German Lessons


Delays and Cancellations

In the last weeks, many aspects of our daily lives have been uprooted as we all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Even those who are not directly affected or immediately at risk are advised to lay low in order to keep themselves and others safe. Large gatherings such as conferences and concerts have been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety, and smaller events and meetings should be canceled as well.


We at Yabla wish you and your loved ones all the best during these uncertain times. Exercising caution, remaining calm, and gathering knowledge are all important strategies. For those of you who might be dealing with practical aspects of the situation in German, we will use this week's lesson to go over the various words for "to cancel" and "to postpone." If you aren't getting news updates about the situation in Germany and would like to be, check out the links posted under "Further Learning" below. 

There are many ways to say "to cancel" in German, but here are the most common verbs used to refer to events, appointments, and plans:


Heute ist Dienstag. Wir hatten eigentlich unseren Flug für heute zurück gebucht, aber es ist immer noch alles storniert.

Today is Tuesday. We had actually booked our flight back for today, but everything is still canceled.

Captions 6-7, Reisen während des Vulkanausbruchs

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Letztes Jahr wurde ein Event abgesagt.

Last year an event was called off.

Caption 29, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

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Die eigentlich mittwochs stattfindende Generalaudienz fällt diesmal aus.

The general audience, which normally takes place Wednesdays, is canceled this time.

Captions 5-7, Papst Franziskus: Der neue Papst hat viel zu tun

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When it comes to events or meetings being postponed, the common verb is verschieben, which has a number of meanings related to "to shift." 


Es ist eine wundervolle Sache, denn du kannst die Dinge, die du heute tun solltest, nehmen und nach morgen verschieben.

It is a wonderful thing, because you can take the things that you should do today and postpone them till tomorrow.

Captions 24-26, Lektionen: Morgen

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Wir haben die Tour verschoben, weil ich mit dem Album noch nicht fertig geworden bin [sic, fertig geworden war]

We pushed the tour back, because I still wasn't finished with the album

Captions 58-59, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen

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Further Learning
You can find more examples of these verbs on Yabla German. If you would like to work on your listening comprehension by means of a daily news briefing, try listening to Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichtenwhich is made especially for German learners. If you would like to learn about how the situation is unfolding in Germany, you may find Der Spiegel to be a good resource for articles in English as well as German.


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(Keinen) Bock haben auf...

The German noun der Bock means a mammal of the male gender, similar to the English word "buck," and is often particularly used to describe a male goat or "billy goat." However, the expression Bock haben auf or keinen Bock haben auf has a meaning quite different from what you might expect based on the direct translation of the noun!


Blumio hat Bock auf gute Unterhaltung.

Blumio is keen on good entertainment.

Caption 6, Blumio Rappen für gute Unterhaltung

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Oh, zerkleinern, das macht mir Spaß. Da habe ich Bock drauf.

Oh, chopping, that's fun. I'm up for that.

Caption 10, CHoE Rocker Profi-Grilltipps

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Sie hat Bock auf Shopping, also in die Stadt

She feels like shopping, so it's off to the city

Caption 23, Cro Bye Bye

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Ey, Nina, hast du Bock auf 'ne Wurst?

Hey, Nina, do you want to go out for a wurst?

Caption 6, Die Pfefferkörner Cybermobbing - Part 1

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The slang expression Bock haben auf is the equivalent of the expression Lust haben auf and may be translated in a variety of ways. Note that if a noun follows the preposition auf, then the noun case should be accusative. When you use the expression as a negation, just place the accusative case of kein in front of the masculine noun Bock


Jeder kann so seiner Wege gehen, wenn er keinen Bock auf die anderen hat,

Everyone can go their own way whenever they aren't in the mood to be around the others,

Caption 45, rheinmain Szene Selig - Part 2

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Jedes Mal, wenn du von deiner Arbeit, von deinen Führungen, nach Hause kommst, bist du fertig, hast keinen Bock mehr auf irgendwas.

Every time when you come home from your work, from your tours, you are exhausted, don't want to do anything.

Captions 28-29, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich Kapitel 4: Liebe auf den ersten Blick - Part 4

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You may also use the phrase in the form of question, in which case auf becomes worauf:


Worauf hast 'n du Bock?

What are you up for?

Caption 29, Mario Barth und Paul Panzer Männersache - Part 2

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Further Learning
Read the Duden dictionary page for der Bock and scroll down to Wendungen, Redensarten, Sprichwörter to read other expressions related to this noun. You can also go to Yabla German and search for other examples using the noun der Bock to see other contexts where the phrase is used.

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The adjective übel

The adjective übel in German has a number of translations, both alone and in various idiomatic contexts. First of all, it can mean "queasy," "sick to one's stomach," or "nauseated": 


Davon wurde manchem übel.

Some people became sick to their stomachs from that.

Caption 13, Deutsche Welle: Was ist das Reinheitsgebot?

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It can also be used colloquially to express dislike of something, and means "bad," "objectionable," or "over the top."


Na ja, vielleicht ist es ja gar nicht so übel.

Well, maybe that isn't that bad at all.

Caption 51, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Auch diese ganzen Witze, auch vor allem, wie die Frankfurter sie sich über Offenbach ausdenken, die sind übel, ja?

Also, all of these jokes, above all how those from Frankfurt come up with things about Offenbach, they are over the top, right?

Captions 43-44, Badesalz Offenbach gegen Frankfurt

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You also might hear the colloquial expression jemandem etwas übel nehmen. This means "to take something the wrong way" or "to hold something against someone."


Deshalb nimmt es Ihnen dort auch niemand übel, wenn Sie es sich mal eben in einem der kostbaren Oldtimer bequem machen.

That's also why no one there will hold it against you if you just make yourself comfortable in one of the valuable vintage automobiles.

Captions 6-7, Rhein-Main Ferien Technische Sammlung Hochhut

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Further Learning
Although übel is not necessarily an adjective we hope you will have to use, you can practice using the word in its various contexts in case a relevant situation arises. Nimm es mir nicht übel = "Don't hold it against me."  Mir ist übel = "I am feeling nauseated."

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erforderlich vs. förderlich

The adjectives erforderlich and förderlich appear and sound very similar, but have very different meanings. I have found myself constantly having to check these words in a dictionary when writing business emails in German, so writing this lesson is hopefully going to help me learn the differences between the two as well!


The first of the two adjectives, erforderlich, is usually used to reinforce the serious necessity of a statement, and can be translated variously as "necessary," "required," "essential," "requisite," "needed," and "consequential." 


Die Partner sollten dieses Angebot annehmen und die Chance nutzen, denn es ist dringend erforderlich.

The partners should accept this offer and use the opportunity, as it is urgently necessary.

Captions 63-64, Angela Merkel Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama

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Nur bei einem Notruf erfolgt eine Datenübermittlung, und dann werden auch nur die Daten übermittelt, die für die Erbringung der Hilfeleistung unbedingt erforderlich sind.

Only in the case of an emergency call is a transfer of data carried out and then also only the data are transferred that are absolutely essential for the provision of assistance after the accident.

Captions 36-38, Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr Versicherer entwickeln automatischen Notruf für alle Autos

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As you may have noticed, the texts above are respectively from a government official and a statistician, and thus the sentences are quite complicated. In fact, both erforderlich and förderlich are more often used in written German and far less in spoken German. Here are some examples of förderlich from written German sources: 


Dabei konnte ich ihm zu meiner großen Freude förderlich sein.
To my great joy I could be of use to him in that matter.

From Heinrich Mann's novel Der Untertan, in the 1921 translation by Ernest Boyd under the title "The Patrioteer."


Wenn die Boote gleich reihenweise ausfallen, ist das nicht gerade förderlich.
It's not exactly beneficial if the boats drop out in rows.
From a 2006 article in the newspaper Die Welt


Jedenfalls reicht aber die Stabilität so weit, dass sie genügt, ein förderliches Ideal einer Wissenschaft zu begründen.
In any case, however, the stability extends so far that it is sufficient to establish a beneficial ideal of science.

From Ernst Mach's article "Erkenntnis und Irrtum" in Philosophie von Platon bis Nietzsche, Berlin 1905.


The adjective förderlich can be variously translated as "beneficial," "of use," "advantageous," and "conducive."


It's easiest for me to remember the difference between the two in that erforderlich is usually associated with a demanding tone and thus more serious, so I remember: the longer word is more serious. On the other hand, förderlich is usually used in a positive and thus lighter context, so  I remember: the less serious word is the shorter of the two.


Further Learning
Write some sample sentences in English mixing the various translations of the two words above, then test your knowledge by translating the sentences into German and see if you translated erforderlich and förderlich correctly. 

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Meinetwegen and von mir aus

The German word meinetwegen is used in several different contexts. Its first meaning can be translated as "on my account" or "for me" in English.


Ich weiß, ihr seid nicht meinetwegen gekommen.

I know you haven't come because of me.

Caption 3, Verstehen Sie Spaß?: Sascha Grammel

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Hat Themba wirklich nur meinetwegen ein Eigentor gemacht?

Did Themba really score a goal against his own team just because of me?

Caption 33, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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It can also mean "for example" or "assuming that":


Und wenn du dich jetzt meinetwegen dort auf die Seite drehst...

And if you now turn onto your side, for example...

Caption 63, Die Schmerzspezialisten: Diese Schlafposition solltest du unbedingt vermeiden!

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Additionally, meinetwegen can also suggest indifference, translated as "for all I care" or even the very rude "whatever" below. 


Machen Sie doch meinetwegen, was Sie wollen!

But do what you want, for all I care!

Caption 61, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Rattenfänger von Hameln

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Meinetwegen“, brummte Frederick.

"Whatever," grumbled Frederick.

Caption 42, Piggeldy und Frederick Unendlichkeit

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Von mir aus is a colloquial expression, and can be translated as "for all I care," "as far as I'm concerned," or even simply "I don't mind."


In welcher Form auch immer... bis morgen früh von mir aus.

In whichever form… till early morning, as far as I'm concerned.

Caption 45, Fastnacht: Karneval Quartier Latin

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Von mir aus bleibe ich ewig.

I don't mind remaining forever.

Caption 7, Max Giesinger: Nicht so schnell

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Was meinst du? -Von mir aus. -Vielleicht hat hier jemand was gesehen.

What do you think? -I don't mind. -Maybe someone here saw something.

Caption 43, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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Further Learning
Take a look for additional examples on Yabla German and try working on your own sentences with meinetwegen and responses with von mir aus

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Valentine's Day in Germany

Although Valentine's Day doesn't take over Germany in February like it does the United States, it has a growing presence. In the video Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe, Diane interviews locals to find out what they think of Valentine's Day and what their plans are. Below, you can find some vocabulary about love and relationships to listen for while watching. For more practice, check out this free Valentine's course from Yabla German and smarterGerman!


Wir sind hier am romantischen Karlsruher Schloss und hier gibt es auch ein paar Liebespärchen.

We are here at the romantic Karlsruhe Palace and there are also a few couples here.

Captions 47-48, Valentinstag in Karlsruhe

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Und wurden Sie heute Morgen mit einem romantischen Frühstück überrascht oder einem Blumenstrauß?

And were you surprised this morning with a romantic breakfast or a bouquet of flowers?

Captions 58-59, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Die Karlsruher Pyramide befindet sich mitten im Stadtzentrum von Karlsruhe und ist ein beliebter Treffpunkt für Verabredungen.

The Karlsruhe Pyramid is located in the middle of the city center of Karlsruhe and is a favorite meeting place for dates.

Captions 5-6, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Und haben Sie da schon was geplant für Ihre Lieben?

And have you already planned something for your loved ones?

Caption 36, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Achtung! Eine Verabredung is not always a date, and verabredet sein doesn't always mean you have a date. It may just mean you have an appointment. Similarly, it is possible to say Ihr Lieben without it indicating romantic love. 


Besonders Diamanten sind ein Symbol für ewige Liebe.

In particular, diamonds are a symbol of eternal love.

Caption 12, Valentinstag in Karlsruhe

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Ich bin dafür, dass, wenn man jemanden richtig gern und lieb hat, man ihm jeden Tag das ein kleines bisschen zeigt...

I am of the opinion that you if you really are really fond of someone and love them, then you show them that a little bit every day...

Captions 41-43, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

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Further Learning
In addition to Diane's interviews, learn about what Valentine's Day is like in Germany from the point of view of a florist and check out the free Valentine's course from Yabla German and smarterGerman mentioned above!


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The prepositional negation nicht ohne

The standard negation in German — when you say that something is "not" by using nicht — is relatively straightforward for native English speakers. Although its placement in a sentence may differ from English, often falling at the end of a sentence (Ich liebe dich... nicht!), it usually parallels the use of the English word "not." A standard German phrase combined with the preposition ohne ("without") might read:


Das ist nicht ohne Risiko,

This is not without risk,

Caption 14, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen 1

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Nee, nee, nee, mein Lieber, nicht ohne dich.

No, no, no, my dear, not without you.

Caption 75, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Und da bin ich nicht ohne Sorge.

And there I'm not without worries.

Caption 60, Holocaust-Gedenktag: Gespräch mit jüdischen Schülern

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Note that in the above cases, the phrase nicht ohne has an object that defines what is lacking, in the above examples Risiko, dich, and Sorge respectively. But what does it mean when somebody says nicht ohne without an object? To say "Oh, that's not without" in English is a sentence fragment with no clear meaning.


To say nicht ohne with no defined object in German, however, is an idiomatic or slang usage that has been in use since at least the 17th century, according to the Redensarten-Index website. To leave a word out of a sentence is what's known in linguistics as an ellipsis. This particular ellipsis is more difficult to immediately understand than most of those in English, however. 


Ein Radfahrer... Das ist nicht ohne.

A bicyclist... That is difficult.

Caption 22, Knallerfrauen: Mathehausaufgaben

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Mein Fahrgestell ist nämlich auch nicht ganz ohne.

My undercarriage isn't exactly without its dangers, either.

Caption 27, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist: Nur die Liebe zählt

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Thus, depending upon the specific context, the phrase nicht ohne can mean that something is difficult, dangerous, or to be taken seriously.


Further Learning
Read the above link for the Redensarten-Index and search for more examples of nicht ohne on Yabla German to see other ways that the phrase can be used in German sentences.

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The preposition seit: "since" or "for"?

One of the most common mistakes that native German speakers make when translating the preposition seit to English is to always render it as "since," but in contexts where the English word is meant to be used to indicate the passing of a period of time, it should usually be translated as "for." The mistake seems to be common with Europeans speaking English, as I hear it regularly on the streets and in cafés and restaurants in Berlin, where so many Europeans are speaking English as a lingua franca.


Yes, I have been going there since (correct: for) many years.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since (correct: for) at least a decade.
I have lived in Berlin since (correct: for) 16 years. 


It's easy to see how this mistake is made, as the German sentence uses the word seit and as it's actually correct to use "since" if a specific year is used in the same sentences: 


Yes, I have been going there since 2016.
We've been wanting to visit Paris since at least 2010.
I have lived in Berlin since 2004. 


Here are some examples of seit used on Yabla German with the correct English translations "for" and "since." Note the way that the context of each sentence changes which English word is used.


„Mir ist so“, maulte Piggeldy, „als tue ich das schon seit Tagen!“

"For me it's like," muttered Piggeldy, "as if I have already been doing this for days!"

Caption 11, Piggeldy und Frederick Wanderdüne

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Seit Montag wird das Lied im Radio gespielt

The song has been playing on the radio since Monday

Caption 33, Liza Ein Lied für Opel

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sie schreibt ihr Referat, an dem sie schon seit zwei Wochen arbeitet.

she is writing her paper that she has been working on for two weeks.

Caption 15, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren Relativsätze mit Präpositionen - Part 6

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Seit vergangener Woche hat die Kranich-Airline nun ihren ersten gebrandeten A dreihundertachtzig in Betrieb.

Since last week, the crane airline has now had its first branded A three hundred and eighty at work.

Caption 9, Rund um den Flughafen Der neue Airbus A-380

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Na ja, ich krieg' ja seit Monaten keine Wochenendzeitungen mehr.

Oh well, I haven't been getting a weekend newspaper for months.

Caption 8, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 4

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OK, ihr seid jetzt seit April in Deutschland, ja?

OK, you have been in Germany now since April, right?

Caption 1, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren Relativsätze mit Präpositionen - Part 4

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Ich spiel' jetzt schon seit zehn Jahren Handball

I've been playing handball for ten years now

Caption 7, Jenny und Alena Handball

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Also, die Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie gibt es seit dem Jahr zweitausend-und-acht

Well, the sustainability strategy has been there since the year two thousand eight

Caption 37, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell Nachhaltigkeit

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A general rule of thumb is to translate seit as "since" if it refers to a specific date such as a year, month, or day of the week. If it is referring to a length of time, such as "many years," then seit is usually translated as "for."


Further Learning
Compare other contexts in which seit is used on Yabla German and study some other uses of the word in which the preposition seit can also be translated as "because."

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Kannst du berlinern?

Have you ever seen "Berlin" as the verb berlinern? It means to speak with a Berlin dialect. Now you may not necessarily want to learn to speak like a waschechter Berliner (Berlin native), but it's good to get your ears around hearing it a bit so it's easier to understand! This week we'll go through some sample videos of people speaking Berlinerisch. Here are some of the main features of the dialect. 


Ick (or icke) instead of ich


Ick [ich] hab' die alle manipuliert, ick hab' die alle manipuliert.

I've manipulated them all, I've manipulated them all.

Caption 17, Rapucation Lernen durch Rapmusik - Part 4



Wat instead of was


Und Bananen, so wat [so was] fressen bei uns nur die Affen, du Affe.

And bananas, only apes devour stuff like that where we live, you ape.

Caption 60, Die Klasse Berlin '61 - Part 2



Keen and weeß instead of kein and weiß; in fact, most standard German "ei" sounds are pronounced as "ee": 


Alle keen [kein] Zuhause oder wat [was]? -[„Die Anstalt“, Regie: Axel Bock]

All of you don't have a home or what? -["The Institution", directed by Axel Bock]

Caption 53, Alexander Hauff Showreel - Part 2



Dett [dass] ick [ich] nicht deine Geliebte bin, weeß [weiß] ick [ich] och [auch],

I do know that I'm not your lover,

Caption 14, Mathieu Carriere Ein Mann will nach oben


You probably noticed too that dass in the above is spoken as dett and auch as och: a translation to standard German would be: Dass ich nicht deine Geliebte bin, weiß ich auch.


Another typical feature of Berlinerisch is that the hard German "g" is rendered as a soft German "j": janz jenau!


Sind janz [ganz] schön viele. -Bärbel.

That is a whole lot. -Bärbel.

Caption 12, Die Klasse Berlin '61 - Part 12



There are also a number of words that are unique to Berlin, such as der Kiez instead of die Nachbarschaft:


Gitarrist Jürgen Ehle wohnt seit fünfundzwanzig Jahren in dem Kiez und schwelgt in Erinnerungen.

Guitarist Jürgen Ehle has lived for twenty-five years in the neighborhood, and luxuriates in memories.

Captions 3-4, Pankow Rolling Stones des Ostens



Further Learning
Read the German Wikipedia page about the Berlin dialect and look for some of the unique Berlin words on Yabla German to accustom yourself to understanding it.

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Je nach and je nachdem...

It's good to get familiar with the phrase je nach (and je nachdem), which is usually translated as "according to" or "depending on." Here are some examples.


Ähm, wir haben natürlich je nach Film junge Pärchen da. Wir haben, ähm, die Actionfans da.

Um, we have, of course, depending on the film, young couples here. We have, um, the action fans here.

Caption 22, Autokino Gravenbruch

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Wenn die fünfhundert Gramm Mehl abgewogen sind, kann man je nach Belieben noch eine Prise Salz hinzugeben.

When the five hundred grams of flour are measured out, you can also, according to taste, add a pinch of salt.

Captions 7-8, Bayrische Spätzle mit Christiane

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Je nach der Branche, in der man arbeiten möchte, kann man auch Arbeitsproben oder die Referenzen der letzten Arbeitgeber hinzufügen.

Depending on the field that you would like to work in, you can also add work samples or the references from the previous employers.

Captions 30-31, Eva erklärt Bewerbungen - Part 1

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Stimmt nicht! Flüchtlinge bekommen je nach Situation eine Bleibe und Versorgung im Wert von zweihundertsiebenundachtzig bis dreihundertneunundfünfzig Euro pro Monat.

Not true! Refugees receive, according to their situation, shelter and provisions at a value of two hundred eighty-seven to three hundred fifty-nine euros per month.

Captions 7-8, Flüchtlingskrise 10 Vorurteile, die nicht stimmen

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Darin enthalten sind allerdings noch nicht die Kosten für das Autogramm, so werden je nach Bekanntheitsgrad des Schauspielers schnell bis zu zweihundert Euro für die Fan-Erinnerung fällig,

However, this still does not include the cost of the autograph, so depending on the level of fame of the actor, up to two hundred euros can be soon owed for the fan memento,

Captions 12-14, Star Wars Treffen der Fangemeinde

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Historisch hatten die entweder Leder oder halt, äh, Turban, und gewickelt, je nachdem, wo sie beim Militär waren,

Historically, they had either leather or just, uh, a turban and wrapped it around, according to where they served in the military,

Captions 17-19, Mit Schwert und Schild Gladiatorenschule in Trier

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Je nachdem is correct when it is followed by a subordinate clause as is the above case, whereas je nach dem is only correct when followed by a masculine or neuter noun – and only when the definite article is mentioned, which is usually not the case (for example, you would never say je nach dem Belieben; only je nach Belieben is correct). Je nach dem is, for example, correct in je nach dem zugrunde liegenden Gedanken.


Further Learning
Write down some example sentences in English using "according to" and "depending on" and translate them into German. You can ask your teacher or a classmate to check your work for you. You can also go to Yabla German and find some other examples of sentences using je nach.

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Celebrating in German

New Year's Eve is just around the corner! We at Yabla wish you einen guten Rutsch and hope to contribute to your festivities with some relevant vocabulary. 

Eine kurze Frage: Wie feiern Sie Weihnachten? -Mit der Familie.

A quick question: How do you celebrate Christmas? -With the family.

Caption 10, Weihnachtsinterviews: Diane in Karlsruhe

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Wir werden wahrscheinlich mit ein paar Freunden feiern.

We will probably celebrate with a few friends.

Caption 5, Silvester Vorsätze für das neue Jahr: Karlsruhe

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The noun die Feier is used for a party or celebration, although it's normal to hear die Party as well. You may remember from our recent newsletter that the preposition auf is used: Wir gehen auf eine Party for "We're going to a party," and Wir sind auf einer Party for "We're at a party."


Hauptsache sie haben Spaß. -Hauptsache: Party und schöne Stimmung!

The main thing is that hey have fun. -The main thing: party and good vibes!

Caption 63, Fastnacht - Karneval: Karnevalisten

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Und natürlich drückt das auf die Partystimmung.

And, of course, that puts a damper on the party atmosphere.

Caption 60, Heute-Show 30 Jahre Mauerfall: So feiern die Deutschen ihre Einheit

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Fun fact: die Stimmung can refer to instruments being in tune, but also means "mood" or "atmosphere." 

And finally, a slang usage related to celebration is Lass es krachen!, which literally means "Make noise!" 


Also, dann wünsch ich dir viel Spaß. -Danke schön. -Und lass es krachen!

So, then I hope you have a lot of fun. -Thank you. -And make some noise!

Caption 17, Fasching mit Cettina

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Further Learning
For more about New Year's Eve in Germany, you can do a quick search for our related videos on Yabla German. You can also review our previous newsletters on the topic: Learn about the origins of the word Silvester and make a few New Year's resolutions in German!

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Christmas Eve Traditions in Germany

For the last weeks, many Germans have been visiting Christmas markets, opening the windows of their advent calendars, and celebrating Nikolaus. Tomorrow night is Christmas Eve, which is called der Heiligabend or der Heilige Abend in German. Let's look at some vocabulary associated with Christmas Eve traditions. 


Many families in Germany will have gotten a Christmas tree and decorated it in time for Christmas Eve. A Christmas tree can be referred to as der Tannenbaum (which is simply "the fir tree"), der Weihnachtsbaum, or der Christbaum.


Jetzt schmücken wir den Baum noch mit ein paar goldenen Kugeln.

Now we'll decorate the tree with a few golden balls.

Caption 57, Frohe Weihnachten der Christbaum

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In Germany, it is traditional to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than the next morning. The exchange of gifts is known as die Bescherung


Wie machen Sie das mit der Bescherung?

How do you do your gift exchange?

Caption 7, Weihnachtsinterviews Diane in Karlsruhe

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Families may go to mass as part of their Christmas Eve tradition:

Meistens gehen wir auch vorher... vorher noch in die Kirche

Usually we also still go beforehand... to church beforehand.

Caption 37, Weihnachtsinterviews Cettina in Linkenheim

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A traditional Christmas Eve meal in Germany is rather simple, consisting of either fish, or sausages with potato salad. The large Christmas feast is generally eaten on Christmas day. Throughout these days, there are also many sweets that are typically consumed. For more information on these, we would suggest watching the following video by Eva:


Nachdem ich euch ein typisches deutsches Weihnachtsessen gezeigt habe, kommen wir nun zum Wichtigsten, nämlich den Weihnachtsnaschereien.

After I've shown you a typical German Christmas meal, we now come to the most important [thing], namely, the Christmas goodies.

Captions 9-10, Weihnachtsessen mit Eva

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Further Learning
For more holiday vocabulary, check out our recent blog post. There are a number of individual videos on Yabla German that will certainly get you into the Christmas spirit. Listen to a traditional Christmas song, see Krampus parade around at the Christmas market in Munich, and watch some Germans decorate a Christmas tree under water. Or watch one of our feature films, such as Ein Sack voll Gold or Weihnachtsmann gesucht, starring a young Christoph Waltz!

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Indefinite pronouns in the dative case: jemandem

The words "somebody," "someone," "anybody," and "anyone" are indefinite pronouns that are usually translated as jemand in German. The indefinite pronoun jemand is similar to the definite pronouns I (ich), you (Sie or du), we (wir), or they (sie), but is referring to an indefinite rather than specific person.


Just like the definite pronouns in German, jemand is also subject to changing its form when used in the dative case after prepositions like nach, zu, mit or von. In the dative case, jemand gets an additional -em ending:


Sie suchen nach jemandem für ihre Marketingabteilung.

They're looking for someone for their marketing department.

Caption 8, Berufsleben das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 1

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Es ist lange her, dass ich so eine Verbindung zu jemandem gespürt habe.

It's been a long time since I felt such a connection to anyone.

Caption 53, Die Wohngemeinschaft Die Verabredung - Part 1

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Habt ihr mit jemandem Probleme, sagt's ihm ins Gesicht

If you have problems with someone, tell him to his face

Caption 57, Golo Smile

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Der Vorschlag müsste von jemandem kommen,

The proposal would have to come from someone

Caption 46, Pastewka Neue Serie für Kessler

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This is also true when the sentence structure requires the dative case, such as when you give somebody something:


Jemandem einen Korb geben.

To give someone a basket.

Caption 17, Eva erklärt Sprichwörter - Part 3

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The above expression usually is an idiom that means you are rejecting something that has been offered. Another figure of speech that you may already know is:


Und wenn ich jemandem die Daumen drücke, dann wünsche ich der Person ganz viel Glück.

And if I press my thumbs for someone, then I'm wishing the person a whole lot of luck.

Captions 28-29, Eva erklärt Redewendungen

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Further Learning
Look for other examples of how jemandem is used in a real-world context on Yabla German and try devising some sentences of your own using jemandem and have a fellow student check your work! If you're feeling brave you can explore the related expressions irgendjemandem and irgendwem!



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The preposition "to" in German: Part 5 — zu

This week, we will conclude our five-part series on how to express movement from one place to another in German — in other words, translations of the preposition "to." We have looked at instances in which nach, in, an, and auf are used for this purpose, and now it's time for the preposition zu


There are a few things to know about the preposition zu. First of all, it is always followed by the dative, even when used to express movement! This means you will often see zum, which is a combination of zu + dem for when a masculine or neuter object follows, and zur, which combines zu + der for a female object (again, it is always dative). 


Kuckt mal, jetzt gehen wir mal zur Mauer und kucken uns die mal an.

Look, now let's go to the Wall and take a look at it.

Caption 7, 25 Jahre Mauerfall Bürger Lars Dietrich erinnert sich

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Am nächsten Tag geht er zur Schule.

The next day, he goes to school.

Caption 16, Sabine erzählt Witze Ein Satz

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Und wer von der Politik genug gesehen hat, kann einfach weiterflanieren, zum Beispiel zurück zum Potsdamer Platz.

And anyone who has seen enough of politics can just continue strolling, for example, back to Potsdamer Platz.

Captions 38-39, Berlin Hauptstadt des vereinten Deutschland

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Zu is the most widely used preposition to express "to" and it can often (but not always) substitute for in, an, and auf. We can say Ich gehe ins Fitnessstudio, but also Ich gehe zum Fitnessstudio. Both Ich gehe auf den Markt and Ich gehe zum Markt are correct. However, sometimes only zu is correct and sometimes it can't be used at all. Ich fahre ins Restaurant doesn't sound right because you aren't literally going to drive your car into the restaurant. With the verb fahren it's better to use zum Restaurant.


There is an instance in which zu is used exclusively and you have likely already come across it. You may know that zu Hause sein means "to be at home" and nach Hause gehen is "to go home." But when we talk about visiting someone at their home, we always use zu and it is actually very simple. 


Ich gehe um elf zu Lisa.

I'm going to Lisa's at eleven.

Caption 16, Nicos Weg - A2 Folge 5: Geld ist für mich…

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Aber jetzt gehen wir erst mal zu deiner Tante.

But first let's go to your aunt's now.

Caption 22, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 23: Ich habe kein…

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Further Learning
Re-read the other parts of this series of lessons linked in the first paragraph. You can keep a running list of how you see the preposition "to" translated on Yabla German, or make a list of places and try to say "I'm going to ____" for each one in German. Here are some sentences you can translate to get started: "I'm going to the park," "I'm going to the restaurant," "I'm driving to the beach," "I'm taking the train to Munich," "I'm going to Ana's house," "I'm getting into the car," "I'm going to the market," "I'm going home." Consider: which of these can also be said in German using zu?

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The preposition "to" in German: Part 4 — auf

You may be familiar with auf as a preposition meaning "on" or "for." However, like the prepositions nach, in, and an, there are times when its meaning is "to" (accusative) and "at" (dative) and you will see it translated as such.


Viele machen sich's gemütlich zu Hause oder sie gehen auf eine Party.

Many people will make themselves comfortable at home or they will go to a party,

Caption 93, Silvester: Vorsätze für das neue Jahr - Linkenheim

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Yes, in German we say auf eine Party gehen ("to go to a party") and also auf eine Hochzeit gehen ("to go to a wedding"). 

There are certain public places for which auf is used as well. In the sentence below, der Markt refers to the consumer market, but you would also say Ich gehe auf den Markt to tell your friend that you are going to an outdoor farmer's market, and Ich bin auf dem Markt (with dative) once you have arrived there. 


Und einige der neuen Fahrzeuge, die jetzt auf den Markt kommen, werden Sie erstmals bei dieser IAA sehen.

And you will see some of the new vehicles that are now coming on to the market for the first time at this IAA.

Captions 44-45, Internationale Automobilausstellung: IAA in Frankfurt öffnet die Pforten

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As you might imagine, auf is also used when we will end up on or on top of something. If you remember our previous newsletter on the preposition in, the second example below might be quite confusing. But indeed, we say in die Berge when driving into/towards the mountains and auf den Berg when referring to climbing a single mountain.


Die Aktivisten kletterten über Kräne auf das Dach des Gebäudes.

The activists climbed via cranes onto the roof of the building.

Caption 8, Atomkraft: Streit um AKW-Laufzeiten

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Am besten steigen wir auf den Berg.

It's best if we climb the mountain.

Caption 9, JoNaLu: Ein Tag am Meer

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And finally, auf is also used with islands. 


Die Urlauber, die jetzt auf die Insel kommen, lassen sich den Wind um die Nase pusten.

The vacationers who come now to the island let the wind blow over their faces.

Caption 2, Die Insel Fehmarn: Gästeboom

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Further Learning
Other places and nouns that are commonly paired with the preposition auf when they are the destination include der Spielplatz, der Fußballplatz, der Flussdie Messe, and der Turm. Don't forget that auf is also a two-way preposition, so you will also see it used with the dative on Yabla German to describe location.

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The preposition "to" in German: Part 3 — an

After looking at the two-way preposition in last week, let's continue our series with an. This preposition is also a two-way preposition and is used in a multitude of contexts, including with the accusative case to express movement from one place to another. 


We use an rather than nach or in in some contexts where we will end up next to or to the side of something rather than in or on it. 


Sarah, komm du doch mal bitte an die Tafel.

Sarah, come up to the blackboard, please.

Caption 5, Bundesländer und ihre Spezialitäten: Baden-Württemberg

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Ich gehe rüber ans Fenster.

I go over to the window.

Caption 5, Philipp Poisel: Wie soll ein Mensch das ertragen?

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An is also used when we are going to a place that forms a boundary or edge. In particular, you can memorize an die Küste and an den Strand.


Natali und Florian zieht es zunächst an die Küste Cornwalls.

Natali and Florian proceed first to the coast of Cornwall.

Caption 28, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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In dieser Nacht segelten sie zurück an den Strand von Troja.

That night they sailed back to the beach of Troy.

Caption 80, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Das Trojanische Pferd

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Eine neue Hiobsbotschaft ist die plötzliche Abberufung Tresckows an die Ostfront.

A new piece of bad news is the sudden recall of Tresckow to the Eastern Front.

Captions 80-81, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944 - Part 5

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Und man davonfliegen möchte, so leicht wie eine kleine, weiße Feder, bis ans Ende der Welt.

And you would like to fly away, as light as a little white feather to the end of the world.

Captions 32-33, Piggeldy und Frederick: Das Fernweh

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Further Learning
Other places/nouns that are commonly paired with the preposition an when they are the destination include die Kreuzung (the intersection), die Wand (the wall), and die Grenze (the border). With all three of these examples, an + the accusative is only used when the barrier is NOT being crossed or traversed and it is simply a matter of going/driving/walking "up to" it. When you see an on Yabla German, you can quickly note whether it's being used with the accusative to mean "to" or with the dative to mean "at" or "on." Don't forget, however, that an also appears in contexts that have nothing to do with going or being anywhere (for example, an etwas denken). 

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The preposition "to" in German: Part 2 — in

In last week's newsletter on the preposition nach, we also looked at a few instances in which in is used to express going to a place, specifically for certain countries. In is also used to talk about going into town (in die Stadt), and actually also to talk about going into the mountains (in die Berge) and into the forest (in den Wald). 


Ich als Hamburger bin hier eigentlich als Flachlandtiroler bekannt und dennoch zieht es mich immer wieder in die Berge.

As a resident of Hamburg, I am actually known as a "flatland Tyrolean" and yet I am still repeatedly drawn to the mountains.

Captions 3-4, 48 h in Innsbruck: Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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In is a two-way preposition. With the accusative case, it is used to express movement towards a place — i.e. the English preposition "to." You wouldn't know it from the examples above, but one pattern you can note is that it is actually often used when the goal is an indoor location that you will spend time in. It is perhaps somewhat similar to how we sometimes use the preposition "into" in English.


Wir gehen total gerne ins Kino.

We really like going to the cinema.

Caption 50, Anja Polzer: Interview

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Ich erinner' mich, wie wir nach der Schule immer in den Laden gekommen sind.

I remember how we used to always come into the shop after school.

Caption 29, Malerei: Benno und Ira Treiber

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Wir sind jeden Morgen in die Schule gefahren nach West-Berlin.

We rode to West Berlin to school every morning.

Caption 44, Die Klasse: Berlin '61

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Note how in das is shortened to ins in the first example above. This is a common contraction.

When speaking about getting into a car or boarding a bus or train, you can also use the preposition in, as the implication is that you will spend time inside. 


Und ich würd jetzt sagen, wir steigen jetzt ins Auto.

And I would now say, we'll get in the car now.

Caption 27, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Backen mit Kindern & Auftritt bei Radio Rumms

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Other phrases with the preposition in to memorize include ins Bett gehen:


Ich lese gleich noch ein Buch für die Schule und dann geh ich ins Bett.

I'm going to read a book for school now and then I'll go to bed.

Caption 21, Nicos Weg: Am Sonntag koche ich

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Further Learning
Other places that are commonly paired with the preposition in are das Fitnessstudio, die Kneipe, das Museum, das Theater, das Hotel, der Park, and das Restaurant. You can search for examples of these on 
Yabla German or create your own!

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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 dann nach rechts.

He turned to the left 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!

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