In colloquial German, it is common to hear the word grad, which is slang for the adverb/adjective gerade and could easily be confused with the noun Grad. The adverb gerade can be translated as "just," "especially," "exactly," "just now," or even as "directly." The adjective gerade is usually used to describe "even," as in even and odd numbers, and is translated as "level," "direct," "upright," and "ingenuous" as well.
Wir sind ja grad [gerade] erst gekommen.
We indeed only just arrived.
Caption 5, Oktoberfest München - Auf der WiesnPlay Caption
However, the neuter noun das Grad is a technical term that refers to measurable "degrees" of temperature or the "degree" of a geometric angle. In non-technical usage, it is a masculine noun (der Grad) and may refer an academic degree.
Es soll bis über zwanzig Grad warm werden.
It should get warm, up to more than twenty degrees.
Caption 16, München - 180. Oktoberfest eröffnetPlay Caption
Go to Yabla German and search for examples of gerade, grad and Grad as spoken in a real world context.
When was the last time you had a swine? Do you only understand "train station?" Is your life like a pony ranch? Is your nose full of it? Is it really about the wurst? Are you pressing your thumbs for me? If any of these phrases seem odd to you, now is the time catch up on some of the most common German idioms!
„Wir haben ganz schön Schwein gehabt", sagte Frederick.
"We pretty much had a swine [idiom: were lucky]," said Frederick.Play Caption
Maybe villages used to award pigs at farmer bingo games, but whatever the reason, "having a swine" means you're in luck in German!
Also, ich versteh' nur Bahnhof.
Well, I only understand "train station" [idiom: I don't understand anything].
Caption 27, Die Pfefferkörner - GerüchteküchePlay Caption
"Bahnhof" might be one of the first words a new arrival to Germany learns, so if you only understand "Bahnhof," then you don't understand very much at all.
Ist das Leben für Sie ein Ponyhof?
Is life a pony ranch [idiom, easy, fun] for you?
Caption 3, Oktoberfest München - Auf der WiesnPlay Caption
Apparently a pony ranch is the German idea of a "bowl of cherries"...
Aber seit dem gestrigen Halbfinale hab ich die Nase voll!
But since yesterday's semi-finals, I have the nose full [idiom: am very disenchanted]!
Caption 23, Konjugation - Das Verb „mögen“Play Caption
One can only surmise that having your nose stuffed up could get pretty uncomfortable.
OK, jetzt geht's wirklich um die Wurst.
OK, now it's really about the wurst [idiom: getting serious].
Caption 35, rheinmain Szene - Miss InterkontinentalPlay Caption
Germans traditionally take their sausages very seriously, so if it's "about the wurst", everybody is paying serious attention!
Deswegen müsst ihr mir ganz doll die Daumen drücken.
For that reason you have to press the thumbs [idiom, "cross your fingers"] for me very much.
Caption 25, Summer Cheergirl Vorstellung der KandidatinnenPlay Caption
Much in the same way that (as shown in the well-known scene in the film Inglourious Basterds) that a European will indicate "three" with the thumb and first two fingers, and an American with only the first three fingers, so too in Germany the thumbs are pressed rather than fingers crossed for luck.
You may have come across the phrase “false friends” or “false cognates” (as they are more accurately known) during your language training. So what does it mean? It has nothing to do with disloyal friends, although linguistic false friends can also be treacherous. They are words that sound similar or are spelled identically but have different meanings in their respective language.
Here are some common German phrases with their English “false friend” below them.
Be careful what aktuell actually means:
German: aktuell – topical, current, up-to-date
English: actually – eigentlich, tatsächlich, wirklich
Denn eigentlich stammt es aus dem aktuellen Album der Rocksängerin.
Because it actually comes from the rock singer's current album.
Caption 9, Liza - Ein Lied für OpelPlay Caption
When Germans talk about the imminent future, you may think they're talking about someone's lack of hair:
German: bald – soon
English: bald – kahl
...die olympischen Winterspiele die bald in Vancouver stattfinden werden.
...the Winter Olympic Games that will soon take place in Vancouver.
Captions 2-3, Deutsche Sporthilfe - Ball des Sports - Part 2Play Caption
Watch what you give someone on their birthday!
German: das Gift – poison, venom
English: gift – das Geschenk
Sein Gift ist vergleichbar mit einem Bienenstich.
His poison is comparable to a bee sting.Play Caption
If you want to make a marriage proposal to a German, pay attention to how you ask...
German: sich engagieren – to be committed, get involved
English: to get engaged – sich verloben
Find' ich das immer gut, sich für solche Sachen zu engagieren.
I think [it's] always good to get involved in such things.
Caption 8, Luxuslärm - rockt gegen's SaufenPlay Caption
The winter is dragging on and spring seems a long way off, but we all know it will come eventually. However, confusing “eventually” with the German eventuell makes spring seem far less likely:
German: eventuell – possibly, perhaps
English: eventually – schließlich, endlich, irgendwann
Eventuell habe ich in der einen oder anderen Situation emotional überreagiert.
Possibly I overreacted emotionally in one or another situation.
Caption 28, Filmtrailer - KeinohrhasenPlay Caption
You may describe a horse as being brav, but this has nothing to do with being brave!
German: brav – well, well-behaved, dutifully
English: brave – mutig, tapfer
Die schönste Wiesnerfahrung? Dass immer die Pferdel [Pferdchen] brav gingen.
The best Oktoberfest experience? That the horses always went dutifully.
Caption 15, Oktoberfest München - Auf der Wiesn - Part 2Play Caption
As you can see, using “false friends” in the wrong context can be embarrassing, but most of the time it is just a funny mistake. However, you should try to learn these deceitful words to avoid any faux pas!