German Lessons


Expressions with drauf

The preposition auf can be translated as "on," but it takes on numerous other meanings in combination with various verbs. Today we are going to look at drauf, which appears in many commonly used phrases and is basically synonymous with daraufDa- is a prefix that appears in front of a number of prepositions and is used to refer to an object that has already been identified. 


You likely know the phrases Lust auf etwas haben and Bock auf etwas haben. In both of the sentences below, the object is missing from the sentence, as it has already been mentioned. You can note that in English, it's just referred to as "it." 


Ich habe so Lust drauf!

I'm really in the mood for it!

Caption 53, Reisen: Ein Tag in Freiburg

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Da habe ich einfach keinen Bock mehr drauf.

I just don't feel like doing it anymore.

Caption 10, heute-show: Hazel Brugger will Lehrerin werden

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The phrase Bock haben can be considered slang, and many phrases with drauf are colloquial...


Aber ich will jetzt nicht drauf eingehen.

But I don't want to go into it now.

Caption 69, Frida Gold: Interview

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Es kommt immer drauf an.

It always depends.

Caption 41, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Baden-Württemberg

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Es war ein schöner Tag und beide waren richtig gut drauf.

It was a nice day and both were in a really good mood.

Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Brief

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(You can also say schlecht drauf, which would be the opposite!)

... or even idioms:


Die Büchse da hat viel drauf!

That tin can has a lot on it [idiom, is very capable]!

Caption 10, Es war einmal... der Weltraum: Die Saurier

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Further Learning

Most of these phrases are quite common, so you'll find many examples on Yabla German.


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All About Feet, Part III

In Part II, we took a look at the German phrases mit einem Fuß im, am Fuß des, einen Fuß in etwas reinkriegen, auf falschem Fuß, and auf die Füße treten. In this lesson, the final Part III about feet expressions, let's check out some other German phrases using der Fuß.

Und das war der Moment, wo wir Angst bekamen, kalte Füße.

And that was the moment where we got scared, cold feet.

Caption 18, TEDx Der Supermarkt der Zukunft

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The idiom kalte Füße bekommen (to get cold feet) is the same as the English expression. It means, as the video implies, "to become afraid."


Ich nehme mein Herz und leg's dir zu Füßen.

I'll take my heart and lay it at your feet.

Caption 3, Deutsche Musik: Chris und Croissant

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Die Welt liegt uns zu Füßen.

The world lies at our feet.

Caption 21, Heino: Neue Volkslieder

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The phrase etwas zu Füßen legen means "to give something to somebody." Compare this to die Welt zu Füßen legen: To "have the world at your feet" means that you have many opportunities open to you, perhaps relating to career improvements.


Da können Sie sich dann hinsetzen und ganz entspannt die Füße hochlegen.

Then you can kick back and put your feet up in total relaxation.

Captions 45-46, extra 3: Das ehrliche Reisebüro

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The expression die Füße hochlegen, or "to put your feet up," may be literally just that, but it also is a general expression meaning "to rest."


Was ich absolut nicht gebrauchen kann, ist jemand, der alles, was mir etwas bedeutet, mit Füßen tritt.

What I absolutely don't need is someone who stomps on everything that means something to me.

Captions 5-6, Küss mich, Frosch: Sei kein Frosch

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Mit Füßen treten literally means "to kick with your feet " or "to step on something with your feet." But its figurative meaning is that somebody treating you or something of yours disrespectfully.


Und das war, bevor Sie mir diesen Quotenleichnam vor die Füße geworfen haben.

And that was before you threw that cadaver of a quota down at my feet.

Captions 53-54, Lerchenberg: Die Zombieklinik

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If somebody throws something at your feet (vor die Füße werfen), it means they've "burdened you with a responsibility."


Further Learning
Review Part I and Part II of the All About Feet series and see if you remember the meaning of the German phrases from these two previous lessons. If you want to dive deeper into the topic, read the article Redewendungen mit Fuß / Füße in German. You can also search for other videos using the search words Fuß, Füße, and Füßen on Yabla German to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Decreasing, shrinking, and falling

Two weeks ago, we looked at verbs that express growth or increase. Now we'll explore the opposite and have a look at transitive and intransitive verbs that express something that's becoming less in number, capacity, or extent. 


The three following verbs can refer to numbers or amounts. For temperature, sinken is the verb you will generally hear people use. 


Die Bestände der Elefanten sind in den letzten Jahrzehnten weltweit stark geschrumpft.

In recent decades, elephant populations have shrunk sharply worldwide.

Captions 33-34, Evolution: An Land

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Allerdings... die Arbeitslosenzahlen werden wohl nicht in gleichem Maße zurückgehen.

However... the unemployment numbers will certainly not decrease to the same extent.

Caption 26, Rheinmain im Blick: Mehr Beschäftigung in Rhein-Main

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Bevor die Temperaturen wieder sinken und das Wetter wechselhaft wird.

Before temperatures fall again and the weather becomes changeable.

Caption 25, Rheinmain im Blick: Der Frühling ist da

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However, not everything can be quantified, and there are many verbs that can refer to lessening, minimizing, and downsizing.


Und die mindert sich erst, nachdem Charlie zusammen mit seinem Bruder eine Glückssträhne erwischt hat.

And it lessens only after Charlie, together with his brother, goes on a winning streak.

Captions 78-79, Theater: Rain Man

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Die Risiken, die natürlich vorhanden sind, die kann man aber durch, äh, entsprechende Schulung und Ausbildung so weit verringern.

Those risks, which naturally exist... you can minimize them, uh, through appropriate training and education.

Captions 48-49, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

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Er sagte jedenfalls was von „sich verkleinern wollen“.

At least he said something about "wanting to downsize."

Caption 71, Wendy: Pferde sind ihr Leben Pferdeklau

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When it comes to wanting to take action to reduce something, there are a number of relevant verbs (etwas mindern) but the easiest is very simple: reduzieren


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren.

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons.

Caption 10, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Further Learning

An online dictionary can help you find many different translations for each of these verbs, which will help you to understand their nuances. For example, sinken can be translated with "to drop" or "to decline," but not "to lessen" or "to minimize." This tells you that it's an intransitive verb, as are schrumpfen and zurückgehen

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All About Feet, Part II

In a recent lesson, we took a look at the German phrases zu Fuß, Kopf bis Fuß, ohne Hand und Fuß, Fuß fassen and der Fuß (the US and UK standard measurement "foot"). Today, let's check out some other German phrases using der Fuß.


Doch ich steh mittlerweile mehr als mit einem Fuß im Knast

But I've got more than one foot in jail now

Caption 39, Cro: Bad Chick

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The phrase mit einem Fuß im... is similar to the English phrase: "with one foot in the grave", and generally means "to be near" to whatever is referred to. German also uses mit einem Fuß im Grab and, with the same meaning, mit einem Fuß im Jenseits (" the afterlife"). The caption above means he was close to being in prison before, but is now actually in prison!


Doch dann stößt er am Fuß des Conturines-Massivs in 2.008 Metern auf eine riesige Höhle.

But then he comes across, at the foot of the Conturines massif at 2,008 meters, a huge cave.

Captions 5-6, Die letzten Paradiese: Schätze der Natur

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A "massif" is the main mass of a mountain, and indeed the expression "at the foot of the mountain" —that is to say, "the base of the mountain"—is the same as the German am Fuß des Berges.


Wenn wir da einen Fuß reinkriegen, dann ziehe ich ganz runter und schaffe mir einen Harem an.

When we get a foot in the door  then I'll move down there completely and get myself a harem.

Captions 8-9, Mama arbeitet wieder: Alle haben sich lieb

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The German idiom einen Fuß reinkriegen (literally "to get a foot in") means the same as the English idiom "to get one's foot in the door," a figurative way of saying "to gain entry" or "to get an opportunity."


Da haben Sie mich gerade auf dem falschen Fuß erwischt.

You have just caught me on the wrong foot.

Caption 34, Tanz in den Mai: "Ladies Get Wild"

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The German idiom auf dem falschen Fuß erwischt means "to be caught unprepared" or "to be surprised." This is somewhat different from the English expression "to get off on the wrong foot," which means "to have a bad start."


Ich will ja niemandem auf die Füße treten.

I don't want to step on anyone's feet.

Caption 10, Coronavirus: Nikolaus mit Mundschutz

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The German and English idioms are the same here: "to step on someone's feet" is a figurative way of saying "to upset someone."


Further Learning
It's always interesting how some languages have idioms that are the same as your native language. But it's especially interesting to learn the expressions that are different and sound very odd if you translate them directly! Take a look at the videos above on Yabla German to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used.

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Increasing, growing, and rising


Und Piggeldy fühlte, wie er immer kleiner und kleiner wurde und Frederick immer größer.

And Piggeldy felt that he was becoming smaller and smaller and Frederick bigger and bigger.

Captions 28-29, Piggeldy und Frederick: Sprichwörter

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When we talk about the size, number, or extent of something changing, there are a number of verbs we can use in order to not always just say kleiner werden or größer werden. The German verbs we pick often depend on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. An intransitive verb doesn't require an object; something is simply happening almost as if on its own. The verbs above, and the verbs in the next examples are intransitive, and you can note that no cause is mentioned that is making the growth happen. 


Der Bedarf an Flugreisen wird mit der Zeit immer größer, und die Anzahl der Flugzeuge wird stark zunehmen.

The need for air travel will increase over time, and the number of planes will rise sharply.

Captions 34-35, Die Welt in der Zukunft: Flugzeuge im Jahr 2050

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Der Anteil der Kinder mit Migrationshintergrund in dieser Gruppe wird ansteigen.

the percentage of children with migration backgrounds in this group will rise.

Caption 9, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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If you want to describe humans, animals, or objects that are growing in size, wachsen is quite often the appropriate verb to use. It should be noted that the verb for plants growing is wachsen, but this is only intransitive. If you are growing flowers or vegetables, your activity "to grow something" is etwas anbauen or etwas züchten


„Du malst die blauen Blumen, die im grünen Wald wachsen“, sagte Frederick.

“You paint the blue flowers that grow in the green forest," Frederick said.

Caption 17, Piggeldy und Frederick: Malen

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Now let's look at some examples with transitive verbs, in which something is being done by someone. In these sentences, that which is increasing or rising is an object:


Dies hat uns dazu genötigt, unsere Preise stark anzuheben.

This has made it necessary for us to increase our prices significantly.

Caption 20, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Ziel der Aktion: die Attraktivität der Innenstadt erhöhen.

The aim of the campaign: to increase the attractiveness of the city center

Caption 9, Rheinmain im Blick Stadtmomente: Wiesbaden

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Um die Attraktivität der Elektrofahrzeuge zu steigern, wird es ab Mitte zweitausendfünfzehn zwei Dinge geben.

In order to increase the attractiveness of electric vehicles, there will, starting in the middle of two thousand fifteen, be two things.

Captions 5-6, Rhein-Main-TV: Veränderungen für das Autofahrerjahr 2015

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Further Learning

We'll be back soon with a lesson on verbs that describe decreasing, shrinking, and falling. In the meantime, try to make your own sentences with the verbs above or do a search on Yabla

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All About Feet, Part I

Today we're going to take a look at some standard expressions and idioms relating to the noun der Fuß ("the foot").


Ich gehe lieber zu Fuß, statt mit dem Fahrrad zu fahren.

I prefer to walk instead of riding my bike.

Caption 32, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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Dieses Naturreservoir ist zu Fuß in nur gut zwei Stunden zu erreichen.

This nature reserve can be reached by foot in just over two hours

Caption 6, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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The phrase zu Fuß gehen means "to walk," but the more literal translation "to go by foot" also works interchangeably. I've occasionally hear German friends jokingly use the Latin term per pedes to mean zu Fuß, and the phrase is common enough that it appears in the Duden dictionary!


Es schüttet wie aus Eimern Klitschnass von Kopf bis Fuß.

It's raining buckets Drenched from head to toe.

Captions 16-17, Die Toten Hosen: Unter den Wolken

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The phrase von Kopf bis Fuß translates best to the English idiom "from head to toe." Normally one says the verb regnen for "to rain," but in the above caption, the slang usage of the verb schütten is used, which means "to pour." Incidentally, both klitschnass and pitschnass are slang words for "very wet."


Diese Pyramide ist zweihundertfünfzig Fuß hoch.

This pyramid is two hundred and fifty feet high.

Caption 18, Es war einmal: Entdecker und Erfinder Archimedes

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The noun der Fuß is also used for the English measurement "foot." Note that unlike the plural of the anatomical foot (die Füße), when used to mean measurement, die Fuß is the proper plural of the noun.

Auch das ist ein Vorurteil ohne Hand und Fuß.

Even this is a prejudice without rhyme or reason.

Caption 41, Flüchtlingskrise: 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Of course, the literal translation of the idiom ohne Hand und Fuß is "without head and foot," but it means "makes no sense" and translates best to the above English idiom.


... dass meine Kernaufgabe nicht die ist, im Fernsehen irgendwie Fuß zu fassen.

... that it is not my main task to somehow gain a foothold in television.

Caption 5, Peyman Amin: Der Modelmacher

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The phrase Fuß zu fassen is a practical one to learn. It can also be alternately translated into English as "to find a foothold" or "to establish a foothold."


Further Learning
I think it's fair to say that we've established a foothold in our understanding of some uses of the noun der Fuß! Read some of our other lessons relating to feet: Get off on the right foot and Von Kopf bis Fuß Part I and Part II. You can also search for other examples of der Fuß on Yabla German.

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Shapes and Patterns

When it comes to learning the basic shapes in German, Eva's got you covered with a video about exactly that:


Als Erstes haben wir hier einen Kreis.

First, we have a circle here.

Caption 13, Eva zeigt uns: Formen

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However, we often talk about shapes with a bit more nuance. For example, we might talk about spots and dots, or ovals rather than circles:


Alle Möbel mit roten Punkten gehören deiner Mama und die mit grünen gehören mir.

All of the pieces of furniture with red dots belong to your mother and those with green belong to me.

Caption 21, Mama arbeitet wieder Kapitel 4: Die Trennung

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Die Trainerschüler müssen die Hühner zum Beispiel dazu bringen, im Oval um zwei Kegel zu laufen.

The training students, for example, must get [their] chickens to walk around two cones in an oval.

Captions 24-25, Tierakademie Scheuerhof: Tiertrainer im Hühner-Seminar

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When we look at three-dimensional forms, there's a whole other set of vocabulary to learn. The word for a cube is actually der Kubus, but people describing objects will often use der Würfel, which is also the word you use for dice. 


Eine Masse von eineinhalb Sonnen, gepresst in eine Kugel mit gerade mal zehn Meilen Durchmesser.

A mass of one and a half suns pressed into a sphere with only a ten-mile diameter.

Captions 20-21, Unser Universum Sternengeburt: Das Leben nach dem stellaren Tod

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Wir haben hier fünfhundert Gramm Mehl, einen ganzen Würfel Hefe.

We have here five hundred grams of flour here, a whole cube of yeast.

Captions 8-9, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Even though most patterns are repetitions of certain shapes, most of the words don't relate to the original forms. This makes sense, because even if a stripe is technically a long, thin rectangle, we don't perceive it as such. 


Oh, das Muster und... und diese Farben! Es ist wirklich überwältigend, wirklich!

Oh, the pattern and... and these colors! It is really overwhelming, really!

Caption 41, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Die Flagge hat oben und unten einen roten Streifen.

The flag has a red stripe on the top and bottom.

Caption 48, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Ein gestreiftes Hemd und eine warme Hose und ganz schicke Schuhe.

A striped shirt and warm trousers and very stylish shoes.

Caption 17, Nicos Weg: Schick!

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In case you are like Nico and also like wearing patterned clothing, you might like to know that the word for "polka-dotted" is gepunktet, and kariert means "plaid," "checked," or "checkered." 


Further Learning
After you watch Eva's video on Yabla German in its entirety, look up the German words for some 3-D forms such as the pyramid, cone, cylinder, and prism. 

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Tell Me Why

Although it's also the title of a Beatles song (covered by the Beach Boys too!), today we're taking a look at German variations of the adverb warum (why).


Und warum schickt die Lehrerin dann immer ihn Kreide holen?

So then why does the teacher always send him to get chalk?

Caption 40, Der kleine Nick: Nachmittag bei Adalbert

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Ich weiß nicht warum, aber auch die Luft ist in dieser Jahreszeit oft wunderbar klar.

I don't know why, but the air is often wonderfully clear at this time of year.

Captions 15-16, Deutsch mit Eylin: Herbst in Hamburg

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Ja? Warum nicht, warum nicht, warum nicht.

Yes? Why not, why not, why not.

Caption 14, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Warum, weil - Erklärungen

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It's probably pretty clear that warum can be used in a variety of contexts. But there are also—in English as well as German—different ways of saying "why."


Weshalb hatte er dann eine Pistole?

Why did he have a pistol then?

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier: Schatten der Vergangenheit

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Weshalb hast du Entspannung gebraucht?

Why did you need relaxation?

Caption 18, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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As you see above, the adverb weshalb has been correctly translated into English as "why." But these two German sentences could just as well have been translated in different ways:


Weshalb hatte er dann eine Pistole?
What did he have a pistol for, then?
How come he had a pistol, then?
For what reason did he have a pistol, then?


Weshalb hast du Entspannung gebraucht?
What did you need relaxation for?
How come you needed relaxation?
For what reason did you need relaxation?


The adverb weshalb can be used when you are explicitly asking about the purpose of something, and is, to some extent, the equivalent of the English "what for." The adverb weshalb tends to be used more often in a written context, but is also commonly used in spoken German.


Everything in a word's meaning will vary depending upon the context. It's simply more natural to say something one way than another, with varying factors such as the subtlety of the intended meaning and the formality or informality of the context all playing roles. In the following case, three different equivalent English words and phrases were used just to differentiate the German words— plus it would read pretty badly using "why" three times in a row!


Die Frageworte „wieso“, „weshalb“, „warum“ bedeuten alle das Gleiche. Aber „wieso“ und „warum“ werden am häufigsten verwendet.
The question words “how come,” “for what reason,” “why” all mean the same thing. But “how come” and “why” are the most commonly used.
Captions 6-7, Deutsch mit Eylin: Fragewörter


So while they may mean approximately the same thing, it's up to you to decide which German word works best in context. Here are some more words with similar "why" meanings:


Also, kann's Gründe geben, weswegen wir dann doch 'n bisschen später ankommen?

That is, is there any reason why we might arrive a little later?

Caption 60, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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The adverb weswegen is used more in writing than in speech, but if somebody ever asks you Weswegen?—and you want to be flippant—you can answer Deswegen! ("Why?" —"Because!")


Wozu braucht man einen Fruchtbarkeitstee, wenn man bereits schwanger ist?

Why do you need fertility tea if you are already pregnant?

Caption 9, Großstadtrevier Nicht mit mir - Part 5

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The adverb wozu is also often translated as "what for."


Further Learning
Look for the German "why" adverbs warum, weshalb, wieso, weswegen, and wozu on Yabla German and see some of the various contexts in which they are used. Then write a list of English sentences and see if you can make multiple translations to German using the words above.

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Words with -mal and -malig

When talking about time in German, one word that is often found alone or as a root is das Mal. Not to be confused with das Mahl, which means "the meal," das Mal without an "h" means "the time" in the sense of "the instance." You've certainly seen sentences like this on Yabla German:


Bis zum nächsten Mal.

Till next time.

Caption 53, Abendessen: mit Marko

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There are a number of words that employ this word as a root to express a more specific relation to time. For example, einmal means "once," and so einmalig is an adjective that describes something that happens only once, or is exceptionally unique. 


Diese Ansprache, die gibt es ja normalerweise nur einmal im Jahr.

This address is usually only given once a year.

Caption 3, Coronavirus: Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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Wir haben heute eine einmalige Aktion vor uns ...

We have a one-time special ahead of us today...

Caption 6, Coronavirus: Drei Musiker geben Ballonkonzert über Cloppenburg

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Ja, also wir bauen einen Baum auf, der ist drei Meter fünfzig hoch, das ist so... so einmalig.

Yes, well, we put up a tree there which is three meters fifty tall, that's so... so unique.

Captions 11-12, Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser

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You may have also seen erstmal, which means "first," temporally speaking. If something is erstmalig, it is happening for the first time (zum ersten Mal).


Und dieser Boden ist hier in Darmstadt in der Centralstation ja erstmalig in Deutschland im Einsatz.

And this floor is here in Darmstadt in the Centralstation  is in use for the first time in Germany.

Captions 1-2, Organic Disco: Tanzen gegen den Klimawandel

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Now let's look at ehemals/ehemalig and damals/damalig, which both refer to the past. You'll see these words translated in different ways on Yabla, but often with "back then," "at the time," and "former," depending on whether an adverb or adjective/adjectival phrase is required. 


Es war damals irgendwie total uncool, ein Auto zu haben.

It was somehow totally uncool to have a car back then.

Caption 33, Deutsch mit Eylin: Menschen beschreiben

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Und die damalige Geschäftsführerin hat den Sender hier rübergebracht ... 

And the former managing director brought the station over here... 

Caption 52, Rhein-Main-TV: Interview mit Edmund Stössel

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In Pforzheim steht nach Angaben des Betreibers das einzige DDR-Museum auf ehemals westdeutschem Boden...

In Pforzheim, according to accounts of the operator, stands the only GDR museum on former West German soil...

Captions 7-8, DDR zum Anfassen Ganz tief im Westen

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Rund viertausend Besucher kommen jährlich nach Pforzheim, um etwas über die ehemalige DDR zu lernen.

Around four thousand visitors come yearly to Pforzheim to learn something about the former GDR.

Captions 39-40, DDR zum Anfassen Ganz tief im Westen

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Further Learning
Build some sentences with einmal, zweimal, dreimal, and viermal that describe how often you have been to certain places or how often you do certain tasks during the week. Then look for examples of damals, ehemals, damalig, and ehemalig translated on Yabla German to get a sense of the nuances. 

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Prefixed verbs with misleading roots, Part II

In Part I, we took a look at how some German prefixed verbs have meanings that don't have a clear relationship to their root words. Today, we'll take a look at some more examples.


As you probably already know, German verbs often use prefixes that change the meaning of their original root words. Usually, the prefixed verbs have a related meaning, however. For example, sagen ("to say") is related to besagen ("to state") by the fact that both words are related to speaking.


But in some cases, the relation of a prefixed verb to its root word is not so clear. For instance, untersagen means "to forbid," which in most usages refers to a law or rule rather than a verbal order. Its adverb strays even further from the root word: Es ist untersagt, den Raum zu betreten ("It is forbidden to enter the room").


Many such prefixed verbs are centuries old and stem from Middle German. They may have started off with a stronger relation to their root words, but as time went on, the meanings of the words may have changed.


Du musst endlich damit aufhören!

You have to finally stop this!

Caption 39, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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The root verb hören means "to hear." A beginner's mistake might be to think aufhören means "to listen to," but in fact it means "to stop" and has no obvious correlation to its root word. The prefixed verb for "to listen" is zuhören, by the way!


Die Zahl der Flüchtlinge zu begrenzen lehnte sie in dem Interview mit der Funke Mediengruppe ab.

Limiting the number of refugees is something that she rejected in her interview with Funke Mediengruppe.

Captions 38-39, Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten: Atomenergie und Flüchtlingspolitik

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In this case, the root verb lehnen means "to lean," but the prefixed verb ablehnen means "to reject." According to the word's etymology in the Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, ablehnen has been in use since the 16th century, but unfortunately no explanation is given as to its connection with lehnen.


Ich würde vorschlagen, da machen wir einen Termin am Freitag um zwölf Uhr.

I'd suggest that we make an appointment for Friday at twelve o'clock.

Caption 26, Mein Weg nach Deutschland: Beim Arzt

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A mistaken correlation with the root word schlagen ("to beat" or "to strike") might suggest an army making a preemptive strike, but in fact, the meaning of vorschlagen ("to suggest") is much less aggressive. If making a kind of verbal suggestion to somebody instead of hitting them is possible, it's definitely the better way to go!


Last but not least, here's an example with the root verb stellen and the prefixed verb vorstellen. Note that the word vor in the first example is a preposition, not part of the verb.


Ich stelle den vollen Müllbeutel deutlich sichtbar vor die Haustür.

I place the full trash bag clearly visible in front of the front door.

Caption 37, Deutsch mit Eylin: Putzen

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Man stelle sich mal ein Europa vor, in dem alle Länder ihre Primärenergie ökologisch sauber zu decken versuchten.

Imagine a Europe in which all countries tried to cover their primary energy in a way that was ecologically clean.

Captions 25-26, Terra X Ohne Kohle und Atom: Geht uns der Strom aus?

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Further Learning
Look at this list of 375 verbs with prefixes and look out for prefixed verbs that are not closely related to their root verbs. You can also search the Lessons on Yabla German for various conjugations of the verbs listed above to see them used in different contexts.

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Rest and Relaxation

Summer vacation has started for students in Germany! Thousands of families will be heading out for their holidays in Germany and abroad during the next weeks. We've looked at nouns for "vacation" and "holiday" in a previous lesson, but this week we'll look at verbs and nouns related to resting, relaxing, and enjoying oneself. 


The first verb to learn is sich entspannen, which almost always translates as "to relax." For the noun "relaxation," you can use die Entspannung.


Da kann man sich richtig entspannen.

You can really relax there.

Caption 40, Es war einmal … Entdecker und Erfinder: Archimedes

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Gestern nach der Arbeit habe ich dringend Entspannung gebraucht.

Yesterday after work, I urgently needed relaxation.

Caption 17, Konjugation: Das Verb „brauchen“

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For university students, or others who have had an intense year so far, sich erholen is another reflexive verb that may be appropriate. This verb can be translated as "to rest, "to recover," and "to recuperate," and its related noun is die Erholung. University students may still have exams or papers to complete, but their summer extends through September. 


Fast scheint es, als wolle sich der Zwergtintenfisch von seinen Abenteuern erholen.

It almost appears that the bobtail squid wants to recover from its adventure.

Caption 9, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen\

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Fehmarn bietet seinen Gästen neben Erholung und Ruhe ein Veranstaltungsprogramm.

Fehmarn offers its guests, in addition to relaxation and rest, an events program.

Caption 21, Die Insel Fehmarn: Gästeboom

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Another good verb for "to rest" is sich ausruhen. It is this verb that doctors are most likely to use when they talk about getting some rest.


Und ich kann mich dadurch noch tiefer ausruhen.

And that allows me to rest even more deeply.

Caption 33, Deutsch mit Eylin: Erkältungszeit

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Er hatte zu viel Stress. Er muss sich jetzt ausruhen.

He was under too much stress. He has to rest now.

Caption 11, Nicos Weg: Alten- und Pflegeheim

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However, if you are in good health and enjoying some time off, more relevant verbs might also be sich vergnügen, Spaß haben, or sich amüsieren


Und außerdem müssen sich junge Leute noch ein bisschen amüsieren.

And besides, young people still need to enjoy themselves a bit.

Caption 21, Es war einmal... der Weltraum: Die Saurier

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Further Learning
You can find lots of vocabulary related to relaxation and holidays on Yabla German. We also did a whole series on vacations not so long ago!

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Prefixed verbs with misleading roots, Part I

As you have likely learned, German verbs often use prefixes that change their meaning compared to their original root words. Usually, the prefixed verbs have a related meaning, however. For example, sagen ("to say") is related to besagen ("to state") by the fact that both words are related to speaking.


But in some cases, the relation of a prefixed verb to its root word is not so clear. For instance, untersagen means "to forbid," which in most usages refers to a law or rule rather than a verbal order. Its adverb strays even further from the root word: Es ist untersagt, den Raum zu betreten ("It is forbidden to enter the room").


Many such prefixed verbs are centuries old and stem from Middle German. They may have started off with a strong relation to their root words, but as time went on, the meanings of the words may have changed. Perhaps untersagen came from the days when a Saxon chieftain ruled the tribe by verbal command rather than by written laws?


Wir freuen uns immer, wenn Ausländer Deutsch sprechen.

We're always glad when foreigners speak German.

Caption 32, Anna: Am Strand in Mexiko

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Und auch die Tierstudien widersprechen sich.

And even the animal studies contradict each other.

Caption 17, Terra X: Anti-Aging durch Fasten?

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Sie müssen einen Kunstkörper herstellen für Präparate, die dem Original entsprechen.

They must make a plastic body for mountings that correspond to the original.

Captions 25-26, Wettlauf gegen den Verfall: Beruf Präparator

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The verb sprechen is the root word of many prefixed verbs that have at least a tentative relation to speaking: absprechen ("to agree"), durchsprechen ("to talk over"), or weitersprechen ("to continue speaking"), for example. But while people can contradict each other verbally, you see above that widersprechen can also be used in contexts far beyond those containing speech. And the verb entsprechen goes even further away from its root word sprechen.


Er läuft Runden im Park, bis die Beine versagen.

He runs laps in the park until his legs fail.

Caption 21, Maxim: Meine Soldaten

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The primary meaning of the verb versagen is "to fail," and is pretty far removed from its root word sagen. However, the secondary meaning is "to deny (something)," which has stronger correlations to the root word: Es war uns versagt, den Raum zu betreten. ("We were denied access to the room.")


Die Hochzeit würde also stattfinden.

The wedding would indeed take place.

Caption 45, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Hans mein Igel

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It's difficult to reconcile stattfinden ("to take place") with finden ("to find"). The noun die Statt is an old-fashioned word meaning "place," but it's unclear how "to find" is related to the meaning.


Es gibt keinerlei Hinweise dafür, dass Flüchtlinge öfter Straftaten begehen als andere Menschen.

There is no proof whatsoever that refugees commit crimes more often than other people.

Captions 42-43, Flüchtlingskrise: 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Eine Straftat begehen means "to commit a crime," and einen Fehler begehen means "to make a mistake." On the surface, there is little correlation with gehen ("to go").


The Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (DWDS for short) has a good section on the etymology or historical origin of German words, but in most cases, they too have difficulties making tentative connections with a lot of the words above.


Further Learning
Read this blog about how German prefixes alter the meanings of words. You can also search the Lessons on Yabla German for various conjugations of the verbs listed above to see them used in different contexts.

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Nuances of sprechen: Part II

In a recent lesson, we looked at the verbs ansprechen, aussprechenvorsprechen, nachsprechen, besprechen, and versprechen. However, there are many verbs related to speaking that do not contain the verb sprechen. 


The verb sich unterhalten refers in particular to the art of conversation. Here it stands alone, but you will often see the construction sich mit jemanden unterhalten


So kannst du auf natürliche Weise lernen, dich auf Deutsch zu unterhalten.

This is how you can naturally learn to converse in German.

Captions 10-11, Deutsch mit Eylin: Fragewörter

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The verb reden is interesting because it can be used for both serious and less serious conversations. In terms of prepositions, you'll often see über etwas reden ("to discuss something") or mit jemandem reden ("to talk with someone"), and if someone tells you Wir müssen reden ("We need to talk"), it could be very serious indeed.


Als Nächstes möchte ich über die Geschichte Berlins reden.

Next, I'd like to talk about the history of Berlin.

Caption 16, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Hast du nicht gesehen, wie sie die ganze Nacht mit dem Typen geredet hat?

Did you not see how she was talking to that guy all night?

Caption 22, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

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The verb diskutieren is less ambiguous. Beware: it is stronger than "to discuss" in English and can even be translated as "to debate," "to dispute," or "to argue."


Am siebenundzwanzigsten Juli wollen sie das Thema im Gemeinderat diskutieren.

On the twenty-seventh of July they want to discuss the topic in the city council.

Caption 38, Online-Flashmob: "Bud-Spencer-Tunnel" in Gmünd

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The verb quatschen is quite informal, and refers to chatting or conversation that isn't restrained by time or formalities. You might remember that the noun der Quatsch means nonsense, but the use of quatschen doesn't necessarily mean that the topic is nonsense, just maybe not so serious or important. The verb plaudern has a similarly informal meaning, while the verb labern does indicate a lack of sense or importance. 


Ich dachte, wir quatschen mal eine Runde.

I thought we could chat for a bit.

Caption 2, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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Was quatschen die da hinten?

What are they chattering about back there?

Caption 19, Nena: Besser geht's nicht

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Und auch ein bisschen, äh, die Spieler noch mal zu treffen, mit denen so ein bisschen zu plaudern...

And also to meet the players a little bit again, to chat with them a little bit...

Captions 44-45, Mercedes Benz: Michael Schumacher und Nico Rosberg bei der Nationalmannschaft

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Der laberte irgendwas von Blüten.

He was babbling something about blossoms.

Caption 62, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Further Learning
You'll find many examples with these verbs on Yabla German. Make sure you review their conjugations as well. 

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Nuances of sprechen: Part I

One of the very first verbs you'll learn when studying German is sprechen ("to speak"). While watching videos on Yabla, however, you may have noticed that there are many verbs that consist of sprechen and a prefix. 


Some separable verbs include the words for "to say out loud" and "to repeat out loud":


Ich spreche vor und du kannst sie nachsprechen.

I'll say them out loud, and you can repeat them.

Caption 35, Deutsch mit Eylin: Umlaute

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The verb aussprechen can mean "to express" or "to pronounce" depending on the context. 


Und lassen Sie mich auch hier Dank aussprechen an Menschen, denen zu selten gedankt wird. 

And let me at this point also express gratitude to people who are too rarely thanked. 

Captions 1-2, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Das deutsche „Z“ wird immer so ausgesprochen.

The German "Z" is always pronounced like this.

Caption 21, Deutsch mit Eylin: S und Z

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The verb ansprechen means "to address." Like in English, you can address a person or address a topic:


Ich war mir nicht sicher, wie ich es ansprechen sollte.

I was not sure how to address it.

Caption 11, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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

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

Caption 65, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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There are also some inseparable verbs that you have likely already encountered. For a topic that's being discussed, you can use sprechen über or the verb besprechen.


Um die Einzelheiten zu besprechen.

To talk about the specific details.

Caption 11, Berufsleben:  Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Dieses Thema haben wir schon in einem anderen Video besprochen.

We already spoke about this theme in another video.

Caption 3, Eva erklärt: die Steigerung von Adjektiven und Adverbien

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And though it's a bit different, let's include the verb versprechen ("to promise") as well:


Na gut, aber ihr müsst versprechen, dass ihr wach bleibt. -Versprochen.

All right, but you have to promise that you will stay awake. -Promised.

Caption 25, Peppa Wutz: Sterne - Zahnfee - Übernachtungsparty

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Further Learning
You can find many examples of these verbs conjugated on Yabla German. Stay tuned for a follow-up lesson in a few weeks!

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Summer Swimming

Summer is the time to go swimming. Let's talk today about words related to swimming and swimming safety.


Man kann hier natürlich noch andere Sachen tun als nur schwimmen.

You can, of course, do other things here besides just swimming.

Caption 6, Berlin: Wannsee

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OK, und dann halt lieber hier in der freien Natur baden.

OK, and then just better to swim here in open nature.

Caption 77, Unterwegs mit Cettina: Sommer am Baggersee

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The verbs schwimmen and baden both mean "to swim," but baden can also mean "to play in the water" or even "to take a bath." I've often had Europeans ask if we should "go bathing" (or even "have a bath"), by which they mean "go swimming," of course!


Kommt Kinder, wir gehen zur Abkühlung erst mal eine Runde schwimmen!

Come on kids, let's go for a swim to cool off first!

Caption 72, Umwelt und Natur: Wo sind all die Bienen hin?

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Aber es ist perfekt, um ans Meer zu fahren und baden zu gehen.

But it's perfect for going to the sea and going for a swim.

Caption 39, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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To say "to go swimming," you combine the verbs gehen and schwimmen, or gehen and baden. Note that the phrases consist of two verbs and are not single separable verbs!


Den größten Teil meiner Freizeit verbringe ich in Tel Aviv und am Strand.

I spend the largest portion of my free time in Tel Aviv and at the beach.

Caption 11, Grete: eine Freiwillige in Israel

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Also, in Tübingen gibt's ein Schwimmbad.

Well, in Tübingen there is a swimming pool.

Caption 21, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Über jemanden sprechen

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Two obvious places to go swimming are the beach (der Strand) or a swimming pool (das Schwimmbad), and you'll hopefully be able to find those someplace closer to home than Tel Aviv or Tübingen!


Mein Handtuch brauche ich nicht.

I don't need my towel.

Caption 19, Peppa Wutz: Sport

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Actually, unless you're going to a gym that supplies a towel, you will probably want to have one when you go swimming. Das Handtuch is the general word for "towel," but you may want to bring a bigger one to lie down on, such as a a beach towel (das Strandtuch).

Vorsicht: Die Sonne ist auch sehr heiß. Deswegen brauchen wir einen Hut, eine Sonnenbrille, und ganz wichtig... Sonnencreme.

Beware: The sun is also very hot. Therefore we need a hat, sunglasses, and very important... sun lotion.

Captions 18-21, Jahreszeiten: Der Sommer

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Safety first! In addition to a hat (der Hut), sunglasses (die Sonnenbrille), and sun lotion (die Sonnencreme), it's important to bring lots of liquids to drink!


Further Learning
Watch the videos above on Yabla German and learn some other terms about summer fun. And then take a break and go swimming somewhere to cool off! And remember to be safe about swimming when you're out in the hot sun.

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Roommates, Berlin, and the Law

My experiences with having roommates in the United States varied a lot. Sometimes the landlord just didn't care, or at most just asked to be informed. Sometimes they wanted to check the potential roommate's credit rating, or even go so far as adding them to the lease or rental contract.


Laws regarding renter's rights vary in different places in Germany, but in the city-state of Berlin, there are a number of peculiar aspects to what should be a fairly simple process: getting a roommate.


You are required by Berlin law to have the landlord's permission to sublet (untermieten) before your roommate, the subletter (der Untermieter, die Untermieterin), moves in.


Na ja, Sie sind doch der Vermieter hier.

Well, you're the landlord here.

Caption 8, Nicos Weg: Nachbarschaft

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Bis sie eine Erlaubnis bekommen...

Until they receive permission...

Caption 36, Flüchtlingskrise: 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Hast du Mitbewohner? Ja, ich habe eine Mitbewohnerin. Ihr Name ist Sarah.

Do you have roommates? Yes, I have a roommate. Her name is Sarah.

Captions 5-6, Drei Leute: beim Kofferpacken

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The genders of the above are der Vermieter or die Vermieterin; der Mitbewohner or die Mitbewohnerin; die Erlaubnis.


If you don't ask the landlord's permission first, and either the landlord or somebody from the property management (die Hausverwaltung) notices a new name on the doorbell or mailbox, you could have a serious problem. If the landlord can prove you are subletting without permission—which is actually quite difficult without your roommate openly admitting it—you and your roommate could be evicted (zwangsgeräumt) from your apartment.


On a more positive note, however, if you have valid reasons, such as not wanting to live alone and/or wanting to save money on your costs of living, the landlord is required by law to grant you permission. First, you write them a letter asking permission to have a subletter and giving the personal details about your roommate such as their full name (der Vollname), date of birth (das Geburtsdatum), place of birth (der Geburtsort), and their last residential address (die letzte Wohnanschrift), and give valid reasons for wanting a roommate. The only legal reasons they might have for refusing are if your roommate has a bad rental history record or if there is less than 12.5 square meters (about 135 square feet) per person in the flat.


If the landlord fails to answer you within the period you asked them to, usually two weeks, you can get a lawyer to file against them and have the court order the landlord to give you permission. There are a number of renter's rights organizations in Berlin that, for a yearly fee of around 100 euros, offer free legal help, from advice all the way to the courtroom. It's smart to belong to one of these organizations!


Ich will Jura studieren und Rechtsanwältin werden.

I want to study law and become a lawyer.

Caption 42, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Ihrer Klage sehen wir gelassen entgegen.

We are calmly looking forward to your lawsuit.

Caption 21, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Betrug

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The gender variants for "lawyer" are der Rechtsanwalt and die Rechtsanwältin.


Unless you are subletting your entire flat, the landlord is not allowed to stipulate any conditions in their permission to sublet, such as a limited time period or based upon a yearly verification of your income. Even if you agreed to such conditions originally, they can be invalidated in court because the landlord was not allowed to stipulate them in the first place.


Once you get permission for your roommate to live with you, you should have them sign a sublet contract (der Untermietvertrag) and then fill out—and this is a real mouthful–eine Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung, which can be translated as "a housing provider certificate." Your roommate needs one of these so that they can get a residential registration (die Meldebestätigung) at your address. Without a valid residential registration, they will have a lot problems with things such as getting a library card, a bank account, or a residence permit!


Thankfully, renters have a lot of rights in Berlin, but you may sometimes find yourself in the position of having to fight for those rights. Joining a renter's rights association is a good option and gives you full access to advice from experienced lawyers.


Further Learning
If you are in the mood to get into some advanced German, read this article about a decision of the Landgericht Berlin about subletting rights by the Berliner Mietergemeinschaft. You can also go to Yabla German and find other videos with some of the German vocabulary words mentioned above!

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Apartment Buildings

This week, we'll look at vocabulary for describing German apartment buildings, which is often no easy task. Even when a building is not particularly large in comparison to what you might find in other cities, there are some essential words for describing where you are located.


The architecture of many apartment buildings involves a central courtyard, der Hinterhof. The part of the building that is immediately on the street is called das Vorderhaus, while the apartments accessed by going through the courtyard are in what is generally called either das Hinterhaus, das Quergebäude, or das Gartenhaus. The part of the building that runs along the sides of the courtyard and connects these two parts is called der Seitenflügel and is often specified with links or rechts.


So, if you have a visitor and need to describe where your apartment is located, this may be what you specify first. Next, however, you will also need to describe what floor you are on. There are three nouns for this: die Etage, das Stockwerk (der Stock), and das Obergeschoss (sometimes abbreviated OG). Do keep in mind that the ground floor (das Erdgeschoss or das Hochparterre when it's elevated from street level) is not considered the first floor in German-speaking countries! 


Unser Büro befindet sich im vierten Stock.

Our office is located on the fourth floor.

Caption 47, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch:

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Das Zimmer ist in der vierten Etage.

The room is on the fourth floor.

Caption 13, Nicos Weg: Im Hotel

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Wir können damit ins erste OG [Obergeschoss] hoch.

We can hoist it onto our shoulders, we can go up to the first floor [US second floor] with it

Caption 43, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug

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In order to reach these floors, a visitor will need to either take the stairs, or if they're lucky, find an elevator. There are also two different words used for "the elevator" in German.


Du, ich bin schon im Treppenhaus.

Hey, I'm already in the stairwell.

Caption 64, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Den Aufzug finden Sie vorne rechts.

You'll find the elevator in the front on the right-hand side.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Im Hotel

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Ich hab grad gehört, der Fahrstuhl bleibt stecken.

I just heard that the elevator is stuck.

Caption 3, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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With any luck, they will then find the door of the apartment. Like the front door of a house, there is also a special word for this in German:


Ich stelle den vollen Müllbeutel deutlich sichtbar vor die Haustür.

I place the full trash bag clearly visible in front of the front door.

Caption 37, Deutsch mit Eylin: Putzen

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Dieser Brettschneider hat doch gesagt, dass die Typen direkt vor seiner Wohnungstür gestanden haben.

This Brettschneider guy told us that the guys were standing right in front of his apartment door.

Captions 43-44, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Further Learning
Practice describing where a friend or relative's apartment is in their building. You can also choose an office you've been to and describe which floor it's on. For more information about this topic, including common abbreviations, you can check out this Wikipedia page

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Several years ago, Yabla published a two-part lesson about the climate crisis (die Klimakrise). The situation since then has gotten even worse, so let's revisit the topic today.


The term "climate change" (der Klimawandel) is generally used to describe how mankind's activities are affecting our climate today in ways that have a serious impact on our environment, our economy, and our lives.


Und da sieht man ganz klar: Der Klimawandel ist „real“.

And you can see very clearly that climate change is real.

Caption 13, WWF Deutschland Klimawandel hautnah: Was sind die Auswirkungen?

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Beim Strom haben wir den Vorteil zu anderen erneuerbaren Energieträgern.

With electricity we have the advantage over other renewable energy carriers.

Caption 27, Agrarmesse: Grüne Woche in Berlin

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Other sources of electricity, such as dams and wind turbines, may have a negative effect on the landscape, but they are relatively green compared to energy sources such as fossil fuels (fossile Energieträger). Wikipedia describes a fossil fuel as a substance "such as coal, oil, and natural gas, formed naturally in the Earth's crust from the remains of dead plants and animals, that is extracted and burned as a fuel."


Die globale Klimaerwärmung hinterlässt Spuren.

Global warming is leaving its mark.

Caption 24, Die letzten Paradiese: Schätze der Natur: Südtirol

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The air pollution caused by fossil fuels causes global warming (die globale Erwärmung). Global warming is the largely human-caused increase of our planet's temperatures over the last decades.


Seit 1850 hat sich die Gletscherfläche bereits halbiert.

Since 1850, the glacial area has already been halved.

Caption 32, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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As the glaciers (der Gletscher, plural die Gletscher) and the icebergs (der Eisberg, plural die Eisberge) melt due to fossil fuels causing global warming, rivers are overfilled with water, and the sea rises.


Das Eis am Nord- und Südpol schmilzt, der Meeresspiegel steigt, es kommt zu schlimmen Überschwemmungen und woanders zu schlimmen Dürren.

The ice at the North and South Pole is melting, the sea level is rising, terrible floods are occurring and elsewhere terrible droughts.

Captions 31-32, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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A drought (die Dürre) is the opposite of a flood (die Überschwemmung): instead of too much water, there isn't enough. Without enough water, farmers are unable to grow the kinds of food that they used to in the past. Property, crops, and even human lives are lost as a direct result of storms, floods, and droughts caused by global warming.


Hilf also mit, die Wälder zu schützen, rette den Regenwald!

So help protect the forests, save the rainforest!

Caption 46, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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By protecting the rainforest (der Regenwald), global warming is reduced, because trees absorb the heat from sunlight and turn carbon dioxide into oxygen—which we also need to breathe! King Charles of Great Britain has a rainforests project, and has stated that stopping the destruction of rainforests would help slow climate change. However, it's only going to change if wealthy people like King Charles and large profit-driven corporations are made to take financial and moral responsibility for the destruction they are causing.


Die Gewinne sind ja auch dementsprechend hoch.

The profits are accordingly high.

Caption 8, Ball des Weines: Tombola

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As long as the burning of fossil fuels continues to create windfall profits for the ultra wealthy and corporations, there is little chance of slowing global warming and climate change. A carbon tax (die CO2-Steuer or die Kohlenstoffsteuer), which would tax products that damage the environment according to the costs of repairing the damages they cause, could help solve the problem by forcing manufacturers to seek greener energy sources. But in many western democratic countries, this is seen as a danger to profits, and stands very little chance with politicians, whose campaigns are often heavily financed by some of the world's worst polluters.


As individuals, the best that most of us can manage (including voting!) is to continue to do our small part in reducing our consumption of products that directly lead to global warming!


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch some of the videos above that deal with this topic. You can also search for some of the highlighted words to find more German videos related to climate change.

Continue Reading