German Lessons


Before, Part II: bis, bisher, ehe, früher, vorhin, & zuvor

A few weeks ago in Part I, we looked at the most common ways to say "before": vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at some more German words that are commonly translated into English as "before."


Warum hatte man bis vergangene Woche denn so wenig von ihr gehört?

Why had we heard so little from her before this past week?

Caption 65, Coronavirus - Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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The preposition bis, usually requiring the accusative case, is also often translated as "until."


Ist natürlich ein besonderer Umstand, nur mit Leuten, die man bisher nicht kannte...

Of course, it's a particular circumstance to only be with people you didn't know before...

Caption 11, Anja Polzer - Interview

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The adverb bisher is sometimes translated to English as "previously."


Ehe du einschläfst, wollte ich dir schnell bloß sagen,

Before you fall asleep, I just wanted to quickly say to you,

Caption 51, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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Not to be mixed up with the noun die Ehe ("the marriage"), the conjunction ehe is sometimes spoken in a shortened form as eh


Alles das, was früher war

All that was before

wischst du einfach weg

you just wipe away

Captions 20-21, Adel Tawil - 1000 gute Gründe

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The adverb früher (which is also seen as an adjective) is sometimes translated as "previously" or "earlier," depending upon the context.


Die hatte ich vorhin an, zum Beispiel beim Umzug

I had it on before, for example during the parade

oder als wir noch 'nen Auftritt hatten.

or when we had an appearance.

Captions 14-15, Bretten - Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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The adverb vorhin sounds similar to vorher, which we read about in Part I, but expresses something that happened in the very recent past—just seconds, minutes, or perhaps a few hours previously.


All das wird auf die Probe gestellt wie nie zuvor.

All of this is being put to the test like never before.

Caption 5, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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The adverb zuvor is often translated as "previously" or "beforehand," depending upon the context.


So voll Energie, so hoch wie noch nie

So full of energy, as high as never before

Caption 4, Beatrice Egli - Wir leben laut

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The German phrase noch nie would translate literally as "yet never," but that doesn't make any sense in English and it is usually translated as "never before."


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for some of the words above that are commonly translated as "before" to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used in a real-world context.

The Preposition "to" in German: Part 1 — nach

In German, there are a number of prepositions that can be translated as "to" to express movement from one place to another: nach, zu, in, an, and auf. Often it is difficult to know which one to use in what context and with what type of place, and you simply have to memorize certain patterns. This week, let's begin with the preposition nach


We use nach when the destination is a city, and also for most countries. However, there are some exceptions to this in which in is used with countries, for example, with die Türkei, die Schweiz, and die Vereinigten Staaten (As you may remember, some countries have genders in German). And keep in mind that the preposition in is used when the destination is die Stadt ("the city" or "the town") or das Dorf ("the village")


Ihre Nachkommen wanderten auch nach Italien und Österreich aus.

Their offspring also migrated  to Italy and Austria.

Caption 26, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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Er will in die Schweiz reisen. Schön, was noch?

He wants to travel to Switzerland. Nice, what else?

Caption 37, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Über jemanden sprechen

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Hi, ich bin Marie. Ich bin gerade mit Julia nach Berlin gezogen.

Hi, I'm Marie. I just moved to Berlin with Julia.

Caption 3, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Besuch

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Eines Tages machte sich der Kaufmann auf den Weg in die Stadt, um Geld zu verdienen.

One day, the Merchant set out for town in order to earn some money.

Caption 9, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Schöne und das Biest

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Nach is also used for cardinal directions and with "left," "right," "up," and "down."


Es drehte sich nach links... -Und du? -und dann nach rechts.

He turned to the left... -And you? -and then to the right.

Caption 18, Meine Freundin Conni - Conni schläft im Kindergarten

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Der Russe dreht mit starken Kräften westlich der Düna nach Norden ein.

The Russians are turning west of the Daugava River towards the north with strong forces.

Caption 25, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944 

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Another rule: while we say "go/drive/come home" in English, the equivalent phrase in German has a preposition: nach Hause + verb.


Und als der Bär nach Hause kam, machten sie sich einen gemütlichen Abend.

And when the bear came home, they had a cozy evening.

Captions 37-38, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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Further Learning
We will cover the other prepositions used to express movement from one place to another in coming newsletters. Pay attention to how "to" is translated with various places and directions on Yabla German and stay tuned!



Zu Beginn der Mahlzeit sagen wir „guten Appetit“.

At the beginning of the meal we say "Enjoy your meal."

Caption 19, Tisch decken - mit Eva

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Die Mahlzeit is the German word for "meal." This week, we'll look at the details of the verbs and nouns used to indicate different meals, and a few relevant phrases. 


You likely already know the nouns das Frühstück, das Mittagessen, and das Abendessen. Remember that frühstucken as a verb is not separable, whereas the verbs mittagessen and abendessen are. 


Jetzt frühstücken wir erst mal.

Now, we'll eat breakfast first.


Und dann essen wir zusammen Mittag.

And then we'll eat lunch together.

Caption 21, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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Another important word to know is das Abendbrot, which is used quite often instead of das Abendessen, particularly when describing a light or cold supper:


Nach einer entspannten Fahrt steht das Abendessen an.

After a relaxing ride, dinner is next on the agenda.

Caption 26, Vollmondfahrt - Rhätische Bahn

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Er machte ein heißes Feuer im Ofen für den guten Fisch zum Abendbrot.

He made a hot fire in the oven for the good fish for dinner.

Caption 36, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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The phrase essen gehen is similar to ins Restaurant gehen


Wird dann auch gemeinsam gekocht oder gehen Sie essen?

Do you then also cook together or go out to eat?

Caption 39, Weihnachtsinterviews - Diane in Karlsruhe

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If you are lucky enough to hear the phrase Ich lade dich ein, be happy. It is not just an invitation to go out to eat together, it means that someone wants to pay for your meal!


Ich hab' ihr ja schon hundertmal gesagt,

I told her already a hundred times

sie soll ihn endlich mal zum Eisessen einladen.

she should just invite him to eat an ice cream.

Caption 53, Die Pfefferkörner - Eigentor

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Further Learning
Scroll down on these webpages to take a look at these thorough lists of the conjugations of the verbs frühstückenmittagessen, and abendessen from Duden.

Austrian, Swiss & Southern German Dialects

You may at some point go to Austria, or watch a film or TV program made in Southern Germany, or read an article that is written in Swiss German. Let's talk today — all difficulties in understanding the accents aside — about some words in Austrian, Swiss, and Southern German dialects that are different from words used in Standard German. Such dialects are occasionally found on Yabla German too!



In der Früh [Dialekt] ist er ganz stolz gewesen wieder.

In the morning he was very proud again.

Caption 81, Oktoberfest München - Auf der Wiesn

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Die Früh is a standard Austrian and Southern German expression for "morning," which is der Morgen in Standard German.


Ich wurde eben von meinen Freunden da so 'n bisserl [ein bisschen] inspiriert.

I was just inspired a little bit by my friends.

Caption 8, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell - Börsen-Gewinnspiel

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Wird 'n bissel [bisschen] später heute.

It will be a little bit later today.

Caption 9, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 1: Alle haben sich lieb

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Bissel and bisserl are typical dialect for the Standard German bisschen.


Als besonderes Zuckerl [Dialekt] für die Rider zum Training...

As a special treat for the riders to train on...

Caption 8, Wintersport - 7. Austrian Freeski Open

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Das Zuckerl is Bavarian dialect for a "candy," "sweet," or "treat," rendered as der (or das) Bonbon in Standard German.


Patrick Hollaus zählt auch heuer [Dialekt: dieses Jahr] wieder zu den heißen Favoriten.

Patrick Hollaus is counted among the hot favourites again this year.

Caption 34, Wintersport - 7. Austrian Freeski Open

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Heuer is Southern German, Austrian, and Swiss dialect for "this year," or dieses Jahr in Standard German.


„Ist der Brief im Kuvert? Ist eine Marke drauf?“

"Is the letter in the envelope? Is there a stamp on it?"

Caption 22, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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The word das Kuvert is indeed acceptable Standard German, but is primarily used instead of der Briefumschlag for "envelope" in Austria and Switzerland.


Further Learning
Some other very typical Southern German dialects are found in names of food. Here are a few examples, with the first word as dialect in bold, followed by the English word and the Standard German word in parentheses: der Erdapfel (potato, die Kartoffel); der Kukuruz (corn, maize, der Mais); die Marille (apricot, die Aprikose); der Paradieser (tomato, die Tomate); die Ribisel (currants, die Johannisbeere); das Schwammerl (mushroom, der Pilz); die Semmel (bread roll, das Brötchen); die Zwetschge / die Zwetschke (plum, die Pflaume). Now that you are prepared, you can watch this three-part video series on Yabla German to hear some real-life Austrians in action!

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