German Lessons


Relationship Status

You may remember our previous lesson on nouns for describing romantic relationships. With a nod to Valentine's Day approaching, let's look at how adjectives and phrases are used to describe relationship status and experiences related to love. 

First, where it all begins: You may already know the adjective verliebt. Der Liebeskummer can mean either "heartache," or describe the stress and grief that occurs during fights in a relationship. 


Sag mal, bist du krank... oder verliebt?

Tell me, are you sick... or in love?

Caption 37, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt - Part 1

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Krank vor Liebeskummer irrte der Prinz viele Monate lang umher.

Sick from heartache, the Prince wandered about for many months.

Caption 77, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Rapunzel

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As for relationship status, let's start with the word ledig, which means "single" or "unmarried." This is the proper word that is, for example, used in documents for someone who is not married. Therefore, someone who is in einer Beziehung ("in a relationship") or in Partnerschaft lebend ("living in a domestic partnership") might also check ledig on a form. To describe someone who is not in a romantic relationship, the English word "single" has been adopted by younger Germans and appears on most advertisements for dating apps.


Ich bin sechsunddreißig Jahre alt und ledig.

I am thirty-six years old and single.

Caption 32, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 2

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Wir waren sehr lange verlobt.

We were engaged for a very long time.

Caption 20, Nicos Weg - Mein Traumpartner

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Ich bin glücklich verheiratet

I'm happily married

Caption 55, Die Pfefferkörner - Endspurt - Part 7

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When a relationship comes to an end, we speak of die Trennung ("the separation" or "the break-up") and use the verb sich trennen or the adjective getrennt.


Mein Mann und ich leben seit einem Jahr getrennt.

My husband and I have been living separately for a year.

Caption 60, Großstadtrevier - Alle für einen

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Ist das eigentlich OK für dich mit Alisa, dass ihr getrennt seid?

Is that really OK for you with Alisa, that you are separated?

Caption 18, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 5

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Ich glaub, er hat gesagt, er ist geschieden.

I think he said he was divorced.

Caption 26, Nicos Weg - Mein Traumpartner

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Of course, "hope springs eternal"...


Viele von ihnen sind bestimmt frisch verliebt.

Many of them are surely newly in love.

Caption 63, Konjugation - Das Verb „sein“

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Further Learning
There are a number of films and series about love and relationships on Yabla German — just search under the "Drama" category or by series. You can also read our lessons on Valentine's Day in Germany and talking about love in German.

The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen 

In this week's edition, we'll examine these easily confused words: The verbs kündigen, ankündigen, erkunden, and sich erkundigen. 


The verb kündigen refers to terminating an agreement or contract. When it comes to employment, it can describe action taken by either the employer or employee to end a professional relationship. Kündigen is also used when cancelling an account or contract (for example, a cell phone contract, a magazine subscription, or a fitness studio membership). Therefore, it can be translated as "to cancel," "to terminate," "to give notice," "to quit," "to resign," "to fire," or "to dismiss," depending on who is carrying out the action and for what purpose. 




Ich träume davon, meinen Job im Büro zu kündigen.

I dream of giving notice on my job in the office.

Caption 44, Konjugation - Das Verb „brauchen“

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Schöller hat uns beiden gekündigt.

Schöller has fired both of us.

Caption 45, Marga Engel schlägt zurück - Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall

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Sie haben ihm hoffentlich nicht erzählt, dass Sie Ihre Lebensversicherung gekündigt haben.

I hope you didn't tell him you cancelled your life insurance.

Caption 53, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist - Der Panther

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The verb ankündigen has the essentially unrelated meaning of "to announce." You will notice below that it is a separable verb. 


Eines Tages kündigte der Zauberer an, dass er ausgehen würde.

One day, the Sorcerer announced that he would be going out.

Caption 21, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der Zauberlehrling

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Ja, Ihr Anruf wurde bereits angekündigt.

Yes, your call has already been announced.

Caption 29, Marga Engel schlägt zurück - Auf der Suche nach Beweisen

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The verb sich erkundigen means "to inquire," "to find out," or "to look into." Note that this is a reflexive verb, and there is no umlaut!


Ich würde gerne aus privaten Gründen meine Stunden reduzieren

I would like to reduce my hours, for personal reasons,

und wollte mich erkundigen, ob das möglich wäre.

and wanted to find out whether that would be possible.

Captions 10-11, Berufsleben - Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Ich habe mich erkundigt. Sie darf nicht in unseren Taschen kramen.

I looked into it. She's not allowed to dig around in our bags.

Caption 14, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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The verb erkunden can be translated as "to discover" or "to explore."


Man kann also einfach reinspringen und die Höhlen beim Tauchen erkunden.

You can, therefore, simply jump in and explore the caves while diving.

Caption 46, Der Blautopf - Ein sagenumwobener See

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Dann lass uns gemeinsam die Yabla-Spiele erkunden.

Then let's discover the Yabla games together.

Caption 36, German Intro - Cettina

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Further Learning
Write out sentences using these verbs in both the present and past tense. If you need guidance, search for them 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...

Distance as Abstand

In German Chancellor Angela Merkel's address to the nation last month (March 2020), she mentioned social distancing a number of times, using the German noun der Abstand.


Wir müssen aus Rücksicht voneinander Abstand halten.

Out of consideration, we have to keep a distance from each other.

Caption 30, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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... mindestens eineinhalb Meter Abstand zum Nächsten.

... a distance of at least one and a half meters from each other.

Caption 33, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Caption 42, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Let's take a look at der Abstand as used in some other contexts.


Der Abstand zum Bordstein ist zwar etwas groß.

The distance to the curb is indeed somewhat large.

Caption 48, Richter Alexander Hold - Richtig parken

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... und immer Abstand halten von Sylvie van der Vaart,

... and always maintain distance from Sylvie van der Vaart,

dann kann gar nichts schiefgehen.

then nothing at all can go wrong.

Captions 29-30, Barbara Schöneberger - Das Roter-Teppich-Einmaleins

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Wenn das rot eingezeichnet ist, sehen Sie hier den Abstand.

If this is shown in red, you see the interval here.

Caption 40, Bildverarbeitung - Sirius Advanced Cybernetics in Pforzheim

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So, und der Abstand hier, der beträgt dann eben zwanzig Zentimeter.

So, and the distance here, it then amounts to just twenty centimeters.

Caption 38, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Der Abstand is usually translated as "distance," though as you see above, other terms such as "interval," "space," or "gap" are sometimes more appropriate, depending upon the context. 


Further Learning
There are a number of different German words that can be translated into the English word "distance," depending upon the specific contexts in which they are used. Go to Yabla German and find some more examples of der Abstand, then take a look at some of the other words expressing "distance," such as die Entfernung and die Ferne. As a reward for your diligent studies, take a 5-minute break and watch actor Christoph Waltz give talk show host Jimmy Fallon a quiz on long German words, it's pretty funny!

Some German Slang Expressions

Many Germans use slang in their everyday speech. Some slang may be rude or inappropriate, so it's best to avoid that. But there are lots of other kinds of slang expressions that are considered "normal" and perfectly polite in everyday speech. 



Diese Frau ist einfach ein Dauerbrenner [umgangssprachlich].

This woman is simply a long burning oven [slang, perennially popular].

Caption 1, Angelique Kerber - Fotoshooting mit Porsche

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Calling somebody a "long burning oven" in English sounds a bit odd, to say the least, and possibly even insulting, but the slang German expression merely means that somebody is perennially popular


Sophie, bist du immer noch sauer [umgangssprachlich]?

Sophie, are you still sour [slang: angry]?

Caption 6, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Of course, the person doesn't really want to know if Sophie is literally sour, but if she is still angry!


Weil du natürlich ihr Bärenführer [umgangssprachlich] wirst.

Because you will, of course, become her bear trainer [slang, job trainer].

Caption 20, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

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Nor does der Bärenführer have anything to do with real bears, what it means is a job trainer for new employees. 


Frühlingszeit ist Fahrradzeit, also raus mit dem Drahtesel [Umgangssprache].

Springtime is bike time, so get out the "wire donkey" [your trusty bike].

Caption 1, Fahrrad - Frühjahrs-Check

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Naturally there are no donkeys, mules, burros or other pack animals involved, der Drahtesel is a slang word for bicycle



Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for "slang" to find examples of slang German words used in videos. Then test the knowledge of other students in your German class by using the newly-learned German slang word in an appropriate context. For those who don't understand, it could sound pretty funny: imagine telling the class you rode your "wire donkey" to school that day! 

What's Mine is Yours

A substantival possessive pronoun is a personal determiner that is used without an accompanying noun, such as "mine," "his" or "hers," "yours," "ours," and "theirs." In English, substantival possessive pronouns sometimes have a different form than standard personal pronouns with a noun: "my" becomes "mine," as in "My wallet is in my bag." "Oh, where is mine?" In German, however, the substantival variant depends upon the inflective ending of the original pronoun that it is replacing. 



Ich nehme mal an, Ihre Schulzeit liegt ähnlich weit zurück wie meine.

I take it your time at school dates, likewise, back as far back as mine.

Caption 1, Sprachschulen - Sprachcaffe Frankfurt

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Since he is referring to his time at school (feminine noun, singular nominative case: die Schulzeit), the substantival possessive pronoun is inflected accordingly: meine

Dafür könnt' ich sie bei der Schulbehörde anzeigen, aber dann stünde dein Wort gegen ihres.

I could report her for that to the school authorities, but then it would be your word against hers.

Caption 15, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 2

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Although the possessive of das Wort would be ihr Wort, the substantival possessive pronoun adds -es to the neuter singular nominative case. If the substantival possessive pronoun were standing in for a masculine noun, it would add -er for the masculine case. You will most often encounter -es endings on pronouns in the genitive case, so best keep a sharp eye out for this exception!

Further Learning
Visit Yabla German and search for examples of nouns that you can practice turning into substantival possessive pronouns. Check out this site to further practice your pronoun skills! 


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