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gemeinsam vs. zusammen

Although both of the words above are most often translated as "together," and there are instances in which either one can be used, there are also some nuances to be aware of. 


The word gemeinsam will often be used when there is a mutuality, an act of cooperating or working together, or an idea of having a common goal. Another translation could be "collectively" or "conjointly." With gemeinsam, there is an indication that a group exists or has been formed.


Heute wollen wir mal wieder gemeinsam kochen.

Today we want to cook together again.

Caption 2, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte - Hessen

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Der Lehrer bespricht die Aufgaben gemeinsam mit den Schülern.

The teacher discusses the assignments with the students.

Caption 50, Deutsch mit Eylin - Pronomen

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Heute machen wir gemeinsam einen Einbürgerungstest.

Today we'll do a citizenship test together.

Caption 2, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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The word zusammen refers to the state of being together with another person, but both people might still act independently or have different goals. 


Wie verbringt ihr Silvester?

How do you spend New Year's Eve?

-Mit meiner Familie und wir essen schön zusammen.

-With my family and we have a nice supper together.

Caption 59, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Karlsruhe

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Aber ihr seid doch erst seit ein paar Wochen zusammen

But you've only been together a few weeks. 

Caption 18, Nicos Weg - A2 Folge 15: Kinder

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Wir haben zum Beispiel Karten zusammen gespielt.

We played cards together, for example.

Caption 32, Angelique Kerber - Ihre tennisfreie Zeit

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This distinction is easy to remember if you can remember that there is also the phrase etwas gemeinsam haben, which means "to have something in common." 


Wir haben ja vieles gemeinsam.

We have a lot in common.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsmann gesucht - Der Engel

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Further Learning
When you watch videos on Yabla German, note when the word gemeinsam is used rather than zusammen. You can also write some sentences about what you and your friends have in common. 

Talking about the Future in German

Like in English, there is more than one way to construct sentences about the future in German. This week, we’ll take a look at the two options for this. 

Sometimes, you may notice that what at first glance looks like the present tense in German is translated with either the present continuous, a "going to" + infinitive construction, or the "will"-future in English. When you see this, it’s best to look at the whole sentence, where you will likely find clues that tell you that the action isn't actually occurring yet and will take place momentarily or in the near or distant future. Even though there are sentences that use the present tense with future meaning in English (an example would be "They arrive this evening"), it is much less common. Have a look at the following examples: 


Und jetzt gehen wir in die Werbung. 

And now we'll go to commercial. 

Caption 22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Wenn es so weitergeht, dann können wir bald Schlitten fahren.

If it continues like this, we'll soon be able to go sledding.

Caption 28, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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Im Zoo waren wir gestern, heute gehen wir ins Schwimmbad.

We were at the zoo yesterday. Today we're going to the swimming pool.

Caption 14, Sabine erzählt Witze: Die Pinguine

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Heute lernen wir die Zahlen von eins bis tausend.

Today we're going to learn the numbers from one to a thousand.

Caption 5, Deutsch mit Eylin: Zahlen und die Grundrechenarten

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You may be thinking, "What about the verb werden?" Indeed, the construction werden + infinitive is also used to express something that has yet to happen, especially to emphasize the fact that it will happen in the future or express that it's still not 100% certain. 


Ich werde mir etwas zu essen und zu trinken aussuchen.

I'm going to choose something to eat and drink.

Caption 9, Abendessen: mit Marko

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Und keine Sorge, du wirst mich hier nie wieder sehen!

And don't worry, you'll never see me here again!

Caption 51, Heidi: Ladenverbot

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Sie wird sich Sorgen machen, wenn sie nichts von mir hört.

She will worry if she doesn't hear anything from me.

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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Auf die Suppe werden wir jetzt noch die Croutons und die angebratenen Zwiebeln draufmachen.

Now we're going to add the croutons and the fried onions to the soup.

Caption 69, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Hessen

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Oh, ihr werdet in einer halben Stunde noch besser verstehen.

Oh, you will understand even better in half an hour.

Caption 19, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Verben mit Akkusativ

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Hier werden sie Tieren begegnen, die sonst nirgendwo in der Deutschen Bucht leben.

Here they will encounter animals that live nowhere else in the German Bight.

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Further Learning
You will find many similar examples on Yabla to learn from. Be sure to also check out our past lesson on werden, and review how it's used in its meaning "to become" or as part of the passive voice.