German Lessons


Translations of der Gang

Not too long ago, we sent out a lesson on homographs, which are words that are spelled the same and sound the same, but have different meanings. You could also say that it's when one word has various definitions. Anyway, the noun der Gang falls into this category.


One translation of der Gang is "the course," as in a course of events, or the way something happens.


Hier geht alles seinen ruhigen Gang.

Here, everything runs its quiet course.

Caption 21, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen - Part 9

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Just as a course can also refer to part of a meal in English, Germans say der erste Gang for the first course (though probably more often die Vorspeise / "the appetizer") and der Hauptgang for the main course.


Und da kommt auch schon der nächste Gang.

And here comes the next course already.

Caption 18, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen - Part 5

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Now it's time to shift into high gear, for which we can also use der Gang, as it is used to refer to a gear that you would shift into on a bicycle or in a car. Unlike in English, it does NOT refer to a gear in a wristwatch, which is das Zahnrad (die Zahnräder as a plural noun).


Dann legen wir den ersten Gang ein.

Then we shift into first gear.

Caption 17, Fahrschule - Wie man die Kupplung bedient

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Here you can see how der Gang is used to refer to someone's gait or the act of doing a walkthrough.


Es gibt ja viele Frauen, die...

There are many women that....

ja, ihren Gang auch ein bisschen verbessern können.

yes, can also improve their walk a little bit.

Caption 15, Auf dem Laufsteg - Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

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... deshalb schwingt bei einem Gang durch das Museum auch viel Nostalgie mit.

... therefore a tour through the museum also resonates with a lot of nostalgia.

Caption 23, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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And then there's the very common translation of der Gang as a hallway or corridor:


Der rechte Gang und dann ganz hinten links.

The right hallway and then all the way in the back on the left.

Caption 18, Mein Weg nach Deutschland - Auf Arbeitssuche

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Further Learning
You'll find many instances of der Gang used on Yabla German, but why not also try to formulate your own sentences?

German Travel Vocabulary, Part III

This week, we'll conclude our lessons on travel vocabulary. So, you've decided what kind of trip and mode of travel, and you've booked your accommodation. Now it's time to consider your itinerary and activities. The types of activities you plan on your trip will also depend on your destination, of course. Cities may offer the opportunity to visit museums or famous historical sites, go to markets, or go shopping:


...aber die kleine Stadttour würde ich gerne machen.

...but I would gladly do the small city tour.

Caption 47, Rollendes Vergnügen: Segway-Touren

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Jedes Jahr kommen an die 5.000 Besucher ins Museum.

Every year nearly 5000 visitors come to the museum.

Caption 25, Flipperautomaten: Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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Das ist eine Sehenswürdigkeit in Köln: der Kölner Dom.

This is an attraction in Cologne: The Cologne Cathedral.

Caption 8, Nicos Weg: Ich war schon in Berlin

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Hier findet der Markt nämlich täglich statt.

Because here, the market takes place every day.

Caption 16, Reisen: Ein Tag in Freiburg

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Sie hat Bock auf Shopping, also in die Stadt.

She feels like shopping, so it's off to the city.

Caption 23, Cro: Bye Bye

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Being in nature, whether on the coast or in the mountains, offers its own program of sports or relaxation. In a recent newsletter, we already had the noun das Sonnenbad, but some people like to be a bit more active.


Dieses Naturreservoir ist zu Fuß in nur gut zwei Stunden zu erreichen.

This nature reserve can be reached by foot in just over two hours.

Caption 6, Die letzten Paradiese Die Schönheit der Alpen

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Ich soll wandern gehen, ich soll segeln oder surfen.

I should go hiking, I should go sailing or surfing.

Caption 15, Nicos Weg: Freizeitstress

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Aber es ist perfekt, um ans Meer zu fahren und baden zu gehen.

But it's perfect for going to the sea and going for a swim.

Caption 39, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Wetter

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Beach-Volleyball hört sich an wie ein Freizeitvergnügen, ist aber seit 1996 olympisch und ein knallharter Profisport.

Beach volleyball sounds like an enjoyable free-time activity, however, since 1996, it's an Olympic and a tough professional sport.

Captions 3-4, Olympische Spiele: Beachvolleyball

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So many options! Now all that's left is to pack. If you're flying, you will need to check whether it's possible to check a bag, or whether you'll have to make do with Handgepäck. The noun das Gepäck is a general word for luggage or baggage, or you can say der Koffer to refer to a suitcase.


Wir packen jetzt unseren Koffer.

Now we'll pack our suitcase.

Caption 9, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Reisevorbereitung

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And if you're flying, there's one more thing you'll need to do...


Um später Zeit zu sparen, checkt Olcay online ein.

To save time later, Olcay checks in online.

Caption 67, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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Gute Reise!


Further Learning

Check out our travel videos on Yabla German. Do you have an upcoming trip or vacation? Consult all three lessons, and write down five sentences about how you will get to your destination, where you will stay, and what activities you would like to do.

Eröffnen vs. Öffnen

There are a couple of different verbs that translate as "to open" in German, in particular the two above, which can cause some confusion. When do we use eröffnen and when do we use öffnen?


Consider this: The verb eröffnen can be translated not only as "to open," but also as "to institute,” "to establish," “to inaugurate,” or even "to commence" or "to disclose." You will see eröffnen used in connection with non-physical entities, or anything that could also be described using these other translations, such as a museum or a shop. The reading of a person's will in German is die Testamentseröffnung, and as you see in the third sentence below, the verb eröffnen is even used to describe congressional proceedings.


Zweitausendsechs hat das Museum eröffnet,

The museum opened in two thousand six,

inzwischen stehen hier mehr als hundertfünfzig Flipper.

meanwhile there are more than one hundred fifty pinball machines here.

Captions 6-7, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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Hallo, ja, guten Tag. Ich möchte gern ein Bankkonto eröffnen.

Hello, yes, good day. I would like to open a bank account.

Caption 12, Eva erklärt - Bankkonten

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Sobald Sie Platz genommen haben, würde ich gerne die unterbrochene Sitzung wieder eröffnen.

As soon as you've taken your seats, I would like to re-open the suspended session.

Captions 1-2, Bundesregierung - Vereidigung der Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel

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The verb öffnen, on the other hand, is used with objects, such as a door, a letter, a bottle, or an umbrella. In everyday spoken German, öffnen is often replaced with aufmachen


Wann wurde die Mauer in Berlin für alle geöffnet?

When was the wall in Berlin opened for all?

Caption 36, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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Die Polizei sagt, er solle seinen Kofferraum aufmachen.

The police [officer] says he should open his trunk.

Caption 4, Sabine erzählt Witze - Die Pinguine

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Further Learning
Browse through the many instances of eröffnen, öffnen, and aufmachen that can be found on Yabla German to get more clarity on which verb is used when. You can search not only for the infinitive, but also the conjugated verbs and the participles eröffnet, geöffnet, and aufgemacht.

Cheap, Low-Priced and Inexpensive

Adjectives and adverbs describing the cost or quality of an item in English can have positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. In German however, the words on this topic tend to be a bit more defined. In most contexts, the adjective/adverb billig has negative connotations, such as when a wife finds out her ex-Stasi* agent husband is having an illicit affair with a woman he once interrogated: 



Das ist so billig.

That is so cheap.

Caption 2, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich - Kapitel 5: Versuch der Verdrängung

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On a more positive note, you can use the adjective/adverb preiswert: 


Sie können bei uns Getränke umsonst haben

With us they can have drinks for free

und noch preiswert fliegen.

and still fly inexpensively.

Captions 32-33, Fluglinien - Niki Air

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And on an even more positive note, the adjective/adverb günstig: 


Er hat sich ein günstiges Gerät gekauft,

He bought himself an inexpensive device,

Caption 15, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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Auch aufgrund der Mietpreise, die hier sehr günstig sind.

Also because of the rent prices, which are very reasonable here.

Caption 20, Jonathan Johnson - Kreuzberg, Berlin

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Die Gerichte sind günstig.

The meals are reasonably priced.

Caption 12, Universität - Karlsruhe

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Günstig may also be translated as "affordable" or "low-priced" or even "cheap," but it's important to remember here that it's usually meant positively, and never to indicate that something was of poor quality like the word billig. Günstig also has quite a different meaning in other contexts: 


Das Wetter ist hier sehr günstig, es ist einfach schön.

The weather here is very favorable, it's simply nice.

Caption 22, Konstantin - ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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It's pretty unlikely that weather would be described as "cheap." In this sense, günstig may also be used to describe situations that are fortunate, beneficial, providential, auspicious or merely convenient. A very favorable word indeed!



Further Learning
To conclude: billig is usually "cheap" in a negative sense, preiswert is "inexpensive" in a more positive sense, and günstig is "reasonable" in the most positive sense. Günstig also has additional positive meanings. Go to Yabla German to find more examples of all three words used in a real world context and see if you can find some other German words that can also mean "cheap" or "inexpensive."


*Stasi is an acronym for der Staatssicherheitsdienst, the secret police in the former German Democratic Republic.


Thank you for reading this newsletter and keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at, and you can tweet us @yabla.

Verschwenden and Verschwinden

Every language has words that sound similar and are easy to mix up for non-native speakers, so this week we will look at the verbs verschwinden ("to disappear") and verschwenden ("to waste"). 



Wieso verschwinden sie?

Why are they disappearing?

Caption 8, Abgedreht - Heinrich und der Tassendieb

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Ich mag es nicht, Lebensmittel zu verschwenden.

I do not like to waste food.

Caption 50, Werbung gegen Realität - Kunstprojekt Fertigprodukte

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The past participles of the verbs are also important to memorize. The past participle of verschwinden is verschwunden, and the past tense uses the auxiliary verb sein rather than haben:


Heute sind sie nahezu verschwunden.

Today, they have almost disappeared.

Caption 22, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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Verschwendet, which is the past participle of verschwenden, requires the auxiliary verb haben. However, it is often also used as an adjective and there is also the noun die Verschwendung.


Diese Zeit des Suchens,

This time spent looking for things,

äh, is' so 'ne Zeit, die ich verschwendet finde.

uh, is a time that I find to be wasted.

Caption 18, Tapetenwechsel - Barbara Becker mag es aufgeräumt

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„Welch eine Verschwendung von Gelb!", sagte Piggeldy.

"What a waste of yellow!" said Piggeldy.

Caption 36, Piggeldy und Frederick - Gelb

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Further Learning


Create your own devices to make sure you don't confuse the words (For example, you can remember that verschwinden and "disappear" both have an "i" in them) or their past participles. And you can always look for additional examples on Yabla German.

German Pseudo-Anglicisms

A pseudo-anglicism describes a word borrowed from English but used in other languages in ways that native speakers may not easily understand. For a native English speaker learning German, these pseudo English words can be a common source of misunderstanding, and German has more than its fair share of them!


Most people would think of a "cutter" as someone in the clothing trade who cuts cloth, or a cutting machine or a boat, but in German der Cutter (or in this case, die Cutterin) has a different primary meaning:


Es gibt eine Regie, es gibt einen Tontechniker, es gibt eine Cutterin.

There is a director, there is a sound technician, there is an [female] editor.

Caption 32, Christian Brückner - Synchronstimme von Robert De Niro

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If somebody offers to play Flipper with you in German, they aren't talking about playing with a talking dolphin:


Früher, da stand in jeder anständigen Kneipe ein Flipper.

There used to be a pinball machine in every decent pub.

Caption 19, Flipperautomaten - Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

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If a German speaker ever asks you to find out about an Oldtimer, he doesn't mean an old man:


Sie sammelt sämtliche Informationen über Oldtimer.

It gathers all the information about classic cars.

Caption 39, Porsche 356 - Der erste Porsche

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In English news, a Shooting would be a tragic event, but in German:


Ich nehm' euch mit auf die coolsten Shootings.

I'll take you along to the coolest [photo] shoots.

Caption 10, Palina Rojinski - News for Original Girls

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The German word Shooting is short for Fotoshooting, whose meaning should be pretty obvious by now!



Further Learning
Das Happy End, das Handy, das No-Go, das Public Viewing, der Smoking — the list of German words based on misconstrued English is a long one. Take a look at German Wikipedia and see if you can find some "fake English" words used in context on Yabla German.


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