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Shapes and Patterns

When it comes to learning the basic shapes in German, Eva's got you covered with a video about exactly that:


Als Erstes haben wir hier einen Kreis.

First, we have a circle here.

Caption 13, Eva zeigt uns: Formen

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However, we often talk about shapes with a bit more nuance. For example, we might talk about spots and dots, or ovals rather than circles:


Alle Möbel mit roten Punkten gehören deiner Mama und die mit grünen gehören mir.

All of the pieces of furniture with red dots belong to your mother and those with green belong to me.

Caption 21, Mama arbeitet wieder Kapitel 4: Die Trennung

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Die Trainerschüler müssen die Hühner zum Beispiel dazu bringen, im Oval um zwei Kegel zu laufen.

The training students, for example, must get [their] chickens to walk around two cones in an oval.

Captions 24-25, Tierakademie Scheuerhof: Tiertrainer im Hühner-Seminar

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When we look at three-dimensional forms, there's a whole other set of vocabulary to learn. The word for a cube is actually der Kubus, but people describing objects will often use der Würfel, which is also the word you use for dice. 


Eine Masse von eineinhalb Sonnen, gepresst in eine Kugel mit gerade mal zehn Meilen Durchmesser.

A mass of one and a half suns pressed into a sphere with only a ten-mile diameter.

Captions 20-21, Unser Universum Sternengeburt: Das Leben nach dem stellaren Tod

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Wir haben hier fünfhundert Gramm Mehl, einen ganzen Würfel Hefe.

We have here five hundred grams of flour here, a whole cube of yeast.

Captions 8-9, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bayern

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Even though most patterns are repetitions of certain shapes, most of the words don't relate to the original forms. This makes sense, because even if a stripe is technically a long, thin rectangle, we don't perceive it as such. 


Oh, das Muster und... und diese Farben! Es ist wirklich überwältigend, wirklich!

Oh, the pattern and... and these colors! It is really overwhelming, really!

Caption 41, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Des Kaisers neue Kleider

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Die Flagge hat oben und unten einen roten Streifen.

The flag has a red stripe on the top and bottom.

Caption 48, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Ein gestreiftes Hemd und eine warme Hose und ganz schicke Schuhe.

A striped shirt and warm trousers and very stylish shoes.

Caption 17, Nicos Weg: Schick!

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In case you are like Nico and also like wearing patterned clothing, you might like to know that the word for "polka-dotted" is gepunktet, and kariert means "plaid," "checked," or "checkered." 


Further Learning
After you watch Eva's video on Yabla German in its entirety, look up the German words for some 3-D forms such as the pyramid, cone, cylinder, and prism. 

Nuances of sprechen: Part II

In a recent lesson, we looked at the verbs ansprechen, aussprechenvorsprechen, nachsprechen, besprechen, and versprechen. However, there are many verbs related to speaking that do not contain the verb sprechen. 


The verb sich unterhalten refers in particular to the art of conversation. Here it stands alone, but you will often see the construction sich mit jemanden unterhalten


So kannst du auf natürliche Weise lernen, dich auf Deutsch zu unterhalten.

This is how you can naturally learn to converse in German.

Captions 10-11, Deutsch mit Eylin: Fragewörter

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The verb reden is interesting because it can be used for both serious and less serious conversations. In terms of prepositions, you'll often see über etwas reden ("to discuss something") or mit jemandem reden ("to talk with someone"), and if someone tells you Wir müssen reden ("We need to talk"), it could be very serious indeed.


Als Nächstes möchte ich über die Geschichte Berlins reden.

Next, I'd like to talk about the history of Berlin.

Caption 16, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Hast du nicht gesehen, wie sie die ganze Nacht mit dem Typen geredet hat?

Did you not see how she was talking to that guy all night?

Caption 22, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

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The verb diskutieren is less ambiguous. Beware: it is stronger than "to discuss" in English and can even be translated as "to debate," "to dispute," or "to argue."


Am siebenundzwanzigsten Juli wollen sie das Thema im Gemeinderat diskutieren.

On the twenty-seventh of July they want to discuss the topic in the city council.

Caption 38, Online-Flashmob: "Bud-Spencer-Tunnel" in Gmünd

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The verb quatschen is quite informal, and refers to chatting or conversation that isn't restrained by time or formalities. You might remember that the noun der Quatsch means nonsense, but the use of quatschen doesn't necessarily mean that the topic is nonsense, just maybe not so serious or important. The verb plaudern has a similarly informal meaning, while the verb labern does indicate a lack of sense or importance. 


Ich dachte, wir quatschen mal eine Runde.

I thought we could chat for a bit.

Caption 2, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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Was quatschen die da hinten?

What are they chattering about back there?

Caption 19, Nena: Besser geht's nicht

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Und auch ein bisschen, äh, die Spieler noch mal zu treffen, mit denen so ein bisschen zu plaudern...

And also to meet the players a little bit again, to chat with them a little bit...

Captions 44-45, Mercedes Benz: Michael Schumacher und Nico Rosberg bei der Nationalmannschaft

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Der laberte irgendwas von Blüten.

He was babbling something about blossoms.

Caption 62, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Further Learning
You'll find many examples with these verbs on Yabla German. Make sure you review their conjugations as well. 

Zwischen den Jahren

In Germany, the time between Christmas and New Year's is often referred to as zwischen den Jahren ("between the years"), which is a dative construction. As you may know, the word zwischen is a two-way preposition, which means it may be followed by either the accusative or dative case. Here you can see how the article (and adjective!) changes depending on whether something is in the process of being put or going between, or is simply stationed between:


Ganze sechs Wochen hat man an dem Rezept getüftelt. Nach amerikanischem Vorbild kommt hier nicht einfach nur Fleisch zwischen die Brötchen.

An entire six weeks were spent tinkering with the recipe. According to the American model, it's not just meat that gets put between the buns.

Captions 7-8, Berlin: Die beste Auswahl an Hamburgern

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Erst neunzehnhundertneunundachtzig wurde die Mauer zwischen den beiden Regionen wieder geöffnet.

It was not until nineteen eighty-nine that the wall between the two regions was reopened.

Captions 19-20, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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In addition to the preposition zwischen, you may have also seen the words dazwischen and inzwischen. These words are both adverbs. The word dazwischen is often translated as "in between," though there may be instances in which other phrasings are more applicable in English. 


Also, entweder gewinnen wir oder wir fahren alle anderen kaputt. Also, dazwischen gibt's nichts.

Well, either we win or we run everyone else off the road. So there is nothing in between.

Caption 6, VW-Käfer-Cup: auf dem Hockenheimring

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Und dazwischen ist eine kleine Biene hin und her geflogen.

And in between them, a little bee flew back and forth.

Caption 22, Piggeldy und Frederick Der Apfel

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Und dazwischen ist immer wieder Zeit für eine kleine Rast und einen kleinen Ratsch.

And along the way, there's always time for a little rest and a bit of conversation.

Caption 33, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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The word inzwischen has quite a different meaning, as it refers to time. It means "meanwhile," "in the meantime," or "by now."


Hier in Ulrichstein am Vogelsberg stehen inzwischen sechsundvierzig Windräder.

Here in Ulrichstein, there are meanwhile forty-six windmills.

Caption 4, Energiewende in Hessen: Windräder und Solarparks

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Claudia Schiffer ist inzwischen dreifache Mutter.

Claudia Schiffer is in the meantime mother of three.

Caption 28, Claudia Schiffer: Nach der Babypause

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Und wir haben inzwischen viele Begegnungen gehabt.

And we have had many meetings in the meantime.

Caption 6, Angela Merkel :Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama

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Further Learning
You can find many examples with these words on Yabla German. Meanwhile, enjoy your time "between the years," and stay tuned for our first lesson of 2023!

Last Week's Election

As you may know, the parliamentary election in Germany took place on Sunday, September 26th. On a national level, the SPD (Social Democratic Party) took the lead this time, whereas the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) suffered losses. The significance of this election in particular lies in the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided not to seek re-election, meaning that the SPD now will appoint the next Chancellor rather than Merkel's CDU party. 




The word for "the election" in German is die Wahl, which can also simply mean "the choice." As you can see below, die Stimme means not only "the voice" but also "the vote" in German. 


Sie zählen die Stimmen nach dem Ende der Wahl.

They count the votes after the end of the election.

Caption 4, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The related verb for die Wahl is wählen


Parlamentsmitglieder, die von den Bürgern und Bürgerinnen gewählt werden, nennt man Abgeordnete.

Members of parliament who are elected by citizens are called representatives.

Captions 38-39, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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When it is a matter not of an election, but a vote, you will likely see the noun die Abstimmung and the verb abstimmen


Unmittelbar vor der Abstimmung des Bundestages über längere Atom-Laufzeiten haben Aktivisten am Donnerstag Morgen das Dach der CDU-Zentrale in Berlin besetzt.

Just before the Bundestag's vote on longer running times of nuclear power plants on Thursday morning, activists occupied the roof of the CDU headquarters in Berlin.

Captions 2-4, Atomkraft: Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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However, at this time, we are talking about electing political parties. It's worth remembering that die Partei refers only to a political party, or for example, parties in a negotiation. It does not refer to a birthday party or retirement party. That would be die Feier or die Party.  There is actually a satirical but genuinely leftist-oriented political party whose official name is die Partei


Welche Parteien wurden in Deutschland zweitausendsieben zur Partei „Die Linke“?

Which parties became the party "Die Linke" in Germany in two thousand seven?

Caption 25, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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You can find other relevant vocabulary in a number of videos on Yabla German:


Im Jahr neunzehnhundertneunundneunzig nahmen die Regierung und das Parlament ihre Arbeit in Berlin wieder auf.

In nineteen ninety-nine, the government and parliament resumed their work in Berlin.

Captions 21-22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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In Deutschland gehören der Bundestag und der Bundesrat zur... Legislative.

In Germany, the Bundestag and the federal council belong to the... legislative.

Captions 15-16, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Wenn Abgeordnete im Deutschen Bundestag ihre Fraktion wechseln, kann die Regierung ihre Mehrheit verlieren.

If representatives in the German Bundestag change their parliamentary group, the government can lose its majority.

Captions 31-32, Bundesrepublik Deutschland Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
You can listen to Deutsche Welle's news report from the election or take a look at how the election played out in Berlin. If you are up for a challenge, try out the Wahl-o-mat, which determines the political party that your views are most aligned with. For thorough information on German politics and history, have a look at our series with questions and answers from the actual German citizenship test. 

Fractions and Decimals

You know how to count in German, and perhaps you've read our lesson on large numbers. But what about fractions and numbers with decimals? Let's first have a look at some fractions, called die Brüche or die Bruchzahlen in German. If you know how to tell time in German, some of these will be familiar.


Ein Pfund, das sind fünfhundert Gramm, also ein halbes Kilo.

A pound, that's five hundred grams, so half a kilo.

Caption 24, Nicos Weg: Mengen und Preise

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Etwa auf der Hälfte des deutschen Autobahnnetzes gilt kein allgemeines Tempolimit.

There is no general speed limit on about half of the German autobahn network.

Caption 3, AutoMotoTV: Schnell fahren auf der Autobahn

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In the two examples above, we can see that halb means "half" in German, and die Hälfte is correct in certain contexts as well. 


Außerdem können sich laut einer Umfrage über zwei Drittel der Deutschen, also die Mehrheit, vorstellen, durch ehrenamtliche Hilfe Flüchtlinge zu unterstützen.

In addition, according to a survey, over two-thirds of all Germans, that is, the majority, could imagine supporting refugees through voluntary aid.

Captions 28-29, Flüchtlingskrise: 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Drei Viertel aller großen Metropolen der Erde mit Einwohnerzahlen über zehn Millionen befinden sich in Küstengebieten.

Three-quarters of all major metropolises on Earth with populations of over ten million are located in coastal areas.

Captions 63-64, Evolution: Die Küsten

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After ein Drittel ("one-third") and ein Viertel ("one-fourth"), there is ein Fünftel, ein Sechstel, ein Siebtel, ein Achtel, ein Neuntel, ein Zehntel... continuing up to ein Hunderstel and ein Tausendstel.


In anderthalb Jahren macht er seine Prüfung und ist dann Elektroniker.

In one and a half years, he'll take his test and then he'll be an electronics technician.

Caption 61, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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Hier gilt ein Drohnenflugverbot im Umkreis von eineinhalb Kilometern zum Flughafen.

A drone flight ban within a radius of one and a half kilometers from the airport applies here.

Caption 18, Rhein-Main-TV Strengere Regeln: Lohnt sich eine Drohne überhaupt noch?

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As you can see, there are two ways to express "one and a half" in German. Numbers containing "one half" are always written as a single word: dreieinhalb is "three and a half." Now consider the following numbers and note what is capitalized: ein drei Viertel (one and three-quarters), zwei vier Fünftel (two and four-fifths), fünf sieben Achtel (five and seven-eighths). 

When it comes to numbers with decimals (die Dezimalbrüche), you may have noticed that Germans use a comma instead of a decimal point. So in English, we say "one point five" (written 1.5), while in German you would say eins Komma zwei (written 1,5). However, there are instances in both languages where the comma or decimal point won't be expressed verbally. Take a look:


In der Stadt leben rund drei Komma sieben Millionen Menschen.

Around three point seven million people live in the city.

Caption 11, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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Achtunddreißig Komma sechs, das ist leichtes Fieber.

Thirty-eight point six, that's a slight fever.

Caption 25, Mein Weg nach Deutschland: Beim Arzt

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Er ist circa eins fünfzig groß, blonde, halblange Haare.

He's about one fifty tall [one hundred and fifty centimeters], blonde, medium-length hair.

Caption 53, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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Further Learning
You can watch this video on Yabla German for a good overview. When you see a statistic that includes a decimal point in the news or elsewhere, see if you can quickly translate the number mentioned into German!