German Lessons


Sentences with je... desto... and je... umso...

In English, we would say "the more you practice, the better you will speak German." In German, these types of parallel comparatives are called Proportionalsätze, and are constructed as follows:


Je + comparative adjective (phrase)desto or umso + comparative adjective (phrase).


Take a look at the examples below, paying special attention to the positions of the adjectives (or the words mehr or weniger) and the verbs in both clauses. 


Und je positiver das ausfällt, desto motivierender.

And the more positive that is, the more motivational.

Caption 65, Gamification - Wie Spielen den Alltag interessanter macht

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Je niedriger die Regionalklasse, desto günstiger wirkt sich das auf den Versicherungsbeitrag aus.

The lower the regional classification, the cheaper it makes the insurance payment.

Captions 10-11, Kfz-Versicherung - Was ist die Regionalklasse?

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Denn je kälter es wird, desto weniger Zeit dürfen sie draußen sein.

Because the colder it gets, the less time they're allowed to be outside.

Caption 4, Im Zoo - Tiere im Winter

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Je mehr Energie ich spare, desto weniger muss ich auch jagen. So einfach ist das.

The more energy I save, the less I have to hunt. It's that simple.

Caption 17, Für Tierfreunde - Geparden

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Ja, und je braver wir zum Hund sind, desto mehr macht er, was er will.

Yes, and the nicer we are to the dog, the more he does just what he wants.

Caption 25, Haustiere als Geschenk? - Vier Pfoten unterm Weihnachtsbaum

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Often, you will see the word umso rather than desto


Aber je mehr uns davon gelingt, umso besser.

But the more it succeeds for us, the better.

Caption 31, Angela Merkel - beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Je eleganter man wirkt, umso mehr wird man auch anerkannt... gesellschaftlich, beruflich...

The more elegant one appears, the more one is also accepted... socially, professionally...

Caption 42, Auf dem Laufsteg - Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

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Further Learning
Based on the structures you see above, make up your own sentences with je and desto umso. If you need some comparative adjectives to get you started, you can find a few helpful tables on this page. You can also visit Yabla German and look for further examples.

Better and Better

In last week's newsletter, we looked at the various ways of expressing the adverb "even" in German. We shouldn't forget that adverbs not only describe verbs, but adjectives as well. In this case, "even" is expressed with "noch":


Und mit ein bisschen Unterstützung der Teamkollegen klappt's vielleicht noch besser.

And with a little support from the team members it might work out even better.

Caption 11, Fußball - Torwandschießen

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In English we say something is "even better" or that it is getting "better and better." The latter exists in German as well and is often constructed with the verb werden, the word immer, and a comparative adjective. 


Man wird ja immer besser durch die Übung.

One does get even [always] better through practice.

Caption 26, Singer-Songwriter - Sebastian Niklaus

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As you can see, this construction can be used with most adjectives: 


Sie wird im Spiegel immer kleiner

It gets smaller and smaller in the mirror

Caption 85, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott - Musik sein

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Und deshalb wird es auch immer wichtiger werden,

And therefore it is going to become more and more important

dieses auch in Zukunft, äh, zu verstärken.

to, uh, also emphasize this in the future.

Captions 35-36, Angela Merkel - beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Sie ist, äh, durch die Erweiterung des Flughafens

It has, uh, through the expansion of the airport,

natürlich immer komplexer geworden...

become more and more complex, of course...

Captions 35-36, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister - Pläne für 2014

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However, make sure to take context of the sentence and the presence or absence of werden into account. The sentence below shows that immer can be combined with an adjective and still just mean "always."


Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.

It's always better if you travel together.

Caption 20, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Further Learning
Based on the tips above, how would you translate the phrase immer wieder? Do a search on Yabla German!

Von großer Bedeutung

If you take a German class, you likely know the verb bedeuten from the question Was bedeutet X? This can be translated as "What does X mean?" The noun die Bedeutung, often translated as "the meaning," is used in two different contexts that you will come across on Yabla German.


Die Bedeutung often can be translated as "the meaning," as in "the definition."


Versteht ihr die Bedeutung?

Do you understand the meaning?

Caption 74, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Weil oder obwohl?

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Die richtige Bedeutung werde ich euch natürlich im Anschluss verraten.

I will, of course, reveal the correct meaning to you afterwards.

Caption 16, Eva erklärt - Sprichwörter

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However, it also just as often can be translated as "the meaning," as in "the importance" or "the significance."


Von internationaler Bedeutung war und ist das Wiener Musikleben.

Viennese musical life was and is of international importance.

Caption 15, Reisebericht - Wien

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Die Biodiversität ist etwas, was in ihrer [sic, seiner] Bedeutung unglaublich unterschätzt wird.

Biodiversity is something which is being unbelievably underestimated in its importance.

Caption 14, Angela Merkel - beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Hat der Tag eine besondere Bedeutung für Sie?

Does the day have a special meaning for you?

Caption 40, Valentinstag - in Karlsruhe

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Further Learning
Look at other examples of die Bedeutung used on Yabla German. Identify the context in which they are being used  and notice how the word is structurally integrated into each sentence. 

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