German Lessons


The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen 

In this week's edition, we'll examine these easily confused words: The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen. 


The verb kündigen refers to terminating an agreement or contract. When it comes to employment, it can describe action taken by either the employer or employee to end a professional relationship. Kündigen is also used when cancelling an account or contract (for example, a cell phone contract, a magazine subscription, or a fitness studio membership). Therefore, it can be translated as "to cancel," "to terminate," "to give notice," "to quit," "to resign," "to fire," or "to dismiss," depending on who is carrying out the action and for what purpose. 




Ich träume davon, meinen Job im Büro zu kündigen.

I dream of giving notice on my job in the office.

Caption 44, Konjugation Das Verb „brauchen“

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Schöller hat uns beiden gekündigt.

Schöller has fired both of us.

Caption 45, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall

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Sie haben ihm hoffentlich nicht erzählt, dass Sie Ihre Lebensversicherung gekündigt haben.

I hope you didn't tell him you cancelled your life insurance.

Caption 53, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist: Der Panther

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The verb ankündigen has the essentially unrelated meaning of "to announce." You will notice below that it is a separable verb. 


Eines Tages kündigte der Zauberer an, dass er ausgehen würde.

One day, the Sorcerer announced that he would be going out.

Caption 21, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

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Ja, Ihr Anruf wurde bereits angekündigt.

Yes, your call has already been announced.

Caption 29, Marga Engel schlägt zurück: Auf der Suche nach Beweisen

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The verb sich erkundigen means "to inquire," "to find out," or "to look into." Note that this is a reflexive verb, and there is no umlaut!


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren und wollte mich erkundigen, ob das möglich wäre.

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons, and wanted to find out whether that would be possible.

Captions 10-11, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Ich habe mich erkundigt. Sie darf nicht in unseren Taschen kramen.

I looked into it. She's not allowed to dig around in our bags.

Caption 14, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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The verb erkunden can be translated as "to discover" or "to explore."


Man kann also einfach reinspringen und die Höhlen beim Tauchen erkunden.

You can, therefore, simply jump in and explore the caves while diving.

Caption 46, Der Blautopf: Ein sagenumwobener See

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Dann lass uns gemeinsam die Yabla-Spiele erkunden.

Then let's discover the Yabla games together.

Caption 36, German Intro Cettina

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Further Learning
Write out sentences using these verbs in both the present and past tense. If you need guidance, search for them on Yabla German.

Levels of Understanding

In German, the verb verstehen is used in a wide variety of contexts, from hearing what someone says to understanding a fact or the nature of a particular situation or circumstances.


Habt ihr es verstanden? -Ja.

Have you understood it? -Yes. 

Caption 26, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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Wenn du ein Wort im Untertitel nicht verstehst,

If you don't understand a word in the subtitle,

dann kannst du es anklicken.

then you can click on it.

Captions 27-28, German Intro - Jenny

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Trotzdem kann ich verstehen,

Nevertheless, I can understand

dass es nicht fair für sie ist, alles bezahlen zu müssen.

that it is not fair for her to have to pay for everything.

Caption 40, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Probleme

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Das kann ich gut verstehen, ich habe selbst zwei Kinder.

I can understand that well, I have two children myself.

Caption 25, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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When you are expressing a deeper level of comprehension, for example being able to follow why something happened the way it did, reconstruct a line of thought, relate to something, or grasp connections, there are additional verbs you can use.


Zwar ist das Wort „Nachhaltigkeit“ in aller Munde,

Indeed, the word "sustainability" is in all mouths (on everyone's lips),

Kinder können das aber kaum nachvollziehen.

but children are hardly able to understand it.

Captions 4-5, Schüler lernen Nachhaltigkeit - Bildungsinitiative gestartet

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Und das müssen wir wirklich alle begreifen.

And that's what we all really need to understand:

Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Captions 41-42, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Da begriffen die drei Brüder, dass alles nur ein Trick gewesen war.

Then the three brothers realized that it had all just been a trick.

Caption 85, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die drei Brüder

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One verb that you may encounter is kapieren. In English, we use "to get" to mean "to understand" and this is a similar slang expression. 


Und es wäre schön, wenn du es endlich mal kapieren würdest.

And it would be nice if you would finally understand that.

Caption 48, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist - Der Panther

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Mann, du kapierst es einfach nicht. Ich war das nicht!

Man, you just don't get it. It wasn't me!

Caption 31, Die Pfefferkörner - Alles auf Anfang

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Further Learning
You can find many examples on Yabla German, but also consider the first four above. Which of these could be replaced with a verb other than verstehen?

German Expressions of Enthusiasm

Since we devoted one lesson to expressions of frustration, let's look at how enthusiasm is expressed in German as well and take a look at some positive adjectives. 



„Ich muss sagen: überwältigend!“ -„Ausgezeichnet! Ausgezeichnet, finde ich!“

"I must say, overwhelming!" -"Brilliant! Brilliant, I think!"

Caption 54, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Ausgezeichnet is also the participle of the verb auszeichnen, which means to award or distinguish.


Mit dem Architekturpreis Green Building wurden in Frankfurt kürzlich acht Gebäude ausgezeichnet.

Eight buildings in Frankfurt were recently awarded the Green Building architecture prize.

Caption 1, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen - Architekturpreis Green Building

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Many of these adjectives don't have a fixed translation ("outstanding," "awesome"), but are instead best translated with the positive adjective that fits in the context.


Es ist wirklich großartig, von Ihnen zu hören.

It is really great to hear from you.

Caption 20, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Das ist natürlich auch toll, wenn man 'ne gemeinsame Sache hat.

Of course, it's also great when you have something in common.

Caption 8, 2raumwohnung - Liebe mit Musik am Laufen halten

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Das klingt hervorragend.

That sounds amazing.

Caption 42, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Of course, the adjectives superfantastisch, and exzellent will sound quite familiar to anyone who speaks English. Also easy to recognize is the adjective wunderbar:


Und da ist dann der Balkon. -Ah, mit Balkon, wunderbar.

And there then is the balcony. -Ah, with a balcony, wonderful.

Caption 43, Fine - sucht eine Wohnung

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Another adjective you may come across, especially with younger Germans, is geil. Yes, this does indeed also have a meaning that is not appropriate in most conversations! But it is a common, albeit slang, term for "awesome" or "fantastic" as well.


Und wie war's? -Geil, wie immer. -Was speziell?

And how was it? -Awesome, as always. -What especially?

Caption 10, Abenteuer und Sport - Fallschirmspringen

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Further Learning
All of these adjectives and more can be found on Yabla German. Pay attention to adjective declension any time they precede a noun. 

What's the difference between gern and gerne?

I recently received an email in German in which the writer replied gerne geschehen, a standard response when somebody has thanked you for something. I often hear this phrase in spoken German, but usually as gern geschehen, without the -e after gern. The adverbs gern and gerne have the same meaning, usually translated as "gladly" or "like," so how do we know which one to use in which contexts? 


The answer is very simple: you can use both interchangeably. The original Old German word, from which our modern usage originates, is gerno. This eventually became the modern German word gerne. Even as recently as 20 or so years ago, teachers may have admonished students for using gern instead of gerne in their written German. But eventually, the language as it is spoken began to have an impact on what was considered correct usage, and with time, the dropping of the extra syllable -e allowed for the word to be accepted on equal footing as either gerne or gern: they are, for all intents and purposes, the same word! 


Let's take a look at some examples of gern and gerne being used in a spoken context on Yabla German


Ich würde gern mit dir in einer Altbauwohnung wohnen.

I would like to live with you in an apartment in an old building.

Caption 7, AnnenMayKantereit - 3. Stock

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Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren.

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons.

Caption 10, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 4

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Ich würde in der Tat gern wissen, wie groß das Team ist, mit dem ich dann zusammenarbeite.

In fact, I would like to know how big the team is that I would be working with

Captions 48-49, Eva erklärt - Bewerbungen - Part 2

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Danke, aber Sie dürfen mich gerne duzen.

Thanks, but you can gladly address me informally.

Caption 36, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung - Part 1

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Wir würden gern mal auf Deutschlandtournee gehen.

"Well, we would like to tour Germany. [Magicians]

Caption 34, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 1

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Die kannst du gerne haben.

You can gladly have them.

Caption 26, JoNaLu - Der Piratenschatz

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Further Learning
Take a look at these interesting articles about gerne and gern at Tandem GöttingenGerman with Nicole, and the Zwiebelfisch series at Der Spiegel magazine. You can also search Yabla German for other examples of gerne and gern being used in conversations. In a forthcoming lesson, we'll discuss the the difference between gerne and mag!

Expressing the Conditional in German

In both English and German, there are tenses and there are moods. We use the indicative mood to state facts, the imperative mood to give commands, and the subjunctive mood to reflect wishes or actions in unreal situations ("I wish I were taller" or "I would travel around the world."). Take a look at this past newsletter for information on the formation of the subjunctive (Konjunktiv) in German. The subjunctive is a key part of conditional sentences that describe levels of possibility, from events that are very likely to missed opportunities in the past. 


Type 1 conditional sentences refer to cause-and-effect links, and events that are quite certain under particular circumstances. Because German sentences often use the present tense to imply the future, the basic structure is wenn or falls (see this newsletter) followed by the present tense, like in English, but then it can be followed by either the present tense or future constructed with werden. 


Wenn es so weitergehtwerden bis 2050 drei Viertel aller Alpengletscher verschwunden sein... mit gewaltigen Folgen.

If it continues this way, by 2050, three quarters of all the alpine glaciers will have disappeared ... with enormous consequences.

Captions 33-34, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten - Part 7

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Type 2 conditional sentences refer to events that are less possible or likely, often hypothetical. Its structure in German is Wenn + Konjunktiv II + Konjunktiv II. 


Wenn immer Sommer wärewürde ich jeden Tag grillen.

If it were always summer, I would grill every day.

Caption 29, Konjugation - Das Verb „grillen“

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Wenn ich viel Geld hätte, würde ich nie wieder arbeiten gehen.

If had a lot of money, I would never go to work again.

Caption 23, Konjugation - Das Verb „gehen“

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Ich denke, wenn ich weniger arbeiten würdekönnte ich mich mehr konzentrieren.

I think that if I worked less I could concentrate better.

Captions 34-35, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about possibilities or events that never came to be. Here is where the structure gets a bit complicated. In its full form, the construction is Wenn + participle + Konjunktiv II + Konjunktiv II + participle.


Wenn wir eine Chance gehabt hätten, dann wären wir vorher gegangen, ja.

If we had had a chance, then we would've left before, yes.

Caption 34, Die Klasse - Berlin '61

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Ja, wenn Jannik fit gewesen wäre, dann wäre er nie runtergekracht.

Yes, if Jannik had been healthy, then he wouldn't have ever gone crashing down.

Caption 59, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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It is worth mentioning that you may often see "mixed types" of the conditional, in which a missed opportunity in the past (expressed using the participle) is portrayed as still affecting the present. Take a look at the following sentence: 


Also, wenn wir den Vertrag letzte Woche unterzeichnet hättenwären wir in der Lage, mit unserer ursprünglichen Vereinbarung fortzufahren? 

So, if we had signed the contract last week, we would be in a position to proceed with our original agreement?

Captions 36-37, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Further Learning
For more information on the different types of conditional sentences, take a look at this helpful website. Whenever you see key words like hättewäre, or würde on Yabla German, note the subjunctive mood and try to identify which type of conditional sentence it might be related to.

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