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German Expressions of Frequency

In addition to adverbs of indefinite frequency, such as oft or häufig, and adverbs of definite frequency, such as täglich or morgens, there are also expressions for talking about how often something occurs. In English, we often say that something happens "once a month" or "every other week." How do we express this in German? 

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You likely know the phrase jeden Tag, or "every day." But do you know how to say "every other day"?

 

Dazu gehört auch, dass den Jungvögeln jeden zweiten Tag ein Tisch mit Knochen gedeckt wird.

This also means that every other day, a table is set with bones for the young birds.

Caption 29, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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You can say jede zweite Woche for "every other week," but generally something happening at particular intervals will be expressed with alle and not jede zweite. Take a look:

 

Die Bergbahn fährt alle zwanzig Minuten hoch zum Königstuhl

The mountain railway goes up to the Königstuhl every twenty minutes

und alle zehn Minuten zurück runter in die Innenstadt.

and back down to the city center every ten minutes.

Captions 12-13, Jenny zeigt uns - Das Heidelberger Schloss

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Bei warmen Temperaturen gebären sie

In warm temperatures, they give birth to

alle acht bis zehn Tage dreißig bis vierzig Jungtiere.

thirty to forty young every eight to ten days.

Caption 14, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Wir finden hier alle vier Wochen eine Schildkröte.

We find a turtle here every four weeks.

Caption 42, Ausgrabungen - Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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Das Projekt „Lunch Beat“ besteht in Hamburg seit dem vergangenen Sommer

The project "Lunch Beat" has existed in Hamburg since last summer

und findet in unregelmäßigen Abständen alle zwei bis drei Monate statt.

and takes place at irregular intervals every two to three months.

Captions 9-10, Lunch Beat - Tanzen in der Mittagspause

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To more specifically state that something happens "once" in a particular time interval, we can use the word einmal in + dative.

 

Das tue ich für gewöhnlich einmal in der Woche.

I typically do it once a week.

Caption 2, Wäsche waschen - mit Eva

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Einmal in der Woche trainiert Astrid Bittner-Utsch Frauen und Männer,

Once a week, Astrid Bittner-Utsch trains women and men

die ihrem Traumberuf ein Stück näher kommen wollen.

who want to get a little bit closer to their dream profession.

Captions 9-10, Auf dem Laufsteg - Modelcollege in Wiesbaden

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Leon, wieso? -Einmal im Jahr gibt es diese Mathe-Olympiade.

Leon, why? -Once a year, the Math Olympics take place.

Caption 20, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Further Learning
Based on what you see above, how do you express "once a month"? What about "every five days" or "every five years"? Can you find another way to say "every other day"? For more practice, you can go to Yabla German to look for more examples, or translate some basic sentences about your current routine into German. 

French Words Used in German, Part 3

German has many French loan words or Gallicisms. Since an estimated 45% of English comes from French or Latin language sources, if you can learn to recognize words in your native English as having a French origin, there is a fair chance that these words are used in German. 

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In a previous lesson, we took a look at some more French-derived words in German that have the same or similar words in English. This week, let's discuss some German words that originated from the French but have different meanings than their similar English equivalents.

 

Die Frau bekommt ein Kind und ihr Chef weiß das.

The woman is going to have a child and her boss knows it.

Caption 9, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest - Part 4

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In this case, the German der Chef and French chef can be a bit of a false friend of the English word "chef," since in English it means "the head cook" and not the more general term "the boss."

 

Bald waren sie bei einer Fabrik, bei einer Farbenfabrik.

Soon they were at a factory, at a paint factory.

Caption 6, Piggeldy und Frederick - Malen

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The German die Fabrik comes from the French fabrique, the -que ending having been Germanized to -ik. The pronunciation is nearly the same in both languages, with the emphasis on the second syllable.

 

Ich denke, er ist einfach eine komplexe Figur.

I think he is simply a complex character.

Caption 9, Dreharbeiten - zum Film „Playoff“

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The German die Figur comes from the French figure—like the English "figure"—and has similar meanings, but in most contexts the German is translated to "character" in English, making this a sort of false friend in most cases. Die Figur could, however, be translated to the English "figure" if you were discussing a geometric figure.

 

Bevor ihr einen Weihnachtsbaum aufstellt, geht am besten mal zum Friseur.

Before you set up a Christmas tree it's best that you go to the hairdresser.

Captions 17-18, Frohe Weihnachten - der Christbaum

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The German der Friseur / die Friseurin, from the French friseur, is rarely used in English anymore, and even the French tend to prefer to use the term coiffeur insteadThe German also uses the term die Friseuse, but it is a pejorative. There is a secondary German spelling Frisör, but the German Duden dictionary recommends the -eur spelling!

 

Hast du die Gage?

Do you have the fee?

Caption 48, Verstehen Sie Spaß? - Sascha Grammel - Part 2

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The German die Gage and the French gage both pronounce the first G as a hard G and the second as a soft G. It might be incorrectly confused with the English "gauge."

 

Wenn du so viel Engagement in Mathematik aufbringst wie im Lösen von Kriminalfällen...

If you put as much effort into mathematics as into solving criminal cases...

Caption 36, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche - Part 6

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Das Engagement, from the French engagement, has nothing to do with the English "engagement," which in German is usually translated as die Verlobung

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Further Learning
As a general rule, French words found in German are spelled the same, or nearly the same, as the French words found in English, but are pronounced in a German manner and written according to German grammatical rules—with nouns capitalized, for example. Take a look at this list of Gallicisms in German and go to Yabla German to find other real-world examples of the words used in videos. 

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