German Lessons


Good Intentions

In German, there are two words that can be translated as "the accident": der Unfall, which is when you fall off your bicycle, and der Zufall, which refers to a random occurrence or coincidence. When you talk about something happening zufällig ("accidentally"), it implies this aspect of randomness. When we want to talk about something happening "accidentally" simply in the sense of it being "unintentional," there is a better adverbial phrase to use:


Jetzt bin ich aus Versehen zu weit gelaufen und muss den Bus nach Hause nehmen.

Now I accidentally walked too far and have to take the bus home.

Caption 38, Shuah - Auf der Straße in Berlin

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A less commonly used synonym for aus Versehen is ohne AbsichtDie Absicht means "the intention," "the aim," or "the purpose." 


Das war Absicht.

That was on purpose.

Caption 16, JoNaLu - Überall Banditen

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When we speak about something done "intentionally" or "on purpose," we can use either mit Absicht or the adverb absichtlich


Ich konnte ja nicht wissen, dass du Max mit Absicht belogen hast.

I couldn't indeed have known that you lied to Max on purpose.

Caption 25, Die Pfefferkörner - Cybermobbing - Part 6

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Jemand hat Jannik Sternberg absichtlich vom Gerüst geschubst.

Someone intentionally shoved Jannik Sternberg off the scaffolding.

Caption 50, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 2

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Further Learning
Look absichtlich and aus Versehen up on Yabla German. Think of a few scenarios in which you would need to clarify whether an action was intentional or not and build a few sentences in the past tense. Here are a few pairs of nouns and verbs to get you started:
die Mail / weiterleiten
dich / anrufen
seinen Kaffee / trinken
die Tasche / zu hause lassen

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. 


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

Here in Germany, for example,

ist es vielleicht schon selbständig [selbstverständlich],

it may already be a given

dass, äh, jedes Kind, äh, Recht auf... auf Bildung hat,

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,

"You're right," coughed Frederick,

„diesen Weg gehen wir nie wieder.“

"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

But in comparison to the entire universe,

ist unser Sonnensystem noch recht jugendlich.

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

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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

The ex of football legend Lothar "Loddar" Matthäus

kommt offenbar auch alleine ganz gut zurecht.

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

Asylum seekers, indeed, need to very quickly

im Alltag zurechtfinden.

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. 

Get Out of My Peel!

This week's exciting finale of the Pfefferkörner episode has a German idiom that could come across a bit as being a bit odd when translated directly:



Ja, wahrscheinlich wollte er ihr freiwillig nicht mehr von der Pelle rücken.

Yes, probably he didn't want to go away from the peel [idiom, leave her alone] of his own accord.

Caption 22, Die Pfefferkörner - Cybermobbing

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So just what is the Pelle and why didn't he want to get away from it? The word die Pelle is traceable in German as far back as the 12th century, originally as the skin of a wurst or sausage. Later it took on the same meaning as "peel" in English for the peel of a potato or other vegetable. Later on, die Pelle came to take on the idiomatic usage suggesting human skin, much in the same way as the slang usage of der Pelz (fur) is used for human skin. So does this mean that he didn't want to "get away from her skin?"


Man muss anderen Menschen sehr auf die Pelle rücken, um die zu schminken.

You need to really push people on the peel [idiom, invade their personal space] to do their make-up.

Caption 31, Kosmetik - Make-up-Artist-Schule

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The more common expression is jemandem auf die Pelle rücken, literally to "move on someone's peel (or skin)."  What it means is to get too close, to be too intimate, or to invade their personal space. A similar idiom in English might be "to get in their face." 


So what then does von der Pelle rücken mean? The best translation is probably "to leave somebody alone," as in the idiomatic expression "get out of my face." So we could translate the first example above as "Yes, probably he didn't want to leave her alone of his own accord."


Another similar idiom is jemandem auf der Pelle sitzen (or liegen), which means to bother someone with your continual presence, a similar meaning to the English idiom "to get on someone's nerves."



Further Learning
Learn more about this expression in this article, and get into the detailed German explanation on Duden. Look for an example of der Pelz on Yabla German in its slang usage to see how it's used in a real-world context.

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