Lezioni Tedesco

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German Body Idioms

Like English, German has many idioms that involve parts of the body. If you read our past newsletter about idioms that relate to feet, you can see the German idiom von Kopf bis Fuß — from head to foot — and note right away that there is a similar idiom in English. Like its German counterpart, "from head to toe" also means "completely" or "thoroughly."

Often, idioms with the same meaning in both languages will be similar, but not identical. Have a look:

 

Kopf hoch! Wie heißt es doch so schön?

Head up! What is it indeed that they say?

Caption 34, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

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In English, we say "chin up" when we are encouraging someone to remain optimistic. Another expression for this in German is halt die Ohren steif.

 

Wir drücken die Daumen.

We'll press the thumbs.

Caption 40, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor

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In English, we "keep our fingers crossed" when we are wishing for a positive outcome.

 

Essen kann er auch in Ruh'. Vater drückt ein Auge zu.

He can eat in peace. Father turns a blind eye.

Caption 4, Der Struwwelpeter: Ausschnitte

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"To turn a blind eye" is the equivalent expression in English.

 

Und jetzt willst du für ihn den Kopf hinhalten?

And now you want to hold your head out for him?

Caption 24, Die Pfefferkörner: Endspurt

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English-speakers wouldn't "hold their head out" for someone and take the blame for them. Instead, they would "stick their neck out."

 

Eine Hand wäscht die andere“ bedeutet, dass Hilfsbereitschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit beruht.

"One hand washes the other" means that helpfulness is based on reciprocity.

Captions 50-51, Cettina erklärt: Sitten und Bräuche

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In English, there is an expression with a similar meaning, which is "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

 

Further Learning
You will find more idioms on Yabla German (for example, in this video) and on the Yabla German lessons page. Look up the following German idioms and see if you can figure out their English equivalents: sich ins Knie schießenjemandem auf die Füße tretensich Hals über Kopf verliebenjemandem ein Dorn im Auge seindas Herz auf der Zunge tragen, and viel um die Ohren haben. 

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German verbs connected with lassen

There are at least ten German verbs that have unique meanings when connected with lassen ("to let"). Not so very long ago, they were literally connected with lassen in that they used to be written together as a single verb. However, in the last decades, the arbiter of German grammar, Duden, proclaimed that it is preferable grammatically to write the root verbs and lassen as separate words. Oddly enough, rather than subordinating the version with lassen to the main listing for the verb in question, Duden still has them listed in a dictionary single entry -- for two verbs. Thus if you search on Duden for the old spelling of fallenlassen, the first match will be fallen lassen.

 

Here are some examples of verbs connected to lassen which in the past would have been written as a single verb, but are now usually separated by a space:

 

Und als sich der Mond schließlich zeigte, glänzten die weißen Kieselsteine, die Hänsel hatte fallen lassen, wie Silber.

And when the moon finally revealed itself, the white pebbles that Hansel had let fall gleamed like silver.

Captions 31-32, Märchen, Sagenhaft: Hänsel und Gretel

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Ich bin locker. Wenn ich will, kann ich mich total gehen lassen.

I am relaxed. If I want to I can totally let myself go.

Caption 26, Filmtrailer: Keinohrhasen

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Ansonsten gilt im Zoo weiterhin die Frühlingsdevise: einfach mal hängen lassen!

Apart from that, in the zoo the spring slogan still applies: at times simply just let it all hang out!

Caption 48, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell Frühling im Zoo

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Diese Knochen macht dem Greifvogel kein Futterrivale streitig, deshalb kann er sie ruhig liegen lassen.

No rival will fight the bird of prey for these bones, so it can leave them well alone.

Captions 46-47, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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Den Teig lassen wir jetzt fünfundvierzig Minuten ruhen.

We'll let the dough sit now for forty-five minutes.

Caption 33, Bundesländer: Bayern

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Und somit hab ich dann alles, was mit Studium und Musik zu tun hatte, erst mal sein lassen.

And with that, I then let everything go that had to do with university studies and music.

Caption 44, Powerfrau Lina bleibt auf dem Boden

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Sie haben meiner Tochter schöne Augen gemacht und sie dann sitzen lassen.

You made eyes at my daughter and then abandoned her.

Caption 20, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist Loslassen - Part 3

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Man sollte ihn besser für alle Zeiten stehen lassen.

You'd be better off to leave it there for all time.

Caption 35, Piggeldy und Frederick Regenbogen

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As an added note, there are many other verbs ending with lassen that are still written as one word. Most of them have adjectives or adverbs as prefixes. Go to this link at dict.cc and see many examples.

 

Further Learning
See if you can guess the meanings of bleiben lassen and fahren lassen and then check a German dictionary to see if you got them right. You can also look for more examples of the above verbs related to lassen on Yabla German.

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German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part II

In a previous lesson, we looked at the topic of verbs that require a different preposition than might be expected if you are familiar with the English language. Let's continue with some common verb-preposition pairings that you should memorize.

In English we ask about something, but in German you will hear nach etwas fragen. There is also sich nach etwas erkundigen — "to inquire about something." The preposition nach is generally translated as "after," but not in this context.

 

Mit dem Fragewort "wo" fragt man nach dem Ort.

With the interrogative word "wo" one asks about the place.

Caption 8, Diane erklärt: Fragewörter

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Take a look below at the preposition used with the reflexive verb sich entscheiden.

 

Ich hab mich für ein Entrecôte entschieden.

I decided on an entrecôte.

Caption 5, Kochrezepte: Steak richtig braten

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Although you might hear the verb sich bewerben followed by the preposition für, this is actually incorrect. It is correct to use the preposition um, which is also used with the phrases konkurrieren um ("to compete for") and kämpfen um ("to fight for"). 

 

Eine Frau, die ein zweijähriges Kind hat, bewirbt sich in Deutschland um eine Stelle.

A woman who has a two-year-old child applies for a job in Germany.

Caption 37, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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The preposition an is only sometimes translated as "on" in English. Take a look at this example with the verb "to believe."

 

Es wär schön blöd, nicht an Wunder zu glauben.

It would be pretty stupid not to believe in miracles.

Caption 11, Wincent Weiss: An Wunder

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Further Learning
How would you translate the following phrases? Sich erinnern anan jemanden schreiben, an etwas leidenan jemanden vermieten, sich an etwas gewöhnen. If you are not sure, search for examples on Yabla German. For more prepositions, check out our recent lessons on sentences with identical prefixes and prepositions if you missed them.  

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part III

Today we'll continue with the third and final part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes coexist in German sentences.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: nach (to, after)
Separable verbs: nachahmen (to imitate); nachdenken (to think); nacherzählen (to retell, to relate); nachfolgen (to follow, to succeed); nachgeben (to give in); nachprüfen (to double check); nachschlagen (to look up, to reference); nachtun (to follow someone’s example); nachzählen (to recount, double-check)

This example uses the separable verb nachdenken

 

Manchmal denken wir Frauen zu viel über die Liebe nach.

Sometimes we women think too much about love.

Caption 7, Konjugation Das Verb „denken“

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Whereas this example uses the verb denken and the preposition nach:

 

Stuttgart, schön. OK, ich denke, ich fliege nach Stuttgart.

Stuttgart, nice. OK, I think I'll fly to Stuttgart.

Caption 9, Reiseplanung Anruf bei einem Reisebüro

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If we were to combine the separable verb nachdenken and the preposition nach, we could make a sentence like this: 

 

Ich denke über eine Reise nach Stuttgart nach.
I'm thinking about a trip to Stuttgart. 

 

Preposition: vor (to, before)
Separable verbs: vorbereiten (to prepare); vorbestellen (to pre-order); vorhaben (to plan, to intend); vorkommen (to come up, to happen); vornehmen (to carry out); vorstellen (to introduce, to imagine); vortragen (to perform, to give a lecture)

 

This example uses the separable verb vorhaben

 

Und was hast du heute noch vor?

And what else are you planning for today?

Caption 53, Unterwegs mit Cettina an der Rheinfähre

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But this example uses the verb haben and the preposition vor:

 

Du hast mich immer wieder vor dir selber gewarnt

You have always warned me about yourself

Caption 15, Johannes Oerding Mein schönster Fehler

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Again, we can make another sentence using the separable verb vorhaben and the preposition vor

 

Hast du wirklich vor, schon vor dem Deutschunterricht nach Hause zu gehen?
Do you really intend to go home before German class?

 

You may already be attending German class from home, but keep up the good work learning with Yabla German either way!

 

Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

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Falling, dropping, and slipping

You may be familiar with the verb rutschen ("to slip" or "to slide") from our previous newsletters about the phrase Guten Rutsch, which is used on New Year's Eve. 

 

Er ist durch den Kamin gerutscht?

He slid down the chimney?

Caption 79, Peppa Wutz: Weihnachten

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You may also hear the verb ausrutschen, which means to slip (and possibly fall), and the command rutsch rüber, which is how you tell someone to "slide over" or "move over" so that you can have a seat.

 

Ich bin mal ausgerutscht auf der Bühne.

I once slipped on stage.

Caption 39, Live-Entertainment-Award: Glamouröse Preisverleihung

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When we talk about falling, common verbs are herunterfallen or its shortened colloquial form runterfallen (which are similar to "to fall down"), hinfallen and umfallen (a bit more like "to fall over"), and stürzen and abstürzen (these are often used to indicate a bad fall). 

 

Er ist da bestimmt nicht zufällig runtergefallen. Das war kein Unfall.

He certainly didn't fall off accidentally. That was no accident.

Caption 10, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Im Herbst sind die Blätter rot und orange. Im Winter fallen sie herunter.

In autumn, the leaves are red and orange. In winter, they fall down.

Captions 44-45, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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Ich bin ja auch schon zweimal hingefallen, aber ist bis jetzt nichts passiert.

I've also already fallen two times, but up till now nothing has happened.

Captions 15-16, Jenny und Alena: Autos und Motorräder

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Und dann ist er bei einer Bergtour abgestürzt.

And then he fell during a mountain hike.

Caption 12, Lilly unter den Linden: Lilly und Tante Lena

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Nach Elmau, da ist ein Skifahrer gestürzt und hat eine Rückenverletzung.

Toward Elmau, a skier has fallen and has a back injury.

Caption 7, Rettungsflieger Im Einsatz

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The verbs fallen and fallen lassen are used when you drop something. Look at how the following sentences are constructed:

 

Oje, Linus hat seine Gießkanne ins Wasser fallen lassen.

Oh dear, Linus has dropped his watering can into the water.

Caption 28, Peppa Wutz: Sport

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Dennis ist kein Stift runtergefallen.

Dennis didn't drop a pencil.

Caption 109, Kurzfilme: Das Tagebuch

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You will also see fallen or its past participle gefallen used with the meaning of "to fall." As you know, gefallen is also a completely different verb that is used when we like something. However, structural and contextual differences between the phrase Es hat mir gefallen ("I liked it") and a sentence like Ich bin ins Wasser gefallen ("I fell into the water") don't allow for much ambiguity. 

 

Further Learning
You will find many more examples of these phrases and verbs used in context on Yabla German. These will help you get a better grasp of which verb is appropriate in which context, and how they are implemented structurally.

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part II

Today we'll continue with the second part of separable verbs and related prepositions, taking a look at how the same words with different meanings can sometimes occur in German sentences.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: aus (from, out, of)
Separable verbs: ausbilden (to educate, to train); ausbrechen (to break out); ausdrucken (to print); ausdrücken (to express); ausflippen (to lose control); ausgeben (to hand out); ausgehen (to go out, ausgehen von to assume); auslachen (to laugh at); ausmachen (to turn off, to put out); ausnutzen (to take advantage); ausschließen (to lock out, to exclude); aussprechen (to pronounce); aussterben (to die out, to go extinct); austauschen (to exchange).

 

Ich gehe heut Nacht aus...

I'm going out tonight...

Caption 5, Beatrice Egli Mein Herz

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Ihr müsst schon aus Mitleid in den Film alle gehen.

You all have to go see the film just out of pity.

Caption 39, Mario Barth und Paul Panzer Männersache - Part 2

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In the first instance above, the separable verb ausgehen is used, but although the verb gehen appears in the second example, the word aus here is a preposition, not part of a separable verb. Using aus as part of the separable verb ausgehen and additionally as a preposition could look like this:

 

Aus Angst vor einer Erkältung gehe ich im Winter nicht mehr so oft aus.
For fear of catching a cold, I don't go out as often in winter.

 

Preposition: mit (with, along)
Separable verbs: mitbekommen (to understand, to notice); mitfahren (to ride along); mitfühlen (to sympathize); mitmachen (to participate); mitnehmen (to take along); mitspielen (to play along); mitteilen (to inform, to share knowledge);

 

Peppa, fährst du beim Rennen auch mit?

Peppa, are you going to ride along in the race as well?

Caption 26, Peppa Wutz Sport - Part 3

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Dürfen wir denn dann mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht fahren? -Ja?

May we drive with you in your car with blue lights then? -Yes?

Caption 36, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 8

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In the first example above, the separable verb mitfahren means "to ride along." But in the second instance, the standard verb fahren is used twice with the preposition mit, which in this context translates as "with" and "in." We can also alter this sentence using the separable verb mitfahren:

 

Fahren wir mit Ihnen mit Ihrem Auto und Blaulicht mit?
Are we riding along with you in your car with blue lights?

 

Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with prepositions that are identical to their prefixes on Yabla German.

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Expressing Probability in German

For our beginners, we are devoting this week's newsletter to expressing probability, or the likelihood that something will occur or be the case. There is a range of adverbs that can help you express this in German. 

When something is certain, common adverbs used are definitiv, sicher, or bestimmt. "Definitely" is also among the common translations of the phrase auf jeden Fall.

 

Für Kerber steht fest, dass sie die Abstiegsrunde im April definitiv spielen wird.

For Kerber, it is certain that she will definitely play at the relegation round in April.

Caption 19, Angelique Kerber: Fotoshooting mit dem neuen Porsche 718 Boxster S

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Na ja, es wird sicher kein Problem sein, den Internetbetreiber zu zwingen, den Film zu löschen.

Well, it will certainly not be a problem to compel the internet provider to delete the movie.

Captions 6-7, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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Die Kündigung hat bestimmt andere Gründe.

The layoff surely has other reasons.

Caption 30, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Oh, wow! Dann wirst du ihn auf jeden Fall wiedersehen, oder?

Oh, wow! Then you will definitely see him again, right?

Caption 47, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Die Verabredung

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The best translation of "likely" and "unlikely" or "probable" and "improbable" in German is wahrscheinlich and unwahrscheinlich.

 

Wahrscheinlich brauchen wir noch ein bisschen Nachhaltigkeitsunterstützung,

We likely still need a little bit of support with sustainability,

Caption 77, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat

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Dass der Winter noch mal in voller Wucht zu uns zurückkommt, ist im Moment aber ohnehin eher unwahrscheinlich.

That winter will return to us in full force is, momentarily, however, without a doubt rather improbable.

Captions 41-42, Rhein-Main-TV: aktuell Frühling im Zoo

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Like wahrscheinlich, the word wohl as an adverb also signifies that something is likely or probable. Eventuell, vielleicht and möglicherweise are used when something is possible but can't be guaranteed. 

 

Und das wird wohl auch erst mal so bleiben.

And it will first also likely stay like that.

Caption 19, Andreas Bourani Startet durch

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Es kann sein, dass wir eventuell etwas Milch brauchen.

It could be that we'll maybe need some milk.

Caption 12, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt: Apfelkuchen mit Marzipan und Mandelsplittern

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Vielleicht wird's morgen für mich regnen.

Maybe it will rain for me tomorrow.

Caption 15, Andreas Bourani: Eisberg

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Das Kartengerät ist möglicherweise schon seit Wochen angezapft.

The card reader was possibly tapped for weeks.

Caption 44, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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Just as auf jeden Fall means definitely, auf keinen Fall means that something definitely will not occur, by no means.

 

Na, du wirst auf gar keinen Fall arbeiten.

Well, you won't work in any case.

Caption 45, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Further Learning
Create your own sentences in which you describe how likely certain events are to happen, from the definite or most likely to the most improbable. If you need more guidance, you can find many more examples of these adverbs in use on Yabla German.

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Separable Verbs and Related Prepositions, Part I

It is pretty unusual in English to have the same word with a completely different meaning occur twice in the same sentence. But as you will learn today, in German it is a fairly commonplace occurence.

 

Separable verbs often start with prefixes that are identical to prepositions. Here is a partial list of separable verbs that start with prefixes that on their own are prepositions, followed by examples of one of the verbs and the preposition:

 

Preposition: ab (from, off, starting, beginning, away)
Separable verbs: abbrennen (to burn down); abgeben (to turn in, to hand over); abkürzen (to shorten); abnehmen (to lose weight, to take something off); abschließen (to finish, to lock something)

 

Nimm mal die Brille ab! Er hat ganz rote Augen.

Take off the glasses! He has really red eyes.

Caption 31, Pastewka Cantz fährt betrunken Auto

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Ab nächster Woche geht das Fitnessprogramm wieder los.

Beginning next week, the fitness program will get going again.

Caption 36, Claudia Schiffer Nach der Babypause

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Using the verb abnehmen and the preposition ab, you can construct a sentence such as the one below. Can you tell from the sentence structure which ab is part of the verb and which is the preposition?

 

Ab diesem Zeitpunkt nehme ich die Sonnenbrille ab.
From this moment on, I'm taking off my sunglasses
.

 

Preposition: an (at, upon, on, to, towards)
Separable verbs: anerkennen (to recognize); andeuten (to hint at, to suggest); angeben (to indicate, to state, to brag); anklagen (to accuse); anschauen (to watch); anstellen (to hire, to employ); anweisen (to instruct); anwenden (to use); sich anziehen (to dress)

 

Dieser gibt an, wie die Hühner gehalten werden.

This indicates how the chickens are kept.

Caption 11, Bioeier Wie funktioniert der Erzeugercode?

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Behindert werden an dieser Stelle weder der Verkehr noch die Fußgänger.

Neither the traffic nor the pedestrians are impeded at this point.

Caption 29, Richter Alexander Hold Richtig parken

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Er gibt an dieser Stelle an, was er getan hat.
At this point, he states what he has done.

 

Preposition: auf (onto, upon, on, to, at, up)
Separable verbs: aufatmen (to breathe a sigh of relief); aufbleiben (to stay up, to stay open); aufführen (to perform); aufklären (to inform, enlighten, clear up); auflockern (to liven up); aufnehmen (to record, to take a picture); aufpassen (to look out, to take care); aufräumen (to clean up); aufschlagen (to open up); aufwachsen (to grow up)

 

Achtung, Luise, pass auf!

Attention, Luise, watch out!

Caption 59, Bretten Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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Sie waren die Schnellsten auf dem Acker.

They were the fastest on the field.

Caption 18, Barfuß unter Schafen Schäferwettrennen

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The verb aufpassen generally means "to watch out" for something, but combined with the preposition auf and a person, it means "to take care":

 

Pass auf dich auf, hm?

Take care of yourself, hm?

Caption 16, Lilly unter den Linden Kapitel 4: Die Grenze - Part 2

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Further Learning
See if you can come up with some other sentences that contain a separable verb and a preposition that is identical to the verb's prefix and have your teacher check your work. You can also look for more examples of separable verbs used with the same prefixes as prepositions on Yabla German.

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German Verbs and their Prepositions, Part I

Just as you should generally memorize the article (der, die, or das) along with each German noun that you learn, it is a good idea to pay attention to which preposition follows any given verb. This may sometimes match the English preposition — for example, Danke für das Essen and "Thank you for the food." However, there are many examples in which the preposition will not be what you would expect based on your knowledge of English. Here are some common examples:

The verb warten ("to wait") is followed by the preposition auf rather than the preposition für. The verb vorbereiten ("to prepare") may be followed by für when it refers to preparing something for a person, such as a meal. However, it is followed by auf in the context of preparing for an event.

 

Jetzt warte ich auf den nächsten Gang.

Now I am waiting for the next course.

Caption 28, Abendessen: mit Marko

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Ja, und bis dahin werde ich mich auf das Studium vorbereiten

Yes, and until then I'll be preparing myself for my studies

Caption 24, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

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In English, we say "I'm interested in politics." In German, the preposition für is used with the reflexive verb sich interessieren

 

Also, ich interessiere mich grade sehr für das Thema Bachelorarbeit.

Well, I'm very interested in the topic of my Bachelor's thesis at the moment.

Caption 49, Geoökologie Cettina interviewt Sarah

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While you congratulate someone on something in English, the German verb gratulieren requires the preposition zu and the dative case. 

 

Einer der Träume ist sicher Frauen und Herren bei Weltmeisterschaften zum WM-Titel zu gratulieren.

One of the dreams is certainly to congratulate the women and the men at the World Championships on the World Championship title.

Captions 51-52, Frauenfußball-WM: Der Bundespräsident am Ball

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In English we have sympathy for someone, whereas in German the preposition mit is used. 

 

Der Jäger hatte Mitleid mit ihr und Schneewittchen lief in den Wald hinein.

The Hunter had sympathy for her and Snow White ran into the forest.

Caption 32, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Schneewittchen

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In another instance where the preposition is not what you would necessarily expect, the German verb for "to participate in" is an etwas teilnehmen.

 

Ab welchem Alter darf man in Deutschland an der Wahl zum Deutschen Bundestag teilnehmen?

Starting at what age are you allowed to participate in parliamentary elections in Germany?

Caption 14, Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Einbürgerungstest

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Further Learning
We will be back with more verb/preposition false friends from time to time and point out common examples to be aware of. In the meantime, you can look at this previous newsletter, which also mentioned this tricky topic. However, the best way to get used to these inconsistencies is by watching videos on Yabla German! As you do, you will take note of phrases that employ a given verb with its correct preposition, which you can then implement when you speak.

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Du armes Schwein: disdain or empathy?

In the English language, I can't think of any way of calling somebody a pig (das Schwein) without it sounding pretty insulting. It's also usually the case in German that labeling someone a Schwein is meant to express disdain or to be purposefully offensive:

 

Du bist so ein Schwein geworden. Und wir waren mal Freunde?

You have become such a pig. And we were once friends?

Caption 17, Die Pfefferkörner Eigentor - Part 4

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Und damit kann das Ziel des Attentats doch noch erreicht werden. Wenn das Schwein wenigstens tot wäre.

And with this, the objective of the assassination attempt can still be reached. If the swine was at least dead.

Captions 27-28, Die Stunde der Offiziere Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944 - Part 16

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Du Schwein! Raus hier, du Lügner!

You pig! Out of here, you liar!

Caption 31, Filmwettbewerb "filmreif" Mama mach die Augen auf - Part 2

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Unser Chef ist ein mieses Schwein.

Our boss is a mean pig.

Caption 41, Weihnachtsfilm Ein Sack voll Geld - Part 7

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In German, however there is at least one slang context where Schwein is used together with the adjective arm ("poor") to express sympathy for somebody's situation:

 

Der Mann ist obdachlos. -Das arme Schwein! Vielleicht sollten wir ihm eine Spende geben.
The man is homeless. -The poor swine! Maybe we should give him a donation.

 

In English, this is the equivalent of saying "poor bastard," or the rather old-fashioned "poor devil." It's still common in British English to hear the similarly inclined "poor sod." None of these words are very nice, but they're used nevertheless to express sympathy!

 

Schwein haben is also used as an expression for having had good luck: 

 

Und permanent stand ich mit einem Bein im Knast, doch meistens hatt ich großes Schwein.

And I stood permanently on one leg in jail, but mostly I was very lucky.

Captions 23-24, Frank Zander Tu doch meine Asche in die Eieruhr

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If you didn't know this expression, you might wonder about him having had "a large pig" in prison!

 

Another nice idiomatic use of Schwein is when you don't know anybody at a place or event: 

 

Hier kenne ich kein Schwein
I don't know anyone here.

 

In this context, kein Schwein essentially means "no one" or "nobody":

 

Kein Schwein war da. Wenn man sagt: „Kein Schwein war da“, dann möchte man ausdrücken, dass man zu einer bestimmten Zeit an einem bestimmten Ort war und dort überraschenderweise niemanden angetroffen hat.

Nobody was there. When you say, "No pig was there," then you would like to express that you were at a certain time at a certain place and, surprisingly, met no one there.

Captions 42-46, Eva erklärt Sprichwörter - Part 2

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see some other uses of das Schwein in a real-world context.

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Overslept — or forgotten? The verb verschlafen

Most of you hopefully know the German verb schlafen (to sleep), but are you familiar with the verb verschlafen? It's probably one of the most common reasons for people arriving to work late:

 

Ich bin zu spät gekommen, weil ich verschlafen habe.
I arrived too late because I overslept.

 

Wo steckt eigentlich Nicki? -Verschlafen?

Where is Nicki hiding, actually? -Overslept?

Caption 41, Großstadtrevier Von Monstern und Mördern - Part 9

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Verschlafen is also common as an adjective and adverb and has a slightly different meaning:

 

Das Kleinste ist erst Ende März geboren und noch sehr verschlafen.

The smallest was only born at the end of March and is still very sleepy.

Caption 30, Rhein-Main-TV Tierbabys im Opel-Zoo

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Aber noch blinzelt die Leitkuh etwas verschlafen in die Morgensonne.

But the lead cow still blinks a bit sleepily in the morning sun.

Caption 19, Die letzten Paradiese Die Schönheit der Alpen 1 - Part 9

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But the most unexpected meaning of verschlafen is in its slang use with a direct object: 

 

Ich bin ganz ehrlich, ich hab ihn verschlafen, weil ich einkaufen war.

I'll be totally honest: I missed it because I was shopping.

Caption 18, Die Pfefferkörner Alles auf Anfang - Part 16

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This could be alternately translated as "overlooked" or "forgot." So if you ever hear somebody say that they "overslept" something, you'll know that they are using a slang idiom that means that they overlooked it — nothing really to do with sleep!

 

Further Learning
See if you can guess—if you don't already know—the meanings of ausschlafen, durchschlafen, einschlafen, entschlafen, weiterschlafen, and überschlafen. Then go find some examples of these words used in a real-world context on Yabla German. All this talk about sleep is making me sleepy, so with that I wish you all a good night, ich gehe jetzt schlafen!

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"To earn" and "to deserve": the verb verdienen

The verb "to earn" in German is verdienen, and it is the verb we use when talking about earning money or making a living. 

 

Was verdient denn der Durchschnittsmensch in Deutschland?

What does the average person earn in Germany?

Caption 20, LUKE! Die Woche und ich: Kinderquatsch mit Luke

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Die Schwestern im Kloster verdienen damit einen großen Teil ihres Lebensunterhalts,

The sisters in the cloister earn a large portion of their livelihood with that,

Caption 39, Hostien für den Papst: Abtei Sankt Gertrud in Alexanderdorf

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But, like in English, you can also "earn" things other than money, such as a break or success. 

 

Das fühlt sich natürlich toll an, weil sich das auch so anfühlt, als hätte man sich das verdient, weil man sich's erarbeitet hat.

Of course that feels great, because it also feels as if we have earned it because we have worked for it.

Captions 15-16, Culcha Candela zieht Bilanz

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Wenn man hier so viel ackert, dann hat man mal eine Auszeit verdient.

When you slog away here so much, you have at some point earned a break.

Caption 21, Großstadtrevier: Neben der Spur

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There are times when either the verb "to deserve" or "to earn" can be used in English, and in German verdienen is used in both cases. It is used for positive outcomes and negative circumstances alike. Note, however, that the tense may change in the translation.

 

Na und? Der hat auch seine Strafe verdient.

So what? He also deserves his punishment. 

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Also, ich finde, du hast den Preis echt verdient.

Well, I think you really deserved the prize.

Caption 91, Free Birds: Interview mit Nora Tschirner & Rick Kavanian

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Weil ich glaube, dass ein Typ wie Sie eine zweite Chance verdient hat.

Because I think a guy like you deserves a second chance.

Caption 35, Großstadtrevier: St. Pauli rettet HSV

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Further Learning
On Yabla German you can find the verb verdienen used to express both "to earn" and "to deserve." Pay attention to the tenses, which will not always align in English and German.

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Complaining

You may know the German phrase Halt die Ohren steif, which is the equivalent of "Keep your chin up." These are tough times, and even if we generally are able to do this, it's sometimes hard not to complain about our current circumstances or the things we might be missing out on. 

The most common verb for "to complain" in German is the reflexive verb sich beschweren. You can see in the second example below that it is used with the preposition über and the accusative. 

 

Was ist los? -Ach, nichts. Passt schon. Ich will mich nicht beschweren.

What is going on? -Oh, nothing. It's OK. I don't want to complain.

Caption 29, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Probleme

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Ich habe mich bei ihm über meinen Nachbarn beschwert.

I complained to him about my neighbor.

Caption 30, Nicos Weg4: Nachbarschaft

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You may also see the verbs klagen and reklamieren. The verb klagen is also used in a legal context and means to file a lawsuit against someone.The verb reklamieren is particularly used for customer complaints (die Reklamationen), for example if an item is defective. 

 

Wenn Kinder über Kopf- oder Bauchschmerzen klagen, nicht mehr zur Schule gehen wollen und sich zurückziehen, dann sollten Eltern hellhörig werden.

If children complain about head- or stomachaches, no longer want to go to school and withdraw, then parents should listen up.

Captions 28-30, Mobbing in der Schule: Mehr als Streit

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Vielleicht reklamiert sie was.

Maybe  she's issuing a complaint.

Caption 12, Großstadtrevier: Nicht mit mir

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A common slang term for "to complain" is meckern. This verb actually means to bleat like a goat, but is used to express whining or grumbling.

 

Und daran gibt es nichts zu meckern.

And there's nothing to complain about there.

Caption 25, Die letzten Paradiese: Die Schönheit der Alpen

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Von uns Westberlinern wird gesagt, dass wir nur meckern, aber die meckern ja nur noch mehr.

People say about us West Berliners that all we do is complain, but they just complain even more.

Captions 51-52, Heute-Show 30 Jahre Mauerfall: So feiern die Deutschen ihre Einheit

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Further Learning
Practice using the verb sich beschweren in various tenses, and don't forget to alter the reflexive pronoun. You can search for the infinitive sich beschweren and the participle beschwert on Yabla German to find further examples.

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bleibe, beliebte, beileibe

The three words above make a nice tongue twister or Zungenbrecher — literally "tongue breaker" in German — though certainly not as difficult as the classic Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz. Best try the latter only if you have a first aid kit around! But I doubt all of us are completely clear on the meanings of the aforementioned "B" words. Let's start with the easiest ones.

 

Bleibe is the first person singular present tense of the verb bleiben:

 

Also, "ich bleibe", das ist Präsens, ja.

Well, "I am staying", that is present tense, yes.

Caption 5, Deutschkurs in Tübingen Vorbereitung auf den Test

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Ich bleibe einfach hier in Deutschland und werde eine Fahrradtour machen.

I will just stay here in Germany and will do a bike tour.

Caption 50, Jenny Reiseziele

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Nein, ich komme nicht mit. Ich bleibe hier in Deutschland.

No, I'm not coming with you. I'm staying here in Germany.

Caption 6, Nicos Weg A2 Folge 17: Unterwegs

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The verb bleiben is very appropriate this summer, as most of us will be doing our best to enjoy staycations

 

The adjective beliebt — most often written as beliebte with the suffix -e when following a definite article in the nominative case — can be translated as "beloved," "favored," or "popular," depending upon the context:

 

Saint-Tropez am Baggersee, so besangen schon die Rodgau Monotones vor über 30 Jahren das beliebte Badeparadies der Stadt Rodgau.

Saint-Tropez on the artificial lake, as the Rodgau Monotones already sang over 30 years ago about the beloved swimming paradise of the city of Rodgau.

Captions 2-4, Rhein-Main-TV Badesee Rodgau

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Besonders beliebt ist bei den Berlinern der Wannsee

The Wannsee is especially popular with the residents of Berlin,

Caption 3, Berlin Wannsee

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Lastly, we come to the least commonly used of the three B words: beileibe. This adverb is similar in meaning to bestimmt ("definitely") or wirklich ("really"), but is used almost exclusively in the negation beileibe nicht

 

Das wird vielleicht was kosten, aber beileibe nicht so viel wie der Verlust des gesamten Projekts.

It may cost something, but by no means as much as the loss of the whole project.

Captions 45-46, Marga Engel schlägt zurück Rache - Part 3

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Depending upon the context, beileibe nicht can also be translated as "on no account" or "certainly not."

 

Further Learning
Search for variations of the above three words on Yabla German and practice writing some sentences of your own in German that include these words. For some learning fun, go to the Zungenbrecher page on Wikipedia and, after translating a couple, see how fast you can say them without breaking your tongue! 

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Erst and Related Adverbs

In German, you will see the adverb erst, along with its synonym zuerst, used to express "first" or "at first" and establish temporal order. 

 

Dazu müssen wir die Äpfel erst schälen.

For this, we first have to peel the apples.

Caption 21, Apfelpfannkuchen: mit Alina und Sabine

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Zuerst möchte ich euch das Wahrzeichen der Stadt vorstellen.

First, I would like to show you the town's landmark.

Caption 9, Jenny zeigt uns: den Speyerer Dom

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Ich muss sagen, ich hatte erst richtig viel Angst da oben im Flugzeug.

I must say, I was at first really afraid up there in the airplane.

Caption 13, Abenteuer und Sport: Fallschirmspringen

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However, erst is also used as an adverb to express that something didn't occur or will not occur until a particular moment. There isn't a precise English translation for this, but usually a phrase with "only" or "not until" is used. 

 

Also werden wir uns erst nächste Woche Montag entscheiden.

So, we won't decide until Monday of next week.

Caption 67, Berufsleben: das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Ich bin gerade erst vor kurzem Veganerin geworden.

I've only just recently become a vegan.

Caption 28, Buchtipp: Aufregen für Fortgeschrittene

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Als Erstes and erstens generally are used when a series of steps is mentioned or at least implied. When erstens is used, zweitens (and possibly drittens) will generally follow, and als Erstes implies that there is a step that comes als Nächstes

 

Als Erstes suche ich mir einen Koffer aus.

First, I'm going to pick out a suitcase.

Caption 3, Christiane: fährt in den Urlaub

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Wo eine Parkscheibe vorgeschrieben ist, darf man erstens nur so lange parken, wie es auf dem Zusatzschild angegeben ist, und zweitens nur, wenn man die Parkscheibe auf die nächste volle halbe Stunde nach der Ankunft einstellt.

Where a parking disk is required, you should, first of all, only park as long as indicated on the additional sign, and secondly, only if you set the parking disk for the next full half hour after arrival.

Captions 18-20, Richter Alexander Hold: Richtig parken

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The adverb erst mal can be translated as "first," "first of all," "to begin with," or even "for now." 

 

Aber jetzt gehen wir erst mal zu deiner Tante.

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

Caption 22, Nicos Weg: Ich habe kein…

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Aber ich brauche erst mal nichts.

But I don't need anything for now.

Caption 47, Die Wohngemeinschaft: Besuch

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One false friend to keep in mind is the adverb zunächst. Unlike als Nächstes, this word has nothing to do with "next" and actually also means "first" or "initially."

 

Wenn man sich sehr schlecht fühlt, geht man in der Regel zunächst einmal zum Arzt.

If you feel very badly, you generally first go to the doctor.

Caption 5, Eva erklärt: Gesundheit

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Ja, ich habe zunächst auf Werbemuster von Christina Hoffmann gewartet.

Yes, I was initially waiting for advertising samples from Christina Hoffmann.

Caption 16, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Further Learning
You can find many examples of all of these adverbs on Yabla German. When you see one, take note of where it is positioned in the phrase and consider whether any of the other adverbs above could also be used.  

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German Preposition Cases, Part IV

This week we're doing the last part of this German Preposition Cases series. Let's take a look at those tricky dual-case prepositions that require either the accusative case or the dative case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

 

The German dual-case prepositions are an, auf, hinter, in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen, and über. As a general rule, if the preposition suggests motion or movement from one place to another, it takes the accusative case. If there is no motion or movement suggested,  it takes the dative case. Please take a moment to review the dative and accusative cases in the previous lessons. 

 

The nominative pronoun ich becomes mir in the dative case and mich in the accusative case. Note in the following how "because of me" suggests no movement and uses the dative pronoun, whereas "send to me" suggests the motion of sending something and thus takes the accusative pronoun.

 

Er fragt sich: „Liegt es nur an mir, dass es jetzt schneit?“

He asks himself, "Is it just because of me that it's snowing now?"

Caption 10, Jan Wittmer Weihnachtslied

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Wenn Sie sie einfach direkt an mich schicken würden...

If you'll just send them directly to me...

Caption 31, Berufsleben das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 1

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The German feminine of the definite article "the" is die. In the next captions, there is no movement when discussing a scale of numbers, so the nominative die becomes the dative der. Apparently, viewing something conveys some motion in that you are actively looking at something, thus a "view of a bridge" uses the accusative die.

 

Auf der Skala eins bis zehn: Bei dir bin ich zehn

On a scale of one to ten: With you I am ten

Captions 16-17, 2raumwohnung Liebe mit Musik am Laufen halten

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Das ist die Draufsicht auf die Brücke.

That is the view of the bridge.

Caption 40, 48 h in Innsbruck Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps - Part 1

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Back to the nominative personal pronoun "I," which in dative becomes mir and in accusative becomes mich. As you'll notice, the passive phrase "is situated" gets the dative case, and the active phrase "to get it behind me" receives the accusative case:

 

Hinter mir befindet sich die ehemalige amerikanische Botschaft.

The former American Embassy is situated behind me.

Caption 3, Berlin der alte amerikanische Sektor

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Ja, ich wollte es einfach hinter mich bringen.

Yes, I just wanted to get it behind me.

Caption 9, Die Wohngemeinschaft Probleme - Part 2

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Hopefully these examples will help give you an idea of when to use the dative (no motion, passive) or accusative (motion, active) cases with the above dual-case prepositions.

 

Further Learning
We just went through the dative and accusative cases for the dual-case prepositions an, auf, and hinter. Try looking on Yabla German for dative and accusative examples of the remaining dual-case prepositions in, neben, unter, vor, zwischen, and über. It will help you find them if you look for specific accusative and dative definite articles or pronouns when you do the search!

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Levels of Understanding

In German, the verb verstehen is used in a wide variety of contexts, from hearing what someone says to understanding a fact or the nature of a particular situation or circumstances.

 

Habt ihr es verstanden? -Ja.

Have you understood it? -Yes. 

Caption 26, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

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Wenn du ein Wort im Untertitel nicht verstehst, dann kannst du es anklicken.

If you don't understand a word in the subtitle, then you can click on it.

Captions 27-28, German Intro: Jenny

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Trotzdem kann ich verstehen, dass es nicht fair für sie ist, alles bezahlen zu müssen.

Nevertheless, I can understand that it is not fair for her to have to pay for everything.

Caption 40, Die Wohngemeinschaft:Probleme

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Das kann ich gut verstehen, ich habe selbst zwei Kinder.

I can understand that well, I have two children myself.

Caption 25, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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When you are expressing a deeper level of comprehension, for example being able to follow why something happened the way it did, reconstruct a line of thought, relate to something, or grasp connections, there are additional verbs you can use.

 

Zwar ist das Wort „Nachhaltigkeit“ in aller Munde, Kinder können das aber kaum nachvollziehen.

Indeed, the word "sustainability" is in all mouths [idiom: on everyone's lips], but children are hardly able to understand it.

Captions 4-5, Schüler lernen Nachhaltigkeit: Bildungsinitiative gestartet

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Und das müssen wir wirklich alle begreifen. Im Moment ist nur Abstand Ausdruck von Fürsorge.

And that's what we all really need to understand: At the moment, distance is the only way to express care.

Captions 41-42, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Da begriffen die drei Brüder, dass alles nur ein Trick gewesen war.

Then the three brothers realized that it had all just been a trick.

Caption 85, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die drei Brüder

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One verb that you may encounter is kapieren. In English, we use "to get" to mean "to understand" and this is a similar slang expression. 

 

Und es wäre schön, wenn du es endlich mal kapieren würdest.

And it would be nice if you would finally understand that.

Caption 48, Oskar - Gehen, wenn es am schönsten ist: Der Panther

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Mann, du kapierst es einfach nicht. Ich war das nicht!

Man, you just don't get it. It wasn't me!

Caption 31, Die Pfefferkörner: Alles auf Anfang

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Further Learning
You can find many examples on Yabla German, but also consider the first four above. Which of these could be replaced with a verb other than verstehen?

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German Preposition Cases, Part III

This week we're continuing the German Preposition Cases series. Let's examine the prepositions that always require the genitive case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

 

Let's start out by taking a look at the genitive case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the dative case: 

 

der => des
die => der
das => des
die
(plural) => der

 

And for the indefinite article

 

ein (masculine) => eines
eine => einer
ein (neuter) => eines

 

Remember too that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition. And while accusative and dative prepositions aren’t (with some exceptions) usually accompanied by altered nouns, masculine and neuter singular nouns preceded by genitive prepositions get the suffix “-s” or “-es.” Generally plural nouns don't change.

 

The common German prepositions that require the genitive case are anstatt or stattauβerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, and wegen. The preposition statt, which is not to be confused with the separable verb stattfinden, takes the genitive case. Here, the plural die Runden becomes the genitive der Runden:

 

... heizte Vettel statt der geplanten drei insgesamt sechs Runden über den Asphalt.

... instead of the planned three laps, Vettel sped six laps over the asphalt.

Caption 46, Formel-1-Autorennen Sebastian Vettels Homerun

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Here, the singular feminine noun die Wertung becomes the genitive der Wertung:

 

... und er fährt hier außerhalb der Wertung mit.

... and he's riding here without being scored.

Caption 35, Trial-Meisterschaft in Bensheim - Part 2

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Note that if a masculine or neuter proper noun is used, such as the continent das Asien, the proper noun has "-s" added as a suffix:

 

Bislang gibt es außerhalb Asiens überhaupt noch keine vergleichbare Drehscheibe.

Until now, outside of Asia, there hasn't been a comparable [yuan trading] hub at all.

Caption 40, Frankfurt wird Handelszentrum für die chinesische Währung Yuan

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In the following, the masculine nominative ein Dom becomes the genitive eines Doms:

 

Wir haben vier Segmente innerhalb eines Doms.

We have four segments inside a dome.

Caption 52, Bildverarbeitung Sirius Advanced Cybernetics

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It's also often possible to use außerhalb or innerhalb as dative prepositions by pairing them with von for the dative case: außerhalb von and innerhalb von.

 

Here, the nominative die Perücke, with the adjective goldene Perücke, becomes the genitive goldener Perücke. It is important to note that if no definite or indefinite article is present, the adjective takes the genitive ending: 

 

Trotz goldener Perücke hat der einst vornehme Herr wohl schon bessere Zeiten gesehen!

Despite the gold wig, the once distinguished gentlemen has indeed seen better times!

Caption 3, Architektur Karlsruher Brunnen - Part 2

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In this next caption, the neuter nominative das Training becomes the genitive des Trainings

 

Und wie ist das passiert? Während des Trainings?

And how did it happen? During the training?

Caption 33, Jenny und Alena Handball

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And in the last of our genitive case examples, the masculine nominative der Getriebeschaden becomes the genitive des Getriebeschadens

 

... wegen eines Getriebeschadens zurück in die Boxengasse.

... go back into the pit lane due to transmission damage.

Caption 43, Formel-1-Autorennen Sebastian Vettels Homerun

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You may have noticed that the personal pronouns were not listed at the top of this lesson. That's because personal pronouns aren't generally used in formal German, however the usually genitive prepositions anstatt or statt, trotz, während and wegen are sometimes used with personal pronouns informally — but with the dative case!

 

Thus the singular and plural personal pronouns "I," "you," "he," "she," , "it," "we," and "they" take the dative case with the above genitive prepositions:

 

ich => mir
du => dir
Sie
(formal "you") => Ihnen
er 
=> ihm
sie 
=> ihr
es
=> ihm
ihr => euch

wir => uns
sie
=> ihnen
Sie (formal "you" plural) => Ihnen

 

Probably the most commonly-heard example is, instead of saying "because of me" as meinetwegen, you'll often hear:

 

Und ihr seid auch da. Etwa wegen mir?
And you are here too. Somehow because of me?
Caption 2, Otto Waalkes: Hier kommt Otto!

 

Remember too that meinetwegen also has a slang usage meaning "I don't have anything against it". We'll cover the informal usage of dative personal pronouns with usually genitive prepositions in another lesson! 

 

Further Learning
To recap, the common German prepositions that require the genitive case of definite and indefinite articles and nouns are anstatt or stattauβerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, and wegenGo to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives formally take the genitive case. Also review Part II in this series about prepositions that require the dative case.

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