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You're probably already familiar with using natürlich as an adverb to say "of course." It's also occasionally translated as "naturally" or "obviously," depending upon the context.


The adverb selbstverständlich is also often translated as "of course," especially at the beginning of sentences:


Selbstverständlich, aber nicht so gewaltig.

Of course, but not too terribly much.

Caption 12, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr: Linkenheim

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Selbstverständlich, however, has more finely nuanced usages than natürlich. Let's take a look at a variety of translation possibilities available in this useful adverb. Something that is selbstverständlich is also "a matter of course":


Für viele von Ihnen ist das Mitmachen ganz selbstverständlich und wichtig.

For many of you, taking part is very much a matter of course and important.

Caption 31, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache

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And may be "taken for granted":


Uns allen fehlen die Begegnungen, die sonst selbstverständlich sind.

We are all missing the interactions that are otherwise taken for granted.

Caption 10, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Selbstverständlich may also "go without saying":


Nun ja, sehen Sie, das ist doch ganz selbstverständlich.

Well, you see, that goes without saying.

Caption 66, Der kleine Nick: Nachmittag bei Adalbert

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Or simply "be a given":


Hier in Deutschland zum Beispiel ist es vielleicht schon selbstverständlich.

Here in Germany, for example, it may already be a given.

Caption 62, Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung Mode gegen Armut

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And sometimes, it's "anything but self-evident":

Diese Bilder sind alles andere als selbstverständlich.

These pictures are anything but self-evident.

Caption 1, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Note that the noun version of selbstverständlich, das Selbstverständnis, has a somewhat different meaning: "self-image":


Im Selbstverständnis der Strothoff International School Rhein-Main wird viel Wert auf eine enge Lehrer-Schüler-Beziehung und den respektvollen Umgang miteinander gelegt.

In its self-image, the Strothoff International School Rhein-Main highly values a close teacher-student relationship and a reciprocal respect.

Captions 50-51, Strothoff International School Imagefilm

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Further Learning
Do a search for selbstverständlich on Yabla German to see the adverb used in a variety of different contexts. Its usages are not always so selbstverständlich!

Adjectives with -bar

Just as a German word ending with -weise can automatically be identified as an adverb, there are a number of German adjectives ending with -bar. These adjectives contain the root of a verb, not unlike adjectives constructed with "-able" or "-ible" in English. Let's look at some of the more common ones. 


Die meisten der Pilze waren leider nicht essbar.

Most of the mushrooms were unfortunately not edible.

Caption 13, Pilze sammeln: mit Eva

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Wusstest du, dass die Hände eines Menschen genauso unverwechselbar sind wie sein Gesicht?

Did you know that the hands of a human being are just as unmistakable as their face?

Captions 2-3, Deutsch mit Eylin: Mehr Geheimnisse über Hände

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The verb essen means "to eat," and essbar translates to "edible." The verb verwechseln means "to mix up," so unverwechselbar refers to something that can't be mixed up. 


Haptisch begreifbar sind die Angaben.

The details are understandable on a haptic level.

Caption 14, Holocaust-Gedenktag: Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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The verb begreifen means "to grasp" or "to comprehend."


Das ist auch hundert Prozent ökologisch abbaubar.

That's also one hundred percent biodegradable.

Caption 26, Lerchenberg: Du bist, was du isst

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The verb abbauen has many translations along the lines of "to disintegrate" or "to dismantle." The adjective abbaubar is related to this, and whether it's preceded by biologisch or not, it generally means "biodegradable." 


Als Erster in eine Welt hineinzugehen, die eigentlich nicht berechenbar ist, die nicht in jedem Detail voraussehbar ist, das ist etwas ganz Spezielles.“

"To be the first to enter a world that is actually not predictable, that is not foreseeable in every detail... That is something very special."

Captions 40-43, extra 3 Öffentlicher Personennahverkehr (ÖPNV)

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Another similar good word to know is vorhersehbar, which also means "predictable."


Als wir mit der Planung des Minihauses angefangen haben, ging es uns eben darum, diese Geschichte des Ortes und des alten Gebäudes, äh, in dem neuen Gebäude lesbar zu lassen und erlebbar zu machen.

When we began planning the Minihaus, it was important to us to make the history of the place and the old building, um, remain visible in the new building and make it tangible for people.

Captions 31-33, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen: Architekturpreis Green Building

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Of course, lesbar can also quite literally mean "legible."


Sie wurde erst nach dem Fall der Mauer wieder begehbar.

It was first accessible again after the fall of the Wall.

Caption 14, Eva zeigt uns: die Berliner Mauer

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Here we see that the adjective begehbar doesn't relate quite as directly to begehen, which means "to commit" or "to perpetrate." 


... dass wir unser Handeln möglichst gut begründen und kommunizieren, damit es nachvollziehbar wird.

... that we justify and communicate our actions as well as possible so that they are comprehensible.

Captions 19-20, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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And this hopefully also describes this lesson!


Further Learning
You can find many more adjectives like these on Yabla German, such as bezahlbardankbar, denkbar, and machbar. Before you look these up, can you guess what they mean?

The German Education System

At this time of year, schools and universities in many countries around the world are in their first weeks of the school year. German schools actually started again several weeks ago, whereas the fall semester for colleges and universities doesn't begin until mid-October. There are many videos on Yabla German that reference the school system in Germany, which can seem a bit complex at first. The system may also differ slightly depending on which Bundesland you are in.


In Germany, der Kindergarten is attended by children generally between ages three and six, much like a pre-school in the United States. Prior to that, babies and toddlers may spend time at a nursery, which is called die Kinderkrippe. Day care centers are generally referred to as die Kita, which is short for die Kindertagesstätte.


Die sechsjährige Tochter ist im Kindergarten aktuell noch.

The six-year-old daughter is currently still in kindergarten.

Caption 33, Cettina erklärt: Auswirkungen des Coronavirus

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Ihre Kinder können nicht zur Schule oder in die Kita.

Your children can't go to school or to daycare.

Caption 7, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Children usually enter primary or elementary school (die Grundschule) at age 6 in Germany. 


Das Singen in der Grundschule ist besonders wichtig.

Singing in elementary school is particularly important.

Caption 27, Freude am Singen: mit Primacanta

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At age ten (and at age twelve in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are then three types of secondary schools students can choose from depending on aptitude and their educational goals. Students who will likely later do an apprenticeship or technical training would most likely attend die Hauptschule. Die Realschule prepares students for a variety of possible careers, whereas das Gymnasium is an academic high school that prepares them for university. The resulting degree after Gymnasium, a high school diploma called das Abitur, more or less guarantees entrance to a German university. In some cities, you may also find a comprehensive high school, more like in the United States, which is called die Gesamtschule.


Zum ersten Mal findet der Projekttag in einer Haupt- und Realschule statt.

For the first time, the project day is taking place at a trade-oriented high school and a career-oriented high school.

Caption 21, Gewaltprävention: Gewalt an Schulen

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Wart ihr in Deutschland auf einem Gymnasium oder einer Realschule?

In Germany, did you go to an academically-oriented high school or a career-oriented high school?

Captions 8-9, Nicos Weg: Bewerbung

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Ohne Abitur kann ich doch aber gar nicht studieren.

But without a high school diploma I can't go to university at all.

Caption 33, Die Klasse: Berlin '61

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There are different types of institutions for higher education in Germany. One can attend die Berufsschule, which is a vocational school where students may simultaneously do an apprenticeship, or die Fachhochschule, which is a university of applied sciences. Generally, die Hochschule is a university or college, though larger institutions will be called die Universität. You'll note below that both die Hochschule and die Universität are used to refer to the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.


Die Idee dazu hatte Professor Meyer von der Evangelischen Fachhochschule Darmstadt.

Professor Meyer had the idea for it; he's from the Evangelical Technical College of Darmstadt.

Captions 10-11, Bespielbare Stadt: Griesheim

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Ich war jetzt grad zuletzt an der Hochschule in Karlsruhe.

I was just recently at the university in Karlsruhe.

Caption 39, Anja Polzer: Interview

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Was studierst du hier an der universität in Karlsruhe?

What do you study here at the university in Karlsruhe?

Caption 8, Geoökologie: Cettina interviewt Sarah

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch this video in its entirety to see if you can follow the use of these terms in the conversation. This website also provides a good overview of the education system in Germany. 

Before, Part II: bis, bisher, ehe, früher, vorhin, & zuvor

A few weeks ago in Part I, we looked at the most common ways to say "before": vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at some more German words that are commonly translated into English as "before."


Warum hatte man bis vergangene Woche denn so wenig von ihr gehört?

Why had we heard so little from her before this past week?

Caption 65, Coronavirus - Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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The preposition bis, usually requiring the accusative case, is also often translated as "until."


Ist natürlich ein besonderer Umstand, nur mit Leuten, die man bisher nicht kannte...

Of course, it's a particular circumstance to only be with people you didn't know before...

Caption 11, Anja Polzer - Interview

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The adverb bisher is sometimes translated to English as "previously."


Ehe du einschläfst, wollte ich dir schnell bloß sagen,

Before you fall asleep, I just wanted to quickly say to you,

Caption 51, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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Not to be mixed up with the noun die Ehe ("the marriage"), the conjunction ehe is sometimes spoken in a shortened form as eh


Alles das, was früher war

All that was before

wischst du einfach weg

you just wipe away

Captions 20-21, Adel Tawil - 1000 gute Gründe

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The adverb früher (which is also seen as an adjective) is sometimes translated as "previously" or "earlier," depending upon the context.


Die hatte ich vorhin an, zum Beispiel beim Umzug

I had it on before, for example during the parade

oder als wir noch 'nen Auftritt hatten.

or when we had an appearance.

Captions 14-15, Bretten - Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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The adverb vorhin sounds similar to vorher, which we read about in Part I, but expresses something that happened in the very recent past—just seconds, minutes, or perhaps a few hours previously.


All das wird auf die Probe gestellt wie nie zuvor.

All of this is being put to the test like never before.

Caption 5, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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The adverb zuvor is often translated as "previously" or "beforehand," depending upon the context.


So voll Energie, so hoch wie noch nie

So full of energy, as high as never before

Caption 4, Beatrice Egli - Wir leben laut

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The German phrase noch nie would translate literally as "yet never," but that doesn't make any sense in English and it is usually translated as "never before."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for some of the words above that are commonly translated as "before" to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used in a real-world context.

Key Words and Phrases from Chancellor Merkel's Speech, Part 2

Last week, we offered you Part 1 of the vocabulary in Chancellor Merkel's televised speech about COVID-19, and today we're giving you the second and last part. It's pretty rare that a German chancellor appeals directly to the nation on television like this, and we think her message has many aspects that are valid for everyone during this crisis, regardless of where you live. You may not hear some of the words she uses in everyday casual speech, however, so it's important that you focus on some key words to effectively extend your German vocabulary.


Ich möchte Ihnen erklären,

I would like to explain to you

wo wir aktuell stehen in der Epidemie,

where we currently stand with the epidemic

was die Bundesregierung und die staatlichen Ebenen tun,

and what is being done at the Federal Government and state levels

um alle in unsrer Gemeinschaft zu schützen

to protect everyone in our community

und den ökonomischen, sozialen, kulturellen Schaden zu begrenzen.

and limit the economic, social, and cultural damage.

Captions 29-33, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Die Ebene has three distinct definitions in the German Duden dictionary: the first is an area of flat land, the second a geometry or physics term usually translated as "plane" in English, and the third definition is the one used here, "level." Der Schaden means "the damage". This is easy to remember as it correlates to a German adjective you are probably already familiar with: schade ("too bad"). 


Zeit, damit die Forschung ein Medikament und einen Impfstoff entwickeln kann.

Time, so that researchers can develop a drug and a vaccine.

Caption 49, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Aber noch gibt es weder eine Therapie gegen das Coronavirus

But there is still neither a treatment for the coronavirus

noch einen Impfstoff.

nor a vaccine.

Captions 43-44, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Hopefully for all of our sakes this situation will change soon, but in the meantime der Impfstoff ("the vaccine") is an important word to know.


Wir müssen das Risiko, dass der eine den anderen ansteckt, so begrenzen,

We must limit the risk of one person infecting another

wie wir nur können.

as much as we can.

Captions 22-23, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The German verb anstecken means "to infect" and is a separable verb that takes a direct object. The less we have to do with any anstecken, the better!


Die verschärften Grenzkontrollen und Einreisebeschränkungen

The tightened border controls and entry restrictions

zu einigen unserer wichtigsten Nachbarländer in Kraft.

on some of our most important neighboring countries have been in force.

Captions 42-43, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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The 6-syllable noun die Einreisebeschränkung, or the "travel entry restriction", has been used often in the last few years as part of the ongoing debate about emigration, since the level of such restrictions determines who is allowed or forbidden entry to a country.


Alle staatlichen Maßnahmen gingen ins Leere,

All government measures would come to nothing

wenn wir nicht das wirksamste Mittel

if we didn't employ the most effective means

gegen die zu schnelle Ausbreitung des Virus einsetzen würden.

of keeping the virus from spreading too quickly.

Captions 9-11, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 3

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The noun die Ausbreitung may also be translated into English variously as "propagation", "dissemination", or "distribution", depending upon the context.


Further Learning
Watch the Chancellor's speech on Yabla German and listen for these key words and phrases. The city of Berlin website has set up a news feed under Nachrichten with updates on the crisis in German and in English. Try reading an article in German, such as their recommendations of what is allowed during the Easter Holiday, then check your comprehension by going to the top right-hand corner of the page and choosing the English version of the article. Best wishes from Yabla to you and your family during these times of crisis.

Key Words and Phrases from Chancellor Merkel's Speech, Part 1

Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't often give televised addresses, however, she recently went on TV to speak about the measures being taken in Germany to slow the spread of COVID-19 and appeal to the public. 


Chancellor Merkel opens the speech by acknowledging how difficult recent weeks have been. The word die Begegnung can mean "the encounter," like when you bump into someone on the street, but here it refers to social interaction.


Uns allen fehlen die Begegnungen, die sonst selbstverständlich sind.

We are all missing the interactions that are otherwise taken for granted.

Caption 10, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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She refers to the "restrictions" and "closures" that are defining daily life at the moment. 


Es sind Einschränkungen, wie es sie in der Bundesrepublik noch nie gab.

They are restrictions such as have never been seen before in the German Federal Republic.

Caption 33, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Ich weiß, wie hart die Schließungen,

I know how severely these closures,

auf die sich Bund und Länder geeinigt haben,

which have been agreed upon by the federal and state governments,

in unser Leben und auch unser demokratisches Selbstverständnis eingreifen.

are interfering with our lives and with our democratic self-image as well.

Captions 30-32, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Chancellor Merkel describes Germany as eine Gemeinschaft, which can be translated as "a community," "an association," or "a collective." The community now has the task of practicing social distancing. The word for task, die Aufgabe, can be used to describe a household task, but also a much larger undertaking.


Und wir sind eine Gemeinschaft,

And we are a community

in der jedes Leben und jeder Mensch zählt.

in which every life and every person counts.

Captions 63-64, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Ich glaube fest daran, dass wir diese Aufgabe bestehen,

I firmly believe that we will succeed in this task

wenn wirklich alle Bürgerinnen und Bürger sie als ihre Aufgabe begreifen.

if all citizens really see it as their task.

Captions 21-22, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Chancellor Merkel uses the adjective solidarisch, as well as its opposite unsolidarisch, to describe different behaviors. 


Seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg

Since the Second World War

gab es keine Herausforderung an unser Land mehr,

there has been no challenge to our country

bei der es so sehr auf unser gemeinsames solidarisches Handeln ankommt.

that has depended so much on us acting together in solidarity.

Captions 26-28, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 1

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Hamstern, als werde es nie wieder etwas geben,

Hoarding as if nothing will ever again be available

ist sinnlos und letztlich vollkommen unsolidarisch.

is senseless and ultimately completely lacking in solidarity.

Captions 62-63, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 2

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Note the use of the word das Hamstern above. This is a nominalization of the verb hamstern, which relates to the food collection method of a certain animal and is slang for horten / "to hoard." The noun der Hamsterkauf is related to der Einkauf, but rather than "the shopping trip" it is more like the English expression "panic buying."


When talking about social distancing or keeping a distance from people you encounter when you have to leave your house, the term in German is Abstand halten. Chancellor Merkel says that even though it is difficult, this is one of our greatest weapons against the spread of the virus.


Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Caption 42, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel - Part 3

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Further Learning
Watch the Chancellor's speech on Yabla German and listen for these key words and phrases. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German.