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Bist du dir sicher? German Expressions of Certainty

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

Bestimmt can mean either "definitely"

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

or in the nominalized noun something specific or in particular:

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

Gewiss can mean "certain" in the standard sense

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

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

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

Sicher can mean "certain"

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

but in other contexts it means "safe":

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

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

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

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For vs. für

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

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

When indicating quantity or money:

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

For stating a length or period of time:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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Finances in the New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on this, we can all agree:

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

Not forgetting, of course, that:

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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Frohe Weihnachten!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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S, ss or ß?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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What do you need (brauchen)?

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

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

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

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

Der Teig hat doch eine ganze Stunde gebraucht, um fertig zu werden.
The batter did indeed take a whole hour to be ready.
Caption 17, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

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

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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German Cooking Verbs - Part 3

German Cooking Verbs - Part 1

German Cooking Verbs - Part 2

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

hinzufügen: add (to, into)

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

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

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

rühren: stir, mix

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

schälen: peel

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

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

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

Further Learning:

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

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German Cooking Verbs - Part 2

German Cooking Verbs - Part 1

German Cooking Verbs - Part 3

We're back right away with the second part of our series on German cooking verbs. Take this opportunity to brush up on your cooking verbs with Yabla, and we wish you a guten Appetit!

durchrühren: stir together

Noch mal durchrühren und dann ist erst mal wieder der Spargel dran.
Stir together again and then the asparagus is up again.
Caption 42, Kochhaus Berlin: Rucola-Salat-Rezept

durchziehen: pull through

Einfach mit dem Messer durchziehen.
Simply pull through them with a knife.
Caption 54, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

erhitzen: heat

Eine kleine Pfanne bei mittelstarker Temperatur mit zwei Esslöffeln Olivenöl erhitzen.
Heat a small pan at medium-high temperature with two tablespoons of olive oil.
Caption 20-21, Das perfekte Dinner: Kochen für Gäste

grillen: grill or barbeque

Indem wir zusammen sitzen, grillen, Musik hören, lachen…
As we sit together, grilling, listening to music, laughing…
Caption 24, Trial-Meisterschaft: in Bensheim

umrühren: stir, stir up

So, jetzt kannst du noch mal umrühren.
So now you can stir it once again.
Caption 27, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

Further Learning:

Find some German recipes online and try cooking them at home. You can also search Yabla and find some videos with cooking themes to see more cooking words in context. Here is a list of more German verbs used in cooking starting with the letter B: backen: bake; bestreuen: sprinkle; braten: fry or roast (occasionally: grill); dämpfen: steam; dünsten: lightly cook in butter, oil, or juice; einlegen: conserve by pickling or canning; einmachen: conserve by canning; entbeinen: debone; entfetten: skim or remove fat; flambieren: set spirits on fire, usually brandy; garen: cook; gerinnen: curdle; gratinieren or überbacken: cook in oven or broil; häuten: de-skin; hineinschieben: place in oven, bake; hobeln: grate or slice; kandieren: crystallize using sugar; karamellisieren: caramelize; klären: clarify; kneten: knead; kochen: boil, cook; legieren: bind with egg yolk or cream

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German Cooking Verbs - Part 1

German Cooking Verbs - Part 2

German Cooking Verbs - Part 3

If you are studying German, you must be somewhat curious about German foods. This is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your cooking verbs, and Yabla is just the place to start!

abgießen: decant, pour out

Dafür muss ich das Öl in dem Glas abgießen.
For that, I have to pour out the oil in the jar.
Caption 58, Cannelloni: mit Jenny

ablöschen: quench, deglaze, put out a fire

Achtung beim Spargel, nicht zu lange braten, dann mit Wasser ablöschen.
Be careful with asparagus, don't fry it too long, then deglaze it with water.
Caption 37, Kochhaus Berlin: Rucola-Salat-Rezept

abtropfen: drain

Man holt die raus und lässt die 'n bisschen abtropfen.
You take them out and let them drain a little bit.
Caption 26, Bayrische Spätzle: mit Christiane

anrichten: place in serving dish, arrange

Jetzt nur noch alles auf dem Teller schön anrichten.
Now just arrange everything nicely on the plate.
Caption 63, Kochhaus Berlin: Rucola-Salat-Rezept

ausrollen: roll out

Jetzt wollen wir den Teig ausrollen.
Now we want to roll out the batter.
Caption 24, Weihnachtsplätzchen backen: mit Diane und vielen kleinen Helfern

Further Learning:

Find some German recipes online and try cooking them at home. You can also search Yabla and find some videos with cooking themes to see some more cooking words in context. Here is a list of some more German verbs used in cooking starting with the letter A: (aus)quellen lassen: expand, rise; abbrühen: boil shortly; abdampfen: dry out over dry heat; abkühlen: cool off, cool down; abschmecken (degustieren): taste and season; abschütten: drain; abseihen: strain, sieve; abstechen: scoop, use a spoon for small portions; abziehen: skim or peel; abzupfen: pick off; anbraten: brown; anbrennen: burn; aufgehen: rise (yeast, soufflé); aufkochen: bring to boil; aufschlagen: beat, whip; aufwärmen: warm, reheat; aufziehen: rise (yeast, soufflé)

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False Friends ("Falsche Freunde") - Part 4

False Friends ("Falsche Freunde") - Part 1

False Friends ("Falsche Freunde") - Part 2

False Friends ("Falsche Freunde") - Part 3

In our last lesson on false friends, we discussed a few false cognates that begin with the letters C and D. Today, we're moving yet another step down the alphabet to learn about some falsche Freunde starting with E and F:

eventuell: maybe, possibly, perhaps
False English friend: eventually, finally, ultimately, at some later time (German: endlich, schließlich)

Ich rieche daran, ob die wirklich auch nach einer Erdbeere riecht, und eventuell könnte ich noch oben schauen.
I smell it to see if it also really smells like a strawberry, and maybe I could look on top.
Captions 23-24, Kochhaus Berlin: Frische Zutaten erkennen

die Fabrik: factory
False English friend: fabric, cloth (German: der Stoff, das Gewebe)

Bald waren sie bei einer Fabrik, bei einer Farbenfabrik.
Soon they were at a factory, at a paint factory.
Caption 6, Piggeldy und Frederick: Malen

der Fotograf: photographer
False English friend: photograph, an image taken by a camera (German: das Foto)

Also so richtig dunkelkammermäßig so, wie Fotografen das früher gemacht haben.
Well, really like a darkroom, like photographers used to do it.
Caption 51, Lokalhelden: Art House

Further Learning:

Try to find more words in German and English that sound similar but have different meanings. For a thorough list of German false friends, take a look at this extensive chart and then search Yabla videos to find the words used in context!

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Some Countries Have Genders Too!

In German most countries are, as in English, just called by their names, such as Deutschland, Frankreich, and Belgien; but some country names require the definite article, just as in English: the United States or the Netherlands. The rules for whether a country name requires a definite article or not are not always the same as their English equivalents, however, and have a specific feminine or masculine gender too:

Für mich war es schon ein Erfolg damals mit in die Türkei ins Trainingslager zu kommen.
For me, it was already a success to come to training camp in Turkey at the time.
Caption 17, Fußball: Spielerportrait Lars Stindl

To "come to training camp in the Turkey" would certainly purvey a different meaning than intended, but in German, the country Turkey requires the feminine definite article: die Türkei. Some other countries with the feminine definite article are: die Mongolei, die Schweiz, die Slowakei, and die Ukraine. Furthermore:

Es gibt maskuline Länder, zum Beispiel „der Iran".
There are masculine countries, for example "the Iran."
Caption 55, Deutschkurs in Tübingen: Präpositionen

Obviously "the" is used before "Iran" in the English translation only to emphasize the use of the definite article. Some other countries requiring the masculine definite article are: der Irak, der Jemen, der Kongo, der Libanon, der Sudan, and der Tschad. The only countries that require the neuter definite article are those that use the word "Kingdom" in their name such as das Vereinigte Königreich (the United Kingdom), but this is clear in the grammar, since das Königreich is a neuter noun.

Last but not least come the countries that require the plural definite article:

Frankreich war weitaus rückständiger als die Vereinigten Staaten.
France was much more backward than the United States.
Caption 45, Malerei: Impressionistinnen

In most cases, the countries that use plural definite articles are the same as those that do so in English: die Bahamas, die Niederlande, die Philippinen, die Salomonen, and die Seychellen.

A quick word of warning regarding the use of definite articles and country names: If a country with a non-plural definite article is preceded by an adjective, then the definite article is referring to the neuter noun das Land (the country, the nation) and always requires the neuter definite article. Even countries that do not require the definite article in normal usage get the neuter article das if they are being described preceded by an adjective. This is actually easier in practice than theory: Das schöne Frankreich, das teure Norwegen, das warme Brasilien.

Further Learning:

Browse through Yabla videos and find some country names being used in context and in different cases like dative, accusative, and genitive. For an interesting in-depth article on the topic, see the ever-fascinating Zwiebelfisch-ABC series from Der Spiegel.

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Football and Flowers

Gertrude Stein may have felt that a "rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," but William Shakespeare wrote that "the summer's flower is to the summer sweet," especially after a "barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold." You probably already know that flowers are Blumen, but do you know the names of some of the common varieties? Let's start with some parts of the flower:

Die Bienen und Hummeln ohne Gegenwind von Blüte zu Blüte fliegen konnten.
The bees and the bumblebees could fly from blossom to blossom without a headwind.
Caption 9, Piggeldy und Frederick: Vergessen

Irgendwas zum Fressen gibt's eigentlich immer, Knospen, Blätter oder Früchte von Platanen.
There's always something to eat, buds, leaves, or fruit from the plane trees.
Captions 25-26, Freilebende Papageien: Überwintern in Wiesbaden

And on to some specific flower varieties:

Ein achtundzwanzig Meter großer Baum und sechzehn riesige beleuchtete Lilien
A twenty-eight meter tall tree and sixteen gigantic illuminated lilies
Captions 1-2, Der Sternschnuppenmarkt: in Wiesbaden

Weil heute Valentinstag ist, gibt es besonders viele rote Rosen.
Because today is Valentine's Day, there are especially many red roses.
Caption 9, Valentinstag: in Karlsruhe

Die Hagebuttenrosen blühten so rosa wie schon lange nicht mehr.
The rose hips were blooming pinker than they had for a long time.
Caption 26, Piggeldy und Frederick: Das Fernweh

Those whose seasonal interests extend beyond the horticultural may enjoy watching some videos on another favorite summer pastime: soccer (aka football). Check out this Yabla video at the top of this article and search for more soccer videos on German Yabla.

Further Learning:

Take a look at this excellent list of German flower names. See which ones are easy to remember for their similarities to English, and make up a set of flash cards for the ones you find difficult. Hibiscus is clearly der Hibiskus, but who could've guessed that baby's breath is das Schleierkraut? Then go through the Yabla videos above and explore the context in which these flowery sentences were used!

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German: What for?

The German combination of wo with a preposition is good for asking questions to clarify specific situations when warum (why) is too general. Since wo is generally translated as "where" in English, the wo + preposition combination can cause confusion among German beginners, since in this case wo is usually translated as "what." If the man is waiting (Er wartet), you may be tempted to ask what he is waiting for. Für was wartet er? would be wrong and a typical beginner's mistake — correct is Worauf wartet er? This translates as "What is he waiting for?", thus worauf is "what for."

Wo can be combined with the following prepositions: an, auf, aus, bei, durch, für, gegen, in, mit, nach, über, unter, von, vor, and zu. Note that when combining wo with a preposition that starts with a vowel, the letter r is added between wo and the preposition: woran, worauf, woraus, worin, worüber, worunter. This may seem complicated at first, but in context you will find it much easier than expected! Here are some examples from Yabla:

Der Höhepunkt des Abends, worauf alle gewartet haben...
The highlight of the evening, which everybody had been waiting for...
Caption 35, Rund um den Flughafen: Der neue Airbus A-380

Es macht viel Spaß, wobei die Füße jetzt langsam anfangen doch etwas zu schmerzen.
It's a lot of fun, although the feet now are indeed slowly starting to ache somewhat.
Captions 10-11, IAA: Traumland für Autobegeisterte

Ich weiß nicht, wovon Sie sprechen!
I don't know what you're talking about!
Caption 10, Kein Kredit: im Land der Klone

Further Learning:

Go the the main Yabla German page and search for some of the following wo + preposition combinations: woran = on what, of which; worauf = at which, whereupon; woraus = from what, whence; wobei = whereby, although; wodurch = by which means, whereby; wofür = for what; wogegen = against what; worin = in what, wherein; womit = whereby, wherewith; wonach = after what, whereupon; worüber = about what, whereat; worunter = under which, from what; wovon = from what, whereof; wovor = of what, in front of what; wozu = what for, why.

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Dating in German

Expressing dates or the passage of time in German sometimes parallels English, and sometimes doesn't. Let’s take a closer looks to get our dates straight.



The standard expression “on the [day] of [month]” is similar in form to English: 



Am dreizehnten April zweitausendneunundzwanzig...

On the thirteenth of April, two thousand twenty-nine.
..

Caption 48, Unser Universum, Asteroiden: Gefahr aus dem All



The expression of passing time “from the [day] of [month] to the [day] of [month]" goes like this: 



Vom achtzehnten Juni bis zum zwölften Juli...

From the eighteenth of June till the twelfth of July.
..

Caption 4, Das Tollwood-Festival: Bap und Clueso in der Musik-Arena

Instead of vom, the preposition ab can be used to express the start of an event: 



Ab Juni wird der Riesenvogel dann in Linienbetrieb gehen.


From June, the giant bird will be starting route service.


Caption 49, Rund um den Flughafen: Der neue Airbus A-380



One German date-related expression that differs from English is "Wir haben gerade": 



Wir haben gerade Oktober.


Just now, we have October.


Caption 5, Herbst: mit Eva



Yabla has translated this very literally in order to show the language parallels, but another way of translating Wir haben gerade Oktober could be: “It is now October.”



Further Learning:

If you state the day of the week with the date, you use the form: Am Freitag, dem 21. Februar. Note the dative article dem used for the month. On the other hand, if you are writing a formal letter, you write the city name and the accusative article: Berlin, den 21. Februar. There has been a creeping tendency recently in German to express the year (in German) as in 2014, which is an Anglicism and considered poor style in formal German. Historically, German uses either just 2014 or im Jahr 2014, but not in 2014. Natives speakers of English learning German often get confused about this; luckily now you know better!

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Classic German Aphorisms for the New Year

Are you bored with the same old clichés every year about the upcoming year? Let's go "back to the future" and take a look at some original aphorisms from classic German authors, followed up with a word from the aphorism used in another context in a Yabla video:

Wird's besser? Wird’s schlimmer? fragt man alljährlich.

Seien wir ehrlich: Leben ist immer lebensgefährlich!

Will it get better? Will it get worse? You ask every year.

Let's be honest: Life is always life-threatening!

Erich Kästner (1899–1974)

Ein paar Jahre zuvor wäre das noch lebensgefährlich gewesen.

A few years prior, this would still have been life-threatening.

Caption 14, Curly Horses: Pferdeglück auch für Allergiker

Ich kann freilich nicht sagen, ob es besser wird, wenn es anders wird,

Aber soviel kann ich sagen: Es muss anders werden, wenn es gut werden soll.

I cannot say, of course, if it will be better when it is different,

But this much I can say: It must be different, if it is going to get better.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799)

Ja, freilich! So machen wir das, jedes Jahr aufs Neue.

Yes, of course! We do it like this every year again and again.

Caption 17, München: Krampuslauf auf dem Christkindlmarkt

Gut ist der Vorsatz, aber die Erfüllung ist schwer.

Good is the resolution, but the fulfillment is difficult.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Die Arbeit mit den Tieren ist die Erfüllung eines Lebenstraums.    

The work with the animals is the fulfillment of a life's dream.

Caption 62, Für Tierfreunde: Falknerei Feldber

Learning Suggestions:

The "Happy New Year!" greeting is different in different parts of Germany: Frohes neues Jahr (Northern Hesse); Frohes neues (Middle Rhein and Hesse); Gesundes neues Jahr (Eastern Germany); Gesundes neues (Dresden region); Gutes neues Jahr (Austria); Gutes neues (Baden-Württemberg, Switzerland and parts of Bavaria); Prosit Neujahr (Eastern Austria, Vienna); and Prost Neujahr (parts of Western Germany). But are you familiar with the German New Year's greeting "Ich wünsche dir einen guten Rutsch"? See last year's Yabla German Lesson "Rutsch and rutschen: A good “slide” into the New Year!" to find out more! ou can also read something by the authors quoted above. For beginners, Erich Kästner's Emil und die Detektive makes for a fun read. Readers of all levels can enjoy the many clever sayings of physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who is known as the father of the German aphorism. For the very advanced, there is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, which is considered the most important work in all of German literature.

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Doch, the German super-word!

Faster than a short sentence, more powerful than a rebuttal, and able to refute strong statements in a single syllable... DOCH

The multi-functional word doch, in some cases fulfilling the role of “but” (or “still” or “nevertheless”) in English, has the capability to do with one word what in English requires an entire phrase: to negate a preceding negative statement with an affirmative. In German, English phrases such as “On the contrary” and “Yes, I do”  can be replaced with the monosyllabic doch.

Before you attempt to prematurely launch a speedy doch at an angry policeman or boss, however, let us first examine the simpler usages of doch translated as “but”:

Doch jeder weiß hier, das ist die Luft, die brennt

But everyone here knows, that's the air that's burning

Caption 45, 2raumwohnung: 36 Grad

And “however”:

Doch am Ende dieses Weges wird Europa stärker aus der Krise hervorgehen.

However, at the end of this path Europe will go forth from the crisis stronger.

Caption 38, Angela Merkel: Neujahrsansprache - Part 1

And “indeed”:

Doch das scheint sich nun geändert zu haben.

Indeed, now this seems to have changed.

Caption 7, Apple-Trojaner: Wie man ihn beseitigt - Part 1

And as an affirmative:

Aber wir hatten 'nen guten Start in Braunschweig und machen eigentlich ganz gut weiter, doch.

But we had a good start in Braunschweig and have actually continued quite well, really.

Caption 8, Cassandra Steen: Interview - Part 1

Here are some examples showing the full power of doch as a negation:

Der Eierkumpel von nebenan, der wusste nämlich nicht, was Pi ist! -Doch!

The egg pal [egg seller] next to you, he didn't know what pi is! -Yes, he did!

Captions 22-23, Welt-Pi-Tag: Unser Leben mit der Kreiszahl - Part 1

Ich weiß nicht, ob man als Frankfurter mal nach Mainz fährt. -Doch, war ich auch schon...

I don't know if you'd go to Mainz as someone from Frankfurt. -Yes, you would. I've been there too...

Captions 19-20, Museumsuferfest: Jazzmusiker Daniel Stelter - Part 1

Here we see doch first in the affirmative sense, then in the more sophisticated negation sense, all in a single caption: 

Männer kommen doch nicht hierher, oder? -Doch, natürlich.

Men don't really come here, or? -Yes they do, of course.

Caption 24, Waxhouse: Brasilianische Haarentfernung - Part 1

So remember the the two main uses of doch

1. As a simple affirmative (“really”), negating adverb (“however”), or transitional word (“but”):

Er hat es doch nicht getan.

He did not really do it.

Doch wissen wir, was es bedeutet.

But we know what it means.

2. As an all-powerful negation to a previous negative statement: 

Er hat es nicht getan. -Doch.

He did not do it. -Yes, he did do it.

Sie waren nicht dort. -Doch.

They were not there. -Yes, they were there.

By learning the use of the powerful doch, you will be able to negate, with a minimum of syllables, any negative statements with which you disagree!

Hast du nicht verstanden? -Doch!

Learning suggestions:

Get some great explanations and examples of doch here and (as a PDF) here

More advanced learners will enjoy this explanation in German, from Wiktionary.

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When Same Is Not the Same

In English we are pretty casual about the word “same,” but German makes some important distinctions. Let’s see how. 

Earth has only one moon, so when we say we see the “same” moon, there’s no question. We're talking about one and the same. That’s when, in German, we use the demonstrative pronoun, derselbe (or any of its declensions, which you can see here). In this particular case we have a masculine noun, der Mond in the accusative case, so derselbe becomes denselben:

Wir sehen denselben Mond, und wir sind größer, denn die Sterne bleiben stehen

We see the same moon, and we are bigger, because the stars stand still

Captions 13-14, Kolkhorst: Der Mond

In the next example, we can see that Charlie and Raymond have discovered they are brothers. They have the self-same parents. Once again, we want derselbe. Der Vater is masculine and is in the accusative case, so it gets denselben. Die Mutter is feminine so it gets dieselbe.

...als Charlie erfährt, dass Raymond und er denselben Vater und dieselbe Mutter haben.

...when Charlie learns that Raymond and he have the same father and the same mother.

Caption 23, Theater: Rainman - Part 1

But sometimes we say things are the same when they only appear to be. They may be very similar, or one a copy of the other. That’s when we use gleich or der gleiche. It’s a normal adjective, so it changes depending on gender and case. Below, the speaker describes a recurring event:

Es ist leider noch immer jedes Jahr das Gleiche.

Unfortunately it is still the same every year.

Caption 1, Für Tierfreunde: Tierheim Nied

Singer-songwriter Cassandra Steen talks about making mistakes: two separate ones, but of the same kind. You guessed it. It has to be der gleiche!

Wenn Aussagen ignoriert werden. Wenn der gleiche Fehler zweimal passiert.

When statements are ignored. When the same mistake happens twice.

Caption 4, Cassandra Steen: Interview - Part 4 of 4

Note that when we use der gleiche, the article is separate from the word. But when we use derselbe, dieselbe, or dasselbe, the article is connected to the word. In either case, the article to use and the ending of "gleich" or "selb" depend on the gender and case of the noun being modified.

Hopefully you’ve gained some insight on the German way of talking about things that are “the same.” You may never think about the word “same” in the same way again!

Learning suggestion:

Get some great explanations and examples of derselbe and der gleiche here.

More advanced learners will enjoy this explanation, in German, from Spiegel Online Kultur

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Summer Living in Germany

Summer has arrived, which in Germany means that life moves outside. The Biergärten are open, the Freibäder (open-air swimming pools) are busy with swimmers and sunbathers alike, and the smell of Bratwurst and barbecues fills the summer air.

Not everyone has the luxury of having a garden attached to their house, which is why many Germans like to have a Schrebergarten (garden plot or allotment), often with a small hut or house built on it, which they visit for the day or for a vacation.

Ich hab' ja auch so 'nen kleinen Schrebergarten.

I also have such a little garden plot.

Caption 3, Ausbilder Schmidt: Klimabotschafter

If you have neither a garden nor a Schrebergarten, there are many beautiful Seen (lakes) in Germany. Nothing beats a hot summer’s day of lazing by the water, swimming, and riding a pedal boat. Peter Fox sings all about the fun to be had at a German lake:

Und der Mond scheint hell auf mein Haus am See

And the moon shines brightly onto my house on the lake

Caption 18, Peter Fox: Haus am See

When dinnertime comes around, Grillen (barbecuing) is the way to go. Since the laws are more relaxed in Germany, people barbecue in parks and on beaches without any trouble from the authorities, just as long as the litter gets disposed of! 

Wir grillen, die Mamas kochen und wir saufen Schnaps

We barbecue, the mamas cook and we guzzle schnapps

Caption 29, Peter Fox: Haus am See

See not only means "lake" but also “sea,” as in der Ostsee (the Baltic Sea). However, the most common word for sea is das Meer

Du wirst bestimmt irgendwo am Strand sein. -Ja, genau. Am Meer.

You will surely be somewhere at the beach. -Yes, exactly. At the sea.

Caption 50, Konjugation: Das Verb „sein“ 

If you do go to the See or the Meer, you should know that there are two words for “swimming” in German, schwimmen and baden gehen, which literally translates as “to go bathing.” While schwimmen is something you would likely do in a Schwimmbecken (pool), baden gehen is mostly used for swimming in lakes or the sea:

Man kann baden gehen, man kann Freunde treffen draußen.

You can go swimming, you can meet friends outside.

Captions 15-16, Jahreszeiten: Der Sommer

Of course summer isn’t all fun and games. If you are stuck in the city, it can get hot and sticky. Rappers Culcha Candela, while singing about how unbearable it can get, offer a solution.

Feuchtes Tuch auf 'm Kopf

Wet cloth on the head

Ich werd' sonst noch bekloppt vom Hitzeschock

Otherwise I'll just go nuts from heat shock

Captions 29-30, Culcha Candela: Sommer im Kiez 

Extremely popular all over Germany, Eisdielen or Eiscafé (ice cream parlors) are hives of activity during the summer months. 

Kaum scheint die Sonne, zieht es die Schleckermäuler an die Eisdielen.

The sun is scarcely shining and it draws [those with a] sweet tooth to the ice-cream parlors.

Caption 1, Eis: Eiskalte Leidenschaft

And of course, summer is the time to think about vacation, den Sommerurlaub or die Sommerferien. Der Urlaub is a vacation where you go away somewhere, but die Ferien means a break from school, college, or work. Both can bring good memories:

Ich ging früher im Urlaub immer reiten.

I used to always go horseback riding during vacation.

Wir gingen immer in den Sommerferien.

We always went during summer holidays.

Captions 16 and 19, Konjugation: Das Verb „gehen“ 

Schöne Sommerferien!

 

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