German Lessons


Promises, Secrets, and Lies

Quite a few words, phrases, and expressions related to promises, secrets, and lies have popped up in some of Yabla's recent video series. Let's look at some of these, as they can be a useful and fun addition to your vocabulary.


The basic word for a promise is das Versprechen, which stems from the verb versprechen. However, schwören can be used like "to swear" in English to indicate a promise as well:


Er erinnerte sie daran, dass man halten muss, was man verspricht.
He reminded her that you must keep what you have promised.
Caption 66, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Froschkönig


Wir haben Flügel, schwören uns ewige Treue
We have wings, we swear eternal loyalty to each other
Caption 18, Andreas Bourani: Auf uns


You may know the noun for "secret" but do you know the adjective for "top secret"?


Wie meinst du das? -Ich kenne dein Geheimnis! -Was?
How do you mean that? -I know your secret! -What?
Caption 37, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung


Das streng geheime Papier, das in Olbrichts Panzerschrank lagert...
The top secret paper stored in Olbricht's safe...
Caption 3, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944


The expression unter vier Augen means "in private" or "between the two of us":


Ich halte es sowieso für besser, mit Prinz Dietbert unter vier Augen zu sprechen.
I think it is better anyway to speak with Prince Dietbert under four eyes [in private].
Caption 33, Küss mich, Frosch: Leb wohl, kleiner Prinz


You may know the noun die Lüge and the verb lügen, but there is also anlügen, which refers to lying to directly to a person. 


Und wir sind umgezogen, ich hab' dich angelogen    
And we moved, I lied to you
Caption 2, AnnenMayKantereit: Oft gefragt


Further Learning
Practice conjugating the verbs schwören, versprechen, and lügen/anlügen. You can find more examples of these verbs used in real life situations on Yabla German

Continue Reading

Better and better

In last week's newsletter, we looked at the various ways of expressing the adverb "even" in German. We shouldn't forget that adverbs not only describe verbs, but adjectives as well. In this case, "even" is expressed with "noch":


Und mit ein bisschen Unterstützung der Teamkollegen klappt's vielleicht noch besser.
And with a little support from the team members it might work out even better.
Caption 11, Fußball: Torwandschießen


In English we say something is "even better" or that it is getting "better and better." The latter exists in German as well and is often constructed with the verb werden, the word immer, and a comparative adjective. 


Man wird ja immer besser durch die Übung.
You do get better and better through practice. 
Caption 26, Singer-Songwriter: Sebastian Niklaus


As you can see, this construction can be used with most adjectives: 


Sie wird im Spiegel immer kleiner
It gets smaller and smaller in the mirror
Caption 85, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott: Musik sein


Und deshalb wird es auch immer wichtiger werden, dieses auch in Zukunft zu verstärken.
And therefore it is going to become more and more important to also emphasize this in the future.
Caption 35-36, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat 


Sie ist durch die Erweiterung des Flughafens natürlich immer komplexer geworden.
It's become more and more complex through the expansion of the airport, of course.
Caption 35-36, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister: Pläne für 2014


However, make sure to take context of the sentence and the presence or absence of werden into account. The sentence below shows that immer can be combined with an adjective and still just mean "always."


Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.
It's always better if you travel together.
Caption 20, Traumberuf: Windsurfer


Further Learning
Based on the tips above, how would you translate the phrase immer wieder? Do a search on Yabla German!

Continue Reading

Auch, sogar, selbst: The adverb "even" in German

Auch im zweiten Drittel ließen die Löwen nicht locker.    
Even in the second third of the game, the Löwen did not relax.
Caption 25, Eishockey - Löwen Frankfurt: EC Bad Nauheim


You are likely used to auch meaning "also," but did you know that it can mean "even" as well? There are three words for the adverb "even" that are essentially interchangeable in German: auch, selbst, and sogar. They are often combined with wenn. Below we see that auch wenn means "even if" and sometimes "even though":


Auch wenn es mir mein Herz zerreißt
Even if it tears my heart up
Caption 5, Beatrice Egli: Irgendwann


Doch auch wenn im Film viel Basketball gespielt wird, ein Sportfilm soll es dennoch nicht werden.
But even though a lot of basketball is played in the movie, it is not intended to be a sports movie.
Caption 44-45, Dreharbeiten: zum Film „Playoff“


In a previous lesson, we wrote about how the word selbst is used in the context of a person having made or done something themselves. However, in certain contexts, it is placed in front of the subject and means "even" as well:


Doch selbst bei Temperaturen wie im Kühlschrank...
But even at temperatures like in the refrigerator...
Caption 31, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Selbst ausgewachsen werden diese Tintenfische gerade mal zwanzig Zentimeter groß.
Even fully grown, these squid will only become twenty centimeters long.
Caption 28, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen


The dual meaning of selbst means that it cannot be used in every sentence, because it would cause confusion. You have likely heard sogar more often:


In Berlin treten die besten von ihnen sogar in Wettkämpfen gegeneinander an.
In Berlin, the best of them even enter into competitions against one another.
Caption 34, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück


Er kann sogar den Airbus A dreihundertachtzig drücken und ziehen.
It can even push and pull an Airbus A three hundred eighty.
Caption 18, Frankfurter Flughafen: Flugzeugschlepper 


Further Learning
For further examples, just do a simple search, as there are many on Yabla German!
See if you can also find examples of noch, which can also be translated as "even" when it augments an adjective. 

Continue Reading

Using wohl

This week, we'll take a look at the word wohl and its different usages in German. 


The word wohl by itself is used to create a tone of assumption or affirmation in a sentence, meaning "indeed," "likely," "probably," or "apparently." Understanding the exact level of certainty or affirmation involved will require looking at the verb tenses and other context clues in the sentence. 


Und das wird wohl auch erst mal so bleiben.
And it will first also likely stay like that.
Caption 19, Andreas Bourani: Startet durch


Am Ende hat es dann doch wohl gepasst.
In the end, it did indeed fit well.
Caption 65, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen


Relatedly, the phrase jawohl means "yes, indeed":


Ich finde, hier ist es besser. Jawohl!
I think it's better here. Indeed!
Caption 23, Pettersson und Findus: Pettersson zeltet


At the same time, the word wohl also refers to well-being. We often see the verb sich wohlfühlen, which means to feel "well," "happy," or "comfortable." 


Die Rote Meerbarbe fühlt sich seitdem in der Nordsee wohl.
The red mullet since then, has felt just fine in the North Sea.
Caption 22-23, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen


Alle fühlen sich hier wohl, ist aber nicht ganz meine Musik.
Everyone's feeling comfortable here, but it's not really my type of music.
Caption 38, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports


As you may have guessed, this meaning of wohl relates to the phrase zum Wohl, which is often used in toasts. 


Wenn wir anstoßen, sagen wir „zum Wohl“ oder einfach nur „prost“.
When we clink glasses, we say "to health!" or simply just "cheers!"
Caption 18, Tisch decken: mit Eva


Further Learning
Look for more examples with the word wohl on Yabla German and see if you can integrate it into a sentence the next time you converse or write sentences in German. What do you think the words das Wohlfühlhotel, der Wohlfühleffekt, die Wohlfühloase, der Wohlfühlort or der Wohlfühlanzug might mean?

Continue Reading

Reflexive or not?

Reflexive verbs have a substantial presence in the German language. There are quite a few verbs that are not reflexive in English, but always reflexive in German, for example, sich beeilen ("to hurry"). It is important to know which verbs require a reflexive pronoun in German, but also that certain verbs may sometimes be reflexive and sometimes not, which then affects their meaning. 


For example, sich umziehen means "to change clothes," while umziehen means "to move":


Dann würde ich sagen, gehe ich mich mal umziehen. Hast du Klamotten für mich?
Then, I'd say, I'll go and change. Do you have some clothes for me?
Caption 13, Ultimate Frisbee: Oli erklärt das Spiel


In wenigen Wochen werden Kato, Scratch und Lina ganz in den Zoo Neuwied umziehen.
In a few weeks, Kato, Scratch and Lina will move full-time into the Neuwied Zoo.
Caption 38, Wie süß: Drei Löwen im Wohnzimmer


Similarly, sich hinlegen means "to lie down" in the sense of going to bed, but hinlegen simply means "to set down" or "to put down." 


Ich muss mich beeilen, damit ich mich bald hinlegen kann.
I have to hurry so that I can go to bed soon.
Caption 68, Bewerbung: das Vorstellungsgespräch


Hm, ich weiß genau, dass ich die Schwimmer hier irgendwo hingelegt habe.
Hm, I know for sure that I put the floats down here somewhere.
Caption 10, Pettersson und Findus: Pettersson zeltet


Vorstellen means "to present," whereas sich vorstellen can mean either "to introduce oneself" (with the accusative pronoun) or "to imagine" (with the dative pronoun). 


Hallo, heute werde ich dir die Schultern, die Arme und die Hände vorstellen.
Hello, today I'll present the shoulders, the arms and the hands.
Caption 2, Der menschliche Körper: die Arme


Ich könnte mir gar kein Leben ohne Kinder vorstellen.
I couldn't imagine a life without children at all.
Caption 15, Cettina interviewt: Mütter


Könnten Sie sich uns kurz vorstellen und beschreiben, was Sie hier machen?
Could you quickly introduce yourself to us and describe what you do here?
Caption 6, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug


Further Learning
Take a look at this helpful table and see if you can find some of the verbs on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

Types of Rain

After some very pleasant summer weather, the last week has been very rainy in Germany. Like English, German has many words and expressions to describe different types of rain. Let's take a look at some examples from Yabla German


In Berlin, we most often only have vereinzelte Schauer (what we refer to in English as "scattered showers"), but in other parts of the country flooding can become a real problem: 


Heutiger Hochwasserstand: wieder mindestens zehn Zentimeter.
Today's flood water level: at least ten centimeters again.
Caption 44, Die Klasse: Berlin '61 


Even when it isn't dangerous, rain can create a lot of complications: 


Der Dauerregen drückte zwar nicht auf die Stimmung...
The constant rain didn't dampen the mood...
Caption 7, FC Bayern München: Triple-Feier im Dauerregen


The Piggeldy and Frederick cartoon linked below has quite an exhaustive list of types of rain: 


Es gibt Platzregen, Dauerregen, Sprühregen, Nieselregen, Eisregen, Landregen, GewitterregenSommerregen, Winterregen und Bindfadenregen.
There are cloudburstsconstant rain, misty raindrizzle, freezing rain, steady rain, thundershowerssummer rain, winter rain and pouring rain.
Caption 10-12, Piggeldy und Frederick: Regen


One other word to know is der Niederschlag ("precipitation") which is often used in weather reports:


Von Westen her kommen dann wieder Tiefausläufer, die dann eben auch Niederschlag mit sich bringen können.
Low-pressure areas are then coming from the west again, which can also then bring precipitation with them.
Caption 22-23, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Der Frühling ist da 


Further Learning
What kinds of rain are common where you live? Try to find the equivalent in German. For a challenge, watch this weather report for last week from der Spiegel.

Continue Reading

Verschwenden and Verschwinden

Every language has words that sound similar and are easy to mix up for non-native speakers, so this week we will look at the verbs verschwinden ("to disappear") and verschwenden ("to waste"). 


Wieso verschwinden sie?
Why are they disappearing?
Caption 8, Abgedreht: Heinrich und der Tassendieb


Ich mag es nicht, Lebensmittel zu verschwenden.
I do not like to waste food.
Caption 50, Werbung gegen Realität: Kunstprojekt Fertigprodukte


The past participles of the verbs are also important to memorize. The past participle of verschwinden is verschwunden, and the past tense uses the auxiliary verb sein rather than haben:


Heute sind sie nahezu verschwunden.
Today, they have almost disappeared.
Caption 22, Flipperautomaten: Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln


Verschwendet, which is the past participle of verschwenden, requires the auxiliary verb haben. However, it is often also used as an adjective and there is also the noun die Verschwendung.


Diese Zeit des Suchens ist so eine Zeit, die ich verschwendet finde.
This time spent looking for things is a time that I find to be wasted.
Caption 18, Tapetenwechsel: Barbara Becker mag es aufgeräumt


„Welch eine Verschwendung von Gelb!", sagte Piggeldy.
"What a waste of yellow!" said Piggeldy.
Caption 36, Piggeldy und Frederick: Gelb


Further Learning


Create your own devices to make sure you don't confuse the words (For example, you can remember that verschwinden and "disappear" both have an "i" in them) or their past participles. And you can always look for additional examples on Yabla German.

Continue Reading

Das Perfekt with sein

The German present perfect tense is mostly used in cases where we would use the simple past tense in English, although sometimes it has the same meaning in both languages. You likely know that it is most often formed with the auxiliary verb haben and the past participle of the main verb:


Und wir haben über die Themen Iran und auch den Nahen Osten gesprochen.
And we spoke about the topic of Iran and also the Middle East.
Caption 58, Angela Merkel: Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama


However, with many verbs that either express movement or a change of state, a conjugation of sein is used as the auxiliary verb rather than haben


Für zwei Wochen bin ich durchs Land gereist.
For two weeks, I traveled across the country.
Caption 20, Grete: eine Freiwillige in Israel 


Ich bin nach Berlin gekommen, um ein Praktikum zu machen am Theater.
I came to Berlin to do an internship at the theater.
Caption 21, Fine: sucht eine Wohnung


Hier ist auch alles gut, aber da ist etwas Komisches passiert.
Everything is also fine here, but something strange has happened.
Caption 44, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung


Um dreizehn Uhr dreißig... die Beatles sind aufgewacht... etwas früher als zu Hause.
At one-thirty p.m., the Beatles woke up... somewhat earlier than at home.
Caption 11, Die Beatles: in Deutschland


What is quite tricky is that some verbs can be used with either sein or haben depending on the context, and may take on different meanings. The second sentence below implies that the person didn't just fly in a plane as a passenger, but was at the controls themselves.


Wir sind zum Mond geflogen
We flew to the moon
Caption 2, Christina Stürmer: Seite an Seite


Hat vieles selber gebaut, was er geflogen hat.
He built a lot of that which he flew himself.
Caption 54, Lokalhelden: Mini-Aeroplane


Further Learning

Learn the definitions and past participles of the following verbs, which also take sein rather than haben in the present perfect: gehen, laufen, einschlafenrennen, joggen, wandern, klettern, fallensteigen, fahrenreiten, umziehen, fliehen, gleiten, springen, kriechen, aufstehen, sinken, schleichen, eintreten, schwimmenrutschen. Once you learn the past participles, search for them on Yabla German to see them used with the auxiliary verb sein in context.

Continue Reading

Der Imperativ

The German imperative mood, or command form, can be very difficult or very easy depending on whom you are addressing. This week, we'll look at some various examples from Yabla German to highlight what you'll need to keep in mind. 


For a person or group of people that you would address as Sie, the command form is quite easy. You will simply say the root of the verb with -en added (in most cases this will be identical to the infinitive) followed by Sie:


Nehmen Sie bitte Platz, Frau Sonntag.
Please have a seat, Ms. Sonntag.
Caption 35, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung


Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.
Please, be completely silent now.
Caption 60, Magie: Die Zaubershow


For a group of people you would address as ihr, you will simply use the present tense conjugation. The subject ihr, however, is no longer included in the sentence. 


Gebt mir die schönen Sätze. Jacob beginnt.
Give me your nice sentences. Jacob will begin.
Caption 20, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen


The most difficult imperative sentences to form are those for people you would refer to as du, because there are several different patterns they can follow depending on the characteristics of the verb. For weak verbs, the form will be the verb's stem, although an  "e" is added to the end with certain consonants. For strong verbs, the imperative will take into account any changes to the root that occur. In any case, du does not usually appear in the sentence. 


Atme ganz tief ein
Breathe in very deeply
Caption 43, Christina Stürmer: Wir leben den Moment


Aber schau mal hier.
But look here.
Caption 23, Bubble Beatz: Supertalente vom Schrottplatz


Vergiss es! Das wird nicht passieren.“
"Forget it! It won't happen."
Caption 74, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Hans mein Igel 


Sei ruhig, Findus, ich bin ja noch gar nicht aufgestanden.
Be quiet, Findus, I indeed haven't gotten up yet at all.
Caption 13, Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze


Komm, bleib kurz stehen, nimm meine Hand
Come, stand still for a brief moment, take my hand
Caption 5, Michelle: Paris


Further Learning


For more information on the du imperative, look at this website or this website. If you wish to make flashcards, use the second column of the table on this page, which shows the du imperative for a number of common strong verbs. 

Continue Reading

Bodies of Water

It has been a somewhat temperamental summer in Germany, but there have certainly already been a number of hot days. Germans flock to rivers, pools, and lakes to swim, not to mention the North Sea and the Baltic Sea! Let's look at the German words for various bodies of water.


Der See ist fast einhundertneunzig Meter tief.
The lake is almost one hundred ninety meters deep.
Caption 5, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Achtung: Der See means "the lake," but die See means "the sea." Das Meer is also a common word for "the sea." 


Fünf kleine Pinguine schwimmen durch das Meer.
Five little penguins are swimming through the sea.
Caption 22, Kinderlieder zum Mitsingen: Fünf Pinguine


Like in English, an ocean differs from a sea:


Mein Goldfisch, der heißt Friedolin und wohnt im Ozean.
My goldfish, he's called Friedolin and lives in the ocean.
Caption 25, Pänke: Friedolin


There are some rivers in Germany that are approved for swimming, but if not you can always go to a swimming pool. In the summer, outdoor pools (Freibäder) are particularly popular. 


Der Neckar ist ein Fluss, der durch Tübingen fließt.
The Neckar is a river that flows through Tübingen.
Caption 16, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz


Das ist quasi so ein offener Bereich mit einem Schwimmbad.
That is, so to speak, an open area with a swimming pool.
Caption 25, Reisen: Dalís Haus


Ponds and streams are not as popular for swimming, but we'll include them for the sake of vocabulary expansion!


Es war der Teich und am Rand stand die violette Blume.
It was the pond and at the edge stood the violet flower.
Caption 51, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Jorinde und Joringel


Bald ist der Bach überschwemmt mit Eiern.
Soon the stream is inundated with eggs.
Caption 25, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Further Learning


Make sure you have memorized the gender of these vocabulary words. What do you think are the genders of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea? You can also start learning the German names for famous bodies of water. Can you guess what das Mittelmeer and das Rote Meer are? Look them up on Yabla German!

Continue Reading

Taking a Break

Ich fahre heute in Urlaub und zeige euch, was ich alles mitnehmen werde.
I'm going on vacation today and I'll show you everything that I'm taking with me.
Caption 2, Christiane: fährt in den Urlaub


Did you know that the summer vacation for some federal states in Germany is only beginning now? In many states, it doesn't start until mid-July. This break is called die Sommerferien. This is an exciting time because many people plan their Urlaub. Der Urlaub also means vacation, but implies travel. Look at the last example of this newsletter for clarification on the difference between der Urlaub and die Ferien


Of course, in order to take a vacation, you have to have time off work. In German, the expression for this is frei haben.


Timo Uetz hat frei und verdient schon sein eigenes Geld.
Timo Uetz is off work and is already earning his own money.
Caption 72, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium


Sobald ich mal frei habe, könnten wir vielleicht alle zusammen essen gehen. -OK.
As soon as I have a free day we could all go out to eat together. -OK.
Caption 30-31, Eva erklärt: temporale Konnektoren


Some people don't get time off, and have to make do with taking short breaks at work. The phrase for this is eine Pause machen.


Na gut. Wir können ja eine kurze Pause machen.
Well, OK. We can indeed take a short break.
Caption 17, JoNaLu: Ein Tag am Meer


When the evenings are long and the weather is nice, der Feierabend is particularly enjoyable. This word has no direct equivalent in English, but it basically describes the leisure time after the work day is over. 


Hast du wieder 'nen Zahnarzttermin? -Ich mach' Feierabend.
Do you have another dentist appointment? -I'm stopping work for the day.
Caption 21, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 3: Papa ist weg


Timo Uetz hat endlich Feierabend.
For Timo Uetz, it's finally the end of the work day.
Caption 60, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium


Further Learning


Make sure you have memorized the gender of der Urlaub and die Ferien, and look for more implementations of the expressions frei haben, Pause machen, Feierabend machen and Feierabend haben on Yabla German

Continue Reading


Zu Beginn der Mahlzeit sagen wir „guten Appetit“.
At the beginning of the meal we say "Enjoy your meal."
Caption 19, Tisch decken: mit Eva


Die Mahlzeit is the German word for "meal." This week, we'll look at the details of the verbs and nouns used to indicate different meals, and a few relevant phrases. 


You likely already know the nouns das Frühstück, das Mittagessen, and das Abendessen. Remember that frühstucken as a verb is not separable, whereas the verbs mittagessen and abendessen are. 


Jetzt frühstücken wir erst mal.
Now, we'll eat breakfast first.
Caption 31, Pettersson und Findus: Aufruhr im Gemüsebeet


Und dann essen wir zusammen mittag.
And then we'll eat lunch together.
Caption 44, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen


Another important word to know is das Abendbrot, which is used quite often instead of das Abendessen, particularly when describing a light or cold supper:


Nach einer entspannten Fahrt steht das Abendessen an.        
After a relaxing ride, dinner is next on the agenda.
Caption 26, Vollmondfahrt: Rhätische Bahn


Er machte ein heißes Feuer im Ofen für den guten Fisch zum Abendbrot.    
He made a hot fire in the oven for the good fish for supper.
Caption 36, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger


The phrase essen gehen is similar to ins Restaurant gehen


Wird dann auch gemeinsam gekocht oder gehen Sie essen?
Do you then also cook together or go out to eat?
Caption 39, Weihnachtsinterviews: Diane in Karlsruhe 


If you are lucky enough to hear the phrase Ich lade dich ein, be happy. It is not just an invitation to go out to eat together, it means that someone wants to pay for your meal!


Ich hab' ihr ja schon hundertmal gesagt, sie soll ihn endlich mal zum Eisessen einladen.
I told her already a hundred times she should just invite him to eat an ice cream.
Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor


Further Learning
Scroll down on these webpages to take a look at these thorough lists of the conjugations of the verbs frühstückenmittagessen, and abendessen from Duden.

Continue Reading

The verb schaffen

Every language has certain words that are used often in everyday life, to the extent that they may seem to shape the language and the culture. One such word in German, with a myriad of implementations, would have to be the verb schaffen.


The verb schaffen can mean "to do," "to manage," "to achieve," "to cope with," or "to successfully complete something," to "make it" or "make it work."


Oh, aber das schaffst du doch auch alleine!
Oh, but you'll manage it alone after all!
Caption 64, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern


However, it can also mean "to create," "to make," or "to bring something into being."


Es ging eigentlich darum, Wohnraum zu schaffen in der Stadt.
It was actually about creating living spaces in the city.
Caption 20, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen: Architekturpreis „Green Building“


There is one thing to watch out for with the verb schaffen, and this is that the two meanings are reflected with two different participles when it is used in the past tense. Here we see the past participle for the first definition:


Juhu, dann haben wir's geschafft!
Yahoo, then we've done it!
Caption 41, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Weil oder obwohl


Damit hat man also den ersten Schritt im Bewerbungsverfahren geschafft.    
With that, you have succeeded with the first step in the application process.
Caption 42, Eva erklärt: Bewerbungen


Whereas geschafft would refer to something being successfully done or achieved, geschaffen refers to creation:


Hier, mitten im Zentrum von Berlin, haben sich BMX-Fahrer und Mountainbiker ihr Eldorado geschaffen.
Here, in the center of Berlin, BMX riders and mountain bikers have created their El Dorado.
Caption 4-5, Pumptrack: Radfahren, ohne zu treten


Mit Höckern und Bänken sollen Verschnaufmöglichkeiten für Senioren geschaffen werden.
With stools and benches, places for seniors to rest and catch their breath will be created.
Caption 45-46, Bespielbare Stadt: Griesheim


Further Learning
Here is a list of the conjugations of schaffen, including the preterite schaffte and schuf. See which of these conjugations you can find in use on Yabla German!

Continue Reading

Advantage or Disadvantage?

In English, we talk about events or circumstances having "advantages" or "disadvantages," or the "pros and cons" of a situation. Let's take a look at the vocabulary used to express these qualities in German.


Der Vorteil can be translated as "the advantage" or "the benefit":


Vorteil: Schließt man den Schirm, ist die nasse Seite innen.
Advantage: If you close the umbrella, the wet side is on the inside.
Caption 9, Erfindung aus Japan: Der verkehrte Regenschirm


Der Nachteil can be translated as "the disadvantage" or "the drawback": 


Die Musik ist manchmal ein bisschen zu laut. Das ist der Nachteil.
The music is sometimes a little too loud. That is the drawback.
Captions 52-53, Rockfabrik-Open-Air: Love Street Interview


Here we can see the plural forms of both of these words:


Das hat viele Vorteile, aber auch Nachteile, gesteht der Sänger im Interview.
That has many advantages, but also disadvantages, the singer admits in the interview.
Caption 9, Andreas Bourani: Startet durch


To say that something is "advantageous" or "beneficial," we can use the German adjective vorteilhaft. The opposite of that would be nachteilig or unvorteilhaft. We can also create an adjective by including the word von before the noun:


Und es wäre dann schon von Vorteil zu sagen: OK, ich kann die Vorlesung halt eben auch daheim anschauen.
And it would then be advantageous to say: OK, I can also just watch the lecture at home.
Captions 25-26, KIT, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie - Umfrage: Was bedeutet barrierefrei?


Further Learning
After you've looked at these examples on Yabla German, try to figure out the meaning of these additional phrases and sentences:


beiderseitiger Vorteil 
finanzieller Vorteil 

erheblicher Nachteil
Es gibt sowohl Vor- als auch Nachteile.
Die Vorteile überwiegen die Nachteile.

Continue Reading

The Good Old Days

When we describe events in the past, we often use temporal adverbs to give a more specific sense of what exact time period we are talking about. Are we talking about events of yesterday or something that happened thirty years ago? In the German language, both the present perfect and the preterite tenses indicate a finished action or state, but more information is often required for clarity's sake.


Generally, when we see in der Vergangenheit ("in the past") we know that it is not a matter of something that occurred in the recent past, but rather a long time ago.


Aus meiner Sicht: Ich fühle mich nicht schuldig für das, was in der Vergangenheit geschehen ist.
From my point of view, I don't feel guilty for that which happened in the past.
Caption 10, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel


We can also use damals and früher to indicate that something happened in the past. Both of these temporal adverbs indicate an action or state that has been concluded for a while. They can be translated as "back then" or "previously." 


Früher haben hier die amerikanischen Soldaten gewohnt.
Previously, American soldiers lived here.
Caption 6, Berlin: der alte amerikanische Sektor


Damals schwor ich mir, dass mir das nicht wieder passieren sollte.
Back then, I swore that something like that wouldn't happen to me again.
Caption 49, TEDx: Der Supermarkt der Zukunft


Internet? Was ist das? Das kannten wir damals gar nicht.
Internet? What is that? We didn't know that at all back then.
Caption 35, Mittelalterlicher Markt: Mäuseroulette


Sometimes, we want to emphasize that a state was constant or an action was repeated multiple times in the past. For this, we often use the phrase "used to" in English. Below, you can see how the word früher can function in a similar way in various contexts:


Weißt du noch, wie's früher war?
Do you still remember how it used to be?
Caption 8, Christina Stürmer: Wir leben den Moment


Und du tanzt nicht mehr wie früher.
And you don't dance like you used to anymore.
Caption 4, AnnenMayKantereit: 21, 22, 23


Ich ging früher im Urlaub immer reiten.
I used to always go horseback riding during vacation.
Caption 16, Konjugation: Das Verb „gehen“


Further Learning
You can search for more examples with früher and damals on Yabla German or take a look at this website for a more extensive list of different types of adverbs. 

Continue Reading

Relationship words - Romantic relationships

This week, we will look at words for indicating various types of romantic relationships. 


First, let’s start off with marriage (die Ehe). Often, a person will refer to their husband simply as mein Mann or their wife as meine Frau. There are, however, more formal terms that you also might hear, in particular der Ehemann / die Ehefrau and der Gatte / die Gattin.


Und so lernte die Prinzessin ihren Ehemann kennen.
And this is how the Princess made her husband's acquaintance.
Caption 35, Märchen - Sagenhaft: König Drosselbart


Herr Blöhmann, helfen Sie Ihrer Gattin gelegentlich?
Mr. Blöhmann, do you occasionally help your spouse?
Caption 55, Loriot: Die Eheberatung


For long-term relationships where the marriage aspect is not necessarily relevant, there are a few words to know as well: der Lebensgefährte / die Lebensgefährtin and der Lebenspartner / die Lebenspartnerin


Ich bin Corrys Geschäftspartner. -Aha. Und ich bin Corinnas Lebenspartner.
I am Corry's business partner. -Uh-huh. And I am Corinna's life partner.
Caption 49, Mama arbeitet wieder: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach


So far, most of the words have had an -in ending for the feminine versions. Note that this is different with der Verlobte ("the fiancé") and die Verlobte ("the fiancée"), as only the article changes. You may remember that this is similar for der Bekannte and die Bekannte ("the acquaintance").


As noted last week, der Freund / die Freundin can either refer to a friend or a girlfriend or boyfriend. It is necessary to notice the context in which the word is being used. 


Ich würde mir wünschen, dass ich mit meinem Freund verheiratet wäre.
I hope that my boyfriend and I will be married.
Caption 56, Bewerbung: das Vorstellungsgespräch


Further Learning
If you missed last week's lesson on platonic relationships, you can look at it and other past lessons here. Memorize the vocabulary words from both lessons using flashcards, and practice constructing sentences with those that are most relevant for you.

Continue Reading

Relationship words - Platonic relationships

For the next two lessons, we’ll look at vocabulary for expressing different types of relationships in German. This week, let’s take a look at platonic relationships.


In professional settings, we often hear der Kollege / die Kollegin. This means “the colleague” or “the co-worker.”


Das ist der Kollege, der zusammen mit Jannik Sternberg auf dem Gerüst gearbeitet hat.
That is the colleague who was working with Jannik Sternberg on the scaffolding.
Caption 41, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern


For young people who attend school together rather than work together, der Klassenkamerad / die Klassenkameradin is a term that means “classmate.” In university settings, der Kommilitone / die Kommilitonin is a common word for referring to one’s fellow students. 


Ich hab' zusammen mit meiner ehemaligen Klassenkameradin einen Abiturientenlehrgang besucht.
Together with a former classmate of mine, I visited a high school graduate seminar.
Caption 8-9, Die Klasse: Berlin '61


You may already know that der Bekannte / die Bekannte indicates an acquaintance, whereas der Freund / die Freundin means “friend” or in some cases even “boyfriend”/“girlfriend.” In this case, the context becomes very important. 


Und dann laden wir viele Bekannte und Freunde ein.
And then we invite a lot of acquaintances and friends.
Caption 18, Mode: mit Niklas


To indicate a close relationship, enger Freund / enge Freundin (“close friend”) and guter Freund / gute Freundin (“good friend”) may be used. Men might also refer to a close friend as der Kumpel, which is more like “buddy” or “mate.”


Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, ebenfalls Oberst im Bendlerblock, ist enger Freund und Mitverschwörer.
Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, also a colonel in the Bendler Block, is a close friend and co-conspirator.
Caption 4-6, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944


Dann hat mein Kumpel gesagt: „Na, vielleicht wollten wir doch abhauen.“
Then my buddy said: “Well, but perhaps we indeed wanted to take off.“
Caption 9, 25 Jahre Mauerfall: Radtour durch die Geschichte


Further Learning
We’ll be back next week with vocabulary for various types of romantic relationships. In the meantime, you can learn the plural versions of these words (masculine and feminine), look for other examples on Yabla German, and practice any of the vocabulary above.

Continue Reading

Von großer Bedeutung

If you take a German class, you likely know the verb bedeuten from the question Was bedeutet X? This can be translated as "What does X mean?" The noun die Bedeutung, often translated as "the meaning," is used in two different contexts that you will come across on Yabla German.


Die Bedeutung often can be translated as "the meaning," as in "the definition."


Versteht ihr die Bedeutung?
Do you understand the meaning
Caption 74, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Weil oder obwohl


Die richtige Bedeutung werde ich euch natürlich im Anschluss verraten.
I will, of course, reveal the correct meaning to you afterwards.
Caption 16, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter


However, it also just as often can be translated as "the meaning," as in "the importance" or "the significance."


Von internationaler Bedeutung war und ist das Wiener Musikleben.
Viennese musical life was and is of international importance.
Caption 15, Reisebericht: Wien


Die Biodiversität ist etwas, was in ihrer [sic, seiner] Bedeutung unglaublich unterschätzt wird.
Biodiversity is something which is being unbelievably underestimated in its importance.
Caption 14, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat


Hat der Tag eine besondere Bedeutung für Sie?
Does the day have a special meaning for you?
Caption 40, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe


Further Learning
Look at other examples of die Bedeutung used on Yabla German. Identify the context in which they are being used  and notice how the word is structurally integrated into each sentence. 

Continue Reading