German Lessons


Das Telefonieren

Whether you are learning German for business purposes or with the goal of traveling to German-speaking countries, you may find at some point that you are required to talk on the phone in German. This week, we'll look at a group of phrases that is used particularly for telephone conversation.


While anrufen means "to call," the verb telefonieren means "to speak on the phone." Have you ever been in the situation in which someone calls for you or tries to start a conversation with you and doesn't realize that you are talking on the phone? In German, you would tell that person Ich telefoniere gerade!


Kannst du bitte aufhören zu telefonieren?

Can you please stop talking on the phone?

Caption 51, Magie - Die Zaubershow

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"To pick up the phone" is literally den Hörer abnehmen, but for "to answer the phone" you are more likely to hear ans Telefon gehen, or simply rangehen.


Ich gehe nicht ran, ich bin nicht da.

I'm not answering it, I'm not here.

Caption 8, Caracho - Ich bin weg

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"To hang up" is auflegen:


Er hat auch erst gesagt: „Leg auf!"

He also first said: "Hang up!"

Caption 7, 3nach9 - Ehrlich Brothers - Show-Magier - Part 1

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Most people in Germany answer the phone by saying their last name, or the last name of their family if receiving a call on their home landline. 


Ja, Paschke. -Ich bin's.

Yes, Paschke residence. -It's me.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsfilm - Ein Sack voll Geld - Part 15

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To state who is calling, use hier ist or hier spricht.


Hallo, Frau Meier. Hier ist Melanie Schmidt.

Hello, Ms. Meier. This is Melanie Schmidt.

Caption 8, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 2

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Wer spricht denn dort? -Hier spricht der Herr Bär.

Who's speaking there then? -This is Mr. Bear.

Captions 45-46, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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To ask to speak to a particular person, you will need to use the verb dürfen, and don't forget that mit is a dative preposition! 


Darf ich mit dir sprechen? -Ja, klar.

May I speak with you? -Yes, of course.

Caption 29, Das Lügenbüro - Die Bewerbung - Part 2

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Generally, the verb erreichen ("to reach") plays a large role in talking on the phone. 


Ich erreiche sie nicht, weder über Funk noch auf Handy.

I can't reach her, neither on the radio nor on her cell phone.

Caption 51, Großstadtrevier - Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 5

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If the person you wish to speak to is nicht erreichbar, you will have the choice of calling back (zurückrufen) or leaving a message (eine Nachricht hinterlassen). 

Ey, ruf doch mal zurück

Hey, call back sometime!

Caption 27, Monsters of Liedermaching - Atomfreies Kraftwerk

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Further Learning
Use these phrases to write out a telephone dialogue from start to finish, making sure that you conjugate all verbs correctly and that the accusative and dative are also implemented correctly. If you need more context for the phrases, watch the corresponding videos on Yabla German.

Der, die, or das? Part 1: Masculine Nouns

Der, die, or das? - Part 2: Feminine Nouns

Der, die, or das? - Part 3: Neuter Nouns


As we know, German nouns can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and the article used with a noun is dependent on its gender. You may have already been advised to memorize the definite article der, die, or das as an essential part of the noun itself, as there are few patterns that will reliably help you retrieve the gender of the noun later on. At Yabla, we try to help with this by always including the definite article of any new vocabulary words presented in our newsletters.


However, because new words are not always presented with their definite article in Yabla videos or in real life situations, it may be good to learn a few tendencies that exist for certain word endings. Let’s start with some typically masculine endings, keeping in mind that these rules do have exceptions and that memorizing the article along with each individual noun will always be a better idea.


Often, words ending with -er, -or, -en, -ling, -smus, -ig, -eig-ant, or -eich are masculine and require the definite article der.


Der Teig hat doch eine ganze Stunde gebraucht, um fertig zu werden.

The batter did indeed take a whole hour to be ready.

Caption 17, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen - mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

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Dann wird der Honig in Gläser abgefüllt.

Then the honey is filled into jars.

Caption 28, Piggeldy und Frederick - Vergessen

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Der Garten, den ihr hier seht, der gehört zur Domäne Dahlem.

The garden, which you see here, belongs to the Dömane Dahlem [name of museum].

Caption 4, Berlin - Domäne Dahlem - Part 2

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It is important to note that these rules often don’t apply to monosyllabic words. For example, words ending in -eich are often masculine, but not das Reich ("the empire").


Und der hintere Bereich jetzt hier, wo kommen wir jetzt hin?

And the area now behind here, where are we going now?

Caption 14, Karlsruher Stadtgeburtstag - die Majolika-Manufaktur

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And don't forget: these “rules” are really only tendencies due to exceptions. As we see here, there are words ending with -ant that are not masculine.


Der Elefant wollte an seine Frau nach Afrika schreiben.

The elephant wanted to write to his wife in Africa.

Caption 34, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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„Wie heißt das Restaurant, dessen Essen so... dessen Essen so gut sein soll?"

"What is the name of the restaurant whose food... whose food is supposed to be so good?"

Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Der Relativsatz - Part 12

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Further Learning
We will be back next week with typical endings for feminine nouns. In the meantime, make some flashcards with vocabulary from past lessons or your favorite videos on Yabla German, and always include the definite article so that you learn the gender of the noun. If you have flashcards but have not included the articles, add them now! It is important to get into the habit of doing so.


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