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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. 

Pronouncing "München"

The German name of the city of Munich is "München," which is a difficult word to pronounce correctly. The problem for many native English speakers is that "München" contains a difficult vowel and consonant combination (ü and ch) — sounds that don't really exist in the English language. And when you add a third consonant ("n") into the mix, you wind up with a potential tongue-twister. So let's focus today on learning to pronounce "München" correctly and not having it sound like something between "Munchkin" and "moonshine!"


Let's start with the umlaut vowel "ü." It's best if you click directly on the Deutsch mit Eylin video link below and listen to the "ü" sound several times before trying to imitate it. Notice that you may have to make a different shape with your mouth to get the sound right. Much like playing a musical instrument, learning to pronounce new sounds in a foreign language requires muscle memory: training your mouth to make different shapes than it is used to!


Das „Ü“ findest du ganz leicht,

You can easily make the "Ü"

wenn du ein übertriebenes „I“ sprichst.

when you say an exaggerated "I."

Caption 26, Deutsch mit Eylin - Umlaute

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Iiiüüü. Iiiüüü. Super!

Iiiüüü. Iiiüüü. Excellent!

So hört sich das „Ü“ im Deutschen an.

This is what the "Ü" sounds like in German.

Captions 29-32, Deutsch mit Eylin - Umlaute

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Next, let's look at the consonant combination "ch" in German. This consonant combination is often used in diminutive forms such as ein bisschen, or das Mädchen. The most commonly spoken word with this "ch" combination is probably when you're talking about yourself: ich. It's pretty normal for beginners to pronounce it too hard like "ick," or too soft like "ish." It's actually closer to the harder "ick" sound, but instead of clicking the "k" sound on the back of the roof of your mouth, you let it more or less extend as a kind of hissing sound from the front of the roof of your mouth.


Listen to captions 49-51 repeatedly in the following video and then practice pronouncing them yourself. The three highlighted words all have the same soft "ch" sounds: weich, durchgekocht, and riecht. Be careful that you don't mispronounce the "ch" as a hard "k" or a soft "sh"!


Ja, die Birnen sind jetzt weich

Yes, the pears are now soft,

und die Bohnen sind durchgekocht

and the beans are cooked through,

und es riecht sehr, sehr lecker.

and it smells really, really delicious.

Captions 49-51, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte - Hamburg

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Now that you have practiced saying the vowel "ü" and the consonant "ch," it's time for the challenge of pronouncing both of them together with the consonant "n" in between: München, here we come!


Ich komme dich in München besuchen.

I'm coming to visit you in Munich.

Caption 20, Deutsch mit Eylin - Das Futur bilden

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Meine älteste Schwester Anne

My eldest sister Anne

eröffnete in München den ersten Bioladen der Stadt!

opened in Munich the city's first organic food store!

Captions 39-40, Deutsch mit Eylin - Ernährungsformen

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for videos about München. Now that you have learned to pronounce it correctly, you can learn a bit more about the culture of the city. In a coming lesson, we'll be addressing the pronunciation of "Berlin," a city name that Germans themselves often mispronounce when trying to speak its standard English pronunciation!