German Lessons

Topics

ansonsten, sonst, and umsonst

The adverbs ansonsten and sonst in German are most often found in contexts where they can be translated as "else" or "otherwise." You will find that they are generally quite interchangeable, though sonst has a wider range of applications and is used more often in casual conversation.

 

Ich kann zwar ein wenig Eislaufen, aber ansonsten bin ich auch da eher Zuschauer vorm Fernseher ...

I can ice-skate a little bit, but otherwise I'm also more likely the viewer in front of the television...

Caption 46, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 Play Caption

 

Ansonsten finde ich Schauspielerei wahnsinnig interessant.

Otherwise, I find acting incredibly interesting.

Caption 57, Bürger Lars Dietrich: Schlecht Englisch kann ich gut

 Play Caption

 

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

 Play Caption

 

Brauchst du sonst noch irgendwas? Duschgel oder so?

Do you need anything else? Shower gel or something?

Caption 33, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

 Play Caption

 

Und sonst so? Was geht heute Abend?“

And otherwise? What's going on tonight?"

Caption 22, AnnenMayKantereit: Es geht mir gut

 Play Caption



The last sentence is an example in which ansonsten would sound quite odd due to the colloquial nature of the sentence. 

More importantly, you don't want to confuse ansonsten and sonst with the adjective umsonst, which can mean "for free," "for nothing," or "without reason," depending on the context. Take a look: 

 

Dass Sie nicht denken, dass in Berlin dann alles umsonst ist.

So that you don't think that in Berlin then everything is free.

Caption 41, Jonathan Johnson: Nahöstliches Essen in Berlin

 Play Caption

 

Der Freizeitpark heißt nicht umsonst Europa-Park.

The theme park is not called Europa-Park without reason.

Caption 19, Deutsche Welle - Hin und weg: Best of Europa-Park!

 Play Caption

 

Du bist für mich geboren, ich lebe nicht umsonst.

You were born for me, I'm not living for nothing.

Caption 4, Marius Müller-Westernhagen: Weil Ich Dich Liebe

 Play Caption



Further Learning
Along with umsonst, you can learn about other adjectives that are used to describe how expensive or cheap something is in this previous newsletter. There are many more examples of ansonsten and sonst used in sentences on Yabla German — just do a search on the homepage!

Continue Reading

Before, Part I: bevor, vor, or vorher?

There are a number of German words that may be translated as "before," in the temporal meaning of "at a previous time." Among the most common are vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at these three German words that are commonly translated to English as "before."

 

The German word bevor is a subordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses. Note that in most cases, where bevor appears in the last half of a sentence, the verb is usually at the end of the sentence: 

 

Darf ich's Ihnen dann noch schnell erklären, bevor Sie Ihre Platten essen?

May I explain it to you quickly before you eat your platters?

Caption 62, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

 Play Caption

 

 

Drei Wochen lang betteln hier die Jungen, bevor sie sich selber in die Fluten stürzen.

For three weeks, the young beg here before they dive into the waters themselves.

Caption 23, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 Play Caption

 

 

Aber bevor du jetzt schneidest, check erst mal, ob der Stoff passt.

But before you start cutting, first check whether the fabric is suitable.

Captions 77-78, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

 Play Caption

 

 

The German word vor is a preposition and is usually placed in a sentence to modify a noun. Note that when vor is used in its temporal sense, the definite or indefinite article of its noun is usually dative. For clarity, the preposition, the article, and the noun are in bold print:

 

Du musst den Ball vor dem letzten Schlag der Zwölf verlassen haben,

You need to have left the ball before the last stroke of twelve,

Caption 52, Märchenstunde: Das Aschenputtel

 Play Caption

 

 

Soll er die Tabletten morgens, mittags und abends vor oder nach dem Essen nehmen?

Should he take the pills in the morning, at noon, and in the evening—and before or after eating?

Caption 17, Nicos Weg: Nehmen Sie...

 Play Caption

 

 

Was bekommen wahlberechtigte Bürger und Bürgerinnen in Deutschland vor einer Wahl?

What do citizens who are eligible to vote receive before an election?

Caption 18, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 Play Caption

 

 

The German word vorher is an adverb:

 

Alles andere kommt vorher.

Everything else comes before it.

Caption 35, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Konjunktionen

 Play Caption

 

 

Und dann kam es wieder aus dem Gully raus und noch viel größer und noch viel böser als vorher.

And then it came out of the storm drain again, much bigger and much meaner than before.

Caption 54, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 Play Caption

 

 

Note that vorher is sometimes translated as "beforehand" and "previously," depending upon the context: 

 

Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen...

The possibility exists, to test every board beforehand...

Caption 41, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

 Play Caption

 

 

Dann bekommt man Geld zurück, das man vorher dafür bezahlt hat.

Then you get the money back that you previously paid for them.

Caption 13, Diane: auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
To recap: bevor usually connects two sentences; vor is a preposition that usually uses the dative case when referring to time; and vorher is an adverb that, as we know, modifies a verb. The best way to get an understanding of which word is appropriate in which context is hear them being used, however. Go to Yabla German and search for each of the three words—be sure that the examples with vor that you find are related to time and not place—and see the different ways that people commonly use them.

Continue Reading

Chancellor Merkel's Recent Appeal

After a relatively stable summer, the recent statistics from Germany related to the coronavirus are alarming, with record highs of new cases being reported in the last weeks. Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel once again gave a televised address and was frank with the public about what is at stake as temperatures drop and it becomes more difficult to meet outdoors and maintain distance. Let's look at some key phrases from her speech.

Here is how the Chancellor describes the current situation: 

 

Tag für Tag steigt die Zahl der Neuinfektionen sprunghaft.

Day after day, the number of new infections is increasing by leaps and bounds.

Caption 4, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

Die Pandemie breitet sich wieder rapide aus.

The pandemic is again spreading rapidly.

Caption 5, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

The verb ausbreiten means "to spread," and in other contexts "to disperse" or "to extend." As she did in her speech at the beginning of the pandemic, she also uses the related noun die Ausbreitung. If you read our lessons on that speech, the noun die Begegnung in the following sentence may also be familiar to you:

 

Die Wissenschaft sagt uns klar: Die Ausbreitung des Virus hängt direkt an der Zahl der Kontakte, der Begegnungen, die jeder von uns hat.

The science tells us clearly that the spread of the virus depends directly on the number of contacts, of encounters, that each of us has.

Captions 31-33, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

You may remember the noun der Abstand from the first speech and the related lesson on talking about distance. In this speech, the more specific noun der Mindestabstand is used. 

 

Das Allermeiste schon einfach dadurch, dass jede und jeder Einzelne konsequent den Mindestabstand wahr.

Most of it is already accomplished simply by each and every individual consistently maintaining the minimum distance.

Captions 26-27, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

Chancellor Merkel then stresses the importance of contact tracing in the fight against the virus:

 

Dafür müssen die Kontaktpersonen jedes infizierten Menschen benachrichtigt werden, um die Ansteckungsketten zu unterbrechen.

For this, the personal contacts of each infected person must be notified in order to interrupt the chains of infection.

Captions 17-19, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

Another set of words to learn from this speech is the verb auf etwas verzichten ("to refrain" or "to abstain" from something, "to do without," "to forgo") and the related noun der Verzicht, which in this particular case is best translated as something one sacrifices. 

 

Ich bitte Sie, verzichten Sie auf jede Reise, die nicht wirklich zwingend notwendig ist.

I ask you: Refrain from any trip that is not really absolutely essential.

Captions 41-43, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

Ich weiß, das klingt nicht nur hart, das ist im Einzelfall auch ein schwerer Verzicht.

I know this not only sounds hard, but in individual cases it is also a difficult sacrifice.

Captions 47-48, Angela Merkel: Kanzlerin appelliert an die Bürgerinnen und Bürger

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Watch the speech in its entirety on Yabla German. In addition, you can listen to recent reports from Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten to get more information about what is going on in Germany and around the world. 

Continue Reading

fallen vs. gefallen

Let's discuss two German verbs today: fallen and gefallen

 

The verb fallen can be variously translated as "to fall," "to drop," "to decline," "to decrease" or "to sink" (as in prices decrease or sink), "to slip" (as in standards slip), and even "to score" (as when a goal is scored in football). 

 

Im Herbst sind die Blätter rot und orange. Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange. In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin Pronomen

 Play Caption

 

 

OK, jetzt gebe ich euch andere Verben, die in diese Kategorie fallen, ja?

OK, now I'll give you other verbs that fall into this category, yes?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Verben der 2. Kategorie - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Doch wenn dann immer mehr Tore fallen...

Indeed, if then more and more goals are scored...

Caption 32, Frauenfußball-WM Der Bundespräsident am Ball

 Play Caption

 

 

Bevor wir fallen, fallen wir lieber auf

Before we fall, we prefer to be noticed

Caption 23, Heino Neue Volkslieder

 Play Caption

 

 

Note that the second instance of fallen in this last example is actually part of the separable verb auffallen, "to be noticed."

 

The verb gefallen may be translated, according to context, as "to oblige," "to delight," "to be pleasing," "to appeal" (to someone), "to be to (someone's) liking," or "to meet with (someone's) approval." 

 

Wir hoffen, euch hat dieses Video gefallen und ihr hattet Spaß beim Zuschauen. Gebt uns doch einen Daumen nach oben, wenn's euch gefallen hat.

We hope you enjoyed this video and had fun watching. Give us a thumbs up if you liked it.

Captions 75-76, Playmobil Skispringen mit Familie Hauser - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

 

Das gefällt mir richtig, richtig gut.

I really, really like it.

Caption 5, Auto-Bild-TV Tops & Flops der IAA

 Play Caption

 

 

 

„Der Film gefällt dem Zuschauer“. -Super.

"The viewer likes the film." -Super.

Caption 6, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Verben der 3. Kategorie - Part 4

 Play Caption

 

 

Note that the subject of gefallen is dative: Mir gefällt der Film or Der Film gefällt mir. It would be an easy mistake to misunderstand the last one to mean "the film likes me!" 

 

You also have to be careful not to mix up the verb gefallen — a past participle of fallen — with the noun der Gefallen ("a favor"). There is also the adjective gefallen, which is from the verb fallen and may be translated as "fell down" or in a military sense "to be killed in action," in the same euphemistic sense that a soldier "falls" in battle. 

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and read the related lessons Falling, dropping, and slipping and The verb gelingen. Then watch the Yabla video Deutschkurs in Tübingen, where the teacher and students go in-depth into the verb gefallen.

Continue Reading

German Body Idioms

Like English, German has many idioms that involve parts of the body. If you read our past newsletter about idioms that relate to feet, you can see the German idiom von Kopf bis Fuß — from head to foot — and note right away that there is a similar idiom in English. Like its German counterpart, "from head to toe" also means "completely" or "thoroughly."

Often, idioms with the same meaning in both languages will be similar, but not identical. Have a look:

 

Kopf hoch! Wie heißt es doch so schön?

Head up! What is it indeed that they say?

Caption 34, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

 Play Caption

 

In English, we say "chin up" when we are encouraging someone to remain optimistic. Another expression for this in German is halt die Ohren steif.

 

Wir drücken die Daumen.

We'll press the thumbs.

Caption 40, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

 Play Caption

 

In English, we "keep our fingers crossed" when we are wishing for a positive outcome.

 

Essen kann er auch in Ruh'. Vater drückt ein Auge zu.

He can eat in peace. Father turns a blind eye.

Caption 4, Der Struwwelpeter: Ausschnitte

 Play Caption

 

"To turn a blind eye" is the equivalent expression in English.

 

Und jetzt willst du für ihn den Kopf hinhalten?

And now you want to hold your head out for him?

Caption 24, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

 Play Caption

 

English-speakers wouldn't "hold their head out" for someone and take the blame for them. Instead, they would "stick their neck out."

 

Eine Hand wäscht die andere“ bedeutet, dass Hilfsbereitschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit beruht.

"One hand washes the other" means that helpfulness is based on reciprocity.

Captions 50-51, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

 Play Caption

 

In English, there is an expression with a similar meaning, which is "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

 

Further Learning
You will find more idioms on Yabla German (for example, in this video) and on the Yabla German lessons page. Look up the following German idioms and see if you can figure out their English equivalents: sich ins Knie schießenjemandem auf die Füße tretensich Hals über Kopf verliebenjemandem ein Dorn im Auge seindas Herz auf der Zunge tragen, and viel um die Ohren haben. 

Continue Reading

German verbs connected with lassen

There are at least ten German verbs that have unique meanings when connected with lassen ("to let"). Not so very long ago, they were literally connected with lassen in that they used to be written together as a single verb. However, in the last decades, the arbiter of German grammar, Duden, proclaimed that it is preferable grammatically to write the root verbs and lassen as separate words. Oddly enough, rather than subordinating the version with lassen to the main listing for the verb in question, Duden still has them listed in a dictionary single entry -- for two verbs. Thus if you search on Duden for the old spelling of fallenlassen, the first match will be fallen lassen.

 

Here are some examples of verbs connected to lassen which in the past would have been written as a single verb, but are now usually separated by a space:

 

Und als sich der Mond schließlich zeigte, glänzten die weißen Kieselsteine, die Hänsel hatte fallen lassen, wie Silber.

And when the moon finally revealed itself, the white pebbles that Hansel had let fall gleamed like silver.

Captions 31-32, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Hänsel und Gretel

 Play Caption

 

Ich bin locker. Wenn ich will, kann ich mich total gehen lassen.

I am relaxed. If I want to I can totally let myself go.

Caption 26, Filmtrailer: Keinohrhasen

 Play Caption

 

 

Ansonsten gilt im Zoo weiterhin die Frühlingsdevise: einfach mal hängen lassen!

Apart from that, in the zoo the spring slogan still applies: at times simply just let it all hang out!

Caption 48, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell Frühling im Zoo

 Play Caption

 

Diese Knochen macht dem Greifvogel kein Futterrivale streitig, deshalb kann er sie ruhig liegen lassen.

No rival will fight the bird of prey for these bones, so it can leave them well alone.

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

 Play Caption

 

 

Den Teig lassen wir jetzt fünfundvierzig Minuten ruhen.

We'll let the dough sit now for forty-five minutes.

Caption 33, Bundesländer: Bayern

 Play Caption

 

 

Und somit hab ich dann alles, was mit Studium und Musik zu tun hatte, erst mal sein lassen.

And with that, I then let everything go that had to do with university studies and music.

Caption 44, Powerfrau Lina bleibt auf dem Boden

 Play Caption

 

 

Sie haben meiner Tochter schöne Augen gemacht und sie dann sitzen lassen.

You made eyes at my daughter and then abandoned her.

Caption 20, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist Loslassen - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

 

Man sollte ihn besser für alle Zeiten stehen lassen.

You'd be better off to leave it there for all time.

Caption 35, Piggeldy und Frederick Regenbogen

 Play Caption

 

 

As an added note, there are many other verbs ending with lassen that are still written as one word. Most of them have adjectives or adverbs as prefixes. Go to this link at dict.cc and see many examples.

 

Further Learning
See if you can guess the meanings of bleiben lassen and fahren lassen and then check a German dictionary to see if you got them right. You can also look for more examples of the above verbs related to lassen on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part II

In a previous lesson, we looked at the topic of verbs that require a different preposition than might be expected if you are familiar with the English language. Let's continue with some common verb-preposition pairings that you should memorize.

In English we ask about something, but in German you will hear nach etwas fragen. There is also sich nach etwas erkundigen — "to inquire about something." The preposition nach is generally translated as "after," but not in this context.

 

Mit dem Fragewort "wo" fragt man nach dem Ort.

With the interrogative word "wo" one asks about the place.

Caption 8, Diane erklärt: Fragewörter

 Play Caption

 

Take a look below at the preposition used with the reflexive verb sich entscheiden.

 

Ich hab mich für ein Entrecôte entschieden.

I decided on an entrecôte.

Caption 5, Kochrezepte: Steak richtig braten

 Play Caption

 

Although you might hear the verb sich bewerben followed by the preposition für, this is actually incorrect. It is correct to use the preposition um, which is also used with the phrases konkurrieren um ("to compete for") and kämpfen um ("to fight for"). 

 

Eine Frau, die ein zweijähriges Kind hat, bewirbt sich in Deutschland um eine Stelle.

A woman who has a two-year-old child applies for a job in Germany.

Caption 37, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 Play Caption

 

The preposition an is only sometimes translated as "on" in English. Take a look at this example with the verb "to believe."

 

Es wär schön blöd, nicht an Wunder zu glauben.

It would be pretty stupid not to believe in miracles.

Caption 11, Wincent Weiss: An Wunder

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
How would you translate the following phrases? Sich erinnern anan jemanden schreiben, an etwas leidenan jemanden vermieten, sich an etwas gewöhnen. If you are not sure, search for examples on Yabla German. For more prepositions, check out our recent lessons on sentences with identical prefixes and prepositions if you missed them.  

Continue Reading

Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part III

Today we'll continue with the third and final part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes coexist in German sentences.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: nach (to, after)
Separable verbs: nachahmen (to imitate); nachdenken (to think); nacherzählen (to retell, to relate); nachfolgen (to follow, to succeed); nachgeben (to give in); nachprüfen (to double check); nachschlagen (to look up, to reference); nachtun (to follow someone’s example); nachzählen (to recount, double-check)

This example uses the separable verb nachdenken

 

Manchmal denken wir Frauen zu viel über die Liebe nach.

Sometimes we women think too much about love.

Caption 7, Konjugation Das Verb „denken“

 Play Caption

 

 

Whereas this example uses the verb denken and the preposition nach:

 

Stuttgart, schön. OK, ich denke, ich fliege nach Stuttgart.

Stuttgart, nice. OK, I think I'll fly to Stuttgart.

Caption 9, Reiseplanung Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

 Play Caption

 

 

If we were to combine the separable verb nachdenken and the preposition nach, we could make a sentence like this: 

 

Ich denke über eine Reise nach Stuttgart nach.
I'm thinking about a trip to Stuttgart. 

 

Preposition: vor (to, before)
Separable verbs: vorbereiten (to prepare); vorbestellen (to pre-order); vorhaben (to plan, to intend); vorkommen (to come up, to happen); vornehmen (to carry out); vorstellen (to introduce, to imagine); vortragen (to perform, to give a lecture)

 

This example uses the separable verb vorhaben

 

Und was hast du heute noch vor?

And what else are you planning for today?

Caption 53, Unterwegs mit Cettina an der Rheinfähre

 Play Caption

 

But this example uses the verb haben and the preposition vor:

 

Du hast mich immer wieder vor dir selber gewarnt

You have always warned me about yourself

Caption 15, Johannes Oerding Mein schönster Fehler

 Play Caption

 

 

Again, we can make another sentence using the separable verb vorhaben and the preposition vor

 

Hast du wirklich vor, schon vor dem Deutschunterricht nach Hause zu gehen?
Do you really intend to go home before German class?

 

You may already be attending German class from home, but keep up the good work learning with Yabla German either way!

 

Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

Falling, dropping, and slipping

You may be familiar with the verb rutschen ("to slip" or "to slide") from our previous newsletters about the phrase Guten Rutsch, which is used on New Year's Eve. 

 

Er ist durch den Kamin gerutscht?

He slid down the chimney?

Caption 79, Peppa Wutz: Weihnachten

 Play Caption

 

You may also hear the verb ausrutschen, which means to slip (and possibly fall), and the command rutsch rüber, which is how you tell someone to "slide over" or "move over" so that you can have a seat.

 

Ich bin mal ausgerutscht auf der Bühne.

I once slipped on stage.

Caption 39, Live-Entertainment-Award: Glamouröse Preisverleihung

 Play Caption

 

When we talk about falling, common verbs are herunterfallen or its shortened colloquial form runterfallen (which are similar to "to fall down"), hinfallen and umfallen (a bit more like "to fall over"), and stürzen and abstürzen (these are often used to indicate a bad fall). 

 

Er ist da bestimmt nicht zufällig runtergefallen. Das war kein Unfall.

He certainly didn't fall off accidentally. That was no accident.

Caption 10, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 Play Caption

 

Im Herbst sind die Blätter rot und orange. Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange. In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

 Play Caption

 

Ich bin ja auch schon zweimal hingefallen, aber ist bis jetzt nichts passiert.

I've also already fallen two times, but up till now nothing has happened.

Captions 15-16, Jenny und Alena: Autos und Motorräder

 Play Caption

 

Und dann ist er bei einer Bergtour abgestürzt.

And then he fell during a mountain hike.

Caption 12, Lilly unter den Linden: Lilly und Tante Lena

 Play Caption

 

Nach Elmau, da ist ein Skifahrer gestürzt und hat eine Rückenverletzung.

Toward Elmau, a skier has fallen and has a back injury.

Caption 7, Rettungsflieger Im Einsatz

 Play Caption

 

The verbs fallen and fallen lassen are used when you drop something. Look at how the following sentences are constructed:

 

Oje, Linus hat seine Gießkanne ins Wasser fallen lassen.

Oh dear, Linus has dropped his watering can into the water.

Caption 28, Peppa Wutz: Sport

 Play Caption

 

Dennis ist kein Stift runtergefallen.

Dennis didn't drop a pencil.

Caption 109, Kurzfilme: Das Tagebuch

 Play Caption

 

You will also see fallen or its past participle gefallen used with the meaning of "to fall." As you know, gefallen is also a completely different verb that is used when we like something. However, structural and contextual differences between the phrase Es hat mir gefallen ("I liked it") and a sentence like Ich bin ins Wasser gefallen ("I fell into the water") don't allow for much ambiguity. 

 

Further Learning
You will find many more examples of these phrases and verbs used in context on Yabla German. These will help you get a better grasp of which verb is appropriate in which context, and how they are implemented structurally.

Continue Reading

Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part II

Today we'll continue with the second part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes occur in German sentences.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: aus (from, out, of)
Separable verbs: ausbilden (to educate, to train); ausbrechen (to break out); ausdrucken (to print); ausdrücken (to express); ausflippen (to lose control); ausgeben (to hand out); ausgehen (to go out, ausgehen von to assume); auslachen (to laugh at); ausmachen (to turn off, to put out); ausnutzen (to take advantage); ausschließen (to lock out, to exclude); aussprechen (to pronounce); aussterben (to die out, to go extinct); austauschen (to exchange).

 

Ich gehe heut Nacht aus...

I'm going out tonight...

Caption 5, Beatrice Egli Mein Herz

 Play Caption

 

Ihr müsst schon aus Mitleid in den Film alle gehen.

You all have to go see the film just out of pity.

Caption 39, Mario Barth und Paul Panzer Männersache - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

In the first instance above, the separable verb ausgehen is used, but although the verb gehen appears in the second example, the word aus here is a preposition, not part of a separable verb. Using aus as part of the separable verb ausgehen and additionally as a preposition could look like this:

 

Aus Angst vor einer Erkältung gehe ich im Winter nicht mehr so oft aus.
For fear of catching a cold, I don't go out as often in winter.

 

Preposition: mit (with, along)
Separable verbs: mitbekommen (to understand, to notice); mitfahren (to ride along); mitfühlen (to sympathize); mitmachen (to participate); mitnehmen (to take along); mitspielen (to play along); mitteilen (to inform, to share knowledge);

 

Peppa, fährst du beim Rennen auch mit?

Peppa, are you going to ride along in the race as well?

Caption 26, Peppa Wutz Sport - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

 

Dürfen wir denn dann mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht fahren? -Ja?

May we drive with you in your car with blue lights then? -Yes?

Caption 36, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 8

 Play Caption

 

 

In the first example above, the separable verb mitfahren means "to ride along." But in the second instance, the standard verb fahren is used twice with the preposition mit, which in this context translates as "with" and "in." We can also alter this sentence using the separable verb mitfahren:

 

Fahren wir mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht mit?
Are we riding along with you in your car with blue lights?

 

Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

Expressing Probability in German

For our beginners, we are devoting this week's newsletter to expressing probability, or the likelihood that something will occur or be the case. There is a range of adverbs that can help you express this in German. 

When something is certain, common adverbs used are definitiv, sicher, or bestimmt. "Definitely" is also among the common translations of the phrase auf jeden Fall.

 

Für Kerber steht fest, dass sie die Abstiegsrunde im April definitiv spielen wird.

For Kerber, it is certain that she will definitely play at the relegation round in April.

Caption 19, Angelique Kerber: Fotoshooting mit dem neuen Porsche 718 Boxster S

 Play Caption

 

Na ja, es wird sicher kein Problem sein, den Internetbetreiber zu zwingen, den Film zu löschen.

Well, it will certainly not be a problem to compel the internet provider to delete the movie.

Captions 6-7, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

 Play Caption

 

Die Kündigung hat bestimmt andere Gründe.

The layoff surely has other reasons.

Caption 30, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

 Play Caption

 

Oh, wow! Dann wirst du ihn auf jeden Fall wiedersehen, oder?

Oh, wow! Then you will definitely see him again, right?

Caption 47, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

 Play Caption

 

The best translation of "likely" and "unlikely" or "probable" and "improbable" in German is wahrscheinlich and unwahrscheinlich.

 

Wahrscheinlich brauchen wir noch ein bisschen Nachhaltigkeitsunterstützung,

We likely still need a little bit of support with sustainability,

Caption 77, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

 Play Caption

 

Dass der Winter noch mal in voller Wucht zu uns zurückkommt, ist im Moment aber ohnehin eher unwahrscheinlich.

That winter will return to us in full force is, momentarily, however, without a doubt rather improbable.

Captions 41-42, Rhein-Main-TV: aktuell Frühling im Zoo

 Play Caption

 

Like wahrscheinlich, the word wohl as an adverb also signifies that something is likely or probable. Eventuell, vielleicht and möglicherweise are used when something is possible but can't be guaranteed. 

 

Und das wird wohl auch erst mal so bleiben.

And it will first also likely stay like that.

Caption 19, Andreas Bourani Startet durch

 Play Caption

 

Es kann sein, dass wir eventuell etwas Milch brauchen.

It could be that we'll maybe need some milk.

Caption 12, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

 Play Caption

 

Vielleicht wird's morgen für mich regnen.

Maybe it will rain for me tomorrow.

Caption 15, Andreas Bourani: Eisberg

 Play Caption

 

Das Kartengerät ist möglicherweise schon seit Wochen angezapft.

The card reader was possibly tapped for weeks.

Caption 44, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

 Play Caption

 

Just as auf jeden Fall means definitely, auf keinen Fall means that something definitely will not occur, by no means.

 

Na, du wirst auf gar keinen Fall arbeiten.

Well, you won't work in any case.

Caption 45, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Create your own sentences in which you describe how likely certain events are to happen, from the definite or most likely to the most improbable. If you need more guidance, you can find many more examples of these adverbs in use on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part I

It is pretty unusual in English to have the same word with a completely different meaning occur twice in the same sentence. But as you will learn today, in German it is a fairly commonplace occurence.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: ab (from, off, starting, beginning, away)
Separable verbs: abbrennen (to burn down); abgeben (to turn in, to hand over); abkürzen (to shorten); abnehmen (to lose weight, to take something off); abschließen (to finish, to lock something)

 

Nimm mal die Brille ab! Er hat ganz rote Augen.

Take off the glasses! He has really red eyes.

Caption 31, Pastewka Cantz fährt betrunken Auto

 Play Caption

 

Ab nächster Woche geht das Fitnessprogramm wieder los.

Beginning next week, the fitness program will get going again.

Caption 36, Claudia Schiffer Nach der Babypause

 Play Caption

 

Using the verb abnehmen and the preposition ab, you can construct a sentence such as the one below. Can you tell from the sentence structure which ab is part of the verb and which is the preposition?

 

Ab diesem Zeitpunkt nehme ich die Sonnenbrille ab.
From this moment on, I'm taking off my sunglasses
.

 

Preposition: an (at, upon, on, to, towards)
Separable verbs: anerkennen (to recognize); andeuten (to hint at, to suggest); angeben (to indicate, to state, to brag); anklagen (to accuse); anschauen (to watch); anstellen (to hire, to employ); anweisen (to instruct); anwenden (to use); sich anziehen (to dress)

 

Dieser gibt an, wie die Hühner gehalten werden.

This indicates how the chickens are kept.

Caption 11, Bioeier Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

 Play Caption

 

Behindert werden an dieser Stelle weder der Verkehr noch die Fußgänger.

Neither the traffic nor the pedestrians are impeded at this point.

Caption 29, Richter Alexander Hold Richtig parken

 Play Caption

 

Er gibt an dieser Stelle an, was er getan hat.
At this point, he states what he has done.

 

Preposition: auf (onto, upon, on, to, at, up)
Separable verbs: aufatmen (to breathe a sigh of relief); aufbleiben (to stay up, to stay open); aufführen (to perform); aufklären (to inform, enlighten, clear up); auflockern (to liven up); aufnehmen (to record, to take a picture); aufpassen (to look out, to take care); aufräumen (to clean up); aufschlagen (to open up); aufwachsen (to grow up)

 

Achtung, Luise, pass auf!

Attention, Luise, watch out!

Caption 59, Bretten Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

 Play Caption

 

 

Sie waren die Schnellsten auf dem Acker.

They were the fastest on the field.

Caption 18, Barfuß unter Schafen Schäferwettrennen

 Play Caption

 

 

The verb aufpassen generally means "to watch out" for something, but combined with the preposition auf and a person, it means "to take care":

 

Pass auf dich auf, hm?

Take care of yourself, hm?

Caption 16, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 4: Die Grenze - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

 

Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with the same prefixes as prepositions on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part I

Just as you should generally memorize the article (der, die, or das) along with each German noun that you learn, it is a good idea to pay attention to which preposition follows any given verb. This may sometimes match the English preposition — for example, Danke für das Essen and "Thank you for the food." However, there are many examples in which the preposition will not be what you would expect based on your knowledge of English. Here are some common examples:

The verb warten ("to wait") is followed by the preposition auf rather than the preposition für. The verb vorbereiten ("to prepare") may be followed by für when it refers to preparing something for a person, such as a meal. However, it is followed by auf in the context of preparing for an event.

 

Jetzt warte ich auf den nächsten Gang.

Now I am waiting for the next course.

Caption 28, Abendessen: mit Marko

 Play Caption

 

Ja, und bis dahin werde ich mich auf das Studium vorbereiten

Yes, and until then I'll be preparing myself for my studies

Caption 24, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

 Play Caption

 

In English, we say "I'm interested in politics." In German, the preposition für is used with the reflexive verb sich interessieren

 

Also, ich interessiere mich grade sehr für das Thema Bachelorarbeit.

Well, I'm very interested in the topic of my Bachelor's thesis at the moment.

Caption 49, Geoökologie Cettina interviewt Sarah

 Play Caption

 

While you congratulate someone on something in English, the German verb gratulieren requires the preposition zu and the dative case. 

 

Einer der Träume ist sicher Frauen und Herren bei Weltmeisterschaften zum WM-Titel zu gratulieren.

One of the dreams is certainly to congratulate the women and the men at the World Championships on the World Championship title.

Captions 51-52, Frauenfußball-WM: Der Bundespräsident am Ball

 Play Caption

 

In English we have sympathy for someone, whereas in German the preposition mit is used. 

 

Der Jäger hatte Mitleid mit ihr und Schneewittchen lief in den Wald hinein.

The Hunter had sympathy for her and Snow White ran into the forest.

Caption 32, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Schneewittchen

 Play Caption

 

In another instance where the preposition is not what you would necessarily expect, the German verb for "to participate in" is an etwas teilnehmen.

 

Ab welchem Alter darf man in Deutschland an der Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag teilnehmen?

Starting at what age are you allowed to participate in parliamentary elections in Germany?

Caption 14, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

 Play Caption

 

 

Further Learning
We will be back with more verb/preposition false friends from time to time and point out common examples to be aware of. In the meantime, you can look at this previous newsletter, which also mentioned this tricky topic. However, the best way to get used to these inconsistencies is by watching videos on Yabla German! As you do, you will take note of phrases that employ a given verb with its correct preposition, which you can then implement when you speak.

Continue Reading

Du armes Schwein: disdain or empathy?

In the English language, I can't think of any way of calling somebody a pig (das Schwein) without it sounding pretty insulting. It's also usually the case in German that labeling someone a Schwein is meant to express disdain or to be purposefully offensive:

 

Du bist so ein Schwein geworden. Und wir waren mal Freunde?

You have become such a pig. And we were once friends?

Caption 17, Die Pfefferkörner Eigentor - Part 4

 Play Caption

 

 

Und damit kann das Ziel des Attentats doch noch erreicht werden. Wenn das Schwein wenigstens tot wäre.

And with this, the objective of the assassination attempt can still be reached. If the swine was at least dead.

Captions 27-28, Die Stunde der Offiziere Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944 - Part 16

 Play Caption

 

 

Du Schwein! Raus hier, du Lügner!

You pig! Out of here, you liar!

Caption 31, Filmwettbewerb "filmreif" Mama mach die Augen auf - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Unser Chef ist ein mieses Schwein.

Our boss is a mean pig.

Caption 41, Weihnachtsfilm Ein Sack voll Geld - Part 7

 Play Caption

 

In German, however there is at least one slang context where Schwein is used together with the adjective arm ("poor") to express sympathy for somebody's situation:

 

Der Mann ist obdachlos. -Das arme Schwein! Vielleicht sollten wir ihm eine Spende geben.
The man is homeless. -The poor swine! Maybe we should give him a donation.

 

In English, this is the equivalent of saying "poor bastard," or the rather old-fashioned "poor devil." It's still common in British English to hear the similarly inclined "poor sod." None of these words are very nice, but they're used nevertheless to express sympathy!

 

Schwein haben is also used as an expression for having had good luck: 

 

Und permanent stand ich mit einem Bein im Knast, doch meistens hatt ich großes Schwein.

And I stood permanently on one leg in jail, but mostly I was very lucky.

Captions 23-24, Frank Zander Tu doch meine Asche in die Eieruhr

 Play Caption

 

 

If you didn't know this expression, you might wonder about him having had "a large pig" in prison!

 

Another nice idiomatic use of Schwein is when you don't know anybody at a place or event: 

 

Hier kenne ich kein Schwein
I don't know anyone here.

 

In this context, kein Schwein essentially means "no one" or "nobody":

 

Kein Schwein war da. Wenn man sagt: „Kein Schwein war da“, dann möchte man ausdrücken, dass man zu einer bestimmten Zeit an einem bestimmten Ort war und dort überraschenderweise niemanden angetroffen hat.

Nobody was there. When you say, "No pig was there," then you would like to express that you were at a certain time at a certain place and, surprisingly, met no one there.

Captions 42-46, Eva erklärt Sprichwörter - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see some other uses of das Schwein in a real-world context.

Continue Reading

Overslept — or forgotten? The verb verschlafen

Most of you hopefully know the German verb schlafen (to sleep), but are you familiar with the verb verschlafen? It's probably one of the most common reasons for people arriving to work late:

 

Ich bin zu spät gekommen, weil ich verschlafen habe.
I arrived too late because I overslept.

 

Wo steckt eigentlich Nicki? -Verschlafen?

Where is Nicki hiding, actually? -Overslept?

Caption 41, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 9

 Play Caption

 

 

Verschlafen is also common as an adjective and adverb and has a slightly different meaning:

 

Das Kleinste ist erst Ende März geboren und noch sehr verschlafen.

The smallest was only born at the end of March and is still very sleepy.

Caption 30, Rhein-Main-TV Tierbabys im Opel-Zoo

 Play Caption

 

 

Aber noch blinzelt die Leitkuh etwas verschlafen in die Morgensonne.

But the lead cow still blinks a bit sleepily in the morning sun.

Caption 19, Die letzten Paradiese Die Schönheit der Alpen 1 - Part 9

 Play Caption

 

But the most unexpected meaning of verschlafen is in its slang use with a direct object: 

 

Ich bin ganz ehrlich, ich hab ihn verschlafen, weil ich einkaufen war.

I'll be totally honest: I missed it because I was shopping.

Caption 18, Die Pfefferkörner Alles auf Anfang - Part 16

 Play Caption

 

This could be alternately translated as "overlooked" or "forgot." So if you ever hear somebody say that they "overslept" something, you'll know that they are using a slang idiom that means that they overlooked it — nothing really to do with sleep!

 

Further Learning
See if you can guess—if you don't already know—the meanings of ausschlafen, durchschlafen, einschlafen, entschlafen, weiterschlafen, and überschlafen. Then go find some examples of these words used in a real-world context on Yabla German. All this talk about sleep is making me sleepy, so with that I wish you all a good night, ich gehe jetzt schlafen!

Continue Reading

"To earn" and "to deserve": the verb verdienen

The verb "to earn" in German is verdienen, and it is the verb we use when talking about earning money or making a living. 

 

Was verdient denn der Durchschnittsmensch in Deutschland?

What does the average person earn in Germany?

Caption 20, LUKE! Die Woche und ich: Kinderquatsch mit Luke

 Play Caption

 

Die Schwestern im Kloster verdienen damit einen großen Teil ihres Lebensunterhalts,

The sisters in the cloister earn a large portion of their livelihood with that,

Caption 39, Hostien für den Papst: Abtei Sankt Gertrud in Alexanderdorf

 Play Caption

 

But, like in English, you can also "earn" things other than money, such as a break or success. 

 

Das fühlt sich natürlich toll an, weil sich das auch so anfühlt, als hätte man sich das verdient, weil man sich's erarbeitet hat.

Of course that feels great, because it also feels as if we have earned it because we have worked for it.

Captions 15-16, Culcha Candela zieht Bilanz

 Play Caption

 

Wenn man hier so viel ackert, dann hat man mal eine Auszeit verdient.

When you slog away here so much, you have at some point earned a break.

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

 Play Caption

 

There are times when either the verb "to deserve" or "to earn" can be used in English, and in German verdienen is used in both cases. It is used for positive outcomes and negative circumstances alike. Note, however, that the tense may change in the translation.

 

Na und? Der hat auch seine Strafe verdient.

So what? He also deserves his punishment. 

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 Play Caption

 

Also, ich finde, du hast den Preis echt verdient.

Well, I think you really deserved the prize.

Caption 91, Free Birds: Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

 Play Caption

 

Weil ich glaube, dass ein Typ wie Sie eine zweite Chance verdient hat.

Because I think a guy like you deserves a second chance.

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
On Yabla German you can find the verb verdienen used to express both "to earn" and "to deserve." Pay attention to the tenses, which will not always align in English and German.

Continue Reading

Complaining

You may know the German phrase Halt die Ohren steif, which is the equivalent of "Keep your chin up." These are tough times, and even if we generally are able to do this, it's sometimes hard not to complain about our current circumstances or the things we might be missing out on. 

The most common verb for "to complain" in German is the reflexive verb sich beschweren. You can see in the second example below that it is used with the preposition über and the accusative. 

 

Was ist los? -Ach, nichts. Passt schon. Ich will mich nicht beschweren.

What is going on? -Oh, nothing. It's OK. I don't want to complain.

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

 Play Caption

 

Ich habe mich bei ihm über meinen Nachbarn beschwert.

I complained to him about my neighbor.

Caption 30, Nicos Weg4: Nachbarschaft

 Play Caption

 

You may also see the verbs klagen and reklamieren. The verb klagen is also used in a legal context and means to file a lawsuit against someone.The verb reklamieren is particularly used for customer complaints (die Reklamationen), for example if an item is defective. 

 

Wenn Kinder über Kopf- oder Bauchschmerzen klagen, nicht mehr zur Schule gehen wollen und sich zurückziehen, dann sollten Eltern hellhörig werden.

If children complain about head- or stomachaches, no longer want to go to school and withdraw, then parents should listen up.

Captions 28-30, Mobbing in der Schule: Mehr als Streit

 Play Caption

 

Vielleicht reklamiert sie was.

Maybe  she's issuing a complaint.

Caption 12, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

 Play Caption

 

A common slang term for "to complain" is meckern. This verb actually means to bleat like a goat, but is used to express whining or grumbling.

 

Und daran gibt es nichts zu meckern.

And there's nothing to complain about there.

Caption 25, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

 Play Caption

 

Von uns Westberlinern wird gesagt, dass wir nur meckern, aber die meckern ja nur noch mehr.

People say about us West Berliners that all we do is complain, but they just complain even more.

Captions 51-52, Heute-Show 30 Jahre Mauerfall: So feiern die Deutschen ihre Einheit

 Play Caption

    
Further Learning
Practice using the verb sich beschweren in various tenses, and don't forget to alter the reflexive pronoun. You can search for the infinitive sich beschweren and the participle beschwert on Yabla German to find further examples.

Continue Reading

bleibe, beliebte, beileibe

The three words above make a nice tongue twister or Zungenbrecher — literally "tongue breaker" in German — though certainly not as difficult as the classic Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz. Best try the latter only if you have a first aid kit around! But I doubt all of us are completely clear on the meanings of the aforementioned "B" words. Let's start with the easiest ones.

 

Bleibe is the first person singular present tense of the verb bleiben:

 

Also, "ich bleibe", das ist Präsens, ja.

Well, "I am staying", that is present tense, yes.

Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Vorbereitung auf den Test

 Play Caption

 

 

Ich bleibe einfach hier in Deutschland und werde eine Fahrradtour machen.

I will just stay here in Germany and will do a bike tour.

Caption 50, Jenny Reiseziele

 Play Caption

 

 

Nein, ich komme nicht mit. Ich bleibe hier in Deutschland.

No, I'm not coming with you. I'm staying here in Germany.

Caption 6, Nicos Weg A2 Folge 17: Unterwegs

 Play Caption

 

 

The verb bleiben is very appropriate this summer, as most of us will be doing our best to enjoy staycations

 

The adjective beliebt — most often written as beliebte with the suffix -e when following a definite article in the nominative case — can be translated as "beloved," "favored," or "popular," depending upon the context:

 

Saint-Tropez am Baggersee, so besangen schon die Rodgau Monotones vor über 30 Jahren das beliebte Badeparadies der Stadt Rodgau.

Saint-Tropez on the artificial lake, as the Rodgau Monotones already sang over 30 years ago about the beloved swimming paradise of the city of Rodgau.

Captions 2-4, Rhein-Main-TV Badesee Rodgau

 Play Caption

 

 

Besonders beliebt ist bei den Berlinern der Wannsee

The Wannsee is especially popular with the residents of Berlin,

Caption 3, Berlin Wannsee

 Play Caption

 

 

Lastly, we come to the least commonly used of the three B words: beileibe. This adverb is similar in meaning to bestimmt ("definitely") or wirklich ("really"), but is used almost exclusively in the negation beileibe nicht

 

Das wird vielleicht was kosten, aber beileibe nicht so viel wie der Verlust des gesamten Projekts.

It may cost something, but by no means as much as the loss of the whole project.

Captions 45-46, Marga Engel schlägt zurück Rache - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Depending upon the context, beileibe nicht can also be translated as "on no account" or "certainly not."

 

Further Learning
Search for variations of the above three words on Yabla German and practice writing some sentences of your own in German that include these words. For some learning fun, go to the Zungenbrecher page on Wikipedia and, after translating a couple, see how fast you can say them without breaking your tongue! 

Continue Reading
123...1819