German Lessons


Delays and Cancellations

In the last weeks, many aspects of our daily lives have been uprooted as we all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even those who are not directly affected or immediately at risk are advised to lay low in order to keep themselves and others safe. Large gatherings such as conferences and concerts have been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety, and smaller events and meetings should be canceled as well.


We at Yabla wish you and your loved ones all the best during these uncertain times. Exercising caution, remaining calm, and gathering knowledge are all important strategies. For those of you who might be dealing with practical aspects of the situation in German, we will use this week's lesson to go over the various words for "to cancel" and "to postpone." If you aren't getting news updates about the situation in Germany and would like to be, check out the links posted under "Further Learning" below. 

There are many ways to say "to cancel" in German, but here are the most common verbs used to refer to events, appointments, and plans:


Heute ist Dienstag.

Today is Tuesday.

Wir hatten eigentlich unseren Flug für heute zurück gebucht,

We had actually booked our flight back for today,

aber es ist immer noch alles storniert.

but everything is still canceled.

Captions 6-7, Reisen - während des Vulkanausbruchs

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Die eigentlich mittwochs stattfindende Generalaudienz

The general audience, which normally takes place Wednesdays,

fällt diesmal aus.

is canceled this time.

Captions 5-7, Papst Franziskus - Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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When it comes to events or meetings being postponed, the common verb is verschieben, which has a number of meanings related to "to shift." 


Es ist eine wundervolle Sache,

It is a wonderful thing,

denn du kannst die Dinge, die du heute tun solltest, nehmen

because you can take the things that you should do today

und nach morgen verschieben.

and postpone them till tomorrow.

Captions 24-26, Lektionen - Morgen

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Wir haben die Tour verschoben,

We pushed the tour back,

weil ich mit dem Album noch nicht fertig geworden bin [sic, fertig geworden war].

because I still wasn't finished with the album.

Captions 58-59, Clueso - ist endlich erwachsen

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Further Learning
You can find more examples of these verbs on Yabla German. 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.


Luck in Misfortune?

The German noun das Unglück is often translated as "misfortune" or "bad luck" in English:



König Priamos erklärte, es würde Unglück bringen.

King Priam said it would bring bad luck.

Caption 51, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das Trojanische Pferd

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But das Unglück can also be an accident or a disaster: 


Es war ein großes Unglück mit dem Vulkanausbruch in Island.

It has been a big disaster with the volcano erupting in Iceland.

Caption 3, Reisen - während des Vulkanausbruchs

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There is also an idiomatic usage of das Unglück


Wir haben Glück im Unglück, dass wir jetzt ein paar Tage länger hier in Spanien sein dürfen.

We have luck in misfortune [idiom, a blessing in disguise] that we may now spend a few more days in Spain.

Caption 24, Reisen - während des Vulkanausbruchs

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The rendering as "luck in misfortune" is literal, but the idiom is akin to the English "a blessing in disguise," when good things come out of seemingly bad occurrences. 


Further Learning
But let's not end this lesson on a sour note, instead let's give it das Happy End or das Happyend (a German pseudo-anglicism for a "happy ending"). The opposite of das Unglück is das Glück, which can be translated as "happiness," "good luck," or "good fortune," among other happier words. Do a search for the word Glück on Yabla German and see how the different contexts of its usage can help you understand it better in a real world context. 

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