German Lessons


Expressing Suspicions and Assumptions in German

We've covered expressing opinions in German, but what about when you believe something to be true, but aren't completely sure? There are many different verbs for expressing what you assume or suspect to be the case. 

The verbs vermuten and ahnen are rather neutral ways of suspecting something, whereas the verb verdächtigen is used primarily in the context of crime or wrongdoing.


Man vermutet, hier ist irgendwas in der Lüftung vom Willy-Brandt-Haus.

One suspects there is something in the ventilation here in the Willy-Brandt-Haus.

Caption 75, heute-show: Die männliche Merkel hat Erinnerungslücken

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Von all dem ahnt man oben nichts, denn die vielfältigen Geheimnisse der Alpenseen bleiben meist verborgen.

Of all of this, you would suspect nothing from above, because the diverse secrets of the Alpine lakes stay mostly hidden.

Captions 31-32, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

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Sie haben den Chip also nur demontiert, damit wir ihn nicht finden und Sie nicht verdächtigen?

You only took the chip out so that we wouldn't find it and wouldn't suspect you?

Caption 23, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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The separable verb annehmen, and the verbs vermuten and mutmaßen can all be translated as "to assume." However, it is especially common to use the phrase davon ausgehen


Das ist wahrscheinlich sehr viel Arbeit auch, nehm ich an.

That's probably a lot of work too, I assume.

Caption 39, Der Fotograf: Sven Siegrist

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Er untersucht die genaue Herkunft von Kunstwerken im Museum Wiesbaden, von denen man annehmen könnte, dass sie während der Zeit der Nationalsozialisten unrechtmäßig und illegal ins Haus gelangten.

He is investigating the exact origin of artworks in the Wiesbaden Museum, that could be assumed to have entered the building unjustly and illegally during the Nazi era.

Captions 19-21, Restituierung von Raubkunst: aus der Nazi-Zeit

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Ich gehe mal davon aus, dass wir circa sechzig Prozent internationale Schüler haben werden.

I am assuming that we will have around sixty percent international students.

Caption 85, Strothoff International School: Interview mit dem Rektor

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Lange gingen Astronomen davon aus, dass die Asteroiden Überbleibsel einer kosmischen Katastrophe, Bruchstücke eines zerborstenen Planeten irgendwo zwischen Mars und Jupiter seien.

Astronomers long assumed that asteroids were small remnants of a cosmic catastrophe, broken pieces of a planet blown apart somewhere between Mars and Jupiter.

Captions 17-19, Unser Universum: Asteroiden - Gefahr aus dem All?

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Further Learning
It being Monday, use the examples above and others on Yabla German to construct a few sentences about your expectations for the week. What do you assume will happen the same way it always does? What do you suspect might be different?

Dating in German

Expressing dates or the passage of time in German sometimes parallels English, and sometimes doesn't. Let’s take a closer look to get our dates straight.

The standard expression “on the [day] of [month]” is similar in form to English:

Am dreizehnten April zweitausendneunundzwanzig...

On the thirteenth of April, two thousand twenty-nine...

Caption 48, Unser Universum - Asteroiden - Gefahr aus dem All?

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The expression of passing time “from the [day] of [month] to the [day] of [month]" goes like this: 


Vom achtzehnten Juni bis zum zwölften Juli...

From the eighteenth of June till the twelfth of July...

Caption 4, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

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Instead of vom, the preposition ab can be used to express the start of an event: 

Ab Juni wird der Riesenvogel dann in Linienbetrieb gehen.

From June, the giant bird will be starting route service.

Caption 49, Rund um den Flughafen - Der neue Airbus A-380

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One German date-related expression that differs from English is "Wir haben gerade": 


Wir haben gerade Oktober.

Just now, we have October.

Caption 5, Herbst - mit Eva

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Yabla has translated this very literally in order to show the language parallels, but another way of translating Wir haben gerade Oktober could be: “It is now October.”



Further Learning:

If you state the day of the week with the date, you use the form: Am Freitag, dem 21. Februar. Note the dative article dem used for the month. On the other hand, if you are writing a formal letter, you write the city name and the accusative article: Berlin, den 21. Februar. There has been a creeping tendency recently in German to express the year (in German) as in 2014, which is an Anglicism and considered poor style in formal German. Historically, German uses either just 2014 or im Jahr 2014, but not in 2014. Natives speakers of English learning German often get confused about this; luckily now you know better!


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