German Lessons


"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

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

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

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

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

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

Der, die, or das? - Part 3: Neuter 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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Funny as in “Ha Ha Funny” or Funny as in Weird?

When something is funny in the sense of humorous and you can laugh about it, the usual adjective in German is lustig, which is nearly always translated as “funny.”


Ja, das ist ganz lustig.
Yes, that is pretty funny.
Caption 27, Wissenschaft, Neues Element: das Copernicium


The English “making fun” of something or somebody, meaning to mock them, has a direct parallel in German that also uses the word lustig, as in sich lustig machen:


Sie lachten über seine großen Füße und machten sich über seinen plumpen, grauen Körper lustig.
They laughed about his big feet and made fun of his plump, gray body.
Captions 36-37, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Das hässliche Entlein


Beware, however, as there is a partial false friend to be found in the German adjective (and adverb) komisch. This is occasionally used for the similar English word “comic” or “comical,” as in the Komische Oper (or “Comic Opera”) in Berlin, but usually it is meant in a more derogatory sense:


Die entstehen immer komischer.
They form more and more oddly.
Caption 57, Wissenschaft, Neues Element: das Copernicium


Es war schon ein bisschen komisch.
It was indeed a little bit weird.
Caption 35, 25 Jahre Mauerfall: Bürger Lars Dietrich erinnert sich


Of course, sometimes even English “funny” is also meant somewhat derogatorily rather than in a humorous sense: 


Aber das ist ein komisches Beispiel.
But that is a funny example.
Caption 18, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Konjunktionen


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and find more examples of the adjectives lustig and komisch in a real world context to get a better feel for which is the appropriate word. 

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Austrian, Swiss & Southern German Dialects

You may at some point go to Austria, or watch a film or TV program made in Southern Germany, or read an article that is written in Swiss German. Let's talk today — all difficulties in understanding the accents aside — about some words in Austrian, Swiss, and Southern German dialects that are different from words used in Standard German. Such dialects are occasionally found on Yabla German too!


In der Früh ist er ganz stolz gewesen wieder.    
In the morning he was very proud again.
Caption 81, Oktoberfest München: Auf der Wiesn


Die Früh is a standard Austrian and Southern German expression for "morning," which is der Morgen in Standard German.


Ich wurde eben von meinen Freunden da so 'n bisserl inspiriert.    
I was just inspired a little bit by my friends.
Caption 8, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Börsen-Gewinnspiel 


Wird 'n bissel später heute.
It will be a little bit later today.
Caption 9, Mama arbeitet wieder: Alle haben sich lieb


Bissel and bisserl are typical dialect for the Standard German bisschen.


Als besonderes Zuckerl für die Rider zum Training…
As a special treat for the riders to train on…
Caption 8, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open


Das Zuckerl is Bavarian dialect for a "candy," "sweet," or "treat," rendered as der (or das) Bonbon in Standard German.


Patrick Hollaus zählt auch heuer wieder zu den heißen Favoriten.
Patrick Hollaus is counted among the hot favourites again this year.
Caption 34, Wintersport: 7th Austrian Freeski Open


Heuer is Southern German, Austrian, and Swiss dialect for "this year," or dieses Jahr in Standard German.


Ist der Brief im Kuvert? Ist eine Marke drauf?
Is the letter in the envelope? Is there a stamp on it?
Caption 22, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger


The word das Kuvert is indeed acceptable Standard German, but is primarily used instead of der Briefumschlag for "envelope" in Austria and Switzerland.


Further Learning
Some other very typical Southern German dialects are found in names of food. Here are a few examples, with the first word as dialect in bold, followed by the English word and the Standard German word in parentheses: der Erdapfel (potato, die Kartoffel); der Kukuruz (corn, maize, der Mais); die Marille (apricot, die Aprikose); der Paradieser (tomato, die Tomate); die Ribisel (currants, die Johannisbeere); das Schwammerl (mushroom, der Pilz); die Semmel (bread roll, das Brötchen); die Zwetschge / die Zwetschke (plum, die Pflaume). Now that you are prepared, you can watch this three-part video series on Yabla German to hear some real-life Austrians in action!

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German Interjections

According to the third edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, an interjection is a grammatical term "expressing emotion, viewed as a Part of Speech." Wikipedia describes an interjection as "a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction" that furthermore "partly overlaps with categories like profanities, discourse markers and fillers."


In German too, some interjections are also standard nouns, but most are basically sounds that express emotion. Here are some examples of German interjections that are nearly identical to English: 


Jetzt weiß ich, warum wir verschlafen haben. -Aha, warum denn?
Now I know why we overslept. -Aha, why then?
Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Cybermobbing


The next one is pretty easy, because even though it's spelled differently, it sounds the same:


Sonst gibt es keine Krone. -Autsch!    
Otherwise there won't be any crown. -Ouch!
Caption 8, JoNaLu: Prinz Dreckspatz


The more common expression of pain in German, however, is aua, which is similar in sound to the English "ow."


Bingo, wir sind im Geschäft!
Bingo, we're in business! 
Caption 61, Rücksicht im Verkehr: Christophorus


Es ist schön, dass wir in Deutschland sind. -Bravo.
It is nice that we are in Germany. -Bravo.
Caption 29, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Die Konjunktion "dass"


There are also many German interjections that sound entirely different from their English counterparts: 


Ach, ich bin klein!
Oh, I am small!
Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Obwohl


Na ja, wer's glaubt, wird selig.
Well, he who has faith shall be blessed. 
Caption 12, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern


Mensch, wo bleibt sie denn?
Man, where is she then?
Caption 25, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor


Further Learning
See this list of German interjections and find some of them used in a real-world context on Yabla German.

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Discussing Politics in German

The results of the recent national elections in the United States have been making headlines around the world this week. Regardless of your opinion of the outcome, politics will remain a major topic of discussion in the upcoming months and probably in the foreseeable future. As a means of brushing up on German political expressions and dialogs, here is a selection of Yabla German videos with historical and contemporary political themes.


1933, als der Reichstag brennt, beginnt eine Zeit, die man Drittes Reich nennt.
In 1933, when the Reichstag burned, a period called the Third Reich began.
Captions 33-34, Rapucation: Lernen durch Rapmusik


Der wurde im Oktober 1941 als Sammelplatz zur Deportation der rund zehntausend Juden aus Frankfurt bestimmt.    
It was, in October 1941, assigned as a collection point for the deportation of about ten thousand Jews from Frankfurt.
Captions 4-5, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Neue Gedenkstätte an der EZB


Das 21. Jahrhundert ist noch ziemlich jung und vorrangig von den Anschlägen des 11. September geprägt, die schließlich zum Ausbruch des dritten Irak-Kriegs führten.
The 21st century is still pretty young and largely shaped by the attacks of September 11th, which ultimately led to the outbreak of the third Iraq War.
Captions 14-16, Zeit: Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem


Nicht, dass wir heute keinen Rassismus mehr haben,aber er lebt sich oft subtiler aus.
Not that we don't have racism anymore today, but it is often lived out more subtly.
Captions 43-44, LUCAS-Kinder-Filmfestival: Tom Sawyer


Max Brauer gibt seine amerikanische Bürgerschaft auf, um wieder deutscher Staatsangehöriger zu werden.
Max Brauer relinquishes his American citizenship to become a German citizen again.
Captions 5-6, Hamburg 1946/47: Wiederaufbau


Flüchtlinge können bei ihrer Ankunft oft nur wenige Worte oder gar kein Deutsch.
Refugees can, upon their arrival, often speak only a few words of German or none at all.
Caption 3, Flüchtlingskrise: Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge


Further Learning
You, however, have one advantage that many refugees do not: Watch the above videos to improve your German political conversation abilities and search on Yabla German for more videos related to the topic. 

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Freedom of Choice

If you are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional democracy, I'd like to remind those of you who are eligible voters to be sure and make your voices heard. If you are too young to vote, please encourage your friends and family to make their votes count! Here are some examples of references to democracy in Yabla videos.


In einer Demokratie ist eine Funktion von regelmäßigen Wahlen… nach dem Willen der Wählermehrheit den Wechsel der Regierung zu ermöglichen.
In a democracy a function of regular elections is… to allow the change of the government according to the will of the majority of voters.
Captions 10-11, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest


Weil es hier um Freiheit und Demokratie geht, die tagtäglich gefährdet sind, und wir müssen dafür kämpfen, dass Freiheit und Demokratie uns erhalten bleiben. 
Because it is about freedom and democracy here, which are in danger on a daily basis, and we have to fight to ensure that freedom and democracy are preserved for us.
Captions 17-19, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung: Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen


Es hat uns über ein halbes Jahrhundert Frieden, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, Menschenrechte und Demokratie gebracht.
It has brought us more than a half century of peace, freedom, justice, human rights and democracy.
Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache


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.
Captions 16-17, Berlin: Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland


Was ist kein Merkmal unserer Demokratie? Pressezensur. Warum gibt es in einer Demokratie mehr als eine Partei? Weil dadurch die unterschiedlichen Meinungen der Bürger und Bürgerinnen vertreten werden.
What is not a characteristic of our democracy? Censorship of the press. Why is there more than one party in a democracy? Because the various opinions of the citizens [male] and citizens [female] are thus represented.
Captions 3-15, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest


Ja, das ist ein krasser Einschnitt in unsere Demokratie, Marktdiktatur kann entstehen, ganz viele Sachen, die einfach sehr negativ sind für uns.
Yes, this is a crass break in our democracy, a market dictatorship can arise, quite a lot of things that are just very negative for us.
Captions 10-11, DW-Nachrichten: Massenprotest gegen TTIP


Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety on Yabla German and learn more German words related to politics. And don't forget to vote in the elections tomorrow and to remind your friends and family to do so too!

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