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More sagen root words

In a previous Yabla lesson, we discussed verbs using sagen ("to say") as their root word, all of which had to do with speaking. Today let's take a look at a couple of other words using sagen as their root word that are not related to speaking—though at first glance, they may appear to be!

 

Doch wenn es etwas stürmischer wird, versagen viele Modelle ihren Dienst.

But if it gets somewhat stormier, many models fail to do their job.

Caption 5, Erfindung aus Japan: Der verkehrte Regenschirm

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Es besteht die Gefahr, dass im entscheidenden Moment Ihre Nerven versagen.

The danger exists that your nerves will fail at the deciding moment.

Caption 67, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

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Es tut mir leid, dass ich versagt habe.

I am sorry that I failed.

Caption 28, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Leider haben wir da sehr, sehr oft vorm Tor versagt.

Unfortunately, we failed many, many times before the goal line.

Caption 47, Fußball: Saisonpremiere

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Perhaps versagen originally had sagen as its root word because people "failed" to carry out something they had promised. There is also a noun form of the verb for a person who fails:

 

Ich bin ein Versager, weil ich mich doch nicht traue.

I'm a failure because, after all, I don't dare.

Caption 15, Cro: Bye Bye

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The next word with the root word sagen also has negative connotations:

 

Am liebsten würd ich ihn absagen.

I'd actually prefer to cancel it.

Caption 10, Nicos Weg: Freizeitstress

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Du kannst doch nicht einfach eine Weiterbildung absagen.

You can't just cancel a training program.

Caption 59, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Ich will wissen, warum du unser Treffen abgesagt hast. -Ich habe das Treffen nicht abgesagt.

I want to know why you canceled our meeting. -I didn't cancel the meeting.

Captions 15-16, Nicos Weg: Der Umzug

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There is no German noun for somebody who cancels a lot, but there is a noun derived from absagen

 

...die radikale Absage an Putin, an die Gasimporte.

...the radical rejection of Putin, of the gas imports.

Caption 3, Umweltbewusstes Wohnen: Zu Besuch in einem Wiener Passivhaus

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The noun die Absage can be either a cancellation or a rejection, depending upon the context.

 

Further Learning
Go to German Yabla and find other examples of the verbs and nouns discussed above to get a better feel for the contexts in which they can be used. 

Delays and Cancellations

In the last weeks, many aspects of our daily lives have been uprooted as we all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even those who are not directly affected or immediately at risk are advised to lay low in order to keep themselves and others safe. Large gatherings such as conferences and concerts have been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety, and smaller events and meetings should be canceled as well.

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We at Yabla wish you and your loved ones all the best during these uncertain times. Exercising caution, remaining calm, and gathering knowledge are all important strategies. For those of you who might be dealing with practical aspects of the situation in German, we will use this week's lesson to go over the various words for "to cancel" and "to postpone." If you aren't getting news updates about the situation in Germany and would like to be, check out the links posted under "Further Learning" below. 

There are many ways to say "to cancel" in German, but here are the most common verbs used to refer to events, appointments, and plans:

 

Heute ist Dienstag.

Today is Tuesday.

Wir hatten eigentlich unseren Flug für heute zurück gebucht,

We had actually booked our flight back for today,

aber es ist immer noch alles storniert.

but everything is still canceled.

Captions 6-7, Reisen - während des Vulkanausbruchs

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Die eigentlich mittwochs stattfindende Generalaudienz

The general audience, which normally takes place Wednesdays,

fällt diesmal aus.

is canceled this time.

Captions 5-7, Papst Franziskus - Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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When it comes to events or meetings being postponed, the common verb is verschieben, which has a number of meanings related to "to shift." 

 

Es ist eine wundervolle Sache,

It is a wonderful thing,

denn du kannst die Dinge, die du heute tun solltest, nehmen

because you can take the things that you should do today

und nach morgen verschieben.

and postpone them till tomorrow.

Captions 24-26, Lektionen - Morgen

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Wir haben die Tour verschoben,

We pushed the tour back,

weil ich mit dem Album noch nicht fertig geworden bin [sic, fertig geworden war].

because I still wasn't finished with the album.

Captions 58-59, Clueso - ist endlich erwachsen

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Further Learning
You can find more examples of these verbs on Yabla German. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German.

 

Strong and Weak Verbs

Have you come across the phrase “strong verbs” or “weak verbs” in your studies and wondered what exactly is meant? 


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Strong verbs have a stem-vowel change in one or more tenses, for example in the simple past or present tense. In other words, they are irregular. The sign of a strong verb is that its participle will end with -en.

 

For example, with genießen ("to enjoy") the present tense conjugations do not have a vowel change, but the past tense does (genoss). The participle accordingly ends with
-en:

 

Genießt euren Kaffee, wie auch immer ihr den zubereitet.

Enjoy your coffee, regardless of how you make it.

Caption 39, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

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Und ich habe an einer sehr renommierten Universität ein sehr umfangreiches Marketingstudium genossen.

And I enjoyed a very comprehensive marketing program at a very renowned university.

Captions 26-27, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 2

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In the case of the verb empfehlen (“to recommend”), the present and simple past tenses both have a different stem vowel change. Once again, the participle ends with -en:

 

Neben dem Stadtrad empfiehlt sich vor allem die Innsbruck Card für die Erkundung.

In addition to the city bike, above all, the Innsbruck card can be recommended for the exploration.

Captions 26-27, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Schafft das keine Linderung, wird empfohlen, die Höhe des Computerbildschirms zu überprüfen.

[If] that doesn't bring relief, it's recommended [that you] check the height of the computer screen.

Captions 19-20, Nackenverspannungen - Entspannungstipps für den Büroalltag

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Weak verbs are more “regular” in the sense that all tenses resemble the infinitive. The participle ends with -t. Let’s look at the verb reisen

 

Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.

It's always better if you travel together.

Caption 20, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Dafür reiste das Filmteam bis nach Korsika.

For this the film team traveled as far away as Corsica.

Caption 35, Hell - Science-Fiction-Kinotipp

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Für zwei Wochen bin ich durchs Land gereist.

For two weeks, I traveled across the country.

Caption 20, Grete - eine Freiwillige in Israel

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Now, of course, because German is never easy, there are exceptions in the form of irregular weak verbs. These have a participle with -rather than -en, but also have a stem vowel change. Many common verbs, such as bringen and wissen, fall into this category. 

 

Ein Benefiz-Fußballspiel brachte sie jedoch alle zusammen auf den Rasen.

A benefit football match nevertheless brought them all together on the turf.

Caption 2, Fußball - Prominente beim Benefizspiel

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Aschenputtel wurde in den Palast gebracht.

Cinderella was brought to the palace.

Caption 105, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Aschenputtel

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Further Learning
When you learn a new verb on Yabla German, always find out immediately whether it's strong or weak and memorize this as well as its definition. Here is an extensive list of strong and irregular verbs. Look up the participles of niesen versus genießen and of the verbs winken and stinken, which are particularly tricky. 

Better and better

In last week's newsletter, we looked at the various ways of expressing the adverb "even" in German. We shouldn't forget that adverbs not only describe verbs, but adjectives as well. In this case, "even" is expressed with "noch":

 

Und mit ein bisschen Unterstützung der Teamkollegen klappt's vielleicht noch besser.

And with a little support from the team members it might work out even better.

Caption 11, Fußball - Torwandschießen - Part 2

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In English we say something is "even better" or that it is getting "better and better." The latter exists in German as well and is often constructed with the verb werden, the word immer, and a comparative adjective. 

 

Man wird ja immer besser durch die Übung.

One does get even [always] better through practice.

Caption 26, Singer-Songwriter - Sebastian Niklaus

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As you can see, this construction can be used with most adjectives: 

 

Sie wird im Spiegel immer kleiner

It gets smaller and smaller in the mirror

Caption 85, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott - Musik sein

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Und deshalb wird es auch immer wichtiger werden, dieses auch in Zukunft, äh, zu verstärken.

And therefore it is going to become more and more important to, uh, also emphasize this in the future.

Captions 35-36, Angela Merkel - beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat - Part 2

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Sie ist, äh, durch die Erweiterung des Flughafens natürlich immer komplexer geworden...

It has, uh, through the expansion of the airport, become more and more complex, of course...

Captions 35-36, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister - Pläne für 2014

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However, make sure to take context of the sentence and the presence or absence of werden into account. The sentence below shows that immer can be combined with an adjective and still just mean "always."

 

Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.

It's always better if you travel together.

Caption 20, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Further Learning
Based on the tips above, how would you translate the phrase immer wieder? Do a search on Yabla German!

German Cognate Verbs from English

cognate is a word that has its origins in a word from another language, and there are many verbs in German that have their roots in the English language. Some of these German verbs have in common the fact that they end with -ieren, are usually weak verbs, and usually do not use the prefix ge- in the past participle.

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Many English verbs that end in consonants can be turned into German verbs by adding the suffix -ieren, such as "to profit":
 

Davon profitieren wir jetzt natürlich.

We're profiting from this, of course.

Caption 2, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 3: Papa ist weg

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Sometimes you drop a "y" from an English verb and add -ieren to make it German, such as "to study": 
 

Ab dem Wintersemester möchte ich nämlich Medizin studieren.

Namely starting in the winter semester, I would like to study medicine.

Caption 23, Konstantin - ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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Many English verbs ending in -ize can simply take the German -isieren ending, such as "to organize": 
 

Vor jedem Event muss man alles organisieren.

Before every event one has to organize everything.

Caption 37, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Further Learning
Take a few English verbs such as to alarm, to dominate, to export, to exist, to modernize, to probe, to reserve, and to ventilate, and see if you can construct German verbs from them based on the ideas above, then go to German Yabla and find the words used in a real world context. 

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