German Lessons


The German Approach to Fun

At some point while learning German, it may have dawned on you that there isn't exactly a German equivalent for the adjective "fun." There is, of course, the noun der Spaß, which is used to describe how someone can "have fun" (Spaß haben) or something can "be fun" (Spaß machen):


Ich glaube, auch die Erwachsenen haben Spaß an dem Film.

I think adults also have fun with this film.

Caption 11, Michael Mittermeier: Hexe Lilli

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Und ich hab auch gelernt, dass es mir Spaß macht, vor der Kamera zu stehen,

And I also learned that standing in front of the camera is fun for me,

Caption 20, Anja Polzer: Interview

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The adjective spaßig does exist, but is more specific, meaning that something is either "merry" or "celebratory," or "jocular" or "playful." Es hat Spaß gemacht is therefore not really the same thing as Es war spaßig


Und spaßig ging es auch in der Festhalle weiter.

And it continued merrily in the Festhalle too.

Caption 24, Rheinmain im Blick: Live-Entertainment-Award in Frankfurt

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In terms of adjectives, however, there are a few other contenders. The adjective lustig can mean either "funny" or "fun" depending on the context.


Es ist einfach lustig und immer wieder da zwischendurch kommt trotzdem wieder ein Fund.

It's just fun, and time and time again in between, another find is still made.

Caption 64, Ausgrabungen: Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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The adjectives amüsant and unterhaltsam also play a role here, as they describe something or someone being fun in the sense of being entertaining. 


Er ist sicher wahnsinnig locker und unheimlich amüsant.

I'm sure he's incredibly easygoing and incredibly entertaining.

Caption 28, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Bist du verliebt?

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So unterhaltsam kann Lernen sein!

Learning can be so entertaining!

Caption 5, Theaterstück über gesunde Ernährung: Henrietta in Fructonia

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Für die knappe Stunde Flug ist die Außenansicht unterhaltsam genug.

For just under an hour's flight, the view outside is entertaining enough. 

Caption 10, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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Further Learning
On Yabla German, you can find many examples of how Germans cleverly use Spaß machen and Spaß haben to describe various fun occurrences and events. What has been fun for you in the last months? How would you tell someone about it in German?

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"Crazy" in Slang and Idiom

In an earlier Yabla lesson, we started discussing idioms and slang expressions for "crazy." We'll be taking a look today at some more expressions that seriously question somebody's psychological well-being. But a word of warning if you are in Germany: these expressions are insulting and may make the person you are directing them at very angry. If that person has witnesses, it's possible that they could personally file criminal charges against you, take you to court, and have you convicted for insulting them. In Germany, Beleidigung is a felony crime punishable by up to two years' imprisonment and a fine. If the person who was insulted is a police officer or other public official, either the person or their supervisor can file charges against you. In that case it's called die Beamtenbeleidigung. So much for freedom of speech! Let's take a look at a few expressions that could get you in trouble in the wrong circumstances.


Sag mal, bist du völlig verrückt geworden?

Tell me, have you completely gone crazy?

Caption 47, Großstadtrevier: Leben kommt, Leben geht

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The adjective verrückt is slang and used very commonly. It comes from a 16th century usage which meant "brought to the wrong place."


Die spinnen ja wohl. Das ist ja wahnsinnig.

They're crazy. This is insane.

Caption 38, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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The verb spinnen was described in the previous Yabla lesson. The adjective wahnsinnig may also be translated as "crazy." It's also used in a casual sense to add emphasis, such as Das ist wahnsinnig teuer ("That is very expensive" or "That is crazy expensive"). It comes from the Old and Middle German word wan, which meant "lacking" or "empty."


Diese irre Öko-Oma wollte neulich einen echten Klimaplan verabschieden.

This crazy eco-grandma recently wanted to pass a real climate plan.

Caption 25, heute-show: Das kann die Welt beim Klimaschutz von Deutschland lernen

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The expression irre comes from an obsolete noun that meant "the wrong way" or "the wrong direction."


Seid ihr bescheuert oder was?

Are you crazy or what?

Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden: Umzug in die DDR

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The answer to that is, "No, we're just trying to learn German!" The adjective bescheuert is derived from the verb scheuern, which means "to thoroughly scrub out" with a brush or similar cleaning tool. The less than polite suggestion is that someone's brain has been scrubbed out of their skull!


Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions discussed above and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work. Please be sure that the sentences you construct are not aimed at your fellow students or your teacher—it always pays to be polite! Go to the videos mentioned above on Yabla German to better understand the contexts in which these expressions have been used.

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Halten and Other Related Verbs

This week, let's have a look at the German verb halten and consider how it is combined with prefixes to make other verbs. Even by itself, the verb halten has a number of meanings. First of all, it translates as "to stop": 


Nein, Peter! Du darfst ihnen nichts geben. -Halt!

No, Peter! You mustn't give them anything. -Stop!

Caption 9, Heidi: Die Mutprobe

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Halten may also mean "to hold" or "to hold onto" (also in the variation festhalten) in either a literal or figurative sense.


Und zwar dürfen Sie sich jetzt mal hier kurz festhalten. Genau.

And, that is, you may now hold onto this here for a moment. Exactly.

Caption 44, TEDx: Lebenslange Fitness

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...und dann halt die Finger so über deinen Ohren.

...and then hold your fingers over your ears like this.

Caption 112, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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It can also mean "to keep" or "to last." Here you can see an example with the reflexive verb sich halten:


Die Rohmilch hält sich natürlich nicht ganz so lange wie die Supermarkt-Milch.

The raw milk, of course, doesn't keep quite as long as supermarket milk.

Caption 47, Rhein-Main-TV Moderne Milchtankstelle

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The first phrase below is heard constantly these days, and is one instance in which halten means "to keep" as in "to maintain." The phrase aufrecht halten would normally be translated as "to uphold," but in this case is also better translated as "to maintain."


Wir müssen Abstand halten.

We have to maintain distance.

Caption 24, Bundesamt für Gesundheit: Coronavirus und Schulen

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Und ich leite den Einsatz und halte die Kommunikation mit den Gastronomen und Hoteliers aufrecht.

And I lead the operation and maintain the communication with the restaurants and hotels.

Captions 23-24, Schweizer Felsenputzer: suchen Nachwuchs

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"To sustain" and "to abide by" are other possible translations of halten. The structure in this example is sich an etwas halten:


Alle Einwohner und Einwohnerinnen und der Staat müssen sich an die Gesetze halten.

All inhabitants and the federal state have to abide by the law.

Captions 36-37, Bundesrepublik: Deutschland Einbürgerungstest

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Then, as is the case with many other common German verbs, there are verbs that consist of halten combined with a prefix and may have either a related or an entirely different meaning. Here are two examples:


So, was könnte Olaf Scholz noch aufhalten auf seinem Weg ins Kanzleramt?

So, what could still stop Olaf Scholz on his way to the chancellorship?

Caption 20, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Wie sollte sie es nur ohne ihn aushalten?

Just how was she supposed to bear it without him?

Caption 70, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Further Learning

Many examples with halten and related verbs can be found on Yabla German in both reflexive and non-reflexive forms. Can you find examples with enthalten sich enthalten, erhalten, behalten, and verhalten sich verhalten?

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Expressions using Tisch, Part I

In English, we have a number of expressions that use the word "table," such as "to sweep something under table" (to hide something), "to take something off the table" (to make something unavailable), or "to bring something to the table" (to provide or offer a useful skill or attribute). The German language also has a wide variety of expressions relating to der Tisch. Let's take a look at some of them today!


Die Suppe aß er hübsch bei Tisch.

He ate the soup nicely at the table.

Caption 23, Kindergeschichten: Der Suppenkasper

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Of course, am Tisch is also "at the table." Depending upon the context, the expression bei Tisch could also be translated as "during the meal."


Das Thema ist endlich vom Tisch.
The issue has finally been resolved.


The German expression vom Tisch sein is kind of a false friend, because in German, it means that something is resolved or finished, which has a positive connotation. But if you say that something is "off the table" in English, it means that something (like an offer) has been withdrawn and is no longer available. A very different meaning indeed!


Ich kann den Tisch decken und Milch eingießen oder Brot holen.

I can set the table, and pour milk, or get bread.

Caption 38, Heidi: Heidis erster Tag beim Großvater

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You probably knew this one already, but it's also easy to misunderstand, since den Tisch decken translates literally as "to cover the table," which could be misinterpreted to mean to cover it with a tablecloth or something! Of course, it just means to set the table with silverware and such.


Lass die nicht im Stich, Eddie! Mach reinen Tisch.

Don't leave her in the lurch, Eddie! Make a fresh start.

Captions 34-35, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The expression einen reinen Tisch machen is very close to the English expression "to start with a clean state," which means to start something over again despite old mistakes.


Das Angebot liegt auf dem Tisch.
The offer is on the table.


The expression auf dem Tisch liegen is pretty easy, because it has the same meaning as the English idiom: to be presented, to be put forth, to be offered, or to be shown.


Und wenn da jemand die Frauen unter den Tisch fallen lassen wollte...  dann verschwinden sie eben aus der Kunstgeschichte.

And if someone, didn't want to take the women into account... then they simply disappear from art history.

Captions 30-31, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

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In English, to be paid "under the table" means that somebody is getting paid off the record, but "to fall under the table" usually just means that something got dropped on the floor! And in German, to "let something fall under the table" means that something has been omitted, ignored, is no longer considered or mentioned, or is not taken into account.


Further Learning
Make up some new sentences using the expressions we just learned about and have your teacher or a fellow student check your work:


bei Tisch

vom Tisch sein

den Tisch decken

einen reinen Tisch machen

auf dem Tischen liegen

unter den Tisch fallen lassen


Afterwards go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which these expressions have been used.

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Visiting and Hosting

Although perhaps less so this year, December is often a month of visiting and hosting. As the year comes to an end, let's have a look at some vocabulary related to spending time with loved ones. 


You likely know the German verb besuchen ("to visit"). The noun der Besuch can mean "the visit," but also means "the visitor"/"the visitors." You can also say der Gastgeber / die Gastgeberin for "the host" and der Gast / die Gäste for "the guest"/"the guests." 




Nun muss ich nur noch auf meinen Besuch warten.

Now I just have to wait for my visitors.

Caption 38, Apfelkuchen: mit Eva

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Ich bekomme heute nämlich Besuch, Günther.

I am getting a visitor today, Günther.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Lebensmittel

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Warum dauert denn das alles ewig? Die Gäste sind schon da.

Why is everything taking forever then? The guests are already here.

Caption 1, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Arbeiten für den Feind

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When it comes to actually staying with someone, two more advanced verbs to know are unterbringen and unterkommen.


Ach, er ist ein Austauschschüler, der vorübergehend eine Unterkunft braucht.

Oh, he is an exchange student who needs a place to stay for a while.

Caption 17, Küss mich, Frosch: Die Zeiten haben sich geändert

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Wir hätten noch kurzfristig Möglichkeiten, dich unterzubringen...

We would have the last minute possibility of housing you...

Caption 14, Lilly unter den Linden: Umzug in die DDR

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However, to talk about someone staying with you or staying with someone, it's perhaps more common to simply use wohnen paired with bei


Ich bin zu Besuch in Berlin und wohne bei meinen zwei Freundinnen.

I'm visiting Berlin and staying with my two friends.

Caption 2, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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Of course, it all starts with an invitation: 


Da hat man sich Gäste zum Essen eingeladen

You have invited guests to dinner

Caption 1, Das perfekte Dinner: Kochen für Gäste

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Further Learning
In addition to checking out our recent holiday content on Yabla German, create five to ten sentences about this December. Who did you visit? Who visited you? Who will you visit for New Year's Eve? This is a great opportunity to practice building sentences in a number of tenses. 

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Getting "one of the" genders right

With all of the genders available today, it's kind of amazing that German still has only three to choose from: feminine, masculine, and neuter (respectively die, der, and das in the nominative case). In German, there are two different ways to say "one of the" followed by a plural noun, such as "one of the cats," one of the dogs," or "one of the guinea pigs."


What makes this expression a bit difficult in German is that the gender in the "one" (in "one of") has to correspond to the gender of the plural noun you are using. This is a typical example of needing to know in German exactly what you're going to say before you say the first word of the sentence.


Imagine you're at an animal shelter trying to decide between adopting a cat or a dog or a guinea pig, and are looking at one pen full of kitties, next to one full of puppies, and another full of guinea pigs. When they ask what kind of pet you are looking for, in English you could start saying "One of the..." and then finish the sentence once you'd decided. But not in German, because the "one" (einer/eine/eines) in German has to agree with the gender of animal you're about to pick: "cat" is die Katze, a feminine noun; "dog" is der Hund, a masculine noun; and "guinea pig" is das Meerschweinchen, a neuter noun.  So you'd have to make your decision before you open your mouth to say either:


Eine von den Katzen, bitte. (dative)
Eine der Katzen, bitte. (genitive)
One of the cats, please.


Einen von den Hunden, bitte. (dative)
Einen der Hunde, bitte. (genitive)
One of the dogs, please.


Eines von den Meerschweinchen, bitte. (dative)
Eines der Meerschweinchen, bitte. (genitive)
One of the guinea pigs, please.


Note that in the accusative case, the masculine einer becomes einen. As you can see, there is both a dative and a genitive way to say this. In spoken German, using the dative case is most common, whereas in formal written German, it's better to use the genitive. It's particularly tricky in that you need to know the gender of what you're discussing beforehand, and of course the definite articles are different in dative and genitive. But at least the plural definite article in dative is always den, and the plural definite article in genitive is always der.


Eines der letzten Spiele war dann von 1906 gegen 1860.

One of the last games was 1906 versus 1860.

Captions 15-16, Ball des Weines: Franz Beckenbauer

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The following example uses the adjective viel instead of the definite article:


Einer von vielen Punkten, die auch zwischen den Verhandlungspartnern hoch umstritten sind.

One of many points that are highly disputed between the negotiating parties.

Caption 34, Deutsche-Welle-Nachrichten: Massenprotest gegen TTIP

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When you use plural pronouns such as uns (us) or ihnen ("them") in a gender non-specific way, you always use the masculine form einer:


Einer von ihnen ist jüdisch, er geht jetzt hier zur Armee und so.

One of them is Jewish, he's going into the army here now and such.

Caption 28, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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But if you are talking about women (die Frau, plural die Frauen) or children (das Kind, plural die Kinder), the genders must agree:


Es gibt 20 Frauen. Eine von ihnen...
Es gibt 20 Kinder. Eines von ihnen


Further Learning
Make a list of 20 or so nouns including their definite articles, such as die Frau, der Mann, das Kind. Then go through the list include each noun in a "one of the..." sentences, being sure to get the plural right. Don't forget too that many plural nouns in dative get an extra -n at the end: Einer von den Männern. Then go to Yabla German and watch the full videos above to see the context in which they have been used.

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eh, ehe, eher and die Ehe

Above you can see two adverbs, a conjunction, and a noun that are close to identical. Can you differentiate between them?


The best translation of the adverb eh is "anyway," but—Achtung!—it can't be used in every situation like its English counterpart. Have a look at this lesson to review the different contexts in which eh and similar words like sowieso and trotzdem are used.


Ich find's eh schade, dass man ihn kaum noch bei uns im Zweiten sieht.

I think it's a shame anyway that you hardly ever see him with us on Zweiten ["Second," a TV channel].

Caption 9, Lerchenberg: Ein Fall für Zwei

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Der war eh potthässlich.

It was really ugly anyway.

Caption 71, Lerchenberg: Du bist, was du isst

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The conjunction ehe means "before." To see it compared to other words with the same meaning, have a look at this lesson. Here are more examples:


„Wir müssen uns ganz schnell davonschleichen“, sagte Frederick leise, „ehe er uns bemerkt.“

"We have to sneak away very quickly," said Frederick quietly, "before he notices us."

Captions 33-34, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Elefant

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Und ehe die beiden sich's versahen, befanden sie sich auf dem Wagen.

And before they both knew it, they found themselves on the truck.

Caption 25, Piggeldy und Frederick Reise nach Schweinebrück

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Next we come to the adverb eher, which has two main meanings. First of all, it can be a synonym for früher ("earlier"):


Könntest du mir morgen den Brief etwas eher schicken?

Could you send the letter to me a bit earlier tomorrow?

Caption 36, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

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However, eher can also refer to likelihood or preference. The best way to get a sense of this is to look at the diverse translations for eher related to this context:


Die Luftballons sind eher was für die Kleinen.

The balloons are more something for the little ones.

Caption 19, Das Fest: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

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Also ich bin dann eher lieber Nachtmensch.

So then I'm more of a night person.

Caption 13, Angelique Kerber Generali fragt Angelique Kerber: Ist Angie Frühaufsteherin?

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Ich würde dann eher nicht so einen kräftigen Lack nehmen.

I would then rather not select such a bright polish.

Caption 21, Das Beauty-Einmaleins: Fingernägel

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Die großen traditionellen Weihnachtsmärkte findet man eher im Süden Deutschlands.

One is more likely to find the large traditional Christmas markets in the south of Germany.

Caption 6, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

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Like all German nouns, die Ehe ("the marriage") is capitalized, which makes it easily distinguishable from ehe


Dabei hat die Kanzlerin doch vorher gegen die Ehe für alle gestimmt.

Yet the chancellor previously voted against marriage for all.

Caption 9, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Further Learning
You will find many examples of eh and eher on Yabla German, which can help you understand how to integrate these words into your own spoken German. 

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The indefinite pronoun manch

An indefinite pronoun describes an indefinite number of things or people. Words such as "few," "some," "many," and "most" are indefinite pronouns. The German indefinite pronoun manch can be a bit difficult to translate when used as an adjective paired to noun.


The pronoun manch suggests "some" or "a few" things or persons—enough to be significant—but not "many" things or people, which inherently may suggest "most." The indefinite pronoun manch is usually translated as "some" when used in a plural sense:


Manche Menschen sind immer hungrig und werden nie satt.

Some people are always hungry and never get full.

Caption 33, Deutsch mit Eylin: Adjektive und ihre Gegenteile

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Manche Länder bilden auf der Rückseite ihre Königin oder ihren König ab.

Some countries depict their queen or their king on the reverse side.

Caption 7, Sparefroh-TV: Warum sehen die Euromünzen in jedem Land anders aus?

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You run into a problem, however, when you encounter manch used in a singular sense, because the indefinite pronoun "some" can only be used in the plural form in English. If you say "some man," you mean one single man, which is different than "some men." Even if you say, for example, "some person or another," which might at first seem singular because "person" is singular, by adding "or another" you are still referring in plural to two or more people.


If you try to translate the singular version of manch on Google Translate, it translates "some" correctly, but renders the noun and verb less literally as plural. Whereas if you translate the singular version of manch on DeepL, it keeps the noun and verb singular, but instead of using "some," it translates manch as "Many a..." This is problematic, because as we also discussed, manch implies the smaller proportion ("some") of those mentioned, not the larger proportion ("many").


Original German phrase using:
Mancher Finanzminister ist...


Google translation:
Some finance ministers are...


Deepl translation:
Many a finance minister is...


DeepL retains the singular of the noun and verb, but translates manch as "many," suggesting falsely "most" of the finance ministers, rather than "some" or "few," as the original German suggested. Because of the erroneous translation of manch as many, the less literal Google translation is the better compromise. There is actually no way to translate manch in German and retain this literal accuracy with the singular of the noun and verb, since in English, all indefinite pronouns such as "some" (or "a few of..." etc.) require a plural noun and verb.


Notice, in this next example, that Pflanze is singular and uses the singular verb form ist. In both examples, the singular noun and verb in German have had to be translated into the plural in order to get the correct meaning of manch:


Manche Pflanze, wie das flammende Indische Springkraut, ist grad erst bei uns eingewandert.

Some plants, such as the flaming Himalayan balsam, have migrated to our area only recently.

Caption 31, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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Mancher Finanzminister der Länder ist der Meinung...

Some state finance ministers are of the opinion...

Caption 15, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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It's a subtle difference, but when somebody with a large audience is making a statement that needs to be precise, such as (soon to be former) German Chancellor Angel Merkel, it can be an important distinction.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and look for videos using manch as an adjective before a noun. Then make up some German sentences using manch with a singular noun and verb, and practice translating them using "some" and changing the noun and verb to plural. Have your teacher or a fellow pupil or student check your work.

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Expressing Opinions

You may have noticed that the German verb finden doesn't only mean "to find" as in "to locate" or "to retrieve," but also has another meaning: 


Und ich finde wirklich, dass sie in dieser Zeit am besten schmecken.

And I really think that they taste best during this time.

Captions 19-20, Deutsch mit Eylin: Gemüse aus Deutschland

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Die meisten Menschen finden Warzenschweine hässlich.

Most people find warthogs ugly.

Caption 28, Deutsch mit Eylin: Adjektive und ihre Gegenteile

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The verbs denken ("to think") and glauben ("to believe") can also be used to express opinions. Then there is the question of the verb meinen. This verb can either be translated as "to mean" in the sense of referring to something, but also in the sense of having an opinion.


Du meinst, die machen Überstunden? -Illegale Überstunden.

You mean that they are working overtime? -Illegal overtime.

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Eins meinte, Stroh wäre das richtige.

One thought that straw would be the right thing.

Caption 26, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die drei kleinen Schweinchen

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One word for "the opinion" in German is die Meinung. For expressing your opinion with this noun, there are two different constructions to know about: 


Was den Nahen-Ost-Friedensprozess anbelangt, so, bin ich der Meinung, dass die Kerry-Initiative eine gute Grundlage ist, um Friedensgespräche wieder in Gang zu bringen.

With regard to the Middle East peace process, well, I am of the opinion that the Kerry initiative is a good basis to restart the peace talks.

Captions 59-61, Angela Merkel: Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama

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Mancher Finanzminister der Länder ist der Meinung, das tun wir heute schon.

Some state finance ministers are of the opinion that we are already doing that today.

Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Es hat aber meiner Meinung nach natürlich auch sogar einen Forschungscharakter.

But in my opinion it also of course has a research character.

Caption 39, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski-Wildpferde

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Ihrer Meinung nach ist der Beluga-Wal der wahre Gewinner.

In their opinion, the beluga whale is the real winner.

Caption 57, Die Top Ten: Die 12 freundlichsten Meerestiere der Welt

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Another noun that can be used similarly is die Ansicht, which can also mean "the perspective" or "the point of view." Here are a few more examples:


Und ich bin der Ansicht, dass das die neuen Volkslieder der neuen Generation sind.

And I am of the opinion that these are the new folk songs of the new generation.

Captions 12-13, Heino Neue Volkslieder

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Das Geld ist meiner Ansicht nach nicht verloren.

In my opinion, the money isn't lost yet.

Caption 29, Finanzkrise Die Lehman-Pleite

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Further Learning
Using the verbs and phrases above, build some sentences that express your opinions about food, politics, languages, movies... whatever you want! And, as always, you can find further examples on Yabla German

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A "Little" German Lesson

Let's talk today about the adjectives and adverbs we can use for the English word "small" and its synonyms. Everyone should already know klein, but there are also other similar words that are used with similar meaning in different idioms and contexts.


Der Prinz hatte nicht die geringsten Zweifel daran.

The Prince did not have the slightest doubt about it.

Caption 57, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

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Der Enthusiasmus ist ein bisschen gering heute.

I notice that the enthusiasm is a little bit limited today.

Caption 50, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Verben der 2. Kategorie

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So while you could perhaps replace the above contexts with die kleinsten Zweifel or ein bisschen klein heute, the adjective and adverb gering is generally used in contexts where something can't really be counted, such as "doubt" or "enthusiasm." And while you may say die Chancen sind gering ("the chances are low" or "the chances are small"), against all expectation you more commonly say its opposite as die Chancen sind groß ("the chances are great") rather than die Chancen sind hoch ("the chances are high"). The latter is acceptable, but less common.


Ich glaub, mein Ruhepuls ist schon sehr niedrig.

I think my resting heart rate is very low.

Caption 8, Generali fragt Angelique Kerber: Lieblinge

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The adjective and adverb niedrig is usually translated as "low," but you have to be careful, for though it may be understandable to native speakers, it would not be correct German to say die Chancen sind niedrig! But the word niedrig is usually associated with the height of things, such as low heart rate levels, or physical things such as low walls or buildings.


Let's take a look at some other words relating to "small." The adjective and adverb winzig is also sometimes translated as "diminutive," "minute," or "miniscule":


Das Mädchen war barfuß und hinterließ winzige Fußabdrücke

The girl was barefoot and left tiny footprints behind,

Caption 9, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das kleine Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern

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You should be careful with the false friend schmal, since it resembles the English word "small"— but just because the windows are schmal does not necessarily mean that they are small:


Richtig. Meistens sind ja die Fenster dann auch noch recht schmal.

Right. The windows are also mostly really narrow.

Caption 57, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug

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You'll find a "real friend" in mikroskopisch, however, as it does indeed mean "microscopic."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and look for videos containing the "small" German adjectives and adverbs gering, niedrig, and winzig. You may make up some sentences containing different English words for "small" and translate them to German, then have your teacher or tandem partner check your work.

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Verbs with Dative Objects

If you're studying German, you're learning about the accusative and dative cases. You've likely looked at many sentences with a direct and indirect object that look similar to this one:


Also: Ich schenke ihm ein Ticket fürs Theater.

So, I give him a ticket to the theater.

Caption 15, Nicos Weg: Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

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In the sentence above, the ticket is the direct object and the pronoun "him" is the indirect object in the dative case, which is why it is ihm and not ihn. Generally in German, the direct object is associated with the accusative case. Here's a classic example, with the accusative personal pronoun dich as the direct object:


Weil ich dich liebe, noch immer und mehr.

Because I love you, still and more.

Caption 9, Marius Müller-Westernhagen Weil Ich Dich Liebe

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However, there are a number of common verbs that normally take an object in the dative case, even when there is no object with the accusative case in the sentence. You may already be familiar with this sort of structure from these common phrases:


Wir lassen jetzt die Sabine unser Gericht probieren und hoffen, dass es ihr schmeckt.

We'll now let Sabine taste our dish and hope that she likes it.

Captions 74-75, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte Rheinland-Pfalz

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Ich habe den ersten Teil schon gesehen und der hat mir sehr gut gefallen.

I saw the first part already and I liked it a lot.

Caption 43, Diane erklärt: Fragewörter

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Das braune Portemonnaie gehört dir, oder?

The brown wallet belongs to you, right?

Caption 18, Nicos Weg: Meine Familie

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Here are some other verbs that follow this pattern, each with a dative personal pronoun:


Du kannst mir vertrauen. Ich will dir helfen.

You can trust me. I want to help you.

Caption 7, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

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Und ich hätte wirklich stundenlang dir zuhören können.

And I really could have listened to you for hours.

Caption 42, The Voice of German: Isabel Nolte singt „Als ich fortging“

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Lisa, ich gratuliere dir.

Lisa, I congratulate you.

Caption 7, Nicos Weg: Das ist mir wichtig!

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Bleib bei mir, verzeih mir.

Stay with me, forgive me.

Caption 16, Clueso: Weil ich dich liebe

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Further Learning
Try to create sentences with other common verbs that follow this pattern: danken, dienen, einfallen, fehlen, folgengelingenpassieren, schwer fallenwehtun, and widersprechen. You can find an extensive list on this website and will also find examples with these verbs on Yabla German.

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Pop Music Instruments in German

A few lessons ago, we discussed the names of classical music instruments in German. Let's take a look today at the German names of some of the most common musical instruments used in pop music.


We already discussed the piano in the classical instruments lesson, but there are also a number of other kinds of keyboard instruments (das Tasteninstrument) that are used in pop music. They are also called das Keyboard, plural die Keyboards. A person who plays keyboards is der Keyboarder / die Keyboarderin.


The Hammond organ is a popular vintage organ that is still much-loved in pop and jazz music. Although Hammond is actually a brand name, it is listed in the German dictionary as a proper German word: die Hammondorgel. Other popular electronic organs from the 1960s, which were produced cheaply by companies such as Farfisa in Italy and Vox in the UK, are often referred to casually—or deprecatingly—as die Schweineorgel, which translates literally to "pig organ"!


Another popular Tasteninstrument that began to be widely used in the 1970s is the synthesizer (der Synthesizer). It's often referred to casually as der Synthi.


Diese ganzen analogen Synthesizer?

All those analog synthesizers?

Caption 115, LOTTE & Max Giesinger: Interview

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Probably the most important instrument in rock music, especially in heavy metal and punk rock music, is the electric guitar, called die elektrische Gitarre (or die Elektrogitarre), or die E-Gitarre for short. Generally, a person who plays guitar is called der Gitarrist / die Gitarristin. A common slang word for the electric guitar, especially among musicians, is die Klampfe. A very old-fashioned term for the guitar is die Zupfgeige, which translates literally to "pluck violin"!


So gibt es hier die elektrische Gitarre für den abgebrühten Rockstar.

Thus there is the electric guitar here for the jaded rock star.

Caption 2, Rheinmain im Blick: Musikmesse in Frankfurt

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On the bottom end of the harmonic spectrum, we find the electric bass and upright bass, called die Bassgitarre (or der E-Bass) and der Kontrabass respectively. A person who plays bass is der Bassist / die Bassistin.


Sie schafft Platz zu Hause und erfreut die Fans, die bald Burger unter der Bassgitarre futtern können.

She makes room at home and pleases the fans, who will soon be able to scarf down burgers under the bass guitar.

Captions 8-9, Christina Stürmer: ist reif fürs Museum

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Let's look now at the beat, an intrinsic element of most forms of pop music, with the drums at the forefront: das Schlagzeug, or the English-based derivative, die Drums. A person who plays the drums is der Schlagzeuger / die Schlagzeugerin or, perhaps somewhat old-fashioned, der Trommler / die Trommlerin. Again, the English derivative is also available: der Drummer / die Drummerin.


Geige ist mir zu langweilig, ich will gleich Schlagzeug spielen.

Violin is too boring for me, I want to play drums right away.

Caption 36, Sons of Sounds: Interview

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Of course, brass instruments have always played a role in pop music, but the most common horn in pop music is probably the saxophone: das Saxofon. A foreign-influenced spelling, das Saxophon, is also acceptable, though the Duden dictionary has das Saxofon as the preferred spelling. A person who plays the saxophone is der Saxofonist / die Saxofonistin, and here too the foreign-influenced spelling is allowed.


Ich bin Musiker. Ich spiele Saxofon.

I'm a musician. I play saxophone.

Caption 14, Melanie und Thomas: treffen sich

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Let's not neglect a major aspect of pop music, the one item that makes it possible to play so loudly: the amplifier, in German der Verstärker. A guitar amplifier is der Gitarrenverstärker, a bass amplifier der Bassverstärker, and a keyboard amplifier is der Keyboardverstärker. Vocals, horns, and other acoustic instruments are usually amplified through a microphone: das Mikrofon, or its foreign-influenced spelling variant das Mikrophon—or just das Mikro for short. All of these instruments are usually amplified on larger stages through a PA system. The proper German dictionary word is die Beschallungsanlage, but as Wikipedia will attest, in common parlance, it's most commonly called die PA-Anlage.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to musical instruments. You can also search for the names of the instruments and find other videos. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these musical instrument words, then compare what you both came up with.

Continue Reading

The World of Business

This week's lesson is dedicated to basic German business vocabulary. From news reports about the economy (die Wirtschaft) to videos that take place in office settings, there's quite a lot to be found on Yabla German. In this lesson, we have highlighted all business and workplace vocabulary.


First of all, there are a number of words for "the business" or "the company":


Wir haben einen Vertrag mit der Firma.

We have a contract with the company.

Caption 36, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg

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Er ist Geschäftsführer des Unternehmens.

He is the director of the company.

Caption 32, Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr: Versicherer entwickeln automatischen Notruf für alle Autos

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Um dies sicherzustellen, habe der Konzern die Frequenz der Belieferungen erhöht.

To ensure this, the group has increased the frequency of deliveries.

Caption 13, Coronavirus: Trotz Hamsterkäufen keine Versorgungsprobleme

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The word for business in general is das Geschäft. Above, you see the word der Geschäftsführer, which would be the director or CEO of a company. The word for "co-worker" is der Arbeitskollege or die Arbeitskollegin, or simply der Kollege or die Kollegin, which is how the employees (der Mitarbeiter or die Mitarbeiterin) at a company would describe each other. They would likely refer to the person they report to as der Chef or die Chefin, which (Achtung!) in German is not someone who works in a kitchen. 


Genau, ihre Kollegin, Frau Larsen, hat mir alles gezeigt, die ganzen Büros, und mir die Mitarbeiter vorgestellt.

Exactly, your colleague Ms. Larsen showed me everything, all the offices, and introduced me to the employees.

Captions 9-10, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

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„Während ich an meinen Rechnungen saß, kam meine Chefin und hat mir noch mehr Aufgaben zugeteilt.“

"While I was sitting with my bills, my boss came and assigned me further tasks."

Captions 41-42, Eva erklärt: temporale Konnektoren

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In a company, "the department" is die Abteilung. Take a look:


Hier in der Personalabteilung ist eine Halbtagsstelle frei geworden.

A part-time job has become free here in the human resources department.

Caption 40, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Sie suchen nach jemandem für ihre Marketingabteilung.

They're looking for someone for their marketing department.

Caption 8, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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In terms of finances and profits, here are some good words to know:


Meine Berechnungen für den zu erwartenden Absatz liegen Ihnen vor.

My calculations for the expected sales are lying in front of you.

Caption 55, Mama arbeitet wieder Kapitel 2: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

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Siebenundvierzig Millionen Euro Umsatz hat die Messe in diesem Jahr gemacht.

The trade show made forty-seven million euros in gross revenue this year.

Caption 33, Agrarmesse Grüne Woche in Berlin

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Im letzten Jahr wurde ein Rekordergebnis von einundzwanzig-Komma-acht Millionen Euro Gewinn erzielt.

Last year a record result of twenty-one point eight million euros profit was achieved.

Captions 37-38, Fluglinien Niki Air

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Further Learning
On Yabla German, watch our Berufsleben series to listen to conversations taking place in an office setting.

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Classical Music Instruments in German

A few lessons ago, we discussed the Performing Arts (die darstellende Kunst), one of which is music (die Musik). Let's take a look today at the German names of some of the most common musical instruments used in classical music.


The piano is one of the main instruments in Western culture, and many musicians who specialize in other instruments and singing are often required to learn some basic piano skills. This is because of the piano's large range, from deep bass to high treble, which allows it to cover all of the ranges used by orchestral instruments. The piano is also important for musical composition, and many works for orchestra have been composed using the piano. 


In German, the piano may be called either das Klavier or das Piano, although the latter is more old-fashioned and sometimes used in jest. A person who plays the piano is called der Klavierspieler / die Klavierspielerin or der Pianist / die Pianistin. This reflects the English terms "piano player" and "pianist" respectively.


Piggeldy wollte wissen, wie man Klavier spielt.

Piggeldy wanted to know how to play the piano.

Caption 2, Piggeldy und Frederick: Das Klavier

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Er ist eigentlich klassischer Pianist.

He is actually a classical pianist.

Caption 54, Rockfabrik-Open-Air Love-Street: Interview

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The violin also has two common names in German: die Geige or die Violine. A person who plays the violin is called either der Geiger / die Geigerin or der Violinist / die Violinistin.


Die beiden Spezialisten, haben von klein auf klassischen Unterricht bekommen, das heißt, Violine und Klavier.

The two experts received classical instruction from an early age, that is, violin and piano.

Captions 26-27, Sons of Sounds Open: Air in Karlsruhe

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Star-Geiger David Garrett war für einen Kurzauftritt angereist

Star violinist David Garrett had traveled here for a brief appearance

Caption 52, rheinmain Szene: Live-Entertainment-Award in Frankfurt

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Of the remaining bowed string instruments, the viola is called die Bratsche and is played by der Bratschist / die Bratschistin. The cello, which is actually short for "violoncello," is called the same in German: das Cello. A person who plays the cello is der Cellist / die Cellistin. The double bass—also called the upright bass or acoustic bass—is the deepest of the string instruments. In German, it's called der Kontrabass and its players are called der Kontrabassist / die Kontrabassistin.


Der Mensch braucht eine Geige, ein Klavier und einen Kontrabass.

A human being needs a violin, a piano and a contrabass.

Caption 65, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Was braucht der Mensch?

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The highest of the woodwind reed instruments are the clarinet and the oboe, called die Klarinette and die Oboe respectively. The clarinet is played by der Klarinettist / die Klarinettistin and the oboe by der Oboist / die Oboistin. The deepest is the bassoon, in German das Fagott, which is played by der Fagottist / die Fagottistin


There are also several non-reed woodwind instruments such as the flute and the recorder, respectively called die Flöte and die Blockflöte in German. A flautist is der Flötist / die Flötistin, and a recorder player is der Blockflötist / die Blockflötistin.


Der Rattenfänger ging auf die Hauptstraße und zückte seine Flöte.

The Pied Piper went out onto the main street and pulled out his flute.

Caption 37, Märchen: Sagenhaft Der Rattenfänger von Hameln

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Of the brass instruments, the most commonly used are the trumpet and the French horn, respectively die Trompete and das Horn in German. The players are der Trompetist / die Trompetistin and der Hornist / die Hornistin. In the lower registers there's also the tuba, die Tuba. It's played by der Tubist / die Tubistin, or alternately der Tubaspieler / die Tubaspielerin. 


Und mit dir Trompeten, Geigen und Chöre...

And with you, trumpets, violins and choirs...

Caption 69, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott: Musik sein

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Lastly, the main percussion instruments used are the marimba (die Marimba), the snare drum (die kleine Trommel), and the timpani (die Pauke). The snare drum has a variety of names in German, but it's often informally referred to simply by its English name, die Snare. The person in the orchestra playing these instruments is called der Perkussionist / die Perkussionistin


Dann Paukenschläge auf Trommelwirbel...

Then timpani strikes over a drum roll...

Caption 71, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott Musik sein

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to musical instruments. You can also search for the names of the instruments and find other videos. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these musical instrument words, then compare what you both came up with. In an upcoming lesson, we'll talk about the different kinds of musical instruments used in pop music!

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Landscapes and Landforms

In a previous newsletter, we looked at the German words for various bodies of water. This week, we'll take a look at different landscapes and landforms found in Germany and around the world. Germany itself has a surprising number of these diverse landscapes, with forests, rolling hills, valleys and mountain ranges, rocky and sandy coasts, and even wetlands. 


Yabla has many videos about the incredible ecosystems of das Gebirge, the mountain range. You may also hear die Berge ("the mountains").


Nur wenige Menschen nehmen das beschwerliche Leben im Hochgebirge auf sich.

Only a few people take on the arduous life in the high mountains.

Caption 27, Die letzten Paradiese Schätze der Natur: Südtirol 

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Im kalten Stellisee verläuft ihre Entwicklung langsamer als im Tal.

In the cold Stellisee [a lake], their development proceeds more slowly than in the valley.

Caption 4, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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Denn wenn das Eis der Gletscher schmilzt, fließt das Wasser von den Berghöhen durch Spalten tief ins Gebirge hinein.

Because if the ice of the glaciers melts, the water will flow from the mountain heights through fissures deep into the mountains.

Captions 35-36, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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Fast die Hälfte der Landesfläche ist von Wald bedeckt.

Almost half of the state's area is covered by forest.

Caption 51, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Rheinland-Pfalz

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People may indeed think of forested mountains when they think of Germany, but there are also landscapes that we might associate more with other countries:


Einfach durch den Sumpf reiten konnten wir natürlich nicht.

We couldn't just ride through the swamp, of course.

Caption 10, Jan von München: Als ich mich einmal selbst aus dem Sumpf befreite

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In den Hügeln der grünen Insel Irland lebte einmal ein armer Kerl namens Niall O'Leary.

In the hills of the green isle of Ireland there once lived a poor fellow named Niall O'Leary.

Caption 5, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Ein Topf voll Gold

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Es sah hinaus auf die Wiese, die etwas weiter reichte, als es sehen konnte.

It looked out onto the meadow that extended somewhat farther than it could see.

Caption 45, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein

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Near the North Sea or Baltic Sea, you will find completely different landforms (including islands!) and ecosystems:


Natali und Florian zieht es zunächst an die Küste Cornwalls.

Natali and Florian proceed first to the coast of Cornwall.

Caption 28, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Die Hauptattraktion ist hier natürlich der Strand.

The main attraction here is, of course, the beach.

Caption 8, Berlin: Wannsee

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Of course, there are some landscapes that you simply won't find in Germany:


Sindbad kroch durch den Dschungel.

Sinbad crept through the jungle.

Caption 27, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Sindbad, der Seefahrer

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Die Wüste war heiß, die Berge waren hoch.

The desert was hot, the mountains were high.

Caption 5, Clueso Weil ich dich liebe

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Further Learning

There are many nature videos on Yabla German, and most of them include detailed descriptions of the landscape like in this series about the Alps. How would you describe the landscape of the country or region you are from? Try to talk about it with a tandem partner, or write down a few sentences. 

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The Literary and Performing Arts in German

A few lessons ago, we started learning about different kinds of Visual Art in German: architecture, ceramics, conceptual art, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Let's continue today with the Literary Arts (die Literatur) and the Performing Arts (die darstellende Kunst).


Literature (die Literatur) as a creative field does not usually include news journalism or technical writing, but usually includes poetry (die Dichtung or die Poesie), drama (die Dramatik or das Drama), and fictional and non-fictional prose (die Prosa). A person who creates literature is usually called an author (der Autor / die Autorin), a dramatist or playwright (der Dramatiker / die Dramatikerin), a poet (der Dichter, die Dichterin), or simply a writer (der Schriftsteller, die Schriftstellerin).


Man hat einen tollen Schauspieler gesehen, aber auch einen großen Freund der Literatur.

You have seen a great actor, but also a great friend of literature.

Captions 50-51, Rheinmain im Blick: Klaus Maria Brandauer liest Goethe

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Und ich habe gedacht, dem Autor fällt etwas Besseres ein.

And I thought the author would come up with something better.

Caption 9, Nicos Weg: Essen gehen

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The next category is the Performing Arts, which includes dance, drama, or music—all of which are performed in front of an audience.


Dance (der Tanz) as an art form, simply defined as "the art of dancing," is usually referring to contemporary dance (der zeitgenössische Tanz) and ballet (das Ballett), but may include figure skating (der Eiskunstlauf), synchronized swimming (das Synchronschwimmen or das Kunstschwimmen), and some forms of gymnastics (das Turnen or die Gymnastik). A person who designs a dance performance is called a choreographer (der Choreograf / die Choreografin).


Mit ihrem anderen Hobby, Ballett, hat sie deshalb aufgehört.

That's why she quit her other hobby, ballet.

Caption 25, Spiegel-TV-Magazin: Skaterin Lilly Stoephasius: Mit dem Skateboard nach Tokio

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Die Tänzer in den Videos brauchten bestimmt nicht so viel Zeit.

The dancers in the videos definitely didn't need that much time.

Caption 41, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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A person who performs music (die Musik) is a musician (der Musikerdie Musikerin), or named after the instrument they play. A person who writes music is called a composer (der Komponist / die Komponistin) or songwriter (der Songwriter / die Songwriterin)—alternatively der Liedermacher or die Liedermacherin.


„Beethoven, dessen Musik weltbekannt ist, war am Ende seines Lebens taub.“

"Beethoven, whose music is world famous, was deaf at the end of his life."

Caption 38, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

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Ein bekannter Komponist aus dieser Stadt hat dort gelebt.

A famous composer from this city lived there.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Ein Bürger dieser Stadt

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The last form of the performing arts is theater (das Theater). Clearly this extends beyond works performed in theaters to all forms of acting (das Schauspiel), which may also include any of the other Performing Arts of dance and music. Although theater and film production encompass hundreds of types of jobs, the main performing artist is called an actor (der Schauspieler / die Schauspielerin).


Ich werde am St. Pauli Theater arbeiten als Assistent für Kostümdesign.

I'll work at the St. Pauli Theater as an assistant for costume design.

Caption 4, Drei Leute: beim Kofferpacken

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Daniel Brühl gilt mittlerweile als einer der erfolgreichsten deutschen Schauspieler.

Daniel Brühl is now regarded as one of the most successful German actors.

Caption 9, Jahresrückblick 2013: Deutsche Promis

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to art forms and professions. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these art words, then compare what you both came up with.

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Last Week's Election

As you may know, the parliamentary election in Germany took place on Sunday, September 26th. On a national level, the SPD (Social Democratic Party) took the lead this time, whereas the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) suffered losses. The significance of this election in particular lies in the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided not to seek re-election, meaning that the SPD now will appoint the next Chancellor rather than Merkel's CDU party. 




The word for "the election" in German is die Wahl, which can also simply mean "the choice." As you can see below, die Stimme means not only "the voice" but also "the vote" in German. 


Sie zählen die Stimmen nach dem Ende der Wahl.

They count the votes after the end of the election.

Caption 4, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The related verb for die Wahl is wählen


Parlamentsmitglieder, die von den Bürgern und Bürgerinnen gewählt werden, nennt man Abgeordnete.

Members of parliament who are elected by citizens are called representatives.

Captions 38-39, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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When it is a matter not of an election, but a vote, you will likely see the noun die Abstimmung and the verb abstimmen


Unmittelbar vor der Abstimmung des Bundestages über längere Atom-Laufzeiten haben Aktivisten am Donnerstag Morgen das Dach der CDU-Zentrale in Berlin besetzt.

Just before the Bundestag's vote on longer running times of nuclear power plants on Thursday morning, activists occupied the roof of the CDU headquarters in Berlin.

Captions 2-4, Atomkraft: Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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However, at this time, we are talking about electing political parties. It's worth remembering that die Partei refers only to a political party, or for example, parties in a negotiation. It does not refer to a birthday party or retirement party. That would be die Feier or die Party.  There is actually a satirical but genuinely leftist-oriented political party whose official name is die Partei


Welche Parteien wurden in Deutschland zweitausendsieben zur Partei „Die Linke“?

Which parties became the party "Die Linke" in Germany in two thousand seven?

Caption 25, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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You can find other relevant vocabulary in a number of videos on Yabla German:


Im Jahr neunzehnhundertneunundneunzig nahmen die Regierung und das Parlament ihre Arbeit in Berlin wieder auf.

In nineteen ninety-nine, the government and parliament resumed their work in Berlin.

Captions 21-22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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In Deutschland gehören der Bundestag und der Bundesrat zur... Legislative.

In Germany, the Bundestag and the federal council belong to the... legislative.

Captions 15-16, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Wenn Abgeordnete im Deutschen Bundestag ihre Fraktion wechseln, kann die Regierung ihre Mehrheit verlieren.

If representatives in the German Bundestag change their parliamentary group, the government can lose its majority.

Captions 31-32, Bundesrepublik Deutschland Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
You can listen to Deutsche Welle's news report from the election or take a look at how the election played out in Berlin. If you are up for a challenge, try out the Wahl-o-mat, which determines the political party that your views are most aligned with. For thorough information on German politics and history, have a look at our series with questions and answers from the actual German citizenship test. 

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The Visual Arts in German

The arts are basically divided into three different categories: the Visual Arts (die bildende Kunst), Literature (die Literatur), and the Performing Arts (die darstellende Kunst). Of course, there are art forms that combine the different categories—as well as art that is very difficult to categorize at all—but let's stick to the basics!


Today we'll focus on the Visual Arts. The first type of art in this category is architecture (die Architektur). The professional title of a person who creates architecture is an architect (der Architekt / die Architektin).


Architektur ist eben die Reflexion eines Zeitgeistes.

Architecture is simply a reflection of a spirit of the times.

Caption 38, Architektur der Stadt: Karlsruhe

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Mit dem namentlichen Gedenken möchte Architektin Barbara Willecke einerseits den Ort der Synagoge wieder sichtbar machen

With memorialization by name, architect Barbara Willecke would like, on the one hand, to make the site of the synagogue visible again

Captions 65-66, Holocaust-Gedenktag: Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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The next type of art in the visual arts is ceramics (die Keramik), which is classified in German culture as an artisanal handicraft (das Kunsthandwerk). Works of art made of ceramic are also called pottery (die Töpferware). You call a person who makes ceramics a ceramicist (der Keramiker / die Keramikerin) or a potter (der Töpfer / die Töpferin).


Und das ist jetzt auch aus Keramik produziert? -Das ist aus Keramik.

And this is also produced now out of ceramic? -This is made of ceramic.

Caption 48, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

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Das hat 1936 die Keramikerin Else Bach kreiert.

That was made in 1936 by the ceramicist Else Bach.

Caption 7, Majolika Karlsruhe: Der Bambi-Filmpreis

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The next type of art in the visual arts category is drawing (das Zeichnen), and the drawing that results is called die Zeichnung. A person who creates drawings is called a drawer (der Zeichner / die Zeichnerin) or an illustrator (der Illustrator / die Illustratorin), but many people working in the visual arts also use drawings as preliminary sketches.


Warum haben Sie meine Zeichnung gefälscht?

Why did you forge my drawing?

Caption 39, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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Die Zeichner legen viel rein und du siehst es auch einfach.

The illustrators put a lot into it, and you notice that too.

Caption 54, Manga-und-Anime: Treffen in Mainz-Kastell

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Now we come to painting (die Malerei), a field practiced by painters (der Maler / die Malerin; also der Kunstmaler, die Kunstmalerin), which is probably the traditional art form that most people think of when they think about art. The work resulting from an artist in this field is a painting (das Gemälde).


Die Malerei macht glücklich und beruhigt die Seele.

Painting makes me happy and soothes my soul.

Caption 41, Malerei: Ernst Mente

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So kamen auch zwei Kunstwerke des italienischen Malers Gennaro Greco ins Haus.

By this means, two artworks by the Italian painter Gennaro Greco also came into the house.

Caption 12, Restituierung von Raubkunst: aus der Nazi-Zeit

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Next comes photography (die Fotografie), practiced by photographers (der Fotograf / die Fotografin), which has many aspects that are not generally considered fine art, such as photojournalism for the news and commercial photography for advertising. The picture taken by a photographer is called a photograph (das Foto, or less commonly, das Lichtbild). The German word for "photographer," der Fotograf, sounds very similar to the English word "photograph," so beware of this false friend! Note too that with most of the German words above, it is acceptable German spelling to substitute most instances of "f" with "ph": die Photographie, der Photograph, and die Photographin. The tricky word Foto, however, may not be written with "ph"!


Wann hast du angefangen, dich für die Fotografie zu interessieren?

When did you start to get interested in photography?

Caption 5, Der Fotograf: Sven Siegrist

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Was ist denn da genau als Fotograf zu beachten?

What exactly is there to consider as a photographer?

Caption 41, Der Fotograf: Sven Siegrist

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The last form of visual arts is conceptual art (die Konzeptkunst), which may be defined as any contemporary art that does not use only the traditional visual art skills of painting or sculpture and so forth. A person who practices this art form is a conceptual artist (der Konzeptkünstler / die Konzeptkünstlerin). Since conceptual art may take the form of an installation, or a form that is not easily sold (in the way an object like a painting or sculpture can be sold), most conceptual artists live from art grants and other forms of financial support.


... hier bei der Eröffnung der aktuellen Ausstellung zur Konzeptkunst

... here at the opening of the current exhibition about conceptual art

Caption 8, Museum für Moderne Kunst

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch the videos above relating to art forms and professions. Find a tandem partner in your class and make up some sentences in German using these art words, then compare what you both came up with.

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