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Subjects, Fields, and Disciplines

We know you're learning German, but what other subjects have you studied? Even if you're not currently in school, it's always interesting to talk with people about what they studied, and which subjects are still relevant to their lives today. 



First, we can start with the natural sciences and the applied sciences, respectively called die Naturwissenschaften and die angewandten Wissenschaften in German. 


Jan hat heute seine Physikarbeit zurückbekommen.

Jan got his physics paper back today. 

Caption 2, The Simple Physics: Schrödingers Katze

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Ja, das ist Mathematik oder Mathe.

Yes, this is mathematics or math.

Caption 8, Deutsch mit Eylin: Denk schnell!

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...das heißt wir gewinnen zusätzlich noch in dem Bereich Biologie auch eine gewisse Kapazität.

...which means we also gain a certain capacity in the field of biology.

Caption 40, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski-Wildpferde

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Ich habe schnell gemerkt, dass mich Elektrotechnik sehr interessiert

I quickly noticed that electrical engineering really interests me.

Caption 10, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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In these next captions, you will find some fields that relate to the social sciences, or die Sozialwissenschaften, and the world of business. 


Ja? Das wäre so eine Geschichte, ähm, mit interdisziplinärem Input aus der Sportwissenschaft, der Sportmedizin, der Psychologie und der Soziologie.

Yes? That would be something, um, with interdisciplinary input from sport sciences, sports medicine, psychology, and sociology.

Captions 65-66, TEDx: Lebenslange Fitness

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Ich hab schon in Spanien zwei Semester Jura studiert.

I already studied law in Spain for two semesters.

Caption 7, Nicos Weg: Am Bankautomaten

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Ich studiere Wirtschaft und arbeite in einem Café.

I study economics and work in a café.

Caption 27, Magie: Die Zaubershow

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The humanities, or die Geisteswissenschaften, include history, languages, literature, philosophy, and often the arts as well. For more on the arts, you can refer to two recent lessons, one which covered the visual arts, and the other on the performing arts


Kunstgeschichte wird ja von Kunsthistorikern gemacht. Da haben Sie recht, das waren immer Männer.

Art history is written by art historians. You are right about that, those were always men.

Caption 25, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

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Interessierst du dich für Literatur?

Are you interested in literature?

Caption 9, Nicos Weg: Das macht mir Spaß!

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Further Learning
Based on what you read above and have found on Yabla German, see if you can figure out the meanings of the following: die Politikwissenschaft, die Kulturwissenschaft, die Religionswissenschaft. Some disciplines, like die Philosophiedie Geografie, die Geologie, die Anthropologie, or die Medizin, have similar names to their English counterparts and may be easy to identify. And then, of course, some subjects have simply adopted the English term, such as das Marketing and das Management.

False friends with hören

Last week, we looked at the various verbs that mean "to listen" and "to hear." But there are also several words that contain hören and have nothing to do with its meaning. The most important of these for daily conversation are likely the verbs gehören and aufhören


The verb gehören essentially means "to belong" and is used to express ownership. Note the use of the dative case in these two examples:  


Die Uhr gehört der Lehrerin.

The watch belongs to the teacher.

Caption 60, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Verben der 3. Kategorie

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Wem gehört jetzt dieses Kunstwerk?

Who owns this work of art now?

Caption 47, Das Urban-Art-Projekt - Polnischer Militärhubschrauber

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The related verb zugehören or dazugehören means "to be counted among” or “to be a component part of something," while the verb angehören can even be used more officially to talk about membership in a group. 


Die Australierin gehört zu den Hauptdarstellerinnen in dem Thriller.

The Australian is among the leading female actors in the thriller.

Caption 18, Cate Blanchett - dreht auf Fehmarn

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You may already be thinking that gehört is indeed the past participle of the verb hören! This is true, so you will have to note the context and the prefixes and prepositions as well. 


The verb aufhören is also not related to listening or hearing. It means "to cease," "to stop," or "to quit."


Kannst du bitte aufhören zu telefonieren?

Can you please stop phoning?

Caption 51, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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Hör auf!“, schrie Frederick. „Du nervst mich!“

"Stop!" cried Frederick. "You are annoying me!"

Caption 11, Piggeldy und Frederick - Karton

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Further Learning
Because these verbs are so common, you will be able to find many examples on Yabla German. If you are interested in learning more verbs related to listening and hearing, take a look at this list.

Das Telefonieren

Whether you are learning German for business purposes or with the goal of traveling to German-speaking countries, you may find at some point that you are required to talk on the phone in German. This week, we'll look at a group of phrases that is used particularly for telephone conversation.


While anrufen means "to call," the verb telefonieren means "to speak on the phone." Have you ever been in the situation in which someone calls for you or tries to start a conversation with you and doesn't realize that you are talking on the phone? In German, you would tell that person Ich telefoniere gerade!


Kannst du bitte aufhören zu telefonieren?

Can you please stop talking on the phone?

Caption 51, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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"To pick up the phone" is literally den Hörer abnehmen, but for "to answer the phone" you are more likely to hear ans Telefon gehen, or simply rangehen.


Ich gehe nicht ran, ich bin nicht da.

I'm not answering it, I'm not here.

Caption 8, Caracho - Ich bin weg

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"To hang up" is auflegen:


Er hat auch erst gesagt: „Leg auf!"

He also first said: "Hang up!"

Caption 7, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier

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Most people in Germany answer the phone by saying their last name, or the last name of their family if receiving a call on their home landline. 


Ja, Paschke. -Ich bin's.

Yes, Paschke residence. -It's me.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsfilm - Ein Sack voll Geld

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To state who is calling, use hier ist or hier spricht.


Hallo, Frau Meier. Hier ist Melanie Schmidt.

Hello, Ms. Meier. This is Melanie Schmidt.

Caption 8, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Wer spricht denn dort?

Who's speaking there then?

-Hier spricht der Herr Bär.

-This is Mr. Bear.

Captions 45-46, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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To ask to speak to a particular person, you will need to use the verb dürfen, and don't forget that mit is a dative preposition! 


Darf ich mit dir sprechen? -Ja, klar.

May I speak with you? -Yes, of course.

Caption 29, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung

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Generally, the verb erreichen ("to reach") plays a large role in talking on the phone. 


Ich erreiche sie nicht, weder über Funk noch auf Handy.

I can't reach her, neither on the radio nor on her cell phone.

Caption 51, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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If the person you wish to speak to is nicht erreichbar, you will have the choice of calling back (zurückrufen) or leaving a message (eine Nachricht hinterlassen)

Ey, ruf doch mal zurück

Hey, call back sometime!

Caption 27, Monsters of Liedermaching - Atomfreies Kraftwerk

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Further Learning
Use these phrases to write out a telephone dialogue from start to finish, making sure that you conjugate all verbs correctly and that the accusative and dative are also implemented correctly. If you need more context for the phrases, watch the corresponding videos on Yabla German.

Der Imperativ

The German imperative mood, or command form, can be very difficult or very easy depending on whom you are addressing. This week, we'll look at some various examples from Yabla German to highlight what you'll need to keep in mind. 


For a person or group of people that you would address as Sie, the command form is quite easy. You will simply say the root of the verb with -en added (in most cases this will be identical to the infinitive) followed by Sie:


Nehmen Sie bitte Platz, Frau Sonntag.

Please have a seat, Ms. Sonntag.

Caption 35, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung

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Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.

Please, be completely silent now.

Caption 60, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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For a group of people you would address as ihr, you will simply use the present tense conjugation. The subject ihr, however, is no longer included in the sentence. 


Gebt mir die schönen Sätze. Jacob beginnt.

Give me the [your] nice sentences. Jacob will begin.

Caption 20, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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The most difficult imperative sentences to form are those for people you would refer to as du, because there are several different patterns they can follow depending on the characteristics of the verb. For weak verbs, the form will be the verb's stem, although an "e" is added to the end with certain consonants. For strong verbs, the imperative will take into account any changes to the root that occur. In any case, du does not usually appear in the sentence. 


Atme ganz tief ein

Breathe in very deeply

Caption 43, Christina Stürmer - Wir leben den Moment

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Aber schau mal hier.

But look here.

Caption 23, Bubble Beatz - Supertalente vom Schrottplatz

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Vergiss es! Das wird nicht passieren.“

"Forget it! It won't happen."

Caption 74, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hans mein Igel

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Sei ruhig, Findus, ich bin ja noch gar nicht aufgestanden.

Be quiet, Findus, I indeed haven't gotten up yet at all.


Komm, bleib kurz stehen, nimm meine Hand

Come, stand still for a brief moment, take my hand

Caption 5, Michelle - Paris

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Further Learning


For more information on the du imperative, look at this website or this website. If you wish to make flashcards, use the second column of the table on this page, which shows the du imperative for a number of common strong verbs. 


Beware of False Friends!

False Friends: word pairs in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ in meaning.

Have a look at the text below about the video Balztanz - für Fortgeschrittene, which includes a few false friends in German (in bold italics) and see if you can determine their true meaning in English!


A recent study investigating male dance moves that catch a woman's eye has shown that certain dance moves executed by men are more likely to grab women's attention than others. Neither robot impersonation and windmill-like flailing of the arms nor dezente dance moves (...noch dezente Tanzbewegungen...) set female hearts racing! Men might sich auch blamieren if they dance in circles (Männer könnten sich auch blamieren, wenn sie im Kreis tanzen.)

If they, however, emphasized upper body movement, paid attention to the right action in the left shoulder, the neck and the right knee and incorporated variety into their dance patterns they might bekommen what they are after (...könnten sie bekommen, was sie suchen). This just leaves one question open: Which traits lie hidden behind those moves?

  • dezent = discreet, subtle ≠ decent
  • sich blamieren = make a fool of oneself ≠ to blame
  • bekommen = receive, get ≠ to become

Consider an example from one of our videos.


Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.

Please, be completely silent now.

Caption 60, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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For more examples of false friends, please go here. This quiz will test your grasp of some common false friends!



Learning Tip

Pick two to three clips from one category, e.g. food, which discuss the same or a similar subject. Watch them in ascending order according to their level of difficulty. While watching you will notice that some of the vocabulary is the same. This exercise will enhance your contextual understanding, as well as, reinforce familiar words, consolidate your grasp of newer words and improve your listening skills.


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