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gemeinsam vs. zusammen

Although both of the words above are most often translated as "together," and there are instances in which either one can be used, there are also some nuances to be aware of. 


The word gemeinsam will often be used when there is a mutuality, an act of cooperating or working together, or an idea of having a common goal. Another translation could be "collectively" or "conjointly." With gemeinsam, there is an indication that a group exists or has been formed.


Heute wollen wir mal wieder gemeinsam kochen.

Today we want to cook together again.

Caption 2, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte - Hessen

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Der Lehrer bespricht die Aufgaben gemeinsam mit den Schülern.

The teacher discusses the assignments with the students.

Caption 50, Deutsch mit Eylin - Pronomen

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Heute machen wir gemeinsam einen Einbürgerungstest.

Today we'll do a citizenship test together.

Caption 2, Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Einbürgerungstest

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The word zusammen refers to the state of being together with another person, but both people might still act independently or have different goals. 


Wie verbringt ihr Silvester?

How do you spend New Year's Eve?

-Mit meiner Familie und wir essen schön zusammen.

-With my family and we have a nice supper together.

Caption 59, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Karlsruhe

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Aber ihr seid doch erst seit ein paar Wochen zusammen

But you've only been together a few weeks. 

Caption 18, Nicos Weg - A2 Folge 15: Kinder

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Wir haben zum Beispiel Karten zusammen gespielt.

We played cards together, for example.

Caption 32, Angelique Kerber - Ihre tennisfreie Zeit

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This distinction is easy to remember if you can remember that there is also the phrase etwas gemeinsam haben, which means "to have something in common." 


Wir haben ja vieles gemeinsam.

We have a lot in common.

Caption 12, Weihnachtsmann gesucht - Der Engel

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Further Learning
When you watch videos on Yabla German, note when the word gemeinsam is used rather than zusammen. You can also write some sentences about what you and your friends have in common. 

Last Week's Election

As you may know, the parliamentary election in Germany took place on Sunday, September 26th. On a national level, the SPD (Social Democratic Party) took the lead this time, whereas the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) suffered losses. The significance of this election in particular lies in the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided not to seek re-election, meaning that the SPD now will appoint the next Chancellor rather than Merkel's CDU party. 




The word for "the election" in German is die Wahl, which can also simply mean "the choice." As you can see below, die Stimme means not only "the voice" but also "the vote" in German. 


Sie zählen die Stimmen nach dem Ende der Wahl.

They count the votes after the end of the election.

Caption 4, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The related verb for die Wahl is wählen


Parlamentsmitglieder, die von den Bürgern und Bürgerinnen gewählt werden, nennt man Abgeordnete.

Members of parliament who are elected by citizens are called representatives.

Captions 38-39, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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When it is a matter not of an election, but a vote, you will likely see the noun die Abstimmung and the verb abstimmen


Unmittelbar vor der Abstimmung des Bundestages über längere Atom-Laufzeiten haben Aktivisten am Donnerstag Morgen das Dach der CDU-Zentrale in Berlin besetzt.

Just before the Bundestag's vote on longer running times of nuclear power plants on Thursday morning, activists occupied the roof of the CDU headquarters in Berlin.

Captions 2-4, Atomkraft: Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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However, at this time, we are talking about electing political parties. It's worth remembering that die Partei refers only to a political party, or for example, parties in a negotiation. It does not refer to a birthday party or retirement party. That would be die Feier or die Party.  There is actually a satirical but genuinely leftist-oriented political party whose official name is die Partei


Welche Parteien wurden in Deutschland zweitausendsieben zur Partei „Die Linke“?

Which parties became the party "Die Linke" in Germany in two thousand seven?

Caption 25, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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You can find other relevant vocabulary in a number of videos on Yabla German:


Im Jahr neunzehnhundertneunundneunzig nahmen die Regierung und das Parlament ihre Arbeit in Berlin wieder auf.

In nineteen ninety-nine, the government and parliament resumed their work in Berlin.

Captions 21-22, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Bundesland Berlin

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In Deutschland gehören der Bundestag und der Bundesrat zur... Legislative.

In Germany, the Bundestag and the federal council belong to the... legislative.

Captions 15-16, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Wenn Abgeordnete im Deutschen Bundestag ihre Fraktion wechseln, kann die Regierung ihre Mehrheit verlieren.

If representatives in the German Bundestag change their parliamentary group, the government can lose its majority.

Captions 31-32, Bundesrepublik Deutschland Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
You can listen to Deutsche Welle's news report from the election or take a look at how the election played out in Berlin. If you are up for a challenge, try out the Wahl-o-mat, which determines the political party that your views are most aligned with. For thorough information on German politics and history, have a look at our series with questions and answers from the actual German citizenship test. 

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. 


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


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.