German Lessons


Get Off On the Right Foot

English has quite a few idioms using the word "foot," and the German language also "puts its best foot forward" in this regard!


Some German foot expressions are very similar to English:


Ich nehm' mein Herz und leg's dir zu Füßen.
I'll take my heart and lay it at your feet.
Caption 3, Deutsche Musik: Chris und Croissant


Sometimes, a German expression is close to English, but with a spin of its own:


Er war von Kopf bis Fuß grün angezogen.
He was dressed in green from head to foot [idiom: completely].
Caption 23, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Ein Topf voll Gold


The above expression is very similar, of course, to the English "from head to toe." Most German idiomatic expressions with the word Fuß are quite different, however:


Die Besucher müssen wirklich gut zu Fuß sein.
The visitors must be really good to foot [idiom: agile].
Captions 18-19, Internationale Automobilausstellung: IAA in Frankfurt öffnet die Pforten


The English foot idiom that comes closest is "light on their feet." At Yabla, we translate idioms literally (word for word), and then add a dictionary-style definition for clarity.


Be careful you don't "put your foot in it" though, as some expressions sound similar to English, but have a completely different meaning:


Was Henne gesagt hat, hat ja eigentlich auch Hand und Fuß.
What Henne has said also actually has a hand and a foot [idiom: makes sense].
Caption 48, Luxuslärm: Interview


If you recall the English saying "to wait on someone hand and foot," you might falsely interpret the German to mean that Henne was being servile, when in fact she was making sense!


Further Learning
Learn some more expressions using the word "foot" here, and go to Yabla German and see how the word Fuß is used in different contexts.


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How well can you deal with it?

This week's new video, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Wichtelmänner, uses the prepositional phrase mit (etwas) umgehen:


Sie war keine Schneiderin, konnte aber gut mit Nadel und Faden umgehen.
She was not a seamstress, but was good with a needle and thread.
Caption 70, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Wichtelmänner


The word umgehen on its own usually means to avoid, to circumvent, or to get around something, but when you put it with an adjective and the preposition mit, its meaning is broadened to mean how something is handled, dealt with, or treated. Here are a couple more examples from Yabla videos:


Ich werde dir beibringen, wie du damit umgehen kannst.
I will teach you how you can deal with that.
Caption 18, Lektionen: Morgen


Da muss man sehr sauber arbeiten, muss sehr pfleglich mit seinen Grundstoffen umgehen.    
You must work very cleanly, you must handle your basic materials very carefully.
Captions 67-68, Whesskey: Whiskey aus Hessen


Further Learning
Go to this link on Yabla German and see how the word umgehen is used in different contexts.


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The Mouse is Out!

Idiomatic expressions can be difficult, because even if you know what all of the words mean, it can sometimes be nearly impossible to understand what the phrase means. Just think about how some standard English idioms sound if you try to understand them literally: "It's raining cats and dogs," or "Don't spill the beans." Neither cats, nor dogs, nor beans have anything to do with what is really being expressed! This week's new Yabla video, the film trailer from "Frau Müller muss weg," contains a number of colorful German idioms:


Das ist die Realität. Aus die Maus.
That is the reality. The mouse is out [idiom: It's over and done].


Although German idioms often don’t have a direct English equivalent, a more literal translation might be: “The game is up."


Fassen Sie sich gefälligst an Ihre eigenen Nasen.
Kindly grab your own noses [idiom: mind your own concerns], please.


The English idioms "keep your nose out of my business" and "mind your own business" have similar meanings.


Wenn's um Konflikte geht, wird das hier immer unterirdisch.
Whenever it's about conflicts, it always ends up underground [idiom: things become abysmal] here.


Yabla German always provides you with a direct word-for-word translation as well as the direct meaning of the phrase to help you better understand these idiomatic expressions.


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Grilling Season

With summer just around the corner, it's time to dust off the grills and get ready for some delicious food. Although you may not be vegetarian or vegan yourself, you probably know somebody who is.


Die Eltern vom Nachbarn, die grillten allerdings auch Sojawürstchen.
The parents of our neighbor, though, they also grilled small soy wursts.
Captions 21-26, Konjugation: Das Verb „grillen“


So don't forget to pick up a few veggie wursts before your next grilling party, and be sure to get some advice from some vegetarian friends as to which veggie sausages taste better, and which ones taste... wurst!


Ich bin Vegetarier, also außer Fisch, den esse ich natürlich.
I'm vegetarian, well, except fish, I eat that, of course.
Caption 27, Thomas D: Ärgernisse


So although eating fish may actually disqualify you as a vegetarian, a lot of people are trying to be more conscientious about what they eat, and buying some non-endangered fish for the grill might even be a healthier option for some meat eaters.


Enjoy the summer with some delicious and ecologically correct grilling!


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Tying the Knot

Summer is soon approaching, and with the arrival of June, the wedding season (die Hochzeitsaison) will be in full swing. So whether it's a friend's wedding or maybe even your own, beware: you're going to need to expand your vocabulary if there is any German involved!


No-one is going to get married if a marriage proposal doesn't happen first:


Der Fluch ist gebrochen! Ich möchte dich heiraten.
The curse is broken! I want to marry you.
Die Prinzessin nahm seinen Heiratsantrag sofort an.
The princess accepted his marriage proposal immediately.
Captions 86-88, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der Froschkönig


Nor would a groom (der Bräutigam) be complete without a bride, at least in a traditional wedding!


So sieht eine Massai-Braut aus.
That is what a Masai bride looks like.
Caption 50, Rat für nachhaltige Entwicklung: Mode gegen Armut


And after the wedding comes the feast:


Es war gleichzeitig auch das Hochzeitsmahl für das junge Paar.
It was at the same time the wedding feast for the young couple.
Caption 90, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Dornröschen


Further Learning
Look up the meaning of any marriage-related words on this list that you may not be familiar with, and see if you can find some of them used in context on Yabla:


das Bankett, das Hochzeitskleid, die Brautjungfer, der Brautschleier, das Ehepaar, der Ehering, das Eheversprechen, der Festsaal, die Feier, der Fotograf, der Gast, das Geschenk, die Heirat, die Heiratsurkunde, die Hochzeit, der Hochzeitsempfang, der Hochzeitskuchen, der Hochzeitsmarsch, die Hochzeitsreise, die Kirche, die Kirchglocken, das Konfetti, die Liebe, der Priester, die Rede, das Ringkissen, der Schmuck, die Trauung, der Trauzeuge, die Verbindung, der Zeuge


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Stop the Exploitation!

In the latest installment of the Pfefferkörner television series, Themba is angry because he feels that the soccer match has been fixed, and he says:


Ich lasse mich für so was nicht benutzen.
I won't let myself be used for something like that.
Caption 22, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor


The English verb "to use" can be defined as "exploiting someone to one's own advantage," and the German verb benutzen can be utilized in a similar context. The more direct German verb for "exploit" is ausbeuten, in its adjectival form ausgebeutet:


Mittelfristig will ich, dass wir eine vernünftige Infrastruktur kriegen, in der wir weniger ausgebeutet werden.
Mid-term, I want us to get a sensible infrastructure in which we'll be exploited less.
Captions 28-29, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Occupy Frankfurt


So let's hope that instead of being used (benutzt) or exploited (ausgebeutet) that we all are properly appreciated (geschätzt) for what we are:


Das wird vor allem von den jüngeren Gästen geschätzt.
This is especially appreciated by the younger guests.
Caption 41, Reiseland Deutschland: Vielfalt im Herzen Europas


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Two-way Prepositions

Most commonly spoken German prepositions take the accusative or dative case (the genitive case is used more often in the written form). Some prepositions, such as bis, durch, für, gegen, je, ohne, um and wider, take only the accusative case. Others, like aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von and zu, take only the dative case.


There are, however, certain prepositions that can take either the accusative or the dative case, depending on the context: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor and zwischen. Even experienced German speakers can get it wrong sometimes, so although you've probably learned this before, this may be a good time to review these two-way (or dual) prepositions.


The general rule to remember: if the preposition is dealing with "where" something is in a static sense, it takes the dative case; if it is dealing with motion or destination ("where to" or "what about") in an active sense, then it takes the accusative case.


Der Spiegel hängt an der Wand.
The mirror is hanging on the wall.
Caption 34, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Mehr Wechselpräpositionen


Since the wall is where the mirror is statically hanging, the feminine noun die Wand takes the dative case in this context.


Sie gehen an die Arbeit wieder.
They're going to work again.
Caption 29, Der Struwwelpeter: Hans Guck-in-die-Luft


Since work is where they are actively going to, the feminine noun die Arbeit takes the accusative case. Note that the word wieder above has an unusual placement in the sentence; this is because it is part of an old-fashioned poem and needed to rhyme!


Wie war das Konzert auf dem Mond?
How was the concert on the moon?
Caption 8, Undertube: Peer erzählt einen Witz


Since where they statically are is on the moon, the masculine noun der Mond takes the dative case.


Wir gehen auf die Straßen.
We’re going on the streets.
Caption 34, Blumio, Rappen für gute Unterhaltung


Since their destination is actively towards the streets, the plural feminine noun die Straßen takes the accusative case.


Further Learning
Look on Yabla German for other examples of the two-way prepositions an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor and zwischen and discover the different contexts in which they take the dative or the accusative case.


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Easter Traditions in Germany

Although Easter has been a predominantly Christian holiday in Germany for the last millennia, a number of originally pagan-based traditions still survive. Let's talk about some German Easter traditions and find some examples of the words in other contexts on Yabla.


Although largely supplanted by the Easter Bunny (Osterhase), some regions still imagine different animals delivering the eggs. In parts of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, the eggs are still brought by the Easter Fox (Osterfuchs). Parts of Saxony have the tradition of the Easter Rooster (Osterhahn), and Thuringia still has the Easter Stork (Osterstorch).


Oder die meisten denken, es wäre Hase oder Fuchs.
Or most of them think it's rabbit or fox.
Caption 12, Queensberry: gegen Pelz


In much the same way as the pagan tradition of the decorated tree came to be associated with Christmas, the Easter Egg Tree (Ostereierbaum) is also a popular tradition still in Germany and Scandinavia. Branches are gathered from outside and decorated with colored eggs.


Da hat der für Eier keine Zeit!
He has no time for eggs there!
Caption 56, Welt-Pi-Tag: Unser Leben mit der Kreiszahl


A favorite cake made during the Easter Holidays is called the "Easter Lamb," or Osterlamm, and is baked in the shape of a reclining lamb.


Die ist ihnen nachgelaufen wie ein Lamm.
She ran after them like a lamb.
Caption 20, Für Tierfreunde: Przewalski Wildpferde


Easter is also a convenient way to remember in German when to put on or remove the snow tires from your car:


Von O. bis O., also von Oktober bis Ostern, sollte man mit Winterreifen fahren.
From O. to O. [E.], so from October to Easter you should drive with winter tires.
Captions 4-5, Winterreifen: Wenn der erste Schnee naht


Außerdem steht das Osterfest kurz bevor.
Aside from that, the Easter celebration is approaching.
Caption 4, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun


Happy Easter holidays to all of you from all of us at Yabla!


Further Learning
Look on Yabla German for other examples of some of the bold-faced words above being used in different contexts.


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"For" is not always "für"

The German accusative preposition für is often translated to the English preposition "for":


Hier gibt es viele verschiedene Sachen für die Familie und für die Kinder zu sehen.
Here there are many different things for the family and for the children to see.
Caption 8, Berlin: Domäne Dahlem


However, the English preposition "for" may also be translated to German as aus:


Aber aus irgendeinem Grund wollte Pandora im Haus bleiben.
But for some reason Pandora wanted to stay in the house.
Captions 33-34, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Büchse der Pandora


Or as zum:


Fast jedes Ei, das zum Verkauf in Supermärkten gedacht ist, muss mit einem Zahlencode gekennzeichnet sein.
Almost every egg that is intended for sale in supermarkets must be marked with a number code.
Captions 9-10, Bioeier: Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?


Or as seit:


Und seit wie lange schon? -Seit sechzehn Jahren.
And for how long already? -For sixteen years.
Caption 6, Frisbee: Karlsruher Weihnachtsturnier


Remember too that foreign words in general may be translated differently according to context. Just because "for" translates to seit in the above example does not mean that seit always translates back to "for":


Aber seit ich in Berlin lebe, arbeite ich als Kellnerin und Barista in Cafés.
But since I've lived in Berlin, I've worked as a waitress and barista in cafés.
Caption 16, Berlin: Judith und die „Brezel Bar“


Further Learning
Search on Yabla German for the English word "for" to see examples of how this preposition can be translated to German in different contexts.


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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, wie [sic, als] die Lufthansa da in der... in der Businessclass.
So we deliver more here than Lufthansa there in the… in the business class.
Captions 45-16, Fluglinien: Niki Air

wie [sic, als] wenn man einfach sagt: „Ich hab' dir 'nen ganz gesunden Salat gemacht“.
than if you simply say, “I’ve made ​​you a very healthy salad.”
Captions 32-33, Kochhaus Berlin: Kochen mit Kindern


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 19, Cassandra Steen: Interview

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

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

Wir haben ein Programm mit Ikonen der Musikgeschichte wie Foreigner oder den Simple Minds.
We have a program with icons of music history like Foreigner or Simple Minds.
Captions 7-8, Das Tollwood-Festival: Bap und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

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


Further Learning:

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

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Bist du dir sicher? German Expressions of Certainty

English adjectives for being sure or certain about something are often interchangeable, but German expressions like bestimmt, gewiss, and sicher are more specific to the particular context in which they are used. Let's take a look at all three.


Bestimmt can mean either "definitely"

Du machst Filme und die Leute sagen „Das wird bestimmt so“.
You make films and the people say, "It will definitely be like this."
Caption 34, Berlinale: Schauspieler Jürgen Vogel

or in the nominalized noun something specific or in particular:

Wenn du mal was Bestimmtes vorhaben würdest…
If you were up to something specific
Caption 12, Wahlspots: Szenen einer Ehe

Gewiss can mean "certain" in the standard sense

Die Unterstützung des Schirmherrn ist den Fußballfrauen gewiss.
The support of the patron for the women's soccer team is certain.
Captions 13-14, Frauenfußball-WM: Der Bundespräsident am Ball

or as a suggestion of vagueness or uncertainty, a "certain something":

Aber ein gewisser Druck bleibt trotzdem.
But a certain pressure remains nevertheless.
Caption 23, Cro: mit „Melodie“ an Chartspitze

Sicher can mean "certain"

Ich bin mir sicher, es wird klappen.
I am sure it will work out.
Caption 39, Yabla-Intro: Jenny

but in other contexts it means "safe":

Es ist ein sicherer Standplatz.
It is a safe location.
Caption 36, Für Tierfreunde: Falknerei Feldberg

The words bestimmt, gewiss, and sicherlich can be used interchangeably when meaning "of course" or "certainly": Sicherlich / Bestimmt / Gewiss werden wir die Deutschprüfung bestehen. (We will certainly pass the German test.)


Further Learning
Search for some uses of bestimmt, gewiss, and sicher (sicherlich too) on Yabla German to learn about the ways some of these expressions are used in context.

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The "weak masculine" or n-declination

If a German noun ends in an "e," it's usually feminine, but there are also masculine nouns that end with "e" that require special "n" or "-en" endings in all singular non-nominative cases. To complicate things further, there are also masculine nouns not ending in "e" that require the special endings too!


Basically, the n-declination only occurs with masculine nouns, never with feminine or neuter nouns, and only a small percentage of masculine nouns are weak. Besides the rule of masculine nouns ending with -e, there is no hard and fast rule to classify them — they just have to be learned! It's helpful to know that many are professions, animals, and nationalities. Here are a few examples of weak masculine nouns to remember that you will commonly encounter in everyday usage.

Der Junge is a weak masculine noun, which you know because of the masculine der and the -e ending. Note that the -e ending changes to -en:

Der Zauberer sah zu dem zitternden Jungen hinab.
The sorcerer looked down at the trembling boy.
Caption 80, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der Zauberlehrling

However, der Nachbar is also a weak masculine noun, despite the -r ending. Note that the -r ending changes to -rn:

Du könntest einfach zum Nachbarn gehen.
You could simply go to the neighbor.
Caption 25, Fine: sucht einen Hammer

Der Student is a very common weak masculine noun that takes the -en ending in non-nominative singular:

Ich habe einen spanischen Studenten eingestellt.
I've hired a Spanish student.
Caption 22, Barbara Schöneberger: Bambi-Verleihung Backstage

Der Herr is a weak masculine noun when it's translated as "lord"

Sofort rannte er zu seinem Herrn.
Immediately, he ran to his lord.
Caption 47, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Der gestiefelte Kater

and in its more common form as the honorific "Mr." or "Mister"

Das war eine Idee von Herrn Singer.
That was an idea of Mister Singer's.
Caption 35, Modedesignerin Nina Hollein: Floria Prinzessin von Hessen


Further Learning
Here are some examples of weak masculine nouns requiring the -n or -en endings in non-nominative singular (all of them have the masculine article der): Architekt, Astronaut, Bär, Bauer, Diplomat, Elefant, Emigrant, Held, Idiot, Kamerad, Kandidat, Kapitalist, Kommunist, Kunde, Löwe, Mensch, Neffe, Pilot, Präsident, Rabe, Russe, Schimpanse, Schwede, and Soziologe. See if you can find some examples of them in context with -n or -en endings on Yabla German. For more reading about this topic, check out the article Tricky Masculine Nouns in German.

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For vs. für

The English preposition "for" and the German accusative preposition für are not only similarly spelled, but are often interchangeable too — the problem arises in cases where they are not. Let's first take a look at some examples where "for" can be directly translated as für. If something is intended for someone:

Was kann ich für dich tun?
What can I do for you?
Caption 2, Berlin: Judith und die „Brezel Bar


When indicating quantity or money:

Für Geld machen Sie alles?
For money you'll do anything?
Caption 62, Klebt, schmeckt, macht dick: Die Süßigkeitenmesse

For stating a length or period of time:

Stattdessen wird sie in einen tiefen Schlaf fallen für viele Jahre.
Instead, she will fall into a deep sleep for many years.
Caption 29, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Dornröschen

Some English expressions with "for" also use für when translated to German: für nichts or für umsonst (for nothing); für immer (for always or forever); für nächstes Mal (for next time).

On the other hand, the English "for" may also be translated as aus, seit, or zu, with expressions like "for some reason" (aus irgendeinem Grund), "for a long time" (seit langem), and "for sale" (zum Verkauf):

Aber aus irgendeinem Grund wollte Pandora im Haus bleiben.
But for some reason Pandora wanted to stay in the house.
Captions 33-34, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Büchse der Pandora

Er ist Ungar und spielt schon seit langem mit uns zusammen.
He is Hungarian and plays with us for a long time already.
Captions 23-24, Deutsche Bands: Cabanossi

Fast jedes Ei, das zum Verkauf in Supermärkten gedacht ist…
Almost every egg that is intended for sale in supermarkets…
Caption 9, Bioeier: Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

It's important to remember that prepositions are not always directly translatable; just because "for" is translated as zu in one case does not mean that zu is always translated into English as "for."


Further Learning:

Imagine a typical use of the word "for" in an English sentence, then translate it into German and search Yabla German for a similar expression to see how it is translated there. Did you get it right?

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Finances in the New Year

Since most of us are probably pretty broke after holiday expenses, here are some money expressions in German that are good to know!

Ich hätte zweihundert Schlösser und wär' nie mehr pleite.
I would have two hundred castles and would never again be broke.
Caption 19: Rio Reiser: König von Deutschland



The word pleite is slang, but if you are seriously pleite, you wind up thus:

Jetzt sind wir bankrott, obwohl wir zehn Jahre lang [Geld] gespart haben.
Now we are bankrupt, even though we've saved money for ten years.
Caption 2, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Weil oder obwohl

The holidays aren't getting cheaper every year, that's for sure. At some point they always start costing money (ins Geld gehen):

Sollte es länger dauern, dann geht es aber auch irgendwann mal ins Geld.
Should it take longer, then at some point, however, it will also start costing money.
Captions 28-29, Endlich glücklich: Liebe im Netz

And on this, we can all agree:

Zeit ist Geld und Geld ist gut.
Time is money and money is good.
Caption 9, Jan Wittmer: Leben für den Lebenslauf

Not forgetting, of course, that:

Geld allein ist nicht alles.
Money alone isn't everything.
Caption 62, Für Tierfreunde - Tierheim Nied

Since after all, the holidays should remind us not to forget that love is the most important thing of all!

Zeigt die Liebe allen Wesen, die da atmen.
Show the love to all beings that breathe there.
Caption 18, Cosma Shiva Hagen: So trägt man Pelz


Further Learning:

Do a search on Yabla German for financial expressions in English and see in what context they are used in German. For a bit of cheer, see what kind of expressions a search for die Liebe brings up. Happy New Year from all of us at Yabla!

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Frohe Weihnachten!

Ich hoffe, euch hat's Spaß gemacht, und wünsche euch frohe Weihnachten!
I hope it's been fun and I wish you a merry Christmas!
Captions 71-72, Frohe Weihnachten: der Christbaum


Beyond "merry Christmas" there are a number of other ways to give season's greetings as well, for instance your Christmas could be schön:

Dann wünsch' ich euch schöne Weihnachten.
In which case I wish you a wonderful Christmas.
Caption 84, Weihnachtsinterviews: Cettina in Linkenheim

Let's not neglect the period before Christmas, which in German is the same word as in English:

Der Advent, das ist die Zeit vor Weihnachten.
Advent, that is the time before Christmas.
Caption 3, Weihnachtsmärkte: mit Eva

And if we're going to make it through all the Christmas shopping, we'd better have some Stollen to see us through:

Das ist der Christstollen. Der wird auch Weihnachtsstollen genannt.
This is the Christstollen. It is also called Christmas stollen [fruit cake].
Captions 22-23, Weihnachtsessen: mit Eva

If you don't have your Christmas tree yet, you might have to go diving for one!

Nasse Weihnachten: Der Tannenbaum steht fast vier Meter tief unter Wasser.
Wet Christmas: The Christmas tree stands nearly four meters deep under water.
Caption 1, Weihnachten geht baden: Tannenbaum unter Wasser


Further Learning:

Do a search on Yabla German for typical Christmas words and get into the Christmas spirit while improving your German at the same time. Happy holidays!

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S, ss or ß?

The Swiss have it easy: they completely eliminated the ß (eszett or "sharp s") some years ago, but since we are teaching Standard German at Yabla, we should learn a few general rules about which words use s, ss, and ß.


1. Single s
There are no words in German that begin with ss or ß, so that rule is easy. A single s will usually come after the letters l, m, n and r when a vowel follows the s, with words such as: der Balsam (the balm), die Bremse (the brake), and sparsam (economical):

Das ist sehr sparsam!
This is very economical!
Caption 38, Der Trabi: Das Kultauto aus dem Osten

A single s will usually come before the letter p, with words such as raspeln (to grate), lispeln (to lisp), and die Knospe (the bud):

Knospen, Blätter oder Früchte von Platanen zum Beispiel…
Buds, leaves, or fruit from the plane trees, for example…
Caption 26, Freilebende Papageien: Überwintern in Wiesbaden

In most cases, only a single s will come before the letter t, with words such as die Liste (the list), pusten (slang: to blow), and prusten (to puff):

Dann will ich husten und will prusten und euer Haus zusammenpusten!
Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!
Caption 50, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die drei kleinen Schweinchen

2. Double s
The double s is usually written only after a short vowel, with words such as das Schloss (the castle), ein bisschen (a little bit), and passend (fitting):

Eigentlich hätte es gar keine passendere Rolle für sie geben können.
Actually, there couldn't at all have been a more fitting role for her.
Caption 16: Christina Aguilera und Cher: in Deutschland

3. Eszett: ß
The ß is usually used after a long vowel or double-vowel combination (dipthong), in words such as die Straße (the street), der Meißel (the chisel), and stoßen (to bump, to repel):

Gut, und die stoßen sich ab.     
Good and they repel one another.
Caption 35, Das 1. Newtonsche Gesetz: erklärt am Beispiel des Dodomobils

4. Verbs that vary between ss and ß
Just to make it more complicated, there are some verbs that are written with ß in the infinitive, but switch to ss when conjugated — and vice versa too! For instance the verb vergessen (to forget) uses the letter ss in the infinitive and present tenses (ich vergesse, I forget), but switches to the ß in the past (preterite) tense:

Belle gewann das Biest so lieb, dass sie seine äußere Erscheinung darüber völlig vergaß.
Belle became so fond of the beast that she fully forgot about his outward appearance.
Captions 61-62, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Die Schöne und das Biest


Further Learning:

Do a search on Yabla German and see if you can find some more examples of verbs that vary between ß and ss in their infinitives and their conjugations.

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What do you need (brauchen)?

The German verb brauchen can be translated in a number of ways, including "to need," "to be required," "to make use of," "to take," and "to use," and has some additional idiomatic usages. See some of the these subtle differences in context in these Yabla videos:

Wir brauchen jetzt zwei Millionäre.
We now need two millionaires.
Caption 9, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz



Es braucht Erklärungen, um die Brutalität und Banalität des Unrechts zu verstehen.
Explanations are required to grasp the brutality and banality of this injustice.
Caption 19, DDR zum Anfassen: Ganz tief im Westen

Von wegen körperloser Sport, hätt' ich meinen Helm doch gebraucht.
As for non-contact sports, I still could have made use of my helmet.
Caption 46, Ultimate Frisbee: Oli erklärt das Spiel

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

Wo werden denn heute noch Katapulte gebraucht?     
Where are catapults still used today?
Caption 12, Bretten: Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

Here are a couple of examples of idiomatic usage of brauchen too:

Du brauchst mir die nächsten zehn Tage nicht unter die Augen zu kommen.
For the next ten days, you don't need to come under my eyes [idiom: I don't want to see you].
Caption 12: Fußball und die Frauenwelt: Das Foul

Alle naslang brauchst du das.
You need that all noses long [idiom: repeatedly in short intervals].
Caption 18, Otto Waalkes: Die verflixte Rechenaufgabe


Further Learning:

For many more examples of brauchen and details of its conjugation, see the Yabla video Konjugation: das Verb „brauchen“.

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German Cooking Verbs - Part 3

German Cooking Verbs - Part 1

German Cooking Verbs - Part 2


Welcome to the third and last part of our series on on German cooking verbs. Take this opportunity to brush up on your cooking verbs with Yabla!

hinzufügen: add (to, into)

Zur Sahne werde ich den Hartkäse hinzufügen.
To the cream I'll add the hard cheese.
Captions 33-34, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

mahlen (fein, grob): grind (finely, coarsely)

„Heute mahlen sie das Getreide mit Strom“, sagte Frederick.
“Today, they grind the grain with electricity,” said Frederick.
Caption 28, Piggeldy und Frederick: Maschine

rühren: stir, mix

Ich würd' sagen, jeder darf mal rühren.
I would say, everyone gets to stir.
Caption 8, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

schälen: peel

Zum Beispiel Karotten schälen, helfen, wo wir gerade gebraucht werden.
For example, peeling carrots, helping just where we are needed.
Captions 41-42, Bretten: Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

schlagen: beat a mixture, or crack an egg (also aufschlagen)

Wir nehmen fünf Eier und schlagen diese einzeln zu der Mischung hinzu.
We take five eggs and crack them individually into the mixture.
Captions 9-10, Bayrische Spätzle: mit Christiane


Further Learning:

Find some German recipes online and try cooking them at home. You can also search Yabla and find some videos with cooking themes to see some more cooking words in context. Here is a list of some more German verbs used in cooking that start with the letter M: montieren: thicken sauce with cold butter; reduzieren: reduce, cook down; reiben: grate; schneiden: cut, chop; schwenken: stir in melted butter or fat; spicken: add lard or spice under skin of meat; streichen: spread; tranchieren: carve into slices; überbacken: gratinate; unterheben: fold in; verfeinern: refine; verquirlen: whisk, beat; wiegen, abwiegen: weigh; würzen: season; zerreiben: grate; zerschneiden: cut up; ziehen lassen: marinade or poach; ziehen: marinade, steep, simmer; zusetzen: add

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