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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. 

Before, Part I: bevor, vor, or vorher?

There are a number of German words that may be translated as "before," in the temporal meaning of "at a previous time." Among the most common are vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at these three German words that are commonly translated to English as "before."


The German word bevor is a subordinating conjunction that connects two independent clauses. Note that in most cases, where bevor appears in the last half of a sentence, the verb is usually at the end of the sentence: 


Darf ich's Ihnen dann noch schnell erklären,

May I explain it to you quickly

bevor Sie Ihre Platten essen?

before you eat your platters?

Caption 62, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Drei Wochen lang betteln hier die Jungen,

For three weeks, the young beg here

bevor sie sich selber in die Fluten stürzen.

before they dive into the waters themselves.

Caption 23, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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Aber bevor du jetzt schneidest,

But before you start cutting,

check erst mal, ob der Stoff passt.

first check whether the fabric is suitable.

Captions 77-78, Coronavirus - Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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The German word vor is a preposition and is usually placed in a sentence to modify a noun. Note that when vor is used in its temporal sense, the definite or indefinite article of its noun is usually dative. For clarity, the preposition, the article, and the noun are in bold print:


Du musst den Ball vor dem letzten Schlag der Zwölf verlassen haben.

You need to have left the ball before the last stroke of twelve.

Caption 52, Märchenstunde - Das Aschenputtel

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Soll er die Tabletten morgens,

Should he take the pills in the morning,

mittags und abends vor oder nach dem Essen nehmen?

at noon, and in the evening—and before or after eating?

Caption 17, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 72: Nehmen Sie...

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Was bekommen wahlberechtigte Bürger und Bürgerinnen in Deutschland vor einer Wahl?

What do citizens who are eligible to vote in Germany receive before an election?

Caption 18, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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The German word vorher is an adverb:


Alles andere kommt vorher.

Everything else comes before it.

Caption 35, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Konjunktionen

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Und dann kam es wieder aus dem Gully raus

And then it came out of the storm drain again,

und noch viel größer und noch viel böser als vorher.

much bigger and much meaner than before.

Caption 54, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Note that vorher is sometimes translated as "beforehand" and "previously," depending upon the context: 


Es besteht die Möglichkeit, jedes Board vorher zu testen...

The possibility exists, to test every board beforehand...

Caption 41, Longboarding - mit Lassrollen

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Dann bekommt man Geld zurück, das man vorher dafür bezahlt hat.

Then you get the money back that you previously paid for them.

Caption 13, Diane - auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt

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Further Learning
To recap: bevor usually connects two sentences; vor is a preposition that usually uses the dative case when referring to time; and vorher is an adverb that, as we know, modifies a verb. The best way to get an understanding of which word is appropriate in which context is hear them being used, however. Go to Yabla German and search for each of the three words—be sure that the examples with vor that you find are related to time and not place—and see the different ways that people commonly use them.

German Preposition Cases, Part IV

This week we're doing the last part of this German Preposition Cases series. Let's take a look at those tricky dual-case prepositions that require either the accusative case or the dative case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 


The German dual-case prepositions are an, auf, hinter, in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen, and über. As a general rule, if the preposition suggests motion or movement from one place to another, it takes the accusative case. If there is no motion or movement suggested,  it takes the dative case. Please take a moment to review the dative and accusative cases in the previous lessons. 


The nominative pronoun ich becomes mir in the dative case and mich in the accusative case. Note in the following how "because of me" suggests no movement and uses the dative pronoun, whereas "send to me" suggests the motion of sending something and thus takes the accusative pronoun.


Er fragt sich: „Liegt es nur an mir, dass es jetzt schneit?“

He asks himself, "Is it just because of me that it's snowing now?"

Caption 10, Jan Wittmer - Weihnachtslied

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Wenn Sie sie einfach direkt an mich schicken würden...

If you'll just send them directly to me...

Caption 31, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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The German feminine of the definite article "the" is die. In the next captions, there is no movement when discussing a scale of numbers, so the nominative die becomes the dative der. Apparently, viewing something conveys some motion in that you are actively looking at something, thus a "view of a bridge" uses the accusative die.


Auf der Skala eins bis zehn: Bei dir bin ich zehn

On a scale of one to ten: With you I am ten

Captions 16-17, 2raumwohnung - Liebe mit Musik am Laufen halten

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Das ist die Draufsicht auf die Brücke.

That is the view of the bridge.

Caption 40, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Back to the nominative personal pronoun "I," which in dative becomes mir and in accusative becomes mich. As you'll notice, the passive phrase "is situated" gets the dative case, and the active phrase "to get it behind me" receives the accusative case:


Hinter mir befindet sich die ehemalige amerikanische Botschaft.

The former American Embassy is situated behind me.

Caption 3, Berlin - der alte amerikanische Sektor

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Ja, ich wollte es einfach hinter mich bringen.

Yes, I just wanted to get it behind me.

Caption 9, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Probleme

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Hopefully these examples will help give you an idea of when to use the dative (no motion, passive) or accusative (motion, active) cases with the above dual-case prepositions.


Further Learning
We just went through the dative and accusative cases for the dual-case prepositions an, auf, and hinter. Try looking on Yabla German for dative and accusative examples of the remaining dual-case prepositions in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen, and über. It will help you find them if you look for specific accusative and dative definite articles or pronouns when you do the search!

The Preposition "to" in German: Part 2 — in

In last week's newsletter on the preposition nach, we also looked at a few instances in which in is used to express going to a place, specifically for certain countries. In is also used to talk about going into town (in die Stadt), and actually also to talk about going into the mountains (in die Berge) and into the forest (in den Wald).


Ich als Hamburger bin hier eigentlich als Flachlandtiroler bekannt

As a resident of Hamburg, I am actually known as a "flatland Tyrolean"

und dennoch zieht es mich immer wieder in die Berge.

and yet I am still repeatedly drawn to the mountains.

Captions 3-4, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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In is a two-way preposition. With the accusative case, it is used to express movement towards a place — i.e. the English preposition "to." You wouldn't know it from the examples above, but one pattern you can note is that it is actually often used when the goal is an indoor location that you will spend time in. It is perhaps somewhat similar to how we sometimes use the preposition "into" in English.


Wir gehen total gerne ins Kino.

We really like going to the cinema.

Caption 50, Anja Polzer - Interview

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Ich erinner' mich, wie wir nach der Schule immer in den Laden gekommen sind.

I remember how we used to always come into the shop after school.

Caption 29, Malerei - Benno Treiber

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Wir sind jeden Morgen in die Schule gefahren nach West-Berlin.

We rode to West Berlin to school every morning.

Caption 44, Die Klasse - Berlin '61

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Note how in das is shortened to ins in the first example above. This is a common contraction.

When speaking about getting into a car or boarding a bus or train, you can also use the preposition in, as the implication is that you will spend time inside. 


Und ich würd jetzt sagen, wir steigen jetzt ins Auto.

And I would now say, we'll get in the car now.

Caption 27, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt - Backen mit Kindern & Auftritt bei Radio Rumms

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Other phrases with the preposition in to memorize include ins Bett gehen:


Ich lese gleich noch ein Buch für die Schule und dann geh ich ins Bett.

I'm going to read a book for school now and then I'll go to bed.

Caption 21, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 31: Am Sonntag koche ich

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Ways to Say "However" in German

There are several words in German that convey the essential meaning of "however," even if they are not always translated as such. The primary words to look out for are allerdingsjedoch, and hingegen.



Dirk Nowitzki weiß allerdings, wo seine Wurzeln liegen.

Dirk Nowitzki knows, however, where his roots lie.

Caption 24, Basketball-Superstar - Dirk Nowitzki im Kino

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Allerdings scheiterte sein Fluchtversuch. 

However, his attempt to flee failed. 

Caption 7, 25 Jahre Mauerfall - Radtour durch die Geschichte

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Das Wahrzeichen ist jedoch das mit feuervergoldeten Kupferschindeln gedeckte Goldene Dachl.

The landmark, however, is the Goldenes Dachl [Golden Roof] covered with fire-gilded copper tiles.

Caption 31, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Der Eintrittspreis ist jedoch der alte geblieben.

The entry fee, however, stayed the same.

Caption 17, Autokino - Gravenbruch

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An anderen Orten und in anderen Ländern wird hingegen das Vieh geehrt.

In other places and countries, however, the cattle are honored.

Caption 21, Cettina erklärt - Pfingsten

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Der Bilderrahmen hingegen ist quadratisch, weil alle vier Seiten gleich lang sind.

The picture frame, however, is square, because all four sides are equally long.

Captions 40-41, Eva zeigt uns - Formen

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You may also see any of the words above translated as "at the same time," "on the other hand," or simply as "but." Similarly, aber and doch are occasionally translated as "however." Dennoch (translated as "nonetheless," "nevertheless," "however") and wiederum ("in turn," "on the other hand," "however") are two more words that have a similar function.


Further Learning
Pay attention to the various ways in which these words are translated on Yabla German and especially to the position of the word in the English sentence in comparison with the original German, as it may not be the same. 

The Capitalization of German Nouns

One thing you may have quickly noticed when you began learning German is that all German nouns are capitalized. In English, it is only proper nouns that begin with a capital letter, with the exception of common nouns that are the very first word in a sentence. In German, nouns are always capitalized, regardless of gender, case, or position in the sentence. 


Let’s take a look. In the following sentence, notice how the first word of each sentence and the proper noun "Munich" are capitalized in both languages. In German, however, the nouns die Bahn, die Stunden, and eine Verbindung also begin with a capital letter.


Aber auch die Bahn bietet alle zwei Stunden eine Verbindung von München an.

But also the train offers a connection from Munich every two hours.

Caption 22, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Capitalization can be especially helpful with verbs that often moonlight as nouns, such as das Schwimmen, das Tanzendas Gehen, or das Schreiben. They are easy to identify as such because they then begin with a capital letter.


„Hm, das soll Wandern sein?“, wunderte sich Piggeldy. „So laufen wir doch jeden Tag umher.“

"Hm, this is supposed to be hiking?" Piggeldy asked. "We walk around like this every day, after all."

Captions 11-12, Piggeldy und Frederick - Das Wandern

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Note in this next sentence that jemanden and der are not capitalized. Unlike nouns, pronouns do not begin with a capital letter (das is capitalized, of course, because it is the first word in the sentence). Both nouns in eine Tasse Kaffee are capitalized, however, as is die Lobby.


Das ist wirklich genauso, äh, für jemand [jemanden], der vielleicht nur mal auf eine Tasse Kaffee bei uns in der schönen Lobby sitzen möchte...

It's really precisely the same, uh, for each person who, perhaps, would just like to sit for a cup of coffee with us in the beautiful lobby...

Captions 16-17, Berlin - Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

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Die Lobby brings us to another point. In the next sentence, even though das Team is a noun adopted from English, it is capitalized in German. 


Das Team bereitet sich auf den gemeinsamen Tauchgang vor.

The team prepares for the joint dive.

Caption 50, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Further Learning
So when did die Großschreibung develop? As early as the 14th century, capitalized nouns can be found in religious texts, but it wasn't officially implemented until the 17th century. For advanced learners, here is a text about it in German. Otherwise, you can choose any video on Yabla German and pay special attention to the nouns and their capitalization while you watch it.

The verb ziehen

This week, let's take a look at the verb ziehen. It's true that there are many nuances, but we'll focus for now on the two main translations, the first of which is "to pull":


Super, Jo. Und ihr helft mit ziehen, ja?

Super, Jo. And you'll help us pull, right?

Caption 6, JoNaLu - Heiß und kalt

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Viele haben aber wohl schon darüber nachgedacht, wie es wäre, einfach mal den Stecker zu ziehen.

Many have, however, likely already thought about how it would be to simply pull the plug.

Captions 5-6, Vierzig Tage offline - Ein Selbstversuch

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Relatedly, in English, we say "to take a ticket" or "to draw a number," but in German ziehen is also used for this purpose: 


Zieht sich 'n Ticket, vier siebzig für die Fahrt ist ja ganz schön hart

She takes a ticket, four seventy for the ride, it's quite tough [quite a lot] indeed

Caption 27, Cro - Bye Bye

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The second common meaning of ziehen is "to move," "to migrate," or "to proceed."


Rötlich-violette Schwaden ziehen durchs Wasser, das hier fast frei von Sauerstoff ist.

Reddish-violet vapors move through the water, which here is almost oxygen-free.

Caption 8, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten - Part 5

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Sie ziehen von Haus zu Haus und verlangen Süßigkeiten.

They proceed from house to house and demand sweets.

Caption 16, Cettina erklärt - Halloween

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Interestingly enough, there is a common usage of ziehen which can be translated as "to draw," but also implies movement towards something. In a way, it is a combination of the two meanings.


Kaum scheint die Sonne, zieht es die Schleckermäuler an die Eisdielen.

The sun is scarcely shining and it draws [those with a] sweet tooth to the ice-cream parlors.

Caption 1, Eis - Eiskalte Leidenschaft

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Ich als Hamburger bin hier eigentlich als Flachlandtiroler und dennoch zieht es mich immer wieder in die Berge.

As a resident of Hamburg, I am actually known as a "flatland Tyrolean" and yet I am still repeatedly drawn to the mountains.

Captions 3-4, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps - Part 1

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Further Learning
There are many sentences that include the verb ziehen on Yabla German, so do a quick search if you need more examples. You can also review past newsletters in which we looked at the phrases Bilanz ziehen and Es zieht! 

Strong and Weak Verbs

Have you come across the phrase “strong verbs” or “weak verbs” in your studies and wondered what exactly is meant? 


Strong verbs have a stem-vowel change in one or more tenses, for example in the simple past or present tense. In other words, they are irregular. The sign of a strong verb is that its participle will end with -en.


For example, with genießen ("to enjoy") the present tense conjugations do not have a vowel change, but the past tense does (genoss). The participle accordingly ends with


Genießt euren Kaffee, wie auch immer ihr den zubereitet.

Enjoy your coffee, regardless of how you make it.

Caption 39, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

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Und ich habe an einer sehr renommierten Universität ein sehr umfangreiches Marketingstudium genossen.

And I enjoyed a very comprehensive marketing program at a very renowned university.

Captions 26-27, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 2

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In the case of the verb empfehlen (“to recommend”), the present and simple past tenses both have a different stem vowel change. Once again, the participle ends with -en:


Neben dem Stadtrad empfiehlt sich vor allem die Innsbruck Card für die Erkundung.

In addition to the city bike, above all, the Innsbruck card can be recommended for the exploration.

Captions 26-27, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Schafft das keine Linderung, wird empfohlen, die Höhe des Computerbildschirms zu überprüfen.

[If] that doesn't bring relief, it's recommended [that you] check the height of the computer screen.

Captions 19-20, Nackenverspannungen - Entspannungstipps für den Büroalltag

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Weak verbs are more “regular” in the sense that all tenses resemble the infinitive. The participle ends with -t. Let’s look at the verb reisen


Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.

It's always better if you travel together.

Caption 20, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Dafür reiste das Filmteam bis nach Korsika.

For this the film team traveled as far away as Corsica.

Caption 35, Hell - Science-Fiction-Kinotipp

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Für zwei Wochen bin ich durchs Land gereist.

For two weeks, I traveled across the country.

Caption 20, Grete - eine Freiwillige in Israel

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Now, of course, because German is never easy, there are exceptions in the form of irregular weak verbs. These have a participle with -rather than -en, but also have a stem vowel change. Many common verbs, such as bringen and wissen, fall into this category. 


Ein Benefiz-Fußballspiel brachte sie jedoch alle zusammen auf den Rasen.

A benefit football match nevertheless brought them all together on the turf.

Caption 2, Fußball - Prominente beim Benefizspiel

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Aschenputtel wurde in den Palast gebracht.

Cinderella was brought to the palace.

Caption 105, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Aschenputtel

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Further Learning
When you learn a new verb on Yabla German, always find out immediately whether it's strong or weak and memorize this as well as its definition. Here is an extensive list of strong and irregular verbs. Look up the participles of niesen versus genießen and of the verbs winken and stinken, which are particularly tricky.