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"To Earn" and "To Deserve": The Verb Verdienen

The verb "to earn" in German is verdienen, and it is the verb we use when talking about earning money or making a living. 


Die Schwestern im Kloster

The sisters in the cloister

verdienen damit einen großen Teil ihres Lebensunterhalts.

earn a large portion of their livelihood with that.

Caption 39, Hostien für den Papst - Abtei Sankt Gertrud in Alexanderdorf

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But, like in English, you can also "earn" things other than money, such as a break or success. 


Das fühlt sich natürlich toll an,

Of course that feels great,

weil sich das auch so anfühlt, als hätte man sich das...

because it also feels as if we have...

verdient, weil man sich's erarbeitet hat.

earned it because we have worked for it.

Captions 15-16, Culcha Candela - zieht Bilanz

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Wenn man hier so viel ackert,

When you slog away here so much,

dann hat man mal eine Auszeit verdient.

you have at some point earned a break.

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier - Neben der Spur

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There are times when either the verb "to deserve" or "to earn" can be used in English, and in German verdienen is used in both cases. It is used for positive outcomes and negative circumstances alike. Note, however, that the tense may change in the translation.


Na und? Der hat auch seine Strafe verdient.

So what? He also deserves his punishment. 

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Also, ich finde, du hast den Preis echt verdient.

Well, I think you really deserved the prize.

Caption 91, Free Birds - Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

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Weil ich glaube, dass ein Typ wie Sie eine zweite Chance verdient hat.

Because I think a guy like you deserves a second chance.

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier - St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Further Learning
On Yabla German you can find the verb verdienen used to express both "to earn" and "to deserve." Pay attention to the tenses, which will not always align in English and German.

"Pulling Balance"

The noun die Bilanz sounds similar to the English word "balance" and is often translated thus, in the sense of a "financial balance" or a "balance sheet," as opposed to getting dizzy and losing your balance, which is das Gleichgewicht. You might occasionally run into the phrase Bilanz ziehen, which sounds a bit odd if you were to translate it literally as "pull balance." Its real meaning becomes clearer when we see the phrase used in some different contexts:


Fehmarn kann eine erfreuliche Bilanz ziehen: Es kamen zweitausendneun zehn Prozent mehr Gäste.

Fehmarn strikes a happy balance: ten percent more guests came in two thousand nine.

Caption 3, Die Insel Fehmarn - Gästeboom

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Zeit, Bilanz zu ziehen.

It's time to strike a balance.

Caption 9, Fortuna Düsseldorf - Kreißsaal für Fußballfans

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Seit knapp neun Jahren gibt es die Berliner Band, da ist es an der Zeit, einmal Bilanz zu ziehen.

The Berlin band has existed for almost nine years, so it's about time to strike a balance.

Captions 3-4, Culcha Candela - zieht Bilanz

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Although I had long assumed—incorrectly—that "to strike a balance" had to do with physical balancing (die Gleichgewicht), in fact the Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase as meaning "to determine the exact difference, if any, between the two sides of an account," thus using the same sense of "balance" as the German die Bilanz. As with the English phrase, the German phrase too is probably used more often in a metaphorical sense.


The noun die Bilanz without the verb ziehen is also commonly translated thus: 


Neunzehnhundertachtzehn zeigt uns eine Bilanz.

Nineteen hundred eighteen shows us a result.

Caption 38, Majolika Karlsruhe - Der Bambi-Filmpreis

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Am Ende der Veranstaltung ist die Bilanz dann auch recht eindeutig.

At the end of the event, the result then is also quite clear.

Caption 64, Manga-und-Anime-Treffen - in Mainz-Kastell

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The least figurative translation of die Bilanz, however, is simply "the balance sheet."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to find other examples of how the noun die Bilanz is used in a real-world context.