German Lessons


Thick as a Brick

The German adjective and adverb dicht sounds a lot like the English word "thick," and while there are cases where it can be translated as "thick," it's the exception rather than the rule. Let's take a look today at the different ways that dicht can be translated in formal and informal contexts.


Dicht is often translated into English as "dense" or "densely," or in the case of dichter, "denser":


Er sollte dehnbar sein, und je dichter, desto besser.

It should be stretchy, and the denser, the better.

Caption 79, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Die Kaimauer des Südhafens ist dicht mit Seescheiden besiedelt.

The quay wall of the south harbor is densely populated with sea squirts.

Caption 13, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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It's also common to see dicht translated as the adjective "close" or the adverb "closely":


Die kommen ganz dicht dran. Sie beachtet die Leute überhaupt nicht, die Besucher.

They come very close. She doesn't pay attention to the people, the visitors at all.

Caption 41, Für Tierfreunde: Geparden

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Darin warten etwa 3.600 kleine Zähne, die in mehr als 300 dicht zusammenstehenden Reihen angeordnet sind.
Inside await roughly 3600 little teeth that are arranged in more than 300 closely set rows.
Captions 66-67, Evolution: Meeresbewohner


In slang usage, dicht machen can mean "to close": 


Komm, wir machen hier dicht.

Come on, let's close up here.

Caption 15, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Frau Korff kann dicht machen, ich verliere meinen Job,

Ms. Korff will have to close the business, I'll lose my job,

Caption 2, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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A rather unexpected formal usage of dicht conveys that something is sealed, in the sense of "not leaking": 


Das Boot ist dicht.
The boat is sealed.


Das Fass hält nicht mehr dicht.
The barrel is no longer sealed.


Probably related to dicht halten as “to keep sealed,” dichthalten is a slang way of referring to keeping a secret, in a similar sense to "my lips are sealed":


Bitte halte dicht, psst...

Please keep it a secret, shhh...

Caption 7, JoNaLu Wo ist Rosalie?

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When you rather rudely call somebody "thick" in English, you're saying that they are slightly crazy or stupid. But in German slang, you'd say nicht ganz dicht, the suggestion being that thoughts are "leaking" out of someone's head:


Johannes ist nicht ganz dicht.
Johannes is a crazy.


Last but not least, dicht may be formally translated in certain contexts as "thick": 


Das Wetter heute: Vormittags dichter Nebel, nachmittags sonnig.
Today's weather: morning thick fog, afternoon sunny.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for dicht to see the many different ways it is used in a variety of real-world contexts. 

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Talking About the Climate Crisis, Part I

If you ever watch or listen to news reports in German, whether it be on Yabla or a complementary resource such as Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten, you will encounter a whole set of vocabulary for talking about the climate crisis. In this lesson, we'll look at some words that describe some of the threats our planet is facing.


Um etwas gegen die Klimaerwärmung zu tun, müssen wir in Deutschland aus der Braunkohle aussteigen.

In order to do something against global warming, we have to phase out brown coal in Germany.

Caption 36, WWF Deutschland Klimawandel hautnah - Was sind die Auswirkungen?

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Wir starten immer mit einem Modul zum Klimawandel.

We always start with a module on climate change.

Caption 21, Schüler lernen Nachhaltigkeit Bildungsinitiative gestartet

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When we talk about the impact humans have on the environment, the greenhouse effect and greenhouse gases are often mentioned:


Ein Passagierflugzeug, das von New York nach Kalifornien und zurück fliegt, stößt eine Menge Treibhausgase aus, ungefähr so viel wie ein Auto in einem ganzen Jahr.

A passenger plane that flies from New York to California and back emits a lot of greenhouse gases: about as much as a car in a whole year.

Captions 28-30, Die Welt in der Zukunft: Flugzeuge im Jahr 2050

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Bei dem Song, der „Mutter Erde“ heißt, versuchen wir halt auch, das Thema Umweltschutz irgendwie. zu vermitteln... wie der Treibhauseffekt zum Beispiel geschieht.

With the song, which is called "Mother Earth," we also try to somehow impart the theme of environment protection... how the greenhouse effect happens, for example

Captions 57-59, Rapucation: Lernen durch Rapmusik

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Awareness and regulations related to CO2 have been on the rise in an attempt to improve a very dire situation. "Carbon dioxide" is das Kohlendioxid in German, but, like in English, the chemical formula is used quite often:


Die Anreise mit Flugzeug oder Auto sorgt für eine schlechte CO2-Bilanz.

Traveling by plane or car creates an unfavorable carbon footprint.

Caption 3, WissensWerte: Tourismus und Nachhaltigkeit

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Punkt für die Bahn mit grade mal zweiundzwanzig Komma fünf Kilogramm an CO2-Ausstoß pro Person.

Point for the train with just twenty-two point five kilograms of CO2 emissions per person.

Captions 62-63, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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Und ein federführendes Projekt ist die CO2-zwei-neutrale Landesverwaltung, die beispielhaft in Deutschland ist.

And a leading project is the CO2-neutral state government that is exemplary in Germany.

Captions 42-43, Rheinmain im Blick: Nachhaltigkeit

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Further Learning
We will be back with more words related to climate change and how individuals can do their part. In the meantime, you can go to Yabla German and select the category "Environment" or "News" to hear a German perspective on current issues and learn more about people and organizations dedicated to protecting the environment and fighting climate change.

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Relationship Status

You may remember our previous lesson on nouns for describing romantic relationships. With a nod to Valentine's Day approaching, let's look at how adjectives and phrases are used to describe relationship status and experiences related to love. 

First, where it all begins: You may already know the adjective verliebt. Der Liebeskummer can mean either "heartache," or describe the stress and grief that occurs during fights in a relationship. 


Sag mal, bist du krank... oder verliebt?

Tell me, are you sick... or in love?

Caption 37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Krank vor Liebeskummer irrte der Prinz viele Monate lang umher.

Sick from heartache, the Prince wandered about for many months.

Caption 77, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Rapunzel

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As for relationship status, let's start with the word ledig, which means "single" or "unmarried." This is the proper word that is, for example, used in documents for someone who is not married. Therefore, someone who is in einer Beziehung ("in a relationship") or in Partnerschaft lebend ("living in a domestic partnership") might also check ledig on a form. To describe someone who is not in a romantic relationship, the English word "single" has been adopted by younger Germans and appears on most advertisements for dating apps.


Ich bin sechsunddreißig Jahre alt und ledig.

I am thirty-six years old and single.

Caption 32, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Wir waren sehr lange verlobt.

We were engaged for a very long time.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Mein Traumpartner

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Ich bin glücklich verheiratet

I'm happily married

Caption 55, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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When a relationship comes to an end, we speak of die Trennung ("the separation" or "the break-up") and use the verb sich trennen or the adjective getrennt.


Mein Mann und ich leben seit einem Jahr getrennt.

My husband and I have been living separately for a year.

Caption 60, Großstadtrevier: Alle für einen

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Ist das eigentlich OK für dich mit Alisa, dass ihr getrennt seid?

Is that really OK for you with Alisa, that you are separated?

Caption 18, Die Pfefferkörner Gerüchteküche - Part 5

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Ich glaub, er hat gesagt, er ist geschieden.

I think he said he was divorced.

Caption 26, Nicos Weg A2 Folge 39: Mein Traumpartner

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Of course, "hope springs eternal"...


Viele von ihnen sind bestimmt frisch verliebt.

Many of them are surely newly in love.

Caption 63, Konjugation: Das Verb „sein“

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Further Learning
There are a number of films and series about love and relationships on Yabla German — just search under the "Drama" category or by series. You can also read our lessons on Valentine's Day in Germany and talking about love in German.

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All about bestellen

Many of us are living in countries with shopping restrictions due to health measures taken during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning we may need to shop for many things we need on the internet. The word bestellen, most commonly translated in this context as "to order," has thus become an especially important term this year.


Diesen Film können Sie als DVD unter folgender Adresse im Internet bestellen.

You can order this film on DVD at the following web address.

Caption 18, Bibliothek der Sachgeschichten^. Müllmännerlied

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We also use bestellen when ordering food in a restaurant, although these days that usually means ordering food for takeaway: 


Die Tochter hat Pizza bestellt...

My daughter ordered pizza...

Caption 82, Weihnachtsinterviews: Cettina in Linkenheim

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Möchten Sie denn schon was zu trinken bestellen?

Would you like to order something to drink now?

Caption 10, Abendessen: mit Marko

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Although bestellen is most commonly used to mean "to order" something, there are also a number of other contexts where the verb is used that require a different translation altogether. Quite differently from the English "to order," where something will be coming to you, the German bestellen can also be used to send out greetings (Grüße bestellen) or to ask someone to say thank-you for you: 


Bestellt dem Marquis meinen herzlichsten Dank!

Send the Marquis my most heartfelt thanks!

Caption 41, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der gestiefelte Kater

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Bestellen Sie dem Feldmarschall von Kluge, ich danke für das in mich gesetzte Vertrauen.

Tell Field Marshall von Kluge I thank him for the trust he places in me.

Captions 55-56, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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In the context of biology, you can use bestellen with the preposition um to describe the condition of a species: 


Um die seltene Marmorata-Forelle ist es schlechter bestellt...

Regarding the rare marble trout, it looks worse...

Captions 29-31, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten 

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Jetzt interessiert mich das aber doch, wie's um den Bestand bestellt ist.

Now, however, I'm interested indeed in how the population is doing.

Caption 5, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Further Learning
Take a look at all of the meanings of bestellen on the Duden website and search for bestellt and bestellen on Yabla German to see other ways the word is used in different contexts.

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The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen 

In this week's edition, we'll examine these easily confused words: The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen. 


The verb kündigen refers to terminating an agreement or contract. When it comes to employment, it can describe action taken by either the employer or employee to end a professional relationship. Kündigen is also used when cancelling an account or contract (for example, a cell phone contract, a magazine subscription, or a fitness studio membership). Therefore, it can be translated as "to cancel," "to terminate," "to give notice," "to quit," "to resign," "to fire," or "to dismiss," depending on who is carrying out the action and for what purpose. 




Ich träume davon, meinen Job im Büro zu kündigen.

I dream of giving notice on my job in the office.

Caption 44, Konjugation Das Verb „brauchen“

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Schöller hat uns beiden gekündigt.

Schöller has fired both of us.

Caption 45, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall

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Sie haben ihm hoffentlich nicht erzählt, dass Sie Ihre Lebensversicherung gekündigt haben.

I hope you didn't tell him you cancelled your life insurance.

Caption 53, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist: Der Panther

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The verb ankündigen has the essentially unrelated meaning of "to announce." You will notice below that it is a separable verb. 


Eines Tages kündigte der Zauberer an, dass er ausgehen würde.

One day, the Sorcerer announced that he would be going out.

Caption 21, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

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Ja, Ihr Anruf wurde bereits angekündigt.

Yes, your call has already been announced.

Caption 29, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Auf der Suche nach Beweisen

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The verb sich erkundigen means "to inquire," "to find out," or "to look into." Note that this is a reflexive verb, and there is no umlaut!


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren und wollte mich erkundigen, ob das möglich wäre.

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons, and wanted to find out whether that would be possible.

Captions 10-11, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Ich habe mich erkundigt. Sie darf nicht in unseren Taschen kramen.

I looked into it. She's not allowed to dig around in our bags.

Caption 14, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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The verb erkunden can be translated as "to discover" or "to explore."


Man kann also einfach reinspringen und die Höhlen beim Tauchen erkunden.

You can, therefore, simply jump in and explore the caves while diving.

Caption 46, Der Blautopf: Ein sagenumwobener See

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Dann lass uns gemeinsam die Yabla-Spiele erkunden.

Then let's discover the Yabla games together.

Caption 36, German Intro Cettina

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Further Learning
Write out sentences using these verbs in both the present and past tense. If you need guidance, search for them on Yabla German.

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New Year's Cleaning

Berliners have traditionally taken New Year's celebrations very seriously, so much so that in the past, I usually did my best to be away from Berlin on Silvesterabend. I remember one year in the early 2010s, I was walking to a friend's party a few streets away in Berlin-Kreuzberg and had three bottle rockets shot at me from apartment windows, narrowly missing my face before exploding. After that, I decided to never stay in Berlin again on New Year's. This year, of course, it would be socially irresponsible to travel in the midst of a Corona lockdown, so I am staying in Berlin.


Until just a few years ago when the City of Berlin began doing more timely street cleaning, the first weeks of the new year found the sidewalks, bike paths, and street gutters strewn with broken bottle glass and soggy, smelly fireworks remnants. If there had been any snow or ice, this trash would sometimes remain clogging the sidewalks with debris until the snow had melted, as late as March. Luckily, after numerous citizen complaints, Berlin began cleaning the New Year's street debris within a week or two of the celebrations. Berlin may be terrible at building airports, but at least the city has proven itself capable of timely street cleaning!


So New Year's is not just a time to "cleanse" our lifestyle with resolutions—most of which we probably don't keep anyway—it is also a good time to clean up our own clutter in our house, basement, or storage unit. Let's take a look today at some German verbs that mean "to clean."


Kuck mal, wie das hier aussieht! Wir müssen aufräumen.

Look at the state of this place! We have to clean up.

Captions 21-23, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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The separable verb aufräumen (in British English "to tidy up") is a good word to use when you are generally cleaning up.


Ich muss die Küche aufräumen, den Abwasch machen, das Bad putzen, Staub saugen und Staub wischen.

I have to clean up the kitchen, do the dishes, clean the bathroom, vacuum and dust.

Captions 5-6, Hausputz: mit Eva

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Here aufräumen appears again, but what is the difference between that and putzen? As a rule, you can use putzen for cleaning your house or an item in your house such as your refrigerator or stove. But if you use aufräumen in the context of a refrigerator or stove, it would suggest that you were clearing out the fridge or clearing off some pans from the stove rather than properly cleaning them. So for proper cleaning rather than just "picking up" or "tidying up," putzen is the better word choice. 


Doing the dishes may be den Abwasch machen, as in the above example, but you can also say das Geschirr spülen or das Geschirr abwaschen. As for vacuuming (or "hoovering" in British English) with der Staubsauger, you may write that as the noun and verb Staub saugen or the nonseparable verb staubsaugen.


Wir reinigen hier mindestens zweimal am Tag komplett durch, und wir reinigen auch die ganzen Ställe und Zwinger, nachdem sie benutzt worden sind.

We clean through here, completely, at least twice a day and we also clean all of the stalls and cages after they have been used.

Captions 29-30, Frankfurter Flughafen: Animal Lounge

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The German adjective rein, which means "pure," is suggested in the verb reinigen, and thus reinigen has specific contexts too: 


Dadurch sollen die Steine helfen, die Luft zu reinigen.

Thus, these stones should help to purify the air.

Caption 15, Schadstoffarme Straßen Neue Gehwegplatten für reinere Luft

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The verb reinigen also means to give something a thorough cleaning. How and what is being cleaned determines which verb to use. It would not really work, for example, to use aufräumen in this context!


Further Learning
Read the Yabla German lesson Around the House and watch the Yabla video Hausputz with Eva to learn more about German cleaning words in different contexts. 

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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 - A1 Folge 39: 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,

Ms. Hoffmann, I'm very sorry to hear

dass es Ihren Kindern nicht gut ging.

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,

If you say something through the flower, then it means

dass man sein Gegenüber nicht beleidigen möchte.

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

Yes, yes! Although I still regret that

er damals nicht zu mir in die Firma gekommen ist.

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

All that was before

wischst du einfach weg

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

I had it on before, for example during the parade

oder als wir noch 'nen Auftritt hatten.

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,

I can ice-skate a little bit,

aber ansonsten bin ich auch da eher Zuschauer

but otherwise I'm also more likely the viewer

vorm Fernseher ...

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 56, Bürger Lars Dietrich - Schlecht Englisch kann ich gut

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Hier werden sie Tieren begegnen,

Here they will encounter animals

die sonst nirgendwo in der Deutschen Bucht leben.

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,

May I explain it to you quickly

bevor Sie Ihre Platten essen?

before you eat your platters?

Caption 62, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Drei Wochen lang betteln hier die Jungen,

For three weeks, the young beg here

bevor sie sich selber in die Fluten stürzen.

before they dive into the waters themselves.

Caption 23, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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Aber bevor du jetzt schneidest,

But before you start cutting,

check erst mal, ob der Stoff passt.

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,

Should he take the pills in the morning,

mittags und abends vor oder nach dem Essen nehmen?

at noon, and in the evening—and before or after eating?

Caption 17, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 72: 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 in Germany 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

And then it came out of the storm drain again,

und noch viel größer und noch viel böser als vorher.

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

Day after day,

steigt die Zahl der Neuinfektionen sprunghaft.

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:

The science tells us clearly that

Die Ausbreitung des Virus hängt direkt an der Zahl der Kontakte,

the spread of the virus depends directly on the number of contacts,

der Begegnungen, die jeder von uns hat.

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,

Most of it is already accomplished simply by

dass jede und jeder Einzelne

each and every individual

konsequent den Mindestabstand wahr.

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

For this, the personal contacts

jedes infizierten Menschen benachrichtigt werden,

of each infected person must be notified

um die Ansteckungsketten zu unterbrechen.

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,

I ask you:

verzichten Sie auf jede Reise,

Refrain from any trip

die nicht wirklich zwingend notwendig ist.

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,

I know this not only sounds hard,

das ist im Einzelfall auch ein schwerer Verzicht.

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.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange.

Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin - Pronomen

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OK, jetzt gebe ich euch andere Verben,

OK, now I'll give you other verbs

die in diese Kategorie fallen, ja?

that fall into this category, yes?

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

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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 fallenfallen 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

We hope you enjoyed this video

und ihr hattet Spaß beim Zuschauen.

and had fun watching.

Gebt uns doch einen Daumen nach oben, wenn's euch gefallen hat.

Give us a thumbs up if you liked it.

Captions 75-76, Playmobil - Skispringen mit Familie Hauser

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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

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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,

"One hand washes the other" means

dass Hilfsbereitschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit beruht.

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,

And when the moon finally revealed itself,

glänzten die weißen Kieselsteine, die Hänsel hatte fallen lassen,

the white pebbles that Hansel had let fall gleamed

wie Silber.

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:

Apart from that, in the zoo the spring slogan still applies:

einfach mal hängen lassen!

at times simply just let it all hang out!

Caption 48, Rheinmain im Blick - Frühling im Zoo

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Diese Knochen macht dem Greifvogel kein Futterrivale streitig,

No rival will fight the bird of prey for these bones,

deshalb kann er sie ruhig liegen lassen.

so it can leave them well alone.

Captions 46-47, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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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 und ihre Rezepte - 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

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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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