German Lessons

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Doch, ¡la superpalabra alemana!

 

Más rápida que una frase corta, más potente que una réplica y capaz de refutar afirmaciones contundentes en una sola sílaba... doch!

 

La palabra doch es una actriz multifuncional que en español puede desempeñar muchos personajes. Veamos algunos de ellos:

 

 

1. Como simple afirmación ("realmente"), adverbio negador ("sin embargo"), o palabra de transición ("pero") y como expresión adverbial (“de hecho”):

Er hat es doch nicht getan.

No lo hizo realmente.

 

Doch wissen wir, was es bedeutet.

Pero sabemos lo que significa.

 

2. Para contradecir una afirmación negativa anterior: 

Er hat es nicht getan. -Doch.

No lo hizo. -Sí, lo hizo.

 

Sie waren nicht dort. -Doch.

No estaban allí. -Sí, estaban allí.

 

3. Para enfatizar una información:

Ich kann nicht kommen, ich habe doch Besuch.

No puedo ir, sí que tengo una visita (es importante para el hablante)

 

4. Para hacer una suggestion:

Es ist kalt. Trinken wir doch einen Kaffee!

Hace frío. Tomemos un café (en el sentido de "¿por qué no tomamos un café?")

 

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Ahora podemos chequear algunos de los usos de doch en algunos videos de nuestra videoteca en Yabla. 

 

Primero el uso más sencillo de doch traducidos como "pero":

 

Doch kann in diesem alten Universitätsgebäude tatsächlich

Pero, ¿se puede realmente en este antiguo edificio universitario

Subtítulo 14, DW-Nachrichten Der Traum vom Hyperloop

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Veamos ahora como "sin embargo":

 

doch am Ende dieses Weges wird Europa stärker aus der Krise hervorgehen,

pero al final de este camino, Europa saldrá adelante de la crisis más fuerte

Subtítulo 38, Angela Merkel Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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También como la expresión "de hecho":

 

Doch das scheint sich nun geändert zu haben.

Indeed, now this seems to have changed.

Subtítulo 7, Apple-Trojaner Wie man ihn beseitigt

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Ahora cuando se trata de reforzar o enfatizar una idea:

 

Oh... -Das ist doch 'ne schöne Geschichte, oder? -Ja.

Oh... -Es de verdad una historia bonita, ¿no? -Sí.

Subtítulo 64, Reisen Ein Tag in Freiburg - Part 1

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Para contradecir al responder a una oración negativa anterior

 

ist man wahrscheinlich nur in Frankfurt. Ich weiß nicht, ob man als Frankfurter mal nach Mainz fährt. Doch, war ich auch schon, also, zum Beispiel.

se está probablemente sólo en Frankfurt. No sé, si como ciudadano de Frankfurt se va [viaja] alguna vez a Mainz.Sí, también estuve ya, o sea, por ejemplo.

Subtítulos 19-20, Museumsuferfest Jazzmusiker Daniel Stelter

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En la gramática, palabras como doch llevan el nombre técnico de “partículas modales”, y el alemán cotidiano, a diferencia del español, tiene un montón de ellas. Representan un gran desafío para quienes traducen y estudian el alemán. Entre otras cosas, las partículas modales sirven para expresar la actitud, la intención o la emoción de la persona que habla, como diríamos actualmente, funcionan como emoticones que añadimos. 

 

Con la práctica ya verás como doch se hará una palabra familiar. Diviértete y aprende con Yabla. 

 

Das and Dies as Demonstrative Plural Pronouns

A sentence construction with das sind... followed by a plural noun is a bit confusing at first, but it's very common in spoken German. At first you might be tempted to translate it literally, but with "that are" (sic), you'll find the singular subject and the plural verb to be in disagreement. That's because the demonstrative pronouns das and dies are not inflected by the plural of the verb sein ("to be"). 

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So it's more natural for a native German to say Das sind Hans und Grete. This can sound a bit strange when you're first learning German.

 

Nein, das hier sind keine mutierten Gartenzwerge.

No, these here are no mutated garden gnomes.

Caption 1, „Mini-Marxe“ - In Trier

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Immer dran denken: Das sind alles Verben, die einen Akkusativ brauchen.

Always remember: they are all verbs that require the accusative case.

Caption 31, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Fragen

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Das sind nun die Zutaten für unseren Apfelkuchen.

These are now the ingredients for our apple cake.

Caption 3, Apfelkuchen - mit Eva

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Das sind oft nur wenige Pfennige und man bekommt das Geld natürlich wieder.

Often these are just a few pennies and you get the money back, of course.

Caption 34, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

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And here are a couple of examples using dies sind: 

 

Dies sind nur ganz wenige Ausschnitte aus dem zurückliegenden Jahr.

These are just a very few excerpts from the previous year.

Caption 8, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache

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Dies sind Hinterlassenschaften eines Krokodils.

These are the remains of a crocodile.

Caption 10, Ausgrabungen - Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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Further Learning
Look for more examples of das sind on Yabla German to see the phrase used in a real-world context.

Adjectives with un- and -los

In English, the prefixes "in-" and "un-" and the suffix "-less" are used to suggest a lack or negation when they are added to an adjective. In German, you will see un- and -los for negative adjectives (and adverbs!). Sometimes the resulting adjective will look similar to its English equivalent:  

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Allein bin ich hilflos, ein Vogel im Wind.

Alone I am helpless, a bird in the wind.

Caption 19, Nicole - Ein bisschen Frieden

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Und keinen Schreck kriegen, das fühlt sich erst mal völlig unbequem an.

And don't be scared, at first it feels completely uncomfortable.

Caption 50, Die Schmerzspezialisten - Diese Schlafposition solltest du unbedingt vermeiden!

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Also ich finde Dramen wirklich unnötig und versuche ich auch zu vermeiden.

Well, I find drama really unnecessary and I also try to avoid it.

Caption 20, 2raumwohnung - Liebe mit Musik am Laufen halten

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Drei Lehrstellen blieben in diesem Jahr unbesetzt, es gab einfach zu wenig Bewerber.

Three apprenticeship positions were left unfilled this year, there were simply too few applicants.

Caption 13, Deutsche Welle - Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

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At the same time, you will need to be careful and learn the words individually, as there are plenty of adjectives that don't translate so clearly. Sometimes, a different suffix or prefix is used in the other language, and other times the real translation is a word that looks completely different. There are also plenty of false friends lurking about!

 

Es sind so wenig Menschen arbeitslos wie seit zwanzig Jahren nicht.

There haven't been so few unemployed people in twenty years.

Caption 43, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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Fast lautlos schwebt das größte Passagierflugzeug der Welt über den Rhein-Main-Airport.

The largest passenger plane in the world hovers almost silently above the Rhein-Main-Airport.

Caption 5, Rund um den Flughafen - Der neue Airbus A-380

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Also, ich bin komplett fassungslos, weil ich hab nie gedacht [sic], dass ich ge'... gewinnen werde und, ja...

Well, I am completely stunned because I never thought that I would wi'... win and, yes...

Caption 4, Wintersport - 7. Austrian Freeski Open - Part 3

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Further Learning
Do you know what the following adjectives/adverbs mean? Take a guess, and then see if you are right using a German to English dictionary. Mackellos, zeitlos, gehörlos, hoffnungslosgnadenloserfolglos, beispiellos, drahtlos, unverschämt, unfähig, unabhängig, unabsehbar, unerträglichunfassbar, unflexibel, unverbindlich.

Fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn

The German electronic band Kraftwerk ("power plant") had a US radio hit back in the 1970s with their song "Autobahn," and as kids we used to like to sing along to it. I suspect, however, that we weren't the only ones who superimposed sound-alike English lyrics onto the German. Instead of the correct text Fahren, fahren, fahren auf der Autobahn, we sang "fun, fun, fun on the autobahn." At least we got the Autobahn part right!

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Although the verb fahren is the root word of many other German verbs, verbs based on fahren can have a significantly different meaning than "to drive." One such word is the verb verfahren, which itself has several distinct meanings: 

 

Lange klingeln lassen und dann wie gehabt verfahren.
Let it ring for longer and then proceed as usual.

 

Fast hätte ich mich noch verfahren.
Then I would've almost lost my way.

 

Following up with various translations of the verb erfahren

 

Das mussten wir wieder mit Schrecken erfahren.

We were forced once again to experience this with horror.

Caption 57, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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Wir haben nichts gefilmt. -Niemand wird davon erfahren.

We didn't film anything. -Nobody will find out about it.

Caption 30, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 4

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Ich hab' das erst mal durch die „Aktuelle Kamera“ erfahren.

learned about it for the first time through "Aktuelle Kamera.”

Caption 23, 25 Jahre Mauerfall - Bürger Lars Dietrich erinnert sich

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And then there is the verb anfahren, which can mean "to start driving" or "to approach," but also has another meaning:

 

In Kopenhagen ist es wahrscheinlicher, von einem Fahrrad angefahren zu werden, als von einem Auto.

In Copenhagen, you are more likely to get run over by a bicycle than by a car.

Captions 5-6, TEDx - Der Supermarkt der Zukunft - Part 1

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Further Learning
A search on the crowd-sourced German-English dictionary dict.cc yields over a thousand words of all grammatical types that include fahren in some way. Find some new words in that list and look up the various meanings they have on Duden, then go to Yabla German to find examples of the words used in videos. You can also look at this Dartmouth University article on German word formation and how prefixes significantly alter the meaning of the root word upon which they are based.

Freedom of Choice

If you are fortunate enough to live in a constitutional democracy, I'd like to remind those of you who are eligible voters to be sure and make your voices heard. If you are too young to vote, please encourage your friends and family to make their votes count! Here are some examples of references to democracy in Yabla videos.

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In einer Demokratie ist eine Funktion von regelmäßigen Wahlen... nach dem Willen der Wählermehrheit den Wechsel der Regierung zu ermöglichen.

In a democracy a function of regular elections is... to allow the change of the government according to the will of the majority of voters.

Captions 10-11, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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Weil es geht hier um Freiheit und Demokratie [weil es hier um Freiheit und Demokratie geht], die tagtäglich gefährdet ist [sic, sind], und wir müssen dafür kämpfen, dass Freiheit und Demokratie uns erhalten bleiben.

Because it is about freedom and democracy here, which are in danger on a daily basis, and we have to fight to ensure that freedom and democracy are preserved for us.

Captions 17-19, 25 Jahre Wiedervereinigung - Ampelmännchen wird Einheitsmännchen

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Es hat uns über ein halbes Jahrhundert Frieden, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, Menschenrechte und Demokratie gebracht.

It has brought us more than a half century of peace, freedom, justice, human rights and democracy.

Captions 15-16, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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Ein Ort lebendiger Demokratie soll es werden, ein Haus für jeden, der Politik hautnah erleben will.

It should become a place of living democracy, a building for everyone who wants to experience politics next to their skin [idiom, up close].

Captions 16-17, Berlin - Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Was ist kein Merkmal unserer Demokratie? Pressezensur.

What is not a characteristic of our democracy? Censorship of the press.

Captions 3-4, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 3

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Warum gibt es in einer Demokratie mehr als eine Partei? [Wahlen] Weil dadurch die unterschiedlichen Meinungen der Bürger und Bürgerinnen vertreten werden.

Why is there more than one party in a democracy? [Elections] Because the various opinions of the citizens [male] and citizens [female] are thus represented.

Captions 18-19, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 3

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Ja, das ist ein  krasser Einschnitt in unsere Demokratie, Marktdiktatur kann entstehen, ganz viele Sachen, die einfach sehr negativ sind für uns.

Yes, this is a crass break in our democracy, a market dictatorship can arise, quite a lot of things that are just very negative for us.

Captions 10-11, Deutsche-Welle-Nachrichten - Massenprotest gegen TTIP

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Further Learning
Watch the above videos in their entirety on Yabla German and learn more German words related to politics. And don't forget to vote in the elections tomorrow and to remind your friends and family to do so too!

Speaking German in Brazil

The German language is not nearly as widely spoken as some other languages, like Mandarin Chinese or Spanish, for instance. According to a list of languages spoken around the world on Wikipedia, German is the 11th most-spoken language on the planet, with 89 million speakers or about 1.27% of the world population. Still, many people are surprised to hear that German is an official main language in six countries. Let's start with the obvious: 

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Deutschland geht es gut, auch wenn das nächste Jahr ohne Zweifel schwieriger wird als dieses.

Germany is doing well, even if next year will undoubtedly be more difficult than this [year].

Captions 44-45, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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And in second place, Austria:

 

Am nächsten Wochenende werde ich in Österreich sein.

Next weekend I will be in Austria.

Caption 49, Konjugation - Das Verb „sein“

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Followed by Switzerland: 

 

Der Rhein entspringt in den Alpen, also in der Schweiz.

The Rhine has its source in the alps, well, in Switzerland.

Caption 12, Unterwegs mit Cettina - an der Rheinfähre

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So far, so good. Most people know that German is spoken in the three countries listed above, but have no idea where to go from there. Let's start with the small country of Liechtenstein: 

 

Schweiz [die Schweiz], Deutschland, Liechtenstein, Österreich und die Niederlande.

Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, and the Netherlands.

Caption 15, Unterwegs mit Cettina - an der Rheinfähre

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And in place number five:

 

Ein scharfer Abschluss einer überraschend interessanten Reise durchs unbekannte Luxemburg.

A spicy ending to a surprisingly interesting journey through unknown Luxembourg.

Caption 62, Reisebericht - Luxemburg

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The national language of Luxembourg is Luxembourgish, but German is also an officially recognized language. And the last country where German is, surprisingly for some, considered a nationwide, co-official language: 

 

Vor allem aus Belgien... kommen immer mehr Campingfans.

Above all from Belgium... more and more camping fans are coming.

Captions 38-40, Reisebericht - Luxemburg

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French and Flemish are the dominant languages in Belgium, but some districts near its eastern border with Germany speak predominantly German. German is also a co-official language in provinces of some other countries, including South Tyrol in Italy, the Opole and Silesian districts of Poland, and the Espírito Santo, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul districts in Brazil

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Further Learning
Read this article on Wikipedia about places where German is spoken throughout the world, and look for further examples of where these countries appear on Yabla German.

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Caption 40, 39, 38, 62
Adv-Intermediate

Doch, the German super-word!

Faster than a short sentence, more powerful than a rebuttal, and able to refute strong statements in a single syllable... DOCH

The multi-functional word doch, in some cases fulfilling the role of “but” (or “still” or “nevertheless”) in English, has the capability to do with one word what in English requires an entire phrase: to negate a preceding negative statement with an affirmative. In German, English phrases such as “On the contrary” and “Yes, I do”  can be replaced with the monosyllabic doch.

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Before you attempt to prematurely launch a speedy doch at an angry policeman or boss, however, let us first examine the simpler usages of doch translated as “but”:

 

Doch jeder weiß hier, das ist die Luft, die brennt

But everyone here knows, that's the air that's burning

Caption 45, 2raumwohnung - 36 Grad

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And “however”:

 

Doch am Ende dieses Weges wird Europa stärker aus der Krise hervorgehen.

However, at the end of this path Europe will go forth from the crisis stronger.

Caption 38, Angela Merkel Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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And “indeed”:

 

Doch das scheint sich nun geändert zu haben.

Indeed, now this seems to have changed.

Caption 7, Apple-Trojaner - Wie man ihn beseitigt

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And as an affirmative:

 

Aber wir hatten 'nen guten Start in Braunschweig und machen eigentlich ganz gut weiter, doch.

But we had a good start in Braunschweig and have actually continued quite well, really.

Caption 8, Cassandra Steen - Interview

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Here are some examples showing the full power of doch as a negation:

 

Der Eierkumpel von nebenan, der wusste nämlich nicht, was Pi ist! -Doch!

The egg pal [egg seller] next to you, he didn't know what pi is! -Yes, he did!

Captions 22-23, Welt-Pi-Tag - Unser Leben mit der Kreiszahl

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Ich weiß nicht, ob man als Frankfurter mal nach Mainz fährt. -Doch, war ich auch schon...

I don't know if you'd go to Mainz as someone from Frankfurt. -Yes, you would. I've been there too...

Captions 19-20, Museumsuferfest - Jazzmusiker Daniel Stelter

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Here we see doch first in the affirmative sense, then in the more sophisticated negation sense, all in a single caption: 

 

Männer kommen doch nicht hierher, oder? -Doch, natürlich.

Men don't really come here, or? -Yes they do, of course.

Caption 24, Waxhouse - Brasilianische Haarentfernung

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So remember the the two main uses of doch

1. As a simple affirmative (“really”), negating adverb (“however”), or transitional word (“but”):

Er hat es doch nicht getan.

He did not really do it.

Doch wissen wir, was es bedeutet.

But we know what it means.

2. As an all-powerful negation to a previous negative statement: 

Er hat es nicht getan. -Doch.

He did not do it. -Yes, he did do it.

Sie waren nicht dort. -Doch.

They were not there. -Yes, they were there.

By learning the use of the powerful doch, you will be able to negate, with a minimum of syllables, any negative statements with which you disagree!

Hast du nicht verstanden? -Doch!

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Learning suggestions:

Get some great explanations and examples of doch here and (as a PDF) here

More advanced learners will enjoy this explanation in German, from Wiktionary.

Vocabulary

Wann/Wenn/Als

In English there is only one word for “when,” but in German there are three words: wann, wenn, and als. In German, it’s very important to use the correct word, otherwise the whole meaning of the sentence can change.

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Wann is a question word used to ask “at what time” directly as a question, as Diane demonstrates:

 

Und wann läuft der?

And when does it start [run]?

Caption 40, Diane erklärt - Fragewörter

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When you ask a question about the past, you also need to use wann:

 

Wann hast du Wiener Kurti zuletzt gesehen?

When did you last see "Wiener Kurti" [a nickname]?

Caption 67, Alexander Hauff - Showreel - Part 2

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Or when you ask indirectly, as Piggeldy does to Frederick when talking about the arrival of summer:

 

Dann wollen wir mal den Frühling fragen, wann der Sommer kommt.

Then we want to ask spring when summer is coming.

Caption 17, Piggeldy und Frederick - Sommer

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Wenn is the most common form of “when,” referring to time in the following examples:

 

Wenn er hinter der Bar steht, gibt er alles, wie viele seiner Kollegen.

When he is standing behind the bar, he gives it everything, like many of his colleagues.

Caption 34, Cocktails mixen - So „shaken“ die Besten

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When planning a journey, you would use wenn as shown here:

 

OK, und wenn ich im Europapark bin, wo kann ich dann übernachten?

OK, and when I arrive at Europapark, where can I spend the night [stay]?

Caption 21, Reiseplanung - Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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Wenn doesn’t just mean “when”; in German it is also used to express “if”:

 

Wir würden uns freuen, wenn alle Menschen auf PETA de [www.peta.de] unsere Onlinepetition unterstützen.

We would be happy, if all people would support our online petition on PETA de [www.peta.de].

Caption 13, PETA-Aktion - Gegen das Wal-Massaker

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And the third word for “when” is als, which is always used to describe an event that has already happened or a single point in time. Wann or wenn just wouldn’t be correct here. Remember this and you’re halfway there!

 

Und haben Sie schon mal gedacht irgendwann, als Sie Ihre Fotos gesehen haben...

And did you ever think, at some point, when you saw your photos...

Caption 30, Bambi-Verleihung - No-Gos auf dem Roten Teppich

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It's also shown here as Angela Merkel talks about a past atrocity:

 

Als im Herbst eine rechtsextremistische Terror- und Mörderbande aufgedeckt wurde.

When in the fall a right-wing extremist terrorist [organization] was uncovered.

Caption 58, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

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So as you see, distinguishing between wann, wenn, and als is not so difficult if you remember the basics outlined above!

 

Vocabulary

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