German Lessons


Words with Mut and mutig

You may know one or both of the words in the title above: der Mut means "the courage" and mutig means "courageous" or "brave." However, there are many nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that contain these words as roots, some of which have nothing to do with courage. Let's have a look.

As you can see, nouns ending in -mut may refer to a mood, emotional state, or feeling:


Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall.

Pride comes before the fall. 

Caption 24, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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Was bei vielen Autofahrern für Freude sorgt, stiftet Unmut bei den Grünen.

What causes happiness among many drivers, causes discontent among the Greens [Green Party].

Caption 19, Deutsche Autobahnen: Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen

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Die Queen residierte hier bereits und Michael Jackson hielt im Übermut sein Baby aus einem Hotelfenster.

The Queen resided here already and Michael Jackson held his baby boisterously out of a hotel window.

Captions 24-25, Berlin: Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

Play Caption spektakulärer Anmut auf die Wasseroberfläche zu klatschen. smack against the surface of the water with spectacular grace.

Caption 8, Evolution: Meeresbewohner

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Notice above that der Hochmut, der Übermut, and der Unmut are masculine, while die Anmut is feminine. You can also look up der Wagemut, der Missmutdie Sanftmut, and die Schwermut. For der Demut, you may more often see the related adjective (note the umlaut!):


Es war jedenfalls demütigend genug.

In any case, it was humiliating enough.

Caption 20, Lerchenberg: Das Wunder

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It's additionally good to know the adjectives ermutigend and entmutigend. These respectively mean "encouraging" and "discouraging."

When it comes to verbs, you may have seen zumuten, vermuten, and anmuten. These verbs each have a number of possible meanings.


Man vermutet, hier ist irgendwas in der Lüftung vom Willy-Brandt-Haus.

One suspects there is something in the ventilation here in the Willy-Brandt-Haus.

Caption 75, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Traditionen sind was Schönes und können für Nichteingeweihte mitunter ganz schön skurril anmuten.

Traditions are something nice and can occasionally appear quite bizarre to the outsider.

Captions 1-2, Barfuß unter Schafen: Schäferwettrennen

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Petrus muss Dortmund-Fan sein, anders ist kaum zu erklären, was der Himmel dem FC Bayern und seinen Fans zugemutet hat.

Saint Peter must be a Dortmund fan, there's almost no other explanation for what the heavens had in store for FC Bayern and its fans.

Captions 1-2, FC Bayern München: Triple-Feier im Dauerregen

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Further Learning
Look up these words using your favorite online dictionary or on Yabla German to understand the full extent of their meanings. Keep in mind that there are other nouns ending in -mut that are unrelated to emotional states, such as das Mammut or der Wermut.

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Insects in German, Part II

Let's continue on from the first lesson about different insect names in German, starting with the sometimes rather annoying fly: 


In dem Moment ist mir eine Fliege ins Ohr geflogen.

At that moment, a fly flew into my ear.

Caption 57, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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There are also a number of German idioms and slang usages that use the noun die Fliege:


Damit schlägt sie zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe.

With that she hits two flies with one swatter.

Caption 7, Christina Stürmer: ist reif fürs Museum

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Hau ab! Mach die Fliege, sonst gibt's Ärger.

Get lost! Do the fly, or there'll be trouble.

Caption 39, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The two translations above are literal, of course. Zwei fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen has the English equivalent "to kill two birds with one stone." And die Fliege machen means to get away quickly, just as flies do. The common housefly is called die Stubenfliege, by the way.


Another potentially annoying insect is die Motte:


Kleine braune Motten mit scharfen Zähnen flogen aus der Büchse.

Little brown moths with sharp teeth flew out of the box.

Caption 54, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Büchse der Pandora

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Die Motten flogen aus dem Fenster und stachen jeden, der ihnen in die Quere kam.

The moths flew out the window and stung everyone who crossed their path.

Captions 63-64, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Büchse der Pandora

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Fliegen Motten in das Licht, genau wie du und ich.

Moths fly into the light, just like you and I.

Caption 2, Nena: Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann

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Even though they're technically arachnids, not insects, let's include die Spinne


Alligatoren, Schlangen, Spinnen, Skorpione.

Alligators, snakes, spiders, scorpions.

Caption 3, Summer Cheergirl: Fotoshooting mit lebendigen Spinnen

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And then there are the amazing traps that spiders lay and live upon:


Das sieht aus wie ein Spinnennetz.

That looks like a spider web.

Caption 55, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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As well as an idiomatic expression that means "how horrible":


Aber einem Menschen seine Krankheit vorzuwerfen: Pfui Spinne!

But criticizing a person for his illness: ugh, spider!

Caption 54, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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And here's another idiomatic expression using die Laus (plural: die Läuse), which is asking here if you are upset about something:


Ist Ihnen schon wieder eine Laus über die Leber gelaufen?

Did a louse walk over your liver again?

Caption 13, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Der echte Weihnachtsmann

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Further Learning
See if you can guess the meanings of the following German insect words, and then make them plural in German and check if you were correct: die Mücke (or die Stechmücke); die Kakerlake; die Libelle; and lastly an easy one: der Grashüpfer. Then go to German Yabla and watch some other videos about insects.

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Verbs with holen

The verb holen itself most often means "to get" in the sense of "to retrieve" rather than "to receive." As you see below, there are also other uses:


Hast du die Butter für mich geholt?

Did you get the butter for me?

Caption 36, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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An die Wasseroberfläche kommen sie nur, um Luft zu holen.

They only come to the water's surface to draw breath.

Caption 17, Evolution: Meeresbewohner

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However, holen is also the root of many other verbs, some of which are separable and some of which are inseparable. Let's take a look at those that are most commonly used: 


Non-separable verbs: (sich) erholen ("to recover," "to rest"), überholen ("to overtake," "to pass"), wiederholen ("to repeat")


Heute haben sich die weltweiten Bestände der Buckelwale weitestgehend erholt.

Today, the global populations of humpback whales have largely recovered.

Caption 50, Evolution: Meeresbewohner

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Ihr seid erst gleich schnell gefahren, aber dann hat es dich überholt?

You first drove at the same speed, but then it passed you?

Captions 17-18, Konjugation: Das Verb „fahren“

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Kannst du das bitte noch einmal wiederholen?

Can you please repeat that once again?

Caption 19, Nicos Weg: Mengen und Preise

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Separable verbs: abholen ("to pick up"), nachholen ("to make up"), einholen ("to catch up to")


Vielleicht ist es besser, wenn wir sie am Bahnhof abholen?

Maybe it's better if we pick her up at the train station?

Caption 49, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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Ein Mann möchte mit dreißig Jahren in Deutschland sein Abitur nachholen.

A man wants to make up his high school diploma in Germany at the age of thirty.

Caption 34, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Ich hab gedacht, ich hab sie abgehängt Aber sie holt mich immer wieder ein.

I thought I'd left it behind But it keeps catching up with me.

Captions 1-2, AnnenMayKantereit: Ozean

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Further Learning
Look up the additional verbs aufholenausholen, rausholenzurückholen, and dazuholen using a dictionary, then search for examples on Yabla German.

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Insects in German, Part I

Now that all the insects have come out to enjoy the nice summer weather, it seems like a good time to talk about different kinds of bug names in German. Most insect names in German are feminine with the definite article die in the nominative case, end in -e, and are made plural by adding an -n to the end of the word. This being German, there are some exceptions, of course, so keep your eyes open for those!


Katzen sind meistens faul, Ameisen am liebsten fleißig.

Cats are mostly lazy, ants prefer to be diligent.

Captions 38-39, Deutsch mit Eylin: Adjektive und ihre Gegenteile

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An ant (singular die Ameise) is also a German slang word for a forklift, as you can see in this video.That makes sense if you think about how ants are able to carry objects much larger and heavier than they are, just like a forklift can.


Bienen, Wespen und Hummeln verschwinden.

Bees, wasps, and bumblebees are disappearing.

Caption 2, Umwelt und Natur: Wo sind all die Bienen hin?

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Bees (singular die Biene, plural die Bienen), wasps (singular die Wespe, plural die Wespen), and bumblebees (singular die Hummel, plural die Hummeln) may buzz in English, but in German, Biene, Wespe und Hummeln summen


Wie lautet der Name Ihres ersten Autos? -VW Käfer.

What is the model of your first car? -VW Beetle

Captions 27-28, Kein Kredit: im Land der Klone 

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The old Volkswagen Beetle (or Bug) was also called der Käfer (plural die Käfer) in Germany. Of course, Käfer also refers the insect "beetle" in German. The ladybug—in British English called the ladybird—is called der Marienkäfer in German. It seems funny that ladybugs are called beetles in German, because even though ladybugs are indeed beetles, they always seemed very nice compared to big black beetles or other kinds of beetles with big pincers! 


Das Wort „Tausendfüßler“ kommt aus dem Lateinischen und bedeutet „tausend Füße“, aber die meisten Beine, die jemals bei einem Tausendfüßler gefunden wurden, waren 750.
The word "millipede" comes from the Latin and means "thousand feet," but the most legs ever found on a millipede was 750.


Das Wort „Hundertfüßler“ kommt aus dem Lateinischen und bedeutet „hundert Füße“, und obwohl er Hunderte von Beinen haben kann, ist die genaue Anzahl immer eine ungerade Zahl.
The word "centipede" comes from the Latin and means "hundred feet," and though it can have hundreds of legs, the exact number is always an odd number.


Note that der Hundertfüßler and der Tausendfüßler are common names for these insects, but the technical term for them has no L in the word: der Hundertfüßer and der Tausendfüßer. Either way, they’re pretty creepy!


Further Learning
Look for more examples of die Ameise, die Biene, der Käfer, and der Schmetterling on German Yabla to see the words used in different contexts. You can also watch the video Umwelt und Natur: Wo sind all die Bienen hin? and learn more about bees and the environment! 

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Easily Confused Words

Words that look and sound similar can be difficult when learning a new language, especially if they also have a similar meaning! Today we'll offer some clarification using examples found on Yabla German


1. die Macke = the defect, der Mangel = the deficiency, the lack
What makes these two especially confusing is that the adjective mangelhaft means "defective," and like die Macke can be used, for example, to describe a broken product. Note below that the noun der Mangel, which refers instead to a lack of something, is used with the preposition an.


...oder die Platte eine Macke oder so? Ich meine, das war ja sehr alt, das Zeug,

...or the record has a defect or something? I mean, it was indeed very old, that thing,

Caption 68, RT Radiotonteam: Erinnerungen retten

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...insofern haben die ernstlich nie ernsthaften Mangel an Nahrung this extent, they never seriously have a dire lack of nourishment

Caption 27, Freilebende Papageien: Überwintern in Wiesbaden

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2. die Löcher = the holes / die Lücke = the gap
This can be a bit tricky, but die Lücke describes a gap in one's teeth or a gap between the platform and the train, whereas das Loch, and therefore die Löcher, is a hole that you dig, drill, or cut out. 


Dann zeichnest du zwei Löcher ein, schneidest die aus...

Then you draw two holes, cut them out...

Caption 113, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Und mit jedem Baum schließt du eine Lücke, die bereits in den Regenwald gerissen wurde.

And with every tree you're closing a hole that's already been torn in the rain forest.

Caption 52, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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3. übrig = left over, remaining / üblich = common, usual, typical
The adjectives übrig and üblich have quite different meanings, but still can be a bit difficult to keep straight. 


Ich hab die jetzt einfach gemischt, weil ich von den beiden übrig hatte.

I've now simply mixed them, because I had some of both left over.

Caption 18, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Oh nee, wenn der so weitermacht, haben wir bald gar nichts mehr übrig für den Flohmarkt!

Oh no, if he keeps this up, we'll soon have nothing left for the flea market at all!

Captions 83-84, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Heute ist dies allerdings nicht mehr üblich.

Today, however, this is no longer common.

Caption 43, Jenny zeigt uns: die Uhr

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Sie liefen wie üblich und es war auch das übliche norddeutsche Wetter.

They walked as usual and it was also the usual North German weather.

Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Wanderdüne

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In case you are wondering about the word übel, we have a whole other newsletter you can look at!


Further Learning
You can find more examples of these words used by native speakers on German Yabla, or make your own sentence with each one.

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raten or beraten?

The German verbs raten and beraten can both mean "to advise," or "to give advice," but to correctly choose the right word, you need to learn the different ways they are used. Let's take a look at some different ways that raten and beraten are used in the sense of advising, so we can better understand which verb is appropriate to specific situations. Note that raten can also mean "to guess," and beraten can also mean "to discuss," but these are not definitions we're concerned with here.


The verb raten, in its meaning "to advise" or "to recommend," generally has a direct object stating what that advice is: 


Und ich kann unseren britischen Freunden nur raten, sich hier auch nichts vorzumachen.

And I can only advise our British friends not to have any misconceptions.

Caption 15, Brexit-Votum: Merkel warnt vor Spaltung Europas

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Alle meine Freunde raten Dich mir aus dem Kopf zu schlagen.

All of my friends advise me To put you out of my mind.

Captions 23-24, SDP feat. Adel Tawil. Ich will nur, dass du weißt

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Experten raten im Gegensatz zum Gesetzgeber zu mindestens vier Millimeter.

In contrast to legislators, experts advise at least four millimeters.

Caption 25, Winterreifen: Wenn der erste Schnee naht

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Note that with the verb raten, if the person who is being given the advice is stated, it is always in the dative case. The advice itself thus stated as the direct object, and the person to whom it is directed is the indirect object. 


The verb beraten, on the other hand, has the person being advised as the direct object in the accusative case, and generally the actual advice is not mentioned in the same sentence. Note too that beraten can often be alternately translated as "to receive advice" (to be advised by) or "to give advice" (to advise).


Ein Bankkaufmann muss Kunden beraten.

A banker has to advise clients.

Caption 10, Nicos Weg: Mein Beruf

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Alternately: A banker has to give advice to clients.


Der Apotheker oder die Apothekerinnen beraten die Kunden.

The pharmacist or the pharmacists advise the customers.

Caption 21, Eva erklärt: Gesundheit

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Alternately: The pharmacist or the pharmacists give advice to the customers.


Suchen Sie dann den nächsten Schalter Ihrer Fluggesellschaft auf und lassen sich vor Ort beraten.

Search then for the nearest ticket counter of your airline and let them advise you on the spot.

Captions 7-8, Flugreisen Was mache ich, wenn...

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Alternately: ...let them give you advice on the spot. Note that the form in this case is sich beraten lassen.


To conclude, you should use raten if you want to specifically advise something, but you should use sich beraten lassen if you are suggesting somebody gets advice, and jemanden beraten if you are suggesting somebody gives advice


Ich rate dir den Arzt zu besuchen.
I advise you to visit the doctor.


Ich rate dir dich vom Arzt beraten zu lassen
I advise you to get advice from your doctor. 


Der Arzt hat mich beraten.
The doctor advised me.
Or: The doctor gave me advice.


We could even translate the next-to-last sentence as "I advise you to be advised by your doctor," but it's a bit clumsy, isn't it?


Further Learning
Go to German Yabla and find other examples of raten and beraten to see them used in a real world context. You can also compare raten and beraten to the similarly-used verb empfehlen.

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The Verb lösen and its Prefix Versions

Even without a prefix, the verb lösen has quite a few different meanings. Compare the following sentences:


Schon geringste Bewegungen lösen Sediment von den Decken.

Even the slightest movements loosen sediment from the ceilings.

Caption 18, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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Ich bin froh, dass die beiden einen Weg gefunden haben, ihre Probleme zu lösen.

I'm glad they found a way to solve their problems.

Caption 54, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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...sodass ich mich von allem anderen lösen kann. that I can free myself from everything else.

Caption 48, Sons of Sounds: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

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Also, wir lösen die Bremse, geben Gas, der Schubpropeller schiebt uns.

So, we release the brake, give it gas, the thrust propeller pushes us.

Caption 44, Ultraleicht-Flieger: Der Gyrocopter

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Now let's take a look at the various prefix versions, starting with auslösen, which can mean "to trigger," "to spark," or "to provoke."


Eine wenig schmeichelhafte Stern-Titelstory über Bushido löste Debatten über kriminelle Clans aus.

A hardly flattering Stern cover story about Bushido sparked debates about criminal clans.

Captions 17-18, Jahresrückblick 2013: Deutsche Promis

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Wir haben die erste Stufe bereits ausgelöst.

We have already initiated the first level.

Caption 44, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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The verb auflösen, on the other hand, can mean "to dissolve," "to dissipate," "to disappear," or "to disperse."


Die muss aufgelöst werden im bisschen lauwarmen Wasser.

It has to be dissolved in a bit of lukewarm water.

Caption 16, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Matteo kann sich auch nich' in Luft auflösen.

Matteo can't just disappear into thin air.

Caption 14, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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The verb ablösen can mean "to detach," but also "to relieve," as in taking over from someone when doing shift work. In the following sentence, however, this is actually better translated as "we took turns."


Hier für das Wallnau-Projekt haben wir uns immer abgelöst mit'm Filmen.

For the Wallnau project here, we always took turns filming.

Caption 26, Die Insel Fehmarn: Wasservogelreservat Wallnau

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Lastly, the non-separable verb erlösen means "to release," "to redeem," or "to free."


Und dann kamst du und hast mich erlöst, mein Engel.

And then you came and released me, my angel.

Caption 1, Küss mich, Frosch Die Zeiten haben sich geändert - Part 2

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Further Learning
You will find many examples with lösen, auslösen, auflösen, ablösen, and erlösen on Yabla. Here is a longer list of related verbs that you can learn as well.

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Two different plurals for das Wort

The German word for "word" is das Wort, as you surely already know. But had you noticed that there are two different plurals for it: die Worte and die Wörter? It's hard to know which is correct without understanding the distinction in meaning between the two possibilities. Let's take a look at some examples, starting with die Worte


Worte sind jetzt fehl am Platz...

Words now are out of place...

Caption 26, Florian Bronk: Du und ich

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Und Worte können das nicht ändern, nein.

And words cannot change that, no.

Caption 22, Luxuslärm: Einmal im Leben

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So, liebe Anja, vielen, vielen Dank für deine netten Worte.

So, dear Anja, thanks very, very much for your kind words.

Caption 62, Anja Polzer; Interview

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Flüchtlinge können bei ihrer Ankunft oft nur wenige Worte oder gar kein Deutsch.

Refugees can, upon their arrival, often speak only a few words of German or none at all.

Caption 3, Flüchtlingskrise: Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge

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And moving on to die Wörter


Kennt ihr diese kleinen Wörter?

Do you know these little words?

Caption 4, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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Nun kennt ihr also die Wörter für die wichtigsten Farben.

So now you know the words for the most important colors.

Caption 40, Eva erklärt: Farben

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Hierfür werden dir einige Wörter vorgeschlagen.

For this, several words will be suggested to you.

Caption 40, German Intro: Cettina

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Hier, ein Notizbuch für alle neuen Wörter auf Deutsch.

Here, a notebook for all of the new German words.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Wo ist der Bahnhof?

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As you may have noticed above, die Wörter is usually used in a context of learning German and relating to a specific word—to the words themselves as such: Fremdwörter, Lieblingswörter, Modewörter, Passwörter, and Reimwörter are some compound word examples.


Die Worte, on the other hand, is talking about the context of words in terms of quotations, ways of speaking, or entire topics: Bibleworte, Ehrenworte, Grußworte, Nachworte, and Zauberworte, for instance.


A few words even allow for both types of plurals. For instance, if you are making a list of keywords for a website, you'd use Stichwörter. But if you are talking generally about keywords in the more abstract sense of concepts or guiding principles, you'd use Stichworte


Further Learning
Try and guess the meaning of the compound words listed above that use das Wort as their root, and then check your dictionary to see if you got it right. You can then go to German Yabla and find other examples of the words discussed above to see them used in a real world context.


If you're feeling extra brave, you can read the (as always) brilliant article by Der Spiegel author Bastian Sick about Worte vs. Wörter. As he so cleverly puts it: Wörter bestehen aus Buchstaben, Worte aus Gedanken.

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Talking about the Five Senses in German


Ich würde mich hauptsächlich erst mal auf meine Sensorik, also auf mein Auge, auf meinen Sehsinn, auf meinen Tastsinn und auch wieder auf meinen Geruchssinn verlassen.

I would rely mainly first on my senses, that is, on my eye, on my sense of sight, on my sense of touch and, also again, rely on my sense of smell.

Captions 6-9, Kochhaus Berlin: Frische Zutaten erkennen

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In the Yabla example above, a chef discusses how he uses his senses when picking out produce. He first mentions sight—der Sehsinn—which relates to the verb sehen and was covered in a previous newsletter.


Das kann man besonders gut hier sehen.

You can see that particularly well here.

Caption 22, Eva erklärt: Farben

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Der Tastsinn refers to touch. Here, there are three verbs you will regularly see: not only tasten, but also berühren and anfassen. Generally, anfassen refers to intentionally touching something in order to get a better sense of it, or possibly to hold onto it. The verb berühren could refer to barely touching something, or touching it carefully or accidentally. It can also refer to being emotionally moved or "touched" by something. The verb tasten often refers to touching with the intent of finding something, like when you feel around for something in a bag or purse. 


Sie können's auch mal anfassen. -Das sieht so echt aus, so... -Ja.

You can also touch it. -It looks so real, so... -Yes.

Caption 50, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

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Papa Wutz kann seine Zehen wirklich nicht berühren.

Papa Wutz really can't touch his toes.

Caption 35, Peppa Wutz: Sport

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The chef in our first example lastly mentions der Geruchssinn, the sense of smell. The related verb here is riechen, which can be used to refer to both the act of smelling something or the state of smelling (like something). 


Ich rieche daran, ob die wirklich auch nach einer Erdbeere riecht.

I smell it to see if it also really smells like a strawberry.

Caption 23, Kochhaus Berlin: Frische Zutaten erkennen

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Boah, das riecht schon sehr gut. 

Wow, that smells very good indeed. 

Caption 50, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Baden-Württemberg

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Der Geschmackssinn is not mentioned, as you generally don't try food before buying it unless invited to do so. You will often see not only schmecken, which is used to describe how something tastes, but also kosten, which refers to the act of trying food.


Das heißt, die Sachen schmecken ganz normal.

This means that the things taste quite normal.

Caption 37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Aber die meisten Leute kommen her, um das leckere Essen zu kosten.

But most people come here to taste the delicious food.

Caption 11, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

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The chef also doesn't mention das Gehör—the sense of hearing. Luckily, we have a lesson all about listening that you can peruse, as well as one on unrelated verbs that contain the root hören


Hört man das? -Ja, ja, man hört es. 

Can you hear this? -Yes, yes, we can hear it.

Caption 41, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?

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Further Learning
Practice describing what you can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste, and go to Yabla German to find other examples of the relevant verbs and nouns. 

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Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof!

For today's lesson topic, we'll discuss the different German ways of saying that you "have no idea" about something, or admitting you just don't know. The simplest way, of course, is to say ich weiß nicht, but let's look at some more interesting options, starting with one that you must already know:


Ich habe keine Ahnung, wie ich das der Person sage,

I have no idea how to tell the person

Caption 49, Deutsche Welle: Leben zwischen zwei Kulturen in Namibia

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Occasionally, you'll also hear ich habe keine blasse Ahnung, which translates as "I haven't the faintest idea."


...obwohl er keinen blassen Schimmer hatte, wer das sein sollte.

...although he ​​hadn't the faintest notion as to who that could be.

Caption 36, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der gestiefelte Kater

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The literal translation of blasser Schimmer would be "pale shimmer" or "pale gleam," but it's a German idiom similar to the English expression "the faintest notion" or "the faintest clue."


Der hat voll die Peilung.

He completely understands.

Caption 21, Filmtrailer: Free Birds

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The noun die Peilung means "bearings" or "soundings," as in "keeping your bearings" and not getting lost, but here it is being used in a figurative sense. Thus, if you negate the sentence above and say ich habe keine Peilung, it means that you don't understand.


Ihr Name ist Hase. Ihre Kreditkarte wird Ihnen per Post zugestellt.

Your name is Bunny. Your credit card will be delivered by mail.

Caption 22, Kein Kredit: im Land der Klone

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The above is a play on words in the video: a customer calls a bank asking for a credit card for her pet bunny, and the automated response is "Your name is Bunny." This has a double meaning, since the idiom Mein Name ist Hase is slang for "I don't know" or "I have no idea."


Also, ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.

Well, I don't understand anything.

Caption 27, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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This phrase suggests a foreigner in Germany who only understands the German word for train station—which is one of the first words that a visitor to Germany learns. It is especially appropriate when you don't understand the details of a particular topic that somebody is discussing.


Further Learning
Go to German Yabla and find other examples of the phrases discussed above to get a better feel for the contexts in which they can be used. 

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A look at pronunciation, Part 1

When it comes to German pronunciation, Yabla has you covered. In the videos, you hear German spoken exclusively by native speakers, and have the ability to slow down their speech. Additionally, Yabla has videos that point out the rules and tackle particularly tricky aspects of pronunciation. This week, we'll look at one topic for beginners and one that's a bit more advanced. In the examples, vocabulary related to pronunciation is highlighted.

In the German alphabet, there are standard pronunciations for the vowels—actually more so than in English. However, it's very important to know the following rule:


Wenn in einem Wort ein doppelter Konsonant vorkommt, werden die Vokale, die davor stehen, kurz ausgesprochen.

When a double consonant occurs in a word, the vowels that precede it are pronounced short.

Captions 24-25, Deutsch mit Eylin: Alphabet, Betonung und Aussprache

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An example of this is provided here:


Zum Beispiel „Ebbe“: Das „E“ wird kurz ausgesprochen. „Eben“: Das „E“ wird lang ausgesprochen.

For example, "ebb": The "E" is pronounced short. “Even”: The “E” is pronounced long.

Captions 26-27, Deutsch mit Eylin: Alphabet, Betonung und Aussprache

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Another topic that can be tricky is the "ich" and "ach" sounds that are so common in German words. Luckily, the following two-part video explains the rules for when they are used and how to make each sound:


Wenn das „CH“ nach „ä", „ö", „ü", „e“, „i“, „l“, „n“ und „r“ erscheint, ist es der „Ich“-Laut.

If the "CH" appears after "ä," "ö," "ü," "e," "i," "l," "n," or "r," it's the "ich" sound.

Captions 33-34, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 1

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It's worth noting that like the vowel "e," the vowel combinations "ei" und "eu" are also followed by the "ich" sound. 


Wenn das „CH“ auf „a“, „o“, „u“ und „au“ folgt, dann ist es der „Ach“-Laut.

If the "CH" follows "a," "o," "u," or "au," then it's the "ach" sound.

Captions 14-15, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 2

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Listening to the following example is a good way to understand the difference: 


In dem Wort „Töchter“ hörst du den „Ich“-Laut. Im Wort „Tochter“ den „Ach“-Laut.

In the word “daughters," you hear the “ich” sound. In the word “daughter," the “ach” sound.

Captions 11-12, Deutsch mit Eylin Aussprache: Ich- und Ach-Laute - Part 1

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Further Learning
We will be back with more tips on pronunciation and references to helpful Yabla videos in the future. To learn more about the topics in this lesson, watch the three videos mentioned above on German Yabla in their entirety. The first video contains a guide to the entire alphabet. The other two look at many more examples of "ich" and "ach" sounds and explain how to make these sounds like a real native speaker!

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More sagen root words

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed verbs using sagen ("to say") as their root word, all of which had to do with speaking. Today let's take a look at a couple of other words using sagen as their root word that are not related to speaking—though at first glance, they may appear to be!


Doch wenn es etwas stürmischer wird, versagen viele Modelle ihren Dienst.

But if it gets somewhat stormier, many models fail to do their job.

Caption 5, Erfindung aus Japan: Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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Es besteht die Gefahr, dass im entscheidenden Moment Ihre Nerven versagen.

The danger exists that your nerves will fail at the deciding moment.

Caption 67, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Es tut mir leid, dass ich versagt habe.

I am sorry that I failed.

Caption 28, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Leider haben wir da sehr, sehr oft vorm Tor versagt.

Unfortunately, we failed many, many times before the goal line.

Caption 47, Fußball: Saisonpremiere

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Perhaps versagen originally had sagen as its root word because people "failed" to carry out something they had promised. There is also a noun form of the verb for a person who fails:


Ich bin ein Versager, weil ich mich doch nicht traue.

I'm a failure because, after all, I don't dare.

Caption 15, Cro: Bye Bye

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The next word with the root word sagen also has negative connotations:


Am liebsten würd ich ihn absagen.

I'd actually prefer to cancel it.

Caption 10, Nicos Weg: Freizeitstress

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Du kannst doch nicht einfach eine Weiterbildung absagen.

You can't just cancel a training program.

Caption 59, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Ich will wissen, warum du unser Treffen abgesagt hast. -Ich habe das Treffen nicht abgesagt.

I want to know why you canceled our meeting. -I didn't cancel the meeting.

Captions 15-16, Nicos Weg: Der Umzug

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There is no German noun for somebody who cancels a lot, but there is a noun derived from absagen


...die radikale Absage an Putin, an die Gasimporte.

...the radical rejection of Putin, of the gas imports.

Caption 3, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen: Zu Besuch in einem Wiener Passivhaus

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The noun die Absage can be either a cancellation or a rejection, depending upon the context.


Further Learning
Go to German Yabla and find other examples of the verbs and nouns discussed above to get a better feel for the contexts in which they can be used. 

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Talking about the Future in German

Like in English, there is more than one way to construct sentences about the future in German. This week, we’ll take a look at the two options for this. 

Sometimes, you may notice that what at first glance looks like the present tense in German is translated with either the present continuous, a "going to" + infinitive construction, or the "will"-future in English. When you see this, it’s best to look at the whole sentence, where you will likely find clues that tell you that the action isn't actually occurring yet and will take place momentarily or in the near or distant future. Even though there are sentences that use the present tense with future meaning in English (an example would be "They arrive this evening"), it is much less common. Have a look at the following examples: 


Und jetzt gehen wir in die Werbung. 

And now we'll go to commercial. 

Caption 22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Wenn es so weitergeht, dann können wir bald Schlitten fahren.

If it continues like this, we'll soon be able to go sledding.

Caption 28, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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Im Zoo waren wir gestern, heute gehen wir ins Schwimmbad.

We were at the zoo yesterday. Today we're going to the swimming pool.

Caption 14, Sabine erzählt Witze: Die Pinguine

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Heute lernen wir die Zahlen von eins bis tausend.

Today we're going to learn the numbers from one to a thousand.

Caption 5, Deutsch mit Eylin: Zahlen und die Grundrechenarten

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You may be thinking, "What about the verb werden?" Indeed, the construction werden + infinitive is also used to express something that has yet to happen, especially to emphasize the fact that it will happen in the future or express that it's still not 100% certain. 


Ich werde mir etwas zu essen und zu trinken aussuchen.

I'm going to choose something to eat and drink.

Caption 9, Abendessen: mit Marko

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Und keine Sorge, du wirst mich hier nie wieder sehen!

And don't worry, you'll never see me here again!

Caption 51, Heidi: Ladenverbot

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Sie wird sich Sorgen machen, wenn sie nichts von mir hört.

She will worry if she doesn't hear anything from me.

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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Auf die Suppe werden wir jetzt noch die Croutons und die angebratenen Zwiebeln draufmachen.

Now we're going to add the croutons and the fried onions to the soup.

Caption 69, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Hessen

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Oh, ihr werdet in einer halben Stunde noch besser verstehen.

Oh, you will understand even better in half an hour.

Caption 19, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Verben mit Akkusativ

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

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

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Further Learning
You will find many similar examples on Yabla to learn from. Be sure to also check out our past lesson on werden, and review how it's used in its meaning "to become" or as part of the passive voice.

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Fahrradfahren aufm Fahrradweg

This week's topic could be sung to the tune of the Kraftwerk song "Autobahn," but never mind cars—let's talk about bicycles! Spring is in the air and it's time to get that bike out and ready for the road. Here are some bicycle-related topics to help get you motivated.


First a bit about bicycle history: 


Das Tretkurbelveloziped war auf der Pariser Weltausstellung 1867 ein Publikumsmagnet und Verkaufserfolg.

The foot pedal velocipede at the Paris World's Fair in 1867 was a crowd magnet and commercial success.

Captions 12-13, 200. Geburtstag: Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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Es folgte Ende der 187oer-Jahre das Sicherheitsniederrad mit gleich großen Rädern, Kettenantrieb, Übersetzung aufs Hinterrad und luftbefüllten Reifen.

At the end of the 1870s followed the safety bicycle, with equally large wheels, chain drive, transfer to the back wheel and tires filled with air.

Captions 17-20, 200. Geburtstag: Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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Heutzutage ist die neueste Innovation das E-Bike.

Today, the newest innovation is the E-Bike.

Caption 30, 200. Geburtstag: Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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And now some more about bicycle maintenance and repair: 


Frühlingszeit ist Fahrradzeit, also raus mit dem Drahtesel und ab auf die Piste.

Springtime is bike time, so get out your "wire donkey" and hit the road.

Captions 1-2, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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The slang word der Drahtesel is a term of endearment for your beloved bike.


Ganz, ganz wichtig ist im Frühjahrscheck sowohl als auch im Wintercheck, dass man halt sich die kompletten Sicherheitsmerkmale von einem Rad noch mal anguckt.

Very, very important, with the springtime check, as well as with the winter check, is that you just look again at the complete safety features of the bike.

Captions 7-8, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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Wie sehen die Bremsbeläge aus?

How do the brake pads look?

Caption 10, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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Zu einem kompletten Frühlingscheck gehört auch die Kontrolle der Speichen.

A complete springtime check also includes checking the spokes.

Caption 16, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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Beleuchtung, ein ganz wichtiges Thema, ja? Dass halt alle Lampen wirklich so funktionieren...

Lighting, a very important topic, right? That all the lights just really function the way they should function....

Captions 20-21, Fahrrad Frühjahrs-Check

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Further Learning
Learn the bicycle terms above (OK, you can probably skip the velocipede one!) and see if you can guess the meaning of the following parts of a bicycle before looking in a dictionary: 


Die Bremse, der Bremshebel, die Felge, die Gabel, das Kabel, die Kette, der Lenker, die Luftpumpe, die Nabe, der Rahmen, der Sattel


Now go to German Yabla and watch the two videos above, then see if you can find some more videos that mention das Fahrrad. Happy bicycling from us at Yabla!

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Standing in Line

We all hate it, but it's simply a part of life: Waiting in line. 

In German, the verb for "to wait" is, of course, warten:


Wenn die denkt, ich warte hier noch lange, dann hat sie sich aber getäuscht.

If she thinks I'm going to wait here a long time, then she's wrong.

Caption 18, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Bist du verliebt?

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But when we talk about waiting in line, there are a few other applicable phrases. The first one is (für etwas) anstehen, or "to stand in line (for something)."


Beim Trampolin gibt es eine ganz schön lange Schlange zum Anstehen.

At the trampoline there is quite a long line that you have to stand in.

Caption 16, Das Fest: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

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As you can see, the word for "line" or "queue" in this sense is die Schlange, which is also the word for "snake" in German. You will also hear die Warteschlange.


Und wie ihr sehen könnt, ist dort schon eine Schlange.

And as you can see, there is already a line there.

Caption 18, Eva zeigt uns: Currywurst

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The expression Schlange stehen also means "to stand in line" or "to queue."


Die stehen richtig Schlange. Was für ein Gedränge!

They are really standing in line. What a crowd!

Caption 41, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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If you are ever trying to get in line and are uncertain about whether someone is waiting or not, you can politely ask Stehen Sie an? or Stehen Sie in der Schlange? Hopefully, it won't be long before you hear one of these magical phrases:


Äh, der Nächste, bitte. 

Uh, next, please. 

Caption 37, Mensch Markus: Der Lottogewinner

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Und was darf's sein?

And what would you like?

Caption 48, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Los, jetzt bist du dran.

Go ahead, now it's your turn.

Caption 45, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Was hättest du denn gern?

So what would you like?

Caption 5, Nicos Weg: Ich bin neu hier

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You may also hear Bekommen Sie schon?, which is a bit like "Have you already been helped/served?" or just a simple Bitteschön! 


Further Learning
Visualize yourself trying to get in line at a bank, bakery, or doctor's office. How would you ask where the line begins, who is waiting, and who is already being helped? You can also go on German Yabla and see the ways the phrases are being used by native German speakers.

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Eating Utensils in German

I'll bet by now most of you already know some of the German words for basic cutlery, so let's review those today and also take a look at a few eating utensil variations that you may not be as familiar with, starting with your basic spoon (der Löffel):


Brauche ich eigentlich auch einen großen Löffel?

Do I actually need a large spoon too?

Caption 22, Zu Besuch bei Jenny: In der Wohnung

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Now let's look at some special types of spoons: 


Und dann kommen da jetzt zwei Esslöffel Natronpulver rein.

And then we now add two tablespoons of baking soda.

Caption 45, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Ein halber Teelöffel frisch gemahlener schwarzer Pfeffer...

Half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper...

Caption 38, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Rheinland-Pfalz

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Here's a list of some of the many kinds of spoons: Butterlöffel, Dessertlöffel, Eierlöffel, Eislöffel, Gemüselöffel, Grapefruitlöffel, Honiglöffel, Kaffeelöffel, Kartoffellöffel, Marmeladenlöffel, Sahnelöffel, Salatlöffel, Saucenlöffel, Suppenlöffel, and Zuckerlöffel.


And now on to the basic knife (das Messer):


Mit dem Messer könnte ich ein bisschen Butter nehmen.

With the knife I could take a little bit of butter.

Caption 11, Jenny: beim Frühstück

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And some specialty knives:


Und wenn kein Fischmesser vorhanden ist, warum sollte man nicht ein normales Messer nehmen?
And if there's no fish knife available, why not use a regular knife?


As well as: Brotmesser, Dessertmesser, Obstmesser, Steakmesser, Tafelmesser, and Tortenmesser.


And last but not least, the fork (die Gabel): 


Ich brauche zum Essen noch eine Gabel.

In order to eat I need a fork.

Caption 21, Zu Besuch bei Jenny: In der Wohnung

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And some specialty forks: 


Links vom Teller liegen die große Gabel, die Fischgabel und eine kleine Gabel für die Vorspeisen.
To the left of the plate are the large fork, the fish fork and a small fork for the appetizers.


As well as: Bratengabel, Dessertgabel, Essgabel, Fleischgabel, Kartoffelgabel, Ofengabel, and Vorlegegabel.


Remember too that der Löffel is a masculine noun, die Gabel feminine, and das Messer a neuter noun. If you can remember the word order Löffel, Gabel, and Messer, it's the same gender order as der Vater, die Mutter, and das Kind. These genders remain applicable for all of the words using -löffel, -gabel, and -messer as their root words.


Further Learning
Try to correctly translate the specialty cutleries listed above into English and read the German Wikipedia article about cutlery. For some even more complete lists of the different types of spoons, knives, and forks—some of them having nothing to do with cutlery–see the Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (DWDS) pages for spoons, knives, and forks.  You can also search for Löffel, Gabel and Messer on German Yabla and see the ways the words are used in real spoken contexts by native German speakers.

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Adverbs with -erweise

Adverbs give us information about time, manner, place, frequency, quantity, certainty, and degree. In English, we recognize many adverbs of manner, which tell us the way in which something happens, by the ending -ly. In German, it is often the case that adverbs are identical to their related adjectives, an example of which would be in the sentences Sie sind schnell and Sie essen schnell ("They are fast" / "They eat quickly")

There is one structure that is similar to the -ly you may know from English, which is the ending -erweise. You may remember that the noun die Weise means "the way" or "the manner." Because only certain adverbs have this ending, it is good to take note of them. For example, from the adjectives glücklich, üblich, möglichnett, and überraschend, we get the following adverbs: 


Glücklicherweise kam ein freundlicher Bauer vorbei.

Fortunately, a friendly farmer came by.

Caption 83, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein

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Fremde Menschen werden üblicherweise gesiezt.

Strangers are commonly addressed formally with "Sie."

Caption 29, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

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In manchen Sprachen sind die Sprichwörter gleich oder ähnlich und deshalb kommen euch möglicherweise die folgenden Beispiele schon etwas bekannt vor.

In some languages, the sayings are the same or similar and therefore, the following examples may possibly already be somewhat known to you.

Captions 11-12, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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...zusammen mit Herrn Krogmann, bei dem ich netterweise im Moment wohne...

...together with Mr. Krogmann, with whom I am kindly staying at the moment...

Captions 36-37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt 

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Überraschenderweise ärgerten sie sich aber nicht darüber.

But surprisingly, they were not angry about it.

Caption 86, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die drei Brüder

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Further Learning
You can additionally look up dummerweise, erfreulicherweise, freundlicherweiseklugerweiserichtigerweise, normalerweise, vernünftigerweise and erstaunlicherweise, or look at this massive list of adverbs that have this structure, although not all of them may be commonly used. It's a better strategy to take note whenever you see one of these adverbs on either Yabla German or elsewhere, and start trying out sentences of your own. Remember that many adverbs will simply be identical to the adjective you already know!

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German modifier nouns that don't need prepositions

In English, you'd say "a bottle of cola" or "a teaspoon of sugar," but in German, you don't generally use the preposition von ("of") when describing units of something. Nor do you use von when describing containers of something, such as a bottle, a case, a stack, or a package. It may be grammatically correct to say eine Flasche von Cola, but a native speaker would say eine Flasche Cola—and you should too!


Here are some examples of nouns modifying die Flasche. Note that the English translation always uses the preposition "of," whereas in German, the nouns modify each other directly, with no preposition:


Ich könnte natürlich auch eine Flasche Wasser trinken.

I could, of course, drink a bottle of water instead.

Caption 16, Jenny beim Frühstück: Teil 2

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Das ist schlecht, deshalb brauchen wir eine zweite Flasche Tomatensauce.

This is bad, that's why we need a second bottle of tomato sauce.

Caption 16, Cannelloni mit Jenny - Part 2

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And here with der Kasten and die Kiste, the most common German terms for a case or box used for carrying bottles. Note that eine Kiste is also a German idiom for a shabby car, just as "crate" is used in American slang.


Als Preis ibt es einen Kasten Bier!

For a prize there is a case of beer!

Caption 57, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

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Also, wir haben einen Kasten Sekt bekommen, eine Kiste Sekt das letzte Mal.

Well, we got a box of sparkling wine, the last time a case of sparkling wine.

Caption 56, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

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And for a stack (der Packen) of cash:


Er hat Arne einen dicken Packen Geldscheine gegeben.

He gave Arne a thick stack of bills.

Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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And here a small packet (das Päckchen), along with some quantities from a recipe: 


Wir brauchen 75 Gramm Zucker, ein Päckchen Vanillezucker, einen Teelöffel Backpulver, 75 Gramm Butter...

We need 75 grams of sugar, a small packet of vanilla sugar, one teaspoon of baking powder, 75 grams of butter...

Captions 5-8, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

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Further Learning
Take a look at some cooking recipes on Yabla German and try to find the noun modifiers that don't require a preposition in German. 

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