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Easily Confused Words

Words that look and sound similar can be difficult when learning a new language, especially if they also have a similar meaning! Today we'll offer some clarification using examples found on Yabla German

 

1. die Macke = the defect, der Mangel = the deficiency, the lack
What makes these two especially confusing is that the adjective mangelhaft means "defective," and like die Macke can be used, for example, to describe a broken product. Note below that the noun der Mangel, which refers instead to a lack of something, is used with the preposition an.

 

...oder die Platte eine Macke oder so? Ich meine, das war ja sehr alt, das Zeug,

...or the record has a defect or something? I mean, it was indeed very old, that thing,

Caption 68, RT Radiotonteam: Erinnerungen retten

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...insofern haben die ernstlich nie ernsthaften Mangel an Nahrung

...to this extent, they never seriously have a dire lack of nourishment

Caption 27, Freilebende Papageien: Überwintern in Wiesbaden

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2. die Löcher = the holes / die Lücke = the gap
This can be a bit tricky, but die Lücke describes a gap in one's teeth or a gap between the platform and the train, whereas das Loch, and therefore die Löcher, is a hole that you dig, drill, or cut out. 

 

Dann zeichnest du zwei Löcher ein, schneidest die aus...

Then you draw two holes, cut them out...

Caption 113, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Und mit jedem Baum schließt du eine Lücke, die bereits in den Regenwald gerissen wurde.

And with every tree you're closing a hole that's already been torn in the rain forest.

Caption 52, OroVerde - Regenwald schützen: CO2, Regenwald und Klimaschutz

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3. übrig = left over, remaining / üblich = common, usual, typical
The adjectives übrig and üblich have quite different meanings, but still can be a bit difficult to keep straight. 

 

Ich hab die jetzt einfach gemischt, weil ich von den beiden übrig hatte.

I've now simply mixed them, because I had some of both left over.

Caption 18, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Oh nee, wenn der so weitermacht, haben wir bald gar nichts mehr übrig für den Flohmarkt!

Oh no, if he keeps this up, we'll soon have nothing left for the flea market at all!

Captions 83-84, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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Heute ist dies allerdings nicht mehr üblich.

Today, however, this is no longer common.

Caption 43, Jenny zeigt uns: die Uhr

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Sie liefen wie üblich und es war auch das übliche norddeutsche Wetter.

They walked as usual and it was also the usual North German weather.

Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Wanderdüne

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In case you are wondering about the word übel, we have a whole other newsletter you can look at!

 

Further Learning
You can find more examples of these words used by native speakers on German Yabla, or make your own sentence with each one.

The Preposition Seit: "Since" or "For"?

One of the most common mistakes that native German speakers make when translating the preposition seit to English is to always render it as "since," but in contexts where the English word is meant to be used to indicate the passing of a period of time, it should usually be translated as "for." The mistake seems to be common with Europeans speaking English, as I hear it regularly on the streets and in cafés and restaurants in Berlin, where so many Europeans are speaking English as a lingua franca.

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Yes, I have been going there since (correct: for) many years.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since (correct: for) at least a decade.
I have lived in Berlin since (correct: for) 16 years. 

 

It's easy to see how this mistake is made, as the German sentence uses the word seit and as it's actually correct to use "since" if a specific year is used in the same sentences: 

 

Yes, I have been going there since 2018.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since at least 2012.
I have lived in Berlin since 2006. 

 

Here are some examples of seit used on Yabla German with the correct English translations "for" and "since." Note the way that the context of each sentence changes which English word is used.

 

„Mir ist so“, maulte Piggeldy, „als tue ich das schon seit Tagen!“

"For me it's like," muttered Piggeldy, "as if I have already been doing this for days!"

Caption 11, Piggeldy und Frederick - Wanderdüne

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Seit Montag wird das Lied im Radio gespielt.

The song has been playing on the radio since Monday.

Caption 33, Liza - Ein Lied für Opel

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Sie schreibt ihr Referat, an dem sie schon seit zwei Wochen arbeitet.

She is writing her paper that she has been working on for two weeks.

Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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Seit vergangener Woche hat die Kranich-Airline nun ihren ersten gebrandeten A dreihundertachtzig in Betrieb.

Since last week, the crane airline has now had its first branded A three hundred and eighty at work.

Caption 9, Rund um den Flughafen - Der neue Airbus A-380

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Na ja, ich krieg' ja seit Monaten keine Wochenendzeitungen mehr.

Oh well, I haven't been getting a weekend newspaper for months.

Caption 8, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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OK, ihr seid jetzt seit April in Deutschland, ja?

OK, you have been in Germany now since April, right?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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Ich spiel' jetzt schon seit zehn Jahren Handball.

I've been playing handball for ten years now.

Caption 7, Jenny und Alena - Handball

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Also, die Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie gibt es seit dem Jahr zweitausend-und-acht.

Well, the sustainability strategy has been there since the year two thousand eight.

Caption 37, Rheinmain im Blick - Nachhaltigkeit

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A general rule of thumb is to translate seit as "since" if it refers to a specific date such as a year, month, or day of the week. If it is referring to a length of time, such as "many years," then seit is usually translated as "for."

 

Further Learning
Compare other contexts in which seit is used on Yabla German and study some other uses of the word in which the preposition seit can also be translated as "because."

Rightfully so!

If you ever go shopping in a German-speaking country, you will likely be surprised at the extent to which the sales personnel will leave you alone. However, there is one question you will often hear, which is Kommen Sie zurecht? The words das Recht and recht are used in a variety of contexts in German, so let’s take a look at some of these with the help of examples from Yabla videos. 

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1. You may know the noun das Recht from legal or political contexts. It means not only "the law," but also "the legal right."

 

Hier in Deutschland zum Beispiel ist es vielleicht schon selbständig [selbstverständlich], dass, äh, jedes Kind, äh, Recht auf... auf Bildung hat,

Here in Germany, for example, it may already be a given that, uh, every child, uh, has a right to... to education,

Captions 62-63, Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung - Mode gegen Armut

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2. The phrase recht haben, however, simply means "to be right" in German. 

 

Du hast recht“, hustete Frederick, „diesen Weg gehen wir nie wieder.“

"You're right," coughed Frederick, "we will never go this way again."

Caption 19, Piggeldy und Frederick - Wanderdüne

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3. The word recht is used as an adverb meaning "quite" or "rather" in order to add emphasis.

 

Aber im Vergleich zum gesamten Universum ist unser Sonnensystem noch recht jugendlich.

But in comparison to the entire universe, our Solar System is still quite youthful.

Captions 30-31, Zeit Die Vergangenheit und Zukunft von allem

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4. The phrase zu Recht means "rightly" or "deservedly."

 

Wahrscheinlich kommt sie vors Jugendgericht. -Zu Recht.

She will probably appear in juvenile court. -Deservedly.

Caption 33, Die Pfefferkörner - Cybermobbing - Part 6

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5. Finally, let's take a quick look at the verb mentioned at the top. Zurechtkommen is a separable verb that means “to get along,” “to get by,” or “to cope.” The verb zurechtfinden is similar, but is also used in terms of orientation, as in “to find one’s way.”

 

Die Ex von Fußball-Legende Lothar "Loddar" Matthäus kommt offenbar auch alleine ganz gut zurecht.

The ex of football legend Lothar "Loddar" Matthäus apparently is also getting along really well on her own.

Captions 2-3, Im Höhenflug - Ariadne (die Ex von Lothar Matthäus)

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Asylbewerber sollen sich ja ganz schnell im Alltag zurechtfinden.

Asylum seekers, indeed, need to very quickly find their way in daily life.

Caption 16, Flüchtlingskrise - Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge

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Further Learning
Look at the examples provided from Yabla German and make sure you understand the different structures in terms of spaces and capitalization (Here is some help from Duden). Practice conjugating zurechtfinden and zurechtkommen in both main and subordinate clauses. 

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