German Lessons


Lessons for topic Expressions

Springtime Activities in Germany

All Mel Brooks jokes aside, Germany is a cold, gray place in winter, and the first hints of spring draw everyone out into the sunshine like hibernating bears emerging from their winter caves. Springtime is truly appreciated in Northern Europe, not like your year-round boring Southern California sunshine, and with this special time of year come special springtime activities, as well.


How better to get about than on a bicycle?


Frühlingszeit ist Fahrradzeit,

Springtime is bike time,

also raus mit dem Drahtesel [Umgangssprache]

so get out the "wire donkey" [your trusty bike]

und ab auf die Piste.

and hit the road.

Captions 1-2, Fahrrad - Frühjahrs-Check

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And as you pass by Viktoriapark in Berlin's Kreuzberg district,


Man kann sich dort sonnen, Frisbee spielen oder ein Picknick machen.

You can sun yourself, play frisbee, or have a picnic.

Caption 9, Berlin - Eva im Viktoriapark

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After all that sunshine, what better way to cool off than with some exotically flavored ice cream?


Leopardeneis und Vanilleeis,

Leopard ice cream and vanilla ice cream,

ein Traum für einen sonnigen Frühlingsnachmittag.

a dream for a sunny spring afternoon.

Caption 46, Eis - Eiskalte Leidenschaft

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This is the time to really enjoy life, after all!


Das ist der Frühling...

This is spring...

alle freuen sich: die Tiere, die Pflanzen, die Menschen.

everyone rejoices: the animals, the plants, the people.

Captions 10-11, Jahreszeiten - Der Frühling

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Further Learning:

Gardening is also a very popular spring and summer activity. Go to this extensive garden glossary and then go outside and see if you can put some of your new vocabulary to practical use in nature! After getting some fresh air, see if you can find some of the newly-learned springtime terms in context in a video on German Yabla!

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Are You Certain?

Has anyone ever had the audacity to doubt you, despite your obvious inborn genius and natural talents? The best response to such outrageous treatment is, of course, to put the disbelievers firmly in their place, and this is best accomplished through modifiers that express certainty, ways of emphasizing that there can simply be no doubt: you are the greatest, and they are just going to have to live with the fact.


Former German president Christian Wulff may have been forced to resign in a 2012 scandal, but nobody ever doubted his support for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup:


Die Unterstützung des Schirmherrn aus dem Schloss Bellevue

The support of the patron from Bellevue Castle

ist also gewiss.

is certain.

Captions 13-14, Frauenfußball-WM - Der Bundespräsident am Ball

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As to life after the resignation, Wulff may be facing difficulties similar to those of an animal shelter in Nied:


Die Zeiten werden rauer, so viel steht fest.

The times are getting rougher, that is for sure.

Caption 48, Für Tierfreunde - Tierheim Nied

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Though Wulff's smile is still looking good, there's always room for improvement, as suggested by Diane and Franca:


Wenn ich weniger Schokolade essen würde,

If I ate less chocolate,

wäre mein Zahnarzt bestimmt zufriedener mit mir.

my dentist would certainly be happier with me.

Captions 30-31, Konjugation - Das Verb „essen“

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And were Wulff to be accused of smuggling a polar bear into the Frankfurt Zoo, he would surely respond:


Doch wie Sie sicherlich wissen,

But as you surely know,

gibt's im Frankfurter Zoo keine Eisbären.

there aren't any polar bears in the Frankfurt Zoo.

Caption 11, Umfragen - Zootiere im Winter

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Further Learning:

Gewiss, feststehen, bestimmt, and sicherlich are just a few examples of the many ways of expressing certainty in German. Go the the aforementioned interview with former German president Christian Wulff on Yabla and see if you can find other examples of Mr. Wulff expressing certainty. As the old saying goes, Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall.

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German Soccer Expressions

If you are a soccer fan, you are probably already familiar with many soccer terms, but here are few that may be new for you!


A referee is a Schiedsrichter, but just as "ref" is often used as a shorter form for "referee" in English, so too in German is Schiri a shortening of Schiedsrichter:


Am besten holt sich jeder Schiri... knöpft sich einen Spieler vor.

It would be best if every ref got... to button up a player.

Caption 30, Die OLElympischen Spiele - Laotischer Hühnertanz

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The slang term Gelb sehen, literally to "see yellow," means a player has been penalized with a yellow penalty card:


Dafür habe ich aber 'ne gelbe Karte wegen Foulspielen an 'n Rasen bekommen,

For that, however, I received a yellow card for foul play against the field,

Caption 49, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell - Kick für Kids

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In the above caption you see the football terms das Foulspiel (foul play) and der Rasen (the playing field) too!

A penalty shot is called an Elfmeter, literally an "eleven meter," in reference to the distance from the goal, and in this case the shot was verschossen or "missed":


Aus Scham über den verschossenen Elfmeter pumpt Vettel erst mal ein paar Liegestütze.

From shame over the missed eleven meter [penalty shot], Vettel first pumps a few push-ups.

Caption 40, Fußball - Prominente beim Benefizspiel

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Here we manage to get four football terms in a single sentence!


Es ist ein Laufduell, ein Pass, der vor die Abwehr kommt, und ein Zweikampf.

It's a sprinting duel, a pass that comes before the defense, and a tackle.

Caption 37, Fußball - U21-Nationalmannschaft

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Further Learning:

Pop quiz: without peeking, what do the terms we just read about mean? Der Schiri, die gelbe Karte, das Foulspiel, der Rasen, verschossen, der Elfmeter, das Laufduell, der Pass, die Abwehr, der Zweikampf. If you would like to go beyond vocabulary and into some very funny German soccer philosophy, read the article in der Spiegel entitled "German Football's Greatest Sayings."

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Es geht nur ums Geld: German Idioms about Money

Many German expressions having to do with money are very similar to those in English, in fact the expressions may have been derived from and adapted by one or the other of the two languages. Some examples are: Geld waschen (to launder money), Das Geld zum Fenster hinauswerfen (to throw money out the window) and nach Geld stinken (to be filthy rich). Some expressions are not quite so direct, however, such as: Geld regiert die Welt (money makes the world go round, literally "money rules the world"), Im Geld schwimmen (to roll in money, literally "to swim in money"), and Das Geld liegt nicht auf der Straße (money doesn't grow on trees, literally "money doesn't lie on the street"). Here are some more examples from Yabla videos:


This one is pretty obvious:


Zeit ist Geld und Geld ist gut

Time is money and money is good

Caption 9, Jan Wittmer - Leben für den Lebenslauf

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Here the expression Es geht ins Geld means it will get expensive:


Dann geht es aber auch irgendwann mal ins Geld.

Then at some point, however, it will also start costing money.

Caption 29, Endlich glücklich - Liebe im Netz

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But this is the most important thing of all to remember about money:


Geld allein ist nicht alles.

Money alone isn't everything.

Caption 62, Für Tierfreunde - Tierheim Nied

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Learning Suggestions:

See if you can understand the correct English meanings for the following German money-related expressions without resorting to a search engine or online dictionary by just using the vocabulary you already have: Geld allein macht nicht glücklich; Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt, ist des Talers nicht wert (a hint on this one: a Taler is an old-fashioned currency like the dollar or euro); Sie haben Geld wie Heu; Es geht nur ums Geld; and last of all, the most difficult one: Unrecht Gut gedeihet nicht. 

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Funktionsverben: German Light Verbs

A light verb (Funktionsverb, also called vector verb or empty verb) is a verb that has very little intrinsic meaning on its own and requires an additional expression, usually a noun, to give it meaning. Some light verb expressions in German are similar to English, and therefore easy to understand, such as Einfluss ausüben (to exert infuence), zu Ende sein (to be at an end, to be over) or in Sicht bleiben (to remain in view). But many other German light verbs do not have direct parallels in English and are somewhat more difficult to understand. Let's look to some Yabla videos for some examples!



in Angriff nehmen (to attack, to tackle, to proceed with):


Und dann mal schauen, ob wir eventuell irgendwas Live-mäßiges in Angriff nehmen.

and then [we'll] see if we perhaps take on something live.

Caption 16, rheinmain Szene - Selig

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unter Druck stehen (to be under pressure):


Ich denke, dass die Russen natürlich genauso unter Druck stehen.

I think that the Russians are certainly under an equal amount of pressure.

Caption 13, Fußball - Die deutsche Nationalmannschaft

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auf etwas Rücksicht nehmen (to show consideration for):


Wenn die Menschen doch nur mehr Rücksicht aufeinander nehmen würden.

If only people would show more consideration for one another.

Caption 10, Rücksicht im Verkehr - Christophorus - Die Mission

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Learning Suggestions:

See if you can find out the proper English meanings for the following German expressions containing light verbs: eine Anwendung finden, in Verlegenheit geraten, eine Mitteilung machen, eine Wahl treffen, unter Beobachtung stehen, zu Ansehen gelangen, in Druck geben, sich in Abhängigkeit befinden, in Erfahrung bringen, in Auftrag geben, in Frage stellen.


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Some German Words with "Christmas"

In keeping with the holiday spirit, let's take a look at a few German words that can be formed using Weihnachts- (Christmas-) as a root. Many of today's standard Christmas traditions originated in Germany, but as you can see from the Krampuslauf video, Germany still has a few Christmas traditions that remain very unique!


If you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet, you only have a couple of days left! Better head down to the Weihnachtsmarkt, which, although traditionally Southern German, can also be found in other parts of Germany:


Hier am Berliner Gendarmenmarkt

but here at the Berlin Gendarmenmarkt [a square in Berlin-Mitte],

gibt es auch einen kleinen tollen Weihnachtsmarkt.

there is also a great little Christmas market.

Caption 7, Weihnachtsmärkte - mit Eva

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And while you are there, you'd better pick up something delicious at the Weihnachtsbäckerei, because:


In der Weihnachtsbäckerei gibt es manche Leckerei.

In the Christmas bakery there is many a treat.

Caption 23, Der Sternschnuppenmarkt - in Wiesbaden

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Of course, your main purpose there is not to snack on pastries, but to pick up some Weihnachtsgeschenke:


Hier kann man schöne Weihnachtsgeschenke kaufen.

You can buy beautiful Christmas presents here.

Caption 14, Diane - auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

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When you get home, it may be time to decorate the Weihnachtsbaum


Also der Weihnachtsbaum

Well, the Christmas tree

wird bei uns am Vierundzwanzigsten aufgestellt.

will be set up at our place on the twenty-fourth.

Caption 27, Weihnachtsinterviews - Cettina in Linkenheim

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Learning suggestions:

Can you figure out what some of these other words based on Weihnachts- (Christmas-) mean?

Weihnachtssachen, Weihnachtsbaumständer, Weihnachtsspenden, Weihnachtstrubel, Weihnachtsferien, Weihnachtsmann, Weihnachtsessen

Search for videos on Yabla that use these words to better understand their meaning and context!

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Indefinite Quantity Adjectives (Unbestimmte Zahladjektive)

Let’s take a look today at adjectives that define quantitative amounts without actually resorting to the specifics of numbers. The most common of them, viele (“much” or “many”) and wenige (“little” or “not many”), are used irregularly, however, so let’s check them out first. When viele and wenige occur as a definite article or after a definite article, they are conjugated as normal adjectives: 


Für die vielen amerikanischen Soldaten im amerikanischen Sektor...

For the many American soldiers in the American Sector...

Caption 9, Berlin - der alte amerikanische Sektor

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But when viele or wenige occur without an article before a singular noun, they are usually left unconjugated: 


Aber dafür bleibt wohl wenig Zeit.

But there seems to be too little time for that.

Caption 25, Fußball - Torwandschießen

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As you can see above, a normal adjective for the feminine word die Zeit would, in the nominative case as here, end with an “e.” Wenig is a little different!

Here are some examples of more typical indefinite quantity adjectives, which are conjugated as normal adjectives. We can start will alle (“everything”):


Natürlich stehe ich hinter allen Songs.

Of course I'm behind all of the songs.

Caption 62, Deutsche Bands - Luxuslärm

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And then wind up with keine (“none” or “no”): 


Bisher allerdings ist noch keine Schildkröte in Sicht.

Up to now though there's still no turtle in sight.

Caption 43, Ausgrabungen - Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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Some other common indefinite quantity adjectives to look out for are: beide (both), einige (some), einzelne (single, individual), ganze (whole), gesamte (entire), manche (some), sonstige (other, further), übrige (the rest), weitere (further), zahllose (innumerable), and zahlreiche (numerous). 



Learning suggestions:

Keep your eyes out in every Yabla video for the many ways that indefinite quantity adjectives are used, and pay particular attention to the way that viele and wenige are conjugated, because the irregular usage will take some training and getting a feel for! For a further foray into the world of indefinite quantity adjectives written in German, take a look here. Ich wünsche euch viel Spaß beim Lernen!

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How bitte and bitten differ from “please” and “to please”

The adverb bitte is probably used much more often in German than “please” is in English. This is because it has many different meanings, from “you’re welcome,” “pardon,” “may I help you” and “here you go” all the way back to simple “please.” On the other hand, the verb “to please” has a number of German equivalents, but the German verb bitten does not mean “to please,” but rather “to ask,” “to request,” “to beg” or “to plead.” So be aware that while these aren’t exactly false friends, they’re not completely equivalent.  



The adverb, please!


Let’s first check out the different ways bitte is used: Bitte is very commonly meant as “you’re welcome,” the standard response after somebody has thanked you for something: 


Also, vielen herzlichen Dank, dass ich heute mit dabei sein durfte!

So, many heartfelt thanks that I was allowed to be here today!

-Bitte, bitte

-You're welcome, you're welcome!

Captions 56-57, Selbst versucht - Gepäckabfertigung bei Fraport

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When you go into a restaurant or shop, often the first thing the waiter or salesperson will ask you is bitte schön or sometimes merely bitte, which in this case means “may I help you?” The second bitte is “please” again!


Ja, bitte schön. -Ich möchte zwei Brotchen und ein Dinkelbrot, bitte

Yes, may I help you? -I would like two rolls and a spelt bread, please.


Next up, a Yabla example of bitte in the sense of “here you are,” a commonplace usage when, for instance, a waiter hands you a menu in a restaurant. Note that the first use of bitte in this example is the standard meaning “please.”


Genau. -Speisekarten bitte!

Exactly. -Menus please!

So, bitte sehr.

So, here you are.

Captions 6-7, Melanie und Thomas - im Restaurant

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Lastly, the adverb bitte can also be used in the sense of “pardon”:


Ich heiße Angela Merkel. -Wie bitte? -Ich sagte, „Ich heiße Angela Merkel”.

My name is Angela Merkel. -Pardon me? -I said, “My name is Angela Merkel.”


Although at first it may seem a bit confusing with so many possible meanings for bitte, the contexts will give you a very good indication of meaning!


The verb “to please”


As we discussed, the German verb bitten means “to ask,” “to plead,” “to entreat,” or even “to beg.” So how do we “please” someone in German? The German sich freuen, zufrieden sein, and zufriedenstellen are all used in various ways “to please.” Here someone is pleased to greet another person:


Ich bedanke mich und würde mich freuen,

I thank you and I would be pleased

Sie mal persönlich hier bei uns begrüßen.

to greet you personally here with us.

Captions 55-56, Architektur - der Stadt Karlsruhe

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And here someone is pleased with the city:


Ich bin extrem zufrieden mit Offenburg, wirklich.

I am extremely pleased with Offenburg, really.

Caption 8, Barbara Schöneberger - Bambi-Verleihung backstage

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And here a person is pleased with a film:


Die abwechslungsreichen Kurzfilme werden an Orten gezeigt,

The varied short films are being shown at places

die auch Besucher mit ästhetischem Anspruch äußerst zufriedenstellen.

that please visitors supremely with an aesthetic claim.

Captions 3-4, Kurzfilm-Festival - Shorts at Moonlight

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Learning suggestions:


Some other words meaning “to please,” which have varied shades of meaning such as “to make happy” and “to like,” are beglücken, behagen, and zu Gefallen sein. See if you can find a variety of these usages on Yabla and also check out Linguee, a great language resource site that takes published translations and posts them side by side with the original language so that you can see some real-world examples of words in different contexts. Ich denke, es wird euch gefallen!

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Halt oder ich schieße! The many ways to say “stop” in German

Many of you probably know the stock line Halt oder ich schieße! (Stop or I’ll shoot!) from old American and British WWII movies, but did you know there are many other ways to say “stop” in German? The German verbs halten and stoppen are easy to remember, since they have the English equivalent verbs “halt” and “stop,” but separable verbs such as aufhören and anhalten are a bit trickier! 


Let’s first take a look at a couple of examples using the verb halten in the imperative mood, both from the classic children’s book series Der Struwwelpeter:


Halt! Das ist noch gutgegangen

Stop! That just barely turned out ok

und die Fischlein sehen's mit Bangen.

and the little fish watch it with fear.

Caption 12, Der Struwwelpeter - Hans Guck-in-die-Luft

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Robert, halt! Dein Schirm fliegt fort.

Robert, stop! Your umbrella is flying away.

Caption 11, Der Struwwelpeter - Der fliegende Robert

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Next we see the use of the verb stoppen


Bislang konnte das die Ausbreitung der Läden aber nicht stoppen.

So far, however, this hasn't stopped the spread of the shops.

Caption 35, Perlentee - In allen Mündern

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And even an example using both halten and stoppen in the imperative mood: 


Stopp! Stopp, stopp, stopp, stopp, stopp! Halt!

Stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop! Hold on!

Caption 24, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Der Relativsatz

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Note that Yabla purposefully translated halten as “hold on” in order to differentiate it from the translations of stoppen as “stop.”

Another very useful German word for “stop” is aufhören, which is a separable verb that is most commonly used when you want an activity to stop. Here in the conditional mood:


Nein, wenn wir keine Lust mehr hätten, würden wir ja aufhören.

No, if we had no more desire, yes, we would stop.

Caption 25, Die Beatles - in Deutschland

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In the imperative mood, the verb’s lexical core is separated from its particle:


Hör auf! -Du musst genau hinsehen.

Stop! -You must watch closely.

Caption 13, Filmtrailer - Wir sind die Nacht

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And here an example using the present perfect tense:


Sie hat überhaupt nicht mehr aufgehört mit Eismachen.

She just never stopped making ice cream.

Caption 6, Eis - Eiskalte Leidenschaft

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The separable verb anhalten, on the other hand, is used primarily to indicate the stopping of moving objects or vehicles: 


Ein Mann fährt mit seinem Auto.

A man is driving in his car.

Dann wird er von der Polizei angehalten.

Then he is stopped by the police.

Captions 2-3, Sabine erzählt Witze - Die Pinguine

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It is possible to confuse anhalten with the verb for “to keep” (halten) and the preposition “on” (an). Usually the context makes it obvious: 


Ihren Pfiffi sollten sie aber lieber an der kurzen Leine halten.

But you had better keep your Fifi on a short leash.

Caption 39, Für Tierfreunde - Geparden

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Another version of “stop” with a very specific context is stehen bleiben, alternately written as one word (stehenbleiben), which is when a person stops walking or running:


Das heißt, jedes Mal, wenn man ihn gefangen hat,

That means, every time you catch it,

muss man stehen bleiben.

you have to stop.

Caption 10, Ultimate Frisbee - Spielregeln

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How would you translate the following?


Stopphalthör auf mit dem Anhalten!

Note that in the above sentence, the verb anhalten has been nominalized into the noun Anhalten. Many of the alternate German words for "stop" may be translated, depending on the context, with other English synonyms for “stop,” such as “cease,” “discontinue,” “interrupt,” “turn off,” “shut down,” “finish,” “break off,” “close,” or “end.”


Learning suggestions:

When you're watching Yabla videos, see if you can spot any other German versions of “stop.” You may learn some more synonyms for “stop” here

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If Wishes Were Horses and When Pigs Fly - Wenn

English speakers learning the word wenn for the first time often find the parallels to “when” helpful at first. But wenn can also mean "if." For example, a German child pleading for something and promising to be good in return can expect to hear:

Wenn das Wörtchen wenn nicht wär, wär mein Vater Millionär.

If the word "if" did not exist, my father would be a millionaire.

This is comparable to the English expression "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride" and can be translated more idiomatically as "When pigs fly."


While the uses of wenn in German are varied, it is most commonly used in such simple cases as:


Ich habe kein Geld, wenn ich Dinge einkaufe.

I have no money if I buy things.

Caption 40, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Die Konjunktion "wenn"

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The German use of wenn... dann is also parallel to the English “if... then.” We see this in the following example.


Aber auch wenn die Zeit noch 'n bisschen schwierig ist,

But even if time[s] are still a little bit difficult,

dann nimmt man sich gern zu Hause 'n bisschen Ablenkung davon...

then one gladly takes a little bit of distraction from it at home...

Captions 7-8, Auftrumpfen - Mit Kitsch und Protz

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Sometimes wenn really does mean "when": 


Und der, wenn er wild wird, uns Sand in die Augen weht.

And the one that, when he becomes wild, blows sand into our eyes.

Caption 17, Piggeldy und Frederick - Der Wind

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So now you see that that Wenn das Wörtchen wenn nicht wäre, there would be quite a few things you'd have trouble expressing!



Learning Tip

When going through your videos, pay particular attention to a specific aspect of the language, such as a tense, a part of speech (such as the wenn above) or a tricky bit of vocabulary. And then reward yourself by watching one of the fun episodes to allow your mind to process.

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Your Royal Highness or Hey you - Forms of Address in German

It's important to know how to address people. In the following example, an interviewer asks the host of the fashion show, Floria, Princess of Hesse, how she is to be properly addressed:


...also das ganz Korrekte ist „Königliche Hoheit".

...that is, the really correct [way] is "Royal Highness".

Caption 8, Modedesignerin Nina Hollein - Floria Prinzessin von Hessen

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Germans have a reputation for formal address. Traditionally, even co-workers of many years always addressed each other in the formal second person (Sie) and used both formal titles (Herr Doktor) and the person's last name. Anyone who has watched The Sound of Music knows that young ladies are to be addressed as Fräulein.

All of these things have changed a great deal in the past twenty years, and it is now much more common to address even a band you've never met before, as in the following example, in the informal second person (du or ihr, not Sie), or at least only use their first and last name without a formal title.


Und, äh, ihr habt ja auch was mitgebracht...

And, uh, you have also brought something along...

Caption 8, Undertube - Jeans Team

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The way of distinguishing between married and unmarried young women has all but disappeared, so if you meet a woman for the first time it is always appropriate to address her with Frau and her last name. Even Princess Floria concludes her thoughts on the topic, which began this lesson, by saying that the formal mode of address would be inappropriate in this context.


...aber das ist, glaub' ich, etwas fehl am Platz.

...but that is, I believe, somewhat out of place.

Caption 9, Modedesignerin Nina Hollein - Floria Prinzessin von Hessen

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It is still most polite to wait to be offered the informal (du) if the person you are meeting is your senior or in a position of authority.

Remember that while Sie sounds like the third person feminine or third person plural (sie), it is distinguished from them by always being capitalized. Also, it is conjugated like the third person plural (Sie/sie haben), not the second or third person singular (du hast or sie hat).



Learning Tip

When learning a new vocabulary noun, memorize the definite article (der, die, das) along with the vocabulary word itself. That way you won't have to figure out what the grammatical gender is when it comes time to use it.

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Modal Particles: schon, ja, halt

Modal or "flavoring" particles: words used in colloquial speech indicating a certain attitude of the speaker

schon, ja, halt


Although Germans have a fondness for foreign cuisine, they will always stay faithful to their Currywurst (curried sausage). There are an estimated 2,000 sausage stands in Berlin and even a museum solely dedicated to this popular German snack. Berliner Frank Spieß, owner of the unique sausage stand "Curry and Chili," offers 12 levels of spiciness, emphatically ensuring that some, indeed, like it hot!


Also, die Leute haben schon, äh, Spaß daran.

So, the people indeed have, uh, fun with it.

Caption 48, Currywurst - Berlins schärfstes Stück

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As a modal particle the word schon (in bold) means "indeed" as opposed to the literal meaning "already" when used as an adverb.

Ich bin schon ein Fußballfan, aber kein eingefleischter.
I am indeed a soccer fan but not a die-hard one.

By adding a ja to her sentence, Eva, who takes us on a tour through Berlin's Viktoriapark, implies that it's well-known that the Kreuzberg ("cross hill") isn't really that high with its modest 66 meters.


Das ist ja nicht besonders groß.

That isn't particularly tall.

Caption 14, Berlin - Eva im Viktoriapark

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Halt is another very commonly used modal particle which can be translated as "just", "simply" or "as a matter of fact." Drummer Thomas Holtgreve of German band Frida Gold uses it to add accent, attitude and emphasis.


Ein bisschen auf die Spitze getrieben halt, so.

Just pushed it a little bit to the extreme, so.

Caption 18, Frida Gold - Making of „Zeig mir, wie du tanzt“

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For a list and more example sentences of German modal particles you can go here and here.

In conclusion, modal particles are uninflected parts of speech used to convey impatience, surprise, disbelief, or urgency along with the statement. Try them out and give your next conversation "auf Deutsch" an authentic, casual feel.



Learning Tip

If you want to fine tune your understanding of modal particles go to the Videos tab on and enter the modal particle you want to practice into the search box. All videos containing said particle will appear. Focus only on watching those clips and your understanding of informal German along with the selected modal particles is sure to improve.

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Do you speak Germish?


anglicism: an English word or phrase that is used in another language

Germans can't do without them. There are some though, who don't feel the need to add a couple of English words to their mother tongue for good measure. Three students sharing an apartment in Berlin, for example, went as far as translating anglicisms back into German and introduced fines for every slip-up in Germish.


March is Carnival season or "The Fifth Season" in Germany. People dress up and masquerade to chase and scare away winter. In this month's featured video three veterans explain the old Carnival tradition, dating back to the Middle Ages. Note the following anglicism:


Und am Sonntag is' Pause, "beauty sleep", oder...

And on Sunday a break, beauty sleep, or...

Caption 65, Fastnacht - Karneval - Karnevalisten

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Anglicisms are very common in German.
In our video about the famous Austrian tattoo artist Mario Barth, in which he expresses his support for the animal rights organization PETA, you'll find a number of them.


...und hat das "Statement" gesetzt

...and has made the statement

"Ink, not Mink" [Tinte nicht Nerz].

"Ink, not Mink".

Caption 10, Tierfreund Mario Barth - Der Tätowierer der Stars

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Finally: Longing for your summer vacation or just a brief holiday get-a-way to a warmer clime? Then take a look at Christiane - fährt in den Urlaub. Test your understanding of spoken German in this practical scenario and search for das Handy* in the clip. Regarding this anglicism, German has taken an English adjective and morphed it into a noun. Can you guess what it is? She says before leaving on her trip: Ah, was ich immer vergesse, das Aufladegerät fürs Handy.

* Tipp auf Deutsch für Fortgeschrittene: Das Handy ist eine Erfindung der modernen Kommunikationstechnologie, ohne die viele von uns nicht mehr aus dem Haus gehen.


Learning Tip

If you want to reinforce the use of words in your favorite vocabulary list, go to the Video tab on Yabla German and type the word into the search box on the upper right side of the page. A list of every video containing this word will be generated. The captions from each clip in which the word occurs will appear. Try this and easily discover the word's correct use in different contexts.

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Fun with Idioms

Although languages are always changing due to influences of society, forms of government, and historical events, some elements of language, such as idiomatic phrases, have been preserved in languages for centuries. They come in handy in every context, for example, in the lyrics of Berlin hip hop/reggae band Culcha Candela.


Alles im Eimer...

Everything's down the drain [in the bucket]...

Caption 2, Culcha Candela - Schöne neue Welt

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Let's look at something else that can be im Eimer (ruined; done for; broken).

Nachdem er das Auto gegen die Wand gefahren hatte, war es im Eimer.
After he had driven the car against the wall, it was broken.

You are probably familiar with the sensation of having a dry mouth. Well, Thomas Raudnitzky was experiencing just that while being awarded the Metropolitan Prize for hosting the trendy magazine RheinMain Szene.


... mir blieb auch irgendwie die Spucke weg.

... somehow the spit stayed away from me [idiom: at a loss for words].

Caption 4, Preisverleihung - Bestes Magazin

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Now take a look at Lucas' "dry mouth" experience while test-riding a crazy new roller coaster in our video about Lucas' not so run-of-the-mill hobbies.


Da bleibt einem wirklich kurz die Spucke im Hals stecken.

For a moment, the spit really gets stuck in your throat [it's astonishing].

Caption 24, Lucas' Hobbys - Achterbahn und Bungee

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Figuratively, this expression means to be utterly surprised, stunned or at a loss for words. In biblical times already, it was observed that someone salivates less when afraid. This was interpreted as a sign of God that the accused was guilty, who, out of fear, was unable to say anything that could have saved him.

Use these sites to find more examples of idiomatic phrases:, German proverbs



Learning Tip
A great way to improve your listening skills is watching the clips first once without captions. This will help you to focus more on the audio. Then watch them again, this time with captions. Repeat these two steps a couple of times. Do you notice an improvement? Keep practicing!

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