German Lessons

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The World of Business

This week's lesson is dedicated to basic German business vocabulary. From news reports about the economy (die Wirtschaft) to videos that take place in office settings, there's quite a lot to be found on Yabla German. In this lesson, we have highlighted all business and workplace vocabulary.

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First of all, there are a number of words for "the business" or "the company":

 

Wir haben einen Vertrag mit der Firma.

We have a contract with the company.

Caption 36, Mülltrennung: in Heidelberg

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Er ist Geschäftsführer des Unternehmens.

He is the director of the company.

Caption 32, Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr: Versicherer entwickeln automatischen Notruf für alle Autos

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Um dies sicherzustellen, habe der Konzern die Frequenz der Belieferungen erhöht.

To ensure this, the group has increased the frequency of deliveries.

Caption 13, Coronavirus: Trotz Hamsterkäufen keine Versorgungsprobleme

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The word for business in general is das Geschäft. Above, you see the word der Geschäftsführer, which would be the director or CEO of a company. The word for "co-worker" is der Arbeitskollege or die Arbeitskollegin, or simply der Kollege or die Kollegin, which is how the employees (der Mitarbeiter or die Mitarbeiterin) at a company would describe each other. They would likely refer to the person they report to as der Chef or die Chefin, which (Achtung!) in German is not someone who works in a kitchen. 

 

Genau, ihre Kollegin, Frau Larsen, hat mir alles gezeigt, die ganzen Büros, und mir die Mitarbeiter vorgestellt.

Exactly, your colleague Ms. Larsen showed me everything, all the offices, and introduced me to the employees.

Captions 9-10, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

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„Während ich an meinen Rechnungen saß, kam meine Chefin und hat mir noch mehr Aufgaben zugeteilt.“

"While I was sitting with my bills, my boss came and assigned me further tasks."

Captions 41-42, Eva erklärt: temporale Konnektoren

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In a company, "the department" is die Abteilung. Take a look:

 

Hier in der Personalabteilung ist eine Halbtagsstelle frei geworden.

A part-time job has become free here in the human resources department.

Caption 40, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Sie suchen nach jemandem für ihre Marketingabteilung.

They're looking for someone for their marketing department.

Caption 8, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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In terms of finances and profits, here are some good words to know:

 

Meine Berechnungen für den zu erwartenden Absatz liegen Ihnen vor.

My calculations for the expected sales are lying in front of you.

Caption 55, Mama arbeitet wieder Kapitel 2: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

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Siebenundvierzig Millionen Euro Umsatz hat die Messe in diesem Jahr gemacht.

The trade show made forty-seven million euros in gross revenue this year.

Caption 33, Agrarmesse Grüne Woche in Berlin

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Im letzten Jahr wurde ein Rekordergebnis von einundzwanzig-Komma-acht Millionen Euro Gewinn erzielt.

Last year a record result of twenty-one point eight million euros profit was achieved.

Captions 37-38, Fluglinien Niki Air

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Further Learning
On Yabla German, watch our Berufsleben series to listen to conversations taking place in an office setting.

"Personally" and "in Person"

Have you ever noticed that the adverb persönlich in German has three possible translations in English? Let's take a look. 

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As you would expect, it can mean "personally":
 

Mir ist es persönlich 'ne Herzensangelegenheit.

For me personally, it's a matter that's near and dear to my heart.

Caption 12, Berlin - Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

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Sometimes it has more or less this meaning, but is better translated as "he himself" or "she herself":
 

Nein, er hat tatsächlich auf meinem, äh, Telefonapparat angerufen. -Persönlich?

No, he actually called me on my, uh, telephone. -Himself?

Caption 6, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 1

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Reisen, vielleicht sogar mit Niki Lauda persönlich als Piloten [sic, Pilot]

Traveling, perhaps even with Niki Lauda himself as pilot

– ab Frankfurt ist das möglich, dreimal täglich, morgens, mittags und abends.

— it's possible from Frankfurt three times a day, in the morning, at midday and in the evening.

Captions 58-59, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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You may also sometimes see the word höchstpersönlich, which can be used to emphasize that a task or appearance won't be delegated to another person. 

 

However, persönlich can also mean "in person":

 

War ja... Wir haben... wir haben ihn zum ersten Mal auch persönlich kennenlernen dürfen.

It was indeed... We were... we were also allowed to meet him in person for the first time.

Caption 32, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 2

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Das kann man entweder persönlich tun in einer Filiale oder online.

You can do that either in person at a branch or online.

Caption 14, Eva erklärt - Bankkonten

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One thing to remember: persönlich does not mean "personable"! This would be sympathisch or freundlich
 

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Further Learning
Search for more examples on Yabla German and try out a few sentences of your own in which you use persönlich to talk about your personal experiences, preferences, and opinions, or to talk about something you will do yourself or in person. 

The Proof is in the Pudding

The German language does not have an equivalent to the rather odd phrase above, which originated in the proverb that the proof of the flavor of a pudding is in the eating of it. The phrase means that the end result is the mark of the success or failure of one’s efforts or planning. The most common words used as "proof," or "evidence," or "to prove" in German are the noun der Beweis and the verb beweisen. Here are some examples of the noun:

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Den Beweis tritt die hübsche Münchnerin ausgerechnet in der alpinen Bergwelt Österreichs an.

The pretty Munich resident produces the evidence, of all places, in the alpine mountain world of Austria.

Captions 5-6, Im Höhenflug - Ariadne (die Ex von Lothar Matthäus)

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Endlich ein Beweis dafür, dass ich nicht im Baum sitze und was auf dich schmeiße.

Finally, evidence that I'm not sitting in the tree throwing something at you.

Caption 32, Piggeldy und Frederick - Streiten

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The phrase unter Beweis stellen, however, which is literally "to place under proof," is usually best translated to English with a verb:

 

Und ich freue mich sehr, meine Fähigkeiten, die ich an der Universität erworben habe, im realen Leben unter Beweis zu stellen.

And I am very excited to demonstrate the skills that I acquired in university in real life.

Captions 16-18, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 2

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Here are some examples of the verb beweisen:

 

So beweist NIKI, dass sich Wirtschaftlichkeit und guter Service miteinander verbinden lassen.

That's how NIKI proves that economy and good service can be connected with one another.

Captions 34-35, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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Doch wir sind hier nicht etwa beim Seniorenturnen, wie uns Daniela Katzenberger eindrucksvoll beweist, sondern bei einer Benefizveranstaltung.

But we are not here at some sort of senior gymnastics event, as Daniela Katzenberger impressively proves to us, but rather at a benefit event.

Captions 14-16, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell - Kick für Kids

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Im Video zur ersten Single muss Clueso dann auch gleich beweisen, dass er noch fit ist.

In the video of the first single, Clueso must also then immediately prove that he is still fit.

Captions 6-7, Clueso - ist endlich erwachsen

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Die Person muss beweisen, dass sie wegen ihrer politischen Überzeugung, Religionszugehörigkeit, ihrer Rasse, Nationalität verfolgt wird.

The person must prove that because of their political convictions, religious affiliation, or their race or nationality, they are being persecuted.

Captions 20-21, Flüchtlingskrise - 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see the various forms of der Beweis and beweisen used in a real-world context. If you want to go deeper, read this German Wikipedia article about the legal differences between der Hauptbeweis, der Gegenbeweis, and der Beweis des Gegenteils.

All about dabei

Not to be confused with the capital city of the United Arab Emirates—that's written "Dubai" in German too, by the way—the German adverb dabei means generally "to be present" at some event, but can have many possible translations in English, depending upon the context. Let's take a look at some of the more commonly seen possibilities.

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Ich freue mich, dass ihr heute dabei seid.

I'm happy that you are here today.

Caption 2, Eva erklärt - Sprichwörter - Part 1

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In this context, the use of dabei rather than simply hier implies "here with us."

 

Ich hab' meine Lupe dabei, um die Schnecken zu sehen.

I have my magnifying glass with me to see the snails.

Caption 47, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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You could possibly say bei mir in this context, although bei mir also means "at my place" or "at my house."

 

Warst du gestern bei der Schlacht dabei?

Were you present at the battle yesterday?

Caption 20, Bretten - Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest - Part 3

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Der Louvre ist nicht mit dabei.

The Louvre [Museum in Paris] is not participating.

Caption 8, Kunst weltweit googeln - Galerienbesuch von zu Hause aus

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The above two examples translate dabei as "to be present" at or "to be participating" in an event.

 

Wichtig ist dabei, immer Geld zu verdienen.

It is important to always make money thereby.

Caption 51, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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The adverb dabei, when seen in its constituent parts da + bei, literally "there" + "by," forms the English adverb "thereby." Most people don't use the word "thereby" very often in everyday speech, however, and it's more common to use other equivalents. 

 

Nun spring einfach hinab und flattere und schlackere dabei.

Now just jump down and flutter and flap as you do it.

Caption 26, Piggeldy und Frederick - Lernen fliegen

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Another close equivalent to "thereby," and perhaps the most common translation in this context, is "in doing so": 

 

Dabei passieren sie die fünf Kilometer lange Zeeland-Brücke.

In doing so, they pass through the five kilometer long Zeeland Bridge.

Caption 10, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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The above could also have been translated: "They thereby pass through the five kilometer long Zeeland Bridge." 

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to find other examples of dabei used in a real-world context and see if you can find some other ways that it has been translated into English.

 

Thank you for reading this newsletter and keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at newsletter@yabla.com, and you can tweet us @yabla.

Cheap, Low-Priced and Inexpensive

Adjectives and adverbs describing the cost or quality of an item in English can have positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. In German however, the words on this topic tend to be a bit more defined. In most contexts, the adjective/adverb billig has negative connotations, such as when a wife finds out her ex-Stasi* agent husband is having an illicit affair with a woman he once interrogated: 

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Das ist so billig.

That is so cheap.

Caption 2, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich - Kapitel 5: Versuch der Verdrängung - Part 2

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On a more positive note, you can use the adjective/adverb preiswert

 

Sie können bei uns Getränke umsonst haben und noch preiswert fliegen.

With us they can have drinks for free and still fly inexpensively.

Captions 32-33, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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And on an even more positive note, the adjective/adverb günstig

 

Er hat sich ein günstiges Gerät gekauft,

He bought himself an inexpensive device,

Caption 15, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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Auch aufgrund der Mietpreise, die hier sehr günstig sind.

Also because of the rent prices, which are very reasonable here.

Caption 20, Jonathan Johnson - Kreuzberg, Berlin

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Die Gerichte sind günstig.

The meals are reasonably priced.

Caption 12, Universität - Karlsruhe

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Günstig may also be translated as "affordable" or "low-priced" or even "cheap," but it's important to remember here that it's usually meant positively, and never to indicate that something was of poor quality like the word billig. Günstig also has quite a different meaning in other contexts: 

 

Das Wetter ist hier sehr günstig, es ist einfach schön.

The weather here is very favorable, it's simply nice.

Caption 22, Konstantin - ein Freiwilliger in Israel - Part 1

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It's pretty unlikely that weather would be described as "cheap." In this sense, günstig may also be used to describe situations that are fortunate, beneficial, providential, auspicious or merely convenient. A very favorable word indeed!

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Further Learning
To conclude: billig is usually "cheap" in a negative sense, preiswert is "inexpensive" in a more positive sense, and günstig is "reasonable" in the most positive sense. Günstig also has additional positive meanings. Go to Yabla German to find more examples of all three words used in a real world context and see if you can find some other German words that can also mean "cheap" or "inexpensive."

 

*Stasi is an acronym for der Staatssicherheitsdienst, the secret police in the former German Democratic Republic.

 

Thank you for reading this newsletter and keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at newsletter@yabla.com, and you can tweet us @yabla.

Common German Mistakes: Wie or Als?

German speakers sometimes make the mistake of using wie (as, like, how) instead of als (than), an error that is a bit puzzling for native English speakers. It is hard for us to imagine saying, for example: "I am taller as you" instead of "I am taller than you," but in German this is a fairly common error. The following Yabla English translations reflect the corrections to als:

 

Also wir geben hier mehr her wie [sic, als] die Lufthansa da in der... in der Businessclass.

So we deliver more here than Lufthansa there in the… in the business class.

Captions 45-46, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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... wie [sic, als] wenn man einfach sagt: „Kuck mal, ich hab' dir 'nen ganz gesunden Salat gemacht“.

... than if you simply say to them: "Look, I have made ​​you a very healthy salad".

Captions 32-33, Kochhaus Berlin - Kochen mit Kindern

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The German als should be used like the English "than" when showing contrast, as a function word to indicate an inequality between two things:

 

Ich sage immer, eher mehr Selbstvertrauen als Talent.

I always say, rather more confidence than talent.

Caption 22, Cassandra Steen - Interview

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Wobei man hier eher vom Fallen als vom Fliegen sprechen muss.

Although in this case it would be more accurate to speak of falling rather than of flying.

Caption 5, Abenteuer und Sport - Fallschirmspringen

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Whereas wie is used to relate things that are similar in some way, or to give an example:

 

Wir haben ein Programm mit Ikonen der Musikgeschichte wie Foreigner oder den Simple Minds

We have a program with icons of music history like Foreigner or the Simple Minds

Captions 7-8, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

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Da sind die besten Firmen der Welt dabei wie Siemens und andere.

The best companies in the world are there, like Siemens and others.

Caption 40, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister - Pläne für 2014

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Further Learning:

Search on Yabla German for the words als and wie to find more of the ways these expressions are used in context.
 

Grammar

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