German Lessons


More sagen root words

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


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

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

Caption 5, Erfindung aus Japan: Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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

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

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

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Es tut mir leid, dass ich versagt habe.

I am sorry that I failed.

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

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

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

Caption 47, Fußball: Saisonpremiere

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


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

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

Caption 15, Cro: Bye Bye

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


Am liebsten würd ich ihn absagen.

I'd actually prefer to cancel it.

Caption 10, Nicos Weg: Freizeitstress

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Du kannst doch nicht einfach eine Weiterbildung absagen.

You can't just cancel a training program.

Caption 59, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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

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

Captions 15-16, Nicos Weg: Der Umzug

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


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

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

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

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


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

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Talking about the Future in German

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

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


Und jetzt gehen wir in die Werbung. 

And now we'll go to commercial. 

Caption 22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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

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

Caption 28, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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

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

Caption 14, Sabine erzählt Witze: Die Pinguine

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Heute lernen wir die Zahlen von eins bis tausend.

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

Caption 5, Deutsch mit Eylin: Zahlen und die Grundrechenarten

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


Ich werde mir etwas zu essen und zu trinken aussuchen.

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

Caption 9, Abendessen: mit Marko

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

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

Caption 51, Heidi: Ladenverbot

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

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

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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

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

Caption 69, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Hessen

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

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

Caption 19, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Verben mit Akkusativ

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

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

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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

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Fahrradfahren aufm Fahrradweg

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


First a bit about bicycle history: 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Heutzutage ist die neueste Innovation das E-Bike.

Today, the newest innovation is the E-Bike.

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

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And now some more about bicycle maintenance and repair: 


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

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

Captions 1-2, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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


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

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

Captions 7-8, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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Wie sehen die Bremsbeläge aus?

How do the brake pads look?

Caption 10, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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Zu einem kompletten Frühlingscheck gehört auch die Kontrolle der Speichen.

A complete springtime check also includes checking the spokes.

Caption 16, Fahrrad: Frühjahrs-Check

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

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

Captions 20-21, Fahrrad Frühjahrs-Check

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


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


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

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Standing in Line

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

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


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

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

Caption 18, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Bist du verliebt?

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


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

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

Caption 16, Das Fest: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

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


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

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

Caption 18, Eva zeigt uns: Currywurst

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


Die stehen richtig Schlange. Was für ein Gedränge!

They are really standing in line. What a crowd!

Caption 41, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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


Äh, der Nächste, bitte. 

Uh, next, please. 

Caption 37, Mensch Markus: Der Lottogewinner

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Und was darf's sein?

And what would you like?

Caption 48, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Los, jetzt bist du dran.

Go ahead, now it's your turn.

Caption 45, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Was hättest du denn gern?

So what would you like?

Caption 5, Nicos Weg: Ich bin neu hier

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


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

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Eating Utensils in German

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


Brauche ich eigentlich auch einen großen Löffel?

Do I actually need a large spoon too?

Caption 22, Zu Besuch bei Jenny: In der Wohnung

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


Und dann kommen da jetzt zwei Esslöffel Natronpulver rein.

And then we now add two tablespoons of baking soda.

Caption 45, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Ein halber Teelöffel frisch gemahlener schwarzer Pfeffer...

Half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper...

Caption 38, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Rheinland-Pfalz

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


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


Mit dem Messer könnte ich ein bisschen Butter nehmen.

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

Caption 11, Jenny: beim Frühstück

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And some specialty knives:


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


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


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


Ich brauche zum Essen noch eine Gabel.

In order to eat I need a fork.

Caption 21, Zu Besuch bei Jenny: In der Wohnung

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And some specialty forks: 


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


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


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


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

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Adverbs with -erweise

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

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


Glücklicherweise kam ein freundlicher Bauer vorbei.

Fortunately, a friendly farmer came by.

Caption 83, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein

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Fremde Menschen werden üblicherweise gesiezt.

Strangers are commonly addressed formally with "Sie."

Caption 29, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

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

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

Captions 11-12, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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

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

Captions 36-37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt 

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Überraschenderweise ärgerten sie sich aber nicht darüber.

But surprisingly, they were not angry about it.

Caption 86, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die drei Brüder

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

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German modifier nouns that don't need prepositions

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


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


Ich könnte natürlich auch eine Flasche Wasser trinken.

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

Caption 16, Jenny beim Frühstück: Teil 2

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

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

Caption 16, Cannelloni mit Jenny - Part 2

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


Als Preis ibt es einen Kasten Bier!

For a prize there is a case of beer!

Caption 57, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

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

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

Caption 56, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

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And for a stack (der Packen) of cash:


Er hat Arne einen dicken Packen Geldscheine gegeben.

He gave Arne a thick stack of bills.

Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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


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

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

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

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

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Daylight Saving Time in Germany

Although daylight saving time has already begun this year in countries such as the United States and Canada, all of the European Union, including Germany, will change their clocks this coming Sunday. Of course, there are many countries in which this practice is not observed at all, and two years ago, the EU did actually vote to do away with it. This was expected to start this year, but there is still no consensus regarding whether to adhere to standard time or daylight saving time permanently.


For now, Germans will continue to turn their clocks back an hour, or "fall back," in the fall, and skip forward an hour, or "spring forward," in the spring, always wondering if it could be the last time. This is referred to as die Zeitumstellung, which makes sense as Zeit means "time" and die Umstellung can be translated as "the adjustment" or "the re-setting." The related verb is umstellen and the participle is umgestellt

In German, the word die Sommerzeit is used to refer to daylight saving time: 


Ist vielleicht wegen der Sommerzeit. Ist das eine Stunde vor oder eine Stunde zurück?

Maybe it's because of daylight saving time. Is it one hour ahead or one hour back?

Caption 29, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

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Ich glaube, die Sommerzeit ist eine Stunde vor.

I think daylight saving time is one hour ahead.

Caption 33, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing

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You might right away wonder about the meaning of the word die Sommerzeit. Like in English, it does also simply mean "summertime."


Sommerzeit ist in Deutschland gleichzeitig Grillzeit.

Summertime is simultaneously barbecue time in Germany.

Caption 1, Grillzeit: Grill anzünden und los geht's

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Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit...

You not only flourish in the summertime...

Caption 5, Frohe Weihnachten: der Christbaum

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As you might guess, standard time is referred to as die Winterzeit in German. So, in order to be more specific about the time change, you can talk about either die Zeitumstellung von Winterzeit auf Sommerzeit (which will happen on Sunday) or die Zeitumstellung von Sommerzeit auf Winterzeit. 


Further Learning
In addition to checking out the conversation in the Pfefferkörner episode above on Yabla German, see if you can follow this basic description of die Zeitumstellung in Germany. If you're an advanced learner, have a look at this overview.

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All about vorüber

The German adverb vorüber is less common than the adverb vorbei—the German dictionary Duden rates vorüber 3 out of 6 for frequency of usage, compared to 4 out of 6 for vorbei—but they are used with a similar meaning in many contexts. In combination with sein ("to be"), vorüber and vorbei are usually translated as "past," "passed by," or "over."


In the following example, both of the adverbs are used, and the translator chose "over" for vorüber—a good choice considering the similarity to the preposition über ("over").


Hochzeitsnacht war vorüber. Hochzeitsnacht war vorbei .

The wedding night was over. The wedding night had passed.

Captions 38-39, Günter Dudenhöfer als „Der Dorftrottel”: Auftritt Karneval Friedrichshafen

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So, jetzt ist der Haxen fertig, die drei Stunden sind vorüber.

So now the knuckle is finished, the three hours have passed by.

Caption 45, Kochen mit Cettina: Schweinshaxe

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The next two examples appear at first glance to use the adverb vorüber, but they actually use the separable German verb vorübergehen, often translated as "to go by" or "to pass by":


Mit jeder Welle kam ein Traum, Träume gehen vorüber

With every wave came a dream, dreams pass by [come and go].

Caption 1, Juli: Perfekte Welle

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Denn es geht nie vorüber, dieses alte Fieber, das immer dann hochkommt, wenn wir zusammen sind.

Because it's never over, this old fever that always comes up then, when we are together

Captions 15-16, Die Toten Hosen: Altes Fieber

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This last example uses the verb vorüberziehen, which—oddly enough—also usually translates as "to go by" or "to pass by":


Im Schlepptau der flachen Plätten ziehen die Blumenkunstwerke vor der eindrucksvollen Bergkulisse vorüber.

In the tow line of the flat barges, the artworks made from flowers pass by in front of an impressive mountain panorama.

Captions 36-37, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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So while vorüber was at some point combined with gehen and ziehen to form the separable verbs vorübergehen and vorüberziehen, vorüber remains a fiercely independent adverb when combined with wehen. Depending upon the context, the following could also have been translated as "breezes by":


Ein Jahr weht vorüber...

A year flies past...

Caption 24, rheinmain Szene: Selig

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Further Learning
There is another nice German adverb that uses vorüber too: vorübergehend. Go to Yabla German to discover its meaning, if you didn't already know, and watch the videos used above to get a better sense of the contexts in which vorüber is used. You can also get more deeply into their definitions on the Duden and DWDS websites, as well as looking here to see an extensive list of separable verbs that have incorporated vorüber.

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Talking about the Climate Crisis, Part 2

On Yabla German, you can find many videos featuring German-speaking scientists, environmentalists, and citizens who are very concerned about the Earth's future:


Das Eis am Nord- und Südpol schmilzt, der Meeresspiegel steigt.

The ice at the North and South Pole is melting, the sea level is rising.

Caption 31, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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Willi, machst du dir auch manchmal Gedanken darüber, ob unsere wertvolle Natur irgendwann Opfer einer immer intensiveren Landwirtschaft, ausgerichtet auf Gewinnmaximierung wird?

Willi, do you ever worry about whether our precious nature will eventually become the victim of increasingly intensive agriculture geared towards maximizing profit?

Captions 60-63, Umwelt und Natur: Wo sind all die Bienen hin?

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To engage with a German perspective on the situation, you will need specific vocabulary related to problems like those mentioned above, but also related to steps we can take individually and collectively. First of all, there are the acts of recycling and paying attention to what we as individuals eat and consume:


In Heidelberg wird der Müll in verschiedene Gruppen getrennt, damit das, was recycelt werden kann, wiederverwertet werden kann, auch wieder wirklich wiederverwertet wird.

In Heidelberg, the garbage is separated into different groups, so that that which can be recycled, can be re-used, also really gets re-used.

Captions 14-16, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg

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Bio statt Agrarindustrie. Umweltschonend angebaut ohne Chemie mit niedrigem Energieverbrauch und gentechnikfrei.

Organic instead of the agriculture industry. Environmentally friendly without chemicals, with low energy use and free of genetic engineering.

Captions 33-34, Nachhaltige Ernährung: Animation

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Then there are the investments that need to be made in green energy by cities and countries:


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

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

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

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Wir müssen jetzt in erneuerbare Energien, in... in Energieeffizienz investieren.

We must now invest in renewable energies, in... in energy efficiency.

Caption 19, Die Insel Fehmarn: Schlauchboote gegen den Atom-Irrsinn

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Also, hundert Prozent Ökostrom, können wir das hinkriegen? Das geht.

So, one hundred percent green electricity, can we do that? It's possible.

Caption 11, Terra X: Ohne Kohle und Atom - Geht uns der Strom aus?

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In all of this, the concept of "sustainability" remains the guiding principle. While the word is sometimes misused or even exploited, it is still the central focus of many concerted efforts.


Heute wird Nachhaltigkeit als ein Gesamtkonzept angesehen.

Today, sustainability is seen as a global concept.

Caption 17, Erklärvideos Nachhaltigkeit einfach erklärt

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Further Learning
If you didn't catch our previous newsletter on vocabulary related to the climate crisis, have a look on our lessons page. Watch any of the videos above in their entirety on Yabla German, or select the category "Environment" to learn even more!

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The Long Goodbye

That is actually the title of a classic detective novel by Raymond Chandler, but the long and short of it is that there are a number of ways to say goodbye in German – some of them longer than others! Let's start with what you probably already know:


Ja, damit sind wir fertig. Auf Wiedersehen!

Yes, with that we are finished. Goodbye!

Caption 77, Das 1. Newtonsche Gesetz: erklärt am Beispiel des Dodomobils

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Ich sehe Sie dann morgen. Auf Wiederhören.

I'll see you tomorrow then. Goodbye.

Caption 52, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Because of the -sehen in Wiedersehen ("see you again") and -hören in Wiederhören ("hear from you again"), auf Wiederhören is the proper form to use on the telephone.


Wiedersehen, vielen Dank! -Tschüss. -Tschüss.

Goodbye, many thanks! -Bye. -Bye.

Caption 25, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Tschüss is an informal waym of saying goodbye that originally stems from the Spanish word for goodbye, adios.


Bis morgen. Ciao.

See you tomorrow. Ciao.

Caption 40, Bäppi im Fernsehstudio: Bäppis best model by Hilde Klump

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"Ciao" is actually from the Italian and can, depending upon the context, be used for hello or goodbye. It is not even translated as "bye" here as it has been adopted into English by most American and British dictionaries. It's usage in German is very informal.


Sie wissen schon, was wir meinen. Adieu.

You do know what we mean. Adieu.

Captions 64-65, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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The French word for goodbye, adieu, has also been adopted by English and is thus generally not translated.


Ich hab was vergessen. -Aha. -Wir sehen uns.

I forgot something. -Aha. -See you.

Caption 66, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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It is also common to say Wir sehen uns morgen ("We'll see each other tomorrow" or "See you tomorrow"), or Wir sehen uns wieder ("We'll see each other again"), and so forth. It sounds a bit impersonal to the ears of an English speaker, but you can also say man sieht sich, which translates as "We'll see each other" or simply "See you." 


Mir hat's super gefallen. Bis dann!

I really enjoyed it. Until then!

Caption 93, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier

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Hast du die Mathehausaufgaben denn schon fertig? -Ja, bis später.

Have you finished the math homework already? -Yes, see you later.

Caption 2, Knallerfrauen: Mathehausaufgaben

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Mach's gut, Herbert. Bis bald.

Take care, Herbert. See you soon.

Caption 4, Nicos Weg: Tschüss!

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Bis zum nächsten Mal.

Until next time.

Caption 21, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem

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Many of the ways to say goodbye using bis and some point in the future may be translated, depending upon the context, as either "till," "until," or "see you..." So if somebody says bis morgen, you could translate it as "till tomorrow," "until tomorrow," or "see you tomorrow."


Note that macht's gut, which could be literally translated as "fare well" or "farewell," is used as an informal way to say goodbye in some German regional dialects. Another good equivalent translation could be "have a good one."


But how do you say "to say goodbye" as in "to take leave" of somebody? The most common ways are Abschied nehmen and the reflexive verb sich verabschieden:


Aber als Flüchtling muss man eben oft Abschied nehmen.

But as a refugee, you often have to say goodbye.

Caption 35, Filmtrailer: Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl

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Und hier verabschieden wir uns auch von euch.

And we will say goodbye to you here.

Caption 39, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Further Learning
I hope that learning about goodbye didn't take too long—this is a lesson and not a novel, after all! Look for some of the ways of saying goodbye on Yabla German, and take special note of how some are used in formal contexts and others in more casual situations. So until next time, mach's gut and stay healthy!

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urteilen, beurteilen, and verurteilen

When you read about legal issues in the German news, you may come across the noun das Urteil, which you may already know as "judgment," "verdict," or "ruling." But did you know that there are several verbs containing urteil- as their word stems that have broader meanings in everyday life? Let's take a look today at how these different words are used for a variety of meanings and contexts.


The verb urteilen is used in the more formal sense of passing a judgment or, as in the last two examples, a way of showing the impression somebody has of something or someone:


Das Gericht hat geurteilt, dass seine Taten illegal seien. 
The court ruled that his actions were illegal.


Je weniger man weiß, umso schneller urteilt man.
The less you know, the faster you judge.


Dem Brief nach zu urteilen muss es dir sehr gut gehen.
Judging by the letter, you must be doing very well.


The verb beurteilen, however, is the less formal expression of an opinion of someone or something's qualities:


Ich habe das Gefühl, dass ich so das fast besser beurteilen kann, wenn ich näher dran bin.

I have the feeling that this way, I can almost judge better what's needed when I am closer to it.

Captions 42-43, Hell: Science-Fiction-Kinotipp

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Dann ist es immer so schwierig, und hinterher wird man nur nach dem Foto beurteilt.

then it is always so difficult, and afterwards you are only judged based on the photo.

Caption 25, Barbara Schöneberger: Das Roter-Teppich-Einmaleins

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The verb verurteilen is usually translated as "to sentence," although in other contexts you may see it translated as "to condemn," "to convict," or even "to doom." 


Ein französisches Gericht hat den TÜV Rheinland zu insgesamt 60 Millionen Euro Schadenersatz verurteilt.

A French court of law sentenced TÜV Rheinland to provide a total of 60 million euros compensation.

Captions 34-36, Tagesschau: Amtseinführung von Donald Trump

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Für seine Witze gegen das Regime wurde Zarganar zu 35 Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt.

For his jokes against the regime, Zarganar was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Captions 8-9, Michael Mittermeier: mit Witzen gegen das Regime

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Eigentlich von seinem Grafen bereits zum Tode verurteilt, gab dieser ihm noch eine letzte Chance.

Actually sentenced to death already by the count, he was given one last chance.

Captions 12-13, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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To summarize: verurteilen is in some ways the easiest to learn, as it is usually translated as "to sentence." Both urteilen and beurteilen may be translated as "to judge," but the main difference between the two is that urteilen is usually used in a more formal sense (such as the judgment of a court), or to express an impression you have of something or somebody. The verb beurteilen, however, is more often used to express an opinion about the the qualities of somebody or something. 


Further Learning
Write some sentences in English using the verb "to judge," and then translate them into German using either urteilen or beurteilen. Check your work online or have your teacher take a look at it with you. You can also try searching for urteilen, beurteilen, and verurteilen on Yabla German to see other ways the words are used in different contexts.

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Thick as a Brick

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


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


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

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

Caption 79, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Die Kaimauer des Südhafens ist dicht mit Seescheiden besiedelt.

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

Caption 13, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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


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

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

Caption 41, Für Tierfreunde: Geparden

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


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


Komm, wir machen hier dicht.

Come on, let's close up here.

Caption 15, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Frau Korff kann dicht machen, ich verliere meinen Job,

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

Caption 2, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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


Das Boot ist dicht.
The boat is sealed.


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


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


Bitte halte dicht, psst...

Please keep it a secret, shhh...

Caption 7, JoNaLu Wo ist Rosalie?

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


Johannes ist nicht ganz dicht.
Johannes is a crazy.


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


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


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

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Talking About the Climate Crisis, Part I

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


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

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

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

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Wir starten immer mit einem Modul zum Klimawandel.

We always start with a module on climate change.

Caption 21, Schüler lernen Nachhaltigkeit Bildungsinitiative gestartet

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


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

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

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

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

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

Captions 57-59, Rapucation: Lernen durch Rapmusik

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


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

Traveling by plane or car creates an unfavorable carbon footprint.

Caption 3, WissensWerte: Tourismus und Nachhaltigkeit

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

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

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

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

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

Captions 42-43, Rheinmain im Blick: Nachhaltigkeit

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

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Relationship Status

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

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


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

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

Caption 37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Krank vor Liebeskummer irrte der Prinz viele Monate lang umher.

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

Caption 77, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Rapunzel

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


Ich bin sechsunddreißig Jahre alt und ledig.

I am thirty-six years old and single.

Caption 32, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Wir waren sehr lange verlobt.

We were engaged for a very long time.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg: Mein Traumpartner

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Ich bin glücklich verheiratet

I'm happily married

Caption 55, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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


Mein Mann und ich leben seit einem Jahr getrennt.

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

Caption 60, Großstadtrevier: Alle für einen

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

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

Caption 18, Die Pfefferkörner Gerüchteküche - Part 5

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Ich glaub, er hat gesagt, er ist geschieden.

I think he said he was divorced.

Caption 26, Nicos Weg A2 Folge 39: Mein Traumpartner

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Of course, "hope springs eternal"...


Viele von ihnen sind bestimmt frisch verliebt.

Many of them are surely newly in love.

Caption 63, Konjugation: Das Verb „sein“

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

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All about bestellen

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


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

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

Caption 18, Bibliothek der Sachgeschichten^. Müllmännerlied

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


Die Tochter hat Pizza bestellt...

My daughter ordered pizza...

Caption 82, Weihnachtsinterviews: Cettina in Linkenheim

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Möchten Sie denn schon was zu trinken bestellen?

Would you like to order something to drink now?

Caption 10, Abendessen: mit Marko

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


Bestellt dem Marquis meinen herzlichsten Dank!

Send the Marquis my most heartfelt thanks!

Caption 41, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der gestiefelte Kater

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

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

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

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


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

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

Captions 29-31, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten 

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

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

Caption 5, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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

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The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen 

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


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




Ich träume davon, meinen Job im Büro zu kündigen.

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

Caption 44, Konjugation Das Verb „brauchen“

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Schöller hat uns beiden gekündigt.

Schöller has fired both of us.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Caption 21, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

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Ja, Ihr Anruf wurde bereits angekündigt.

Yes, your call has already been announced.

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

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


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

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

Captions 10-11, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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

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

Caption 14, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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


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

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

Caption 46, Der Blautopf: Ein sagenumwobener See

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Dann lass uns gemeinsam die Yabla-Spiele erkunden.

Then let's discover the Yabla games together.

Caption 36, German Intro Cettina

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

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New Year's Cleaning

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


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


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


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

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

Captions 21-23, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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


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

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

Captions 5-6, Hausputz: mit Eva

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


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


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

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

Captions 29-30, Frankfurter Flughafen: Animal Lounge

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


Dadurch sollen die Steine helfen, die Luft zu reinigen.

Thus, these stones should help to purify the air.

Caption 15, Schadstoffarme Straßen Neue Gehwegplatten für reinere Luft

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


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

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