German Lessons


Dragons or Kites?

The German word for "dragon" is der Drache, but the word for "kite" is der Drachen, with an -n at the end. Since the plural for both "kites" and "dragons" is die Drachen, if the definite article is not mentioned, the only way you can tell which word is meant is from the context. This week's new installment of the TV series Großstadtrevier has a good example:



Er wollte die Küche streichen und Maries Drachen reparieren.

He wanted to paint the kitchen and repair Marie's kite.

Caption 8, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern

 Play Caption


Er fand überall welche, in Schlössern und Palästen,

He found them everywhere, in castles and palaces,

verhext von Hexen und gefangen von Drachen.

bewitched by witches and captured by dragons.

Captions 28-29, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

 Play Caption


It is pretty clear from the contexts above that it probably isn't Marie's dragon that is being repaired, nor that the people found in the castles were being captured by kites!  

The singular genitive forms are different, however, with "of the dragon" written des Drachen and "of the kite" written des Drachens, with an -s at the end! 

Wir haben einen Garten des friedvollen Drachen.

We have a "Garden of the Peaceful Dragon."

Caption 18, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

 Play Caption

Further Learning
Visit Yabla German and search for examples of der Drache and der Drachen as used in a real world—or perhaps a purely imaginary—context.



Bieten versus Anbieten

I have been speaking German for well over three decades, and although I've only lived in Germany and spoken German on a daily basis for about 15 of those years, I still get confused occasionally by verb prefixes. As I was formulating a freelance job offer the other day, it struck me that I wasn't entirely sure about the difference between bieten and anbieten, both of which are commonly defined as "to offer" in English.


To confuse matters even further, the Duden dictionary, which sets the standards for the German language, gives the primary definitions as: anbieten: zur Verfügung stellen und seine Bereitschaft dazu erkennen lassen, zeigen and bieten: anbieten, zur Verfügung, in Aussicht stellen. As you see, the meanings seem nearly identical; in fact, the first definition of bieten is anbieten!


There is, however, a rule of thumb that can help you remember the main difference between the two: anbieten is the specific process or act of making an offer, whereas bieten is a general state or condition, that is, a standing offer or a feature.


To illustrate, here are a few examples of anbieten from Yabla German, first in present tense, then in past tense, then in simple tense as a separable verb:


Kann ich Ihnen einen Kaffee anbieten?

Can I offer you a coffee?

Caption 19, George und Donna - Die Milch macht's

 Play Caption


Deutsch wird als zweite Sprache ab Stufe eins angeboten.

German is offered as a second language from the first grade.

Caption 40, Strothoff International School - Imagefilm

 Play Caption


Wir bieten unseren Tieren saisonale Produkte an, wie beispielsweise Weihnachtsbäume.

We offer our animals seasonal products like, for example, Christmas trees.

Caption 48, Umfragen - Zootiere im Winter

 Play Caption


And some examples of bieten from Yabla German, first in present tense, then in past tense:


Yabla bietet dir das weltweit fortschrittlichste System.

Yabla offers you the most advanced system worldwide.

Caption 3, German Intro - Jenny

 Play Caption


Und auch dieses Jahr ist wieder allerhand für Jung und Alt geboten.

And this year too, a lot is offered again for young and old.

Caption 5, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

 Play Caption


Lastly, when someone is bidding in an auction you would always use the word bieten (or steigern), but never anbieten.



Further Learning
Make up some sentence examples in English using the word "offer" and then translate them into German to see if you understand the principal difference between bieten and anbieten.  Also, do a search on German Yabla for both of the words to find some examples of their usage in a real-world context.


Common German Mistakes: Wie or Als?

German speakers sometimes make the mistake of using wie (as, like, how) instead of als (than), an error that is a bit puzzling for native English speakers. It is hard for us to imagine saying, for example: "I am taller as you" instead of "I am taller than you," but in German this is a fairly common error. The following Yabla English translations reflect the corrections to als:


Also wir geben hier mehr her

So we deliver more here

wie [sic, als] die Lufthansa da in der... in der Businessclass.

than Lufthansa there in the… in the business class.

Captions 45-46, Fluglinien - Niki Air

 Play Caption


... wie [sic, als] wenn man einfach sagt:

... than if you simply say to them:

„Kuck mal, ich hab' dir 'nen ganz gesunden Salat gemacht“.

"Look, I have made ​​you a very healthy salad".

Captions 32-33, Kochhaus Berlin - Kochen mit Kindern

 Play Caption



The German als should be used like the English "than" when showing contrast, as a function word to indicate an inequality between two things:


Ich sage immer, eher mehr Selbstvertrauen als Talent.

I always say, rather more confidence than talent.

Caption 22, Cassandra Steen - Interview

 Play Caption


Wobei man hier eher vom Fallen als vom Fliegen sprechen muss.

Although in this case it would be more accurate to speak of falling rather than of flying.

Caption 5, Abenteuer und Sport - Fallschirmspringen

 Play Caption


Whereas wie is used to relate things that are similar in some way, or to give an example:


Wir haben ein Programm

We have a program

mit Ikonen der Musikgeschichte wie Foreigner oder den Simple Minds

with icons of music history like Foreigner or the Simple Minds

Captions 7-8, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

 Play Caption


Da sind die besten Firmen der Welt dabei wie Siemens und andere.

The best companies in the world are there, like Siemens and others.

Caption 40, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister - Pläne für 2014

 Play Caption



Further Learning:

Search on Yabla German for the words als and wie to find more of the ways these expressions are used in context.


Dating in German

Expressing dates or the passage of time in German sometimes parallels English, and sometimes doesn't. Let’s take a closer look to get our dates straight.

The standard expression “on the [day] of [month]” is similar in form to English:

Am dreizehnten April zweitausendneunundzwanzig...

On the thirteenth of April, two thousand twenty-nine...

Caption 48, Unser Universum - Asteroiden - Gefahr aus dem All?

 Play Caption



The expression of passing time “from the [day] of [month] to the [day] of [month]" goes like this: 


Vom achtzehnten Juni bis zum zwölften Juli...

From the eighteenth of June till the twelfth of July...

Caption 4, Das Tollwood-Festival - BAP und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

 Play Caption


Instead of vom, the preposition ab can be used to express the start of an event: 

Ab Juni wird der Riesenvogel dann in Linienbetrieb gehen.

From June, the giant bird will be starting route service.

Caption 49, Rund um den Flughafen - Der neue Airbus A-380

 Play Caption


One German date-related expression that differs from English is "Wir haben gerade": 


Wir haben gerade Oktober.

Just now, we have October.

Caption 5, Herbst - mit Eva

 Play Caption


Yabla has translated this very literally in order to show the language parallels, but another way of translating Wir haben gerade Oktober could be: “It is now October.”



Further Learning:

If you state the day of the week with the date, you use the form: Am Freitag, dem 21. Februar. Note the dative article dem used for the month. On the other hand, if you are writing a formal letter, you write the city name and the accusative article: Berlin, den 21. Februar. There has been a creeping tendency recently in German to express the year (in German) as in 2014, which is an Anglicism and considered poor style in formal German. Historically, German uses either just 2014 or im Jahr 2014, but not in 2014. Natives speakers of English learning German often get confused about this; luckily now you know better!


You May Also Like