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There she blows!

The phrase above, often written colloquially as "Thar she blows," comes from the classic 19th century American novel Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville. It refers to an exclamation made by whalers at sea in the 19th century when they spotted a whale to hunt, a practice now fortunately outlawed by most countries in the world. When whales—or dolphins—surface, some species blow air and water condensation into the air in a visible stream.


In German, the verb "to blow" can be translated with a variety of words, depending upon the context. You're probably already familiar with sich die Nase putzen, which means "to blow one's nose," literally "to clean one's nose." Let's take a look today at  some other German verbs that are often translated as "to blow."


Sie hören sogar einen Baum, der vor ihnen steht, weil der Wind, der um den Baum weht, ein Geräusch macht.

They can even hear a tree that is in front of them, because the wind that blows around the tree makes a noise.

Captions 47-48, Meine Freundin Conni: Conni schläft im Kindergarten

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The verb wehen is the usual term for the wind blowing.


Der Wind pustet ordentlich Sauerstoff in unsere verschmutzte Luft.

The wind blows lots of oxygen into our polluted air.

Caption 15, Piggeldy und Frederick: Aufräumen

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Here, the translator chose to translate the verb pusten as "to blow," but it could also have been translated as "to puff," a more common translation for this word.


Und weil in der mit 500 Metern über dem Meeresspiegel höchstgelegenen Stadt Hessens der Wind so kräftig bläst.

And since, at 500 meters above sea level, Hessen's city with the highest elevation, the wind blows so strongly.

Captions 5-6, Energiewende in Hessen: Windräder und Solarparks

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Here, the translator chose to translate the German verb blasen as "to blow," a verb related to the noun die Blase, which means "bubble." In fact, the blowhole of a whale is called das Blasloch, and the act of blowing out air and condensed moisture is called der Blas.


Zu spät, denn mitten in dem letzten Angriff pfeift Mr. Attwell ab und die Deutschen waren bedient.

Too late, because in the middle of the last attack, Mr. Attwell blows the final whistle.

Caption 27, Fußball: U21-Nationalmannschaft

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The verb pfeifen means to whistle, but it also means "to blow a whistle."  If a referee blows a whistle for a foul, you'd say er pfeift ein Foul. The verb abpfeifen above means "to blow a whistle to stop the play," "to signal the halftime," or "to end the game."


Wie schön ist doch die Welt, alles löst sich in Wohlgefallen auf.

How beautiful the world is, everything blows over.

Captions 43-44, Großstadtrevier: Alle für einen

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The idiom sich in Wohlgefallen auflösen literally means "to dissolve in pleasure," but is often translated with the English idiom "to vanish into thin air" or "to go up in smoke." Here, the translator nicely chose to use the idiom "to blow over."


Wenn's nach mir ginge, würde ich ihn lieber heute als morgen in die Luft sprengen.

If it were up to me, I would rather blow him up today than tomorrow.

Captions 62-63, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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The verb sprengen (as well as in die Luft sprengen) means "to blow up" or to explode something. Although murder is an extreme means of regime change, killing the person in the case above could probably be seen as justifiable, given the millions of lives at stake.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for the verb "to blow" in a variety of conjugations, such "blow," "blows," and "blown." You can also expand your knowledge of how some of the other German verbs above can alternately be translated by looking up, in various conjugations, the verbs putzen, wehen, pusten, blasen, pfeifen, and sprengen.

Wessen, dessen, deren, and denen

One topic that tends to intimidate students learning German is the use of these four words: Wessendessenderen, and denen. They are indeed tricky, but they make it possible to construct elegant sentences and are therefore very good to get acquainted with!


Wessendessen, and deren can all be translated as "whose." However, unlike "whose" they are each only correct in certain situations. Wessen is related to wer, wen, and wem, i.e. it is asking "who?," but it is possessive. It is used when the "who" of the sentence is not known and could therefore be any gender:


Sach ma [Sag mal], wessen Freundin bist du eigentlich?

Tell me, whose friend are you actually?

Caption 45, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Es dachte auch nicht darüber nach, wessen Haferbrei das war.

She also didn't think about whose oat porridge it was.

Caption 19, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Goldlöckchen und die drei Bären

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Dessen is used when the person or noun in question has already been named or referred to, and is masculine or neuter:


Acht Minuten später schickt der Paulianer geschickt Julian Schieber,

Eight minutes later the "Paulianer" skillfully sends Julian Schieber

dessen Schuss aber knapp vorbeigeht.

whose shot, however, just misses.

Captions 10-11, Fußball - U21-Nationalmannschaft

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Deren is used when the person or noun in question has already been named or referred to, and is feminine or plural:


Seine königliche Hoheit, der Prinz,

His Royal Highness the Prince

wird die Frau heiraten, deren Fuß in diesen Glasschuh passt.“

will marry the woman whose foot fits in this glass slipper."

Captions 25-26, Märchenstunde - Das Aschenputtel

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Wessendessen, and deren are all genitive relative pronouns. The relative pronoun denen, however, is used for relative clauses involving a plural noun in the dative case, with prepositions such as mitauf, nach, or bei.


Es macht einfach Spaß, mit denen Zeit zu verbringen.

It is simply fun to spend time with them.

Caption 36, Curly Horses - Pferdeglück auch für Allergiker

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Und hier sehen wir zwei alte Kutschen,

And here we see two old coaches,

auf denen man im Sommer Kutschfahrten machen kann mit der Familie zusammen.

upon which you can take coach rides together with you family in the summer.

Captions 37-38, Berlin - Domäne Dahlem

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Further Learning
Searching for any of these words on Yabla German will bring up a lot of examples that can help you solidify your understanding of the topic. You can additionally watch our videos featuring German teacher Barbara and her students working on relative clauses, starting with this one