Sorry! Search is currently unavailable while the database is being updated, it will be back in 5 mins!

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

 Play Caption



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

 Play Caption



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

 Play Caption



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

 Play Caption



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

 Play Caption



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

 Play Caption



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.

The Preposition "to" in German: Part 3 — an

After looking at the two-way preposition in last week, let's continue our series with an. This preposition is also a two-way preposition and is used in a multitude of contexts, including with the accusative case to express movement from one place to another.

We use an rather than nach or in in some contexts where we will end up next to or to the side of something rather than in or on it. 


Sarah, komm du doch mal bitte an die Tafel.

Sarah, come up to the blackboard, please.

Caption 5, Bundesländer und ihre Spezialitäten - Baden-Württemberg

 Play Caption


Ich gehe rüber ans Fenster

I go over to the window

Caption 5, Philipp Poisel - Wie soll ein Mensch das ertragen?

 Play Caption


An is also used when we are going to a place that forms a boundary or edge. In particular, you can memorize an die Küste and an den Strand.


Natali und Florian zieht es zunächst an die Küste Cornwalls.

Natali and Florian proceed first to the coast of Cornwall.

Caption 28, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 Play Caption


In dieser Nacht segelten sie zurück an den Strand von Troja.

That night they sailed back to the beach of Troy.

Caption 80, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das Trojanische Pferd

 Play Caption


Eine neue Hiobsbotschaft

A new piece of bad news

ist die plötzliche Abberufung Tresckows an die Ostfront.

is the sudden recall of Tresckow to the Eastern Front.

Captions 80-81, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 Play Caption


Und man davonfliegen möchte, so leicht wie eine kleine, weiße Feder,

And you would like to fly away, as light as a little white feather

bis ans Ende der Welt.

to the end of the world.

Captions 32-33, Piggeldy und Frederick - Das Fernweh

 Play Caption


Further Learning
Other places/nouns that are commonly paired with the preposition an when they are the destination include die Kreuzung (the intersection), die Wand (the wall), and die Grenze (the border). With all three of these examples, an + the accusative is only used when the barrier is NOT being crossed or traversed and it is simply a matter of going/driving/walking "up to" it. When you see an on Yabla German, you can quickly note whether it's being used with the accusative to mean "to" or with the dative to mean "at" or "on." Don't forget, however, that an also appears in contexts that have nothing to do with going or being anywhere (for example, an etwas denken).

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

 Play Caption


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

 Play Caption


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,

This action is part of an international campaign,

die sich gegen Dänemark richtet,

that is directed against Denmark,

weil Dänemark, äh, politisch verantwortlich ist.

because Denmark, uh, is politically responsible.

Captions 11-12, PETA-Aktion - Gegen das Wal-Massaker

 Play Caption


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,

Prevention Day is meant to give young people a nudge

in für sie heiklen Situationen verantwortungsvoll zu handeln.

towards acting responsibly in delicate situations.

Captions 44-45, Gewaltprävention - Gewalt an Schulen

 Play Caption


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

 Play Caption



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