German Lessons

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Apologizing and Expressing Regret and Sympathy

Whether you visit Germany in the future and bump into someone in a train station, or accidentally interrupt someone in an online class or meeting, it's important to know how to excuse yourself or apologize in German to an appropriate degree. 

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First, you need to know (and learn to pronounce!) the word Entschuldigung and the verb sich entschuldigen. As you can see in the following two examples from Nicos Weg, our series for beginners, Entschuldigung can mean either "excuse me" or "sorry" depending on the context.

 

Entschuldigung, wen suchen Sie? -Lisa Brunner.

Excuse me, who are you looking for? -Lisa Brunner.

Caption 4, Nicos Weg: Wo ist der Aufzug?

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Ach, Nico, Entschuldigung, ich komme viel zu spät.

Oh, Nico, sorry, I'm much too late.

Caption 27, Nicos Weg A1 Folge 35: Wann spielen wir?

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Occasionally, you may hear the word Verzeihung used to apologize. This is a bit more formal.

 

„Oh, Verzeihung, mein Herr!", sagte Frederick.

"Oh, excuse me, sir!" said Frederick.

Caption 37, Piggeldy und Frederick Der Esel

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To apologize for something more serious than just being late or interrupting someone, the phrase Es tut mir leid is used to say "I'm sorry." It can also be used to express sympathy.

 

Es tut mir wirklich leid, das zu hören, Frau Hoffmann, dass es Ihren Kindern nicht gut ging.

Ms. Hoffmann, I'm very sorry to hear that your children aren't doing well.

Captions 48-49, Berufsleben Probleme: mit Mitarbeitern

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The phrase Mein herzliches Beileid is used to express sympathy in the face of loss. Be careful not to get it mixed up in any way with the verb beleidigen, which means "to insult."

 

Herzliches Beileid, Lilly.

Heartfelt condolences, Lilly.

Caption 4, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 1: Im Krankenhaus

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Wenn man etwas durch die Blume sagt, dann bedeutet das, dass man sein Gegenüber nicht beleidigen möchte.

If you say something through the flower, then it means that you don't want to insult the other person.

Captions 7-8, Eva erklärt: Sprichwörter

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If you have unintentionally insulted someone or made a decision that affected someone adversely, you can also express regret with the verbs bereuen and bedauern.

 

Bereut er den Entschluss, sein Studium abgebrochen zu haben?

Does he regret the decision to have broken off his university studies?

Caption 62, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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Doch, doch! Obwohl ich noch immer bedauere, dass er damals nicht zu mir in die Firma gekommen ist.

Yes, yes! Although I still regret that he didn't join me in the company back then.

Captions 20-21, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Further Learning
Search for Entschuldigung, the verb sich entschuldigen, and the imperatives Entschuldigen Sie (formal) and Entschuldige (informal) on Yabla German to hear all of these options used in context. You can also look up the verb verzeihen. This is the best way to get an understanding of which expression is right for a particular kind of situation.

German Computer Verbs

This week, let's look at some verbs related to computers and technology! Many of these phrases are intuitive for anyone who speaks English, for example eine Mail öffnen or ein Fenster schließen, or ein Programm neu starten

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Below, you can see that the verb anhängen ("to attach") also works for email attachments:

 

Es sieht so aus, als hätte ich die PDF-Datei an die E-Mail angehängt.

It looks as though I attached the PDF file in an email.

Caption 36, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 1

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However, it is often necessary to learn some new vocabulary. For example, to unlock a computer or cell phone, we use the verb entsperren or freischalten, and not aufschließen or entriegeln as you would for a door. And then, of course, there are the words that are relatively new to both languages. 

 

Den Mac-Nutzern empfehlen die Spezialisten, ein von Apple bereitgestelltes Sicherheitsupdate herunterzuladen und zu installieren.

The specialists recommend Mac users download and install a security update that has been provided by Apple.

Captions 15-16, Apple-Trojaner - Wie man ihn beseitigt

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Mein Management hat mir eine E-Mail weitergeleitet.

My management forwarded me an e-mail.

Caption 23, Schauspielerin - Jessica Schwarz - Part 1

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Ich habe auch ein E-Mail-Konto für Sie eingerichtet, welches Sie überprüfen können, sobald Sie eingeloggt sind.

I have set up an email account for you as well, which you can check as soon as you are logged in.

Captions 34-35, Berufsleben das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 4

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The infinitive forms of the verbs and participles from the examples above are anhängen ("to attach"), herunterladen ("to download"), installieren ("to install"), weiterleiten ("to forward"), and sich einloggen ("to log in").

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Further Learning
For a list of words (including nouns and adjectives) related to computers and technology, you can look at this extensive list. Missing from this list are many "Denglisch" verbs related to technology (downloaden, updaten...), but these should not be used in your German class anyway! They are often used in office settings, but are still essentially slang and used mostly among younger co-workers. It is best to know the real German words.

French Words Used in German, Part 1

German has many French loan words or Gallicisms. You may wonder why it is helpful to know that some German words originally came from the French—in fact, an estimated 45% of English comes from French or Latin language sources, and very often the French words found in German are the same or very similar to the words found in English that originated from France. If you learn to recognize words in your native English as having a French origin, there is even a fair chance that these words are used in German. All the better if you happen to speak some French already!

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Let's take a look today at some of the more commonly used German words with a French origin that have obvious French word endings such as -ment, -ion, or -age.

 

Sie kann direkt hinüberblicken zum Parlament.

She can look directly across at the parliament.

Caption 33, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Here das Parlament is spelled slightly differently from the French parlement and English "parliament."

 

Für mich hat's unheimlich viel mit der Emotion zu tun.​

For me, it has an awful lot to do with the emotion.

Caption 8, Astrid North - Solo-Debüt

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The German die Emotion is capitalized as a noun, and except for the accent in the French émotion, is written otherwise the same in all three languages. Notice the noun das Debüt in the title of the above video? That too is based on the French début, which is, of course, "debut" in English. 

 

Es war Ihre Verantwortung, diese Information zu versenden.

It was your responsibility to send this information.

Caption 40, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 1

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Die Information is the same in all three languages, but is capitalized as a German noun. 

 

Genau, ähm, das war so eine Illusion.

Exactly, that was such an illusion.

Caption 74, Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 1

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Die Illusion is also the same in all three languages but capitalized in German.

 

Mein Rücken, der braucht erst mal eine ordentliche Massage.

My back, first of all, it needs a thorough massage.

Caption 60, Selbst versucht - Gepäckabfertigung bei Fraport

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Die Massage is the same noun in all three languages, though in German the verb is massieren.

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Further Learning
As a general rule, French words found in German are spelled the same, or nearly the same, as the French words found in English, but are pronounced in a German manner and written according to German grammatical rules—with nouns capitalized, for example. Take a look at this list of Gallicisms in German and go to Yabla German to find other real-world examples of the words used in videos. Next week we will discuss some more German words that originated from the French and have similar English equivalents.

Entweder... oder... and weder... noch...

Today we'll look at a topic that is neither particularly difficult nor completely easy. This is because either you memorize it immediately or you constantly forget the necessary order. 

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To create the "either... or..." construction in German, the words entweder and oder are employed, always in that particular order: 

 

Daniel Müller ist entweder nicht im Büro oder nicht erreichbar.

Daniel Müller is either not in the office or not available.

Caption 20, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 1

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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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Used to reject more than one possibility or eliminate two different parties, weder... noch... is the German equivalent of "neither... nor...":

 

Es war weder Mensch noch Tier.

It was neither man nor animal.

Caption 33, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Schöne und das Biest

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Keiner rechnet damit, dass ein Radfahrer auf dem Gehweg fährt, weder Fußgänger noch Autofahrer.

No one takes into account that a cyclist will be riding on the sidewalk, neither pedestrians nor auto drivers.

Captions 12-13, Einsatz für Christophorus - Gehwegradler

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Another construction which you might have seen and is worth mentioning here is sowohl als auch. This is a fancy way of saying "both... and..." or "as well as...", therefore serving the opposite function.

 

Sowohl Malerei als auch Bildhauerei.

Both paintings as well as sculptures.

Caption 15, Lokalhelden - Art House - Part 1

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Sowohl in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland als auch in der DDR wehen schwarz-rot-goldene Fahnen.

Black, red, and gold flags wave in the Federal Republic of Germany as well as in the GDR.

Caption 61, Terra X - Woher kommen die Farben Schwarz-Rot-Gold?

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Further Learning
Look for more examples of the entweder... oder... and weder... noch...  constructions on Yabla German to solidify your understanding. Also take a look at the different ways in which sowohl als auch can be translated.

Sprechen and Other Related Verbs

As we saw a few weeks ago in the newsletter about the verb kaufen and its related verbs, prefixes are very important and can drastically change the meaning of the verb to which they are attached. You likely know the verb sprechen ("to speak"), but there are several verbs you can learn along with it that will expand your vocabulary greatly.

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Besprechen means "to talk about" or "to discuss," whereas versprechen means "to promise." Widersprechen means "to contradict" or "to argue." These are all non-separable verbs

 

Ich glaub, das müsste man dann auch eher mit dem Management besprechen.

I think we would have to talk to the management about that.

Caption 56, Cassandra Steen Interview - Part 3

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Die Zutatenliste haben wir nun besprochen.

We have now discussed the list of ingredients.

Caption 16, Cannelloni - mit Jenny - Part 1

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Versprechen Sie mir bitte, diesen Fehler nicht noch einmal zu begehen.

Please promise me not to make this mistake again.

Caption 56, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 1

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Zu verwirrt, um zu widersprechen, tat der junge Mann, was man ihm sagte.

Too confused to argue, the young man did as he was told.

Caption 50, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der gestiefelte Kater

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Ansprechen means "to address" (or more colloquially "to bring up a matter" or "to appeal to a person") and is a separable verb. Take a look at the examples below:

 

Bevor ich die Sitzung unterbreche, muss ich noch folgenden Sachverhalt ansprechen.

Before I suspend this session, I have to address the following matter.

Captions 43-44, Bundesregierung Vereidigung der Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel

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Ganz hinten auch gern, Leute, ihr seid auch angesprochen.

Also in the very back, people, you are also being addressed.

Caption 2, Wincent Weiss - Feuerwerk

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Welche Leute sprecht ihr an, wer kommt hierher zum Lernen und was können die Menschen hier beigebracht bekommen?

Which people are you addressing, who comes here to learn and what can people be taught here?

Captions 23-24, Lokalhelden - Art House - Part 2

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Further Learning
Here you can find a list of verbs that involve sprechen and information about whether they are separable or inseparable. See if you can find these on Yabla German to get an English translation. 

Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann

Irgendwie fängt irgendwann irgendwo die Zukunft an.

Somehow, somewhere the future begins sometime.

Caption 4, Nena - Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann

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Again, we are happy to respond to a subscriber request! The lyrics above by German singer Nena are a good point of departure for a lesson on irgend, which as a prefix has a similar function to “some-” or “any-” in English. It is used to augment adverbs and pronouns to demonstrate a lack of specificity or information. 

 

Irgendwo is perhaps the simplest of these words, translating to “somewhere.”  

 

Du wirst bestimmt irgendwo am Strand sein. -Ja, genau. Am Meer.

You will surely be somewhere at the beach. -Yes, exactly. At the sea.

Caption 50, Konjugation - Das Verb „sein“

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Irgendwie translates to “somehow,” but is also used in spoken German to express “in some way,” “in any way,” or even “sort of.”

 

Irgendwie muss man ihr ja helfen.

Somehow she has to indeed be helped.

Caption 5, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 3

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The adverb irgendwann covers the English phrases “someday,” “sometime,” or “at some point,” which means it can refer to a non-specific time in either the past or the future. 

 

Aber irgendwann, als man mich nicht mehr gezwungen hat, hab ich dann meine persönliche Liebe zur Musik entdeckt.

But at some point, when I wasn't forced to anymore I discovered my own love for music.

Captions 36-37, Deutsche Bands - Glashaus - Part 2

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But let’s not stop here! You have also probably seen irgendein and irgendwelche, which translate to “any” or “some.” The important thing to remember is that they behave similarly to adjectives and will always have the appropriate ending based on the conditions of the sentence. As you might guess, irgendein is never used in the plural. See this useful chart for irgendwelche.

 

Nun, wenn Sie irgendwelche Fragen haben: Ich werde in meinem Büro sein.

So, if you have any questions, I will be in my office.

Caption 49, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 4

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Haben Sie den Namen von irgendeiner Autovermietung?

Do you have the name of any car rental [company]?

Caption 16, Reiseplanung - Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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For the pronoun “someone” or “somebody,” it is common to see both irgendwer and irgendjemand

 

Irgendjemand kocht Kaffee In der Luftaufsichtsbaracke.

Someone is making coffee In the air traffic control hut.

Captions 29-30, Reinhard Mey - Über den Wolken

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You may also have seen irgendwas and irgendetwas. These are more or less synonyms, which are even less specific than etwas (“something”) and are usually translated as “anything.”

 

Sagen Sie mir Bescheid, wenn ich irgendetwas tun kann.

Tell me if I can do anything.

Caption 58, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern - Part 1

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Further Learning
There are a myriad of examples on Yabla German where you can see these words in use. Make sure you understand the declensions required for irgendein and irgendwelche. Irgendjemand and irgendwer also sometimes require a different ending — can you figure out when this might occur?

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