German Lessons


German Verbs Connected with Lassen

There are at least ten German verbs that have unique meanings when connected with lassen ("to let"). Not so very long ago, they were literally connected with lassen in that they used to be written together as a single verb. However, in the last decades, the arbiter of German grammar, Duden, proclaimed that it is preferable grammatically to write the root verbs and lassen as separate words. Oddly enough, rather than subordinating the version with lassen to the main listing for the verb in question, Duden still has them listed in a dictionary single entry -- for two verbs. Thus if you search on Duden for the old spelling of fallenlassen, the first match will be fallen lassen.


Here are some examples of verbs connected to lassen which in the past would have been written as a single verb, but are now usually separated by a space:


Und als sich der Mond schließlich zeigte,

And when the moon finally revealed itself,

glänzten die weißen Kieselsteine, die Hänsel hatte fallen lassen,

the white pebbles that Hansel had let fall gleamed

wie Silber.

like silver.

Captions 31-32, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hänsel und Gretel

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Ich bin locker. Wenn ich will, kann ich mich total gehen lassen.

I am relaxed. If I want to I can totally let myself go.

Caption 26, Filmtrailer - Keinohrhasen

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Ansonsten gilt im Zoo weiterhin die Frühlingsdevise:

Apart from that, in the zoo the spring slogan still applies:

einfach mal hängen lassen!

at times simply just let it all hang out!

Caption 48, Rheinmain im Blick - Frühling im Zoo

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Diese Knochen macht dem Greifvogel kein Futterrivale streitig,

No rival will fight the bird of prey for these bones,

deshalb kann er sie ruhig liegen lassen.

so it can leave them well alone.

Captions 46-47, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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Den Teig lassen wir jetzt fünfundvierzig Minuten ruhen.

We'll let the dough sit now for forty-five minutes.

Caption 33, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte - Bayern

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Und somit hab ich dann alles, was mit Studium und Musik zu tun hatte, erst mal sein lassen.

And with that, I then let everything go that had to do with university studies and music.

Caption 44, Powerfrau - Lina bleibt auf dem Boden

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Sie haben meiner Tochter schöne Augen gemacht und sie dann sitzen lassen.

You made eyes at my daughter and then abandoned her.

Caption 20, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist - Loslassen

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Man sollte ihn besser für alle Zeiten stehen lassen.

You'd be better off to leave it there for all time.

Caption 35, Piggeldy und Frederick - Regenbogen

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As an added note, there are many other verbs ending with lassen that are still written as one word. Most of them have adjectives or adverbs as prefixes. Go to this link at and see many examples.


Further Learning
See if you can guess the meanings of bleiben lassen and fahren lassen and then check a German dictionary to see if you got them right. You can also look for more examples of the above verbs related to lassen on Yabla German.

German Preposition Cases, Part I

This week we're going to go through the cases used with German prepositions. If you are an advanced German speaker, this will be nothing new for you, but will hopefully be helpful for beginners as a learning tool and for intermediate German speakers as a refresher. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that come after prepositions take either the accusative, dative, or genitive case, but to make things slightly confusing, some prepositions require either the accusative or dative case, depending upon the context. Let's take a look in Part I today at the prepositions that require only the accusative case for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 


For a basic start, let's look at the accusative case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the accusative case: 


der => den
die => die
das => das


And for the indefinite article

ein (masculine) => einen
eine => eine
ein (neuter) => ein


And for the personal pronouns "you," "him," "her," and "they":


du => dich
Sie (formal "you") 
=> Sie
=> ihn
=> sie
uns => uns


Remember too, that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition.


The common German prepositions that require the accusative case of nouns and pronouns are für, um, durch, gegen, entlang, bis, ohne, and wider. The BBC website Bitesize cleverly suggests a good way of remembering them: in that order, the first letter of each word combined makes the phrase "fudge bow." If you can remember that phrase, with very few overlaps into dative and genitive prepositions, you'll be able to know if the preposition you are about to use requires the accusative case!


Here are some examples from Yabla German


Ich wollte dir gerne ein paar Sachen für den Umzug mitbringen.

I wanted to bring you a few things for the move.

Caption 5, Nicos Weg - Freizeitstress

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Wenn es um mich geht, ist es reflexiv.

If it's about me, it is reflexive.

Caption 54, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Akkusativ - Action

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Der schwebt also durch den Raum.

So it floats through the space.

Caption 36, Das 1. Newtonsche Gesetz - erklärt am Beispiel des Dodomobils

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Ich habe echt nichts gegen dich gesagt.

I've really said nothing against you.

Caption 7, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Streute sie die Krümel von ihrem einzigen Stück Brot den Weg entlang.

She scattered the crumbs from her single piece of bread along the way.

Caption 48, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hänsel und Gretel

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Note that the preposition entlang usually appears after the noun when used in the dative case. There is also a genitive use of entlang, but more on that in a later lesson!


Das war's von Rhein-Main-Szene. Bis nächste Woche. Ciao, ciao.

That's it from Rhein-Main-Szene. Till next week. Ciao, ciao [Italian: Bye, bye].

Caption 64, Frida Gold - Interview - Part 2

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Don't forget that bis ("till" or "until") is more commonly seen as a conjunction than as a preposition. 


Wie sollte sie es nur ohne ihn aushalten?

Just how was she supposed to make it without him?

Caption 70, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Wer wider besseres Wissen vortäuscht...

Whoever pretends despite better knowledge...

Caption 41, Großstadtrevier - Schatten der Vergangenheit

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take only the accusative case. And don't forget the key phrase "fudge bow" for remembering them, as ridiculous as it sounds! A chocolate violin, anyone? Sounds sweet...

wurden vs. würden | konnten vs. könnten

You're not likely to mix up the meaning of wurden with würden (or konnten with könnten) when reading or having a conversation in German, as the context makes it pretty obvious what is meant. But I've noticed occasionally when writing in German that it's important to have a clear sense of the difference between the two.


The words wurden and konnten are the Präteritum / Indikativ (preterite / realis) moods of the verbs werden and können, respectively. The words würden and könnten are the Präteritum / Konjunktiv II (preterite / subjunctive) moods of the verbs werden and können, respectively. 

But all grammatical complications aside, an easy way to remember the difference is that these verb forms do not use the umlaut letter when talking about the actual past, and both words do use the umlaut letter when talking about the conditional present or future.


Sie flohen aus dem Königreich und wurden nie wieder gesehen.

They fled from the kingdom and were never seen again.

Caption 85, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das tapfere Schneiderlein

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Wir würden gerne auf 'ne kleine Clubtour geh'n.

We would like to go on a small clubs tour.

Caption 17, Deutsche Bands - Die „No Angels“

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Die hungrigen Kinder konnten es kaum erwarten, davon zu essen.

The hungry children could barely wait to eat from it.

Caption 61, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hänsel und Gretel

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„Wir könnten unendlich so weiterlaufen“, antwortete Frederick.

"We could continue walking endlessly like this," answered Frederick.

Caption 10, Piggeldy und Frederick - Unendlichkeit

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Got it? An easy way to remember with wurden/würden and konnten/könnten is: if an umlaut letter is present, you are talking about the possible present or future!



Further Learning
Visit Yabla German and watch the two Yabla videos conjugating the verbs werden and können and practice writing some of your own sentences using the different tenses of the verbs.

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