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Hin und her

You asked a question and we are happy to respond! We will devote this lesson to the adverbs/prefixes hin and her. 

 

We frequently see the expression hin und her, which can be translated as "back and forth," "to and fro," or occasionally "there and back." But there often isn't a precise translation when they appear individually.

 

As you can see below, the prefixes hin and her create a more specific sense of direction in the meaning of a sentence. Generally, hin refers to movement away from the speaker, and her refers to movement towards the speaker.

 

Also, wo ziehst du jetzt hin? -Nach Hamburg.
So, where are you moving to now? -To Hamburg.
Caption 2, Drei Leute: beim Kofferpacken

 

Wo kommt eigentlich euer Interesse her an den Sepien?
Where does your interest in cuttlefish actually come from?
Caption 18, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

But that isn't all! Hin and her are also used to talk about time, with hin referring to the future and her to the past. 

 

Rainer Roth, Saisonpremiere ist auch noch bisschen hin.
Rainer Roth, it's also still a while until the season premiere.
Caption 7, Fußball: Saisonpremiere

 

Drei Jahre ist es schon her, dass er sich das letzte Mal ins Studio gesetzt hat.
It's already been three years since the last time that he sat himself down in the studio.
Caption 3, Max Herre: Will kein Frauentyp sein

 

Further Learning

 

There are, of course, many instances of hin and her used on Yabla German. For some more vocabulary, you can refer to this page for words prefixed with hin, and this for words prefixed with her. For even more information, take a look at this lesson

 

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Cheap, Low-Priced and Inexpensive

Adjectives and adverbs describing the cost or quality of an item in English can have positive or negative connotations, depending on the context. In German however, the words on this topic tend to be a bit more defined. In most contexts, the adjective/adverb billig has negative connotations, such as when a wife finds out her ex-Stasi* agent husband is having an illicit affair with a woman he once interrogated: 

 

Das ist so billig.
That is so cheap.
Caption 2, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich, Versuch der Verdrängung

 

On a more positive note, you can use the adjective/adverb preiswert

 

Sie können bei uns Getränke umsonst haben und noch preiswert fliegen.
With us they can have drinks for free and still fly inexpensively.
Caption 32-33, Fluglinien: Niki Air 

 

And on an even more positive note, the adjective/adverb günstig

 

Er hat sich ein günstiges Gerät gekauft.
He bought himself an inexpensive device.
Caption 15, Flipperautomaten: Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

 

Auch aufgrund der Mietpreise, die hier sehr günstig sind.
Also because of the rent prices, which are very reasonable here.
Caption 20, Jonathan Johnson: Kreuzberg, Berlin

 

Die Gerichte sind günstig.
The meals are reasonably priced.
Caption 12, Universität: Karlsruhe

 

Günstig may also be translated as "affordable" or "low-priced" or even "cheap," but it's important to remember here that it's usually meant positively, and never to indicate that something was of poor quality like the word billig. Günstig also has quite a different meaning in other contexts: 

 

Das Wetter ist hier sehr günstig, es ist einfach schön.
The weather here is very favorable, it's simply nice.
Caption 22, Konstantin: ein Freiwilliger in Israel

 

It's pretty unlikely that weather would be described as "cheap." In this sense, günstig may also be used to describe situations that are fortunate, beneficial, providential, auspicious or merely convenient. A very favorable word indeed!

 

Further Learning
To conclude: billig is usually "cheap" in a negative sense, preiswert is "inexpensive" in a more positive sense, and günstig is "reasonable" in the most positive sense. Günstig also has additional positive meanings. Go to Yabla German to find more examples of all three words used in a real world context and see if you can find some other German words that can also mean "cheap" or "inexpensive."

 

*Stasi is an acronym for der Staatssicherheitsdienst, the secret police in the former German Democratic Republic.

 

Thank you for reading this newsletter and keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at newsletter@yabla.com, and you can tweet us @yabla.

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The word sei

The word sei is something that can be a bit confusing when it appears. Although it is rare and more often used in written German, sei does comes up on Yabla German every once in a while.

 

It is, for one, the informal second person command form of the verb sein ("to be"). 

 

Wir haben Fieberkomm sei dabei
We have the fever, come be involved
Caption 11, Christina Stürmer: Fieber

 

Sei ruhig, Findus, ich bin ja noch gar nicht aufgestanden.
Be quiet, Findus, I indeed haven't gotten up yet at all.
Caption 13, Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze

 

But sei appears in other contexts as well. The phrase es sei denn can be translated as "unless":

 

Man hat uns erzählt, sie läge bis zum heutigen Tag dort, es sei denn, es hat sie jemand gegessen.
We were told that it is there to this very day, unless someone has eaten it.
Caption 93-94, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

 

Sei is particularly used when something is or was reported or thought to be true, but isn't proven. However, it is used most often in written German, or narration and reporting. 
 

 

Also hat der Papst die Armbrust verboten und hat gesagt, es sei ein Werkzeug des Teufels.
So the Pope forbade the crossbow and said it was a tool of the devil.
Caption 30-31, Die Armbrust: im Mittelalter

 

Nein, der unbekannte Verkehrsteilnehmer hatte nur irrtümlich angenommen, die Parkuhr sei beschädigt...
No, the unknown motorist had just mistakenly assumed the parking meter was damaged...
Caption 56-57, Loriot: Die Politesse

 

Die böse Königin glaubte, Schneewittchen sei tot...
The evil Queen believed Snow White to be dead...
Caption 51, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Schneewittchen
 

 

Further Learning

 

Do you know all of the conjugations of sein in the imperative? If not, review them now with the table on this page. When you encounter sei in its other contexts, remember that it essentially communicates the subjunctive and what is being said may not be true at all!

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The Importance of Being Ernst

While the appreciative audience for bad puns on Oscar Wilde play titles may be limited, it is important to know if somebody is being serious or not in German, especially when your goal is to achieve a proficient level of communication in that language.

 

If Johanna and Julia both have husbands named Ernst, and somebody announces to them that a man named Ernst is on the telephone, Johanna might ask Julia Das ist nicht dein Ernst, oder? to see if Julia's husband is calling or if it's her own husband on the telephone. In all other cases, however, a reference to the noun der Ernst ("seriousness") preceded by a possessive pronoun (mein, dein, Ihr, euer, unser) means something else altogether: 

 

Das ist nicht dein Ernst, oder?
You're not serious, right?
Caption 24, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich, Liebe auf den ersten Blick

 

The phrase would translate literally (and rather clumsily) as "Is that not your seriousness?," but what is meant is "You're not serious?"

 

Here's another example of the phrase, this time with the second person plural possessive pronoun: 

 

Das ist nicht euer Ernst.
You can't be serious.
Caption 71, Die Pierre-M.-Krause-Show: Classics

 

Another way of stating whether somebody is being serious or not is to use the noun der Ernst preceded by the dative preposition in

 

Das meinst du nicht im Ernst.
You do not mean that seriously.
Caption 17, Mama arbeitet wieder: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

 

Im Ernst is in fact the most common way to say "seriously": 

 

Nein! -Ja, ganz im Ernst.
No! -Yes, seriously.
Caption 11, Barbara Schöneberger: Bambi-Verleihung backstage

 

Further Learning
If you are taking your German lessons seriously, you can go to Yabla German and find other uses of der Ernst in a real-world context — excepting, of course, the rare occasion when Johanna or Julia's husband Ernst shows up!

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Rabbit Expressions in German

It's typical in many languages to use phrases with animals as idiomatic expressions, such as the English expressions "to let the cat out of the bag" (to reveal a secret) or "Hold your horses!" (ordering someone to stop whatever they are doing). German has a number of animal expressions too, but in this lesson today, we'll only concern ourselves with those related to rabbits!

 

…aber die alten Hasen trotzdem noch kommen, die Die-Hard-Fans
…but the old rabbits nevertheless still come, the die-hard fans.
Caption 44, Sons of Sounds: Open-Air in Karlsruhe

 

Musikalisch könnten Ärzte, Rammstein und Co von einem alten Hasen wie ihm noch richtig was lernen.
Musically, the Ärzte, Rammstein and others could really still learn something from an old rabbit like him.
Captions 24, 25: Heino: Neue Volkslieder

 

The idiom ein alter Hase is equivalent to the English idiom "an old hand", meaning somebody who has a lot of experience at something. Judging from the videos above, the expression seems to be a particular favorite of musicians!

 

Hallöchen, ihr Hasen! Ich bin die kleine, süße Olivia Jones.
Hello, you bunnies! I am sweet little Olivia Jones.
Caption 1: Hamburger Hafenrundfahrt: Schrill unterwegs mit Olivia Jones

 

Tschüss, Prinzessin. -Tschüss, Mama. -Tschüss, mein Hase.
Bye, Princess. -Bye, Mama. -Bye, my bunny.
Caption 60: Mama arbeitet wieder, Kapitel 1: Alle haben sich lieb

 

In the examples above, Hase has been translated as "bunny," in this case it means a term of endearment like "darling."

 

Damit ist der Hase wohl gelutscht und der Drops sitzt in der Falle.
With that the rabbit has been sucked and the lozenge is in the trap.
Caption 66: Die Pierre-M.-Krause-Show: Classics

 

The above example actually reversed the subjects of the sentence as a joke. The phrase should be: Der Hase sitzt in der Falle, which is not really an idiom at all, rather just a metaphorical phrase meaning they have caught the criminal they intended to arrest. 

 

Further Learning
The following phrases are typical idiomatic expressions using der Hase. See if you can intuitively guess their meaning, then go to this Duden page and see if your guesses were correct! 

 

— ein heuriger Hase

 

— sehen, wie der Hase läuft

 

— da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer 

 

Afterwards, you can go to Yabla German and find other uses of der Hase in a real-world context.

 

Thank you for reading this. Keep up the good work! If you have any good ideas for lesson topics, please email them to us at newsletter@yabla.com, and you can tweet us @yabla.

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Expressions with Weg and Weise

This week we'll look at the German translations for English expressions using the word "way." 

 

Both "on my way" (also with "your" or any other possessive adjective) and "on the way" are translated as auf dem Weg in German.

 

Ich bin auf dem Weg und jetzt geh' ich unter das Tor.
I'm on the way and now I'll go under the gate.
Caption 34, Diane erklärt: Präpositionen

 

This can also be used figuratively as well, as it is in English: 

 

Dann gibt es nur noch eine kleine Hürde auf dem Weg zu Ihrem Traumjob.
Then there is still only one small hurdle on the way to your dream job.
Caption 16, Bundestagswahl: Stellenanzeige - Bundeskanzler gesucht

 

The same goes for something standing or being "in the way":

 

Und dem soll auch vorerst nichts im Wege stehen.
And for now nothing should stand in the way of that.
Caption 15, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Der Frühling ist da

 

Dann kann der aufsteigenden Künstlerin ja nichts mehr im Wege stehen.
Then, indeed, nothing can stand in the way any longer of this rising artist.
Caption 33, Singer-Songwriterin Elif: Eine Achterbahn der Gefühle

 

The expression unterwegs means "on the way," "traveling"/"in transit" or "on the go."

 

„Wann sehen wir endlich die Faulheit?“, fragte Piggeldy unterwegs.
"When will we finally see the laziness?" Piggeldy asked on the way.
Caption 7, Piggeldy und Frederick: Faulheit

 

Sie waren den ganzen Tag unterwegs gewesen und es wurde dunkel...
They had been traveling the whole day, and it grew dark...
Caption 36, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten

 

Eva Padberg ist als Model viel unterwegs.
Eva Padberg is, as a model, on the go a lot.
Caption 1, Rhein-Main-TV: Eva Padberg beim Weihnachtseinkauf

 

When we talk about a way of doing something or the way something happened, we use the words die Art, die Weise, or the expression die Art und Weise.

 

Doch im dritten Viertel wendete sich das Blatt in kaum vorstellbarer Weise.
Indeed, in the third quarter the page [the tables] turned in an almost unimaginable way.
Caption 23, Deutsche Bank Skyliners: Basketball-Bundesliga 

 

Und das tun die Tiere im Frankfurter Zoo auf ganz unterschiedliche Art und Weise.
And the animals at the Frankfurt Zoo do this in very different ways.
Caption 15, Umfragen: Zootiere im Winter

 

There are a couple of different ways to express "either way," such as in beiden Fällen or so oder so. 

 

So oder so, wir werden dann auf alle Fälle mit Ihnen Kontakt aufnehmen.
Either way, we will in any event get in touch with you.
Caption 68, Bewerbung: das Vorstellungsgespräch

 

Further Learning
Try integrating these phrases in your daily language practice. If you need more examples, do a search on Yabla German.

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Promises, Secrets, and Lies

Quite a few words, phrases, and expressions related to promises, secrets, and lies have popped up in some of Yabla's recent video series. Let's look at some of these, as they can be a useful and fun addition to your vocabulary.

 

The basic word for a promise is das Versprechen, which stems from the verb versprechen. However, schwören can be used like "to swear" in English to indicate a promise as well:

 

Er erinnerte sie daran, dass man halten muss, was man verspricht.
He reminded her that you must keep what you have promised.
Caption 66, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Der Froschkönig

 

Wir haben Flügel, schwören uns ewige Treue
We have wings, we swear eternal loyalty to each other
Caption 18, Andreas Bourani: Auf uns

 

You may know the noun for "secret" but do you know the adjective for "top secret"?

 

Wie meinst du das? -Ich kenne dein Geheimnis! -Was?
How do you mean that? -I know your secret! -What?
Caption 37, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

 

Das streng geheime Papier, das in Olbrichts Panzerschrank lagert...
The top secret paper stored in Olbricht's safe...
Caption 3, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 

The expression unter vier Augen means "in private" or "between the two of us":

 

Ich halte es sowieso für besser, mit Prinz Dietbert unter vier Augen zu sprechen.
I think it is better anyway to speak with Prince Dietbert under four eyes [in private].
Caption 33, Küss mich, Frosch: Leb wohl, kleiner Prinz

 

You may know the noun die Lüge and the verb lügen, but there is also anlügen, which refers to lying to directly to a person. 

 

Und wir sind umgezogen, ich hab' dich angelogen    
And we moved, I lied to you
Caption 2, AnnenMayKantereit: Oft gefragt

 

Further Learning
Practice conjugating the verbs schwören, versprechen, and lügen/anlügen. You can find more examples of these verbs used in real life situations on Yabla German

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Better and better

In last week's newsletter, we looked at the various ways of expressing the adverb "even" in German. We shouldn't forget that adverbs not only describe verbs, but adjectives as well. In this case, "even" is expressed with "noch":

 

Und mit ein bisschen Unterstützung der Teamkollegen klappt's vielleicht noch besser.
And with a little support from the team members it might work out even better.
Caption 11, Fußball: Torwandschießen

 

In English we say something is "even better" or that it is getting "better and better." The latter exists in German as well and is often constructed with the verb werden, the word immer, and a comparative adjective. 

 

Man wird ja immer besser durch die Übung.
You do get better and better through practice. 
Caption 26, Singer-Songwriter: Sebastian Niklaus

 

As you can see, this construction can be used with most adjectives: 

 

Sie wird im Spiegel immer kleiner
It gets smaller and smaller in the mirror
Caption 85, Wincent Weiss & Benni Freibott: Musik sein

 

Und deshalb wird es auch immer wichtiger werden, dieses auch in Zukunft zu verstärken.
And therefore it is going to become more and more important to also emphasize this in the future.
Caption 35-36, Angela Merkel: beim Nachhaltigkeitsrat 

 

Sie ist durch die Erweiterung des Flughafens natürlich immer komplexer geworden.
It's become more and more complex through the expansion of the airport, of course.
Caption 35-36, Berlins regierender Bürgermeister: Pläne für 2014

 

However, make sure to take context of the sentence and the presence or absence of werden into account. The sentence below shows that immer can be combined with an adjective and still just mean "always."

 

Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.
It's always better if you travel together.
Caption 20, Traumberuf: Windsurfer

 

Further Learning
Based on the tips above, how would you translate the phrase immer wieder? Do a search on Yabla German!

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Auch, sogar, selbst: The adverb "even" in German

Auch im zweiten Drittel ließen die Löwen nicht locker.    
Even in the second third of the game, the Löwen did not relax.
Caption 25, Eishockey - Löwen Frankfurt: EC Bad Nauheim

 

You are likely used to auch meaning "also," but did you know that it can mean "even" as well? There are three words for the adverb "even" that are essentially interchangeable in German: auch, selbst, and sogar. They are often combined with wenn. Below we see that auch wenn means "even if" and sometimes "even though":

 

Auch wenn es mir mein Herz zerreißt
Even if it tears my heart up
Caption 5, Beatrice Egli: Irgendwann

 

Doch auch wenn im Film viel Basketball gespielt wird, ein Sportfilm soll es dennoch nicht werden.
But even though a lot of basketball is played in the movie, it is not intended to be a sports movie.
Caption 44-45, Dreharbeiten: zum Film „Playoff“

 

In a previous lesson, we wrote about how the word selbst is used in the context of a person having made or done something themselves. However, in certain contexts, it is placed in front of the subject and means "even" as well:

 

Doch selbst bei Temperaturen wie im Kühlschrank...
But even at temperatures like in the refrigerator...
Caption 31, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Selbst ausgewachsen werden diese Tintenfische gerade mal zwanzig Zentimeter groß.
Even fully grown, these squid will only become twenty centimeters long.
Caption 28, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

The dual meaning of selbst means that it cannot be used in every sentence, because it would cause confusion. You have likely heard sogar more often:

 

In Berlin treten die besten von ihnen sogar in Wettkämpfen gegeneinander an.
In Berlin, the best of them even enter into competitions against one another.
Caption 34, Currywurst: Berlins schärfstes Stück

 

Er kann sogar den Airbus A dreihundertachtzig drücken und ziehen.
It can even push and pull an Airbus A three hundred eighty.
Caption 18, Frankfurter Flughafen: Flugzeugschlepper 

 

Further Learning
For further examples, just do a simple search, as there are many on Yabla German!
See if you can also find examples of noch, which can also be translated as "even" when it augments an adjective. 

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Big Time, small time: Zeit vs. zeit

We should all know the meaning of the noun die Zeit by now, considering it is also the title of one of the most well-known newspapers in Germany. But how many of you are familiar with the preposition zeit, written in lower-case? German, more so than English, tends to have many words and expressions that appear in print but are rarely spoken, and zeit is one of these. Let's start with the one we already know: 

 

Ich wünschte, die Zeit würde stillstehen.
I wish that time could stand still.
Caption 40, Die Klasse: Berlin '61

 

Für die Verschwörer wird die Zeit immer knapper.
For the conspirators, time gets scarcer and scarcer.
Caption 30, Die Stunde der Offiziere: Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944

 

Das wird die Zeit meines Lebens
It will be the time of my life
Caption 18, Glasperlenspiel: Geiles Leben

 

Note that in most cases, the German uses the definite article die (the) when referring to time, whereas English, in most cases, drops the article altogether. The last example above is interesting in that "the time of my life" is a standard expression, as is Die glücklichste Zeit meines Lebens ("The happiest time of my life"). This construction, as you will note, is very similar to the most standard use of the preposition zeit and it could be easy to confuse the two:

 

Ich bin Architekt von Beruf und habe zeit meines Lebens als Architekt gearbeitet.
I am an architect by profession and have worked as an architect for all of my life.

 

Zeit seines Lebens war er nie in Rom
During his lifetime he has never been to Rome.

 

In a general sense, zeit can be translated as "during" or "for." The first example of zeit meines Lebens could have been translated as "during my lifetime" or simply "all my life." Note that zeit meines Lebens therefore has a very different meaning from Die Zeit meines Lebens. The former is referring to something you have done all of your life, enjoyable or not, and the latter to having one of the best times of your life.

 

Further Learning
In the unlikely event that you were to hear zeit spoken, you might easily think that it was the similar-sounding preposition seit. Remember, however, that seit is pronounced with an English sounding Z and takes the dative form, whereas zeit is pronounced with a Ts sound and takes the genitive form. See the full meaning of zeit on the German dictionary website Duden and see if you can find any other German expressions that use the preposition zeit.  

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Using wohl

This week, we'll take a look at the word wohl and its different usages in German. 

 

The word wohl by itself is used to create a tone of assumption or affirmation in a sentence, meaning "indeed," "likely," "probably," or "apparently." Understanding the exact level of certainty or affirmation involved will require looking at the verb tenses and other context clues in the sentence. 

 

Und das wird wohl auch erst mal so bleiben.
And it will first also likely stay like that.
Caption 19, Andreas Bourani: Startet durch

 

Am Ende hat es dann doch wohl gepasst.
In the end, it did indeed fit well.
Caption 65, Clueso: ist endlich erwachsen

 

Relatedly, the phrase jawohl means "yes, indeed":

 

Ich finde, hier ist es besser. Jawohl!
I think it's better here. Indeed!
Caption 23, Pettersson und Findus: Pettersson zeltet

 

At the same time, the word wohl also refers to well-being. We often see the verb sich wohlfühlen, which means to feel "well," "happy," or "comfortable." 

 

Die Rote Meerbarbe fühlt sich seitdem in der Nordsee wohl.
The red mullet since then, has felt just fine in the North Sea.
Caption 22-23, Abenteuer Nordsee: Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 

Alle fühlen sich hier wohl, ist aber nicht ganz meine Musik.
Everyone's feeling comfortable here, but it's not really my type of music.
Caption 38, Deutsche Sporthilfe: Ball des Sports

 

As you may have guessed, this meaning of wohl relates to the phrase zum Wohl, which is often used in toasts. 

 

Wenn wir anstoßen, sagen wir „zum Wohl“ oder einfach nur „prost“.
When we clink glasses, we say "to health!" or simply just "cheers!"
Caption 18, Tisch decken: mit Eva

 

Further Learning
Look for more examples with the word wohl on Yabla German and see if you can integrate it into a sentence the next time you converse or write sentences in German. What do you think the words das Wohlfühlhotel, der Wohlfühleffekt, die Wohlfühloase, der Wohlfühlort or der Wohlfühlanzug might mean?

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Reflexive or not?

Reflexive verbs have a substantial presence in the German language. There are quite a few verbs that are not reflexive in English, but always reflexive in German, for example, sich beeilen ("to hurry"). It is important to know which verbs require a reflexive pronoun in German, but also that certain verbs may sometimes be reflexive and sometimes not, which then affects their meaning. 

 

For example, sich umziehen means "to change clothes," while umziehen means "to move":

 

Dann würde ich sagen, gehe ich mich mal umziehen. Hast du Klamotten für mich?
Then, I'd say, I'll go and change. Do you have some clothes for me?
Caption 13, Ultimate Frisbee: Oli erklärt das Spiel

 

In wenigen Wochen werden Kato, Scratch und Lina ganz in den Zoo Neuwied umziehen.
In a few weeks, Kato, Scratch and Lina will move full-time into the Neuwied Zoo.
Caption 38, Wie süß: Drei Löwen im Wohnzimmer

 

Similarly, sich hinlegen means "to lie down" in the sense of going to bed, but hinlegen simply means "to set down" or "to put down." 

 

Ich muss mich beeilen, damit ich mich bald hinlegen kann.
I have to hurry so that I can go to bed soon.
Caption 68, Bewerbung: das Vorstellungsgespräch

 

Hm, ich weiß genau, dass ich die Schwimmer hier irgendwo hingelegt habe.
Hm, I know for sure that I put the floats down here somewhere.
Caption 10, Pettersson und Findus: Pettersson zeltet

 

Vorstellen means "to present," whereas sich vorstellen can mean either "to introduce oneself" (with the accusative pronoun) or "to imagine" (with the dative pronoun). 

 

Hallo, heute werde ich dir die Schultern, die Arme und die Hände vorstellen.
Hello, today I'll present the shoulders, the arms and the hands.
Caption 2, Der menschliche Körper: die Arme

 

Ich könnte mir gar kein Leben ohne Kinder vorstellen.
I couldn't imagine a life without children at all.
Caption 15, Cettina interviewt: Mütter

 

Könnten Sie sich uns kurz vorstellen und beschreiben, was Sie hier machen?
Could you quickly introduce yourself to us and describe what you do here?
Caption 6, Feuerwehr Heidelberg: Löschfahrzeug

 

Further Learning
Take a look at this helpful table and see if you can find some of the verbs on Yabla German.

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Types of Rain

After some very pleasant summer weather, the last week has been very rainy in Germany. Like English, German has many words and expressions to describe different types of rain. Let's take a look at some examples from Yabla German

 

In Berlin, we most often only have vereinzelte Schauer (what we refer to in English as "scattered showers"), but in other parts of the country flooding can become a real problem: 

 

Heutiger Hochwasserstand: wieder mindestens zehn Zentimeter.
Today's flood water level: at least ten centimeters again.
Caption 44, Die Klasse: Berlin '61 

 

Even when it isn't dangerous, rain can create a lot of complications: 

 

Der Dauerregen drückte zwar nicht auf die Stimmung...
The constant rain didn't dampen the mood...
Caption 7, FC Bayern München: Triple-Feier im Dauerregen

 

The Piggeldy and Frederick cartoon linked below has quite an exhaustive list of types of rain: 

 

Es gibt Platzregen, Dauerregen, Sprühregen, Nieselregen, Eisregen, Landregen, GewitterregenSommerregen, Winterregen und Bindfadenregen.
There are cloudburstsconstant rain, misty raindrizzle, freezing rain, steady rain, thundershowerssummer rain, winter rain and pouring rain.
Caption 10-12, Piggeldy und Frederick: Regen

 

One other word to know is der Niederschlag ("precipitation") which is often used in weather reports:

 

Von Westen her kommen dann wieder Tiefausläufer, die dann eben auch Niederschlag mit sich bringen können.
Low-pressure areas are then coming from the west again, which can also then bring precipitation with them.
Caption 22-23, Rhein-Main-TV aktuell: Der Frühling ist da 

 

Further Learning
What kinds of rain are common where you live? Try to find the equivalent in German. For a challenge, watch this weather report for last week from der Spiegel.

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Verschwenden and Verschwinden

Every language has words that sound similar and are easy to mix up for non-native speakers, so this week we will look at the verbs verschwinden ("to disappear") and verschwenden ("to waste"). 

 

Wieso verschwinden sie?
Why are they disappearing?
Caption 8, Abgedreht: Heinrich und der Tassendieb

 

Ich mag es nicht, Lebensmittel zu verschwenden.
I do not like to waste food.
Caption 50, Werbung gegen Realität: Kunstprojekt Fertigprodukte

 

The past participles of the verbs are also important to memorize. The past participle of verschwinden is verschwunden, and the past tense uses the auxiliary verb sein rather than haben:

 

Heute sind sie nahezu verschwunden.
Today, they have almost disappeared.
Caption 22, Flipperautomaten: Kunstwerke für flinke Kugeln

 

Verschwendet, which is the past participle of verschwenden, requires the auxiliary verb haben. However, it is often also used as an adjective and there is also the noun die Verschwendung.

 

Diese Zeit des Suchens ist so eine Zeit, die ich verschwendet finde.
This time spent looking for things is a time that I find to be wasted.
Caption 18, Tapetenwechsel: Barbara Becker mag es aufgeräumt

 

„Welch eine Verschwendung von Gelb!", sagte Piggeldy.
"What a waste of yellow!" said Piggeldy.
Caption 36, Piggeldy und Frederick: Gelb

 

Further Learning

 

Create your own devices to make sure you don't confuse the words (For example, you can remember that verschwinden and "disappear" both have an "i" in them) or their past participles. And you can always look for additional examples on Yabla German.

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Das Perfekt with sein

The German present perfect tense is mostly used in cases where we would use the simple past tense in English, although sometimes it has the same meaning in both languages. You likely know that it is most often formed with the auxiliary verb haben and the past participle of the main verb:

 

Und wir haben über die Themen Iran und auch den Nahen Osten gesprochen.
And we spoke about the topic of Iran and also the Middle East.
Caption 58, Angela Merkel: Gemeinsame Pressekonferenz mit Barack Obama

 

However, with many verbs that either express movement or a change of state, a conjugation of sein is used as the auxiliary verb rather than haben

 

Für zwei Wochen bin ich durchs Land gereist.
For two weeks, I traveled across the country.
Caption 20, Grete: eine Freiwillige in Israel 

 

Ich bin nach Berlin gekommen, um ein Praktikum zu machen am Theater.
I came to Berlin to do an internship at the theater.
Caption 21, Fine: sucht eine Wohnung

 

Hier ist auch alles gut, aber da ist etwas Komisches passiert.
Everything is also fine here, but something strange has happened.
Caption 44, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

 

Um dreizehn Uhr dreißig... die Beatles sind aufgewacht... etwas früher als zu Hause.
At one-thirty p.m., the Beatles woke up... somewhat earlier than at home.
Caption 11, Die Beatles: in Deutschland

 

What is quite tricky is that some verbs can be used with either sein or haben depending on the context, and may take on different meanings. The second sentence below implies that the person didn't just fly in a plane as a passenger, but was at the controls themselves.

 

Wir sind zum Mond geflogen
We flew to the moon
Caption 2, Christina Stürmer: Seite an Seite

 

Hat vieles selber gebaut, was er geflogen hat.
He built a lot of that which he flew himself.
Caption 54, Lokalhelden: Mini-Aeroplane

 

Further Learning

Learn the definitions and past participles of the following verbs, which also take sein rather than haben in the present perfect: gehen, laufen, einschlafenrennen, joggen, wandern, klettern, fallensteigen, fahrenreiten, umziehen, fliehen, gleiten, springen, kriechen, aufstehen, sinken, schleichen, eintreten, schwimmenrutschen. Once you learn the past participles, search for them on Yabla German to see them used with the auxiliary verb sein in context.

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Der Imperativ

The German imperative mood, or command form, can be very difficult or very easy depending on whom you are addressing. This week, we'll look at some various examples from Yabla German to highlight what you'll need to keep in mind. 

 

For a person or group of people that you would address as Sie, the command form is quite easy. You will simply say the root of the verb with -en added (in most cases this will be identical to the infinitive) followed by Sie:

 

Nehmen Sie bitte Platz, Frau Sonntag.
Please have a seat, Ms. Sonntag.
Caption 35, Das Lügenbüro: Die Bewerbung

 

Bitte, seien Sie jetzt ganz still.
Please, be completely silent now.
Caption 60, Magie: Die Zaubershow

 

For a group of people you would address as ihr, you will simply use the present tense conjugation. The subject ihr, however, is no longer included in the sentence. 

 

Gebt mir die schönen Sätze. Jacob beginnt.
Give me your nice sentences. Jacob will begin.
Caption 20, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Relativsätze mit Präpositionen

 

The most difficult imperative sentences to form are those for people you would refer to as du, because there are several different patterns they can follow depending on the characteristics of the verb. For weak verbs, the form will be the verb's stem, although an  "e" is added to the end with certain consonants. For strong verbs, the imperative will take into account any changes to the root that occur. In any case, du does not usually appear in the sentence. 

 

Atme ganz tief ein
Breathe in very deeply
Caption 43, Christina Stürmer: Wir leben den Moment

 

Aber schau mal hier.
But look here.
Caption 23, Bubble Beatz: Supertalente vom Schrottplatz

 

Vergiss es! Das wird nicht passieren.“
"Forget it! It won't happen."
Caption 74, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Hans mein Igel 

 

Sei ruhig, Findus, ich bin ja noch gar nicht aufgestanden.
Be quiet, Findus, I indeed haven't gotten up yet at all.
Caption 13, Pettersson und Findus: Eine Geburtstagstorte für die Katze

 

Komm, bleib kurz stehen, nimm meine Hand
Come, stand still for a brief moment, take my hand
Caption 5, Michelle: Paris

 

Further Learning

 

For more information on the du imperative, look at this website or this website. If you wish to make flashcards, use the second column of the table on this page, which shows the du imperative for a number of common strong verbs. 

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Bodies of Water

It has been a somewhat temperamental summer in Germany, but there have certainly already been a number of hot days. Germans flock to rivers, pools, and lakes to swim, not to mention the North Sea and the Baltic Sea! Let's look at the German words for various bodies of water.

 

Der See ist fast einhundertneunzig Meter tief.
The lake is almost one hundred ninety meters deep.
Caption 5, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Achtung: Der See means "the lake," but die See means "the sea." Das Meer is also a common word for "the sea." 

 

Fünf kleine Pinguine schwimmen durch das Meer.
Five little penguins are swimming through the sea.
Caption 22, Kinderlieder zum Mitsingen: Fünf Pinguine

 

Like in English, an ocean differs from a sea:

 

Mein Goldfisch, der heißt Friedolin und wohnt im Ozean.
My goldfish, he's called Friedolin and lives in the ocean.
Caption 25, Pänke: Friedolin

 

There are some rivers in Germany that are approved for swimming, but if not you can always go to a swimming pool. In the summer, outdoor pools (Freibäder) are particularly popular. 

 

Der Neckar ist ein Fluss, der durch Tübingen fließt.
The Neckar is a river that flows through Tübingen.
Caption 16, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren: Der Relativsatz

 

Das ist quasi so ein offener Bereich mit einem Schwimmbad.
That is, so to speak, an open area with a swimming pool.
Caption 25, Reisen: Dalís Haus

 

Ponds and streams are not as popular for swimming, but we'll include them for the sake of vocabulary expansion!

 

Es war der Teich und am Rand stand die violette Blume.
It was the pond and at the edge stood the violet flower.
Caption 51, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Jorinde und Joringel

 

Bald ist der Bach überschwemmt mit Eiern.
Soon the stream is inundated with eggs.
Caption 25, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten

 

Further Learning

 

Make sure you have memorized the gender of these vocabulary words. What do you think are the genders of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea? You can also start learning the German names for famous bodies of water. Can you guess what das Mittelmeer and das Rote Meer are? Look them up on Yabla German!

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Taking a Break

Ich fahre heute in Urlaub und zeige euch, was ich alles mitnehmen werde.
I'm going on vacation today and I'll show you everything that I'm taking with me.
Caption 2, Christiane: fährt in den Urlaub

 

Did you know that the summer vacation for some federal states in Germany is only beginning now? In many states, it doesn't start until mid-July. This break is called die Sommerferien. This is an exciting time because many people plan their Urlaub. Der Urlaub also means vacation, but implies travel. Look at the last example of this newsletter for clarification on the difference between der Urlaub and die Ferien

 

Of course, in order to take a vacation, you have to have time off work. In German, the expression for this is frei haben.

 

Timo Uetz hat frei und verdient schon sein eigenes Geld.
Timo Uetz is off work and is already earning his own money.
Caption 72, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

 

Sobald ich mal frei habe, könnten wir vielleicht alle zusammen essen gehen. -OK.
As soon as I have a free day we could all go out to eat together. -OK.
Caption 30-31, Eva erklärt: temporale Konnektoren

 

Some people don't get time off, and have to make do with taking short breaks at work. The phrase for this is eine Pause machen.

 

Na gut. Wir können ja eine kurze Pause machen.
Well, OK. We can indeed take a short break.
Caption 17, JoNaLu: Ein Tag am Meer

 

When the evenings are long and the weather is nice, der Feierabend is particularly enjoyable. This word has no direct equivalent in English, but it basically describes the leisure time after the work day is over. 

 

Hast du wieder 'nen Zahnarzttermin? -Ich mach' Feierabend.
Do you have another dentist appointment? -I'm stopping work for the day.
Caption 21, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 3: Papa ist weg

 

Timo Uetz hat endlich Feierabend.
For Timo Uetz, it's finally the end of the work day.
Caption 60, Deutsche Welle: Lieber Ausbildung als Studium

 

Further Learning

 

Make sure you have memorized the gender of der Urlaub and die Ferien, and look for more implementations of the expressions frei haben, Pause machen, Feierabend machen and Feierabend haben on Yabla German

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