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Easily Confused Words

Words that look and sound similar can be difficult when learning a new language, especially if they also have a similar meaning! Today we'll offer some clarification using examples found on Yabla German

 

1. die Macke = the defect, der Mangel = the deficiency, the lack
What makes these two especially confusing is that the adjective mangelhaft means "defective," and like die Macke can be used, for example, to describe a broken product. Note below that the noun der Mangel, which refers instead to a lack of something, is used with the preposition an.

 

...oder die Platte eine Macke oder so? Ich meine, das war ja sehr alt, das Zeug,

...or the record has a defect or something? I mean, it was indeed very old, that thing,

Caption 68, RT Radiotonteam: Erinnerungen retten

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...insofern haben die ernstlich nie ernsthaften Mangel an Nahrung

...to this extent, they never seriously have a dire lack of nourishment

Caption 27, Freilebende Papageien: Überwintern in Wiesbaden

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2. die Löcher = the holes / die Lücke = the gap
This can be a bit tricky, but die Lücke describes a gap in one's teeth or a gap between the platform and the train, whereas das Loch, and therefore die Löcher, is a hole that you dig, drill, or cut out. 

 

Dann zeichnest du zwei Löcher ein, schneidest die aus...

Then you draw two holes, cut them out...

Caption 113, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Und mit jedem Baum schließt du eine Lücke, die bereits in den Regenwald gerissen wurde.

And with every tree you're closing a hole that's already been torn in the rain forest.

Caption 52, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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3. übrig = left over, remaining / üblich = common, usual, typical
The adjectives übrig and üblich have quite different meanings, but still can be a bit difficult to keep straight. 

 

Ich hab die jetzt einfach gemischt, weil ich von den beiden übrig hatte.

I've now simply mixed them, because I had some of both left over.

Caption 18, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Oh nee, wenn der so weitermacht, haben wir bald gar nichts mehr übrig für den Flohmarkt!

Oh no, if he keeps this up, we'll soon have nothing left for the flea market at all!

Captions 83-84, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Heute ist dies allerdings nicht mehr üblich.

Today, however, this is no longer common.

Caption 43, Jenny zeigt uns: die Uhr

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Sie liefen wie üblich und es war auch das übliche norddeutsche Wetter.

They walked as usual and it was also the usual North German weather.

Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Wanderdüne

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In case you are wondering about the word übel, we have a whole other newsletter you can look at!

 

Further Learning
You can find more examples of these words used by native speakers on German Yabla, or make your own sentence with each one.

Talking about the Five Senses in German

 

Ich würde mich hauptsächlich erst mal auf meine Sensorik, also auf mein Auge, auf meinen Sehsinn, auf meinen Tastsinn und auch wieder auf meinen Geruchssinn verlassen.

I would rely mainly first on my senses, that is, on my eye, on my sense of sight, on my sense of touch and, also again, rely on my sense of smell.

Captions 6-9, Kochhaus Berlin: Frische Zutaten erkennen

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In the Yabla example above, a chef discusses how he uses his senses when picking out produce. He first mentions sight—der Sehsinn—which relates to the verb sehen and was covered in a previous newsletter.

 

Das kann man besonders gut hier sehen.

You can see that particularly well here.

Caption 22, Eva erklärt: Farben

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Der Tastsinn refers to touch. Here, there are three verbs you will regularly see: not only tasten, but also berühren and anfassen. Generally, anfassen refers to intentionally touching something in order to get a better sense of it, or possibly to hold onto it. The verb berühren could refer to barely touching something, or touching it carefully or accidentally. It can also refer to being emotionally moved or "touched" by something. The verb tasten often refers to touching with the intent of finding something, like when you feel around for something in a bag or purse. 

 

Sie können's auch mal anfassen. -Das sieht so echt aus, so... -Ja.

You can also touch it. -It looks so real, so... -Yes.

Caption 50, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag: die Majolika-Manufaktur

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Papa Wutz kann seine Zehen wirklich nicht berühren.

Papa Wutz really can't touch his toes.

Caption 35, Peppa Wutz: Sport

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The chef in our first example lastly mentions der Geruchssinn, the sense of smell. The related verb here is riechen, which can be used to refer to both the act of smelling something or the state of smelling (like something). 

 

Ich rieche daran, ob die wirklich auch nach einer Erdbeere riecht.

I smell it to see if it also really smells like a strawberry.

Caption 23, Kochhaus Berlin: Frische Zutaten erkennen

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Boah, das riecht schon sehr gut. 

Wow, that smells very good indeed. 

Caption 50, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Baden-Württemberg

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Der Geschmackssinn is not mentioned, as you generally don't try food before buying it unless invited to do so. You will often see not only schmecken, which is used to describe how something tastes, but also kosten, which refers to the act of trying food.

 

Das heißt, die Sachen schmecken ganz normal.

This means that the things taste quite normal.

Caption 37, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Aber die meisten Leute kommen her, um das leckere Essen zu kosten.

But most people come here to taste the delicious food.

Caption 11, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

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The chef also doesn't mention das Gehör—the sense of hearing. Luckily, we have a lesson all about listening that you can peruse, as well as one on unrelated verbs that contain the root hören

 

Hört man das? -Ja, ja, man hört es. 

Can you hear this? -Yes, yes, we can hear it.

Caption 41, Böhmermann: Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um?

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Further Learning
Practice describing what you can hear, see, smell, touch, and taste, and go to Yabla German to find other examples of the relevant verbs and nouns. 

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