses the verb haben and the preposition vor:


Du hast mich immer wieder vor dir selber gewarnt

You have always warned me about yourself

Caption 15, Johannes Oerding Mein schönster Fehler

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Again, we can make another sentence using the separable verb vorhaben and the preposition vor


Hast du wirklich vor, schon vor dem Deutschunterricht nach Hause zu gehen?
Do you really intend to go home before German class?


You may already be attending German class from home, but keep up the good work learning with Yabla German either way!


Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

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Falling, dropping, and slipping

You may be familiar with the verb rutschen ("to slip" or "to slide") from our previous newsletters about the phrase Guten Rutsch, which is used on New Year's Eve. 


Er ist durch den Kamin gerutscht?

He slid down the chimney?

Caption 79, Peppa Wutz: Weihnachten

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You may also hear the verb ausrutschen, which means to slip (and possibly fall), and the command rutsch rüber, which is how you tell someone to "slide over" or "move over" so that you can have a seat.


Ich bin mal ausgerutscht auf der Bühne.

I once slipped on stage.

Caption 39, Live-Entertainment-Award: Glamouröse Preisverleihung

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When we talk about falling, common verbs are herunterfallen or its shortened colloquial form runterfallen (which are similar to "to fall down"), hinfallen and umfallen (a bit more like "to fall over"), and stürzen and abstürzen (these are often used to indicate a bad fall). 


Er ist da bestimmt nicht zufällig runtergefallen. Das war kein Unfall.

He certainly didn't fall off accidentally. That was no accident.

Caption 10, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Im Herbst sind die Blätter rot und orange. Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange. In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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Ich bin ja auch schon zweimal hingefallen, aber ist bis jetzt nichts passiert.

I've also already fallen two times, but up till now nothing has happened.

Captions 15-16, Jenny und Alena: Autos und Motorräder

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Und dann ist er bei einer Bergtour abgestürzt.

And then he fell during a mountain hike.

Caption 12, Lilly unter den Linden: Lilly und Tante Lena

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Nach Elmau, da ist ein Skifahrer gestürzt und hat eine Rückenverletzung.

Toward Elmau, a skier has fallen and has a back injury.

Caption 7, Rettungsflieger Im Einsatz

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The verbs fallen and fallen lassen are used when you drop something. Look at how the following sentences are constructed:


Oje, Linus hat seine Gießkanne ins Wasser fallen lassen.

Oh dear, Linus has dropped his watering can into the water.

Caption 28, Peppa Wutz: Sport

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Dennis ist kein Stift runtergefallen.

Dennis didn't drop a pencil.

Caption 109, Kurzfilme: Das Tagebuch

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You will also see fallen or its past participle gefallen used with the meaning of "to fall." As you know, gefallen is also a completely different verb that is used when we like something. However, structural and contextual differences between the phrase Es hat mir gefallen ("I liked it") and a sentence like Ich bin ins Wasser gefallen ("I fell into the water") don't allow for much ambiguity. 


Further Learning
You will find many more examples of these phrases and verbs used in context on Yabla German. These will help you get a better grasp of which verb is appropriate in which context, and how they are implemented structurally.

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part II

Today we'll continue with the second part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes occur in German sentences.


Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:


Preposition: aus (from, out, of)
Separable verbs: ausbilden (to educate, to train); ausbrechen (to break out); ausdrucken (to print); ausdrücken (to express); ausflippen (to lose control); ausgeben (to hand out); ausgehen (to go out, ausgehen von to assume); auslachen (to laugh at); ausmachen (to turn off, to put out); ausnutzen (to take advantage); ausschließen (to lock out, to exclude); aussprechen (to pronounce); aussterben (to die out, to go extinct); austauschen (to exchange).


Ich gehe heut Nacht aus...

I'm going out tonight...

Caption 5, Beatrice Egli Mein Herz

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Ihr müsst schon aus Mitleid in den Film alle gehen.

You all have to go see the film just out of pity.

Caption 39, Mario Barth und Paul Panzer Männersache - Part 2

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In the first instance above, the separable verb ausgehen is used, but although the verb gehen appears in the second example, the word aus here is a preposition, not part of a separable verb. Using aus as part of the separable verb ausgehen and additionally as a preposition could look like this:


Aus Angst vor einer Erkältung gehe ich im Winter nicht mehr so oft aus.
For fear of catching a cold, I don't go out as often in winter.


Preposition: mit (with, along)
Separable verbs: mitbekommen (to understand, to notice); mitfahren (to ride along); mitfühlen (to sympathize); mitmachen (to participate); mitnehmen (to take along); mitspielen (to play along); mitteilen (to inform, to share knowledge);


Peppa, fährst du beim Rennen auch mit?

Peppa, are you going to ride along in the race as well?

Caption 26, Peppa Wutz Sport - Part 3

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Dürfen wir denn dann mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht fahren? -Ja?

May we drive with you in your car with blue lights then? -Yes?

Caption 36, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 8

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In the first example above, the separable verb mitfahren means "to ride along." But in the second instance, the standard verb fahren is used twice with the preposition mit, which in this context translates as "with" and "in." We can also alter this sentence using the separable verb mitfahren:


Fahren wir mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht mit?
Are we riding along with you in your car with blue lights?


Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

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Expressing Probability in German

For our beginners, we are devoting this week's newsletter to expressing probability, or the likelihood that something will occur or be the case. There is a range of adverbs that can help you express this in German. 

When something is certain, common adverbs used are definitiv, sicher, or bestimmt. "Definitely" is also among the common translations of the phrase auf jeden Fall.


Für Kerber steht fest, dass sie die Abstiegsrunde im April definitiv spielen wird.

For Kerber, it is certain that she will definitely play at the relegation round in April.

Caption 19, Angelique Kerber: Fotoshooting mit dem neuen Porsche 718 Boxster S

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Na ja, es wird sicher kein Problem sein, den Internetbetreiber zu zwingen, den Film zu löschen.

Well, it will certainly not be a problem to compel the internet provider to delete the movie.

Captions 6-7, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Die Kündigung hat bestimmt andere Gründe.

The layoff surely has other reasons.

Caption 30, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Oh, wow! Dann wirst du ihn auf jeden Fall wiedersehen, oder?

Oh, wow! Then you will definitely see him again, right?

Caption 47, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

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The best translation of "likely" and "unlikely" or "probable" and "improbable" in German is wahrscheinlich and unwahrscheinlich.


Wahrscheinlich brauchen wir noch ein bisschen Nachhaltigkeitsunterstützung,

We likely still need a little bit of support with sustainability,

Caption 77, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Dass der Winter noch mal in voller Wucht zu uns zurückkommt, ist im Moment aber ohnehin eher unwahrscheinlich.

That winter will return to us in full force is, momentarily, however, without a doubt rather improbable.

Captions 41-42, Rhein-Main-TV: aktuell Frühling im Zoo

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Like wahrscheinlich, the word wohl as an adverb also signifies that something is likely or probable. Eventuell, vielleicht and möglicherweise are used when something is possible but can't be guaranteed. 


Und das wird wohl auch erst mal so bleiben.

And it will first also likely stay like that.

Caption 19, Andreas Bourani Startet durch

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Es kann sein, dass wir eventuell etwas Milch brauchen.

It could be that we'll maybe need some milk.

Caption 12, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Vielleicht wird's morgen für mich regnen.

Maybe it will rain for me tomorrow.

Caption 15, Andreas Bourani: Eisberg

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Das Kartengerät ist möglicherweise schon seit Wochen angezapft.

The card reader was possibly tapped for weeks.

Caption 44, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Just as auf jeden Fall means definitely, auf keinen Fall means that something definitely will not occur, by no means.


Na, du wirst auf gar keinen Fall arbeiten.

Well, you won't work in any case.

Caption 45, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Further Learning
Create your own sentences in which you describe how likely certain events are to happen, from the definite or most likely to the most improbable. If you need more guidance, you can find many more examples of these adverbs in use on Yabla German.

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part I

It is pretty unusual in English to have the same word with a completely different meaning occur twice in the same sentence. But as you will learn today, in German it is a fairly commonplace occurence.


Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:


Preposition: ab (from, off, starting, beginning, away)
Separable verbs: abbrennen (to burn down); abgeben (to turn in, to hand over); abkürzen (to shorten); abnehmen (to lose weight, to take something off); abschließen (to finish, to lock something)


Nimm mal die Brille ab! Er hat ganz rote Augen.

Take off the glasses! He has really red eyes.

Caption 31, Pastewka Cantz fährt betrunken Auto

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Ab nächster Woche geht das Fitnessprogramm wieder los.

Beginning next week, the fitness program will get going again.

Caption 36, Claudia Schiffer Nach der Babypause

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Using the verb abnehmen and the preposition ab, you can construct a sentence such as the one below. Can you tell from the sentence structure which ab is part of the verb and which is the preposition?


Ab diesem Zeitpunkt nehme ich die Sonnenbrille ab.
From this moment on, I'm taking off my sunglasses


Preposition: an (at, upon, on, to, towards)
Separable verbs: anerkennen (to recognize); andeuten (to hint at, to suggest); angeben (to indicate, to state, to brag); anklagen (to accuse); anschauen (to watch); anstellen (to hire, to employ); anweisen (to instruct); anwenden (to use); sich anziehen (to dress)


Dieser gibt an, wie die Hühner gehalten werden.

This indicates how the chickens are kept.

Caption 11, Bioeier Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

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Behindert werden an dieser Stelle weder der Verkehr noch die Fußgänger.

Neither the traffic nor the pedestrians are impeded at this point.

Caption 29, Richter Alexander Hold Richtig parken

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Er gibt an dieser Stelle an, was er getan hat.
At this point, he states what he has done.


Preposition: auf (onto, upon, on, to, at, up)
Separable verbs: aufatmen (to breathe a sigh of relief); aufbleiben (to stay up, to stay open); aufführen (to perform); aufklären (to inform, enlighten, clear up); auflockern (to liven up); aufnehmen (to record, to take a picture); aufpassen (to look out, to take care); aufräumen (to clean up); aufschlagen (to open up); aufwachsen (to grow up)


Achtung, Luise, pass auf!

Attention, Luise, watch out!

Caption 59, Bretten Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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Sie waren die Schnellsten auf dem Acker.

They were the fastest on the field.

Caption 18, Barfuß unter Schafen Schäferwettrennen

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The verb aufpassen generally means "to watch out" for something, but combined with the preposition auf and a person, it means "to take care":


Pass auf dich auf, hm?

Take care of yourself, hm?

Caption 16, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 4: Die Grenze - Part 2

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Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with the same prefixes as prepositions on Yabla German.

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