German Lessons

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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. 

 

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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!

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