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Plastic, Metal, and Wood

f you haven't already seen Eva's video about materials, it's a great way to improve your vocabulary for describing objects. Although she covers the topic extensively, we'll augment her video this week with some more specific words related to plastic, metal, and wood. 



In German, plastic is either der Kunststoff or das Plastik, and rubber is der Gummi.


Diese können echt sein oder aus Holz oder Kunststoff.

These can be real or made of wood or plastic.

Caption 19, Ostern: mit Eva

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Es gibt natürlich auch Trinkbecher, die aus Plastik bestehen.

There are, of course, also drinking cups that are made out of plastic.

Caption 13, Eva zeigt uns: Materialien

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Ich nehme die Gummistiefel.

I'll take the rubber boots.

Caption 12, Felix und Franzi: Sonnenbrille oder Regenschirm?

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There are, of course, many types of metal, or das Metall


Die Krone enthält ein anderes Metall, ein leichteres.

The crown contains a different metal, a lighter one.

Caption 81, Es war einmal: Entdecker und Erfinder Archimedes

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Die Kufen der Schlittschuhe sind aus Stahl und haben eine sehr glatte Auflagefläche.

Ice skate runners are made of steel and have a very smooth contact area.

Caption 22, Unterwegs mit Cettina: Schlittschuhlaufen

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Und ich möchte so wenig wie möglich Eisen verwenden.

And I want to use iron as little as possible.

Caption 30, Heidi: Dunkle Vergangenheit

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Diese Fünf-Cent-Münze ist aus Kupfer gemacht.

This five-cent coin is made out of copper.

Caption 7, Eva zeigt uns: Materialien

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Fun fact: Just like in English, the word das Blech ("tin") in German is also used to describe a baking tin (das Backblech). Additionally, it refers to a metal baking sheet or tray that you would slide into the oven.


Wie ihr seht, wird das Blech von der Tomatensauce nicht komplett bedeckt.

As you can see, the tray is not completely covered with the tomato sauce.

Caption 15, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

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As you saw in the very first example above, the word for "wood" is das Holz. But there are as many types of wood (die Hölzer) as there are types of trees. Here are just a few:


Denn die Kiefer ist einerseits ein Nadelbaum . . .

Because the pine is, on the one hand, a coniferous tree ...

Caption 17, Deutsch mit Eylin: Wörter mit 2 Bedeutungen

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Weinsberg war von Mauern umgeben, die waren so dick [sic] wie eine alte Eiche.

Weinsberg was surrounded by walls that were as thick as an old oak tree.

Captions 9-10, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Der wird zwei Wochen lang geräuchert im Buchenholz.

It is smoked for two weeks in beech wood.

Caption 58, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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You can additionally look up das Birkenholz, das Kirschholz, das Mahagoniholz, das Eschenholz, and many more. Based on the pattern you see, what is the name for the wood that comes from oak or pine trees?


Further Learning
Watch Eva's video on Yabla German and then look around the room you are in and try to describe what the furniture and objects are made of. 

Office Supplies, Part I

Let's talk about office supplies that are not specifically related to the ever-present digital devices in the workplace and at school. With the shift to digital over the last 30 years, we don't use nearly as many office supplies (like paper) as we used to, and perhaps this is good for the environment in some ways. But it's still important to know the words for some of these everyday objects if you ever plan to go to Germany to work or to study! Some words, like der Kugelschreiber (ballpoint pen), you probably know already, so let's take a look today at some items that may be new to your vocabulary.


Fangen wir mal an mit dem Tacker. Das ist ein kleiner Bürotacker, mit dem kann man Seiten zusammenheften.

Let's start with the stapler. This is a small office stapler, with which you can staple pages together.

Captions 9-11, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The German word for "stapler" is der Tacker, and an office stapler is der Bürotacker. Der Tacker is what is called a false friend, because it sounds like an English word that has a different meaning: Although you use der Tacker to affix staples, the German word for "staple" is die Heftklammer. This can be especially confusing since the German word for "tack" is der Tack or die Reißzwecke, and a "thumbtack" is der Reißnagel. Note too, that the verb for the act of stapling something together is zusammenheften.


Und das hier ist Klebeband. Auf Deutsch sagen aber fast alle „Tesafilm“, obwohl Tesa eine Marke ist.

And this here is adhesive tape. In German, however, almost everyone says "Tesafilm," although Tesa is a brand.

Captions 68-70, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The noun das Klebeband can mean any kind of adhesive tape, thus it's easier to distinguish the clear adhesive type by calling it by its brand name der Tesafilm. It's usually just called Tesa for short, and in this form the noun gender is neuter. In American English, we often use "Scotch tape" for clear tape, and the British often use the term "Sellotape"—both of which are brand names too!


Das sind nämlich Haftnotizen, aber jeder sagt „Post-its“, weil wir eben auch ganz oft englische Wörter verwenden,

Specifically, these are sticky notes, but everyone says "Post-its" because we also very often just use English words,

Captions 40-41, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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The German word for a sticky note is die Haftnotiz. It's also called der Klebezettel or der Haftzettel. But it's also nice to know that Germans often use the same word for the name brand Post-its that we often use for sticky notes. By the way, it's a neuter noun: das Post-it.


Schreibmaterialien wie zum Beispiel Briefpapier, Briefumschläge wie dieser oder Schreibblöcke sind aus Papier gemacht.

Writing materials such as, for example, stationary, envelopes like this one, or notepads are made of paper.

Captions 17-18, Eva zeigt uns: Materialien

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Gender-wise, these nouns are das Schreibmaterial, das Briefpapier, der Briefumschlag, der Schreibblock (also der Notizblock), and das Papier.


Und hier hab ich ganz viele Buntstifte: dicke Buntstifte, zum Malen oder etwas hervorheben.

And here I have a lot of colored pencils: thick colored pencils for drawing or highlighting something.

Captions 65-66, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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This one is easy to remember, as you probably already know the noun der Bleistift for "pencil." So it's logical that the adjective bunt, which means "colorful," is paired to make the word der Buntstift.


Hier ist eine Schere, brauch ich auch immer, um irgendwas zu schneiden.

Here's a pair of scissors, I always need these, too, to cut something.

Captions 63-64, Deutsch mit Eylin: Dinge auf meinem Schreibtisch

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It's taken me years to make myself use a German singular verb with die Schere, because in English, we always use the plural "The scissors are..." and not "The scissor is..." But in German, die Schere is a singular feminine noun, so you always say Die Schere ist... By the way, scissors are not just a topic in office supplies, you will find them playing an important role in many classic German fairy tales, such as Rapunzel and Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot.


Further Learning
Make a list of the English office supply words mentioned above, then see if you can translate them correctly into German, paying close attention to the nouns' genders. Then go to Yabla German and watch the videos above to get a better overview of the words you just learned!

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Caption 64, 63, 66, 65, 41, 40, 70, 69, 68, 11, 10, 9