German Lessons

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Using während

The German word während means "during" or "while." If you have learned this word, you likely also learned that it is a preposition used with the genitive case. In fact, this is not always the case. But there are two common structures for the implementation of this word, so let's look at some examples.

 

The genitive case is required when während is used with a noun that expresses a period of time. 

 

Und wie ist das passiert? Während des Trainings?
And how did it happen? During the training?
Caption 33, Jenny und Alena: Handball

 

Während der vierzigtägigen Fastenzeit durften sie nur eingeschränkt essen.
During the forty-day fasting period, they were only allowed to eat limited amounts.
Caption 18, Deutsches Bier: 500 Jahre Reinheitsgebot

 

However, there are instances where it is correct to use the dative (See the link provided in "Further Learning"). Moreover, it is not uncommon to also hear the dative case used with während in colloquial spoken German. The dative case may be used with nominalized verbs, for example: 

 

Und jetzt geb' ich während dem Rühren nach und nach die Eier mit dazu.
And now I'll gradually add the eggs while stirring.
Caption 14, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

 

Während is also implemented as a subordinating conjunction that connects a subordinate clause to a main clause. In this case, remember that the conjugated verb will be at the end of the subordinate clause.

 

Während ich weg bin, musst du das Haus fegen, Feuerholz hacken und den Kessel mit Wasser füllen!
While I am away, you must sweep the house, cut firewood and fill the kettle with water!
Caption 22-23, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

 

So, während ich die Tafel putze, überlegt euch mal Verben mit Präpositionen.
So while I clean the blackboard, think about verbs with prepositions.
Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

 

Danach sterben sie, während überall sonst endgültig der Bergfrühling einzieht.
Afterwards they die, while everywhere else the mountain spring finally moves in for good.
Caption 14, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Further Learning
To learn about instances in which the dative is used rather than the genitive, refer to the "Usage Notes" at the bottom of this page. You can review the declensions for the genitive and dative cases here. Then write your own sentences with the word während, or search for more examples on Yabla German.

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An experience or life experience?

For this week's lesson, we will look at the nouns das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung, and the related verbs erleben and erfahren

 

Consider the three examples below:

 

Das ist einfach das beste Erlebnis, das man als Künstler haben kann.
That is simply the best experience that you can have as an artist.
Caption 17, Helge Schneider: Auf der Bühne geht's mir gut

 

Also, das war eigentlich eine sehr tolle Erfahrung.
Well, that was actually a really great experience.
Caption 21, Eva Croissant: Interview

 

Ich bin selbst Mutter von zwei wundervollen Kindern und spreche aus eigener Erfahrung.
I myself am the mother of two wonderful children and speak from my own experience.
Caption 5-6, Cettina interviewt: Mütter

 

In English, the word "experience" has a few definitions. In the first two sentences, the speaker is referring to a particular instance of encountering or undergoing something. In the third sentence, they are referring to the knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what they have observed, encountered, or undergone. In German, it is possible to use both das Erlebnis and die Erfahrung to describe this first kind of "experience." However, when we are talking about life experience, only die Erfahrung is appropriate in German. 

 

The verbs erleben and erfahren similarly can both indicate the process of experiencing something:

 

Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden, ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.
It should become a place of living democracy, a building for everyone who wants to experience politics up close.
Caption 16-17, Berlin: Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

 

Jeder muss für sich selber wissen, wo er hinfährt und wie er da ist und welche Länder und was er dort erfahren will.
Everyone has to know for himself where he's heading and how he is there and which countries and what he wants to experience there.
Caption 41-42, Anna: Am Strand in Mexiko

 

However, erfahren is also often used to express learning of or finding out about something new:

 

Wir haben nichts gefilmt. -Niemand wird davon erfahren.
We didn't film anything. -Nobody will find out about it.
Caption 30, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

 

Further Learning
Conjugate erfahren and erleben and search for the various conjugations (erfahre, erfährst, etc.) on Yabla German to find more examples of the verbs used in context. Try to guess what the words das Erlebnisbad, das Erlebnisgeschenk, der Erlebnispark, erlebnisreich, and die Erlebniswelt mean now that you have an understanding of the word Erlebnis. 

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Frühling and Frühjahr

You may have noticed that there are two words used to talk about springtime in German: das Frühjahr and der Frühling. Sometimes these two words are used interchangeably, like "fall" and "autumn."

 

However, if we look at the Duden definition of each word, we see that der Frühling is specified as a season in which mild temperatures prevail and plants begin to grow, whereas das Frühjahr is more vaguely defined as the period of time between the end of winter and the end of spring. This may seem like a subtle difference, but means that we will be more likely to hear das Frühjahr used in contexts where we are more generally talking about the transitional months in the early part of the calendar year.

 

Wir sehen uns im Frühjahr zweitausendneun im Kino.
We'll see one another in the spring of two thousand nine at the movies.
Caption 29, Filmtrailer: Hexe Lilli

 

Jedes Frühjahr wandern die großen Tintenfische durch das Wehr.
Every spring, the large coleoids travel through the dam.
Caption 19, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

Im Frühjahr zweitausendundelf sollen die ersten Fohlen geboren werden.
The first foals are to be born in the spring of two thousand and eleven.
Caption 44, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski-Wildpferde

 

Unlike das Frühjahr, der Frühling clearly indicates the season (March through May in the Northern Hemisphere), along with its positive connotations of warm weather. If spring is named among other seasons, it will much more likely be referred to as der Frühling, and not das Frühjahr.

 

Frühling, Sommer, Herbst und Winter, so heißen die Jahreszeiten auf Deutsch.
Spring, summer, autumn and winter, that's what the seasons are called in German.
Captions 3 and 4, Herbst: mit Eva

 

Winter muss eben sein, nich'? Aber, ja, Frühling ist mir lieber.
Winter has to happen, right? But yes, I prefer spring.
Caption 7, Berlin: Im Winter

 

Knallige Farben sind im kommenden Frühling und Sommer ein Muss.
Loud colors for the coming spring and summer are a must.
Caption 2, Das Beauty-Einmaleins: Fingernägel

 

Further Learning
Check out this previous lesson on compound words featuring Frühling. Look up the meanings of additional compound words such as die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit
der Frühjahrsputz, das Frühjahrsquartal, die Frühjahrsmesse, or die Frühjahrsmode. 

 

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Speaking about responsibility in German

On Yabla German, you may have come across several different adjectives that are translated with the English adjective "responsible." 

 

The word zuständig is commonly used to describe responsibility for a particular task, often in professional contexts. 

 

Ich bin zuständig dort für die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Abfallberatung.
I am responsible for public relations and garbage consultation there. 
Caption 8, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg

 

Für die Klimatechnik in den Restaurants ist Handwerker Max zuständig.
The handyman Max is responsible for the air conditioning in the restaurants.
Caption 15, Frankfurter Flughafen: Ja zu FRA! Erklärfilm

 

Verantwortlich is similar to zuständig in how it is used, but often describes a higher level of legal or political responsibility. 

 

Diese Aktion ist Teil einer internationalen Kampagne, die sich gegen Dänemark richtet, weil Dänemark, äh, politisch verantwortlich ist.
This action is part of an international campaign that is directed against Denmark, because Denmark is politically responsible.
Caption 12, PETA-Aktion: Gegen das Wal-Massaker

 

Verantwortungsvoll and zuverlässig are used to describe a permanent personality trait. Zuverlässig, however, more specifically means "competent," "dependable," "trustworthy," or "reliable." 

 

Der Präventionstag soll den Jugendlichen den Anstoß geben, in für sie heiklen Situationen verantwortungsvoll zu handeln.
Prevention Day is meant to give young people a nudge towards acting responsibly in delicate situations.
Caption 44-45, Gewaltprävention: Gewalt an Schulen

 

Haben wir zuverlässige Leute in allen Wehrkreisen?
Do we have trustworthy people in all military districts?
Caption 39, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 

Further Learning
Search for more instances of zuständig, verantwortlich, verantwortungsvoll, and zuverlässig on Yabla German and practice the declensions of these adjectives. 

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The word scharf

In English, the word "sharp" has a few different meanings. We can use it to describe the blade of a knife, but we can also say that someone is a "sharp dresser." The German word scharf also has a range of meanings beyond "sharp-edged."

 

One very common translation of scharf that you may already know is "spicy."

 

Wenn ihr es nicht ganz so scharf mögt, dann könnt ihr diese kleinen Chilischotenkerne entfernen.
If you don't like it quite so spicy, then you can remove these little chili seeds.
Caption 52-53, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

 

Das Gemisch, das auf Stufe zehn kommt, ist die schärfste Chilisoße der Welt.
The mixture that makes it to level ten is the spiciest chili sauce in the world.
Caption 21, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück

 

Scharf can also be used as an adjective or adverb to mean "sleek" or "attractive." In this sentence, it's used to describe the design of a car:

 

Von der Spitze bis zum Heckspoiler ist er richtig schön scharf gezeichnet.
From the front end to the rear spoiler, it's really sharply designed.
Caption 4, AUTO BILD TV: Tops & Flops der IAA 

 

Finally, scharf is also used to describe images in terms of whether they are in focus or not:

 

Und dann... die Bilder, die scharf waren, da war wieder der Ausdruck nicht so, wie ich's gerne hätte.
And then... the pictures that were in focus, there again the expression wasn't how I'd like to have it.
Caption 34, Lokalhelden: Art House

 

Further Learning
Watch the currywurst video above in its entirety on Yabla German for more examples of the word in use. Make sentences with the word scharf, integrating the correct endings based on gender (eine scharfe Suppe, ein scharfes Gewürz), and then try some sentences with the comparative and superlative form (schärfer, schärfste).

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"And" & "Or" in a Single Word 

One of my favorite German words took me a long time to learn to pronounce and even longer to properly understand. The word beziehungsweise not only has a fairly complex meaning, but it is also so long that in most cases people abbreviate the written form as bzw

 

Often beziehungsweise is translated simply as "or": 

 

Einen Wohnwagen beziehungsweise eine Hütte bekommt man ab fünfundfünfzig Euro.  
You get a trailer or a hut from fifty-five euros.
Caption 33, Berlin: Indoor-Camping im „Hüttenpalast“

 

So why not simply say oder ("or") instead of the longer beziehungsweise? One reason is that the latter often goes more in-depth than just saying "or."  You may want to rent either a trailer or a hut, or perhaps both a trailer and hut. Beziehungsweise is thus often translated as "respectively" too:

 

Sobald beziehungsweise erst wenn der Antrag gemäß Artikel fünfzig der EU-Verträge vorliegt.
As soon as, or respectively, only when the motion in accordance with Article Fifty of the EU Treaties is submitted.
Captions 17-18, Brexit-Votum: Merkel warnt vor Spaltung Europas

 

Sometimes beziehungsweise is used to narrow down a meaning and in this case is translated as "more specifically": 

 

Damit man dieses Geld auch bekommt, benötigt man ein Bankkonto beziehungsweise ein Girokonto.
In order to receive this money, you need a bank account, more specifically a checking account.
Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Bankkonten

 

Further Learning
So whether you are learning German for fun or (beziehungsweise) for business — perhaps both, right? — this is a good word to have in your active vocabulary. Although it is not usually translated as such, for me it helped to think of the word as the "and/or" that you sometimes see in English. Take a look at examples  of beziehungsweise in context on Yabla German.

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Irritated or Just Confused?

If you've followed our lessons, you have likely already heard about "false friends." These are words that sound similar in German and English, but do not have the same meaning. One example of verb that is a false friend is irritieren, which despite sounding very similar to the verb "to irritate," actually means "to confuse." The German adjective irritiert therefore is translated as "confused."

 

Deine Eltern waren irritiert, dass Fußball dich so interessiert.
Your parents were confused that football interests you so much.
Caption 5-6, Olli Schulz: Spielerfrau

 

Wenn ich das erste Mal in dieser Figur auftrete, ist das Publikum immer erst mal so 'n bisschen irritiert.
When I appear for the first time in the role of this character, the audience is always a little confused at first.
Caption 26-27, Theater: Rain Man

 

For "to irritate" or "to annoy," the verb ärgern is a common choice. 

 

Bleib höflich und sag nichts, das ärgert sie am meisten.
Remain polite and don't say anything, that irritates them the most.
Caption 39, Die Ärzte: Lasse redn

 

Another similar case is with the verb sich wundern. This means "to marvel" at something and is often used to express surprise, however, it does not share the other meaning of "to wonder." "To wonder" in the sense of contemplating or wondering about a topic is simply sich fragen.

 

Es wundert mich überhaupt nicht, dass dein Kind so richtig einen an der Waffel hat.
I'm not at all surprised that your child really has one on his waffle [idiom: is crazy].
Captions 26-27, Filmtrailer: Frau Müller muss weg

 

Und ich frage mich, wann werde ich berühmt sein?
And I wonder when will I be famous?
Captions 21-22, Adel Tawil: Lieder

 

Further Learning
Take a look at these examples in context on Yabla German and practice conjugating irritieren, ärgern, sich wundern, and sich fragen taking into account the reflexive verbs. Or take at this list of false friends and find other verbs to look out for. 

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Windy Days

For this week, Yabla has released a video reporting on recent extreme winter weather conditions in Germany. You may have noticed that, like English, German has several words that describe different types of wind. 

 

The easiest to remember is “der Wind," although the German word for "the breeze" is quite similar as well: 

 

Der Wind muss nur ein wenig drehen, dann steigt die Luft an den Bergen auf.
The wind has to change direction, then the air rises up the mountains.
Caption 9, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Die leichte, die frische und die steife Brise...
The light, the fresh, and the stiff breeze...
Caption 12, Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Wind

 

Die Böen, the plural of die Bö, refers to stronger wind, and can be translated as "squalls" or "gusts." 

 

Also lokal sind auch orkanartige Böen mit dabei.
Thus, in parts, hurricane-like gusts will also be present.
Caption 24, Wettervorhersage: Winterwetter

 

The words Orkan and Hurrikan are both used to describe storms caused by traveling low pressure areas. Generally, Hurrikan will refer to tropical storms, while Orkan is a general term for a fierce storm. 

 

Im März dieses Jahres ist der Orkan Niklas über Deutschland hinweggezogen.
In March of this year, Hurricane Niklas passed over Germany.
Caption 5-6, Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft: Naturgefahrenreport

 

However, extreme winds in Germany are relatively rare. If you ever live or study in Germany, you’re much more likely to hear this sentence:

 

Mach aber die Tür richtig zu, es zieht immer so! -Hm.
But close the door well, it's always so drafty! -Hm.
Caption 23, Monopoly: Geheime Tipps und Tricks

 

The use of the verb ziehen ("to move") is related in this case to the word der Luftzug, or “draft of air.”

 

Further Learning
Watch the classic German cartoon Piggeldy und Frederick: Der Wind in its entirety, as it features many types of wind and some nice adjectives to describe them.

 

You can also go onto Yabla German and look up examples with any of the following verbs, which are used to describe how wind blows: peitschen, blasen, wehen, pustenrauschen.

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Light, Left and Loose Hands

In English, we are used to using a number of idioms to express that something is easy without thinking much about the literal meaning of what we are saying. For instance, to someone who is not so familiar with English, the expression "it's a piece of cake" might sound like you are discussing pastries, when really you are just attempting to express that something is easy. 

 

The German language also has a number of idioms expressing that something is easy or easily done, and many of them are related to the hands. 

 

Heute wird das alles mit leichter Hand so weggewischt.
Today that is all erased with a light hand.
Caption 80, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 

This means that you don't have to use much energy for something and can use a "light hand" to easily get something done.

 

Das machen wir dann mit links.
We'll do that then with our left hand.
Caption 29: Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze

 

This does not mean to literally use your left hand to do something, but rather that something is so easy that a right-handed person could even manage it with their less nimble left hand.

 

Dann ging mir das eigentlich locker von der Hand.
Then it actually went very loosely from the hand.
Caption 72: Frankfurter Flughafen: Flugzeugschlepper

 

This might suggest that something has fallen out of your hand, but actually means that something was accomplished with very little effort or quite easily.

 

Further Learning
Go onto Yabla German and find more examples of phrases expressing "easy" and "easily." As Piggeldy and Frederick always say: Nichts leichter als das!

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Winter Sports

In many German-speaking countries, winter sports are a popular pastime this time of year. The mountainous areas of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the region of South Tyrol in Italy are all popular destinations for skiing, snowboarding, and other activities. 

 

Was ist denn Ihre Lieblingswintersportart?
What is your favorite type of winter sport?
Caption 42, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 

The nouns and verbs for many winter sports are quite easy to remember. The nouns Das Schlittschuhlaufen ("ice skating"), das Skifahren ("skiing"), and das Snowboardfahren ("snowboarding") correspond directly to the verb constructions Schlittschuh laufen  ("to ice skate"/"to go ice skating"), Ski fahren ("to ski"/"to go skiing") and Snowboard fahren ("to snowboard"/"to go snowboarding"). 

 

Frederick, was ist Schlittschuhlaufen?
Frederick, what is ice skating?
Caption 3, Piggeldy und Frederick: Schlittschuhlaufen

 

Ich fahr' eigentlich auch total gerne Schlittschuh.
I actually also really like to go ice skating.
Caption 3, Diane: Auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Ich selber bin jahrelang Snowboard gefahren in den Alpen, äh, in Europa in der Schweiz.
I myself snowboarded for years in the Alps, uh, in Europe, in Switzerland.

Caption 8, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

 

Ähm, ich fahre relativ gerne Ski und fahre gerne Snowboard.
Um, I like to ski, more or less, and I like to snowboard.
Caption 51, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 

Further Learning
Watch any of the Yabla German videos above in their entirety, or click on the extra videos below to learn vocabulary related to equipment and technique: 

 

Skifahren lernen: Schneepflug zum Bremsen und Pflugbogen
Wintersport: Engadin Snow 2009

 

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Montag montags

Days of the week in English are, as proper nouns, always capitalized. In North American English, days of the week can also be used in an adverbial sense, such as "I go grocery shopping Mondays." So even though "Mondays" is technically an adverb in this sentence, it is still capitalized because of its origin as a proper noun. 

 

Of course in German, all nouns are capitalized, and days of the week too. However, there are also cases in German where the days of the week are used in an adverbial sense, and we English native speakers must fight our instinctive tendency to try and capitalize these words. The days "Wednesday" and "Thursday," for example: 

 

Ich möchte euch gerne die Wochentage beibringen... Mittwoch, Donnerstag
I would like to teach you the days of the week... Wednesday, Thursday
Captions 2-7, Lydia erklärt: Wochentage, Jahreszeiten und Monate

 

Wir unterrichten an zwei Tagen während der Woche, mittwochs und donnerstags.
We teach on two days during the week, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Caption 25-26, Lokalhelden: Art House

 

In the first example, the nouns Mittwoch and Donnerstag are capitalized, but the second example mittwochs and donnerstags are adverbs and thus remain lower case. 

 

Man kann einfach sich wirklich mal schön locker machen am Freitagabend.
One can simply be really nice and relaxed on a Friday evening.
Captions 42-45, Frankfurt: Der Friedberger Platz

 

Was ist das Schöne hier freitagabends herzukommen?
What is the nice thing about coming here on Friday evenings?
Captions 42-45, Frankfurt: Der Friedberger Platz

 

In the above examples, it is clear that am Freitagabend is dealing with a noun, because of the definite preposition am, and the -s ending is a sure clue that freitagabends is an adjective that should be written lower case. 

 

Further Learning
Brush up on your days of the week in their noun and adverbial forms on Yabla German and take a peek in the Oxford Duden German Dictionary page on the subject!

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Der, die, or das? Part 3: Neuter Nouns

To conclude our series on noun endings and gender, let's look at the neuter article das. For neuter nouns, there are really very few patterns that we can rely on. The ending -nis, for example, is often listed as a typical neuter ending, but can just as often signify a feminine noun, as we can see with the words das Ergebnis ("the result") and die Kenntnis ("the knowledge"). 

 

Das Ergebnis kann sich sehen lassen.
The result speaks for itself.
Caption 32, Das Beauty Ein-Mal-Eins: Fingernägel 

 

Der Fluglehrer hat dann immer, hoffentlich, die Vorausschau und die Kenntnis des Wetters.
The flight teacher always has, hopefully, the foresight and the knowledge of the weather.
Caption 28, Lokalhelden: Mini Aeroplane

 

Endings such as -ing-ment-ma and -um are similarly unreliable. However, there are three types of nouns that we would like to mention.

 

First, diminutive nouns with the endings -lein or -chen are always neuter. 

 

Du bist doch bloß zu faul, dich selber um das Mädchen zu kümmern.
You are just too lazy to take care of the girl yourself.
Caption 22, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

 

Also, nouns derived from adjectives that end with -e and nouns derived from infinitives that end with -en are generally neuter. 

 

Ja, das Gute ist: Es gibt ja hier mittlerweile auch Internet.
Well, the good thing is there is also in the meantime even internet here.
Caption 16, TV Total: Stefan trifft Dirk Nowitzki

 

Kleinigkeiten wie das Einkaufen, was man jeden Tag macht...
Little things like shopping that you do every day...
Caption 102, TEDx: Der Supermarkt der Zukunft

 

Further Learning
To learn some very specific tendencies for the genders of nouns, consult this list here. But more importantly, start memorizing neuter nouns you find on Yabla German with the article das as an integral part of the word, or you can scroll down to the list of neuter nouns on this useful page.

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Der, die, or das? Part 2: Feminine Nouns

Last week, we discussed how the ending of a noun may indicate whether it's masculine, feminine, or neuter, and looked at some endings like -er and -ig that typically require the definite masculine article der. As we did last week, we must offer the disclaimer that this is not a 100% reliable way to learn the genders of nouns, due to many exceptions. We encourage you as much as possible to simply learn the appropriate definite article (derdie, or das) along with each individual word so that you'll always know the gender of the noun in the future.

 

However, if you ever get stuck, it might help to know that -anz-ei-heit-ik-ion

-keit-schaft-tät, and -ung are endings that often indicate a feminine noun. Let's look at some examples.

 

Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen.
The possibility exists to test every board beforehand.
Caption 41, Longboarding: mit Lassrollen

 

Die Region zwischen Amrum und Sylt wurde wegen der Meeressäuger unter Schutz gestellt.
The region between Amrum and Sylt was placed under protection because of the marine mammals.
Caption 2, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

Beim Volleyball im Sand besteht die Mannschaft nämlich nur aus zwei Spielern.
With volleyball in the sand, the team consists, namely, of just two players.
Caption 10, Olympische Spiele: Beach Volleyball

 

As mentioned last week, there are exceptions particularly for one-syllable words, which will most often not follow the rules. For example, die Einladung ("the invitation") is feminine, but der Sprung ("the jump") is masculine.

 

Die Einladung kommt noch.
The invitation is still on its way.
Caption 77, Free Birds: Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

 

Und der Sprung an sich geht vielleicht nur drei Sekunden, aber es kommt einem ewig vor.
And the jump itself lasts perhaps only three seconds but it seems eternal.
Caption 44, Lucas' Hobbys: Achterbahn und Bungee

 

Further Learning
Next week, we will conclude this small series with endings that are usually associated with neuter nouns. In the meantime, you can take a look at this useful list and look for the words used in context on Yabla German. If you use flashcards, make sure you're in the habit of always including "the" on the English side (for example, "the possibility" or "the team"), so that you will be sure to include the correct definite article in the translation on the other side of the card.

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Der, die, or das? Part 1: Masculine Nouns

As we know, German nouns can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and the article used with a noun is dependent on its gender. You may have already been advised to memorize the definite article der, die, or das as an essential part of the noun itself, as there are few patterns that will reliably help you retrieve the gender of the noun later on. At Yabla, we try to help with this by always including the definite article of any new vocabulary words presented in our newsletters.

 

However, because new words are not always presented with their definite article in Yabla videos or in real life situations, it may be good to learn a few tendencies that exist for certain word endings. Let’s start with some typically masculine endings, keeping in mind that these rules do have exceptions and that memorizing the article along with each individual noun will always be a better idea.

 

Often, words ending with -er, -or, -en, -ling, -smus, -ig, -eig-ant, or -eich are masculine and require the definite article der.

 

Der Teig hat doch eine ganze Stunde gebraucht, um fertig zu werden.
The batter did indeed take a whole hour to be ready.
Caption 17, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

 

Dann wird der Honig in Gläser abgefüllt.
Then the honey is poured into jars.
Caption 28, Piggeldy und Frederick: Vergessen

 

Der Garten, den ihr hier seht, der gehört zur Domäne Dahlem.
The garden, which you see here, belongs to the Dömane Dahlem [name of museum].
Caption 4, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem

 

It is important to note that these rules often don’t apply to monosyllabic words. For example, words ending in -eich are often masculine, but not das Reich ("the empire").

 

Und der hintere Bereich jetzt hier, wo kommen wir jetzt hin?
And the area now behind here, where are we going now?
Caption 14, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

 

And don't forget: these “rules” are really only tendencies due to exceptions. As we see here, there are words ending with -ant that are not masculine.

 

Der Elefant wollte an seine Frau nach Afrika schreiben.
The elephant wanted to write to his wife in Africa.
Caption 34, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

 

Wie heißt das Restaurant, dessen Essen so... dessen Essen so gut sein soll?
What is the name of the restaurant whose food... whose food is supposed to be so good?
Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

 

Further Learning
We will be back next week with typical endings for feminine nouns. In the meantime, make some flashcards with vocabulary from past lessons or your favorite videos on Yabla German, and always include the definite article so that you learn the gender of the noun. If you have flashcards but have not included the articles, add them now! It is important to get into the habit of doing so.

 

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New Year's Resolutions

The custom of making a New Year's resolution, where we promise to try to make improvements in the coming year, is common in many western European countries. A recent newspaper report states that the most popular New Year's resolution for Germans this year is to try to pay more attention to their personal finances, with the specific goal of saving more money.

 

The German word for "resolution" in the context of a New Year's resolution is der Vorsatz, as in der Vorsatz für das neue Jahr, or less commonly, der Neujahrsvorsatz

 

Haben Sie irgendwelche Vorsätze für nächstes Jahr?    
Do you have any resolutions for next year?
Caption 8, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Linkenheim

 

Haben Sie Vorsätze? -Ja, es wird alles besser!
Do you have resolutions? -Yes, everything will get better!
Captions 30-31, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Linkenheim

 

Haben Sie sich schon gute Vorsätze fürs neue Jahr vorgenommen?
Have you already made good resolutions for the new year?
Captions 8-9, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Karlsruhe

 

Machen Sie sich Vorsätze fürs neue Jahr? -Nein, weil wir sie sowieso nicht einhalten.
Do you make resolutions for the new year? -No, because we don't keep them anyway.
Captions 39-40, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr, Karlsruhe

 

We hope you can be a bit more optimistic about your New Year's resolutions than this last fellow, perhaps it helps if the resolutions are realistic!

 

Further Learning
Watch both of the Yabla German videos about New Year's resolutions in Linkenheim and in Karlsruhe in their entirety and write some New Year’s resolutions for yourself in German.

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Am Silvesterabend

We have already devoted a Yabla German lesson to the celebration of New Year's Eve in Germany with an explanation of the phrase Guten Rutsch ("a good slide into the new year"), but let's take a detailed look at the German word for New Year's Eve: der Silvester (or das Silvester, either way is correct).

 

The term Silvester originates from the Christian feast which takes place on the anniversary of the death of Pope Silvester I on December 31st, and is also used (with language-specific variant spellings) to denote New Year's Eve in many countries, including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia.

 

Was machen wir eigentlich an Silvester?
What are we actually doing on New Year's Eve?
Caption 2, Im Zoo: Der Jahreswechsel für die Tiere

 

Wie verbringen Sie Silvester? -Ganz gemütlich zu Hause.
How will you spend New Year's Eve? -Very comfortably at home.
Caption 7, Silvester: und Vorsätze für das neue Jahr

 

Wer an Silvester nicht alleine Raketen kucken will…
Those who do not want to watch fireworks by themselves on New Year's Eve
Caption 42, Leidenszeit für Singles: Online-Dating-Hochsaison

 

Wie feiert ihr den Silvesterabend? Ich feier mit meiner Mama und meinem Papa zu Hause.
How do you celebrate New Year's Eve? I celebrate with my mom and my dad at home.
Captions 17-18, Silvester: und Vorsätze für das neue Jahr

 

As you see in the last example, Silvester can be combined with Abend (evening) to form the compound noun der Silvesterabend.

 

Further Learning
So regardless of whether you celebrate Silvester at home with family or out with friends, we at Yabla wish you all a happy and safe guten Rutsch into the New Year!

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Homemade and Handmade

For this week’s lesson, we wanted to look at some more examples from the video Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt. One of the lovely things about these markets is the fact that one can find so many “homemade” and “handmade” items, which was expressed in a number of different ways in the video. In a spirit of solidarity with the people of Berlin and German holiday traditions, let’s take a look at some of the phrases that were used for our future Weihnachtsmarkt visits!

 

Ah, OK. -Und alles selbst gebastelt natürlich,
Oh, OK. -And everything is handmade, of course,
Caption 44

 

...selbst gebacken... -Alles selbst...
...home-baked... -Everything yourselves...
Caption 45

 

You may have also seen "selber" used instead of "selbst." This is not incorrect, but certainly more of a slang expression.

 

Oh, super. OK, also alles... -Ja, also, isch [ist] alles selber gemacht.
Oh, super. OK, so everything... -Yes, so it's all homemade.
Caption 17

 

Ist alles von den Eltern und von den Omas selber gebastelt.
It is all made by the parents and the grandmothers themselves.
Caption 15

 

Selber gebackene Plätzchen. -Oh, lecker.
Home baked [Homemade] cookies. -Oh, delicious.
Caption 14

 

In these examples, we can note that there are specific ways to express “homemade” or “handmade” based on the item in question and how it is created. It is good to familiarize yourself with these various phrases, because the adjective hausgemacht is actually more specific than the English word "homemade." This word is particularly used by restaurants or cafés for items that are baked or cooked on the premises.

 

According to Duden, it is preferable to write adjectives other than hausgemacht as two words when they precede a noun, for example die selbst gebackenen Kekse ("the homemade cookies") or der selbst gebastelte Engel ("the handmade angel"). Most importantly, don't forget the appropriate ending (declension) for the adjective!

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and review examples of selber and selbst as they are used in other contexts. Indeed, these words are more often used completely removed from this context to describe an action a person has carried out themselves personally.

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Der Weihnachtsmarkt

Although Christmas decorations started appearing in the shops at the end of October, the holiday season in Germany really begins with the first Sunday of Advent. A clear sign of this is the opening of a Christmas market in most towns and cities. This is referred to as either der Weihnachtsmarkt, der Adventsmarkt, or der Christkindlesmarkt.

 

Hallo, ich bin auf dem Karlsruher Weihnachtsmarkt.
Hello, I am at the Karlsruhe Christmas Market.
Caption 1, Diane auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Der Advent, das ist die Zeit vor Weihnachten.
Advent, that is the time before Christmas.
Caption 3, Weihnachtsmärkte mit Eva

 

In the evenings, people gather on the town square or in an enclosed market hall to do Christmas shopping, listen to music, and eat and drink a number of winter specialties. These include savory dishes, but also many types of sweets, such as almonds roasted with sugar, which are served in a small paper bag.

 

... eine Tüte gebrannte Mandeln.
... a bag of almonds roasted with sugar.
Caption 49, Rhein-Main-TV: Eva Padberg beim Weihnachtseinkauf

 

Selber gebackene Plätzchen. -Oh, lecker.
Homemade cookies. -Oh, delicious.
Caption 14, Unterwegs mit Cettina: auf dem Bruchsaler Weihnachtsmarkt

 

A typical Weihnachtsmarkt has small wooden cabins or tables with heaters, stands selling assorted gifts and sweets, and rides for children. And of course, we should not forget the centerpiece: a large Christmas tree, known as der Tannenbaum or der Weihnachtsbaum.

 

Hier kann man schöne Weihnachtsgeschenke kaufen.
You can buy beautiful Christmas presents here.
Caption 14, Diane am Weihnachtsmarkt

 

Einen Tannenbaum im Wasser zu schmücken...
To decorate a Christmas tree in the water...
Caption 7, Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser

 

Further Learning
Watch the Yabla German videos that have featured a Weihnachtsmarkt and take note of vocabulary related to things to eat and do there. This article on Wikipedia has an interesting overview of the history of the traditional Christmas market in Germany, as well as the tradition as it exists in other countries.

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