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BobTrenton

Bob

376625 XP#17109 846.
2102#5946
25738#4449

Learning German from English

Level 23 · 22897 XP
397/3500 XP · 11% complete · 3103 XP to next level

Crowns: 182/802
61.7% complete · 235 sessions to L1 tree · 226 days to go

Skills: 82/133+2
62% complete

Lessons: 331/566+0/4
58.5% complete · 226 days to go
2022-06-03
! !
Lexemes: 2160/3710+0/30
You discovered 58% of available words/lexemes
?
Strength: 63%
309182650

Created: 2016-01-02
Last Goal: 2021-10-19
Daily Goal: 10 XP
Timezone: UTC-7

Last update: 2021-09-25 15:51:49 GMT+3


151765456

XP per Skill (4 weeks)raw

Basics 1
160XP
Family
 
Basics 2
 
Greetings
 
Restaurant
 
Places
 
Jobs
10XP
Hobbies
 
Directions
 
Questions
10XP
Market
10XP
Weather
10XP
Family 2
 
Languages
10XP
Leisure
 
Plans
 
Apartment
 
Shopping
 
Travel
 
Dining Out
 
Transport
 
Birthday
 
Hobbies 2
 
Health
 
People
 
Events
 
Habits
 
Housing
 
Hotel
 
Family 3
 
Food
 
Plans 2
 
Travel 2
 
Hallo
 
Accusative
 
Converse
 
Animal
 
Plurals
 
Grammar 1
 
Verbs 1
 
Clothing
 
Nature
 
It's Mine
 
Grammar 2
 
Places 2
 
Pronouns
14XP
Household
 
People 2
 
Asking
 
Relatives
 
Counting
 
Food 2
 
Dative
 
Money
 
Dative 2
 
Family 4
 
Dative 3
 
Body 1
 
Formal You
 
Some-
 
Shopping 2
 
Travel 3
 
Numbers 2
 
Colors
 
Imperative
 
Occupation
 
Grammar 3
 
Materials
 
Numbers 3
 
Comparison
 
Qualifiers
 
House 2
 
Dates 1
 
Grammar 4
 
Adjective
 
Location
 
Medical
 
Verbs 2
 
Dates 2
 
People 3
 
The Future
 
Feelings
 
Time
 
Frequency
 
Modals
 
Adverbs 1
 
Nature 2
 
Working
 
Verbs 3
 
Grammar 5
 
Let's Go
 
Grammar 6
 
Verbs 4
 
Weather 2
 
Objects
 
Talking
 
Future 2
 
Internet
 
Education
 
Grammar 7
 
Science
 
Reflexive
 
Chat
 
Business
 
Chat 2
 
Abstract
 
Animal 3
 
Verbs 5
 
Body 2
 
Verbs 6
 
Spiritual
 
Conditions
 
Banking
 
Abstract 2
 
Business 2
 
Verbs 7
 
Sport
 
The Arts
 
Passive
 
Religion
 
Politics
 
Adverbs 2
 
Abstract 3
 
Verbs 8
 
Philosophy
 
Verbs 9
 
Fantasy
 
Abstract 4
 
Pronouns 2
 
Music
 
Politics 2
 
Germany
 
The World
 
Idioms and Proverbs
 
Flirting
 

Skills by StrengthCrownsDateNameOriginal Order

  • 162247200931.05.2021
    5.005Basics 10 @ 100%140/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Kaffee · Milch · Tee · Wasser · a · bin · bist · bitte · brot · danke · du · ein · eine · er · es · frau · hallo · ich · ist · junge · kind · mann · mädchen · o · und · wasser
    26 words

    Welcome to German :)

    Welcome to the German course! We will provide you with tips and notes throughout the course. However, be aware that these are optional. Only read them when you feel stuck, or when you are interested in the details. You can use the course without them.

    Often, it's best to just dive into the practice. See how it goes! You can always revisit the Notes section later on.

    Capitalizing nouns

    In German, all nouns are capitalized. For example, "my name" is mein Name, and "the apple" is der Apfel. This helps you identify which words are the nouns in a sentence.

    German genders are strange

    Nouns in German are either feminine, masculine or neuter. For example, Frau (woman) is feminine, Mann (man) is masculine, and Kind (child) is neuter.

    While some nouns (Frau, Mann, …) have natural gender like in English (a woman is female, a man is male), most nouns have grammatical gender (depends on word ending, or seemingly random).

    For example, Mädchen (girl) is neuter, because all words ending in -chen are neuter. Wasser (water) is neuter, but Cola is feminine, and Saft (juice) is masculine.

    It is important to learn every noun along with its gender because parts of German sentences change depending on the gender of their nouns.

    For now, just remember that the indefinite article (a/an) ein is used for masculine and neuter nouns, and eine is used for feminine nouns. Stay with us to find out how "cases" will later modify these.

    gender indefinite article
    masculine ein Mann
    neuter ein Mädchen
    feminine eine Frau

    Verb conjugations

    Conjugating regular verbs

    Verb conjugation in German is more complex than in English. To conjugate a regular verb in the present tense, identify the stem of the verb and add the ending corresponding to any of the grammatical persons, which you can simply memorize. For now, here are the singular forms:

    Example: trinken (to drink)

    English person ending German example
    I -e ich trinke
    you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
    he/she/it -t er/sie/es trinkt

    Conjugations of the verb sein (to be)

    Like in English, sein (to be) is completely irregular, and its conjugations simply need to be memorized. Again, you will learn the plural forms soon.

    English German
    I am ich bin
    you (singular informal) are du bist
    he/she/it is er/sie/es ist

    Umlauts

    Umlauts are letters (more specifically vowels) that have two dots above them and appear in some German words like Mädchen.

    Literally, "Umlaut" means "around the sound," because its function is to change how the vowel sounds.

    no umlaut umlaut
    a ä
    o ö
    u ü

    An umlaut change may change the meaning. That's why it's important not to ignore those little dots.

    If you can't type these, a workaround is to type "oe" instead of "ö", for example.

    No continuous aspect

    In German, there's no continuous aspect. There are no separate forms for "I drink" and "I am drinking". There's only one form: Ich trinke.

    There's no such thing as Ich bin trinke or Ich bin trinken!

    When translating into English, how can I tell whether to use the simple (I drink) or the continuous form (I am drinking)?

    Unless the context suggests otherwise, either form should be accepted.

  • 162250726301.06.2021
    5.005Family0 @ 100%210/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Mutter · Schwester · Vater · bin · ein · eine · ich · mein · meine · vier
    10 words

    Modal verbs: Plural forms

    In the previous lesson, you learned the singular forms of some modal verbs:

    ich kann mag
    du kannst magst
    er/sie kann kann

    In the plural, these verbs have regular endings. They often use a different vowel than the singular forms:

    wir können mögen
    sie können mögen

    Infinitives, some plural forms

    In German, every verb has an infinitive form (similar to "to learn" in English). The first and third person plural are always the same:

    learn drive have
    infinitive lernen fahren haben
    wir lernen fahren haben
    sie lernen fahren haben

    Here is a revision of the singular forms:

    learn drive have
    ich lerne fahre habe
    du lernst fährst hast
    er/sie/es lernt fährt hat

    More pronouns

    Already known

    So far, you learned how to say "my, your, his, her":

    Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
    my meine mein meinen
    your (sg.) deine dein deinen
    his/its seine sein seinen
    her/their ihre ihr ihren

    Remember that the endings are the same as for "ein" and "kein":

    Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
    a(n) eine ein einen
    no keine kein keinen

    "Their" is the same as "her" in German, and "its" the same as "his".

    If you find these hard to remember, just keep practicing! Why not revisit some of the earlier skills, too?

    More plural pronouns

    In addition, you learn "our" and "your (plural)" here:

    Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
    our unsere unser unseren
    your (pl.) eure euer euren
    their ihre ihr ihren

    Notice that "euer" loses an "e" when it gets a suffix.

    Again, instead of trying to memorize tables, it is best to just jump into practice, and use them until you get a feeling for them.

    Numbers: 1-12

    By now, you encountered the numbers from one to twelve:

    1 eins 7 sieben
    2 zwei 8 acht
    3 drei 9 neun
    4 vier 10 zehn
    5 fünf 11 elf
    6 sechs 12 zwölf

    Notice that they are very similar to the numbers in English.

    These numbers never change form, apart from number one. Eins is only used when nothing comes after it:

    • Um eins schwimme ich. (I swim at one.)
    • Um ein Uhr schwimme ich. (I swim at one o'clock).
    • Ich habe eine Tochter. (I have one daughter.)
  • 162255908201.06.2021
    5.005Basics 20 @ 100%310/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Frau · Hund · Junge · Mann · ahne · der · die · frauen · ie · ihr · jung · jungen · kinder · männer · schön · seid · sie · sind · wir
    19 words

    German plurals are also strange :)

    In English, making plurals out of singular nouns is typically as straightforward as adding -(e)s at the end of the word. In German, the transformation is more complex. You will learn details about this in a later lesson.

    In some languages (such as French or Spanish), genders are also differentiated in the plural. In German, the plural form does not depend on what gender the singular form is.

    Regardless of grammatical gender, all plural nouns take the definite article die (You will later learn how "cases" can modify this). This does not make them feminine. The grammatical gender of a word never changes. Like many other words, die is simply used for multiple purposes.

    Just like in English, there's no plural indefinite article.

    English German
    a man ein Mann
    men Männer

    You, you and you

    Most languages use different words to address one person, or several people.

    In German, when addressing a single person, use du:

    • Du bist mein Kind. (You are my child.)

    If you are talking to more than one person, use ihr:

    • Ihr seid meine Kinder. (You are my children.)

    Some English speakers would use "y'all" or "you guys" for this plural form of "you".

    Note that these only work for people you are familiar with (friends, family, …). For others, you would use the formal "you", which we teach later in this course. So stay tuned :)

    Ihr vs. er

    If you're new to German, ihr and er may sound confusingly similar, but there is actually a difference. ihr sounds similar to the English word "ear", and er sounds similar to the English word "air" (imagine a British/RP accent).

    Don't worry if you can't pick up on the difference at first. You may need some more listening practice before you can tell them apart. Also, try using headphones instead of speakers.

    Learn the pronouns together with the verb endings. This will greatly reduce the amount of ambiguity.

    Verb conjugation

    Here is the complete table for conjugating regular verbs:

    Example: trinken (to drink)

    English person ending German example
    I -e ich trinke
    you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
    he/she/it -t er/sie/es trinkt
    we -en wir trinken
    you (plural informal) -t ihr trinkt
    they -en sie trinken

    Notice that the first and the third person plural have the same ending.

    And here's the complete table for the irregular verb sein (to be):

    English German
    I am ich bin
    you (singular informal) are du bist
    he/she/it is er/sie/es ist
    we are wir sind
    you (plural informal) are ihr seid
    they are sie sind

    You will learn about the distinction between "formal" and "informal" later (it's easy).

  • 162256748901.06.2021
    5.005Greetings0 @ 100%320/3 ••• Practice Test out
    bis bald · er · es geht · gut · guten morgen · guten tag · ok · sah · super · wie geht's
    10 words
  • 162264502802.06.2021
    5.005Restaurant0 @ 100%410/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Ei · Käse · Pizza · Salat · Sandwich · aße · heiß · hier · lecker · mit
    10 words

    Polite "you"

    Remember that German has two ways of expressing "you" (singular and plural)?

    Surprise! There is a third form, usually used with people you don't know well. German just uses the third person plural for this (they):

    person trinken
    du trinkst
    ihr trinkt
    sie/Sie trinken

    How to know whether the meaning is "they" or "you"? German writes the "you" forms in upper case.

    • Wo sind sie? (Where are they?)
    • Wo sind Sie? (Where are you?)

    Of course, at the beginning of the sentence, this does not work. It can then mean both:

    • Sie sind da! (They/You are there!)

    When using the polite form, you usually combine it with the last name of a person, and Herr/Frau:

    • Guten Tag, Herr Müller! (Good day, Mr Müller!)
    • Willkommen, Frau Schmidt! (Welcome, Mrs Schmidt!)

    Noun endings

    As mentioned earlier, sometimes a noun endings gives away the gender:

    • -chen (das)
    • -er (often der)
    • -e (often die)

    A common way to turn a verb into a noun is to add -ung to the word stem. These nouns will always be feminine:

    • die Wohnung, die Reservierung, die Rechnung

    Later on, you will learn more of these regular noun endings.

    Cup of tea

    In German, you just add the quantity before the noun:

    • eine Tasse Tee (one cup of tea)
    • ein Glas Milch (one glass of milk)

    Willkommen

    Willkommen only means welcome as a greeting. It will not mean you're welcome.

    Past tense

    As in English, you can use the present tense to talk about the present and the future:

    • Ich esse! (I am eating!)
    • Ich gehe morgen ins Theater. (I go to the theatre tomorrow.)

    Also as in English, the past requires a different tense. Here, you learn how to say "I was":

    • Ich war gestern im Theater. (I was at the theater yesterday.)

    The endings are like those of the modal verbs (müssen, können, …). But the stem never changes:

    Person sein (to be) können (can)
    ich war kann
    du warst kannst
    er/sie/es war kann
    wir waren können
    ihr wart könnt
    sie/Sie waren können

    I went to Ireland!

    Many learners of German struggle with expressing where they went:

    • I went to Ireland.

    Germany is actually simpler here: it just uses ich war:

    • Ich war in Irland.
  • 162280861004.06.2021
    5.005Places0 @ 100%420/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Amerika · Deutschland · Kanada · Wien · eu · in · klein · kommst · woher · wunderbar
    10 words
  • 162290706905.06.2021
    5.005Jobs0 @ 100%510/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Beruf · Kellnerin · Professor · Schauspieler · Schauspielerin · au · er · scha · sie · was
    10 words
  • 162311876408.06.2021
    5.005Hobbies0 @ 100%520/4 ••• Practice Test out
    acht · koche · kochst · male · malst · manchmal · nie · schwimme · schwimmst · tie
    10 words

    Im vs. ins

    For now, think of im as "inside", and "ins" as "into":

    • Ich bin im Theater. (I am inside the theater.)
    • Ich gehe ins Theater. (I go into the theater.)

    Later on, you will see these are part of a larger pattern.

    Im is also used for months and seasons:

    • Im Juli, im Winter

    Verb forms: you (plural)

    So far, you learned these verb forms:

    learn drive have
    infinitive lernen fahren haben
    ich lerne fahre habe
    du (you sg.) lernst fährst hast
    er/sie/es lernt fährt hat
    wir lernen fahren haben
    sie lernen fahren haben

    Here you learn the form for the last person, "you (plural)".

    This form always has a "-t" ending, and the stem of the verb will always be the same as the infinitive. Contrast with the third person singular, where there may be stem changes:

    learn drive have
    infinitive lernen fahren haben
    er/sie/es lernt fährt hat
    ihr (you pl.) lernt fahrt habt

    Gern

    In English, you can say:

    • I like chocolate. I like to swim.

    Previously, you learned "mögen" means "to like":

    • Ich mag Schokolade.

    However, this can only be used with nouns. For verbs, there is a structure that English does not use. It is therefore often confusing for beginners of German.

    • Ich schwimme gern.

    Gern is an adverb, not a verb. Literally, Germans say "I swim likingly." Here's a tip: If you know where in the sentence to put "oft" (often), you know where to put "gern":

    • Ich gehe oft ins Theater. (I often go to the theater.)
    • Ich gehe gern ins Theater. (I like to go to the theater.)

    Gern may be written/spoken as gerne, these two forms are exactly the same.

  • 162342002011.06.2021
    5.005Directions0 @ 100%530/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Apotheke · Bahnhof · Bibliothek · Kirche · Markt · Park · Taxistand · ah · da drüben · med
    10 words
  • 162394103317.06.2021
    5.005Questions0 @ 100%610/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Frau · Herr · Kanzlerin · era · esin · freut mich · heiße · heißen · sie · sind
    10 words

    Yes/No Questions

    Questions can be asked by switching the subject and verb. For instance, "Du verstehst das." (You understand this) becomes "Verstehst du das?" (Do you understand this?). These kinds of questions will generally just elicit yes/no answers. In English, the main verb "to be" follows the same principle. "I am hungry." becomes "Am I hungry?". In German, all verbs follow this principle. There's no do-support.

    Asking a Question in German With a W-Word

    Six W-questions - "Wer" (Who), "Was" (What), "Wo" (Where), "Wann" (When), "Warum" (Why) and "Wie" (How) - can be asked in German to elicit more than yes/no answers. Two of the six adverbs are declineable (i.e. change with the case), whereas four are not.

    Wer (Who)

    "Wer" is declinable and needs to adjust to the four cases. The adjustment depends on what the question is targeting.

    1. If you ask for the subject of a sentence (i.e. the nominative object), "wer" (who) remains as is: "Wer sitzt da?" (Who is sitting there?).
    2. If you ask for the direct (accusative) object in a sentence, "wer" changes to "wen" (who/whom). As a mnemonic, notice how "wen" sounds similar to "den" in "den Apfel." "Wen siehst du?" (Whom do you see?) - "Ich sehe den Sohn" (I see the son).
    3. If you ask for the indirect object, "wer" changes to "wem" (who/to whom) and adjusts to the dative case. You could ask "Wem hast du den Apfel gegeben?" (To whom did you give the apple?) and the answer could be "Dem Mann" (the man). Notice again how the declined form of "wer" ("wem") sounds like the definite article of all masculine and neuter nouns in the dative case (like "dem Mann" or "dem Kind").
    4. Lastly, asking about ownership (genitive case), changes "wer" to "wessen" (whose). "Wessen Schuhe sind das?" (Whose shoes are these?) - "Das sind die Schuhe des Jungen" (These are the boy’s shoes). And notice once again how "wessen" (of the) and "des" (of the) include a lot of s-sounds.

    Was (What)

    Similar to the changes made to "wer," "was" will decline depending on the four cases.

    1. For both the nominative and accusative cases, "was" remains the same. It is common to ask "Wer oder was?" (who or what?), if you want to know more about the nominative object and do not know if it is a person (who) or a thing (what). You ask "Wen oder was?" (who/whom or what?), if you want to know more about the accusative object.
    2. "Was" changes to "wessen" for questions about the genitive object as in "Wessen ist sie schuldig?" (What is she guilty of?).
    3. For the dative, "was" changes to a compount of "wo(r)" + preposition. For instance, if the verb takes the German preposition "an" (on/about) as in "an etwas denken," you would ask "Woran denkt er?" (About what is he thinking?). Likewise, "hingehen" is a verb composed of "gehen" + "hin" (go + to) and you would ask "Wohin geht sie?" (To where is she going?).

    Wo (Where)

    In German, you can inquire about locations in several ways. "Wo" (where) is the general question word, but if you are asking for a direction in which someone or something is moving, you may use "wohin" (where to). Look at: "Wo ist mein Schuh?" (Where is my shoe?) and "Wohin kommt dieser Wein?" (Where does this wine go?). Furthermore, "Wohin" is separable into "Wo" + "hin." For example, "Wo ist mein Schuh hin?" (Where did my shoe go?).

    Note that the sound of "Wer" is similar to "Where" and that of "Wo" to "Who," but they must not be confused. In other words: the two German questions words "Wer" (Who) and "Wo" (Where) are false cognates to English. They mean the opposite of what an English speaker would think.

    Wann (When)

    "Wann" (when) does not change depending on the case. "Wann" can be used with conjunctions such as "seit" (since) or "bis" (till): "Seit wann haben Sie für Herrn Müller gearbeitet?" (Since when have you been working for Mr. Müller?) and "Bis wann geht der Film?" (Till when does the movie last?).

    Warum (Why)

    "Warum" (why) is also not declinable. "Wieso" and "Weshalb" can be used instead of "Warum." For an example, take "Warum ist das Auto so alt?" = "Wieso ist das Auto so alt?" = "Weshalb ist das Auto so alt?" (Why is that car so old?).

  • 162419997320.06.2021
    5.005Market0 @ 100%620/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Euro · Marktplatz · Orangen · drei · eins · etz · kostet · nei · vier · zwei
    10 words

    Jeder

    For English every, German uses jeder. However, its ending changes like "der, die, das":

    gender, case the every
    masc. Nom. der jeder
    neut. Nom/Akk. das jedes
    fem. Nom./Akk. die jede
    masc. Akk. den jeden
    m/n Dativ dem jedem
    fem. Dativ der jeder

    Times are in accusative in German:

    • Ich gehe jeden Tag schwimmen.
  • 162454371024.06.2021
    5.005Weather0 @ 100%710/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Herbst · Regenschirm · Wetter · bewölkt · blitz · blitz · blitze · donner · es · gewitter · grad · heute · mig · nass · regen · regenbogen · regenbogen · regenschirm · regnet · schneit · sonnig · sturm · sturms · trocken · wetter · wie · wolke
    27 words
  • 162470835426.06.2021
    5.005Family 20 @ 100%810/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Freund · Onkel · Opa · cousine · cousinen · cousinen · cousins · deinen · einen · etz · eu · habe · halbbruder · halbbrüder · halbschwester · halbschwestern · hast · hochzeit · hochzeit · meinen · neffen · nichten · onkel · partnerschaft · partnerschaften · schwanger · tanten · tanten · urenkel · urgroßmutter · urgroßmütter · verheiratet · verwandte · verwandte · verwandten · zwilling · zwilling · zwillinge · zwillinge · zwillinge
    40 words
  • 162489041728.06.2021
    5.005Languages0 @ 100%820/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Polnisch · Türkisch · dein · dünn · einfach · mein · nicht · perfekt · schwer · toll
    10 words
  • 162506987230.06.2021
    5.005Leisure0 @ 100%830/4 ••• Practice Test out
    frühstücke · frühstückst · heute morgen · joggst · joggt · machst · so · surfe · surfst · warum
    10 words

    Dative plural: "n" all the way!

    Remember that the ending for articles, pronouns and adjectives is -n in dative plural:

    • mit den alten Autos (with the old cars)

    In addition, plural nouns that do not end in -n already will also get an -n:

    • der Freund, die Freunde (the friend, the friends)
    • mit meinen alten Freunden (with my old friends)

    As you can see above, -s plural endings break this rule.

  • 162522839502.07.2021
    5.005Plans0 @ 100%910/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Geld · Schwimmbad · aned · gehen · ins · joggen · möchte · möchtest · schwimmen · wandern
    10 words
  • 162557698106.07.2021
    5.005Apartment0 @ 100%920/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Mitbewohner · Stuhl · Tisch · den · haben · hässlich · mag · modern · sind · wir
    10 words
  • 162603911212.07.2021
    5.005Shopping0 @ 100%1010/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Dienstag · Jobinterview · Kaufhaus · Montag · apotheke · apotheke · apotheken · aufgeregt · billig · bäckerei · bäckerei · bäckereien · einkaufswägen · einkaufszentrum · für · gehe · gehen · geschäft · gratis · gutschein · gutschein · gutscheine · gutscheine · kasse · kassen · kunde · kunden · kunden · kunden · kundinnen · laden · läden · marktplatz · nervös · neue kleidung · sonderangebot · sonderangebot · sonderangebote · supermarkt · supermarkt · supermärkte · tüte · tüten · verkaufe · verkaufen · verkaufst · verkauft
    47 words

    Kaufen vs. einkaufen

    Kaufen is normally used in the meaning of "to buy":

    • Ich kaufe einen Hut.

    Einkaufen is normally used without an object, and often refers to shopping. It can be used in conjunction with gehen:

    • Ich kaufe im Supermarkt ein. (I shop in the supermarket)
    • Wann gehst du einkaufen? (When do you go shopping?)

    Verkaufen means "to sell". The prefix ver- is often associated with an "away" notion.

    Laden, Geschäft

    A variety of words exist for "shop". These are two common ones, with roughly exchangeable usage.

  • 162956210321.08.2021
    3.003Travel0 @ 100%1020/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Fahrkarte · Fahrkarten · Hin- und rückfahrt · Minuten · Zug · abenteuer · abenteuer · afrika · afrika · afrika · auto · auto · autos · bahn · bahn · bayern · bayern · besuch · boot · boote · buche · buchen · buchst · bucht · bus · bus · bushaltestelle · bushaltestelle · bushaltestellen · busse · dreißig · fahrrad · fahrrad · fahrräder · fahrt · ferien · fliegst · fliegt · flug · flüge · flüge · frankreich · frankreich · fähre · fähren · großbritannien · großbritannien · hamburg · italien · kosten · mietwagen · mietwagen · mietwägen · motorrad · motorräder · motorräder · nach · pass · pässe · reise · reise · reiseführer · reisen · schweden · schweiz · schweizer · schweizer · sehenswürdigkeiten · spanien · spanien · spät · stadtplan · stadtplan · stadtpläne · strecke · strecke · strecken · strecken · taxi · tour · touren · tourismus · urlaub · verkehr · verspätung · visa · visum · wandere · wandern · wandern · wanderst · wandert · wandert · weg · weg · wege · wien · zoll · zoll · zug · zwanzig · züge · österreich · österreich
    104 words

    Sehenswürdigkeiten?!

    The word Sehenswürdigkeit (sight as in sightseeing) is made up of several meaningful parts: sehen + s + würdig + keit.

    Let's look at each part and its meaning.

    Part Meaning
    sehen to see
    -s- connecting element
    würdig to be worthy
    -keit noun suffix

    Literally Sehenswürdigkeit means something which is worthy to see.

    The connecting element -s- is used to link words together.

    The ending -keit turns an adjective into a noun.

    Often the ending of a compound noun is a good indicator for the gender of the noun. For example, if a noun ends in -keit, it will always be feminine (die).

    Urlaub vs. Ferien

    Just like in English there's "holidays" and "vacation", in German there are Ferien and Urlaub. They can be used interchangeably to some extent.

    Ferien only exists as a plural noun:

    • Die Ferien sind im Sommer. (The holidays are in summer.)

    Urlaub only exists as a singular noun:

    • Wann ist der Urlaub? (When is the vacation?)

    Visum

    In English, you need "a visa". In German, the singular is das Visum, Visa is the plural (as it is in Latin, the source language of this word).

    Weg vs. weg

    Der Weg (with a long -e-) roughly means "the path".

    • Der Weg ist lang. (The path is long.)

    The word weg (with a short, open -e-) roughly means "away". Here are some examples:

    • Geh weg! (Go away!)
    • Ich bin weg! (I'm gone!)
  • 162665876019.07.2021
    2.002Dining Out0 @ 100%1110/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Hunger · essen · für · griechisch · italienisch · keinen hunger · lieber · mich · später · trinken
    10 words
  • 162666142019.07.2021
    2.002Transport0 @ 100%1210/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Fluss · Kunstmuseum · Stadtmuseum · Stadtzentrum · Zoo · besuchen · gehen · links · rechts · sehen
    10 words
  • 162690934422.07.2021
    2.002Birthday0 @ 100%1220/5 ••• Practice Test out
    April · Geburtstag · März · am · dritten · ersten · hast · morgen · vierten · zweiten
    10 words
  • 162695454622.07.2021
    2.002Hobbies 20 @ 100%1310/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Film · Gitarre · Hobbys · Tennis · deine · habt · surfen · tanze · tanzen · tanzt
    10 words
  • 162695646422.07.2021
    1.031Health25 @ 75%1323/5••• ••• Practice Test out
    Durst · Kopfschmerzen · iss · krank · müde · nachts · schlafe · traurig · trink · viel
    10 words
  • 162704516423.07.2021
    1.001People75 @ 25%1330/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Baby · Geschichte · Jahre · Kind · Mädchen · Psychologie · achtzehn · neunzehn · studieren · wie
    10 words

    N-declension

    In general, nouns have two forms, singular and plural:

    • der Hund, die Hunde
    • die Katze, die Katzen

    In dative plural, all nouns that do not already have an -n ending get one:

    • die Hunde, mit den Hunden
    • but: die Katzen, mit den Katzen
    • the exception are plurals ending in "-s": die Autos, mit den Autos

    In this skill, you encounter a special all-masculine noun group. These will have an -en ending in all forms, except for the nominative singular (the dictionary form):

    • Der Junge ist nett. Ich kenne einen Jungen.

    This group includes:

    • almost all masculine nouns that end in -e (Junge, Name, Kollege, Türke, …)
    • nouns ending in -ist, -ent and some other endings
    • a small group of other masculine nouns.

    Here is an example table for der Junge (the boy):

    Case Singular Plural
    Nominative der Junge die Jungen
    Accusative den Jungen die Jungen
    Dative dem Jungen den Jungen

    Adjectival nouns

    There is one last group of irregular nouns. These are actually adjectives that became nouns, but keep their rich set of adjective endings. As long as you know the adjective endings, these are straightforward to use:

    Adjective Noun
    ein deutscher Mann ein Deutscher
    der deutsche Mann der Deutsche
    eine deutsche Frau eine Deutsche
    mit einer deutschen Frau mit einer Deutschen

    Refer to the Clothes skill for an overview of the adjective endings.

    In this skill, you encounter:

    Adjective Adj. noun (masc. sg.)
    deutsch (German) Deutscher (German)
    erwachsen (adult) Erwachsener (adult)
    verwandt (related) Verwandter (relative)
    bekannt (known) Bekannter (acquaintance)
  • 162704753523.07.2021
    1.001Events75 @ 25%1410/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Oktoberfest · September · Spaß · beginnt · beliebt · lieben · neunzehnten · wollen · wollt · zum oktoberfest
    10 words
  • 162705408523.07.2021
    1.001Habits50 @ 50%1510/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Joghurt · Sport · Yoga · abends · einmal · isst · machen · pro · wie oft · zum frühstück
    10 words
  • 162713078824.07.2021
    1.001Housing50 @ 50%1520/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Garten · Mehrfamilienhaus · Nachbarin · Treppe · allein · in einer wg · unser · unsere · wohnen · zurzeit
    10 words
  • 162716100325.07.2021
    1.001Hotel75 @ 25%1610/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Doppelzimmer · Einzelzimmer · Nacht · Nächte · Pass · frei · hundert · ihren · nehme · wollen
    10 words
  • 162720415925.07.2021
    1.001Family 375 @ 25%1620/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Beamter · Beamtin · Geschwister · Haus · ihre · ihren · seine · seinen · wollen · zufrieden
    10 words
  • 162722912225.07.2021
    1.001Food75 @ 25%1630/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Dezember · Eier · Eiskaffee · Kartoffelsalat · Lieblingsessen · Nussallergie · Obst · am besten · apfelsaft · bier · durst · ei · eis · erdbeere · essen · fisch · fisch · fisch · fleisch · fleisch · frisch · gemüse · gut · hunger · ihn · kaffee · kaffee · kartoffel · käse · käse · lecker · nichts · nudeln · obst · orange · orange · orangensaft · pizza · reis · saft · salz · salz · schmeckt · schokolade · suppe · süß · tee · wein · zucker · öl
    50 words

    The German Preposition am

    Most likely, food is being consumed at the table. The German preposition am is the contraction of an (at/on) and dem (the). For example, The man eats at the table is Der Mann isst am (an + dem) Tisch. Since an can translate to both at and on, am can translate to both at the and on the, depending on the context. For example an dem Tisch only translates to at the table (context: spatial relationship between things) and an dem Tag only translates to on that day (context: temporal).

    The verb haben (to have)

    In English, you can say "I'm having bread" when you really mean that you're eating or about to eat bread. This does not work in German. The verb haben refers to possession only. Hence, the sentence Ich habe Brot only translates to I have bread, not I'm having bread. Of course, the same applies to drinks. Ich habe Wasser only translates to I have water, not I'm having water.

    Mittagessen - lunch or dinner?

    We're aware that dinner is sometimes used synonymously with lunch, but for the purpose of this course, we're defining Frühstück as breakfast, Mittagessen as lunch, and dinner / supper as Abendessen / Abendbrot.

    Compound words

    A compound word is a word that consists of two or more words. These are written as one word (no spaces).

    The gender of a compound noun is always determined by its last element. This shouldn't be too difficult to remember because the last element is always the most important one. All the previous elements merely describe the last element.

    • die Autobahn (das Auto + die Bahn)

    • der Orangensaft (die Orange + der Saft)

    • das Hundefutter (der Hund + das Futter)

    Sometimes, there's a connecting sound (Fugenlaut) between two elements. For instance, die Orange + der Saft becomes der Orangensaft, der Hund + das Futter becomes das Hundefutter, die Liebe + das Lied becomes das Liebeslied, and der Tag + das Gericht becomes das Tagesgericht.

    Cute like sugar!

    The word süß means sweet when referring to food, and cute when referring to living beings.

    • Der Zucker ist süß. (The sugar is sweet.)
    • Die Katze ist süß. (The cat is cute.)
  • 162730240626.07.2021
    1.001Plans 275 @ 25%1710/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Biergarten · Erwachsene · Freitag · Wochenende · diesen · jedes · schließt · vierzig · welchen · wohin
    10 words
  • 162730966826.07.2021
    1.001Travel 275 @ 25%1720/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Flugnummer · Kugelschreiber · Urlaub · Visum · Wochen · Zoll · machen · unterschreiben · verboten · zum schalter
    10 words
  • 162614243613.07.2021
    1.001Hallo0 @ 100%1810/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Brot · Frau · Junge · Kind · Mann · Mädchen · Wasser · er · es · wir
    10 words
  • 162638464516.07.2021
    5.005Accusative0 @ 100%1910/2 ••• Practice Test out
    Apfel · Milch · Zeitung · essen · esst · lese · lesen · liest · trinkst · trinkt
    10 words
  • 162759062629.07.2021
    4.004Converse0 @ 100%1920/6 ••• Practice Test out
    Deutsch · England · Englisch · Essen · Hans · Julia · Karl · deutschlands · heißen · versteht
    10 words
  • 162643780716.07.2021
    2.002Animal75 @ 25%2010/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Bär · Haustier · Hund · Katze · Kuh · Maus · Pferd · Schwein · Tier · fressen
    10 words
  • 162661502818.07.2021
    2.002Plurals75 @ 25%2110/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Bären · Ei · Fisch · Hund · Kühe · Mensch · Mäuse · Pferd · Schwein · Tiere · bananen · bananen · bären · eier · enten · erdbeeren · fische · fliegen · hunde · insekten · kartoffeln · kartoffeln · katzen · käfer · kühe · menschen · menschen · mäuse · orangen · orangen · schweine · spinnen · tiere · tomaten · vögel · zeitungen · zeitungen · äpfel
    38 words
  • 162656297018.07.2021
    3.003Grammar 10 @ 100%2120/4 ••• Practice Test out
    fertig · groß · klar · klein · lang · langsam · leicht · normal · rund · schwach
    10 words
  • 162713224124.07.2021
    2.002Verbs 150 @ 50%2210/4 ••• Practice Test out
    geht · lesen · läuft · machen · mögen · schlafen · schreibt · sehen · spielt · wollen
    10 words
  • 162733232826.07.2021
    2.002Clothing25 @ 75%2220/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Hut · Tasche · fleck · flecken · hemd · hemden · hemdes · hose · hose · hosen · hut · hüte · hüte · jacke · jacken · jacken · jacken · kleid · kleid · kleide · kleider · kleidung · kleidung · kleidungen · knopf · knöpfe · kosmetik · mantel · mäntel · passt · passt · ring · ringe · ringe · rock · rock · röcke · schmuck · schuh · schuhe · tasche · taschen · trage · tragen · tragt · trägst · trägt
    47 words
  • 162733317526.07.2021
    2.002Nature25 @ 75%2310/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Natur · baume · berge · blume · erde · feuer · luft · meere · monds · wind
    10 words
  • 162739847827.07.2021
    2.002It's Mine25 @ 75%2410/4 ••• Practice Test out
    beide · dein · deine · dies · euer · ihr · mein · meine · sein · unser
    10 words
  • 162744490028.07.2021
    2.002Grammar 20 @ 100%2500/3 ••• Practice Test out
    dran · genug · gerne · heiße · kein · keine · keiner · nichts · niemals · wirklich
    10 words
  • 162748455628.07.2021
    2.002Places 20 @ 100%2610/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Ecke · ausland · ausland · bahnhöfe · bereich · bereiche · bereichen · bezirk · bezirk · bezirke · bibliothek · bundesland · bundesland · bundesländer · europa · europa · ferienhaus · ferienhaus · ferienhäuser · ferienhäuser · flughafen · flughafen · fläche · flächen · gebäude · gegenüber · grund · grundstück · grundstück · grundstücke · gründe · gärten · halle · halle · hallen · hauptstadt · hauptstädte · heimat · hof · häuser · höfe · innenstadt · innenstadt · innenstädte · innere · innere · insel · insel · inseln · kneipe · kneipe · kneipen · märkte · ort · ort · ort · orte · pension · pension · platz · platz · plätze · region · regionen · restaurants · schlosses · schule · standort · standort · standorte · umgebung · umgebung · unterkunft · unterkunft · wohne · wohnen · wohnst · wohnt · zentrale · zentren · zentrum · zentrum
    82 words

    Bundesland

    Germany is a Federal Republic (Bundesrepublik). It consists of 16 federal states, which have some degree of autonomy. These are called Bundesländer.

    Pension

    Die Pension has different meanings, depending on context. Here it means "guest house". It can also mean "retirement pay".

  • 162751087029.07.2021
    1.011Pronouns50 @ 50%2711/3 ••• Practice Test out
    dein · dich · es · euch · euer · ihr · mein · mich · sein · unser
    10 words
  • 162758927929.07.2021
    2.002Household25 @ 75%2720/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Decke · Zaun · balkon · balkone · bett · bett · betten · dach · decke · decken · dächer · fenster · fenster · keller · keller · keller · küche · ladegerät · ladegeräte · lampe · lampe · licht · lichter · möbel · schlafzimmer · schlafzimmer · schlüssel · schlüssel · schrank · schränke · schränke · sofa · sofas · steckdose · steckdosen · steckdosen · stuhl · stuhl · stühle · teppich · teppich · teppiche · tisch · tisch · tische · treppe · treppe · treppen · tür · türen · wand · wohnung · wohnung · wohnungen · wohnzimmer · wände · wänden · zaun · zäune · öffne · öffnen · öffnest · öffnet
    63 words
  • 162764051630.07.2021
    1.001People 250 @ 50%2810/5 ••• Practice Test out
    besuche · besuchen · besuchst · besucht · besucht · bevölkerung · da · dass · denn · doch · einwohner · entweder · gemeinde · gemeinden · man · nutzer · nutzer · obwohl · paar · paare · sobald · solange · verbindung · verbindungen · verbindungen · verein · vereine · verhältnis · weil · wenn · öffentlichkeit
    31 words
  • 162765075030.07.2021
    1.001Asking50 @ 50%2910/3 ••• Practice Test out
    antwort · antworten · fragen · was · welch · wer · wieso · wofür · womit · worüber
    10 words
  • 162765644330.07.2021
    1.001Relatives50 @ 50%2920/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Eltern · bruder · familie · geschwister · mutter · partner · schwester · söhne · töchter · vater
    10 words
  • 162921394017.08.2021
    2.002Counting25 @ 75%3010/3 ••• Practice Test out
    dreizehn · durch · elf · entlang · für · gegen · nummer · ohne · vierzehn · zwölf
    10 words
  • 162782737601.08.2021
    1.001Food 275 @ 25%3110/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Butter · Frühstück · Honig · Marmelade · Milch · Müsli · Nuss · Rezept · abendessen · abendessen · abendessen · bohnen · butter · frühstück · frühstücke · frühstücken · frühstückst · frühstückt · frühstückt · gabel · gabeln · gabeln · getränk · hauptgericht · honig · honig · hähnchen · knoblauch · koche · kochen · kochst · kocht · kocht · kuchen · löffel · löffel · marmelade · messer · messer · mittagessen · mittagessen · müsli · nachtisch · nachtisch · nuss · nüsse · pilz · pilze · rezept · salat · salzig · sauer · scharf · senf · senf · speisekarte · speisekarte · tomate · vorspeise · zitrone · zu abend · zu mittag · zwiebeln
    63 words

    Küche vs. Kuchen

    Die Küche (the kitchen) and der Kuchen (the cake) are often confused by learners. To German ears, they sound quite different. One reason is that in Küche, the vowel is short, while the vowel in Kuchen is long.

    singular plural
    die Küche die Küchen
    der Kuchen die Kuchen

    Kochen (to cook) also has a short vowel.

    Schmecken

    Schmecken is very similar to the English word "to taste":

    • Ich schmecke Knoblauch! (I taste garlic!)
    • Knoblauch schmeckt super! (Garlic tastes great!)

    In addition, schmecken can be used by itself:

    • Die Pizza schmeckt nicht! (The pizza does not taste good!)

    Some popular food

    Müsli

    Müsli originally refers to "Bircher Müesli", a Swiss breakfast dish, based on rolled oats and fresh or dried fruits.

    Nowadays, people will use it for all kinds of cereals or granola, often with high sugar content.

    Hähnchen

    Hähnchen usually refers to a chicken that has been turned into a dish. While derived from the word for "male chicken" (der Hahn), the only distinction today is that it is a food item.

    Remember that words ending in -chen are always neuter: das Hähnchen.

    Salat

    Salat can refer to the dish, as well as to the green leaves (usually lettuce) that often go into it.

  • 162782892601.08.2021
    1.001Dative50 @ 50%3120/2 ••• Practice Test out
    Frau · Kind · Mann · dem · der · einem · einer · geben · sagen · zeigen
    10 words
  • 162902495115.08.2021
    2.002Money25 @ 75%3130/2 ••• Practice Test out
    besitzen · besitzt · cent · cent · cents · dollar · dollars · euro · euros · euros · geld · geld+automat · geldautomat · geldautomaten · gelder · gewinnt · kaufe · kaufen · kaufst · kauft · kosen · kosten · kostet · preis · preise · reich · schweizer franken · überweise · überweist
    29 words

    Euro or Euros?

    In German, the singular is Euro and the plural is usually Euro as well. As a rule of thumb, use Euro when talking about a specific amount, e.g. 200 Euro.

    In some contexts, the form Euros is used as well. For instance, you can say Euros to refer to individual euro coins, an unquantified amount of euros, or euros as opposed to a different currency, e.g.:

    • Ich habe hundert Schweizer Franken, aber keine Euros (I have a hundred Swiss francs but no euros).

    Many native speakers use either plural form regardless of context.

    In English, either plural form is perfectly fine. The plural form euro tends to be preferred in the Republic of Ireland, and the plural form euros tends to preferred pretty much anywhere else. Originally, the plural form euro was supposed to be used in official EU documents, but that's no longer the case.

  • 162798845303.08.2021
    1.001Dative 250 @ 50%3210/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Trinkgeld · dir · euch · helft · ihm · ihnen · ihr · meinem · mir · uns
    10 words
  • 162799457003.08.2021
    1.001Family 475 @ 25%3220/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Cousin · Cousine · Neffe · Nichte · Onkel · Tante · Urenkel · Verwandte · Zwilling · ur+großmutter
    10 words
  • 162812567105.08.2021
    1.001Dative 325 @ 75%3310/2 ••• Practice Test out
    bei · beim · mit · nach · seit · vom · von · zu · zum · zur
    10 words
  • 162812693805.08.2021
    1.001Body 150 @ 50%3320/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Mund · Nase · Ohr · Zahn · arme · auge · auge · augen · bein · beine · blut · brust · brüste · drücke · drücken · drückt · finger · fuß · füße · füße · gesicht · gesichter · haar · haare · haare · haaren · hals · halse · hand · hand · haut · herz · herzen · hälse · hände · hände · kopf · köpfe · körper · körper · magen · magen · mund · mägen · münder · nasen · ohr · rücken · rücken · schulter · schultern · schultern · zahn · zahn
    54 words

    Hals

    Der Hals refers to the whole connection between head and shoulders. German does have more specialized words for "neck" and "throat", but we normally use Hals for both.

    Haare

    Das Haar normally refers to a single hair. It can be used to refer to all the hair on someone's head, but is considered slightly outdated or poetic.

    • Seine Haare sind lang. (ok)
    • Sein Haar ist lang. (sounds a bit old)

    Bein

    Das Bein refers to the leg. It used to mean "bone" a long time ago. This meaning survives in some word combinations:

    • Elfenbein (ivory, literally "elephant bone")
    • Eisbein (pork knuckle, literally "ischias bone", because it referred to hip meat before)
    • Beinhaus (bone house)
    • Gebein(e) (a collection of bones)

    Magen

    Der Magen is the stomach, the part of your body that starts digestion. It is not commonly used to refer to the belly (der Bauch).

    Brust

    Die Brust can have several meanings, depending on context.

    • Komm an meine Brust! - This means the chest area. It will always be used in the singular.
    • Vögel haben keine Brüste. (Birds don't have breasts) - This refers to female breasts. It can be used in the singular.
  • 162824692306.08.2021
    1.001Formal You0 @ 100%3410/1 ••• Practice Test out
    ihnen · sie
    2 words

    Surprise! There's another way of addressing people. The good news is: it's super easy. Just use the "they" forms when talking to people you're not close with.

    Need more details? Then read on :)

    German You: Who are you talking to?

    In English, "you" can be either singular or plural, and no distinction is made between formal and informal. In German, there are three ways of saying "you".

    Du

    If you are familiar with someone, you use du (which is called "duzen"). For example, if you talk to your mother, you would say:

    • "Hast du jetzt Zeit, Mama?" (Do you have time now, Mommy?).

    Use this form for family members, co-students, children and young adults.

    Ihr

    If you refer to more than one person, you use ihr. This is also a "familiar" form, so use it in the same settings as du.

    The German ihr you learned earlier is the informal plural of "you," like in

    • Hans und Karl, habt ihr Zeit? (Hans and Karl, do you have time?)

    Sie (formal you)

    If you are not familiar with someone or still wish to stay formal and express respect, you use Sie (so-called "siezen"). For example, you would always address your professor like this:

    • Haben Sie jetzt Zeit, Herr Schmidt? (Do you have time now, Mr. Schmidt?)

    Sie is also used for multiple people. But you can't translate it well with "you all" or "you guys", because that would sound too informal.

    Here are the three forms of "you", and "they" for comparison:

    English person ending German example
    you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
    you (plural informal) -t ihr trinkt
    you (formal) -en Sie trinken
    they -en sie trinken

    When spoken, "they" and formal "you" are identical. So, in a way, Germans formally address people like "How are they today?"

    How do you know if sie means "she", "they", or "you"?

    You can distinguish the formal Sie from the plural sie (they) because the formal Sie will always be capitalized. However, it will remain ambiguous at the beginning of written sentences.

    For instance, Sie sind schön. can either refer to a beautiful individual or a group of beautiful people. The verbs for sie (they) and Sie (you) are conjugated the same. On Duolingo, either should be accepted unless the context suggests otherwise. In real life, there's always context. Don't worry about misunderstandings.

    Fortunately, the verb for sie (she) is different. Sie ist schön. only translates to "She is beautiful." There's no ambiguity.

    Other formal "you"s

    There are more ways to address people formally in German, but they are not in common use and/or outdated, so we don't support them in this course. You might encounter them in Middle Ages reenactments or so :)

    The third person singular was used:

    • Hat er heute gut geschlafen? (literally, "Has he slept well today?")

    The second person plural was also used, and is still used locally:

    • Ihr habt einen schönen Hut. (literally, "You all have a nice hat.")

    You will encounter the informal you in this skill as well

    As some of the sentences in this skill are shared among multiple skills, you will encounter the informal you in this skill as well. For technical reasons, this cannot be changed at this point. Please do not send a report regarding this issue.

  • 162816557605.08.2021
    1.001Some-25 @ 75%3420/1 ••• Practice Test out
    irgendwann · irgendwas · irgendwer · irgendwie · irgendwo
    5 words
  • 162833794907.08.2021
    1.001Shopping 250 @ 50%3510/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Kundin · Supermarkt · Tüte · bäckerei · einkauf+wagen · geschäfts · kassen · läden · markt+platz · verkaufen
    10 words
  • 162835379307.08.2021
    1.001Travel 375 @ 25%3520/6 ••• Practice Test out
    Bayer · Ferien · afrikas · autos · busse · fahrrad · urlaube · wien · züge · österreich
    10 words
  • 162842807708.08.2021
    1.011Numbers 275 @ 25%3531/3 ••• Practice Test out
    achtundzwanzig · achtzig · dreiundzwanzig · dreißig · einundzwanzig · fünfzig · hundert · hundertdreiundzwanzig · liter · liter · meter · milliarde · milliarden · million · millionen · neunzig · prozent · prozente · sechzig · siebzig · tausend · vierundzwanzig · vierzig · zwanzig · zweiundachtzig · zweiunddreißig · zweiundvierzig
    27 words

    German numbers

    You learned earlier that the numbers from 1-19 are very similar to those in English.

    This mostly continues in German, with one important quirk. Did you ever notice that the digits in numbers 13-19 are kind of "switched" in English? German continues that through to 99.

    So 84 would be vier|und|acht|zig (literally, four and eighty).

    This might take some getting used to, but at least it's consistent ;)

    Hundert

    For "100", people would usually just say hundert, not einhundert (as in English).

    Huge numbers

    There used to be two different systems for huge numbers, called "short scale" and "long scale". Unfortunately, German and American English ended up with different ones. British English used to use the long scale, but switched to short scale.

    Number US English (short scale) German (long scale)
    10^6 million Million
    10^9 billion Milliarde
    10^12 trillion Billion
    10^15 quadrillion Billiarde
    10^18 quintillion Trillion

    (10^6 means a one with six zeros)

  • 162843567008.08.2021
    2.002Colors75 @ 25%3610/3 ••• Practice Test out
    blau · blaue · blauen · blauen · braun · braune · bunt · bunte · buntes · farbe · farbe · farben · gelb · grau · grauen · grauen · grün · grüne · grünen · grünes · pink · rot · rot · rot · rote · roten · roter · rotes · rotes · schwarz · schwarze · schwarzen · schwarzes · schwarzes · weiß · weiße · weißen · weißer · weißes
    39 words
  • 162850957309.08.2021
    1.001Imperative50 @ 50%3620/2 ••• Practice Test out
    esst · geben · geh · handele · lass · lies · nimm · ruft · seid · trinke
    10 words
  • 162851602509.08.2021
    1.001Occupation50 @ 50%3630/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Bäcker · Köchin · Student · Studentin · arzt · berufes · koch · lehrer · lehrerinnen · ärztinnen
    10 words
  • 162852929509.08.2021
    1.001Grammar 350 @ 50%3710/4 ••• Practice Test out
    auf · aufs · im · in · ins · legt · sitzen · unter · zwischen · über
    10 words
  • 162863503911.08.2021
    1.001Materials75 @ 25%3720/3 ••• Practice Test out
    Beton · Glas · Pappe · Plastik · Sand · Wolle · baumwolle · beton · beton · eisen · glas · gold · holz · hölzer · kupfer · leder · mauer · mauern · metall · papier · papier · papiere · pappe · plastik · silber · stahl · stein · steine · steinen · wolle · wolle
    31 words
  • 162863615711.08.2021
    2.002Numbers 350 @ 50%3730/1 ••• Practice Test out
    Mathematik · dritt · dritte · dritte · dritten · erste · erste · erste · ersten · erster · erstes · fünfte · mathematik · sechst · sechste · sechste · sieben · siebte · vierte · zweit · ähnlich
    21 words

    Ordinal numbers

    German ordinal numbers are pretty regular. The general rule is:

    number range ending
    1-19 -te
    > 19 -ste
    Irregular forms
    1. erste
    3. dritte
    7. siebte

    Ordinal numbers behave like adjectives, so their endings will change accordingly:

    Er kennt den ersten Sänger.

    Er ist am sechsten August geboren.

    Ich bin seine tausendste Lehrerin.

  • 162877428212.08.2021
    1.001Comparison75 @ 25%3810/3 ••• Practice Test out
    als · groß · größen · größer · höher · klein · kleiner · schöner · stärker · wichtiger
    10 words
  • 162885810713.08.2021
    1.001Qualifiers50 @ 50%3820/2 ••• Practice Test out
    bessere · besseren · beste · besten · besten · eher · ganz · gewöhnlich · gut · gute · guten · guten · guter · gutes · normalerweise · sehr · super · ziemlich
    18 words
  • 162894482814.08.2021
    1.001House 275 @ 25%3910/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Schlaf · Zahnpasta · geräte · haushalt+gerät · haushalte · heizungen · raumes · reinigung · umzüge · zahn+bürste
    10 words
  • 162903669715.08.2021
    1.001Dates 150 @ 50%3920/4 ••• Practice Test out
    alltag · anfang · bald · bis · danach · dienstag · donnerstag · donnerstages · ende · ende · endlich · freitag · freitagen · inzwischen · mittwoch · montag · montage · samstag · samstage · sonntag · sonntage · spätestens · tag · tage · tage · tagen · täglich · vergangenheit · werk+tag · werktag · werktage · woche · woche · wochen · wochenende · wochenenden · wöchentlich · zukunft · zukunft
    39 words
  • 162913394816.08.2021
    1.021Grammar 475 @ 25%4012/6•• ••• Practice Test out
    aktiv · allgemein · automatisch · extrem · fit · hilfreich · komplett · plötzlich · regional · relativ
    10 words
  • 162916867217.08.2021
    1.001Adjective75 @ 25%4110/4 ••• Practice Test out
    abhängig · begeistert · bekannt · eindeutig · notwendig · selbstverständlich · sichtbar · unabhängig · unsichtbar · verfügbar
    10 words
  • 162925120818.08.2021
    1.001Location75 @ 25%4120/4 ••• Practice Test out
    Kneipe · außen · bereichs · bundesland · da · dort · draußen · drinnen · drüben · flughafens · hier · hinten · innen · nebenan · oben · ortes · pension · platzes · regionen · unten · unterkünfte · vorne · wohnen · überall
    24 words

    Location

    Hier, da, dort

    When talking about locations in English, you can use here, there, this, and that to express that something is close or far away. In German the word da is commonly used when talking about locations. The good thing about da is, you don't have to worry about the distance! It can mean anything close or far away.

    Let's look at a few examples:

    • Wir sind da. (We are here/there.)
    • Da ist ein Apfel. (Here/There is an apple.)

    With hier (here) and dort (there) you can be more specific about the distance.

    • hier (here)
    • da (here/there)
    • dort (there)

    You can also say da oben for "up there" and so on:

    • Die Katze ist da oben. (The cat is up there.)
    • Da hinten wohnt er. (He lives there in the back.)

    Das hier

    You can combine all of them with articles, and use them similar to this and that !

    • das hier (this)
    • das da (this/that)
    • das dort (that)

    Many people use this with the other articles as well. Note that while all of the following constructs are commonly used in spoken language, they are not appropriate for written, formal language.

    • der/die/das hier (this)
    • der/die/das da (this/that)
    • der/die/das dort (that)

    To refer to one specific thing, you can put a noun between the article and hier/da/dort.

    For example:

    • Der Apfel da ist groß. (That apple is big.)
    • Die Katzen da sind süß. (Those cats are cute.)

    Some people might add drüben. This translates to over there.

    • Der Apfel da drüben ist groß. (That apple over there is big.)
    • Die Katzen dort drüben sind süß. (Those cats over there are cute.)

    Innen, drinnen

    Innen and außen mostly refer to the inside and outside of objects.

    Drinnen and draußen are normally only used for rooms (more generally, enclosed spaces that people can be in).

    • Die Wassermelone ist innen rot und außen grün. (The watermelon is red on the inside, and green on the outside.)
    • Drinnen ist es trocken, aber draußen regnet es. (Inside, it is dry, but outside it is raining.)
  • 162929495418.08.2021
    1.001Medical50 @ 50%4210/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Pflaster · Rollstuhl · alkohol · alkohol · blute · bluten · blutest · blutet · blutet · diät · ernährung · formular · formulare · gesundheit · klinik · klinik · krank · krankenhaus · krankenhaus · krankenhäuser · krankenversicherung · krankenwagen · krankenwägen · krankheit · krankheiten · medikament · medikamente · medikamente · medizin · medizin · notfall · notfall · notfälle · opfer · opfer · opfern · patient · patienten · patienten · pflaster · praxis · rollstuhl · rollstühle · schlechte · schlechter · therapie · unfall · unfall · unfälle · untersuchung · untersuchungen · zahnarzt · zahnärztin
    53 words

    What is a Pflaster?

    Das Pflaster is a small adhesive bandage.

    Depending on where you live, you may call it "Band-Aid", "plaster" or "Elastoplast" in English.

    The German word Pflaster does not refer to a plaster cast. The German for plaster cast is der Gips(verband).

  • 162938942919.08.2021
    1.001Verbs 275 @ 25%4220/6 ••• Practice Test out
    arbeiten · finden · gefalle · halten · hoffen · können · nehmen · singen · suchen · weiß
    10 words
  • 162955267221.08.2021
    1.001Dates 275 @ 25%4310/5 ••• Practice Test out
    Frühling · Spargel · alter · april · august · daten · datum · dezember · dezember · dezember · endet · februar · frühling · geburtstag · geburtstag · geburtstage · heiß · herbst · jahr · jahr · jahre · jahre · jahren · jahreszeiten · jahrhundert · jahrhundert · jahrhunderte · jahrs · januar · juli · juni · jährlich · kalender · kühl · letzte · mai · monat · monate · monatlich · monats · märz · märz · märz · november · oktober · phase · phasen · quartal · quartale · saison · saison · schluss · schluss · september · sommer · spargel · spargel · vorbei · weihnachten · winter
    60 words

    Monatlich

    Just as in English you have "year/yearly", German has the same word pairs. In German, some of these have an umlaut change:

    noun adjective
    das Jahr jährlich
    der Monat monatlich
    der Tag täglich
    die Stunde stündlich
    die Minute minütlich
    die Sekunde sekündlich

    Why does monatlich not change? All others are emphasized on the syllable that changes. Monatlich is emphasized on the first syllable.

    Seasons

    The seasons in German are as follows:

    English German
    spring der Frühling
    summer der Sommer
    autumn der Herbst
    winter der Winter

    Herbst sounds similar to "harvest", and Frühling has früh (early) in it.

    When you refer to seasons or months, you use im. Here's the mnemonic again that helps you remind which is which:

    • am Montag
    • um drei Uhr
    • im Juni
  • 162956537321.08.2021
    1.001People 375 @ 25%4320/2 ••• Practice Test out
    Jugend · bevölkerungen · einwohners · gemeinden · nutzer · paare · verbindungen · verein · verhältnisse · öffentlichkeit
    10 words
  • 162973222723.08.2021
    1.001The Future75 @ 25%4400/4 ••• Practice Test out
    bleiben · essen · gehen · kosten · lieben · reden · vergessen · warten · wirst · wissen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    1.001Feelings75 @ 25%4510/6 ••• Practice Test out
    angst · böse · böse · dumm · ehrlich · eindruck · eindrücke · ernst · ernst · ernstes · freude · freuden · gar · gedanke · gedanken · glück · glück · hassen · hasst · humor · interessant · lache · lachen · lacht · lacht · langweilig · liebe · liebe · lieben · lieben · lieber · liebling · liebling · lieblings · liebst · liebt · lust · nett · not · nöte · ruhe · ruhe · ruhe · schlau · schlimm · spaß · spaß · späßen · stolz · tapfer · total · traum · träume · träume · träumen · träumt · unheimlich · verständnis · witz · witz · witzig · wunsch · wunsch · wünsche · ärger
    65 words

    Long and short vowels

    Which sounds are there?

    In German, every vowel can be long or short. The short one often sounds more open than the long one.

    The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is given for the geeks among you :) But you can also copy/paste one of these symbols into Wikipedia to get an in-depth explanation of it (with sound!).

    vowel short IPA long IPA
    a Mann /a/ Bahn /aː/
    ä Bälle /ɛ/ Käse /ɛː/
    e rennen /ɛ/ Beere /eː/
    i Mitte /ɪ/ ziehen /iː/
    o oft /ɔ/ ohne /oː/
    ö Hölle /œ/ schön /øː/
    u Mutter /ʊ/ Buch /uː/
    ü Müll /ʏ/ Bücher /yː/

    You can also google "german sounds" for a longer introduction to German sounds.

    When is a vowel short or long?

    German has a range of spelling convention which will clearly show whether a vowel is short or long:

    A vowel before a double consonant will be short:

    • Mann, denn, Mutter, Bälle, backen, Pizza, Katze

    Note that instead of "zz" (which only occurs in the Italian "Pizza"), German uses tz. Instead of "kk", we use ck.

    There are also some signals that clearly show the vowel is long.

    Sometimes, the vowel will be doubled:

    • paar, Beere, Boot, … (this only happens with a/e/o)

    There might be a silent h behind the vowel:

    • fahren, zählen, sehen, ihr, ohne, höher, Uhr, Stühle, …

    Note that if you read the list above, you should not hear a single h sound. It is geh|en, not ge|hen.

    For i, it is more common to have an -e after it (sometimes even -eh):

    • die, Biene, spielen, sieben, Beziehung, …

    Again, the h will be silent: Be|zieh|ung, not Be|zie|hung.

    But sometimes, there will not be a signal.

    The following examples have an unmarked long vowel:

    • Buch, da, Abend, wo, Not, Zitrone, …

    And here are some short ones:

    • an, Onkel, un-, Mama, Hälfte, Zitrone, …

    For these, you just have to trust your language feeling, it will normally not be a big problem :)

  • 1634681829Learning:
    0.020Time75 @ 25%452 +2 lessons +17 lexemes2/4•• ••• Learn Test out
    abend · abend · abende · abends · augenblick · damals · dann · dauer · dauer · etwa · fast · früh · gerade · gestern · halb · heute · jetzt · lange · minute · minuten · mittag · mitternacht · moment · morgen · morgen · morgen · nacht · nacht · nachts · nächte · nächte · sekunde · sekunden · sekunden · sofort · spät · später · stunde · stunde · stunden · stunden · termin · termine · terminen · uhr · uhr · uhr · uhr+zeit · uhren · uhrzeit · uhrzeit · viertel · zeit · zeit · zeiten · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkte · zeitraum
    60 words

    Times of day

    German uses a system similar to English:

    English German
    morning der Morgen am Morgen
    - der Vormittag am Vormittag
    noon der Mittag am Mittag
    afternoon der Nachmittag am Nachmittag
    evening der Abend am Abend
    night die Nacht in der Nacht
    midnight die Mitternacht um Mitternacht

    It's generally pretty straightforward. Remember this mnemonic:

    • am Montag
    • um drei Uhr
    • im Juni

    Am Montag, am Mittag. Just "at night there are different rules": in der Nacht and um Mitternacht are irregular.

    All of these have an adverbial form:

    • morgens, vormittags, abends, nachts, …

    Morgen am Morgen?

    Similar to Spanish, the words for "tomorrow" and "morning" are the same in German. Unlike Spanish, German escapes this problem by choosing a different word when they clash.

    Instead of morgen am Morgen or morgen morgens we say morgen früh.

    Telling the time

    Official time

    In German, there are "official" and informal ways to say the time. Here's the official one (often used on radio and television):

    • dreizehn Uhr neun (literally, "thirteen o'clock nine")

    Official time uses a 24 hour system, from zero to 24.

    Don't confuse "hour" and Uhr (they are false friends):

    English German
    the hour die Stunde
    o'clock Uhr

    Die Uhr can also mean "clock" or "watch". Die Stunde can also mean "lesson" (which confusingly might not last one hour).

    Informal time

    In everyday life, people will often use informal time.

    There are several systems, with two forms dominant. In many parts of Germany, this system is used:

    Time English German
    14:05 five past two fünf nach zwei
    14:10 ten past two zehn nach zwei
    14:15 a quarter past two Viertel nach zwei
    14:20 twenty past two zwanzig nach zwei
    14:25 twenty-five past two fünf vor halb drei
    14:30 half past two halb drei
    14:35 thirty-five past two fünf nach halb drei
    14:40 twenty to three zwanzig vor drei
    14:45 a quarter to three Viertel vor drei
    14:50 ten to three zehn vor drei
    14:55 five to three fünf vor drei

    Yes, the part in the middle is very confusing :) German considers the next hour to be half full. In addition, German relates "X:25" and "X:35" to the half hour.

  • 1666217829
    0.000Frequency100461 +2 lessons +15 lexemes0/2 •••
    bisschen · desto · größeren · größeres · häufig · je · keinerlei · mal · male · manchmal · mehr · mehr · meist · meiste · meisten · ob · oft · selten · wenige · wenigen · weniger · weniger · zahlreich · zahlreiche
    24 words

    Ob

    Indirect questions are subordinate clauses in German:

    • Was machst du? (direct question, verb in position 2)
    • Ich weiß, was du machst! ("I know what you do!", verb at the end)

    For questions with a question word, the question word starts the sentece, and the verb ends it.

    For yes/no-questions, German uses ob as a placeholder (just like "whether" is used in English):

    • Gehst du ins Kino?
    • Er fragt, ob du ins Kino gehst.

    Je … desto …

    Je … desto … works roughly like "the … the …" in English:

    • The longer I learn German, the happier I become.
    • Je länger ich Deutsch lerne, desto glücklicher werde ich.

    However, the sentence structure is unusual, when compared to English. For the above sentence, it is:

    • je + (comparison) (subject) (rest) (verb), desto (comparison) (verb) (subject) (rest)

    The je part is a subordinate clause, so the verb will be at the end. Because the je+comparison is in the first position, the subject has to come immediately after, followed by the rest of the sentence.

    The desto part is a main clause. The verb is in position 2, and desto+comparison are in the first position. This is not unusual in German, as you can put all kinds of elements in the first position:

    Position 1 2 3 4 5
    Ich esse morgen mit einem Freund zu Mittag.
    Morgen esse ich mit einem Freund zu Mittag.
    Mit einem Freund esse ich morgen zu Mittag.
    Zu Mittag esse ich morgen mit einem Freund.

    Notice how the verb is always in the second position. The subject is either at the beginning (the default), or directly behind the verb.

    Mal

    (-)mal can often be translated with "time(s)" in English:

    German English
    zehn mal ten times
    manchmal sometimes
    das erste Mal the first time

    In addition, it has a function as a "modal particle". These are words that give a sentence an additional flavor, and can't be easily translated. Modal particles are almost never emphasized.

    • Komm mal nach Hause! (I'm impatient, come home!)
    • Kann ich mal vorbei? (Can I get through? I won't bother you for long.)

    We don't teach modal particles in this course (because you can't translate them). But you will encounter mal schauen in this lesson, which roughly means "let's see".

  • 1666217829
    0.000Modals100462 +6 lessons +40 lexemes0/6 •••
    essen · gehen · kochen · können · machen · müssen · schlafen · schwimmen · sein · sollst
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Adverbs 1100471 +4 lessons +26 lexemes0/4 •••
    alleine · auch · bereits · dabei · damit · darüber · dazu · dran · genug · gern · gerne · heiße · immer · noch · nun · nur · schon · selber · selbst · so · sowohl · vielleicht · weder · wieder · wirklich · zu · zusammen
    27 words

    How do you like things in German?

    Use the verb mögen to express that you like something or someone, and use the adverb gern(e) to express that you like doing something.

    mögen is used for things, animals, and people:

    • Ich mag Bier (I like beer)

    • Sie mag Katzen (She likes cats)

    • Wir mögen dich (We like you)

    • Ihr mögt Bücher (You like books)

    gern(e) is used for verbs/activities:

    • Ich trinke gern(e) Bier (I like to drink beer/I like drinking beer)

    • Er spielt gern(e) Fußball (He likes to play soccer/He likes playing soccer)

    • Wir lesen gern(e) Bücher (We like to read books/We like reading books)

    • Sie schreibt gern(e) Briefe (She likes to write letters/She likes writing letters)

    mögen cannot be followed by another verb.

    (The subjunctive form (möchten) can be followed by a verb, but Ich möchte Fußball spielen translates as I would like to play soccer, not I like playing soccer.)

    What's the difference between gern and gerne? They're just variations of the same word. There's no difference in terms of meaning or style. You can use whichever you like best.

  • 1666217829
    0.000Nature 2100472 +5 lessons +30 lexemes0/5 •••
    Bernstein · Umwelt · Welle · all · all · bach · bach · bernstein · bäche · flüsse · gras · gräser · klima · pflanze · pflanzen · pflanzen · rhein · rhein · see · seen · strand · strand · strom · strom · strände · tier+welt · tierwelt · tierwelt · umwelt · umwelt · wald · wald · welle · wellen · welt · wiese · wiese · wiesen · wälder · wäldern · wüste · wüste · wüsten
    43 words

    Der See vs. die See

    Der See means "the lake". Die See means "the sea, the ocean". It is less commonly used. German uses more often das Meer or der Ozean for the latter.

    Check out Bodensee and Nordsee on Google Maps and see if you can figure out which one is feminine and which one is masculine :)

    Der Strand

    Der Strand means "the beach". This meaning still survives in the English adjective "stranded" (literally, ended up on a lonely beach).

    Holz, Wald, Forst

    In English, "wood" can refer to a material, and to a forest.

    In German, Holz only refers to the material. Der Wald is "the forest". We also have a word Der Forst, but it only refers to a maintained forest (something like a garden for trees), where the trees are grown for commercial purposes.

  • 1666217829
    0.000Working100481 +3 lessons +15 lexemes0/3 •••
    betreiber · empfänger · entwicklern · hand+werk · hersteller · personal · schneider · teilnehmers · verfasser · werkstätten
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 3100482 +6 lessons +45 lexemes0/6 •••
    behalten · erfahren · gegessen · gelernt · gelesen · geschlafen · gesehen · gespielt · hat · veröffentlicht
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Grammar 5100490 +13 lessons +89 lexemes0/13 •••
    aktuelle · eigener · größte · größten · höheren · letzter · müde · neuen · speziellen · öffentliche
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Let's Go100492 +4 lessons +19 lexemes0/4 •••
    biege · her · heraus · herein · herum · hierher · hin · hinaus · raus · rein
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Grammar 6100501 +10 lessons +66 lexemes0/10 •••
    externe · gelber · höchste · möglichen · persönliche · starke · starken · unterschiedliche · wichtige · zusätzliche
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 4100511 +6 lessons +41 lexemes0/6 •••
    aßen · begannst · dachte · gingst · kamen · sah · schwammen · trank · vorher · warst
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Weather 2100512 +2 lessons +13 lexemes0/2 •••
    Blitz · Donner · Schnee · Sturm · grad · nass · regen · regen+schirm · trocken · wetters
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Objects100521 +2 lessons +11 lexemes0/2 •••
    boden · böden · geschenk · geschenke · katalog · katalog · kataloge · paket · pakete · plan · plan · pläne · produkt · produkte · produkte · produkten · sache · sachen · schere · scheren · scheren · stelle · stelle · stellen · stück · zubehör · zubehöre
    27 words

    Hose, Schere, Brille

    Pants used to be two hoses, until somebody had the idea of stitching them together. Glasses are now joined into one object. If you deconstruct scissors into multiple objects, you have two awkward knives and a screw.

    German uses the singular for all of these. Die Hose is "a pair of pants". Die Hosen (plural) is at least two pairs of pants.

    Stelle

    Die Stelle has the meaning of "position" in at least two ways. It can be a location, or it can be a job position.

    Geschenk, Gift

    The common German word German for "gift" is das Geschenk. Das Gift means "poison". The reason is that a long time ago, "gift" in the meaning of "something that is given" was used as an euphemism for poison.

    • "Why did he die?"
    • "Kunigunde gave him something."

    The original meaning survives in the word die Mitgift (dowry).

  • 1666217829
    0.000Talking100523 +4 lessons +26 lexemes0/4 •••
    Vorwahl · computers · festplatten · gespräches · handys · information · kommunikationen · monitore · rufen · telefon
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Future 2100532 +5 lessons +34 lexemes0/5 •••
    abbrechen · anbieten · aufgeben · beantworten · benötigen · nachfragen · prüfen · unterstützen · vorschlagen · wenden
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Internet100533 +4 lessons +27 lexemes0/4 •••
    Wlan · fotos · internet · internet+seite · läd · netz · netz+werk · seite · suche · suchen+maschine
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Education100541 +5 lessons +37 lexemes0/5 •••
    akademie · akademie · akademien · ausbildung · ausbildung · behalten · bildung · bildung · erfahren · erziehung · fachbereich · forschung · gegessen · genannt · geprüft · grundschule · grundschule · grundschulen · gymnasien · gymnasium · hatten · hochschule · hochschule · hochschulen · institut · institut · institute · kindergarten · kindergarten · kindergärten · klasse · klasse · klassen · klassen · kurs · kurs · kurse · lehre · leser · leser · leser · nachdem · note · noten · noten · prüfung · prüfung · prüfung · prüfungen · prüfungen · seminar · seminare · seminare · stift · stifte · stifte · stiften · studierst · studium · test · tests · training · training · uni · uni · uni · unis · universität · universitäten · unterricht · verlassen · weiterbildung · überlege · überlegst · übung · übung · übungen · übungen
    78 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Grammar 7100551 +2 lessons +13 lexemes0/2 •••
    gefahren · gegangen · gegessen · gekauft · gelesen · gesagt · geschlossen · haben · sein · wird
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Science100552 +5 lessons +33 lexemes0/5 •••
    Achtung · Physik · Strahlung · achtung · analyse · analysen · atmosphäre · atmosphäre · biologie · chemisches · definition · definitionen · element · elemente · elemente · energie · erfindung · erfindungen · gas · gas · kenntnis · kenntnisse · kunststoff · lehrbuch · lehrbücher · maschine · maschinen · maschinen · messe · messen · methode · methoden · misst · motor · motor · nachweis · physik · physik · praktika · praktikum · praktikum · statistik · statistiken · strahlung · strahlung · studie · studien · technik · techniken · temperatur · temperaturen · teste · testen · testest · testet · theorie · wissen · wissenschaft · wissenschaft · wissenschaften · wissenschaftlerin
    61 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Reflexive100561 +4 lessons +30 lexemes0/4 •••
    befinden · ergabt · freust · fühlen · haben · interessiert · lohnen · sich · uns · wirst
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Chat100562 +4 lessons +25 lexemes0/4 •••
    Briefkasten · Post · adressen · anreden · brief · gruß · notiz · post+karte · post+leiten+zahl · senden
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Business100571 +5 lessons +33 lexemes0/5 •••
    aktie · arbeit+erlaubnis · bietest · büros · fabriken · gebote · inhaber · mitgliedschaften · organisation · unternehmen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Chat 2100572 +5 lessons +29 lexemes0/5 •••
    bedeutungen · beschreibung · geschichten · hand+buch · idee · schriften · sprache · wort+buch · worten · zustimmungen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Abstract100581 +4 lessons +28 lexemes0/4 •••
    auswahl · drucks · formen · gebräuche · hinweis · lösungen · problem · verhalten · ziele · änderung
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Animal 3100582 +5 lessons +34 lexemes0/5 •••
    Eichhörnchen · Eule · Fuchs · Gans · Pinguin · Schaf · Schmetterling · Zoo · beißen · eis+bär
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 5100583 +7 lessons +55 lexemes0/7 •••
    bittet · definieren · kontaktiert · lesen · meldest · merken · nennen · redet · sichere · springt
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Body 2100591 +4 lessons +24 lexemes0/4 •••
    Bauch · Daumen · Gehirn · Kinn · Lippe · Lunge · Stirn · Zunge · bauch · brust+korb · brustkorb · darm · daumen · daumen · dick · dicke · dicken · därme · dünn · ellbogen · ellbogen · ferse · ferse · fersen · fersen · gehirn · gehirnen · hand+gelenk · handgelenk · handgelenke · hüfte · hüfte · hüften · kinn · knie · knochen · knochen · knöchel · leber · leber · lippe · lunge · lungen · muskel · muskel · muskeln · oberschenkel · organ · organe · stirn · zeh · zehen · zehen
    53 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 6100592 +5 lessons +37 lexemes0/5 •••
    abgeben · drucken · drücken · geben · kaufen · schwimmen · springen · verändern · wandern · zahlen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Spiritual100601 +2 lessons +14 lexemes0/2 •••
    Schicksal · Spiritualität · Wunder · gefühl · gefühl · gefühle · gefühlen · geist · geist · geister · gleichgewicht · gleichgewicht · glücklich · hoffnung · hoffnung · hoffnungen · leben · leben · leben · leben · lebens · meditiere · meditieren · meditierst · meditiert · schicksal · seele · seele · seelen · sinn · sinne · sinne · spiritualität · wahrheit · wunder · wunderbar · wunderschön · wunderschöne
    38 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Conditions100602 +6 lessons +38 lexemes0/6 •••
    behalten · erleben · falls · handeln · könntet · lösen · nennen · sprechen · würden · zählen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Banking100611 +2 lessons +12 lexemes0/2 •••
    betrag · beträge · finanzierung · frist · fristen · gleich · konten · konto · kredit+karte · kreditkarte · kreditkarten · minus · münze · münzen · plus · rechnung · rechnung · zahlung · zahlung · zahlungen · zinse · zinsen · zinsen
    23 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Abstract 2100621 +7 lessons +50 lexemes0/7 •••
    Base · bestimmung · erfahrung · kategorien · kräfte · planungen · unterschieden · unterstützungen · verbesserungen · versionen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Business 2100631 +5 lessons +34 lexemes0/5 •••
    angebot · angebot · angebote · antrag · anträge · anzeige · anzeigen · auftrag · auftrag · aufträge · ausgabe · ausgabe · ausgaben · ausgaben · bedarf · betrieb · betrieb · betriebe · bewertung · bewertung · bezahlung · branche · branchen · börse · börse · chance · chancen · dienstleistung · dienstleistungen · einzelhandel · firma · firmen · garantie · gründung · gründung · industrie · industrie · industrien · kundenservice · kundenservice · lager · lager · leistung · leistungen · leistungen · lieferung · logistik · marke · messe · produktion · produktion · service · stellenangebot · stellenangebote · tabelle · tabellen · verhandele · verhandeln · verhandelt · verkauf · verkaufes · versicherung · ware · waren · werbung · werbung
    66 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 7100632 +4 lessons +27 lexemes0/4 •••
    auswählen · benutzen · bringen · ermöglichen · festlegen · hören · leisten · verbessern · öffnen · übernehmen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Sport100641 +6 lessons +38 lexemes0/6 •••
    Tennis · aktivität · bällen · fußball · hobby · spiele · spieler · sport · teams · teilnahmen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000The Arts100642 +6 lessons +38 lexemes0/6 •••
    ausstellungen · galerie · gitarre · instrumente · kulturen · künsten · künstler · musiker · studios · theater
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Passive100651 +2 lessons +13 lexemes0/2 •••
    berücksichtigt · bewertet · geboren · genutzt · geschrieben · gestohlen · geändert · veröffentlicht · wardest · wird
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Religion100652 +3 lessons +20 lexemes0/3 •••
    Atheist · Christ · Islam · Priester · atheist · atheisten · bete · beten · betest · betet · buddhismus · buddhismus · christ · christen · glaube · glauben · gott · gott · gottes · götter · heilig · heilige · hinduismus · islam · jude · juden · juden · kirche · kirche · kirchen · kirchen · moscheen · muslim · muslime · mönch · mönche · priester · religion · religionen · religionen · synagogen · tempel · tod · wiedergeburt · wiedergeburt
    45 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Politics100661 +6 lessons +39 lexemes0/6 •••
    Friede · Politiker · erfolg · interesse · mächte · partei · politik · präsidenten · stimme · verträge
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Adverbs 2100662 +3 lessons +14 lexemes0/3 •••
    allein · außerdem · bereits · besonders · dabei · daher · damit · darüber · dazu · dennoch · deswegen · durchaus · ebenfalls · einmal · erneut · genauso · hierzu · hingegen · hinzu · jedenfalls · jederzeit · jedoch · kaum · meistens · mindestens · nochmals · nun · schließlich · selber · selbst · soeben · sonst · sowohl · völlig · weder · zuerst · zuletzt · überhaupt
    38 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Abstract 3100671 +7 lessons +49 lexemes0/7 •••
    anlage · anwendung · beispiels · förderungen · inhalt · kriterien · rubriken · systeme · vergleiche · verluste
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 8100672 +10 lessons +65 lexemes0/10 •••
    abgeben · erklären · kosten · sammeln · schicken · sparen · springen · vergleichen · verwenden · wandern
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Philosophy100681 +1 lesson +4 lexemes0/1 •••
    Bewusstsein · Wirklichkeit · bewusstsein · bewusstsein · optimist · pessimist · philosophie · philosophien · skeptisch · wahr · wirklichkeit
    11 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Verbs 9100682 +6 lessons +46 lexemes0/6 •••
    beachtet · empfehlt · entstehe · existiere · fordre · führst · schafft · verlasse · versuchst · wirkt
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Fantasy100683 +3 lessons +19 lexemes0/3 •••
    Dimension · Drache · Galaxie · Hexe · Magie · Planet · entdeckst · magisch · retten · verwandeln
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Abstract 4100691 +10 lessons +65 lexemes0/10 •••
    Herkunft · anschlusses · berechnung · figuren · option · ordnungen · prinzipien · serien · sitze · töne
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Pronouns 2100692 +3 lessons +16 lexemes0/3 •••
    billiger · das · dem · den · denen · der · deren · dessen · die · geholfen
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Music100693 +3 lessons +13 lexemes0/3 •••
    Dirigent · Flöte · Geige · Klavier · Komponist · Melodie · Orchester · Sängerin · Trommel · dirigieren
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Politics 2100701 +3 lessons +18 lexemes0/3 •••
    Bundesrepublik · Polizei · amt · anspruch · anspruch · ansprüche · bundesregierung · bundesregierung · bundesregierungen · bundesrepublik · freiheit · freiheiten · korrupt · polizei · protestieren · protestiert · rat · rat · reich · reiche · steuer · steuern · strategie · umfrage · umfrage · umfragen · urteil · urteil · veranstaltung · veranstaltungen · verband · verbände · vereinbarung · vereinbarung · wirtschaft · ämter
    36 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Germany100711 +1 lesson +9 lexemes0/1 •••
    Berlin · Brezel · Fest · Kiosk · Pils · Sauerkraut · Wurst · feiern · oktober+fest
    9 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000The World100712 +3 lessons +17 lexemes0/3 •••
    Asien · Australien · China · Indien · Kontinent · Pyramide · Südamerika · Union · asien · australien · china · europäisch · europäische · indien · kontinent · nord+amerika · nordamerika · nordpol · polen · pyramide · pyramiden · russland · russland · südamerika · südpol · türkei · türkei · ägypten · ägypten
    29 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Idioms and Proverbs10010001 +2 lessons +15 lexemes0/2 ••• Learn Test out
    Meister · alles · das · du · es · ich · in · nicht · sagt · wir
    10 words
  • 1666217829
    0.000Flirting10010002 +2 lessons +15 lexemes0/2 ••• Learn Test out
    bist · darf · deine · dich · möchte · nicht · nächste · süß · will · wir
    10 words
0.160

··········· Table of Contents ···········

Basics 1 updated 2021-10-07

Welcome to German :)

Welcome to the German course! We will provide you with tips and notes throughout the course. However, be aware that these are optional. Only read them when you feel stuck, or when you are interested in the details. You can use the course without them.

Often, it's best to just dive into the practice. See how it goes! You can always revisit the Notes section later on.

Capitalizing nouns

In German, all nouns are capitalized. For example, "my name" is mein Name, and "the apple" is der Apfel. This helps you identify which words are the nouns in a sentence.

German genders are strange

Nouns in German are either feminine, masculine or neuter. For example, Frau (woman) is feminine, Mann (man) is masculine, and Kind (child) is neuter.

While some nouns (Frau, Mann, …) have natural gender like in English (a woman is female, a man is male), most nouns have grammatical gender (depends on word ending, or seemingly random).

For example, Mädchen (girl) is neuter, because all words ending in -chen are neuter. Wasser (water) is neuter, but Cola is feminine, and Saft (juice) is masculine.

It is important to learn every noun along with its gender because parts of German sentences change depending on the gender of their nouns.

For now, just remember that the indefinite article (a/an) ein is used for masculine and neuter nouns, and eine is used for feminine nouns. Stay with us to find out how "cases" will later modify these.

gender indefinite article
masculine ein Mann
neuter ein Mädchen
feminine eine Frau

Verb conjugations

Conjugating regular verbs

Verb conjugation in German is more complex than in English. To conjugate a regular verb in the present tense, identify the stem of the verb and add the ending corresponding to any of the grammatical persons, which you can simply memorize. For now, here are the singular forms:

Example: trinken (to drink)

English person ending German example
I -e ich trinke
you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
he/she/it -t er/sie/es trinkt

Conjugations of the verb sein (to be)

Like in English, sein (to be) is completely irregular, and its conjugations simply need to be memorized. Again, you will learn the plural forms soon.

English German
I am ich bin
you (singular informal) are du bist
he/she/it is er/sie/es ist

Umlauts

Umlauts are letters (more specifically vowels) that have two dots above them and appear in some German words like Mädchen.

Literally, "Umlaut" means "around the sound," because its function is to change how the vowel sounds.

no umlaut umlaut
a ä
o ö
u ü

An umlaut change may change the meaning. That's why it's important not to ignore those little dots.

If you can't type these, a workaround is to type "oe" instead of "ö", for example.

No continuous aspect

In German, there's no continuous aspect. There are no separate forms for "I drink" and "I am drinking". There's only one form: Ich trinke.

There's no such thing as Ich bin trinke or Ich bin trinken!

When translating into English, how can I tell whether to use the simple (I drink) or the continuous form (I am drinking)?

Unless the context suggests otherwise, either form should be accepted.

Introduction updated 2021-10-17

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

In Spanish all nouns are masculine or feminine. Usually, nouns that end with an "o" are masculine, and nouns that end with an "a" are feminine. For example, "manzana" (apple) is feminine and "diario" (newspaper) is masculine.

The articles "el" and "un" are used with masculine nouns, and the articles "la" and "una" are used with feminine nouns. "The apple" is "la manzana" and "a newspaper" is "un diario."

Accent Marks

Vowels in Spanish can have an accent mark, such as the "u" in "menú" (menu). One use of the accent mark is to indicate which syllable should be stressed in the pronunciation. For example, in "teléfono" (telephone), the second "e" has the most stress.

Accent marks are also used to distinguish homophones. For example, "él" and "el" are homophones because they have the same pronunciation. However, "él" is a masculine pronoun (meaning "he" or "him") and "el" is a masculine article (meaning "the").

The Second Person Singular

"Tú," "usted" and "vos" are different ways of referring to the second person singular (you). "Usted" is the formal way of saying "you," and "vos" is used in informal speech in certain countries instead of "tú."

The three pronouns are synonyms, but they change the way verbs are conjugated. For instance, for the verb "comer" (to eat), it is "tú comes," "usted come," and "vos comés."

The decision of which form of "you" to use is regional and cultural, but you can typically use "usted" when referring to strangers.

Verb Conjugation

Verb conjugation in Spanish is more complicated than in English. In Spanish, the verb endings change in order to describe who is doing the action and when. For example, for "comer," "I eat" is "yo como" and "you eat" is "tú comes."

Because the conjugations indicate who is doing the action, it is usually possible to omit the pronoun. For instance instead of saying "yo como arroz" (I eat rice), you can say "como arroz."

Hello updated 2019-04-18

Welcome to the Wonderful World of German :)

How to use this course

These tips will guide you through the course. The course is designed so you can discover German without resorting to grammar notes. However, if you feel lost, you can check these notes, they will clarify things.

Always play first! In language learning, practice counts more than theory.

If you have questions about a specific sentence, refer to sentence discussions. You can either already find answers there, or state your own question.

The bubbles in the main view are called skills, the whole course is called a tree. Each skill is divided into several lessons.

The most important thing in learning is that you relax and enjoy yourself. With this course, you can explore German in a playful way. Don't worry too much about remembering things. Your brain will do that for you, as long as you're having fun and keep your eyes and ears open.

What you learn in this skill

In this skill, you learn the following things:

  • German can be very similar to English.

  • Plural forms are kind of irregular. Think "foot/feet" or "child/children". There are patterns; you will discover them while you master this course. For example, nouns ending in -e always have a plural ending in -en.

  • As in English, "to be" is highly irregular.

  • Soon you will discover that gender works differently than in English. In this skill, we only show you "feminine" nouns. Keep that in mind when later on, you encounter words from the two other genders.

  • But wait, why is "Katze" feminine? My cat is a guy! — Yes, did we mention that gender works differently than in English? :) Katze is die (feminine) because the word ends in an -e. Check out the next skill for more on this!

The updated 2018-10-25

Definite articles

As mentioned in Basics 1, German nouns have one of three genders: feminine, masculine or neuter.

While they sometimes correspond to a natural gender ("der Mann" is male), most often the gender will depend on the word, not on the object it describes. For example, the word "das Mädchen" (the girl) ends in "-chen", hence it is neuter. This is called grammatical gender.

Each gender has its own definite article. Der is used for masculine nouns, das for neuter, and die for feminine. Later in this course you will learn that these might be modified according to "case".

gender definite (the) indefinite (a/an)
masculine der Mann ein Mann
neuter das Mädchen ein Mädchen
feminine die Frau eine Frau

Conjugating verbs

Here are the conjugation tables from "Basics 1" (where you can find a more detailed explanation) again.

trinken (to drink)

English person ending German example
I -e ich trinke
you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
he/she/it -t er/sie/es trinkt

sein (to be)

English German
I am ich bin
you (singular informal) are du bist
he/she/it is er/sie/es ist

Generic vs. specific (German is not Spanish or French)

Just like in English, using or dropping the definite article makes the difference between specific and generic.

I like bread = Ich mag Brot (bread in general)

I like the bread = Ich mag das Brot (specific bread)

A good general rule is to use an article when you would use one in English. If there is none in English, don't use one in German.

There are some slight differences when using a few abstract nouns, but we'll see about that later.

Family updated 2021-10-07

Modal verbs: Plural forms

In the previous lesson, you learned the singular forms of some modal verbs:

ich kann mag
du kannst magst
er/sie kann kann

In the plural, these verbs have regular endings. They often use a different vowel than the singular forms:

wir können mögen
sie können mögen

Infinitives, some plural forms

In German, every verb has an infinitive form (similar to "to learn" in English). The first and third person plural are always the same:

learn drive have
infinitive lernen fahren haben
wir lernen fahren haben
sie lernen fahren haben

Here is a revision of the singular forms:

learn drive have
ich lerne fahre habe
du lernst fährst hast
er/sie/es lernt fährt hat

More pronouns

Already known

So far, you learned how to say "my, your, his, her":

Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
my meine mein meinen
your (sg.) deine dein deinen
his/its seine sein seinen
her/their ihre ihr ihren

Remember that the endings are the same as for "ein" and "kein":

Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
a(n) eine ein einen
no keine kein keinen

"Their" is the same as "her" in German, and "its" the same as "his".

If you find these hard to remember, just keep practicing! Why not revisit some of the earlier skills, too?

More plural pronouns

In addition, you learn "our" and "your (plural)" here:

Engl. fem./pl. masc. Nom./neut. masc. Akk.
our unsere unser unseren
your (pl.) eure euer euren
their ihre ihr ihren

Notice that "euer" loses an "e" when it gets a suffix.

Again, instead of trying to memorize tables, it is best to just jump into practice, and use them until you get a feeling for them.

Numbers: 1-12

By now, you encountered the numbers from one to twelve:

1 eins 7 sieben
2 zwei 8 acht
3 drei 9 neun
4 vier 10 zehn
5 fünf 11 elf
6 sechs 12 zwölf

Notice that they are very similar to the numbers in English.

These numbers never change form, apart from number one. Eins is only used when nothing comes after it:

  • Um eins schwimme ich. (I swim at one.)
  • Um ein Uhr schwimme ich. (I swim at one o'clock).
  • Ich habe eine Tochter. (I have one daughter.)

Common Phrases updated 2021-10-17

Tardes and Noches

In English, "afternoon" comes before "evening," which in turn comes before "night." In Spanish there are only two words that cover these times of the day: "tarde" which means "afternoon," but overlaps with "evening," and "noche," which means "night" but also overlaps with "evening." Therefore, at 6:30pm it is ok to say either "buenas tardes" or "buenas noches."

Buenos Días

Even though "buenos días" literally means "good days," it is used in the mornings to mean "good morning."

Conjugation of 'Hablar'

Present indicative (presente del indicativo):

  • yo hablo
  • tú hablas
  • usted habla
  • él habla
  • ella habla
  • nosotros/as hablamos
  • ustedes hablan
  • ellos/ellas hablan

In Spanish, the most common negative word is "no". As an adverb negating a sentence, it always comes immediately before the verb.

I speak - [Yo] hablo.

I do not speak - [Yo] no hablo.

He is - [Él] es / está.

He is not - [Él] no es / está.

Home updated 2019-04-18

Noun gender

As mentioned in the last skill, gender works differently than in English. English has natural gender:

  • woman — feminine (she)
  • man — masculine (he)
  • house — neuter (it)

Some words in German are like this:

  • Frau (woman) — feminine (she)
  • Mann (man) — masculine (he)

However, most nouns use grammatical gender.

Often, it is the noun ending that determines the "gender":

  • Gitarre — feminine (she)
  • Computer — masculine (he)
  • Mädchen (girl) — neuter (it)

Things (as opposed to living being or ideas) ending in -e are almost always feminine (she):

  • Rose, Gitarre, Toilette, Lampe, …

Nouns ending in -er are often masculine (he):

  • Computer, Videorekorder, …

Nouns ending in -chen are always neuter (it).

There are more patterns like this. You will encounter them later in the course.

However, for many common nouns, the endings got lost over time; so for these, you will need to memorize the gender.

  • Tisch, Stuhl — masculine (he)
  • Haus, Bett, Sofa, Licht — neuter (it)

Articles and related words

In English, you have "a(n)" (the indefinite article) and "the" (the definite article), and that's it.

In German, these can be quite variable, depending on context.

Feminine and plural forms

Feminine (she) nouns use eine for "a(n)":

  • Das ist eine Lampe! (That is a lamp!)

Possessive pronouns ("my, your, …") use the same endings:

  • Das ist meine Lampe! (That is my lamp!)
  • Das ist deine Lampe. (That is your lamp.)

There is also the special kein, which roughly works like "not a" in English:

  • Das ist keine Lampe! (That is not a lamp!)

For "the", feminine nouns use "die" in German:

  • Wer ist die Frau? (Who is the woman?)
  • Die Rose ist hier. (The rose is here.)

Plural endings often look like feminine forms:

  • Die Rosen sind hier. (The roses are here.)
  • Das sind meine Rosen! (Those are my roses!)
  • Das sind keine Sofas! (Those are not sofas!)

Of course, as for English "a(n)", there is no plural for eine; it means "one"!

Non-feminine forms

The other two genders share the same indefinite article ("a(n)"): they use ein.

Again, possessive pronouns ("my, your, …") and some other words will use the same form.

  • Das ist ein Computer. (That is a computer.)
  • Das ist mein Computer! (That is my computer!)
  • Hier ist dein Bett. (Here is your bed.)
  • Das ist kein Sofa! (That is not a sofa!)

All genders are the same in plural:

  • Hier sind die Rosen. (Here are the roses.)
  • Hier sind die Sofas. (Here are the sofas.)

Article overview

Here is a quick overview of the forms you you will practice in this and the next skills:

English fem. plural not fem.
a(n) eine ein
my meine meine mein
your deine deine dein
no keine keine kein

Plurals

As mentioned in the last skill, German plurals are rather irregular. Here are some forms you will encounter in this skill:

singular plural
eine Lampe Lampen
eine Tochter Töchter
ein Bett Betten
ein Sofa Sofas
ein Stuhl Stühle
ein Computer Computer

As you can see, sometimes it's simple:

  • All nouns with an -e ending will end in -en in the plural.

Sometimes the vowel will slightly change (think "foot/feet").

A few nouns (mostly ending in -er) don't change at all in the plural. For these, you need to look at the context (for example the verb form) to know which one is which.

  • Das ist mein Computer. (This is my computer.)
  • Das sind meine Computer. (These are my computers.)

Don't worry about memorizing these now. Just relax, explore, and let German work on you for a while :)

Pronunciation

German pronunciation is pretty straightforward: unlike in English, a letter will normally always be pronounced in the same way.

However, some letters have different sounds than in English. We will remind you of these throughout the course; just try your best to copy what you actually hear for now.

Words from other languages (such as French or English) sometimes sound like the original:

  • Computer (sounds like in English)
  • Garage (sounds kind of like in French)

Special characters

By now, you have encountered some letters that don't exist in English:

  • ä ö ü — These are vowels that do not sound like a o u. They are called "umlauts". A workaround for people without English keyboard is to write "ae oe ue" instead.

  • ß — this is not a B, but rather a special kind of S. One name for it is "es-zett". Swiss people (and people writing on a non-German keyboard) type "ss" instead.

Basics 2 updated 2021-10-07

German plurals are also strange :)

In English, making plurals out of singular nouns is typically as straightforward as adding -(e)s at the end of the word. In German, the transformation is more complex. You will learn details about this in a later lesson.

In some languages (such as French or Spanish), genders are also differentiated in the plural. In German, the plural form does not depend on what gender the singular form is.

Regardless of grammatical gender, all plural nouns take the definite article die (You will later learn how "cases" can modify this). This does not make them feminine. The grammatical gender of a word never changes. Like many other words, die is simply used for multiple purposes.

Just like in English, there's no plural indefinite article.

English German
a man ein Mann
men Männer

You, you and you

Most languages use different words to address one person, or several people.

In German, when addressing a single person, use du:

  • Du bist mein Kind. (You are my child.)

If you are talking to more than one person, use ihr:

  • Ihr seid meine Kinder. (You are my children.)

Some English speakers would use "y'all" or "you guys" for this plural form of "you".

Note that these only work for people you are familiar with (friends, family, …). For others, you would use the formal "you", which we teach later in this course. So stay tuned :)

Ihr vs. er

If you're new to German, ihr and er may sound confusingly similar, but there is actually a difference. ihr sounds similar to the English word "ear", and er sounds similar to the English word "air" (imagine a British/RP accent).

Don't worry if you can't pick up on the difference at first. You may need some more listening practice before you can tell them apart. Also, try using headphones instead of speakers.

Learn the pronouns together with the verb endings. This will greatly reduce the amount of ambiguity.

Verb conjugation

Here is the complete table for conjugating regular verbs:

Example: trinken (to drink)

English person ending German example
I -e ich trinke
you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
he/she/it -t er/sie/es trinkt
we -en wir trinken
you (plural informal) -t ihr trinkt
they -en sie trinken

Notice that the first and the third person plural have the same ending.

And here's the complete table for the irregular verb sein (to be):

English German
I am ich bin
you (singular informal) are du bist
he/she/it is er/sie/es ist
we are wir sind
you (plural informal) are ihr seid
they are sie sind

You will learn about the distinction between "formal" and "informal" later (it's easy).

You updated 2019-04-18

Sentence structure

While German sentence structure is often similar to English, there are some differences.

One essential feature is the sentence bracket. Like in English, one part of the verb changes with the person:

  • Ich bin. Du bist. (I am. You are.)

This part generally goes into position 2 of the sentence.

1 2
Ich bin hier.
Meine Mutter ist in Irland.

The "rest" of the verb goes to the very end. In this skill, you will encounter elements that "kind of belong" to the verb. They complement the verb: The verb feels incomplete without them. They are thus called complement. These go to the very end of the sentence:

1 2 end
Meine Mutter ist in Irland.
Ich trinke Tee.

By that logic, everything else has to go between the verb in position 2 and the complement:

1 2 end
Meine Mutter ist oft in Irland.
Ich trinke oft Tee.

This is one of the most common points of confusion for new learners. Always pay attention to the sentence structure. Some combinations that are perfectly fine in English are impossible in German.

Yes/No questions

Compare these two English sentences:

1 2 end
You are old.
Are you old?

The first (verb in position 2) is a statement. The second (verb in position 1) is a yes/no question.

German works the same way, for all verbs:

1 2 end
Du bist alt.
Bist du alt?
Du trinkst Kaffee.
Trinkst du Kaffee?

Note that here, English is more complicated, requiring a "do" construct for most verbs:

  • Do you drink coffee?

Verb endings

In English, the verb endings change for the third person singular:

  • I sleep. He sleeps.

In German, more persons have their own ending. For du (singular you), this ending will be the same for all verbs. Whenever you see du, the verb will end in -st:

  • Du bist. Du hast. Du kommst.

Du heißt looks like an exception, but isn't. The reason is that the strange ß character actually represents an S already: There will never be an -s- after a ß.

Me updated 2019-04-18

Verb endings

In the skill You, you learned that du always goes with -st:

  • Du bist. (You are.)
  • Du singst. (You sing.)

In the same way, ich (I) normally has an -e ending to go with:

  • Ich singe. (I sing.)
  • Ich lerne. (I learn.)

This is not completely regular, but works for most verbs. Work on getting the verb endings right, your German will sound a bit weird to native speakers if you don't :)

Not

By now, you have encountered keine/kein and nicht. These are often confusing for new learners.

Generally, kein works like ein (has the same ending changes), and can be thought of as not a:

  • Das ist kein Haus. (This is not a house.)

In contrast, nicht works like not:

  • Das ist nicht mein Haus. (This is not my house.)

There are some situations when it's tricky to say which one is correct, but most often, the following rule helps you out: If you would say not a or no in English, use kein. If you only can say not, use nicht.

  • Das ist keine Milch. (This is no milk.)
  • Das ist nicht gut. (This is not good.)

Of course, no as in No, I am not sleeping is nein in German.

Natural gender

Remember that in German, gender works different than in English. Many nouns have a certain gender because of what the noun looks like (often an ending). It has nothing to do with actual gender.

However, for people, the gender generally (not always) corresponds to the person's gender. There is normally a male and a female version. The female version often has an -in ending:

  • Freund — male friend
  • Freundin — female friend

How to type the special characters

As mentioned before, German has four letters that do not exist in English:

  • the umlauts: ä, ö, ü
  • es-zett: ß

Most mobile keyboards provide these when long-pressing a, o, u, and s, respectively.

If you cannot find them, you can always replace these with the following letter combinations:

  • ae, oe, ue for the umlauts
  • ss for the es-zett

Origin updated 2019-04-18

Verb endings

By now, you know all the regular verb endings for singular verbs:

English Ending Example
I -e ich singe
You (singular) -st du singst
She/He -t sie/er singt

As in English, "to be" is highly irregular:

English Form
I ich bin
You (singular) du bist
She/He sie/er ist

Be sure to practice these enough, this will improve your German a lot later on!

Articles and related words

As you have noticed, articles are not as simple as in English. Among other things, they correspond to the "gender" of a noun. Remember that this gender does normally not refer to the real "gender" of something, it is just one of three noun classes.

English feminine plural masculine
she/they/he sie sie er
the die die der
this diese diese dieser
which welche welche welcher
mine meine meine meiner
yours deine deine deiner

If you want, compare these with the similar endings for "a(n)" and related words:

English feminine plural not feminine
a(n) eine ein
my meine meine mein
your deine deine dein
not a keine keine kein

You made a mistake! It should be "die Name"!!

We mentioned earlier that "words for things" are feminine (die) when they end in -e:

  • die Lampe, die Rose, die Gitarre, die Garage

This does not necessarily extend to nouns that are for abstract concepts, people, or animals. Hence, they may not be feminine.

Junge (boy) and Chinese (Chinese man) are masculine. The reason is simple: They are actually male!

  • Nouns for people with -e ending are often masculine

For abstract ideas (not things, not people), the genders for -e nouns are all over the place: Name is also masculine, while Ende (end) is neuter. However, your best bet is still feminine (die)!

Reporting errors

Yes, we do make mistakes! If you find one, please report it. Use the "flag" symbol for this. If you only report in the sentence discussions, we (the course maintainers) might not see it.

Also, please double-check first. We get literally thousands of reports every day. More than 99% of them do not report actual errors. Course maintenance is done by volunteers, so here you can do your part :)

Where does auch go?

Remember that German has a peculiar, consistent sentence structure:

  • The verb that changes with the person goes in position 2.
  • The rest of the verb goes to the end.
  • Everything else goes in between.

Auch goes between the first and the second part of the verb:

1 2 rest end
Ich komme auch aus Japan.

It can not go to the very end, because that would violate German sentence structure.

sondern vs. aber

Generally, think of sondern as not A, but B instead:

  • Das ist kein Mann, sondern eine Frau. (That's not a man; that's a woman.)
  • Ich komme nicht aus Japan, sondern aus China. (I'm not from Japan; I'm from China.)

In other contexts, use aber:

  • Ich komme aus China, aber ich lebe in Japan. (I'm from China, but I live in Japan.)
  • Ich komme nicht aus China, aber ich spreche Chinesisch. (I'm not from China, but I speak Chinese.)

Accusative Case updated 2018-10-25

German Cases

In English, the words "he" and "I" can be used as subjects (the ones doing the action in a sentence), and they change to "him" and "me" when they are objects (the ones the action is applied to). Here's an example:

Subject Verb Object
I see him
He sees me

This is called a grammatical case: the same word changes its form, depending on its relationship to the verb. In English, only pronouns have cases. In German, most words other than verbs (such as nouns, pronouns, determiners, adjectives, etc.) have cases.

You'll learn more about cases later; for now you just need to understand the difference between the two simplest cases: nominative and accusative.

The subject of a sentence (the one doing the action) is in the nominative case. So when we say Die Frau spielt. (The woman plays.), "die Frau" is in the nominative.

The accusative object is the thing or person that is directly receiving the action. For example, in Der Mann sieht den Ball. (The man sees the ball.), der Mann is the (nominative) subject and den Ball is the (accusative) object.

For the articles, nominative and accusative are nearly the same. Only the masculine ("der") forms change:

"a(n)" masc. neut. fem.
Nominative ein ein eine
Accusative einen ein eine
"the" m. n. f. pl.
Nom. der das die die
Acc. den das die die

Flexible sentence order

The fact that most words in German are affected by the case explains why the sentence order is more flexible than in English. For example, you can say Das Mädchen hat den Apfel. (The girl has the apple.) or Den Apfel hat das Mädchen.. In both cases, den Apfel (the apple) is the accusative object, and das Mädchen is the subject (always nominative).

However, take note that in German, the verb always has to be in position 2. If something other than the subject takes up position 1, the subject will then move after the verb.

  • Normally, I drink water.
  • Normalerweise trinke ich Wasser.

Vowel change in some verbs

A few common verbs change the vowel in the second and third person singular.

Here is the table for a verb without vowel change:

En. person person trinken
I ich trinke
you (sg.) du trinkst
he/she/it er/sie/es trinkt
we wir trinken
you (pl.) ihr trinkt
they sie trinken

And here are three verbs with that vowel change. Notice that in the first two verbs, the 2nd and 3rd person singular seem the same. This is just because the du ending -st merged with the -s- of the verb stem. This is unrelated to the vowel change.

person lesen sprechen
ich lese spreche
du liest sprichst
er/sie/es liest spricht
wir lesen sprechen
ihr lest sprecht
sie lesen sprechen

Similarly, essen turns to du isst/er isst.

Sprechen (to speak) will be introduced in one of the next lessons.

Isst vs. ist

Isst and ist sound exactly the same. So do Es ist ein Apfel. and Es isst ein Apfel. sound the same?

Yes, but you can tell it's Es ist ein Apfel: Es isst ein Apfel is ungrammatical. The accusative of ein Apfel is einen Apfel. Hence, It is eating an apple translates as Es isst einen Apfel.

Of course, this only works for masculine nouns. Other forms will look the same in nominative and accusative:

  • Er isst eine Banane.
  • Er ist eine Banane.

Only context will tell you here :)

Ich habe Brot

In English, you can say "I'm having bread" when you really mean that you're eating or about to eat bread. This does not work in German. The verb haben refers to possession only. Hence, the sentence Ich habe Brot only translates to I have bread, not I'm having bread. Of course, the same applies to drinks. Ich habe Wasser only translates to I have water, not I'm having water.

Conjugation is also slightly irregular: two forms lose the -b-.

English person German example
I ich habe
you (sg.) du hast
he/she/it er/sie/es hat
we wir haben
you (pl.) ihr habt
they sie haben

Restaurant updated 2021-10-07

Polite "you"

Remember that German has two ways of expressing "you" (singular and plural)?

Surprise! There is a third form, usually used with people you don't know well. German just uses the third person plural for this (they):

person trinken
du trinkst
ihr trinkt
sie/Sie trinken

How to know whether the meaning is "they" or "you"? German writes the "you" forms in upper case.

  • Wo sind sie? (Where are they?)
  • Wo sind Sie? (Where are you?)

Of course, at the beginning of the sentence, this does not work. It can then mean both:

  • Sie sind da! (They/You are there!)

When using the polite form, you usually combine it with the last name of a person, and Herr/Frau:

  • Guten Tag, Herr Müller! (Good day, Mr Müller!)
  • Willkommen, Frau Schmidt! (Welcome, Mrs Schmidt!)

Noun endings

As mentioned earlier, sometimes a noun endings gives away the gender:

  • -chen (das)
  • -er (often der)
  • -e (often die)

A common way to turn a verb into a noun is to add -ung to the word stem. These nouns will always be feminine:

  • die Wohnung, die Reservierung, die Rechnung

Later on, you will learn more of these regular noun endings.

Cup of tea

In German, you just add the quantity before the noun:

  • eine Tasse Tee (one cup of tea)
  • ein Glas Milch (one glass of milk)

Willkommen

Willkommen only means welcome as a greeting. It will not mean you're welcome.

Past tense

As in English, you can use the present tense to talk about the present and the future:

  • Ich esse! (I am eating!)
  • Ich gehe morgen ins Theater. (I go to the theatre tomorrow.)

Also as in English, the past requires a different tense. Here, you learn how to say "I was":

  • Ich war gestern im Theater. (I was at the theater yesterday.)

The endings are like those of the modal verbs (müssen, können, …). But the stem never changes:

Person sein (to be) können (can)
ich war kann
du warst kannst
er/sie/es war kann
wir waren können
ihr wart könnt
sie/Sie waren können

I went to Ireland!

Many learners of German struggle with expressing where they went:

  • I went to Ireland.

Germany is actually simpler here: it just uses ich war:

  • Ich war in Irland.

Need updated 2019-04-18

The third gender

Previously, you learned that articles and similar words change according to gender and number. For all words in the following table, feminine and plural forms are the same.

English fem. / pl. masculine
she/they • he sie er
the die der
this diese dieser
which welche welcher
mine meine meiner
yours deine deiner

There is one more gender (neuter). Here are the corresponding forms, together with masculine for comparison:

English masc. neuter
he • it er es
the der das
this dieser dieses
which welcher welches
mine meiner meines
yours deiner deines

As you see, generally, feminine (and plural) ends in -e, masculine in -er, and neuter in -es.

You actually encountered neuter nouns before:

  • das Bett, das Wasser, das Kind, das Sofa, das Telefon, das Zimmer, das Haus

You probably didn't notice, because the indefinite articles (a(n) in English) are the same for masculine and neuter:

English fem. pl. masc. / neut.
a(n) eine ein
no keine keine kein
my meine meine mein
your deine deine dein

So, there are two groups of article-like words. The first group has endings like the definite article (the), the second like the indefinite article (a(n)). The best way to master these is to practice them a lot!

Girls are not things!!

Yes, we agree :) Here's what you are used to from English ("natural gender"):

  • the woman — she (feminine)
  • the man — he (masculine)
  • the lamp — it (neuter)

Remember that in German, a lot of "gender" is actually determined by the word form, not by what it means ("grammatical gender"). Hence, die Lampe is feminine, because it's a word for a thing, and ends in -e. Der Computer is masculine, because most nouns ending in -er are.

As a general rule, for people, the grammatical gender normally corresponds to the natural gender. For animals and objects, it normally does not.

There are many more of these endings that give away the gender. As mentioned earlier, -chen words are always neuter.

  • das Mädchen (neuter)

The ending -chen signifies a smaller version of something, similar to -let or so in English (pig/piglet). Magd (maid) used to mean woman long ago, so Mädchen literally means little woman.

Man

The pronoun man works like English one/you:

  • Man kann hier tanzen. (One can dance here.)

As in English, the grammar follows er (he):

  • Man braucht ein Ticket. (One needs a ticket.)

Of course, man does not imply males only. Think "mankind", not "that man".

Introduction updated 2018-10-25

Grammar break!

There is no new grammar in this lesson. If you're confused, you can review the grammar points from earlier lessons.

Harness the power of other learners

Or you can check the discussion that's available for each sentence. You can reach these when tapping or clicking on the speech bubble. Your question might already have been answered there. Otherwise, you can leave a comment yourself.

Trip updated 2019-04-18

Sentence structure, again.

Remember this important rule of German:

  • The verb that changes with the person goes in position 2

This you already know from English.

  • Ich tanze. (I dance.)
  • Der Mann kommt auch aus China. (The man is also from China.)

In the examples above, you see that the subject ("I", "the man") appears in position 1.

German often puts things other than subjects in position 1. But still the verb will appear in position 2! The subject then has to move behind the verb.

  • Ich schwimme am Montag oft. (I swim often on Mondays.)
  • Am Montag schwimme ich oft. (On Monday, I often swim.)
1 2 end
Er tanzt am Freitag.
Am Freitag tanzt er.
Ich schwimme am Montag oft.
Am Montag schwimme ich oft.

Some slightly irregular verbs

Most verbs only change the ending. There are a few common verbs that change the main vowel too:

Person drive see sleep
ich fahre sehe schlafe
du fährst siehst schläfst
er/sie fährt sieht schläft

Note that the change happens only for the second and third person (singular only).

Gehen means to walk

In English, you can "go to China by plane".

The German word "gehen" means "to walk" only.

You can't walk by plane, taxi or bus :)

More pronouns

You saw these before

Earlier, you learned that, just as articles, some pronouns change their endings:

a(n) my your
fem./pl. eine meine deine
masc./neut. ein mein dein
  • Meine Mutter ist hier.
  • Mein Mann ist hier.
one mine yours
fem./pl. eine meine deine
masc. einer meiner deiner
neut. eines meines deines
  • Diese Tasche ist deine. (This bag is yours.)
  • Die Lampen sind meine. (These lamps are mine.)
  • Hier ist einer! (Here is one!)
  • Welcher Computer ist meiner? (Which computer is mine?)
  • Das Handy ist deines. (That cellphone is yours.)

New pronouns

In this skill, you encounter two more:

his/its her/their
masc./neut. sein ihr
fem./pl. seine ihre

As you see, for these forms, "his" and "its" look the same. So do "her" and "their".

  • masculine: sein/ihr Partner. (his/her male partner)
  • neuter: sein/ihr Handy (his/her cellphone)
  • feminine: seine/ihre Mutter (his/her mother)
  • plural: seine/ihre Handys (his/her cellphones)
his/its hers/theirs
fem./pl. seine ihre
masc. seiner ihrer
neut. seines ihres
  • Der Computer ist ihrer. (The computer is hers/theirs.)
  • Das Handy ist seines/ihres. (The cellphone is his/"its"/hers/theirs.)

Gender overload?

Some learners find this very confusing. "There are two genders within one pronoun!!"

Don't overthink this! As an English speaker, you know the difference between "his" and "her".

English "his" translates to sein, plus ending. English "her" translates to ihr, plus ending.

The ending is determined just like in the other pronouns:

  • meine Mutter, mein Vater (my mother, my father)

We highly recommend just to keep practicing all the pronouns and articles, and then "his/hers" in German will just fall into place!

Ideology overload?

This course teaches current standard German.

Currently, mainstream German has not yet found a way to avoid the genderization that is such a central part of European languages. For example, unlike in English ("their") or Swedish ("hen"), there is no gender-neutral pronoun for third person singular in German.

While language is often very conservative (unwilling to change), culture is often much more progressive. This course reflects that. If you are offended by the fact that gay people do not only exist, but are finally a normal part of German life, don't be. We can't change you, but don't try to change reality.

Hobbies updated 2021-10-07

Im vs. ins

For now, think of im as "inside", and "ins" as "into":

  • Ich bin im Theater. (I am inside the theater.)
  • Ich gehe ins Theater. (I go into the theater.)

Later on, you will see these are part of a larger pattern.

Im is also used for months and seasons:

  • Im Juli, im Winter

Verb forms: you (plural)

So far, you learned these verb forms:

learn drive have
infinitive lernen fahren haben
ich lerne fahre habe
du (you sg.) lernst fährst hast
er/sie/es lernt fährt hat
wir lernen fahren haben
sie lernen fahren haben

Here you learn the form for the last person, "you (plural)".

This form always has a "-t" ending, and the stem of the verb will always be the same as the infinitive. Contrast with the third person singular, where there may be stem changes:

learn drive have
infinitive lernen fahren haben
er/sie/es lernt fährt hat
ihr (you pl.) lernt fahrt habt

Gern

In English, you can say:

  • I like chocolate. I like to swim.

Previously, you learned "mögen" means "to like":

  • Ich mag Schokolade.

However, this can only be used with nouns. For verbs, there is a structure that English does not use. It is therefore often confusing for beginners of German.

  • Ich schwimme gern.

Gern is an adverb, not a verb. Literally, Germans say "I swim likingly." Here's a tip: If you know where in the sentence to put "oft" (often), you know where to put "gern":

  • Ich gehe oft ins Theater. (I often go to the theater.)
  • Ich gehe gern ins Theater. (I like to go to the theater.)

Gern may be written/spoken as gerne, these two forms are exactly the same.

Siblings updated 2019-04-18

Modal verbs

Modal verbs have simpler endings

In English, some verbs can be used in combination with an infinitive:

  • He can swim. I must sleep.

German is similar:

  • Er kann schwimmen. Ich muss schlafen.

Did you ever notice the -s (as in he eats) does not appear in he can? In German, too, the first and third person are the same for modal verbs:

person modal verb full verb
ich kann singe
du kannst singst
er/sie kann singt

Mögen vs. machen

Mögen (to like) is not a normal modal verb. It can only be used with nouns (or pronouns):

  • Ich mag Pizza. (I like pizza.)
  • Er mag es! (He likes it!)

Its singular forms are:

ich mag
du magst
er / sie mag

Machen is a normal verb. It means to make.

  • Ich mache Pizza. (I make Pizza.)

However, it's also used where English used to do

  • Das mache ich nicht! ("I don't do that!", literally "That make I not!")

They are easily confused by new learners:

  • Ich mache Pizza! (I make pizza!)
  • Ich mag Pizza! (I like pizza!)

To infinity and beyond!

Earlier, you learned an important principle of German sentence structure:

  • The subject-related part of the verb ("ich singe, du singst, …") will always be in position 2.
  • The "rest" of the verb goes to the end of the sentence.
  • Everything else will go between these two.

This principle is called "sentence bracket".

1 2 end
Ich singe nicht .
Ich kann nicht singen.
Ich kann am Montag nicht singen.

What does this mean for modal verbs?

  • The modal verb goes to position 2.
  • The infinitive goes to the end of the sentence.

Many learners find sentence structure hard. Be patient, keep experimenting. At some point, your brain will adapt :)

Case Alert: nominative vs. accusative

Me and You

In English, the pronouns sometimes change:

  • He likes her. She likes him.

This is a leftover from a much more detailed ancient "case system".

German uses quite a bit more of this system, as you will see later on. For now, just consider these forms:

nominative accusative
ich mich
du dich

Nominative and accusative are two of these "cases".

Nominative is used for the sentence's subject.

Accusative has several functions. Here it is used as the object of a sentence:

  • Ich mag dich. Du magst mich. (I like you. You like me.)

Some prepositions also will require the accusative:

  • Ist der Tee für mich? (Is the tea for me?)

Accusative: Other Forms

There are other words that will change when they are in the accusative case. The good news is, this only happens for words that are masculine (and of course singular).

This means, that as long as a noun (and its associated words, such as pronouns or articles) are not masculine and singular, nominative and accusative will be the same.

  • Eine Frau hat eine Katze. (A woman has a cat.)
  • Ein Kind hat ein Fahrrad. (A child has a bike.)
  • Die Pizza ist für die Frau. (The pizza is for the woman.)

The change for masculine singular is very simple. Just use an -en ending everywhere:

  • Ein Mann hat einen Computer. (A man has a computer.)
  • Ich habe keinen Computer. (I have no computer.)
  • Der Euro ist für den Bus. (The euro is for the bus.)

Consistently, the pronoun for he also gets an -n ending:

  • Er mag ihn. (He likes him.)

Wer (who) also changes in accusative: it will always be wen then (regardless of gender):

  • Wer ist das? (Who is that?)
  • Wen magst du? (Whom do you like?)

Adjective endings

At the end of a sentence, adjectives do not change their endings:

  • Die Pizza ist gut. (The pizza is good.)
  • Das Eis ist gut. (The ice cream is good.)

In front of nouns, they will have endings that go with the gender, and with the case. For now, just remember these rules:

For feminine and plural, add -e:

  • Das ist eine gute Pizza.
  • Ich habe zwei kleine Brüder. (I have two little brothers.)

For masculine/neuter, also add -e, when using der/das:

  • Der kleine Bruder (the little brother)
  • Das gute Eis (the good ice cream).

As a language hack, you might use -e as the default ending, and learn the exceptions later on.

Here's the first exception: if in masculine accusative (den/einen), the adjective also ends in -en

  • Ich habe einen kleinen Bruder. (I have a little brother.)
  • Ich mag den kleinen Mann. (I like the little man.)

Animals 1 updated 2018-10-25

Recognizing noun gender

While noun genders might seem random for many words, there are quite a few ways to at least land a likely hit.

For example, many German nouns have some kind of ending, which will always or often come with a particular gender.

  • Non-living objects that end in -e: these will almost always be feminine (Schokolade, Erdbeere, Orange, Banane, Suppe, …). One of the very few exceptions is der Käse. This also works for many, but not all animals (die Katze, Ente, Spinne, Biene, Fliege, …).

  • Nouns beginning with Ge- are often neuter. This is the only prefix determining gender. (das Gemüse, …)

There are many more endings like these. You will learn more about them throughout this course.

Fressen vs. essen

Unlike English, German has two similar but different verbs for "to eat": essen and fressen. The latter is the standard way of expressing that an animal is eating something. Be careful not to use fressen to refer to humans – this would be a serious insult. Assuming you care about politeness, we will not accept your solutions if you use fressen with human subjects.

The most common way to express that a human being is eating something is the verb essen. It is not wrong to use it for animals as well, so we will accept both solutions. But we strongly recommend you accustom yourself to the distinction between essen and fressen.

Fortunately, both verbs have the same conjugation:

essen fressen (for animals)
ich esse ich fresse
du isst du frisst
er/sie/es isst er/sie/es frisst
wir essen wir fressen
ihr esst ihr fresst
sie essen sie fressen

Market updated 2021-10-07

Jeder

For English every, German uses jeder. However, its ending changes like "der, die, das":

gender, case the every
masc. Nom. der jeder
neut. Nom/Akk. das jedes
fem. Nom./Akk. die jede
masc. Akk. den jeden
m/n Dativ dem jedem
fem. Dativ der jeder

Times are in accusative in German:

  • Ich gehe jeden Tag schwimmen.

Adjectives: Predicative 1 updated 2018-10-25

Predicate adjectives

Predicate adjectives, i.e. adjectives that don't precede a noun, are not inflected.

  • Der Mann ist groß.
  • Die Männer sind groß.
  • Die Frau ist groß.
  • Die Frauen sind groß.
  • Das Haus ist groß.
  • Die Häuser sind groß.

As you can see, the adjective remains in the base form, regardless of number and gender.

"D'uh", you say? Keep digging into the German skills tree, and you will soon find the deeper reality of German adjectives :)

Negative and positive statements updated 2018-10-25

German Negatives - nicht

There are different ways to negate expressions in German (much like in English you can use "no" in some cases, and "does not" in others). The German adverb nicht (not) is used very often, but sometimes you need to use kein (not a). Kein will be taught in a later lesson.

Use nicht in the following situations:

Nicht + definite article

Nicht negates a noun that has a definite article:

  • Das ist nicht der Junge. (That is not the boy.)

Nicht + possessive pronoun

Nicht negates a noun that has a possessive pronoun:

  • Das ist nicht mein Glas. (That is not my glass.)

Nicht negates a verb

When negating a verb, use nicht.

  • Ich trinke nicht. (I do not drink.)

Why does the nicht appear at the end here?

Refer to the section "Position of nicht" below to find the answer.

Nicht negates an adverb

Nicht appears before an adverb or adverbial phrase:

  • Ich tanze nicht oft. (I don't dance often.)

Nicht negates an adjective at the end of a sentence

When an adjective is part of a verb, also use nicht.

  • Du bist nicht hungrig. (You are not hungry.)

The infinitive here is hungrig sein (to be hungry).

Position of Nicht

Adverbs end up in different places in different languages. You cannot simply place the German adverb nicht where you would put "not" in English.

The general rule is:

Nicht appears before the item it negates.

  • Du bist nicht hungrig. (not hungry)
  • Ich tanze nicht oft. (not often)
  • Das ist nicht mein Glas. (not my glass)
  • Das ist nicht der Junge. (not the boy)

So, what about Ich trinke nicht?

♫ The German Sentence Bracket ♫

Consider this English sentence:

  • I wake up in China.

The verb would be "wake up", the infinitive "to wake up". English keeps its verb elements close together. German, on the other hand, has a peculiar sentence structure:

  • Ich wache in China auf.

The infinitive here is auf|wachen. German will normally put the last element of the infinitive (the part that changes with the person) in position 2 of the sentence. Everything else will end up at the very end. The rest of the sentence (for example, adverbs), will appear between this "sentence bracket".

Here's a longer example:

  • Infinitive: mit Freunden ins Restaurant gehen (to go to the restaurant with friends)

  • Ich gehe mit Freunden ins Restaurant.

If you're confused now, don't worry :) This will become clearer as you get lots of practice throughout this course.

Why are we telling you this here? This bracket is the reason nicht might end up at the end of a sentence.

Consider these examples:

  • Ich lerne Deutsch. (I learn German.) — Deutsch lernen (to learn German)
  • Ich trinke Bier. (I drink beer.) — Bier trinken (to drink beer)
  • Ich trinke nicht. — nicht trinken ("to not drink")

This skill contains both negative and positive statements.

Complain updated 2019-04-18

Verb forms: to be

As mentioned earlier, as in English, "sein" (to be) is highly irregular. Here are the complete verb forms for the present tense:

to be sein
I ich bin
you (sg.) du bist
he/she/it er/sie/es ist
we wir sind
you (pl.) ihr seid
they sie sind

Note that the first and third person plural are still the same.

Verb forms: modal verbs

As mentioned earlier, modal verbs have their own rule set.

They often have a different vowel in singular than in plural.

Also, the first and third person singular are the same.

person can
ich kann
du kannst
er/sie/es kann
wir können
ihr könnt
sie können

As in English, they are usually combined with an infinitive form:

  • Ich kann nicht schwimmen! (I cannot swim!)

Imperative: you (plural)

The imperative for plural is easy:

  • Ihr trinkt kein Bier. (You drink no beer.)
  • Trinkt kein Bier! (Drink no beer!)

As in English, just omit the pronoun.

Too many ihr?

The word ihr has several functions in German:

her ihr Bier (her beer)
their ihr Bier (their beer)
you (pl.) ihr trinkt (you guys drink)

Don't worry too much about this, context normally shows you which one is which.

Finden

Finden can just mean "to find":

  • Ich kann mein Handy nicht finden! (I cannot find my mobile phone!)

It is also used to express opinions:

  • Ich finde den Film gut. ("I like the movie.", literally "I find the movie good.)

Note that the object is in the accusative case.

Tut mir leid!

Learn tut mir leid like one word, the grammar is irregular. It roughly corresponds to English "I am sorry", meaning that you feel regret or empathy.

Questions and statements updated 2018-10-25

Yes/No Questions

When asking a yes/no question in English, you would say:

  • "Is it cold?", but
  • "Do you have a dog?" or
  • "Does the man drink water?".

German will not use "do" here. We will switch subject and verb for all verbs.

  • Ist es kalt?
  • Hast du einen Hund?
  • Trinkt der Mann Wasser?

This skill contains both questions and statements.

Leisure updated 2021-10-07

Dative plural: "n" all the way!

Remember that the ending for articles, pronouns and adjectives is -n in dative plural:

  • mit den alten Autos (with the old cars)

In addition, plural nouns that do not end in -n already will also get an -n:

  • der Freund, die Freunde (the friend, the friends)
  • mit meinen alten Freunden (with my old friends)

As you can see above, -s plural endings break this rule.

Verbs: Present 1 updated 2018-10-25

No continuous aspect

Remember that in German, there's no continuous aspect, i.e. there are no separate forms for "I drink" and "I am drinking". There's only one form: Ich trinke.

There's no such thing as Ich bin trinke or Ich bin trinken!

Verb conjugation

Conjugating regular verbs

Here again is the complete table for conjugating regular verbs:

Example: gehen (to go)

English person German example
I ich gehe
you (sg. informal) du gehst
he/she/it er/sie/es geht
we wir gehen
you (pl. informal) ihr geht
they sie gehen

Notice that the 1st and the 3rd person plural have the same ending.

The -h- in gehen tells you that the -e- before it will have a "long" pronunciation. It is not pronounced!

Vowel change in some verbs

A few common verbs change the vowel in the second and third person singular.

Normally the vowel will change:

  • from a to ä
  • from e to i(e)
person schlafen sehen
ich schlafe sehe
du schläfst siehst
er/sie/es schläft sieht
wir schlafen sehen
ihr schlaft seht
sie schlafen sehen

Other verbs in this skill are

  • fahren (to ride) — du fährst
  • waschen (to wash) — du wäschst

In addition, when a verb stem ends in -s, second and third person singular forms will look the same:

  • lesen (to read) — du liest, er liest

This is because the -s- from du …-st and the -s from the verb stem merge.

Wollen and mögen

Wollen (to want) and mögen (to like) follow a different conjugation system:

English pronoun wollen mögen
I want/like ich will mag
you (sg. inf.) du willst magst
he/she/it er/sie/es will mag
we wir wollen mögen
you (pl. inf.) ihr wollt mögt
they sie wollen mögen

Notice that here, the first and third person are the same (plural and singular). The vowel in singular is different from the vowel in plural.

How do you like things in German?

Use the verb mögen to express that you like something or someone.

Mögen cannot be used for verbs!

In a later lesson, you will learn to use the adverb gern(e) to express that you like doing* something.

(The similar verb möchten can be followed by a verb, but Ich möchte Fußball spielen translates as "I would like to play soccer", not "I like playing soccer".)

Mögen is used for things, animals, and people:

  • Ich mag Bier. (I like beer.)

  • Sie mag Katzen. (She likes cats.)

  • Wir mögen dich. (We like you.)

  • Ihr mögt Bücher. (You like books.)

Nature 1 updated 2018-10-25

Lakes and seas - false friends ahoy!

The German for "the lake" is der See (masculine) and the most commonly used word for "the sea" is das Meer (neuter).

There's another slightly less commonly used word for "the sea": die See (feminine).

Be careful not to confuse der See (the lake) and die See (the sea). Remember that when you learn a noun, you should always learn the gender with it.

singular (masc.: "lake") (fem.: "sea")
nominative der See die See
accusative den See die See

The plural forms are identical (only the plural of der See is commonly used).

plural (masc.: "lakes") (fem.: "seas")
nominative die Seen die Seen
accusative die Seen die Seen

There are not many noun pairs like this in German. Here is the most extreme example, with plural forms:

  • das Band (die Bänder) - the tape (band)
  • der Band (die Bände) - the volume/tome
  • die Band (pronounced as in English) (die Bands) - the music band

Shopping updated 2021-10-07

Kaufen vs. einkaufen

Kaufen is normally used in the meaning of "to buy":

  • Ich kaufe einen Hut.

Einkaufen is normally used without an object, and often refers to shopping. It can be used in conjunction with gehen:

  • Ich kaufe im Supermarkt ein. (I shop in the supermarket)
  • Wann gehst du einkaufen? (When do you go shopping?)

Verkaufen means "to sell". The prefix ver- is often associated with an "away" notion.

Laden, Geschäft

A variety of words exist for "shop". These are two common ones, with roughly exchangeable usage.

Travel updated 2021-10-07

Sehenswürdigkeiten?!

The word Sehenswürdigkeit (sight as in sightseeing) is made up of several meaningful parts: sehen + s + würdig + keit.

Let's look at each part and its meaning.

Part Meaning
sehen to see
-s- connecting element
würdig to be worthy
-keit noun suffix

Literally Sehenswürdigkeit means something which is worthy to see.

The connecting element -s- is used to link words together.

The ending -keit turns an adjective into a noun.

Often the ending of a compound noun is a good indicator for the gender of the noun. For example, if a noun ends in -keit, it will always be feminine (die).

Urlaub vs. Ferien

Just like in English there's "holidays" and "vacation", in German there are Ferien and Urlaub. They can be used interchangeably to some extent.

Ferien only exists as a plural noun:

  • Die Ferien sind im Sommer. (The holidays are in summer.)

Urlaub only exists as a singular noun:

  • Wann ist der Urlaub? (When is the vacation?)

Visum

In English, you need "a visa". In German, the singular is das Visum, Visa is the plural (as it is in Latin, the source language of this word).

Weg vs. weg

Der Weg (with a long -e-) roughly means "the path".

  • Der Weg ist lang. (The path is long.)

The word weg (with a short, open -e-) roughly means "away". Here are some examples:

  • Geh weg! (Go away!)
  • Ich bin weg! (I'm gone!)

Classroom updated 2019-04-18

Verbs ending in -ieren

There is a large number of verbs that end in -ieren. These are usually actions. Often, you can just look at the word stem (before -ieren) and guess the meaning from English:

  • notieren (to note down)
  • markieren (to mark)
  • telefonieren (to talk on the phone)
  • studieren (to study at university)

This group is completely regular: all verbs in this group will behave in the same way. They differ from other verbs in one way: regardless of how long the verb is, the -ie- part will always carry the stress:

  • Mein Bruder telefoniert. (My brother is talking on the phone.)
  • Wir studieren hier. (We study here.)

Number one

Remember that numbers don't change endings in German. The single exception is eins (one).

When used on its own, say eins. In combination with nouns, the -s gets lost, and there might be additional ending changes.

  • Ich komme um eins! (I arrive at one!)
  • Ich komme um ein Uhr. (I arrive at one o'clock.)
  • Ich habe eine Frage. (I have a/one question.)

Possessive Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Personal Pronouns in the Nominative Case

A pronoun is a word that represents a noun, like er does for der Mann. In the nominative case, the personal pronouns are simply the grammatical persons you already know: ich, du, er/sie/es, wir, ihr, and sie.

Possessive pronouns

German uses possessive pronouns similar to the English ones. For example "my" is mein in German, "his" is sein, and "her" is ihr.

personal pronouns possessive pronouns
ich mein
du dein
er/es sein
sie (feminine) ihr
wir unser
ihr euer
sie (plural) ihr

Remember that in German, eu sounds like "boy", and the ending -er normally roughly sounds like "ma".

Nominative forms

Unlike English, these possessive pronouns change their endings in the same way as the indefinite article ein.

  • mein Bruder (ein Bruder)
  • meine Mutter (eine Mutter)

This is mostly straightforward (just append the correct ending according to the noun). There is a slight irregularity: euer does not become euere, but eure (it loses an internal -e-).

The following table has the forms in the nominative case. These are used for subjects, as in

  • Meine Katze ist super. (My cat is great.)
der Hund das Insekt die Katze die Hunde
indef. article ein ein eine (keine)
ich mein mein meine meine
du dein dein deine deine
er/es sein sein seine seine
sie (fem.) ihr ihr ihre ihre
wir unser unser unsere unsere
ihr euer euer eure eure
sie (plural) ihr ihr ihre ihre

As you might notice, ihr has several different functions, so make sure you understand the context it is used in.

Demonstrative Pronouns

The demonstrative pronouns in English are: this, that, these, and those. In German, in Nominative and Accusative, the demonstrative pronouns are the same as the definite articles.

That means, der, die and das can also mean "that (one)" or "this (one)" depending on the gender of the respective noun, and "die" (plural) can mean "these" or "those."

  • Der ist komisch! (That one is strange!)
  • Meine Kinder? Die sind in England. (My kids? They/Those are in England.)

When spoken, the definite articles can serve a similar function:

  • Der Junge liest eine Zeitung, der Junge liest ein Buch.
  • This boy is reading a newspaper, that boy is reading a book.

The articles would be stressed in that case.

Breakfast updated 2019-04-18

Perfect tense

As in English, you cannot use the present tense for the past.

Unlike in English, the perfect tense is almost always used. You do not have to think whether the action is relevant to the present or not. Just use the perfect tense.

  • Ich habe Suppe gekocht. (I [have] cooked soup.)

Here you will learn how the regular perfect participle forms work: just add ge- in front, and -t to the stem.

machen kochen
gemacht gekocht

Most of the time, German uses "haben" (have) as a helper verb, just like English:

  • Ich habe nichts gemacht! (I have done/did nothing!)

Remember that German sentence structure requires you to put the subject-related part of the verb in position 2, and the rest of the verb to the end:

1 2 end
Ich habe gestern Suppe gekocht.
Gestern habe ich Suppe gekocht.

Adverbs at the beginning of the sentence

Remember that you can put many sentence elements at the sentence beginning:

  • Morgen gehe ich ins Theater. (Tomorrow, I go to the theater.)
  • Pizza mag ich nicht. (I do not like pizza.)
  • Normalerweise trinke ich keine Milch. (Normally, I don't drink milk.)

Don't forget that if you do that, the verb will come second! This means that the subject will then be after the verb.

What comes first?

Generally, German puts the sentence element first that gives the context for the sentence. This is often the part that was stressed in a question before:

  • Was machst du morgen? (What are you doing tomorrow?)
  • Morgen gehe ich ins Theater.

Never put the answer to a question in first position.

If in doubt, just start with the subject:

  • Ich gehe morgen ins Theater.

Erst vs. nur

Earlier on you learned that nur means only:

  • Ich habe nur einen Sohn. (I have only one son.)

German also has erst, which implies that there might be more coming:

  • Ich habe erst einen Sohn. (I have only one son so far.)
  • Ich esse erst Suppe. (I eat soup first.)
  • Er kommt erst am Montag. (He arrives not before Monday.)

Nominative Pronouns updated 2020-07-30

Some other pronouns

Some other words can function as pronouns.

The following ones change their endings like definite articles:

der das
this/these dieser dieses
every jeder jedes
some mancher manches
die (fem.) die (pl.)
diese diese
jede ---
manche manche
  • Dieser Junge isst, dieser (Junge) trinkt.
  • This boy eats, that (boy/one) drinks.

  • Jedes Kind mag Pizza. (Every kid likes pizza.)

  • Manche Kinder mögen Käse. (Some kids like cheese.)

Viel vs. viele

These roughly correspond to English "much/many". Use viel with uncountable nouns, viele with countable ones.

  • Ich trinke viel Wasser.
  • Ich habe viele Hunde.

Alles oder nichts

Just like nicht (not) has a look-alike nichts (nothing), alle (all) has alles (everything) as a counterpart.

  • Ich esse nicht. (I do not eat.)
  • Ich esse nichts. (I eat nothing.)
  • Ich esse alles. (I eat everything.)
  • Ich esse alle (Orangen). (I eat all (oranges).)

Ein paar vs. ein Paar

Ein paar (lowercase p) means "a few", "some" or "a couple (of)" (only in the sense of at least two, not exactly two!).

Ein Paar (uppercase P) means "a pair (of)" and is only used for things that typically come in pairs of two, e.g. ein Paar Schuhe (a pair of shoes).

So this is quite similar to English "a couple" (a pair) vs. "a couple of" (some).

etwas vs. manche

Both etwas and manche can be translated as "some" in certain contexts, but they don't have the same meaning.

etwas means "some" before an uncountable noun, when the meaning is "a little bit of, a small quantity of": The following noun is always in the singular in this meaning.

  • etwas Wasser (some water, a bit of water)
  • Hast du etwas Brot? (do you have some bread / a bit of bread?)

manche means "some" in the sense of "certain; some but not others" and almost always stands before a plural noun

  • Manche Kinder haben Hunger. (Some children are hungry [but others are not].)
  • Manche Häuser sind teurer als andere. (Some houses are more expensive than others.)

Negatives updated 2018-10-25

German Negatives

There are different ways to negate expressions in German (much like in English you can use "no" in some cases, and "does not" in others). The German adverb nicht (not) is used very often, but sometimes you need to use kein (not a).

Nicht

As mentioned in the lesson "Not", you should use nicht in the following situations:

  • Negating a noun that has a definite article like der Junge (the boy) in Das ist nicht der Junge. (That is not the boy).
  • Negating a noun that has a possessive pronoun like mein Glas (my glass) in Das ist nicht mein Glas. (That is not my glass).
  • Negating the verb: Ich trinke nicht. (I do not drink.).
  • Negating an adverb or adverbial phrase. For instance, Ich tanze nicht oft. (I do not dance often)
  • Negating an adjective that is used with sein (to be): Ich bin nicht hungrig. (I am not hungry).

For details, and to learn where to put nicht in a sentence, refer to the "Not" lesson.

Kein

Simply put, kein is composed of k + ein and placed where the indefinite article would be in a sentence. If you want to negate ein, use kein.

Just like mein and the other possessive pronouns, kein changes its ending like ein.

For instance, look at the positive and negative statement about these two nouns:

  • Er ist ein Mann. (He is a man) — Sie ist kein Mann. (She is not a/no man.)
  • Ich habe eine Katze. (I have a cat.) — Ich habe keine Katze. (I have no cat.)

Here are the endings of the indefinite article so far:

masc neut fem plural
nominative ein ein eine ---
accusative einen ein eine ---

Here is the list of the respective kein forms:

masc neut fem plural
nominative kein kein keine keine
accusative keinen kein keine keine

Kein is also used for negating nouns that have no article: Er hat Brot. (He has bread.) versus Er hat kein Brot. (He has no bread.).

As a general rule:

  • If you can use "not a/no" in English, use kein.
  • If you need to use "not", use nicht.

Nicht vs. Nichts

Nicht is an adverb and is useful for negations. On the other hand, nichts (nothing/anything) is a pronoun and its meaning is different from that of nicht.

  • Ich esse nicht. (I do not eat.)
  • Ich esse nichts. (I eat nothing.)

Using nicht simply negates a fact, and is less overarching than nichts. For example, Der Schüler lernt nicht. (The student does not learn.) is less extreme than Der Schüler lernt nichts. (The student does not learn anything.).

Keiner, keine, keines

In German, "nobody" can be expressed in several ways.

As long as it refers to people, niemand works just fine:

  • Niemand schläft. (Nobody sleeps.)

There is also keiner. It changes endings like the definite articles:

masc. neut. fem. plural
nominative der das die die
accusative den das die die
masc. neut. fem. plural
nominative keiner keines keine keine
accusative keinen keines keine keine

For now, we teach only the default version (which is masculine in German):

  • Keiner schläft. (None of them sleeps.)

Shop updated 2019-04-18

More dative

In some ways, dative is the "easiest" case.

Articles (and related words) follow a simple ending system:

gender ending
feminine -r
not feminine -m
plural -n

Dative pronouns

Let's test this with the whole range of pronouns:

Nom. Akk. Dat.
ich mich mir
du dich dir
er/es ihn/es ihm
sie (fem.) sie ihr
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie sie/Sie ihnen

As you see, the same rule applies: feminine (sie) becomes ihr, er/es become ihm, and sie (they) becomes ihnen.

Note that for (wir/ihr) (we/plural you), the forms for accusative and dative are the same.

Dative adjectives

Generally, dative adjectives always end in -en, regardless of gender or number.

gender adjective English
f mit meiner alten Katze with my old cat
m/n mit meinem alten Hund with my old dog
pl mit meinen alten Freunden with my old friends

Dative plural nouns

There is one more thing: in dative plural, not only do the article and the adjective end in -n; even the noun itself will get an extra -n, if it does not have one already:

  • der Freund, die Freunde (the friend, the friends)
  • mit meinen guten Freunden (with my good friends)

Of course, plurals ending in -s do not conform to this rule.

Contracted prepositions

Now you can understand why some nouns use zur, but others zum. These are contractions of "zu der" + "zu dem". Feminine nouns use the former, others the latter.

  • Ich fahre zum Zoo. (I drive to the zoo) > "der Zoo" (m)
  • Ich fahre zur Oper. (I drive to the opera) > "die Oper" (f)

German has some other contractions like this. So far you learned these:

  • im (in dem)
  • ins (in das)

Places 1 updated 2018-10-25

Recognizing noun gender

As mentioned before, you can often know the gender of a noun by looking at the word ending.

  • non-living objects that end in -e: these will almost always be feminine (die Lampe, Schokolade, Erdbeere, Orange, Banane, Suppe, Hose, Jacke, Sonne, Straße, Brücke, Schule, …)
  • nouns beginning with Ge- are often neuter. This is the only prefix determining gender. (das Gebäude, Gemüse, Gesicht, Gesetz, …)

In addition, rhyming can often help. If you already know a noun that rhymes with the new one, there's a good chance they will have the same gender. Go for it :)

  • der Fisch, der Tisch
  • der Raum, der Traum, der Baum
  • der Kopf, der Knopf

Pronunciation of French loanwords

When English uses a word from French, it usually pronounces it according to English sound rules. German will often sound more close to the original.

An example for this is Restaurant. Like in French, the last syllable will sound roughly like "raw". The -t will be silent. Some people will pronounce the ending similar to English "rung" instead. Of course, the R- will sound like the German r, not the English one.

Languages updated 2019-04-18

Perfect tense: no ge-

Remember that the standard way to create the perfect participle is to add ge- to the beginning of the verb stem, and -t to the end:

  • machen > gemacht
  • kaufen > gekauft

Verbs that do not have the stress on the first syllable do not get a ge- in the beginning.

There are two classes of these. First, it includes all verbs ending in -ieren, as these are stressed on the -ie-:

  • markieren > er hat markiert
  • telefonieren > er hat telefoniert

The other one you will encounter in the next skill.

Notice that these look like the third person singular, but they are not:

  • Er markiert (present tense, third person)
  • Ich habe markiert (perfect tense, first person)

Stuff updated 2021-02-15

Combining stuff

German is well known for its long words that can be made up on the go by concatenating existing words. In this skill you will learn one very simple and commonly used way of forming compounds: adding -zeug (="stuff") to existing words.

Remember that the last element determines gender and plural. So all new words in this lesson will be neuter.

OK, because you asked: the longest "real" German word (so far) is:

  • Rindfleisch-etikettierungs-überwachungs-aufgaben-übertragungs-gesetz

(Without the hyphens. We had to add those in order to be able to show the whole word…)

It's a law on how to transfer tasks about the monitoring of the labeling of beef. At least that's what the word says.

If you enjoyed this, check out "Rhabarberbarbara" on Youtube.

No, words like this don't normally happen in German :)

How much stuff?

In English, you can't count "stuff" -- you can't use the plural "stuffs" or say that "there are three stuffs on the floor". Instead, "stuff" is a collective noun, referring to a group of things but used in the singular: "there is stuff on the floor".

Some German -zeug words can work like this as well -- for example, Spielzeug and Werkzeug in the singular, without an article, mean "toys" and "tools", which are plural in English.

Those words can also be used in a countable way: ein Spielzeug, zwei Werkzeuge "one toy, two tools". So "the tools" could be either das Werkzeug or die Werkzeuge -- the former would view the tools as a group, the latter would consider them individually.

Look out for whether there is an indefinite article or number before the singular word to see whether it's used countably or uncountably.

If there's a possessive word or a definite article before such a noun in the singular, it could be either: mein Werkzeug ist neu could mean either "My tool is new" or "My tools are new", for example; similarly with das Werkzeug ist neu which could be either "The tool is new" or "The tools are new".

(An English word that works similarly is "fruit" -- "my fruit" could refer to just one apple, or it could refer to two apples and a banana all together, depending on whether "fruit" is used countably or uncountably.)

Other -zeug words are always regular countable words, such as Flugzeug "airplane" or Feuerzeug "lighter".

Holiday updated 2019-04-18

Perfect tense: no ge-

In the Languages skill, you learned that verbs ending in -ieren do not get a ge- prefix in the perfect tense:

  • markieren > er hat markiert
  • telefonieren > er hat telefoniert

The reason is that the first syllable of the verb is not stressed.

There is another group of verbs like this. These end in any one of the following unstressed prefixes:

  • be-, er-, ver-, zer-, ent-

Note the difference between kaufen ("to buy", first syllable stressed) and verkaufen ("to sell", first syllable not stressed):

  • Ich kaufe. Ich habe gekauft. (I buy. I bought.)
  • Ich verkaufe. Ich habe verkauft. (I sell. I sold.)

As in English, perfect participles do not change, regardless of person:

  • Ich habe verkauft. Er hat verkauft. Wir haben verkauft.

Who?

"Who?" has three forms in German, according to case. These have the same endings as the masculine "the". But of course, they work for all genders, and plural:

Case who? the (masc.)
Nominative wer der I
Accusative wen den II
Dative wem dem III

Note how the number of legs of the last letter neatly align with I, II, III :)

North, South, …

Use Norden, Süden, Osten, Westen when talking about a place within another place:

  • Hamburg ist im Norden von Deutschland. (Hamburg is in the northern part of Germany.)

Use nördlich, südlich, östlich, westlich when talking about a place relative to another:

  • Dänemark ist nördlich von Deutschland. (Denmark is to the north of Germany.)

in der Schweiz

Most place names don't have an article (they happen to be neuter, but that's mostly irrelevant):

  • Ich bin in Köln. Italien ist schön.

When talking about a direction, these use nach:

  • Ich fahre nach Köln. (I go to Cologne.)

A few place names do have an article:

  • die Türkei, die Schweiz (fem.)
  • der Iran, der Irak (masc.)
  • die USA, die Philippinen (plural)

You cannot use nach with those. Instead, use "in + accusative":

  • Ich fahre in die USA. Ich fliege in den Iran.

When talking about being in a location, you will use the dative versions:

  • Ich bin in der Schweiz. Ich bin in den USA.

You will learn more about this dative/accusative switch in the later skill "Furniture".

People updated 2021-10-07

N-declension

In general, nouns have two forms, singular and plural:

  • der Hund, die Hunde
  • die Katze, die Katzen

In dative plural, all nouns that do not already have an -n ending get one:

  • die Hunde, mit den Hunden
  • but: die Katzen, mit den Katzen
  • the exception are plurals ending in "-s": die Autos, mit den Autos

In this skill, you encounter a special all-masculine noun group. These will have an -en ending in all forms, except for the nominative singular (the dictionary form):

  • Der Junge ist nett. Ich kenne einen Jungen.

This group includes:

  • almost all masculine nouns that end in -e (Junge, Name, Kollege, Türke, …)
  • nouns ending in -ist, -ent and some other endings
  • a small group of other masculine nouns.

Here is an example table for der Junge (the boy):

Case Singular Plural
Nominative der Junge die Jungen
Accusative den Jungen die Jungen
Dative dem Jungen den Jungen

Adjectival nouns

There is one last group of irregular nouns. These are actually adjectives that became nouns, but keep their rich set of adjective endings. As long as you know the adjective endings, these are straightforward to use:

Adjective Noun
ein deutscher Mann ein Deutscher
der deutsche Mann der Deutsche
eine deutsche Frau eine Deutsche
mit einer deutschen Frau mit einer Deutschen

Refer to the Clothes skill for an overview of the adjective endings.

In this skill, you encounter:

Adjective Adj. noun (masc. sg.)
deutsch (German) Deutscher (German)
erwachsen (adult) Erwachsener (adult)
verwandt (related) Verwandter (relative)
bekannt (known) Bekannter (acquaintance)

Accusative Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Pronouns

Personal Pronouns in the Accusative Case

Aside from the nominative case, most of the German pronouns are declined according to case. Like in English, when the subject becomes the object, the pronoun changes. For instance, ich changes to mich (accusative object) as in Sie sieht mich. (She sees me.).

Nominative (subject) Accusative (object)
ich (I) mich (me)
du (you singular informal) dich (you singular informal)
er (he) sie (she) es (it) ihn (him) sie (her) es (it)
wir (we) uns (us)
ihr (you plural informal) euch (you plural informal)
sie (they) sie (them)

Notice that apart from masculine singular, the third person forms are the same in nominative and accusative. The masculine form, which does change, has the same endings as the definite article (der becomes den).

Possessive Pronouns in the Accusative Case

You might remember from the lesson "Personal Pronouns" that German possessive pronouns change their endings like the indefinite article:

  • ein Hund, mein Hund
  • eine Katze, meine Katze

This extends to all cases. You already know that in the accusative case, only masculine singular changes:

  • Ein Hund schläft. Er sieht einen Hund.

but:

  • Eine Katze schläft. Sie sieht eine Katze. (no change)

So, if you see einen, meinen, unseren and so forth with a singular noun, you will know two things:

  • the noun is masculine
  • the noun is in the accusative case (probably the object of the sentence)

Consider this example:

  • Meinen Hund mag die Frau nicht.

It is clear here that the dog must be the object (accusative). So actually the woman does not like the dog.

Here is the table of possessive pronouns for the accusative case:

Accusative der Hund das Insekt die Katze die Hunde
indef. article einen ein eine (keine)
ich meinen mein meine meine
du deinen dein deine deine
er/es seinen sein seine seine
sie (fem.) ihren ihr ihre ihre
wir unseren unser unsere unsere
ihr euren euer eure eure
sie (plural) ihren ihr ihre ihre

Other declining words

Viel vs. viele

These roughly correspond to English "much/many". Use viel with uncountable nouns, viele with countable ones.

  • Ich trinke viel Wasser.
  • Ich habe viele Hunde.

Viele changes endings like the articles. But because the plural forms are the same for nominative and accusative, for now it will look always the same.

Jeder

Jeder changes endings like definite articles:

  • die Frau, jede Frau
  • das Mädchen, jedes Mädchen
  • der Mann, jeder Mann — den Mann, jeden Mann (accusative)

Household 1 updated 2018-10-25

Möbel

Möbel corresponds to English "furniture". While "furniture" is singular, Möbel is normally only used in the plural.

  • Die Möbel sind super! (The furniture is great!)

Conjunctions updated 2021-02-15

German Conjunctions

A conjunction like wenn (when) or und (and) connects two parts of a sentence together.

Coordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions form a group of coordinators (like und (and), aber (but)), which combine two items of equal importance; here, each clause can stand on its own and the word order does not change.

  • Ich mag Schokolade. Sie mag Pizza.
  • Ich mag Schokolade und sie mag Pizza.

Examples: und, oder, aber, denn

Subordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions combine an independent clause with a dependent clause; the dependent clause cannot stand on its own and its word order will be different than if it did. In these subordinate clauses, the verb switches from the second position to the last.

  • Ich bin gesund. Ich laufe oft.
  • Ich bin gesund, weil ich oft laufe.

  • Ich spreche gut Deutsch. Ich lerne oft Deutsch.

  • Ich spreche gut Deutsch, weil ich oft Deutsch lerne.

Examples: weil, wenn, dass, obwohl

Correlative conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions work in pairs to join sentence parts of equal importance. For instance, entweder...oder (either...or) is such a pair and can be used like this: Der Schuh ist entweder blau oder rot. (This shoe is either blue or red.).

In German, conjunctions do not change with the case (i.e. they are not declinable).

  • Du trägst einen Rock. Du trägst eine Hose.
  • Du trägst entweder einen Rock oder eine Hose.

  • Du wäschst den Rock. Du trägst eine Hose.

  • Entweder du wäschst den Rock, oder du trägst eine Hose.
  • Du wäschst entweder den Rock oder (du) trägst eine Hose.

Examples: entweder … oder, nicht nur … sondern auch, weder … noch

Sondern

Sondern works like "but … instead" in English. It only takes the element that is different:

  • Ich trage kein Kleid. Ich trage eine Hose.
  • Ich trage kein Kleid, sondern eine Hose.

  • Sie kommt nicht aus Deutschland. Sie kommt aus China.

  • Sie kommt nicht aus Deutschland, sondern aus China.

School 1 updated 2019-04-18

Adjectives: Plural + article

Here are the nominative adjective endings you've learned so far:

gender article adjective noun
fem. die alte Frau
fem. eine alte Frau
masc. der alte Mann
neut. das kleine Kind
pl. alte Männer
  • Die alte Frau und der alte Mann tanzen.

Remember that in accusative, only masculine changes:

gender article adjective noun
masc. den alten Mann
masc. einen alten Mann
  • Ich sehe einen alten Mann.

Also, dative adjectives will always (so far) end in -en:

gender article adjective noun
fem. der alten Frau
fem. einer alten Frau
masc./neut. dem kleinen Mann/Kind
masc./neut. einem kleinen Mann/Kind
pl. den alten Männern
pl. alten Männern

In later skills, you will complete this system.

Here you learn that when you add an article in plural (nominative or accusative), you also have to add an -n to the adjective:

article adjective noun
alte Hunde
die alten Hunde
meine alten Hunde
keine alten Hunde
welche alten Hunde?
diese alten Hunde

Note that besides articles, some other article-like words will have the same effect (pronouns, keine, welche, diese).

A second group of perfect participles

So far, you learned that perfect participles

  • end in -t
  • normally have a ge- prefix
  • but not when the first syllable is not stressed

  • kaufen, gekauft

  • verkaufen, verkauft
  • telefonieren, telefoniert

Most verbs act like this. However, there is an old group of very common verbs, which shows two differences.

Their perfect participles

  • end in -en
  • might have a vowel (or other) change in the verb stem

  • fahren > gefahren, schlafen > geschlafen

  • schwimmen > geschwommen, fliegen > geflogen

Otherwise, they behave like the other group: if their first syllable is unstressed, they lose the ge-:

  • vergessen > vergessen (forget)

Thus, these might be confused with infinitives.

  • Ich möchte ihn vergessen. (I would like to forget him.)
  • Ich habe es vergessen. (I have forgotten it.)

The latter group is called "strong verbs", the former (more abundant, regular one) "weak verbs".

Wollen

The modal verb wollen means "to want":

  • Ich will tanzen! (I want to dance!)

Do not confuse it with the English verb "will".

As a modal verb, it follows their rules:

  • the stem vowel is different in singular and plural
  • the first and third person are the same in singular.
person wollen
ich will
du willst
er/sie/es will
wir wollen
ihr wollt
sie/Sie wollen

People 1 updated 2018-10-25

Leute

In English, you refer to one "person", but multiple "people". In German, Leute is also only used in the plural. The singular is eine Person.

Ich bin Türke. Ich komme aus Berlin.

Germany has many Turkish people. These are not necessarily from Turkey. Most have had their parents or even their grandparents born in Germany.

Furniture updated 2019-04-18

Location

Earlier, you might have wondered about the following:

  • Ich gehe ins Kino. (I go to the cinema.)
  • Ich bin im Kino. (I am in the cinema.)

Here's what's happening: for a range of prepositions, the accusative case indicates location change, while the dative case indicates the location stays the same:

  • in, auf, unter, über, an, neben, vor, hinter, zwischen

In this skill, you'll only encounter sentences without location change. In the next skill, you can practice both.

Liegen, stehen, …

English usually uses "to be" to describe position:

  • The book is on the table. The bottle is under the chair.

German distinguishes between the following:

German English
stehen stand
sitzen sit
liegen lie
hängen hang

Sometimes, these are straightforward:

  • Der Mann sitzt auf dem Stuhl. (The man is sitting on the chair.)

Sometimes, you have to consider whether an object is more vertical (standing) or horizontal (lying):

  • Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch. (flat on the table)
  • Das Buch steht auf dem Tisch. (upright)

Do it! updated 2019-04-18

Location and location change

In the last skill, you saw that when describing a position, the preposition generally takes the dative:

  • Ich bin im Kino. Die Katze ist unter dem Tisch.

German has a range of "two-way prepositions":

  • in, auf, unter, über, an, neben, vor, hinter, zwischen

These will take the dative when describing a position. But when indicating a location change, they will instead take the accusative!

  • Ich gehe ins Kino. (I go to the cinema.)
  • Die Katze läuft unter den Tisch. (The cat runs under the table.)

This takes a lot of practice to master!

Some prepositions always go with dative:

  • von, zu, aus

And some always go with accusative:

  • durch, gegen, um

We recommend you learn the "pure" dative/accusative prepositions first. Then you only have to decide "location change or not?" for those that are not in that list.

Liegen, legen

There are some verb pairs, where one verb describes a position, while the other indicates a placement:

position placement
liegen legen
sitzen setzen
stehen stellen
hängen hängen
  • Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch. (The book is on the table.)
  • Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch. (I put the book on the table.)

The verbs in the first column will use the dative when used with prepositions such as "in, auf, …". Those in the second column will instead use the accusative. This was explained above.

The last two verbs in the table look the same, but they have different perfect participles:

position placement
gelegen gelegt
gesessen gesetzt
gestanden gestellt
gehangen gehängt

Note that the variants for position have "strong" participles, while the ones for placement have "weak" (regular) ones.

One more adjective ending

Remember that the adjective ending for "das, der, die, eine" ist -e:

gender article adjective noun
fem. die alte Frau
fem. eine alte Frau
masc. der alte Mann
neut. das kleine Kind
pl. alte Männer

In this skill, you will encounter the following new ending:

gender article adjective noun
neut. das kleine Kind
neut. ein kleines Kind

The logic here is that either the article or the adjective (but not both!) need to have an -s ending.

Nominative and accusative are the same for neuter, feminine and plural.

You will be able to practice all adjective endings in the later Clothes skill.

Imperative

Compare the difference between a statement and an order in English:

  • You speak English.
  • Speak English!

Remember that German has three forms for "you":

  • "du" for a single person
  • "ihr" for multiple people
  • "Sie" for people (one or more), in polite mode

The imperative form for the latter two are straightforward:

Statement Order
Ihr kommt in den Garten. Kommt in den Garten!
Sie kommen in den Garten. Kommen Sie in den Garten!

For ihr, you just remove the pronoun. For Sie, you place it after the verb, instead of before it.

For du, the main rule goes like this:

Statement Order
Du kommst in den Garten. Komm in den Garten!

You omit the pronoun, and the -st ending of the verb.

However, there are some quirks:

  • for irregular verbs, take the stem of the du-form
  • but lose the umlaut, if present
  • for verb stems ending in -t/d, the additional -e- remains
Statement Order Explanation
Du trinkst. Trink! Regular
Du isst. Iss! Infinitive is essen
Du fährst. Fahr! Remove umlaut
Du arbeitest Arbeite! extra e remains

Questions 2 updated 2018-10-25

Yes/No Questions

Questions can be asked by switching the subject and verb. For instance,

  • Du verstehst das. (You understand this.)

becomes

  • Verstehst du das? (Do you understand this?).

These kinds of questions will generally just elicit yes/no answers. In English, the main verb "to be" follows the same principle. "You are hungry." becomes "Are you hungry?".

In German, all verbs follow this principle. There's no do-support.

Asking a Question in German With a W-Word

There are seven W-questions in German:

English German
what was
who wer
where wo
when wann
how wie
why warum
which welcher

Don't mix up wer and wo, which are "switched" in English :)

Some of these will change according to case.

Was (what)

If you ask was with a preposition, the two normally turn into a new word, according to the following pattern:

English preposition wo-
for what für wofür
about what über worüber
with what mit womit

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be an extra -r- to make it easier to pronounce.

This wo- prefix does not mean "where".

Wer (who)

Wer is declinable and needs to adjust to the cases. The adjustment depends on what the question is targeting.

If you ask for the subject of a sentence (i.e. the nominative object), wer (who) remains as is:

  • Wer ist da? (Who is there?).

If you ask for the direct (accusative) object in a sentence, wer changes to wen (who/whom). As a mnemonic, notice how wen rhymes with den in den Apfel.

  • Wen siehst du? — Ich sehe den Hund.
  • (Whom do you see? — I see the dog.)

You will soon learn about the Dative case. You have to use wem then. And there is a forth case in German (Genitive). You would use wessen here. This corresponds to English "whose".

The endings look like the endings of der (but don't change with gender/number):

case masc. Form of wer
nominative der wer
accusative den wen
dative dem wem

Welche(r/s) (which)

Welche- words are used to ask about for a specific item out of a group of items, such as "which car is yours?".

This declines not only for case, but also for gender. The endings are the same as for definite articles:

article welch*
der welcher
das welches
die welche
die (pl.) welche
den welchen

Wo (where)

In German, you can inquire about locations in several ways.

Wo (where) is the general question word, but if you are asking for a direction in which someone or something is moving, you may use *wohin* (where to).

Consider these examples:

  • Wo ist mein Schuh? (Where is my shoe?)

  • Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going (to)?)

Furthermore, wohin is separable into wo + hin:

  • Wo ist mein Schuh hin? (Where did my shoe go?)

The same goes for woher (where from):

  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from)

might become

  • Wo kommst du her?
English German
where wo
where to wohin
where from woher

Wann (when)

Wann (when) does not change depending on the case. Wann can be used with conjunctions such as seit (since) or bis (till):

  • Seit wann wartest du? (Since when have you been waiting?)

  • Bis wann geht der Film? (Till when does the movie last?).

Don't confuse wann with wenn which you learned in Conjunctions. Both translate to "when" in English, but they have different functions in German.

  • Wann kommst du? (When are you coming?)

  • Ich schlafe nicht, wenn ich Musik höre. (I don't sleep when I listen to music)

Warum (why)

Warum (why) is also not declinable. It will never change endings. Wieso, Weshalb, and Weswegen can be used instead of Warum. There's no difference in meaning.

Here is an example. All four following sentences mean "Why is the car so old?".

  • Warum ist das Auto so alt?

  • Wieso ist das Auto so alt?

  • Weshalb ist das Auto so alt?

  • Weswegen ist das Auto so alt?

Wie viel vs. wie viele

Wie viel is used with uncountable or countable nouns (how much/how many), and wie viele is only used with countable nouns (how many). Some people think that "wie viel" can only be used with uncountable nouns, but that is not true.

  • Wie viel Milch trinkst du? (How much milk do you drink?)

  • Wie viel(e) Tiere siehst du? (How many animals do you see?)

Family 1 updated 2018-10-25

Informal and formal words for family members

Just like in English, there are informal and formal words for "mother", "father", "grandmother", and "grandfather". Note that in German, the difference between formal and informal is a lot more pronounced than in English. The informal terms are pretty much only used within your own family.

formal informal
die Mutter (the mother) die Mama (the mom)
der Vater (the father) der Papa (the dad)
die Großmutter (the grandmother) die Oma (the grandma)
der Großvater (the grandfather) der Opa (the grandpa)

Family plurals

You might notice that most members of the close family have their own "system" of plurals:

singular plural
die Mutter die Mütter
der Vater die Väter
der Bruder die Brüder
die Tochter die Töchter
die Schwester die Schwestern

Schwester has an extra -n, because it can't change its vowel (e has no umlaut).

Eltern

Eltern (parents) has no singular, unlike in English. We normally refer to Mutter or Vater then.

If necessary, there is a word das Elternteil (literally, "the parents part"). But this is only used in formal settings, for example on forms.

Alternative words for family members

There are countless alternative words for certain family members. A lot of them are regionalisms or influenced by your own family's heritage. Some of them are ambiguous as well. For instance, some people call their father "papa", and some people call their grandfather "papa".

We can't accept all these terms, and since translations used in the German course for English speakers may also pop up in the English course for German speakers, we don't want to confuse German speakers with these words. Please understand that we're not going to add more alternatives. In your own interest, stick to the ones suggested by Duolingo (see above).

Food updated 2021-10-07

The German Preposition am

Most likely, food is being consumed at the table. The German preposition am is the contraction of an (at/on) and dem (the). For example, The man eats at the table is Der Mann isst am (an + dem) Tisch. Since an can translate to both at and on, am can translate to both at the and on the, depending on the context. For example an dem Tisch only translates to at the table (context: spatial relationship between things) and an dem Tag only translates to on that day (context: temporal).

The verb haben (to have)

In English, you can say "I'm having bread" when you really mean that you're eating or about to eat bread. This does not work in German. The verb haben refers to possession only. Hence, the sentence Ich habe Brot only translates to I have bread, not I'm having bread. Of course, the same applies to drinks. Ich habe Wasser only translates to I have water, not I'm having water.

Mittagessen - lunch or dinner?

We're aware that dinner is sometimes used synonymously with lunch, but for the purpose of this course, we're defining Frühstück as breakfast, Mittagessen as lunch, and dinner / supper as Abendessen / Abendbrot.

Compound words

A compound word is a word that consists of two or more words. These are written as one word (no spaces).

The gender of a compound noun is always determined by its last element. This shouldn't be too difficult to remember because the last element is always the most important one. All the previous elements merely describe the last element.

  • die Autobahn (das Auto + die Bahn)

  • der Orangensaft (die Orange + der Saft)

  • das Hundefutter (der Hund + das Futter)

Sometimes, there's a connecting sound (Fugenlaut) between two elements. For instance, die Orange + der Saft becomes der Orangensaft, der Hund + das Futter becomes das Hundefutter, die Liebe + das Lied becomes das Liebeslied, and der Tag + das Gericht becomes das Tagesgericht.

Cute like sugar!

The word süß means sweet when referring to food, and cute when referring to living beings.

  • Der Zucker ist süß. (The sugar is sweet.)
  • Die Katze ist süß. (The cat is cute.)

Accusative Prepositions updated 2018-10-25

Prepositions

Prepositions take a noun (or a noun phrase):

  • I talk with a friend from school.

In German, prepositions will change this noun into one of the cases (but never into nominative).

Here, you learn those that always trigger the accusative case.

Remember that as long as the noun is not masculine singular, the nominative and the accusative will look the same.

  • Der Hund trinkt den Saft. (both are masculine)
  • Die Katze trinkt die Milch. (both are feminine)

Accusative prepositions

Accusative prepositions always trigger the accusative case.

  • Nicht ohne meinen Hund! (Not without my dog!)
  • Die Suppe ist für den Mann ohne Zähne. (The soup is for the man without teeth.)

German has these common accusative prepositions: durch, für, gegen, ohne, um

Entlang

Entlang is a strange word :) It is commonly used with the accusative case. But then it has to appear after the noun.

  • Ich gehe den Fluss entlang. (I walk along the river.)

It can be used before the noun, but then triggers a different case. This sounds a bit old-fashioned or stilted today. So better use it after the noun.

Weather 1 updated 2019-04-18

Werden

The German auxiliary verb werden has several functions, depending on grammatical context.

When used with an adjective or noun, it corresponds to English "to get/become":

  • Ich werde müde! (I am getting tired!)
  • Er wird Vater. (He is becoming a father.)

The forms of werden roughly follow the pattern of strong verbs (essen, fahren, …):

  • the second and third person singular change the vowel
  • but the third person singular has an irregular ending
ich werde
du wirst
er wird
wir werden
ihr werdet
sie/Sie werden

Numbers 1 updated 2018-10-25

German numbers

You might notice that German numbers look very similar to those in English. The two languages are closely related. So any time you encounter a new word, it's worth checking whether you can find a similar-looking word in English.

At some point, you might realize that there are several more or less consistent changes between English and German. Here are some:

Change English German
t > s/z ten, two zehn, zwei
gh > ch eight acht
v > b seven sieben
th > d/t three drei
o > ei one, two eins, zwei

Generally, the vowels change faster than the consonants. So go for the consonants when looking for related words.

Zahlen, zahlen, zählen

You learned bezahlen (to pay) earlier. There's also the word zahlen, which also means to pay. In this lesson, you learn zählen, which means "to count". Don't confuse the two.

In addition, you will see Zahlen. The upper-case initial tells you this is a noun. It is the plural of die Zahl (the number).

Office updated 2019-04-18

Some irregular perfect participles

In this skill, you will encounter the following irregular perfect participles:

Infinitive Perfect participle
werden geworden
sein gewesen

Clothes updated 2019-04-18

Review adjective endings

In this skill, you will encounter all adjective endings for the three main cases: nominative, accusative and dative.

As described in earlier skills, the adjective ending for "das, der, die, eine" ist -e:

gender article adjective noun
fem. die alte Frau
fem. eine alte Frau
masc. der alte Mann
neut. das kleine Kind
pl. alte Männer

You also learned that for neuter, either the article or the adjective (but not both!) need to have an -s ending:

gender article adjective noun
neut. das kleine Kind
neut. ein kleines Kind

The same logic applies to masculine forms. Either the article or the adjective end in -r:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der alte Mann
masc. ein alter Mann

Nominative and accusative are the same for neuter, feminine and plural.

For masculine accusative, the articles and the adjective both get -en endings:

gender article adjective noun
masc. den alten Mann
masc. einen alten Mann

Finally, dative adjectives end in -en, regardless of person.

Dative Case updated 2019-01-11

The Dative Case

Welcome to the third important case in German :) Later on, there will be a last, less important one.

Remember the Accusative ?

You already saw that the accusative case can be used in different ways.

It can signify the object of a sentence:

  • Der Hund frisst den Vogel. (The dog is eating the bird.)

This is called the direct object (or accusative object).

It can also be used in combination with some prepositions:

  • Sie geht ohne den Hund. (She walks without the dog.)
  • Er hat einen Mantel ohne Knöpfe. (He has a coat without buttons.)

Dative object

The dative case also has a range of different functions.

In this lesson, you learn to use it with the indirect object. This is also called the dative object.

The indirect object in a sentence is the receiver of the direct (accusative) object.

For example, Frau is the indirect (dative) object in

  • Das Mädchen gibt einer Frau den Apfel. (A girl gives the apple to a woman.)

You can think about it as "the other person involved" in a transaction.

  • Ich gebe dem Mann einen Apfel. (I give the man an apple.)
  • Sie zeigt dem Kind den Hund. (She shows the child the dog.)

As a rule the dative object comes before the accusative object, if none of these objects is a pronoun (things are a little more complicated if pronouns come into play):

Dative verbs

The dative is also used for certain dative verbs such as danken (to thank) and antworten (to answer), or helfen (to help):

  • Ich danke dem Kind. (I thank the child.)
  • Ich helfe der Frau. (I help the woman.)
  • Ich antworte meinem Bruder. (I answer my brother.)

These verbs don't have an accusative object.

Dative articles

Note that the dative changes all articles for the words.

For example, die Katze is a feminine noun. However, the article in dative will be der. This might look like the masculine article. But in the context of a sentence, there will never be any confusion between the two, as long as you know your genders. This is one reason why it's so important to know the gender of a word.

definite articles Nominative Accusative Dative
masculine der den dem
neuter das das dem
feminine die die der
plural die die den
indefinite articles Nominative Accusative Dative
masculine ein einen einem
neuter ein ein einem
feminine eine eine einer
plural (keine) (keine) (keinen)

Notice how masculine and neuter look the same in Dative (just like they look the same for Nominative indefinite articles).

This also means that if you see a noun in the Dative, and the article ends in -r, it will be a feminine word. Alternatively, if it ends in -m, it won't.

It is very much worth remembering these Dative endings, because they will pop up in different context, and help you a lot to sort out the grammar. In a way, Dative is the "simplest" case :)

Dative endings
Masculine/Neuter -m
Feminine -r
Plural -n

Plural Nouns in Dative

Here's a great rule:

Plural Dative: Everything gets an -n

(Insert Oprah Winfrey GIF here)

You just saw that articles (also pronouns etc.) get an -n ending in dative plural.

Later, you will learn that the German ending system for adjectives is a bit complicated. However, in dative plural, you just add an -n.

It goes so far that even plural forms of nouns get an extra -n in the Dative.

  • Er hat drei Hunde. Er spielt mit drei Hunden. (He plays with three dogs.)
  • Die Computer sind alt. Ich antworte den Computern. (I answer the computers.)

There are two "exceptions":

  • If the plural already end in -n, you're set.
  • If the plural ends in -s, there's also no change.

Even more -n

Some masculine nouns add an -en or -n ending in the dative and in all other cases besides the nominative. For example in the dative, it is dem Jungen (the boy).

If you want to look these up, the term for them is "n-Declension".

Dative Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Personal Pronouns in the Dative Case

Many words change in the dative case. For the third person pronouns, the following are different from the nominative case: the masculine pronoun is ihm (to him), the feminine is ihr (to her), the neuter is ihm (to it), and the plural is ihnen (to them).

Nominative Accusative Dative
ich (I) mich (me) mir (to me)
du dich dir
er / es / sie ihn / es / sie ihm / ihm / ihr
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie sie ihnen

Some observations:

  • In dative, mir, dir, ihr (to me / you / her) rhyme.

  • In the third person, the endings are the same as for the articles: -m, -r, -n. However, plural dative is "ihnen" (not ihn, as you might expect).

  • In the second person plural, accusative and dative pronouns are the same.

Now you can understand why, when thanking a female person, it is only correct to say Ich danke ihr ("I thank her", literally "I give-thank to her") and not Ich danke sie (that sounds like "I thank she" would sound to an English speaker).

Dative verbs

Remember that some verbs have a dative object. This is just a quirk of German. There was a reason for it when these words were created, but it's not easy to understand anymore, after a lot of language change.

In short, you just have to learn these :) There aren't very many.

Gehören literally means to "belong to". But don't translate too literally, often a different translation will be more natural.

  • Wem gehört das Kleid? ("Whose dress is it?" - Literally, "Whom does the dress belong to?")

University updated 2019-04-18

Comparative

The comparative for short words in English is commonly formed by adding -er to the adjective:

  • fast, faster
  • smart, smarter

German works in the same way. Of course, you then have to add the correct adjective ending to the whole thing:

  • schnell, schneller
  • ein schneller Mann, ein schnellerer Hund, eine schnellere Katze (a fast man, a faster dog, a faster cat)

For longer adjectives, English uses "more" instead. German does not do that.

  • interesting, more interesting
  • interessant, interessanter

Short adjectives usually get an umlaut change, though:

  • alt, älter
  • groß, größer

Remember that gern is an adverb. German uses it to describe things it likes. It has the comparative lieber:

  • Ich esse gern Pizza. Ich esse lieber Lasagne.
  • I like to eat pizza. I prefer to eat lasagna.

Seit

In English, you can say:

  • I have been learning German for two months.

In German, you would instead say:

  • Ich lerne seit zwei Monaten Deutsch.

First, as it is still ongoing, the present tense is used.

Second, German uses seit for stretches of time that reach into the present. That means you can only use it for things that are still ongoing.

If seit is combined with a noun, it takes the dative. Remember that in dative plural, the noun gets an extra -n:

  • der Monat, die Monate > seit zwei Monaten

Anfang, Mitte, Ende

In English, "early, mid, late" refers to positions in a day, month, or year:

  • in late May

In German, Anfang, Mitte, Ende can be used like this:

  • Ende Mai

These can also be used for age:

  • Sie ist Anfang zwanzig. (She is in her early twenties.)

Family 2 updated 2018-10-25

Tall and short people

Tall people are groß, not hoch, and short people are klein, not kurz.

This is why German people will often refer to tall people as "big" :)

Cousin, Cousine

These are French words. While it is possible to write Cousine as Kusine now, German never found a way to actually spell Cousin differently. This is because German originally does not have the French sound at the end. Some people pronounce it like "Kusäng" instead.

Die Frau kennt seinen Onkel - Why not ihren Onkel?

Both Die Frau kennt ihren Onkel and Die Frau kennt seinen Onkel are grammatically correct, but they don't have the same meaning.

When you say Die Frau kennt ihren Onkel, you're either talking about the woman's own uncle, another female person's uncle, or the uncle of multiple people.

When you say Die Frau kennt seinen Onkel, you're talking about another person's uncle, and that person is male. People can know other people's relatives.

Cooking updated 2019-04-18

Zu Mittag, zu Abend

In some combinations, prepositions are not grammatical. Just learn the whole phrase like a word:

German English
zu Fuß on foot
zu Mittag for lunch
zu Abend for dinner
zu Hause at home
nach Hause towards home

Especially zu Hause is often confusing, as in regular use, zu often means towards.

Geben

Geben (to give) is one of several verbs that describe a transaction. These generally have two objects:

  • the direct object is what changes hands. This is the object you already know: it is in the accusative case.
  • the indirect object identifies the "other person involved" in a transaction. This object is in the dative case.

  • Ich gebe einem Kind einen Apfel. (I give a child an apple.)

As in English, the dative "indirect" object comes before the accusative "direct" object.

English can also use "to": "I gave an apple to a child." — this is not possible in German.

Geben is a strong (slightly irregular) verb, here are its forms:

Person geben
ich gebe
du gibst
er/sie/es gibt
wir geben
ihr gebt
sie/Sie geben
perf. part. gegeben

Dative Prepositions updated 2018-10-25

Dative prepositions

Earlier, you learned that some prepositions always trigger the accusative case.

The most common ones are durch, für, gegen, ohne, um.

In the same way, dative prepositions always trigger the dative case.

Again, here are the common ones: aus, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu.

Contractions

Some prepositions and articles can be contracted.

preposition + article contraction
bei + dem beim
von + dem vom
vor + das vors
zu + dem zum
zu + der zur

There are some more, which you will learn later.

Seit

Seit roughly means "since". However, it works a bit differently.

First, it always denotes something that is still going on.

Second, it has three different ways of usage.

Consider these examples:

  • Ich lerne seit sechs Jahren Englisch. (I'm learning English for six years now.)
  • Ich lerne seit 2012 Englisch (I've been learning English since 2012.)
  • Ich lerne Englisch, seit ich denken kann. (I've been learning English since I can think.)

In the first example, seit defines a stretch of time, which reaches into the present.

In the second example, it also defines a stretch of time, reaching into the present. But it defines this stretch of time by its starting point.

Seit can also be a subordinating conjunction (check the lesson "Conjunctions"). In these, the verb leaves the second position of the sentence, and ends up at the end. This is why in the last example, ich kann denken (I can think) turns into seit ich denken kann.

Zu Hause vs. nach Hause

Zu Hause means at home, and nach Hause means home (homewards, not at home).

The -e at the end of zu Hause and nach Hause is an archaic dative ending, which is no longer used in modern German, but survived in certain fixed expressions.

  • Ich bin zu Hause. (I am at home.)

  • Ich gehe nach Hause. (I am walking home.)

Zoo updated 2019-04-18

More animal gender

Again, the gender of a word for an animal does not depend on the animal's actual gender, but on the word.

  • der: Bär, Papagei, Tiger, Elefant, Pinguin, Löwe, Affe
  • die: Giraffe
  • das: Kamel, Zebra

Note that "Löwe, Affe" are masculine. The "die -e" rule is very robust, but only if applied to words describing objects:

  • die Lampe, die Tasche, die Jacke, die Schule, …

X-mal

The German word mal translates to times quite often:

  • drei mal drei (three times three)
  • manchmal (sometimes)
  • fünfmal (five times)

Einer ist keiner

Earlier, you learned the various forms of "a(n)" in German:

gender Nominative Accusative
der (masc.) ein einen
das (neut.) ein ein
die (fem.) eine eine

These can mean "a(n)" as well as "one":

  • Ich habe einen Hund. (I have a/one dog.)

In the earlier skill "Need" you saw that "my, your, …" have the same endings:

  • Das ist eine Katze. Das ist meine Katze.
  • Er hat einen Hund. Er hat meinen Hund!

You also learned in "Need" that "mine, yours, …", "which" and "this/that" have the same endings as "the" in German:

  • Dieser Hund is meiner. (This dog is mine.)
  • Welches Haus ist deines? (Which house is yours?)

In English, you can also say:

  • I have two dogs. Here is one.

Here, it acts more like a pronoun, similar to "mine, yours, …".

And just like for "mine, yours, …", the endings will then be the same as for "the":

gender Nominative Accusative
der (masc.) einer einen
das (neut.) eines eines
die (fem.) eine eine

Note that all non-bold forms look identical to the forms of "a(n)" that you learned earlier.

Look at these three sentences, all meaning "Here is one!" in English:

gender sentence topic
masc. Hier ist einer! der Hund
neut. Hier ist eines! das Kind
fem. Hier ist eine! die Frau

Keiner (none, no-one) works the same way:

  • Hier ist keiner! (There is no-one here!)
  • Ich brauche Wasser, aber hier ist keines! (I need water, but there is none here!)

Meist-

Meist- works similar to English "most", but there are differences.

  • der meiste Wein (most wine)
  • die meisten Leute (most people)
  • mit den meisten Leuten (with most people)

  • German uses the definite article

  • The endings change like those of adjectives

Täglich etc.

Instead of "every month", German uses "monthly" for all time intervals:

Noun Adjective
die Sekunde sekündlich
die Minute minütlich
die Stunde stündlich
der Tag täglich
die Woche wöchentlich
der Monat monatlich
das Jahr jährlich

Mind that all of these have an umlaut change, except for monatlich.

Another dative verb

Folgen (to follow) has a dative object only:

  • Ich folge dem Hund. (I follow the dog.)

Earlier, you learned some other verbs that only take a dative object:

  • helfen: Ich helfe einem Kind. (I thank a child.)
  • danken: Ich danke meiner Mutter. (I thank my mother.)
  • antworten: Antworte mir! (Answer me!)
  • glauben: Sie glaubt ihm nicht. (Sie does not believe him.)

There are not very many of these "dative only" verbs in German.

Park updated 2019-04-18

Animal gender

  • die Taube, die Ente, die Fliege, die Wespe, die Biene, die Mücke
  • das Eichhörnchen
  • der Schwan, der Spatz, der Schmetterling

Beißen, stechen

Beißen (to bite) and stechen (to sting) are strong (slightly irregular) verbs:

Person beißen stechen
ich beiße steche
du beißt stichst
er/sie/es beißt sticht
wir beißen stechen
ihr beißt stecht
sie/Sie beißen stechen
perf. part. gebissen gestochen

Café updated 2019-04-18

Eineinhalb

Here is an overview of time spans:

Minuten
10 zehn Minuten
15 eine Viertelstunde
30 eine halbe Stunde
45 eine Dreiviertelstunde
60 eine Stunde
90 eineinhalb Stunden
120 zwei Stunden
150 zweieinhalb Stunden

When speaking, pay attention to the endings (marked in bold) of eine halbe Stunde and eineinhalb Stunden. If you mix these up, people will think you mean the other one.

Eineinhalb literally means "one, one half" (60+30). Some people use anderthalb instead.

Alleine

Just as with gern(e), alleine can omit the -e, without a change in meaning.

Forest updated 2019-04-18

Animal gender

  • der Wolf, Fuchs, Käfer, Grashüpfer
  • die Eule, Motte, Zecke, Ameise

Sollen

Sollen is a modal verb. Unlike most others, it does not change its vowel.

Here are its present tense forms:

Person sollen
ich soll
du sollst
er/sie/es soll
wir sollen
ihr sollt
sie/Sie sollen

Sick updated 2019-04-18

Links, rechts

When used as an adjective, the German forms for "left/right" are normal:

  • Mein linker Arm (my left arm)

When used as an adverb, they get an extra -s:

  • Ich gehe nach links. (I go to the left.)
  • Der Tisch ist rechts. (The table is to the right.)

Body parts

  • der Kopf, Arm, Hals, Finger, Rücken, Muskel, Bauch, Fuß, Daumen, Zeh
  • das Ohr, Blut, Auge, Herz, Bein, Knie
  • die Hand, Schulter, Nase

Pain

There are two main ways to express pain in German.

First, you can just combine the body part with "Schmerzen" (a plural word meaning "pain"):

  • Ich habe starke Kopfschmerzen! (I have a strong headache!)

This works for only some kinds of body parts, though.

Another way is to say "Mein X tut weh." (Literally, "my X does pain.)

  • Mein Kopf tut weh. (My head hurts)
  • Meine Füße tun weh. (My feet hurt.)

Wegen, gegen

Gegen (against) always takes accusative:

  • Er läuft gegen die Wand. (He runs against the wall.)

Wegen usually takes the dative:

  • Wegen meiner Mutter sind wir hier. (Because of my mother, we are here.)

It can also take the genitive (the fourth, less important case). You will learn about this soon.

Party updated 2021-10-07

And another adjective ending!

As described in earlier skills, the adjective ending for "das, der, die, eine" ist -e:

gender article adjective noun
fem. die alte Frau
fem. eine alte Frau
masc. der alte Mann
neut. das kleine Kind
pl. alte Männer

In the last skill, you learned that for neuter, either the article or the adjective (but not both!) need to have an -s ending:

gender article adjective noun
neut. das kleine Kind
neut. ein kleines Kind

The same logic applies to masculine forms. Either the article or the adjective end in -r:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der alte Mann
masc. ein alter Mann

Nominative and accusative are the same for neuter, feminine and plural.

Keep in mind that for masculine accusative, the articles and the adjective both get -en endings:

gender article adjective noun
masc. den alten Mann
masc. einen alten Mann

Now you can use all nominative and accusative forms, and also (in general) all dative forms (which so far all end in -en)!

Ordinal numbers

Ordinals are adjectives, and carry the same endings:

  • Ich wohne im fünften Stock. (I live on the fifth floor.)
  • Der fünfte Juni ist ein Montag. (June 5th is a Monday.)

The general rule is that from one to nineteen, you add a -t- between number and adjective ending:

2. zweite
4. vierte
8. achte
10. zehnte
12. zwölfte
19. neunzehnte

Starting with twenty, you add -st- instead:

20. zwanzigste
42. zweiundvierzigste
100. hundertste
1000. tausendste

Only three forms are irregular:

1. erste
3. dritte
7. siebte

Note that in German, you just place a dot after a number to indicate it is an ordinal.

Overview pronouns

By now, you have encountered all the pronouns for all the three main cases:

Nom. Acc. Dat.
ich mich mir
du dich dir
er ihn ihm
es es ihm
sie sie ihr
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie sie/Sie ihr/Ihr

The next table shows the possessive pronouns. Only two endings are given here:

  • no ending (neuter nominative/accusative + masculine nominative)
  • -e ending (feminine + plural, for both nominative and accusative)
Person Nom. masc./neut. Nom./Akk. fem./pl.
ich mein meine
du dein deine
er/es sein seine
sie ihr ihre
wir unser unsere
ihr euer eure
sie/Sie ihr/Ihr ihre/Ihre

Note that for euer, the last -e- of the word stem gets lost when adding an ending.

The complete endings set is the same as for ein:

Case + gender example poss. pronoun
Nom. m/n, Acc n mein
Acc m meinen
Nom/Acc f/pl meine
Dat m/n meinem
Dat f meiner
Dat pl meinen

Some irregular perfect participles

In this skill, you will encounter the following irregular perfect participles:

Infinitive Perfect participle
schlafen geschlafen
essen gegessen
singen gesungen
trinken getrunken
finden gefunden
helfen geholfen
gehen gegangen
verstehen verstanden

In addition, there is a small group of "mixed" verbs, that change the verb stem, but keep the -t ending:

Infinitive Perfect participle
rennen gerannt
brennen gebrannt
müssen gemusst

Verbs Imperative updated 2018-10-25

Imperative

The imperative mood is used to express commands, just like in English.

There are three different forms, according to the three types of "you" in German.

Du imperative

The imperative for du is very similar to English:

  • Du gehst nach Hause. (You go home.)
  • Geh nach Hause! (Go home!)

For most verbs, to come up with the correct verb form, just lose the -st ending:

  • Du arbeitest nachts. (You work at night)
  • Arbeite nachts! (Work at night!)

  • Du nimmst das Taxi. (You take the taxi.)

  • Nimm das Taxi! (Take the taxi!)

You might have noticed that some common verbs have an extra umlaut in the 2nd/3rd person singular:

  • fahren, du fährst
  • schlafen, du schläfst

In the imperative, these do not have an umlaut:

  • Du fährst mit dem Taxi.
  • Fahr mit dem Taxi!

Ihr imperative

The second one is used to address more than one person informally. It uses the same conjugation as the regular ihr form of the present tense. This form of the imperative does not include a personal pronoun.

  • Ihr fahrt nach Paris. (You go to Paris.)
  • Fahrt nach Paris! (Go to Paris!)

Sie imperative

The third one is used to address one or more people formally. It uses the same conjugation as the regular Sie form of the present tense. The formal imperative is the only form to include the personal pronoun (Sie). Note that the word order is reversed. The verb always precedes the pronoun. It essentially looks like a question.

  • Sie lernen Deutsch. (You learn German.)
  • Lernen Sie Deutsch! (Learn German!)
  • Lernen Sie Deutsch? (Do you learn German?)

Imperative for sein

The verb sein (to be) is highly irregular. It even has its own imperative version:

normal imperative
du bist sei
ihr seid seid
Sie sind seien Sie

The following sentences all mean "Please be quiet!":

  • Sei bitte ruhig! (one friend)
  • Seid bitte ruhig! (several friends)
  • Seien Sie bitte ruhig! (some person in the cinema)

Nehmen, du nimmst??

As mentioned before, a small number of common verbs changes the vowel in the second + third person singular.

The change will normally be from a to ä or from e to i(e).

nehmen geben essen lesen lassen
ich nehme gebe esse lese lasse
du nimmst gibst isst liest lässt
er/sie/es nimmt gibt isst liest lässt
wir nehmen geben essen lesen lassen
ihr nehmt gebt esst lest lasst
sie/Sie nehmen geben essen lesen lassen

Form updated 2019-04-18

Form

In this skill, you learn the basics necessary to fill in a form.

Ledig means you have never been married.

Heiraten vs. verheiratet

In earlier times, parents would decide who to marry. They would literally "marry off" their children. This is what "verheiraten" refers to. We don't do that anymore, but we still use its perfect participle as an adjective/adverb:

  • Ich bin verheiratet. (I am married.)
  • der verheiratete Mann (the married man)

On the other hand, "heiraten" means "to marry":

  • Ich möchte ihn heiraten. (I want to marry him.)
  • Ich habe geheiratet. (I have married.)

These often get confused, because English uses the same word for both.

Occupation 1 updated 2018-10-25

Student or Schüler?

Ein Student is a university student and a Schüler is a pupil/student at a primary, secondary or high school. Students attending other types of schools such as language or dancing schools may also be called Schüler.

Dropping articles

When talking about your or someone else's profession in sentences such as I'm a teacher or She's a judge, German speakers usually drop the indefinite article (ein/eine).

  • Ich bin Lehrer. (I am a teacher.)

It sounds more natural to say Ich bin Lehrer and Sie ist Richterin than Ich bin ein Lehrer and Sie ist eine Richterin. This rule also applies to students.

If you add an adjective, you can't drop the article. Er ist ein schlechter Arzt (He's a bad doctor) is correct, but Er ist schlechter Arzt is not.

Also note that you can't drop the definite article (der/die/das).

Male and female variants

The grammatical gender usually matches the biological sex of the person you're referring to.

So the word that refers to a male baker is grammatically masculine, and the word that refers to a female baker is grammatically feminine.

In the vast majority of cases, the female variant is formed by simply adding the suffix -in to the male variant, e.g. der Bäcker becomes die Bäckerin and der Schüler (the pupil) becomes die Schülerin.

The plural of the female variant is formed by adding the ending -innen to the singular of the male variant, e.g. die Bäckerinnen and die Schülerinnen.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, the plural comes with an umlauted stem vowel. This applies to the female variant as well.

singular plural
male der Koch die Köche
female die Köchin die Köchinnen

You learn one more word like this in this lesson:

  • der Arzt, die Ärztin (the doctor)

Sie ist der Boss!

There are a few words for people where the grammatical and the natural gender differ. One of them is der Boss. There is no feminine version for it, although there are certainly female bosses.

  • Mein Boss heißt Linda Ackermann.
  • Meine Chefin heißt Linda Ackermann.

Living updated 2019-04-18

Mieter, Vermieter

The prefix ver- often means "away":

  • kaufen, verkaufen (buy, sell)
  • verlieren (to lose), vergessen (to forget)

Mieten means "to rent" (you pay), while vermieten indicates you rent out (you get the rent).

High, higher

Hoch is one of the few irregular adjectives in German:

  • Das Haus ist hoch.
  • Mein Haus ist höher.
  • Sein Haus ist am höchsten.

Also, hoch will change when it gets an ending:

  • Diese Stadt hat hohe Häuser.

Prepositions updated 2018-10-25

Prepositions

Accusative prepositions

Accusative prepositions always trigger the accusative case.

Here are the most common ones: durch, für, gegen, ohne, um

Dative prepositions

Dative prepositions always trigger the dative case.

Here are the most common ones: aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu

Two-way prepositions

Two-way prepositions take the dative case or the accusative case, depending on the context.

This is an unusual, but central part of German grammar.

If there's movement from one place to another, use the accusative case.

  • Die Katze geht in die Küche. (The cat walks into the kitchen.)

If there's no movement, or if there's movement within a certain place, use the dative case.

  • Die Katze schläft in der Küche. (The cat sleeps in the kitchen.)
  • Die Katze geht in der Küche. (The cat walks within the kitchen.)

These prepositions can switch case: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen

When not to think about location change

Two-way prepositions are very common in everyday speech, so it's a good idea to practice them to fluency.

However, don't forget that for some prepositions, you don't have to decide:

Durch and um will always be accusative, although they might signify an activity without location change:

  • Das Kind rennt durch den Wald. (The child is running through the forest.)
  • Die Stühle stehen um den Tisch. (The chairs are standing around the table.)

Aus, von, zu will always be dative, although they might signify a location change.

  • Er kommt aus der Küche (He comes out of the kitchen.)
  • Ich fahre zur Arbeit. (I go to work.)
  • Ich komme von der Arbeit. (I come from work.)

Other uses for two-way prepositions

Some verbs use one of these prepositions in a way that is not about location. This is part of language change, where things get repurposed all the time.

Über will always trigger the accusative case:

  • Sie diskutieren über den Krieg. (They discuss the war.)

When used with these verbs, vor will always trigger the Dative:

  • Er warnt vor dem Hund. (He warns about the dog.)

An, in and auf are more complicated: in some verbs, they trigger the accusative, in others the dative. You'll just have to memorize these.

  • Er denkt an seinen Bruder. (He thinks of his brother.)
  • Er arbeitet an einem Film (He's working on a film.)

  • Ich warte auf den Bus. (I'm waiting for the bus.)

  • Der Film basiert auf meinem Leben. (The film is based on my life.)

Contractions

Some prepositions and articles can be contracted.

an + das ans
an + dem am
auf + das aufs
bei + dem beim
in + das ins
in + dem im
hinter + das hinters
über + das übers
um + das ums
unter + das unters
von + dem vom
vor + das vors
zu + dem zum
zu + der zur
  • Wir gehen ins Kino (We go to the cinema.)

If you would use "that" in English, you would not use a contraction:

  • In das Kino gehe ich nicht! (I won't go into that cinema!)

Preposition at the end of a sentence??

An important part of German grammar is that some verbs can split off their prefix. This often ends up at the end of a sentence. Some of these prefixes look exactly like a preposition.

So when you see a "preposition" at the end of a sentence, try to combine it with the verb. You might just have learned a new word :)

  • Sie macht die Lampe an. (anmachen means "turn on" here)

  • Ich denke nach. (nachdenken means "to think")

  • Pass auf dich auf! (aufpassen means "to take care")

  • Wann fährt der Zug ab? (abfahren means "to depart")

  • Nimm deinen Hut ab! (abnehmen means "to take off" in this context)

Unfortunately, the way Duolingo is built does not allow to selectively teach German sentence structure. We hope this will change soon :)

Zu Hause vs. nach Hause

Zu Hause means at home, and nach Hause means home (homewards, not at home). The -e at the end of zu Hause and nach Hause is an archaic dative ending, which is no longer used in modern German, but survives in certain fixed expressions.

  • Ich bin zu Hause. (I am at home.)

  • Ich gehe nach Hause. (I am walking home.)

Job updated 2019-04-18

Auf Wiederhören

Auf Wiedersehen is a rather formal way of saying "goodbye":

  • Auf Wiedersehen, Frau Müller!

However, it literally means "see you again", so it cannot be used over the phone. Instead, German uses auf Wiederhören (hear you again):

  • Auf Wiederhören, Herr Müller!

Information

Unlike in English, Information can be singular or plural:

  • Die Information war richtig.
  • Die Informationen sind interessant.

Journey updated 2019-04-18

Gleis, Bahnsteig

Both das Gleis and der Bahnsteig are used for English "station platform". Gleis can also be the rail tracks themselves.

Visa

English uses "visa" (from a Latin adjective) for the singular. German uses the singular Visum for one visa, and the plural Visa (or alternatively Visen) for several visas. Due to globalization, this is currently in flux, with many Germans using the English "ein Visa, zwei Visas".

Comparisons updated 2018-10-25

German is simpler than English! (sometimes)

In English, there are two systems for making comparisons:

  • She is older than him.
  • Icelandic is more complicated than German.

German only uses the first system:

  • Sie ist älter als er.
  • Isländisch ist komplizierter als Deutsch.

This is pretty straightforward. However, quite often, the vowel of short adjectives will get an umlaut change:

normal comparative superlative
alt (old) älter am ältesten
groß (big) größer am größten
oft (often) öfter am öftesten

You might notice that there will be an extra e in the superlative, if the word stem ends in t (or d). This is a general sound rule, just like in ich arbeite, er arbeitet.

In addition, in some adjectives an e gets lost:

  • teuer, teurer (not teuerer), am teuersten

Again, this is a general sound rule. You might have noticed it for euer (plural your), which becomes eure, not euere when it gets an ending.

There is a small number of irregular forms:

normal comparative superlative
gut (good) besser am besten
viel (much) mehr am meisten
gern (to like) lieber am liebsten
hoch (high) höher am höchsten

Comparative adjectives are just adjectives

Consider these examples:

  • Sie hat eine schöne Uhr.
  • Sie hat eine schönere Uhr (als ich).

As you can see, comparative adjectives get adjective endings, just like any "normal" adjective.

This can sometimes look a bit confusing:

  • Er ist mein junger Bruder. (He's my little brother.)
  • Er ist mein jüngerer Bruder. (He's my younger brother.)

In the second example, the first -er is for the comparative, the second -er is the ending from der Bruder.

If you find that really confusing, why not practice adjective endings a bit? :) You can do so in the earlier lesson "Colors".

Learning updated 2019-04-18

Lang vs. lange

Just as gern(e) and allein(e), when used as an adverb, lange can omit the -e, without any change in meaning:

  • Ich schlafe morgen lang(e). (I sleep long tomorrow.)

Wissen vs. kennen

Wissen is not a modal verb, but its forms resemble one:

Person wissen
ich weiß
du weißt
er/sie/es weiß
wir wissen
ihr wisst
sie/Sie wissen

English speakers often confuse wissen with kennen, because both translate to "to know":

  • Ich weiß nichts! (I know nothing!)
  • Ich kenne ihn. (I know him.)

Kennen is generally used to express familiarity: you know it exists, or how it is.

Wissen is generally used for facts. It often is used together with verbs (you will learn that later on in this course).

Tourist updated 2019-04-18

Polizei, Türkei

Nouns ending -ei are

  • stressed on the last syllable
  • generally feminine: die Polizei, die Türkei

Place names ending in -ei will thus have an article:

  • die Türkei, die Slowakei

Er gefällt mir

The use of gefallen is unusual:

  • Der Song gefällt mir. (I like the song)

Here, what is liked is the subject (the song), while the person liking it is the dative object. Think "The song is pleasurable to me."

This is mostly used for outward appearance, or style.

Household 2 updated 2018-10-25

Das Handtuch (the towel) vs. das Tuch (the cloth)

A Handtuch is a towel, not a hand towel. Of course, a towel can be a hand towel, but this does not mean that the two words are interchangeable. A pet can be a dog, but this does not mean that the words "pet" and "dog" are interchangeable.

Food 2 updated 2021-10-07

Küche vs. Kuchen

Die Küche (the kitchen) and der Kuchen (the cake) are often confused by learners. To German ears, they sound quite different. One reason is that in Küche, the vowel is short, while the vowel in Kuchen is long.

singular plural
die Küche die Küchen
der Kuchen die Kuchen

Kochen (to cook) also has a short vowel.

Schmecken

Schmecken is very similar to the English word "to taste":

  • Ich schmecke Knoblauch! (I taste garlic!)
  • Knoblauch schmeckt super! (Garlic tastes great!)

In addition, schmecken can be used by itself:

  • Die Pizza schmeckt nicht! (The pizza does not taste good!)

Some popular food

Müsli

Müsli originally refers to "Bircher Müesli", a Swiss breakfast dish, based on rolled oats and fresh or dried fruits.

Nowadays, people will use it for all kinds of cereals or granola, often with high sugar content.

Hähnchen

Hähnchen usually refers to a chicken that has been turned into a dish. While derived from the word for "male chicken" (der Hahn), the only distinction today is that it is a food item.

Remember that words ending in -chen are always neuter: das Hähnchen.

Salat

Salat can refer to the dish, as well as to the green leaves (usually lettuce) that often go into it.

Health updated 2019-04-18

Lebensmittel

Das Lebensmittel (though normally used in plural) refers to anything that can be eaten or drunk.

Pommes frites

The French word for French fries (which are actually from Belgium) is "pommes frites" (literally "fried apple" - don't ask :). German took this, and pronounces it the French way (without the -es). However, in common language, it got shortened to either "Pommes" or "Fritten", which are pronounced like regular German words.

A short word on the audio that goes with the sentences: these are recordings of a computer voice, and sometimes off. Please report any errors! But experience shows that it can take a long time for these to get corrected (there's nothing we, the course creators, can do about it).

Scheibe

Die Scheibe (slice) is mostly used for bread, cheese and sausage, but also for window panes. Otherwise, use das Stück (piece):

  • eine Scheibe Käse (a slice of cheese)
  • ein Stück Fleisch (a piece of meat)

Reflexive verbs

Many European languages use so-called "reflexive verbs". Think of "I see myself in the mirror". In the same way, German would say:

  • Ich interessiere mich für Musik. (I interest myself in music.)

We teach these in more depth later on, but here is a list of pronouns that are used for them here:

Nom. Acc. Acc. reflexive
ich mich mich
du dich dich
er ihn sich
es es sich
sie sie sich
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie sie/Sie sich

Notice how they are the same as the normal accusative pronouns, with one difference: All third persons will just use sich.

  • Er wäscht sich. (He washes himself.)
  • Er wäscht ihn. (He washes him.)

The reflexive verbs taught here are:

  • sich kümmern um (to take care of)
  • sich freuen auf (to look forward to)

Reflexive verbs should generally be learned together with the preposition they use.

Denn

One way to say "because" in German is denn:

  • Ich möchte schlafen, denn ich bin müde. (I want to sleep, because I am tired.)

This is straightforward. However, German more commonly uses weil instead, which you will learn soon. Weil is harder to use, because it changes the position of the verb. But if you always use denn, your German will sound slightly stiff.

Krankheit, Gesundheit

A common way to create nouns from adjectives is to add -heit or -keit to them. These will always be feminine.

  • krank, die Krankheit (ill, the illness)
  • gesund, die Gesundheit (healthy, the health)

Sports 1 updated 2019-04-18

Schon wieder

Wieder means again:

  • Ich bin wieder da! (I am there again!)

German often uses schon wieder instead, to stress that something happened "again and again", or that it already happened again.

  • Was, du bist schon wieder da? (What, you are there AGAIN?, or "What, you are already back?")

Erlauben

Erlauben means "to allow". It takes the dative:

  • Ich erlaube es ihm. (Literally, I allow it to him.)

Celebrate updated 2019-04-18

A1!

It's time for a little celebration: you have now covered all the material for the A1 level of German! That means you have encountered all the words and grammatical structures for the Beginner level.

According to the CEFR standard, there are six levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2). Duolingo aims to teach up to B1, where you can deal with most simple situations in daily life.

Of course, just by arriving at this point does not mean you have now mastered all the material! Go back to the previous skills, try to level up, check the Tips & Notes again.

Also, try to find other ways to practice German. You could find a language exchange; or you could find material online or in your library.

The rest of the course

The remaining course does not conform to CEFR so far. We are working on it though!

We want your feedback!

Please be sure to leave feedback in the forum, and in the sentence discussions, so we can continue to improve this course.

Adjectives: Predicative 3 updated 2019-01-21

Common adjective endings

-ig, -lich, -isch

Here are three common endings, which sound very similar:

  • -ig (roughly like -y in English): eindeutig, abhängig, …
  • -lich (roughly -ly in English): nützlich, möglich, persönlich, …
  • -isch (roughly -ic(al) in English): praktisch, logisch, …

The first two sound the same in regular speech (in some dialects, all three sound the same). You already encountered this with the numbers (zwanzig).

When you add an ending to the -ig adjectives, it will no longer sound like ch:

  • eindeutig: die eindeutige … (now sounds like g)
  • möglich: der mögliche … (still sounds like ch)

-bar

-bar often corresponds to "-(a)ble" in English:

  • sichtbar (visible)
  • verfügbar (available)

Yes, there are lots of bars with joke adjective names in Germany :)

-los, -voll

These correspond to English "-less" and "-ful".

  • hoffnungsvoll (hopeful)
  • hoffnungslos (hopeless)

-tion

In English, the "-tion" ending is pronounced "-shen". In German, it always becomes "-tsion". It will always be the emphasized syllable, and the word will always be feminine.

  • Kommunikation, Lektion, Nation

Similarly, der Patient will sound like "der Patsient".

When nouns ending in -tion are used in an adjective, the ending -al (or -ell) will be used. The resulting adjective will be pronounced on the last syllable:

  • international, rational, kommunal, sensationell, …

Verbs: Present 2 updated 2021-02-15

Wissen vs. kennen

Wissen and kennen both translate to "to know" in English. Können (to be able to) can also mean "to know" in certain contexts.

  • Ich weiß (es) nicht. (I don't know.)
  • Ich kenne ihn nicht. (I don't know him.)
  • Ich kann ein bisschen Polnisch. (I know a bit of Polish.)

So how to know which one to use?

Kennen

Kennen is used when talking about people, places and the like. It means that you are aware of its existence. Kennen needs an object.

  • Ich kenne diesen Mann nicht! (I don't know this man!)

Wissen

Wissen is used for knowledge about something. It usually does not have an object. Commonly, it is used with a subordinate clause ("Nebensatz"):

  • Ich weiß, wer du bist! (I know who you are.)
  • Ich weiß nicht, wann sie kommt. (I don't know when she arrives.)
  • Er weiß, dass ich ihn liebe. (He knows that I love him.)

In rare cases, wissen can be used with an object, which might lead to very subtle situations like this:

  • Ich kenne dieses Wort nicht (I don't know this word.)
  • Ich weiß dieses Wort nicht. (I don't know this word.)

In the first example, you have never seen this word before. In the second example, you have seen it, but you don't know what it means.

Können

Können generally means "be able to", and is generally used like "can/be able to" in English. The only confusing thing is that it can take a language instead of an infinitive, which English cannot:

  • Ich kann tanzen (I can dance.)
  • Ich kann Deutsch (I can speak German.)

Conjugation of wissen

We already used a range of verbs that change the vowel in the second and third person singular:

person fahren lesen essen
ich fahre lese esse
du fährst liest isst
er/sie/es fährt liest isst
wir fahren lesen essen
ihr fahrt lest esst
sie/Sie fahren lesen essen

You also encountered modal verbs which generally have a different vowel in singular and plural, respectively. They also have a simpler (and the same) ending in the first and third person singular.

Wissen (to know) is a full verb. However, it is one of the very few full verbs that conjugates like a modal verb:

pronoun wollen mögen wissen
ich will mag weiß
du willst magst weißt
er/sie/es will mag weiß
wir wollen mögen wissen
ihr wollt mögt wisst
sie wollen mögen wissen

Non-stressed prefixes

You already noticed that in German, some verb prefixes can split off:

  • ankommen — Ich komme an.
  • einkaufen — Er kauft ein.

The general rule is: if the prefix is stressed, it splits off.

How to know which ones are stressed?

It might be easiest to remember those that are never stressed. The most important ones are:

  • be-, ent-, er-, ver-, zer-

If you encounter a different prefix, guessing that it splits off will most likely be correct.

Gefallen

So far, you have learned two ways to say "I like".

Mögen is used with nouns:

  • Ich mag Schokolade! (I like chocolate!)

Gern(e) is an adverb that modifies a verb:

  • Ich esse gerne Schokolade. (I like to eat chocolate.)
  • Ich lerne gerne Deutsch. (I like to learn German.)
  • Ich kaufe gerne ein. (I like to go shopping.)

In this lesson, you learn a third way: gefallen.

  • Er gefällt mir. (I like him.)

What's going on?! Literally, it means "He is-pleasing to me." That's why "him" become the subject, and "I" becomes the Dative object in the example above.

Gefallen is normally used if you like the look, sound or feel of something:

  • Die Songs gefallen mir. (I like the songs.)
  • Das Haus gefällt uns. (We like the house.)

Like mögen, you would only use it with nouns (not with verbs).

Legen vs. liegen

Earlier, you learned the verb legen:

  • Ich lege den Ball auf den Tisch. (I put the ball on(to) the table.)

Liegen is related, but defines a position:

  • Der Ball liegt auf dem Tisch (The ball is on the table.)

Legen roughly corresponds to "lay", liegen to "lie".

Home 2 updated 2019-04-18

Das Handtuch (the towel) vs. das Tuch (the cloth)

A Handtuch is a towel, not a hand towel. Of course, a towel can be a hand towel, but this does not mean that the two words are interchangeable. A pet can be a dog, but this does not mean that the words "pet" and "dog" are interchangeable.

Verbs Future 1 updated 2021-02-15

Werden + Infinitiv = Futur

German normally uses the present tense to indicate the future.

  • Ich gehe morgen ins Kino. (I will go to the movies tomorrow.)

On some occasions (for example when making promises or predictions), German does use a future tense. It is very similar to the one in English.

The future tense consists of a conjugated form of werden in the present tense and an infinitive (the base form of the verb).

German English
ich werde spielen I will play
du wirst spielen you will play
er/sie/es wird spielen he/she/it will play
wir werden spielen we will play
ihr werdet spielen you will play
sie/Sie werden spielen they/you will play

Depending on the context, ich werde spielen translates to "I will play" or "I am going to play". In German, there is no distinction between "will" and "going to".

Be aware that the German verb wollen (to want) is a false friend of the English will:

  • Ich will spielen! (I want to play!)

Werden has three different functions

Using werden can be confusing for learners. However, there are clear distinctions between its three main uses:

Werden + adjective/noun = "to become"

If werden is used in combination with an adjective or noun, the meaning will be "to become" or "to get":

  • Sie wird Mutter. (She's becoming a mother.)
  • Ich werde müde. (I'm getting tired.)

The German word bekommen is a confusing false friend to "become":

  • Sie bekommt eine Tochter. (She's getting a daughter.)

Werden + Infinitiv = Futur

This case is explained above.

Werden + past participle = passive

If used in combination with a participle, werden creates one type of passive:

  • Der Taxifahrer fährt den Fahrgast. (The taxi driver drives the passenger.)
  • Der Fahrgast wird gefahren. (The passenger is being driven.)

Pets updated 2021-10-07

Fressen vs. essen

The German word for "to eat" is essen. However, many people use a different word for animals:

  • Die Frau isst. Die Katze frisst.

The forms of both verbs are the same:

person essen fressen
ich esse fresse
du isst frisst
er/sie/es isst frisst
wir essen fressen
ihr esst fresst
sie/Sie essen fressen
perf. part. gegessen gefressen

Natural vs. grammatical gender

Remember that for most nouns in German, the word determines the gender, not the meaning:

  • der Becher, die Tasse, das Glas (the mug, the cup, the glass)

For animals, there is usually a general word with a certain grammatical gender. "Katze" is feminine. That does not mean that the specific cat is necessarily female!

  • die: Katze, Spinne, Schildkröte, Schlange, Kuh, Maus
  • der: Hamster, Hund, Vogel
  • das: Insekt, Huhn, Tier, Schaf, Schwein, Pferd, Kaninchen

German has specific male/female versions for some of these, but we do not teach them at this point.

Favorite

Liebling means "darling":

  • Mein Liebling! (My darling!)

When combined with other nouns, it means "favorite":

  • meine Lieblingskatze (my favorite cat)

Note that German often glues an "s" or an "n" between two noun word parts.

Danken

Similar to helfen (to help), danken is part of a small number of verbs that only have a dative object:

  • Ich helfe dem Mann.
  • Ich danke dem Mann.

Think of "giving help/thanks to" somebody, and you will get it right.

Angst haben

Instead of "to be afraid of", German says "I have fear of":

  • Ich habe Angst vor Hunden. (I am afraid of dogs.)

It is sometimes necessary to learn the preposition together with the verb. Vor takes the dative when used together with Angst haben.

Passport updated 2021-10-07

Yes/No Questions

Questions can be asked by switching the subject and verb. For instance,

  • Du verstehst das. (You understand this.)

becomes

  • Verstehst du das? (Do you understand this?).

These kinds of questions will generally just elicit yes/no answers. In English, the main verb "to be" follows the same principle. "You are hungry." becomes "Are you hungry?".

In German, all verbs follow this principle. There's no do-support.

Asking a Question in German With a W-Word

There are seven W-questions in German:

English German
what was
who wer
where wo
when wann
how wie
why warum
which welcher

Don't mix up wer and wo, which are "switched" in English :)

Some of these will change according to case.

Was (what)

If you ask was with a preposition, the two normally turn into a new word, according to the following pattern:

English preposition wo-
for what für wofür
about what über worüber
with what mit womit

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be an extra -r- to make it easier to pronounce.

This wo- prefix does not mean "where".

Wer (who)

Wer is declinable and needs to adjust to the cases. The adjustment depends on what the question is targeting.

If you ask for the subject of a sentence (i.e. the nominative object), wer (who) remains as is:

  • Wer ist da? (Who is there?).

If you ask for the direct (accusative) object in a sentence, wer changes to wen (who/whom). As a mnemonic, notice how wen rhymes with den in den Apfel.

  • Wen siehst du? — Ich sehe den Hund.
  • (Whom do you see? — I see the dog.)

You will soon learn about the Dative case. You have to use wem then. And there is a forth case in German (Genitive). You would use wessen here. This corresponds to English "whose".

The endings look like the endings of der (but don't change with gender/number):

case masc. Form of wer
nominative der wer
accusative den wen
dative dem wem

Welche(r/s) (which)

Welche- words are used to ask about for a specific item out of a group of items, such as "which car is yours?".

This declines not only for case, but also for gender. The endings are the same as for definite articles:

article welch*
der welcher
das welches
die welche
die (pl.) welche
den welchen

Wo (where)

In German, you can inquire about locations in several ways.

Wo (where) is the general question word, but if you are asking for a direction in which someone or something is moving, you may use *wohin* (where to).

Consider these examples:

  • Wo ist mein Schuh? (Where is my shoe?)

  • Wohin gehst du? (Where are you going (to)?)

Furthermore, wohin is separable into wo + hin:

  • Wo ist mein Schuh hin? (Where did my shoe go?)

The same goes for woher (where from):

  • Woher kommst du? (Where are you from)

might become

  • Wo kommst du her?
English German
where wo
where to wohin
where from woher

Wann (when)

Wann (when) does not change depending on the case. Wann can be used with conjunctions such as seit (since) or bis (till):

  • Seit wann wartest du? (Since when have you been waiting?)

  • Bis wann geht der Film? (Till when does the movie last?).

Don't confuse wann with wenn which you learned in Conjunctions. Both translate to "when" in English, but they have different functions in German.

  • Wann kommst du? (When are you coming?)

  • Ich schlafe nicht, wenn ich Musik höre. (I don't sleep when I listen to music)

Warum (why)

Warum (why) is also not declinable. It will never change endings. Wieso, Weshalb, and Weswegen can be used instead of Warum. There's no difference in meaning.

Here is an example. All four following sentences mean "Why is the car so old?".

  • Warum ist das Auto so alt?

  • Wieso ist das Auto so alt?

  • Weshalb ist das Auto so alt?

  • Weswegen ist das Auto so alt?

Wie viel vs. wie viele

Wie viel is used with uncountable or countable nouns (how much/how many), and wie viele is only used with countable nouns (how many). Some people think that "wie viel" can only be used with uncountable nouns, but that is not true.

  • Wie viel Milch trinkst du? (How much milk do you drink?)

  • Wie viel(e) Tiere siehst du? (How many animals do you see?)

Verbs: Modal updated 2021-02-15

Modal verbs

Verb forms

You have already encountered some modal verbs earlier in the course:

pronoun wollen mögen können
ich will mag kann
du willst magst kannst
er/sie/es will mag kann
wir wollen mögen können
ihr wollt mögt könnt
sie wollen mögen können

To help remember the conjugated forms, note that modal verbs are the same in the first and third person singular.

They also often change their vowel. The vowel in the singular will be different from the vowel of the infinitive.

Forms of müssen, sollen, wollen, dürfen, möchten

In this lesson, you will learn the remaining modal verbs.

Consider these three - two new modal verbs as compared to the familiar wollen:

pronoun müssen dürfen wollen
ich muss darf will
du musst darfst willst
er/sie/es muss darf will
wir müssen dürfen wollen
ihr müsst dürft wollt
sie müssen dürfen wollen

As in können und wollen, the vowel in the singular is different. The first and third person are the same in the plural and in the singular (unlike normal verbs).

Here are the last two new modal verbs:

pronoun sollen möchten
ich soll möchte
du sollst möchtest
er/sie/es soll möchte
wir sollen möchten
ihr sollt möchtet
sie sollen möchten

sollen does not change its vowel. Its meaning is roughly like "shall".

möchten is unusual. It is actually the subjunctive form of "mögen", which is why it has the same ending system as subjunctive and past tense verbs. You will learn about those later in the course.

If you remember that mögen translates to "like" in English, it makes perfect sense that its subjunctive möchten means "would like to".

  • Ich mag Pizza. (I like Pizza.)
  • Ich möchte Pizza. (I would like (to eat) Pizza.)

How to use modal verbs

As in English, modal verbs are combined with the infinitive of a verb:

  • Ich schwimme. Ich kann schwimmen. (I swim. I can swim.)

Because of the peculiarity of German sentence structure, the infinitive verb will appear at the end in a normal sentence:

  • Ich muss jeden Tag arbeiten. (I have to work every day.)

Müssen vs. dürfen

A common problem for English speakers learning German is to use müssen right. Here's the problem:

  • Ich muss schlafen. (I must sleep.)
  • Ich muss nicht schlafen. (I don't need to sleep.)

Actually, the problem is in English. Let's look at the same example again, but use "have to" instead:

  • Ich muss schlafen. (I have to sleep.)
  • Ich muss nicht schlafen. (I don't have to sleep.)

As you can see, if you think "have to" instead of "must", you'll be fine.

But how to say "must not"?

  • Ich darf nicht schlafen. (I must not sleep.)
  • Ich darf schlafen. (I'm allowed to sleep.)

As you can see, dürfen works pretty much like "may" in English.

  • Darf ich? (May I?)
  • Nein, du darfst nicht. (No, you may not.)
  • Oh, schade.

Genitive Case updated 2021-02-15

The genitive case

The genitive case is used to indicate possession.

  • Das Fahrrad des Mannes ist schwarz. (The man's bike is black.)

  • Das Fahrrad des Kindes ist blau. (The kid's bike is blue.)

  • Das Fahrrad der Frau ist grün. (The woman's bike is green.)

  • Das Fahrrad der Männer/der Kinder/der Frauen ist rot. (The people's bike is red.)

masc. neut. fem. plural
nom. der das die die
acc. den das die die
dat. dem dem der den
gen. des des der der

Das Fahrrad eines Mannes ist schwarz.

Das Fahrrad eines Kindes ist blau.

Das Fahrrad einer Frau ist grün.

masculine neuter feminine
nominative ein ein eine
accusative einen ein eine
dative einem einem einer
genitive eines eines einer

Nouns

Nouns consisting of one syllable tend to add -es in the masculine and neuter. The ending is often reduced to just -s, especially in colloquial speech.

  • der Hund, des Hundes

Nouns consisting of more than one syllable, tend to add just -s.

  • der Computer, des Computers

Weak nouns add -n or -en in the genitive as well (all cases but the nominative), e.g. des Jungen and des Studenten. Check the lesson "Dative Case" for a discussion of these nouns.

Genitive phrases have a fixed word order

You can say das Fahrrad des Kindes, but you cannot say des Kindes Fahrrad. The latter word order used to be acceptable hundreds of years ago, and you may still occasionally find it in poetry, but it’s no longer used in contemporary Standard German.

Proper names

In contrast to common nouns, proper names precede the noun.

  • Peters Fahrrad ist neu.

Do not add an apostrophe unless the name already ends in -s or -z. In the latter case, the apostrophe comes at the very end of the name.

  • Hans’ Fahrrad ist alt.

Adjectives

Adjectives in the genitive case end in -en. The only exception are feminine and plural, without article (feminine without article is quite rare).

preceded by an article not preceded by an article
masculine das Fahrrad des/eines großen Mannes wegen großen Bedarfs
feminine das Fahrrad der/einer kleinen Frau trotz großer Freude
neuter das Fahrrad des/eines kleinen Kindes trotz ruhigen Wesens
plural (any gender) das Fahrrad der kleinen Kinder wegen neuer Informationen

Prepositions that take the genitive case

The most common prepositions that take the genitive case are:

German English
anstatt instead of
statt instead of
aufgrund because of
trotz despite
während during
wegen because of

In colloquial speech, some prepositions that traditionally take the genitive tend to take the dative nowadays.

  • Trotz des Regens spielt er Fußball. (Genitive)
  • Trotz dem Regen spielt er Fußball. (Dative)

Verbs that take the genitive case

There’s a small set of verbs that take the genitive. Most of them are not used a lot in everyday speech and they may sound a bit stilted.

The dative as an alternative

As an alternative for the genitive, you can often use von followed by the dative case. Here are some examples:

genitive dative
der Ball der Frau der Ball von der Frau
der Ball des Mädchens der Ball von dem Mädchen
der Ball des Mannes der Ball von dem Mann
der Ball der Kinder der Ball von den Kindern
Peters Ball der Ball von Peter

Often, the genitive case will be preferred in written language, with colloquial language going more for the dative case.

Formal You updated 2021-02-15

Surprise! There's another way of addressing people. The good news is: it's super easy. Just use the "they" forms when talking to people you're not close with.

Need more details? Then read on :)

German You: Who are you talking to?

In English, "you" can be either singular or plural, and no distinction is made between formal and informal. In German, there are three ways of saying "you".

Du

If you are familiar with someone, you use du (which is called "duzen"). For example, if you talk to your mother, you would say:

  • "Hast du jetzt Zeit, Mama?" (Do you have time now, Mommy?).

Use this form for family members, co-students, children and young adults.

Ihr

If you refer to more than one person, you use ihr. This is also a "familiar" form, so use it in the same settings as du.

The German ihr you learned earlier is the informal plural of "you," like in

  • Hans und Karl, habt ihr Zeit? (Hans and Karl, do you have time?)

Sie (formal you)

If you are not familiar with someone or still wish to stay formal and express respect, you use Sie (so-called "siezen"). For example, you would always address your professor like this:

  • Haben Sie jetzt Zeit, Herr Schmidt? (Do you have time now, Mr. Schmidt?)

Sie is also used for multiple people. But you can't translate it well with "you all" or "you guys", because that would sound too informal.

Here are the three forms of "you", and "they" for comparison:

English person ending German example
you (singular informal) -st du trinkst
you (plural informal) -t ihr trinkt
you (formal) -en Sie trinken
they -en sie trinken

When spoken, "they" and formal "you" are identical. So, in a way, Germans formally address people like "How are they today?"

How do you know if sie means "she", "they", or "you"?

You can distinguish the formal Sie from the plural sie (they) because the formal Sie will always be capitalized. However, it will remain ambiguous at the beginning of written sentences.

For instance, Sie sind schön. can either refer to a beautiful individual or a group of beautiful people. The verbs for sie (they) and Sie (you) are conjugated the same. On Duolingo, either should be accepted unless the context suggests otherwise. In real life, there's always context. Don't worry about misunderstandings.

Fortunately, the verb for sie (she) is different. Sie ist schön. only translates to "She is beautiful." There's no ambiguity.

Other formal "you"s

There are more ways to address people formally in German, but they are not in common use and/or outdated, so we don't support them in this course. You might encounter them in Middle Ages reenactments or so :)

The third person singular was used:

  • Hat er heute gut geschlafen? (literally, "Has he slept well today?")

The second person plural was also used, and is still used locally:

  • Ihr habt einen schönen Hut. (literally, "You all have a nice hat.")

You will encounter the informal you in this skill as well

As some of the sentences in this skill are shared among multiple skills, you will encounter the informal you in this skill as well. For technical reasons, this cannot be changed at this point. Please do not send a report regarding this issue.

Occupation 2 updated 2018-10-28

Student or Schüler?

A Student is a university student and a Schüler is a pupil/student at a primary, secondary or high school. Students attending other types of schools such as language or dancing schools may also be called Schüler.

Dropping articles

When talking about your or someone else's profession in sentences such as I'm a teacher or She's a judge, German speakers usually drop the indefinite article (ein/eine). It sounds more natural to say Ich bin Lehrer and Sie ist Richterin than Ich bin ein Lehrer and Sie ist eine Richterin. This rule also applies to students.

If you add an adjective, you can't drop the article. Er ist ein schlechter Arzt (He's a bad doctor) is correct, but Er ist schlechter Arzt is not.

Also note that you can't drop the definite article (der/die/das).

Male and female variants

The grammatical gender usually matches the biological sex of the person you're referring to, i.e. the word that refers to a male baker is grammatically masculine, and the word that refers to a female baker is grammatically feminine. In the vast majority of cases, the female variant is formed by simply adding the suffix -in to the male variant, e.g. der Bäcker becomes die Bäckerin and der Schüler (the pupil) becomes die Schülerin.

The plural of the female variant is formed by adding the suffix -innen to the singular of the male variant, e.g. die Bäckerinnen and die Schülerinnen.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, the plural comes with an umlauted stem vowel. This applies to the female variant as well, e.g. der Koch becomes die Köche and die Köchin becomes die Köchinnen.

Verbs: Perfect 1 updated 2018-10-25

When is the Perfekt used?

The Perfekt is used to describe past events. In spoken German, the Perfekt is preferred over the Präteritum. Using the Präteritum in normal conversation may sound unnatural or pretentious.

  • Gestern habe ich Pizza gegessen. (Yesterday, I ate pizza.)

In contrast to the English present perfect, the German Perfekt is not used to describe events that started in the past and are still ongoing. In such cases, German speakers use the present tense:

  • Ich lebe seit drei Jahren hier. (I have been living here for three years.)

Verbs mostly used in Präteritum

The following verbs are normally not used in the Perfekt. Use Präteritum instead.

English Verb Präteritum
to be sein ich war
to have haben ich hatte
to know wissen ich wusste
may dürfen ich durfte
can können ich konnte
must müssen ich musste
shall sollen ich sollte
want to wollen ich wollte

How is Perfekt formed?

The Perfekt is formed by combining a conjugated form of haben (to have) or sein (to be) in the present tense with the past participle of the main verb.

  • Gestern hat er nur zwei Stunden geschlafen. (Yesterday, he only slept for two hours.)

When to use sein

The vast majority of verbs take haben (just like in English).

Verbs that indicate a motion normally take sein as a helper verb. Here are some common examples:

Infinitiv Perfekt
gehen ich bin gegangen
laufen ich bin gelaufen
rennen ich bin gerannt
schwimmen ich bin geschwommen
fliegen ich bin geflogen

However, verbs that indicate some other change also take sein:

Infinitiv Perfekt
aufwachen (wake up) ich bin aufgewacht
einschlafen (fall asleep) ich bin eingeschlafen
sterben (die) er ist gestorben

There are a few other verbs, for example

  • bleiben (to stay) - ich bin geblieben
  • passieren (to happen) - es ist passiert

None of these verbs have an object (they are "intransitive"). If they have a variant with an object ("transitive"), they take haben:

  • Ich bin im Auto gefahren. (fahren: movement)
  • Ich habe das Auto gefahren. (you operate the car. The movement is secondary)
  • Ich bin Auto gefahren. (Auto is NOT an object here. It's a complement, like Deutsch lernen, similar to ein|kaufen

How to form the participle

Regular verbs

Most verbs are regular (these are called "weak"). For these, creating the perfect participle is easy. Just add ge- to the front, and replace the infinitive ending with -(e)t:

  • machen - gemacht
  • arbeiten - gearbeitet
Irregular verbs

German has a number of irregular verbs. Most of these are "strong" verbs. For these, you add ge-, but you add -en. There might be a vowel change involved. Rarely, the change in the word stem is more drastic.

Infinitiv Partizip II
schlafen geschlafen
trinken getrunken
schwimmen geschwommen
essen gegessen
gehen gegangen

While most verbs are weak, many of the most common verbs are strong.

There is a small group of irregular verbs that follow a different system (called "mixed verbs"). Here are most of them:

Infinitiv Partizip II
wissen gewusst
rennen gerannt
brennen gebrannt
kennen gekannt
denken gedacht
bringen gebracht
Why is there no ge-? Why is it inside the participle?

Once you have the correct form of the basic verb, here are two more rules you need to know:

German verbs have two kinds of prefixes. Some can split off. These are always emphasized:

  • (einkaufen) Ich kaufe im Supermarkt ein.

Verbs like this will have the -ge- between the prefix and the verb stem:

  • Ich habe im Supermarkt eingekauft.
  • Ich bin im Bus eingeschlafen.

Here are some common prefixes that are always emphasized:

  • ab-, an-, auf-, aus-, bei-, ein-, mit-, nach-, vor-, zu-

Other prefixes are not emphasized. They never split off. For these (and any other verbs that are not emphasized on the first syllable), do not add a ge- prefix. This includes all verbs that end in -ieren (as these are emphasized at the -ie-).

  • (verkaufen) Ich verkaufe mein Auto
  • Ich habe mein Auto verkauft.
  • Ich habe gestern verschlafen.
  • Er hat Musik studiert.

These prefixes are never emphasized:

  • be-, ent-, er-, ge-, ver-, zer-

A few prefixes might be emphasized or not.

Adjectives: Nominative 1 updated 2018-10-25

Adjective endings

When an adjective comes before a noun, its ending will change according to this noun.

  • Die Katze ist alt.

  • Das ist eine alte Katze.

Article + Adjective

You can think of the adjective endings as "markers", that kind of mark what part of speech the adjective belongs to.

Nominative

Remember that the nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence. These are the nominative adjectives:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der rote Hut
ein roter Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe

While that might look a bit chaotic, there is not so much going on:

1) Masculine: Either the article, or the adjective must have the -r ending. The same goes for neuter and -s

  • Der kleine Hund spielt.
  • Ein kleiner Hund spielt.

2) Feminine and Plural end in -e. If you add an article, you also have to add an -n.

  • Die alte Katze schläft.
  • Alte Katzen schlafen.
  • Die alten Katzen schlafen.
  • Das sind keine alten Katzen.

Adjectives: Accusative updated 2018-10-25

Accusative adjective endings

Do you remember that quite often, the accusative looks like the nominative? Specifically, only the articles for masculine nouns change.

The same goes for the adjectives. They are the same as for nominative; the only exception is for masculine nouns. The changes are marked in bold in the table below.

3) masculine accusative: adjective ends in -en

  • Die alte Katze schläft. Der alte Mann sieht die alte Katze (no change)
  • Die alte Katze sieht den alten Mann.
gender article adjective noun
masc. den roten Hut
einen roten Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe

Adjectives: Dative updated 2018-10-25

Please refer to the previous lessons on adjectives about the endings for nominative and accusative.

Dative

Dative, as always, is even simpler.

4) Dative: all adjectives get an -en ending

gender article adjective noun
masc. dem roten Hut
einem roten Hut
neut. dem roten Hemd
einem roten Hemd
fem. der roten Rose
einer roten Rose
Plural den roten Schuhen
keinen roten Schuhen
- roten Schuhen

Remember that in dative,

  • masculine/neuter articles end in -m
  • feminine articles end in -r
  • plural articles end in -n
  • and plural nouns (almost) always end in -n.

Here are some examples:

  • Der Mann mit dem roten Hemd (the man in the red shirt)
  • Sie mag Männer mit roten Haaren (She likes men with red hair)

When do dative adjectives not end in -n?

There is a rather rare case when dative adjectives do not end in -en.

Rarely, single nouns will be used without any article. This mostly happens in idiomatic expressions.

  • mit heißer Feder (with hot feather)
  • mit großem Eifer (with great verve)

What happens here is that the ending that would normally be used in the article now ends up on the adjective.

Plurals updated 2021-02-15

German plurals

In English, making plurals out of singular nouns is typically as straightforward as adding an -(e)s at the end of the word:

  • the dog, the dogs

In German, different nouns have different ways of forming the plural.

Generally, you will probably have to memorize the plurals in the beginning. Later on, your brain will notice regular patterns that are not easily explained.

However, there are some major regularities that are very helpful to know. If you apply these, the task of mastering German plurals will become much easier :)

Ending in -(e)n

All nouns ending in -e, and most feminine nouns will add an -(e)n ending in the plural.

  • die Frau, die Frauen
  • die Ente, die Enten
  • der Junge, die Jungen

Ending in -s

Most nouns ending in a full vowel will add an -s in the plural.

  • das Sofa, die Sofas
  • das Auto, die Autos
  • das Baby, die Babys
  • das Café, die Cafés

This does not apply to nouns ending in -e (which is not a full vowel).

Many of these words are of foreign origin. Some other foreign words will also get the -s plural:

  • der Chef (the boss), die Chefs
  • die Email, die Emails
  • der Job, die Jobs

No ending change

There is no change for neuter or masculine nouns that have any of these singular endings:

  • -chen, -lein, -el, or -er.

  • das Mädchen, die Mädchen

  • der Computer, die Computer
  • der Löffel (the spoon), die Löffel

Some words for close family members will have an umlaut change:

  • der Bruder (the brother), die Brüder

If words with these endings are feminine, the plural will end in -n:

  • die Schwester (the sister), die Schwestern
  • die Gabel (the fork), die Gabeln

Ending in -e/-er

Most German one-syllable nouns will add an -e in their plural form. There might be an umlaut change.

  • das Brot (the bread), die Brote
  • der Tisch (the table), die Tische
  • der Ball (the ball), die Bälle

Many other masculine or neuter nouns will need the -er ending, and there may be umlaut changes.

  • das Kind (the child), die Kinder
  • der Mann (the man), die Männer

German feminine plurals - nouns ending in -in

Job descriptions are usually masculine:

  • der Koch (the male cook)
  • der Fahrer (the male driver)
  • der Lehrer (the male teacher)
  • der Arzt (the male physician)

To refer to a female, German adds -in:

  • die Köchin (the female cook)
  • die Fahrerin (the female driver)
  • die Lehrerin (the female teacher)
  • die Ärztin (the female physician)

As you can see, some of these get an umlaut change. The same umlaut change will happen in the plural.

The plural of the masculine forms usually refers to mixed, as well as all-male groups:

  • die Köche (the cooks)
  • die Fahrer (the drivers)
  • die Lehrer (the teachers)
  • die Ärzte (the physicians)

If you want to specify that you are talking about a group consisting of women, use the feminine plural forms. These will add -innen in the plural.

  • die Köchinnen
  • die Fahrerinnen
  • die Lehrerinnen
  • die Ärztinnen

Direction updated 2021-02-15

Weg vs. weg

Der Weg" (with a long e*) roughly means "the path".

  • Der Weg ist lang. (The path is long.)

Weg (with a short, open e) roughly means "away".

Here are some examples:

  • Geh weg! (Go away!)
  • Ich bin weg! (I'm gone!)

Adjectives: Nominative 2 updated 2018-10-25

Nominative

Remember that nominative is used for the subject of a sentence. These are the nominative adjectives:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der rote Hut
ein roter Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe

While that might look a bit chaotic, there is not so much going on:

1) masculine: Either the article, or the adjective must have the -r ending. The same goes for neuter and -s.

  • Der kleine Hund spielt.
  • Ein kleiner Hund spielt.

2) Feminine and Plural end in -e. If you add an article, you also have to add an -n.

  • Die alte Katze schläft.
  • Alte Katzen schlafen.
  • Die alten Katzen schlafen.
  • Das sind keine alten Katzen.

Jobs 2 updated 2021-10-07

Student or Schüler?

Ein Student is a university student and a Schüler is a pupil/student at a primary, secondary or high school. Students attending other types of schools such as language or dancing schools may also be called Schüler.

Dropping articles

When talking about your or someone else's profession in sentences such as I'm a teacher or She's a judge, German speakers usually drop the indefinite article (ein/eine).

  • Ich bin Lehrer. (I am a teacher.)

It sounds more natural to say Ich bin Lehrer and Sie ist Richterin than Ich bin ein Lehrer and Sie ist eine Richterin. This rule also applies to students.

If you add an adjective, you can't drop the article. Er ist ein schlechter Arzt (He's a bad doctor) is correct, but Er ist schlechter Arzt is not.

Also note that you can't drop the definite article (der/die/das).

Male and female variants

The grammatical gender usually matches the biological sex of the person you're referring to.

So the word that refers to a male baker is grammatically masculine, and the word that refers to a female baker is grammatically feminine.

In the vast majority of cases, the female variant is formed by simply adding the suffix -in to the male variant, e.g. der Bäcker becomes die Bäckerin and der Schüler (the pupil) becomes die Schülerin.

The plural of the female variant is formed by adding the ending -innen to the singular of the male variant, e.g. die Bäckerinnen and die Schülerinnen.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, the plural comes with an umlauted stem vowel. This applies to the female variant as well.

singular plural
male der Koch die Köche
female die Köchin die Köchinnen

You learn one more word like this in this lesson:

  • der Arzt, die Ärztin (the doctor)

Sie ist der Boss!

There are a few words for people where the grammatical and the natural gender differ. One of them is der Boss. There is no feminine version for it, although there are certainly female bosses.

  • Mein Boss heißt Linda Ackermann.
  • Meine Chefin heißt Linda Ackermann.

Adverbs A updated 2019-04-18

Damit vs. damit

There are two words spelled damit in German.

One is a combination of a pronoun and a preposition (da+mit). It means "with that".

  • Das ist ein Stift. Damit schreibe ich. (That's a pen. With that, I write.)
  • Ich habe ein Deutschzertifikat. Damit kann ich in Deutschland studieren. (I have a German certificate. With that, I can study in Germany.)

This word is generally emphasized on the first syllable. As any standard sentence element, if it is used in the first position, the subject will have to go after the verb (which has to be in position 2).

The other is a subordinating conjunction. It translates to "so that":

  • Ich kaufe einen Stift, damit ich schreiben kann. (I buy a pen so that I can write.)
  • Ich lerne Deutsch, damit ich in Deutschland studieren kann. (I learn German so that I can study in Germany.)

Because it creates a subordinate clause, the verb of that clause has to go to the end. This version of damit is pronounced at the second syllable.

To remember which is which, remember that the one that's emphasized at the end also sends the verb to the end.

Damit, um … zu …, zum …

There are at least three ways to express a goal.

Zum

The easiest just takes a simple verb:

  • Ich fahre zum Skifahren nach Japan. (I go to Japan for skiing.)
  • Zum Lachen geht er in den Keller. (He goes to the basement to laugh.)

The verb becomes a noun here, hence the upper-case initial, and the zum (zu+dem) preposition. If a verb turns into a noun, it always gets neuter gender (das Essen, das Lachen).

Um … zu …

If you have a more complicated verb complex (for example, with adverbs or objects), you cannot use zum. Use um … zu … instead:

  • Ich gehe ins Restaurant, um mit Freunden Pizza zu essen. (I go to the restaurant in order to eat pizza with friends.)

To do this, you start with an infinitive construction:

  • mit Freunden im Supermarkt einkaufen (to go shopping in the supermarket with friends)

If you were to use this in a sentence, it would look like this:

  • Ich kaufe mit Freunden im Supermarkt ein.

The um goes to the beginning of the infinitive construction. The zu goes where the verb part (in the above example, kaufen) splits off.

  • Ich fahre in die Stadt, um mit Freunden im Supermarkt einzukaufen.

Damit

If your main sentence has a different subject than your goal, you can't use an infinitive. Use damit, which comes with a subordinate clause.

  • Ich gebe ihm mein Handy, damit er seine Mutter anrufen kann. (I give him my phone so that he can call his mom)

Read the section "damit vs. damit" for more information on how to use it.

Womit? Damit!

Many prepositions can be combined with wo- and da-. Da roughly translates to "that" here, wo normally to "what" (not "where" which is its normal meaning).

wo- da-
woran daran
worauf darauf
woraus daraus
wobei dabei
wodurch dadurch
wofür dafür
wogegen dagegen
wohinter dahinter
worin darin
womit damit
wonach danach
worum darum
worüber darüber
worunter darunter
wovon davon
wovor davor
wozu dazu
wozwischen dazwischen

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be a binding r. So worum is pronounced wo-rum (not wor-um).

Clothing updated 2021-02-15

Kleider - dresses or clothes?

Das Kleid means "the dress", and die Kleider means "the dresses", but the plural die Kleider can also mean "clothes" or "clothing". In most cases, "clothing" (or "clothes") translates to Kleidung (usually uncountable), but it's important to be aware that Kleider can be used in that sense as well.

Hose or Hosen?

Both Hose and Hosen translate to "pants" ("trousers" in British English), but they're not interchangeable. The singular Hose refers to one pair of pants, and the plural Hosen refers to multiple pairs of pants.

Adverbs 3 updated 2018-10-25

Trotzdem vs. obwohl

Obwohl translates to "although", while trotzdem translates to "however/nevertheless".

  • Ich bin müde, obwohl ich Kaffee getrunken habe. (I'm tired, although I drank coffee.)
  • Ich habe Kaffee getrunken. Trotzdem bin ich müde. (I drank coffee. Nevertheless, I'm tired.)

Trotzdem is an adverb. It is part of a sentence and will replace the subject if it appears in the first position.

Obwohl is a subordinating conjunction. It will send the verb to the last position. See the lesson "Conjunctions" for more details.

Darum, deshalb, deswegen

These three adverbs are synonymous. They can be used interchangeably.

The conjunctions weil and denn are used in the form "Statement, weil/denn Reason".

  • Ich bin müde, weil ich nicht geschlafen habe. (subordinating conjunction)
  • Ich bin müde, denn ich habe nicht geschlafen. (coordinating conjunction)

Darum and its sisters are used in the form "Reason, darum Statement" (or "Statement, darum Result").

  • Ich habe nicht geschlafen. Darum bin ich müde.

Womit? Damit!

Many prepositions can be combined with wo- and da-. Da roughly translates to "that" here, wo normally to "what" (not "where" which is its normal meaning).

wo- da-
woran daran
worauf darauf
woraus daraus
wobei dabei
wodurch dadurch
wofür dafür
wogegen dagegen
wohinter dahinter
worin darin
womit damit
wonach danach
worum darum
worüber darüber
worunter darunter
wovon davon
wovor davor
wozu dazu
wozwischen dazwischen

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be a binding r. So worum is pronounced "wo-rum", not "wor-um".

Verbs: Preterite updated 2021-02-15

When is the Präteritum used?

The Präteritum (also called Imperfekt) is used to describe past events. Its use is mostly limited to formal writing and formal speech. In informal writing and speech, the Perfekt (e.g. Ich habe geschlafen) tends to be preferred. Using the Präteritum in normal conversation may sound unnatural or pretentious.

Verbs mostly used in Präteritum

The following verbs are normally not used in the Perfekt. Use Präteritum instead.

English Verb Präteritum
to be sein ich war
to have haben ich hatte
to know wissen ich wusste
may dürfen ich durfte
can können ich konnte
must müssen ich musste
shall sollen ich sollte
want to wollen ich wollte

Möchten

The verb möchten (would like to/to want to), which is technically the subjunctive of mögen, does not have a preterite form. Instead, the preterite of wollen (to want [to]) is used.

How is the Präteritum formed?

Regular weak verbs

The Präteritum of regular weak verbs is formed by adding -(e)te, -(e)test, -(e)ten, or -(e)tet to the stem.

sagen (to say)

Present Präteritum
ich sage (I say) ich sagte (I said)
du sagst (you say) du sagtest (you said)
er/sie/es sagt (he/she/it says) er/sie/es sagte (he/she/it said)
wir sagen (we say) wir sagten (we said)
ihr sagt (you say) ihr sagtet (you said)
sie/Sie sagen (they/you say) sie/Sie sagten (they/you said)

Irregular weak verbs

Some weak verbs, although generally regular, have a slightly irregular verb stem in the Präteritum. These are mostly modal verbs. Be sure not to use the umlaut in the Präteritum for these, as that will change it to the Konjunktiv II (subjunctive) mood.

The endings will be the same as for other weak verbs.

  • haben - ich hatte, du hattest, …
  • können - ich konnte, du konntest, …
  • müssen - ich musste, du musstest, …
  • dürfen - ich durfte, du durftest, …

Strong verbs

To form the Präteritum of strong verbs, you need to find the modified verb stem first. Google "German irregular verbs" to get a list.

To this modified stem, you add the following endings:

Person Ending
ich -
du -st
er/sie/es -
wir -en
ihr -t
sie/Sie -en

Notice that these are the same endings as for the modal verbs in the present tense. First and third person are the same in singular and plural.

finden (to find)

Present Präteritum
ich finde (I find) ich fand (I found)
du findest (you find) du fandest (you found)
er/sie/es findet (he/she/it finds) er/sie/es fand (he/she/it found)
wir finden (we find) wir fanden (we found)
ihr findet (you find) ihr fandet (you found)
sie/Sie finden (they/you find) sie/Sie fanden (they/you found)

sein (to be)

Present Präteritum
ich bin (I am) ich war (I was)
du bist (you are) du warst (you were)
er/sie/es ist (he/she/it is) er/sie/es war (he/she/it was)
wir sind (we are) wir waren (we were)
ihr seid (you are) ihr wart (you were)
sie/Sie sind (they/you are) sie/Sie waren (they/you were)

Adverbs B updated 2019-04-18

Trotzdem vs. obwohl

Obwohl translates to "although", while trotzdem translates to "however/nevertheless".

  • Ich bin müde, obwohl ich Kaffee getrunken habe. (I'm tired, although I drank coffee.)
  • Ich habe Kaffee getrunken. Trotzdem bin ich müde. (I drank coffee. Nevertheless, I'm tired.)

Trotzdem is an adverb. It is part of a sentence and will replace the subject if it appears in the first position.

Obwohl is a subordinating conjunction. It will send the verb to the last position. See the lesson "Conjunctions" for more details.

Darum, deshalb, deswegen

These three adverbs are synonymous. They can be used interchangeably.

The conjunctions weil and denn are used in the form "Statement, weil/denn Reason".

  • Ich bin müde, weil ich nicht geschlafen habe. (subordinating conjunction)
  • Ich bin müde, denn ich habe nicht geschlafen. (coordinating conjunction)

Darum and its sisters are used in the form "Reason, darum Statement" (or "Statement, darum Result").

  • Ich habe nicht geschlafen. Darum bin ich müde.

Womit? Damit!

Many prepositions can be combined with wo- and da-. Da roughly translates to "that" here, wo normally to "what" (not "where" which is its normal meaning).

wo- da-
woran daran
worauf darauf
woraus daraus
wobei dabei
wodurch dadurch
wofür dafür
wogegen dagegen
wohinter dahinter
worin darin
womit damit
wonach danach
worum darum
worüber darüber
worunter darunter
wovon davon
wovor davor
wozu dazu
wozwischen dazwischen

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be a binding r. So worum is pronounced "wo-rum", not "wor-um".

Weather updated 2018-10-25

Gewitter

Das Gewitter refers to bad weather with lightning and thunder, not necessarily to strong winds. Hence, we do not accept the translation "storm" in this course.

Feelings updated 2021-10-07

Long and short vowels

Which sounds are there?

In German, every vowel can be long or short. The short one often sounds more open than the long one.

The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is given for the geeks among you :) But you can also copy/paste one of these symbols into Wikipedia to get an in-depth explanation of it (with sound!).

vowel short IPA long IPA
a Mann /a/ Bahn /aː/
ä Bälle /ɛ/ Käse /ɛː/
e rennen /ɛ/ Beere /eː/
i Mitte /ɪ/ ziehen /iː/
o oft /ɔ/ ohne /oː/
ö Hölle /œ/ schön /øː/
u Mutter /ʊ/ Buch /uː/
ü Müll /ʏ/ Bücher /yː/

You can also google "german sounds" for a longer introduction to German sounds.

When is a vowel short or long?

German has a range of spelling convention which will clearly show whether a vowel is short or long:

A vowel before a double consonant will be short:

  • Mann, denn, Mutter, Bälle, backen, Pizza, Katze

Note that instead of "zz" (which only occurs in the Italian "Pizza"), German uses tz. Instead of "kk", we use ck.

There are also some signals that clearly show the vowel is long.

Sometimes, the vowel will be doubled:

  • paar, Beere, Boot, … (this only happens with a/e/o)

There might be a silent h behind the vowel:

  • fahren, zählen, sehen, ihr, ohne, höher, Uhr, Stühle, …

Note that if you read the list above, you should not hear a single h sound. It is geh|en, not ge|hen.

For i, it is more common to have an -e after it (sometimes even -eh):

  • die, Biene, spielen, sieben, Beziehung, …

Again, the h will be silent: Be|zieh|ung, not Be|zie|hung.

But sometimes, there will not be a signal.

The following examples have an unmarked long vowel:

  • Buch, da, Abend, wo, Not, Zitrone, …

And here are some short ones:

  • an, Onkel, un-, Mama, Hälfte, Zitrone, …

For these, you just have to trust your language feeling, it will normally not be a big problem :)

Adjectives 2 updated 2019-04-18

Adjective endings

When an adjective comes before a noun, its ending will change according to this noun.

  • Die Katze ist alt.

  • Das ist eine alte Katze.

Article + Adjective

You can think of the adjective endings as "markers", that kind of mark what part of speech the adjective belongs to.

Nominative

Remember that the nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence. These are the nominative adjectives:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der rote Hut
ein roter Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe

While that might look a bit chaotic, there is not so much going on:

1) Masculine: Either the article, or the adjective must have the -r ending. The same goes for neuter and -s

  • Der kleine Hund spielt.
  • Ein kleiner Hund spielt.

2) Feminine and Plural end in -e. If you add an article, you also have to add an -n.

  • Die alte Katze schläft.
  • Alte Katzen schlafen.
  • Die alten Katzen schlafen.
  • Das sind keine alten Katzen.

Communication 1 updated 2021-02-15

Phones and cellphones

Believe it or not, people still use landline phones, especially in business contexts. A (tele)phone can be a cellphone or a landline phone. The word (tele)phone is to the word cellphone what the word pet is to the word dog, i.e. generic vs. specific.

  • the tele(phone) = das Telefon

  • the cellphone (the mobile phone) = das Handy / das Mobiltelefon

Regardless of whether you always refer to your cellphone as a phone, in this course, you will not be able to use (tele)phone/Telefon and cellphone/Handy interchangeably.

Rufen, anrufen

Rufen translates to "call":

  • Ich rufe meinen Hund. (I call my dog.)

The word used for calling via phone is anrufen:

  • Ich rufe meinen Bruder an. (I call my brother.)

Because people used to call the police long before phones existed, German uses rufen for this:

  • Ich ruf(e) die Polizei!!

Informationen

Unlike English, the German word die Information has a singular and a plural form.

Fernseher, Fernsehen

Der Fernseher refers to a TV set. Das Fernsehen refers to TV in general.

  • Ich habe gestern einen Fernseher gekauft. (I bought a TV yesterday.)
  • Ich bin im Fernsehen! (I'm on TV!)

"Ich bin im Fernseher!" would mean "I'm inside the TV set!".

Fernsehen, frühstücken

  • Ich sehe fern. Ich habe ferngesehen.
  • Ich frühstücke. Ich habe gefrühstückt.

Why does one split, but not the other?

Sehen is interpreted as a verb by itself. Thus, fern is interpreted as the prefix. Because it is emphasized, it will split off. Because it splits off, the -ge- of the participle will end up inside the word.

Stücken is not a verb. Frühstücken is a verb that was created from the noun das Frühstück. Hence, the first syllable, although emphasized, will not split off.

Verbs Future 2 updated 2021-02-15

Werden + Infinitiv = Futur

German normally uses the present tense to indicate the future.

  • Ich gehe morgen ins Kino. (I will go to the movies tomorrow.)

On some occasions (for example when making promises or predictions), German does use a future tense. It is very similar to the one in English.

The future tense consists of a conjugated form of werden in the present tense and an infinitive (the base form of the verb).

German English
ich werde spielen I will play
du wirst spielen you will play
er/sie/es wird spielen he/she/it will play
wir werden spielen we will play
ihr werdet spielen you will play
sie/Sie werden spielen they/you will play

Depending on the context, ich werde spielen translates to "I will play" or "I am going to play". In German, there is no distinction between "will" and "going to".

Be aware that the German verb wollen (to want) is a false friend of the English "will":

  • Ich will spielen! (I want to play!)

Werden has three different functions

Using werden can be confusing for learners. However, there are clear distinctions between its three main uses:

Werden + adjective/noun = "to become"

If werden is used in combination with an adjective or noun, the meaning will be "to become" or "to get":

  • Sie wird Mutter. (She's becoming a mother.)
  • Ich werde müde. (I'm getting tired.)

The German word bekommen is a confusing false friend to "become":

  • Sie bekommt eine Tochter. (She's getting a daughter.)

Werden + Infinitiv = Futur

This case is explained above.

Werden + past participle = passive

If used in combination with a participle, werden creates one type of passive:

  • Der Taxifahrer fährt den Fahrgast. (The taxi driver drives the passenger.)
  • Der Fahrgast wird gefahren. (The passenger is being driven.)

Internet & Social Media updated 2021-02-15

Die Seite

Die Seite can mean "the side" or "the page", depending on context.

  • Ich stehe auf der anderen Seite. (I am standing on the other side.)
  • Ich lese die Seite. (I read the page.)

In the context of the internet, it refers to a web page, as well as to a web site.

WLAN

WLAN is pronounced [ˈveːlaːn] in German. Unfortunately, the computer voice of the German course refuses to acknowledge this, and insists on pronouncing it wrong.

Drucken vs. drücken

Drucken means "to print". The machine commonly used for that is der Drucker.

  • Ich muss noch zehn Seiten drucken! (I have to print ten more pages!)

Drücken means "to press". Der Drücker may refer to an electric button, or to a hug.

  • Der Drücker am Aufzug ist kaputt. (The button of the lift is broken.)
  • Drücker! (Hugs!)

Verbs: Past Perfect updated 2021-02-15

Past perfect

When is the past perfect used?

The past perfect is used to describe past events, more specifically events that happened way back in the past or any time before another event in the past.

past perfect preterite
Ich hatte ihn schon gesehen, als er mich sah
I had already seen him when he saw me

How is the past perfect formed?

The past perfect is formed almost the same way as the Perfekt. The only difference is that the helper verb will be in the past tense:

  • Ich habe gegessen. (I have eaten.)
  • Ich hatte gegessen. (I had eaten.)

  • Ich bin geschwommen. (I have swum.)

  • Ich war geschwommen. (I had swum.)

How to end up with the right participle?

Refer to the "Perfect" lesson in order to review how to form the perfect participle that goes with it.

Verbs: Future Perfect updated 2021-02-15

Future Perfect

The future perfect talks about actions that will have been completed in the future. It's used pretty much like the English future perfect, but it's formed slightly differently.

The future perfect consists of the future tense of the auxiliary verb haben or sein, and the past participle of the main verb.

Haben vs. sein

The vast majority of verbs take haben. Verbs that take sein have to be intransitive, i.e. they can't take an object, and they have to indicate a change of position or condition. sein (to be), bleiben (to stay), and passieren (to happen) take sein even though they don't indicate a change of position or condition.

Please refer to the "Perfect" lesson to review how to form the participle, and for more details on when to use haben or sein.

Future Perfect with haben

essen (to eat):

The auxiliary verb that goes with essen is haben. All you need to do is form the future tense of haben (ich werde haben) and add the past participle of the main verb essen (gegessen) to the left of haben.

German English
ich werde gegessen haben I will have eaten
du wirst gegessen haben you will have eaten
er/sie/es wird gegessen haben he/she/it will have eaten
wir werden gegessen haben we will have eaten
ihr werdet gegessen haben you will have eaten
sie werden gegessen haben they will have eaten
Sie werden gegessen haben you will have eaten

Future Perfect with sein

gehen (to leave/to go):

The auxiliary verb that goes with gehen is sein. All you need to do is form the future tense of sein (ich werde sein) and add the past participle of the main verb gehen (gegangen) to the left of sein.

German English
ich werde gegangen sein I will have left
du wirst gegangen sein you will have left
er/sie/es wird gegangen sein he/she/it will have left
wir werden gegangen sein we will have left
ihr werdet gegangen sein you will have left
sie werden gegangen sein they will have left
Sie werden gegangen sein you will have left

People 2 updated 2021-02-15

Verein

Der Verein (the r is silent) is something between a club and a society. It is very common in Germany: There are almost 600,000 eingetragene Vereine (publicly registered associations) in Germany. They bear the abbreviation e.V..

A Verein might help the homeless, offer tennis lessons, dance together, among many other activities.

Man

In English, you can say "you can say" or "one can say". In German, man is commonly used for this purpose. It does not imply that only male people are included, think of it like the English "man" as in "mankind".

Grammatically, it works exactly like er:

  • Er schläft nicht auf der Küche. (He does not sleep in the kitchen)
  • Man schläft nicht in der Küche! (One does not sleep in the kitchen!)

Ein paar vs. ein Paar

Ein paar (lowercase p) means a few, some or a couple (of) (only in the sense of at least two, not exactly two!).

Ein Paar (uppercase P) means a pair (of) and is only used for things that typically come in pairs of two, e.g. ein Paar Schuhe (a pair of shoes).

So this is quite similar to English "a couple" (a pair) vs. "a couple of" (some).

Common Phrases 2 updated 2019-02-20

Naja, na und, na sowas

Na appears in some short interjections or phrases:

Example English
naja "Was ist das Problem?" — "Naja, dein Hund stinkt." Well…
na und "Dein Hund stinkt." — "Na und?" so what?
na klar "Stinkt dein Hund?" — "Na klar!" of course!
na sowas "Dein Hund tanzt" — "Na sowas!" Oh wow!

Verbs Reflexive updated 2021-02-15

Reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs are pretty common in many European languages, but in comparison are rather rare in English:

  • He hurt himself.
  • She found herself.

In German, they are more frequent. Sometimes, they make perfect sense:

  • Ich wasche mich. ("I wash myself", as opposed to my dog)

But often, the reason for using this form is lost in history, and the verb just has to be learned as is:

  • Ich befinde mich im Garten. ("I'm in the garden", literally "I find myself in the garden")
  • Sie setzt sich hin. ("She sits down", lit. "She seats herself")
  • Ich erinnere mich nicht. ("I don't remember" (myself))

Verb objects

Remember that verbs often have a "direct object". This will be in the accusative case:

  • Der Mann isst einen Apfel.

Some verbs have an additional "indirect object", which will be in the dative case:

  • Der Mann gibt dem Kind einen Apfel. (The man gives an apple to the child.)

The reflexive pronoun will take the place of one of these objects.

Replacing the "lost" object

Because the reflexive part takes up the object, some reflexive verbs need a preposition to go with them. This preposition has to be learned together with the verb.

  • sich interessieren für (to have an interest in)
  • sich freuen auf (to look forward to)
  • sich freuen über (to be happy about)
  • sich kümmern um (to care for)
  • sich treffen mit (to meet with)

Accusative reflexive verbs

In most reflexive verbs, the direct object gets replaced by the reflexive pronoun. Thus, use the accusative versions.

  • Ich rasiere mich. ("I shave", literally "I shave myself")

Dative reflexive verbs

If the verb already has a direct (accusative) object, the reflexive pronoun will be in the dative case:

First, consider this example (mich is in the accusative):

  • Ich wasche mich. (I wash, literally "I wash myself")

In the next example, "die Haare" is the Accusative object. Hence, the reflexive pronoun is in the dative ("mir"):

  • Ich wasche mir die Haare. ("I wash my hair", literally "I wash the hairs to myself")

Here are some verbs with dative reflexive pronouns:

  • Ich wünsche mir einen Hund. (I wish for a dog.)
  • Ich sehe mir den Film an. (I watch the movie.)
  • Ich habe mir das Bein gebrochen. (I broke my leg.)

Reflexive pronouns

Here is a review of the normal pronouns:

nom. acc. dat.
ich mich mir
du dich dir
er/sie/es ihn/sie/es ihm/ihr/ihm
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie sie/Sie ihnen/Ihnen

Notice that for wir and ihr, accusative and dative do not differ.

Here are the accusative and dative reflexive pronouns:

nom. acc. refl. dat. refl.
ich mich mir
du dich dir
er/sie/es sich sich
wir uns uns
ihr euch euch
sie/Sie sich sich

The reflexive pronoun for the third person (singular and plural) is sich. Otherwise, they don't differ from their non-reflexive counterparts.

This means that if you see a sentence such as:

  • Er wäscht ihm die Füße.

It must be a different person: He washes the feet of somebody else. If it were his own feet, the sentence would be:

  • Er wäscht sich die Füße.

Communication 2 updated 2021-02-15

Post

Die Post has several meanings in German.

It can refer to the mail in your mailbox:

  • Ist die Post schon da? (Has the mail arrived yet?)

It can also refer to the post office:

  • Gehst du heute zur Post? (Are you going to the post office today?)

Or, it can refer to the mail company (which used to be state run in Germany):

  • Die Post hat die Gebühren erhöht. (The mail company raised their fees.)

Business 1 updated 2021-02-15

Fabrik

Don't confuse die Fabrik (the manufacturing plant) with the English word "fabric". The former is the place where something is fabricated, the latter is the fabricated product of the world's first manufacturing plants (hence the name).

In addition, die Fabrik is stressed on the last syllable.

Language updated 2021-02-15

Geschichte

In German, the words for "story" and "history" are the same (just as in Spanish).

However, they are used differently. When used with an article, it generally refers to a story:

  • Hast du die Geschichte gelesen? (Did you read the story?)

Most of the time, when referring to history, there won't be an article:

  • Ich habe Geschichte studiert. (I studied history at university.)

In addition, only "story" will have a plural version:

  • Er erzählt lustige Geschichten. (He tells funny stories.)

Money updated 2021-02-15

Euro or Euros?

In German, the singular is Euro and the plural is usually Euro as well. As a rule of thumb, use Euro when talking about a specific amount, e.g. 200 Euro.

In some contexts, the form Euros is used as well. For instance, you can say Euros to refer to individual euro coins, an unquantified amount of euros, or euros as opposed to a different currency, e.g.:

  • Ich habe hundert Schweizer Franken, aber keine Euros (I have a hundred Swiss francs but no euros).

Many native speakers use either plural form regardless of context.

In English, either plural form is perfectly fine. The plural form euro tends to be preferred in the Republic of Ireland, and the plural form euros tends to preferred pretty much anywhere else. Originally, the plural form euro was supposed to be used in official EU documents, but that's no longer the case.

Abstract Objects 1 updated 2021-02-15

Drucken vs. drücken

Drucken means "to print". The machine commonly used for that is der Drucker.

  • Ich muss noch zehn Seiten drucken! (I have to print ten more pages!)

  • Der Drucker ist kaputt! (The printer is broken!)

Drücken means "to press". Der Drücker may refer to an electric button, or to a hug.

  • Der Drücker am Aufzug ist kaputt. (The button of the lift is broken.)
  • Drücker! (Hugs!)

Slightly confusingly, der Druck can refer to "pressure", but also to a "print".

  • Mach keinen Druck! (Don't create stress!)
  • Der Druck ist schön. (The print is nice.)

Friends updated 2021-10-07

The third case.

German has four cases. You already learned two so far, nominative and accusative.

Nominative is used for sentence subjects.

Accusative is mostly used for sentence objects. Some prepositions will use accusative, too.

The third important case is "dative".

Dative pronouns

Here are the first three dative pronouns for you, together with the nominative and accusative counterparts:

Nom. Akk. Dat.
ich mich mir
du dich dir
sie (fem.) sie ihr

What is dative for?

As the accusative, the dative case has several functions.

Some prepositions go with dative:

  • mit, zu, aus, von, bei

  • Komm mit mir! (Come with me!)

  • Ich gehe zu ihr. (I go to her.)

For most verbs, the object is in the accusative case:

  • Ich sehe dich. (I see you.)

A few verbs use the dative instead:

  • Ich helfe dir. (I help you.)
  • Ich danke dir. (I thank you.)

Some verbs have two objects. The one identifying the "other person involved in a transaction" will also be in dative:

  • Ich habe einen Hund. (I have a dog.)
  • Ich gebe dir einen Hund. (I give you a dog.)

These three cases will appear in most sentences, so take your time to get a feeling for them.

There is a fourth case (genitive), but it is not used a lot.

Telling the time

Germans mostly use a system similar to English. There is one important and confusing difference: While English uses "half past seven", German will say "half eight".

Time
10:00 zehn (Uhr)
10:05 fünf nach zehn
10:15 viertel nach zehn
10:30 halb elf
10:45 viertel vor elf
10:55 fünf vor elf

In addition, the 25 and 35 minutes will refer to the half hour:

Time
10:25 fünf vor halb elf
10:35 fünf nach halb elf

This colloquial system only uses hours from one to twelve.

German official time uses hours from zero to 24:

Time
10:12 zehn Uhr zwölf
22:50 zweiundzwanzig Uhr fünfzig

Komm!

Similar to English, the imperative omits the pronoun. You will learn more about this later. For now, just remember that to say "Come (on)!", German uses Komm! (not kommst, as you might have suspected).

Animals 2 updated 2021-02-15

Affen

In German, der Affe may refer to all primates, or to all primates excluding lemurs.

In everyday English, "apes" tend to be distinguished from other primates, most of which are referred to as "monkeys". German does not make this distinction. If you want to refer to apes only, you can use the word Menschenaffen.

Kamele

Das Kamel is stressed on the last syllable: [kaˈmeːl]. Unfortunately, Duolingo's computer voice has other ideas about this. When you're in Cologne, don't confuse these adorable, but weighty animals with Kamelle ([kaˈmɛlə], caramels traditionally thrown around during Karneval).

Verbs: Present 3 updated 2021-02-15

Telefonieren, anrufen

Telefonieren does not have an object (it is "intransitive"). Hence, you need a preposition for the other person:

  • Ich telefoniere mit meiner Mutter. (I'm on the phone with my mother.)

On the other hand, anrufen has an accusative object:

  • Ich rufe meine Mutter an. (I call my mother.)

Remember that for the police, you would use rufen (without the an-):

  • Ruf die Polizei! (Call the police!)

Wechseln, tauschen

Tauschen generally means to swap, or to change something:

  • Komm, wir tauschen unsere Hüte! (Come, we swap our hats!)

Austauschen or (aus)wechseln mean to exchange/substitute:

  • Er tauscht die Batterien aus. (He exchanges the batteries.)
  • Er wechselt die Batterien (aus).

Wechseln by itself can also mean "to switch/change":

  • Er wechselt den Fußballverein. (He switches the soccer club.)
  • Er wechselt die Socken. (He changes his socks.)

This is also the word used for changing money:

  • Ich muss noch Geld wechseln. (I have to change money first.)

Verbs Future 3 updated 2021-02-15

Drucken vs. drücken

Drucken means "to print". The machine commonly used for that is der Drucker.

  • Ich muss noch zehn Seiten drucken! (I have to print ten more pages!)

  • Der Drucker ist kaputt! (The printer is broken!)

Drücken means "to press". Der Drücker may refer to an electric button, or to a hug.

  • Der Drücker am Aufzug ist kaputt. (The button of the lift is broken.)
  • Drücker! (Hugs!)

Slightly confusingly, der Druck can refer to "pressure", but also to a "print".

  • Mach keinen Druck! (Don't create stress!)
  • Der Druck ist schön. (The print is nice.)

Verbs: Conditional updated 2021-02-15

Conditional mood

The conditional mood is mostly used for wishes or unreal situations.

  • I wish I had a parrot!
  • If I were you, I would sleep more.

Use würde for most verbs

Where English uses would, German uses forms of würde:

German English
ich würde spielen I would play
du würdest spielen you would play
er/sie/es würde spielen he/she/it would play
wir würden spielen we would play
ihr würdet spielen you would play
sie/Sie würden spielen they/you would play

Some verbs have their own forms

Sometimes, English uses special forms for the Conditional. These generally look like Simple Past forms:

  • Yesterday, I had a dream.
  • I wish I had a dream.

In German, these two forms are also similar. However, German normally adds an umlaut change (and occasional -e):

person Präteritum Conditional
ich war wäre
du warst wär(e)st
er/sie/es war wäre
wir waren wären
ihr wart wär(e)t
sie/Sie waren wären

Apart from the sein, haben and the modal verbs, only a few verbs are still conjugated directly. For most verbs, this is now unusual, and considered old-fashioned. Use würde + infinitive instead.

To show you the pattern, here are the forms for haben (to have), dürfen (may) and geben (to give):

person haben dürfen geben
(Präteritum: ich) (hatte) (durfte) (gab)
ich hätte dürfte gäbe
du hättest dürftest gäbst
er/sie/es hätte dürfte gäbe
wir hätten dürften gäben
ihr hättet dürftet gäbt
sie/Sie hätten dürften gäben

For the other modal verbs, the forms for ich are:

  • müssen - müsste
  • wollen - wollte (no umlaut change!)
  • sollen - sollte (also no umlaut change)

Here are some other verbs that use their own form for the Conditional:

  • gehen (to go) - ginge
  • wissen (to know) - wüsste
  • wünschen (to wish) - wünschte
  • tun (to do) - täte
  • brauchen (to need) - bräuchte

Again, for most other verbs, use würde + infinitive.

Math updated 2018-10-25

Equals

There are several ways to talk about equations:

  • Vier plus drei macht sieben.
  • Zwei plus zwei ist vier.
  • Eins plus fünf (ist) gleich sechs.
  • Sieben plus acht ergibt fünfzehn.

These are all equivalent (ha!).

Abstract Objects 2 updated 2021-02-15

Party, Partei

Die Party, an English loanword, refers to a celebration.

A political party will be die Partei.

Colors updated 2021-02-15

Adjective endings

When an adjective comes before a noun, its ending will change according to this noun.

  • Die Katze ist alt.

  • Das ist eine alte Katze.

Article + Adjective

You can think of the adjective endings as "markers", that kind of mark what part of speech the adjective belongs to.

Nominative

Remember that Nominative is used for the subject of a sentence. These are the nominative adjectives:

gender article adjective noun
masc. der rote Hut
ein roter Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe

While that might look a bit chaotic, there is not so much going on:

1) Masculine: Either the article, or the adjective must have the -r ending. The same goes for neuter and -s.

  • Der kleine Hund spielt.
  • Ein kleiner Hund spielt.

2) Feminine and Plural end in -e. If you add an article, you also have to add an -n.

  • Die alte Katze schläft.
  • Alte Katzen schlafen.
  • Die alten Katzen schlafen.
  • Das sind keine alten Katzen.
Accusative

Do you remember that quite often, the accusative looks like the nominative? Specifically, only the articles for masculine nouns change.

The same goes for the adjectives. The accusative endings are the same as for Nominative; the only exception is for masculine nouns. The changes are marked in bold in the table below.

3) Masculine accusative: adjective ends in -en

  • Die alte Katze schläft. Der alte Mann sieht die alte Katze (no change)
  • Die alte Katze sieht den alten Mann.
gender article adjective noun
masc. den roten Hut
einen roten Hut
neut. das rote Hemd
ein rotes Hemd
fem. die rote Rose
eine rote Rose
Plural die roten Schuhe
keine roten Schuhe
- rote Schuhe
Dative

Dative, as always, is even simpler.

4) Dative: all adjectives get an -en ending

  • Der Hund mit der roten Nase schläft. (The dog with the red nose is sleeping.)
gender article adjective noun
masc. dem roten Hut
einem roten Hut
neut. dem roten Hemd
einem roten Hemd
fem. der roten Rose
einer roten Rose
Plural den roten Schuhen
keinen roten Schuhen
- roten Schuhen

Remember that in dative,

  • masculine/neuter articles end in -m
  • feminine articles end in -r
  • plural articles end in -n
  • and plural nouns (almost) always end in -n.

Verbs: Conditional Perfect updated 2021-02-15

Conditional Perfect

Conditional Perfect works just as normal Perfect, but uses the conditional form of haben instead. So,

  • Ich habe ihn gesehen.

becomes

  • Ich hätte ihn gesehen.

For verbs that use sein instead, use the conditional form of sein:

  • Ich bin Auto gefahren.

becomes

  • Ich wäre Auto gefahren.

Be aware that in some verbs, such as behalten, verlassen, erfahren, the Participle looks like the Infinitive. Don't let that confuse you, always use the Participle!

Occupation updated 2021-02-15

Student or Schüler?

A Student is a university student and a Schüler is a pupil/student at a primary, secondary or high school. Students attending other types of schools such as language or dancing schools may also be called Schüler.

Dropping articles

When talking about your or someone else's profession in sentences such as I'm a teacher or She's a judge, German speakers usually drop the indefinite article (ein/eine). It sounds more natural to say Ich bin Lehrer and Sie ist Richterin than Ich bin ein Lehrer and Sie ist eine Richterin. This rule also applies to students.

If you add an adjective, you can't drop the article. Er ist ein schlechter Arzt (He's a bad doctor) is correct, but Er ist schlechter Arzt is not.

Also note that you can't drop the definite article (der/die/das).

Male and female variants

The grammatical gender usually matches the biological sex of the person you're referring to, i.e. the word that refers to a male baker is grammatically masculine, and the word that refers to a female baker is grammatically feminine. In the vast majority of cases, the female variant is formed by simply adding the suffix -in to the male variant, e.g. der Bäcker becomes die Bäckerin and der Schüler (the pupil) becomes die Schülerin.

The plural of the female variant is formed by adding the suffix -innen to the singular of the male variant, e.g. die Bäckerinnen and die Schülerinnen.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, the plural comes with an umlauted stem vowel. This applies to the female variant as well, e.g. der Koch becomes die Köche and die Köchin becomes die Köchinnen.

Verbs Future 4 updated 2021-02-15

The power of machen

Machen (to do) is a very versatile word. Often, when you don't know the word for an action, you can somehow use machen do describe it. Often, there is even an existing word combination:

Here are some examples. The "higher-level" word is in brackets.

  • aufmachen (öffnen) — to open
  • zumachen (schließen) — to close
  • besser machen (verbessern) — to improve
  • wegmachen (entfernen) — to remove

As a fallback, it can help you to just continue speaking, even when you run the risk making up your own words:

  • Ich muss den Brief noch machen. (very bad German, but people will get what you mean)

As a general rule: It's better to speak bad German, than to stop speaking, just because you don't know how to say it well. Keep going, and learn from your mistakes.

Fake it, till you make it :)

Materials updated 2021-02-15

Plastik

Plastik is one of the few words that changes meaning, depending on which gender it is.

  • das Plastik (artificial material, normally from petroleum)
  • die Plastik (a word for "sculpture")

Holz, Wald, Forst

In English, "wood" can refer to a material, and to a forest.

In German, Holz only refers to the material. Der Wald is "the forest". We also have a word der Forst, but it only refers to a maintained forest (something like a garden for trees), where the trees are grown for commercial purposes.

Adjectives 3 updated 2019-04-18

Common adjective endings

-ig, -lich, -isch

Here are three common endings, which sound very similar:

  • -ig (roughly like -y in English): eindeutig, abhängig, …
  • -lich (roughly -ly in English): nützlich, möglich, persönlich, …
  • -isch (roughly -ic(al) in English): praktisch, logisch, …

The first two sound the same in regular speech (in some dialects, all three sound the same). You already encountered this with the numbers (zwanzig).

When you add an ending to the -ig adjectives, it will no longer sound like ch:

  • eindeutig: die eindeutige … (now sounds like g)
  • möglich: der mögliche … (still sounds like ch)

-bar

-bar often corresponds to "-(a)ble" in English:

  • sichtbar (visible)
  • verfügbar (available)

Yes, there are lots of bars with joke adjective names in Germany :)

-los, -voll

These correspond to English "-less" and "-ful".

  • hoffnungsvoll (hopeful)
  • hoffnungslos (hopeless)

-tion

In English, the "-tion" ending is pronounced "-shen". In German, it always becomes "-tsion". It will always be the emphasized syllable, and the word will always be feminine.

  • Kommunikation, Lektion, Nation

Similarly, der Patient will sound like "der Patsient".

When nouns ending in -tion are used in an adjective, the ending -al (or -ell) will be used. The resulting adjective will be pronounced on the last syllable:

  • international, rational, kommunal, sensationell, …

Qualifiers updated 2021-02-15

Superlative

Please refer to the lesson "Comparisons" for a table of comparative and superlative forms, especially how to form the irregular forms.

Superlative as an adverb

In the last lesson, you learned the comparative:

  • Der Hund ist alt. Die Katze ist älter.

As in English, there is also a superlative:

  • Der Papagei ist am ältesten. (The parrot is the oldest.)

  • Sie rennt am schnellsten. (She runs the fastest.)

Am ältesten works like an adverb (How is he? - the oldest; How does she run? the fastest). That means its endings will never change.

Superlative as an adjective

Like in English, you can also use superlatives as adjectives.

Remember that adjectives change their endings according to the noun, if they come before the noun:

  • Er ist der älteste Hund. (He is the oldest dog.)
  • Wir haben den ältesten Hund.

Now, consider these two sentences:

  • Mein Hund ist der älteste. (imagine a second "Hund" at the end)
  • Mein Hund ist am ältesten.

Both translate to "My dog is the oldest", and both are possible in German. The last one is more common though, and we recommend you only use this one for now.

On the other hand, you cannot say:

  • Er der am ältesten Hund. (This is wrong!!)

This is because you can't put an adverb in front of a noun. That's what adjectives are for.

Don't forget that with adjectives, you have to use the right ending to match with the noun:

  • Das ist die kleinste Katze der Welt! (This is the world's smallest cat!)
  • Wir geben der schönsten Katze einen Preis. (We give a prize to the most beautiful cat.)

As a rough guideline, use a form like die älteste, den ältesten, … before a noun, and am ältesten at the end of a sentence.

Ganz

As an adjective: easy

The word "ganz" has several functions in German. As an adjective, it means "whole":

  • Ich esse den ganzen Apfel. (I eat the whole apple.)

As an adverb: tricky!

As as adverb, it can intensify or de-intensify other words (depending on which other word you use).

Consider "very fast" vs. "quite fast" in English. "Very" is an intensifier, "quite" is a de-intensifier.

Here's a table to get an idea of the problem:

Intensifies De-Intensifies
schlecht gut
oben nett
vorne sympathisch
früh schön
sicher interessant
toll gern
furchtbar lustig
ok

Consider these examples:

  • Der Film war ganz gut. (The film was quite nice.)
  • Der Film war ganz toll! (The film was really great!)

You see the problem :) Ganz is tricky to use for beginners. For now, better use these two words instead:

  • ziemlich (always means "quite")
  • total (always means "really")

  • Der Film war total gut. (The film was really nice.)

  • Der Film war ziemlich toll. (The film was quite great.)

Arts updated 2021-02-15

Plastik

Plastik is one of the few words that changes meaning, depending on which gender it is.

  • das Plastik (artificial material, normally from petroleum)
  • die Plastik (a word for "sculpture")

Places 2 updated 2021-10-07

Bundesland

Germany is a Federal Republic (Bundesrepublik). It consists of 16 federal states, which have some degree of autonomy. These are called Bundesländer.

Pension

Die Pension has different meanings, depending on context. Here it means "guest house". It can also mean "retirement pay".

Passive Voice updated 2021-02-15

Passive with werden

In German, werden + perfect participle forms a passive:

  • Ich schreibe einen Brief. (I write a letter.)
  • Ein Brief wird geschrieben. (A letter is being written.)

Note that the accusative object of an active sentence (einen Brief) becomes the (nominative) subject of the passive version (ein Brief).

The passive is often used when the original subject is unknown or irrelevant:

  • Mein Handy wurde gestohlen! ("My phone was stolen!" — You don't know who did it.)
  • Mein Handy wurde repariert. ("My phone was fixed." — You don't care by whom.)

Werden has three different functions

Using werden can be confusing for learners. However, there are clear distinctions between its three main uses:

Werden + adjective/noun = "to become"

If werden is used in combination with an adjective or noun, the meaning will be "to become" or "to get":

  • Sie wird Mutter. (She's becoming a mother.)
  • Ich werde müde. (I'm getting tired.)

The German word bekommen is a confusing false friend to "become":

  • Sie bekommt eine Tochter. (She's getting a daughter.)

Werden + Infinitiv = Futur

Refer to the lesson "Future 2" for details.

Werden + past participle = passive

If used in combination with a participle, werden creates one type of passive:

  • Der Taxifahrer fährt den Fahrgast. (The taxi driver drives the passenger.)
  • Der Fahrgast wird gefahren. (The passenger is being driven.)

Dates 1 updated 2021-02-15

Days of the week

Earlier, the weekday started with Sunday:

English German
Sunday Sonntag (sun)
Monday Montag (moon)
Tuesday Dienstag (god "Tyr"?)
Wednesday Mittwoch (middle of week)
Thursday (Thor!) Donnerstag (thunder)
Friday Freitag (goddess Freya)
Saturday (Saturn) Samstag (sabbath)

However, we changed to Monday as the start of the week, which makes Mittwoch sound a bit silly now :)

Am, im, um

If you want to say "on Monday" and so on, that would be am Montag.

Here's a mnemonic to remember when to use which:

  • am Montag
  • um drei Uhr
  • im Juni

Grammar 3 updated 2021-02-15

Prepositions

Accusative prepositions

Accusative prepositions always trigger the accusative case.

Here are the most common ones: durch, für, gegen, ohne, um

Dative prepositions

Dative prepositions always trigger the dative case.

Here are the most common ones: aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu

Two-way prepositions

Two-way prepositions take the dative case or the accusative case, depending on the context.

This is an unusual, but central part of German grammar.

If there's movement from one place to another, use the accusative case.

  • Die Katze geht in die Küche. (The cat walks into the kitchen.)

If there's no movement, or if there's movement within a certain place, use the dative case.

  • Die Katze schläft in der Küche. (The cat sleeps in the kitchen.)
  • Die Katze geht in der Küche. (The cat walks within the kitchen.)

These prepositions can switch case: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen

When not to think about location change

Two-way prepositions are very common in everyday speech, so it's a good idea to practice them to fluency.

However, don't forget that for some prepositions, you don't have to decide:

Durch and um will always be accusative, although they might signify an activity without location change:

  • Das Kind rennt durch den Wald. (The child is running through the forest.)
  • Die Stühle stehen um den Tisch. (The chairs are standing around the table.)

Aus, von, zu will always be dative, although they might signify a location change.

  • Er kommt aus der Küche (He comes out of the kitchen.)
  • Ich fahre zur Arbeit. (I go to work.)
  • Ich komme von der Arbeit. (I come from work.)

Other uses for two-way prepositions

Some verbs use one of these prepositions in a way that is not about location. This is part of language change, where things get repurposed all the time.

Über will always trigger the accusative case:

  • Sie diskutieren über den Krieg. (They discuss the war.)

When used with these verbs, vor will always trigger the Dative:

  • Er warnt vor dem Hund. (He warns about the dog.)

An, in and auf are more complicated: in some verbs, they trigger the accusative, in others the dative. You'll just have to memorize these.

  • Er denkt an seinen Bruder. (He thinks of his brother.)
  • Er arbeitet an einem Film (He's working on a film.)

  • Ich warte auf den Bus. (I'm waiting for the bus.)

  • Der Film basiert auf meinem Leben. (The film is based on my life.)

Contractions

Some prepositions and articles can be contracted.

an + das ans
an + dem am
auf + das aufs
bei + dem beim
in + das ins
in + dem im
hinter + das hinters
über + das übers
um + das ums
unter + das unters
von + dem vom
vor + das vors
zu + dem zum
zu + der zur
  • Wir gehen ins Kino (We go to the cinema.)

If you would use "that" in English, you would not use a contraction:

  • In das Kino gehe ich nicht! (I won't go into that cinema!)

Preposition at the end of a sentence??

An important part of German grammar is that some verbs can split off their prefix. This often ends up at the end of a sentence. Some of these prefixes look exactly like a preposition.

So when you see a "preposition" at the end of a sentence, try to combine it with the verb. You might just have learned a new word :)

  • Sie macht die Lampe an. (anmachen means "turn on" here)

  • Ich denke nach. (nachdenken means "to think")

  • Pass auf dich auf! (aufpassen means "to take care")

  • Wann fährt der Zug ab? (abfahren means "to depart")

  • Nimm deinen Hut ab! (abnehmen means "to take off" in this context)

Unfortunately, the way Duolingo is built does not allow to selectively teach German sentence structure. We hope this will change soon :)

Zu Hause vs. nach Hause

Zu Hause means at home, and nach Hause means home (homewards, not at home). The -e at the end of zu Hause and nach Hause is an archaic dative ending, which is no longer used in modern German, but survives in certain fixed expressions.

  • Ich bin zu Hause. (I am at home.)

  • Ich gehe nach Hause. (I am walking home.)

Verbs: Conditional 2 updated 2021-02-15

Conditional mood

Please refer to lesson "Verbs: Conditional 1" to review to German's "Konjunktiv II" mood. This is normally formed by a form of würden + infinitive:

  • Wenn ich reich wäre, würde ich den ganzen Tag Deutsch lernen. (If I were rich, I would learn German all day.)

Konjunktiv I

German has another, lesser used form, the "Konjunktiv I". It is mostly used for marking indirect speech in newspapers:

  • Sänger: "Der Song ist gut!" (direct speech)
  • Der Sänger sagte, der Song sei gut. (indirect speech)

Therefore, only the third person (singular and plural) is commonly used.

Here are the forms of present tense and past tense (Präteritum), together with the two forms of Konjunktiv, to demonstrate the pattern. Forms in brackets are rarely used:

person present Konj I
ich habe (habe)
du hast (habest)
er/sie/es hat habe
wir haben (haben)
ihr habt (habet)
sie/Sie haben (haben)
person Präteritum Konj II
ich hatte hätte
du hattest hättest
er/sie/es hatte hätte
wir hatten hätten
ihr hattet hättet
sie/Sie hatten hätten

As you can see, Konjunktiv I is sometimes the same as the present tense form. In these cases, German uses the Konjunktiv II form:

  • Männer: "Wir haben Hunde!" (direct speech)
  • Die Männer sagten, sie hätten Hunde. (indirect speech; uses hätten instead of haben)

Here are some commonly used forms:

  • sein (to be) — er sei
  • haben (have) — er habe
  • müssen (must) — er müsse
  • können (can) — er könne
  • wollen (want) — er wolle

Fantasy & Science Fiction updated 2021-02-15

Der/Die Außerirdische: adjectival nouns

Some adjectives can turn into nouns in German. If they do so, they still change endings like any normal adjective:

  • deutsch (German) — der Deutsche
  • gefangen (captive) — der Gefangene
  • alt (old) — der Alte
  • außerirdisch (extraterrestrial) — der Außerirdische
  • verwandt (related) — der Verwandte

  • der deutsche Mann — der Deutsche

  • ein deutscher Mann — ein Deutscher
  • Ich kenne einen deutschen Mann — Ich kenne einen Deutschen.
  • eine deutsche Frau — eine Deutsche
  • der Hund der deutschen Frau — der Hund der Deutschen

… and so on.

Google "german adjectival nouns" for more information.

If you want, now would be a good time to review the adjective endings in earlier lessons :)

N-declension

Don't confuse adjectival nouns with nouns that follow the "n-declension". (See lesson "Dat. Case" for details)

For example, all other nouns for nationalities that end in -e follow the n-declension:

  • der Brite, der Chinese, der Ire, …

Relative Pronouns updated 2021-02-15

Relative clauses

In English, relative clauses look like this:

  • The girl who came to visit him was his aunt.
  • The man, whose daughter worked as a manager, came home.

In German, relative clauses are subordinate clauses. The verb moves from position 2 to the end.

  • Der Mann kauft Hundefutter. Ihm gehört der Hund. (The man buys dog food. The dog belongs to him.)
  • Der Mann, dem der Hund gehört, kauft Hundefutter. (The man to whom the dog belongs buys dog food.)

Relative clauses are always set off by commas from the rest of the sentence.

(There's no distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.)

Relative pronouns

The relative pronouns look like the definite articles, with the exception of the dative plural and the genitive forms.

The relative pronouns closely correspond to the personal pronouns they replace:

  • Das ist der Mann. Er hat einen Hund.
  • Das ist der Mann, der einen Hund hat.

  • Das sind die Bälle. Mit ihnen spielt er. (These are the balls. He plays with them.)

  • Das sind die Bälle, mit denen er spielt.
pers. pronoun rel. pronoun grammar
er der masc. (nom.)
es das neut. (nom.+acc.)
sie die fem./pl. (nom.+acc.)
ihn den masc. (acc.)
ihm dem masc.+neut. (dat.)
ihr der fem. (dat.)
ihnen denen pl. (dat.)

Relative pronouns can never be dropped.

Genitive relative clauses

The genitive version derives from the possessive pronoun:

  • Die Frau ist krank. Ihr Sohn hat einen Hund.
  • Die Frau, deren Sohn einen Hund hat, ist krank.

  • Der Mann mag Pizza. Seine Tochter kann singen. (The man likes pizza. His daughter can sing.)

  • Der Mann, dessen Tochter singen kann, mag Pizza.

Here, too, the possessive pronouns correspond somewhat to the relative pronouns:

poss. pronoun rel. pronoun grammar
sein(*) dessen masc./neut.
ihr(*) deren fem./pl.

The relative clause determines which pronoun to use

Be aware that the relevant case is in the relative clause, not the main clause:

  • Der Hund schläft. (Hund = nominative)
  • Ich mag den Hund. (Hund = accusative)
  • Der Hund, den ich mag, schläft. (use accusative relative pronoun)

The form you need to use is governed by the grammatical gender and number of the word that is being referred to (outside the relative clause), and the case is governed by the context of the relative clause.

Keep in mind that certain prepositions and verbs always trigger a certain case, e.g. the preposition mit always takes the dative case and so does the verb helfen.

  • Das Kind schläft. Die Frau hat ihm geholfen. (The kid sleeps. The woman helped him.)
  • Das Kind, dem die Frau geholfen hat, schläft.

German Culture updated 2021-02-15

What is a Wurst?

A Wurst is a sausage. It does not specifically refer to any kind of sausage. It could be a salami, chorizo, mortadella, frankfurter, etc.

Bratwurst specifically refers to a fried or grilled sausage.

Frequency updated 2021-02-15

Ob

Indirect questions are subordinate clauses in German:

  • Was machst du? (direct question, verb in position 2)
  • Ich weiß, was du machst! ("I know what you do!", verb at the end)

For questions with a question word, the question word starts the sentece, and the verb ends it.

For yes/no-questions, German uses ob as a placeholder (just like "whether" is used in English):

  • Gehst du ins Kino?
  • Er fragt, ob du ins Kino gehst.

Je … desto …

Je … desto … works roughly like "the … the …" in English:

  • The longer I learn German, the happier I become.
  • Je länger ich Deutsch lerne, desto glücklicher werde ich.

However, the sentence structure is unusual, when compared to English. For the above sentence, it is:

  • je + (comparison) (subject) (rest) (verb), desto (comparison) (verb) (subject) (rest)

The je part is a subordinate clause, so the verb will be at the end. Because the je+comparison is in the first position, the subject has to come immediately after, followed by the rest of the sentence.

The desto part is a main clause. The verb is in position 2, and desto+comparison are in the first position. This is not unusual in German, as you can put all kinds of elements in the first position:

Position 1 2 3 4 5
Ich esse morgen mit einem Freund zu Mittag.
Morgen esse ich mit einem Freund zu Mittag.
Mit einem Freund esse ich morgen zu Mittag.
Zu Mittag esse ich morgen mit einem Freund.

Notice how the verb is always in the second position. The subject is either at the beginning (the default), or directly behind the verb.

Mal

(-)mal can often be translated with "time(s)" in English:

German English
zehn mal ten times
manchmal sometimes
das erste Mal the first time

In addition, it has a function as a "modal particle". These are words that give a sentence an additional flavor, and can't be easily translated. Modal particles are almost never emphasized.

  • Komm mal nach Hause! (I'm impatient, come home!)
  • Kann ich mal vorbei? (Can I get through? I won't bother you for long.)

We don't teach modal particles in this course (because you can't translate them). But you will encounter mal schauen in this lesson, which roughly means "let's see".

Body 1 updated 2021-10-07

Hals

Der Hals refers to the whole connection between head and shoulders. German does have more specialized words for "neck" and "throat", but we normally use Hals for both.

Haare

Das Haar normally refers to a single hair. It can be used to refer to all the hair on someone's head, but is considered slightly outdated or poetic.

  • Seine Haare sind lang. (ok)
  • Sein Haar ist lang. (sounds a bit old)

Bein

Das Bein refers to the leg. It used to mean "bone" a long time ago. This meaning survives in some word combinations:

  • Elfenbein (ivory, literally "elephant bone")
  • Eisbein (pork knuckle, literally "ischias bone", because it referred to hip meat before)
  • Beinhaus (bone house)
  • Gebein(e) (a collection of bones)

Magen

Der Magen is the stomach, the part of your body that starts digestion. It is not commonly used to refer to the belly (der Bauch).

Brust

Die Brust can have several meanings, depending on context.

  • Komm an meine Brust! - This means the chest area. It will always be used in the singular.
  • Vögel haben keine Brüste. (Birds don't have breasts) - This refers to female breasts. It can be used in the singular.

Adverbs updated 2021-02-15

How do you like things in German?

Use the verb mögen to express that you like something or someone, and use the adverb gern(e) to express that you like doing something.

Mögen is used for things, animals, and people:

  • Ich mag Bier. (I like beer.)

  • Sie mag Katzen. (She likes cats.)

  • Wir mögen dich. (We like you.)

  • Ihr mögt Bücher. (You like books.)

Please refer to lesson "Present 1" for more details on mögen.

Gern(e) is used for verbs/activities:

  • Ich trinke gern(e) Bier. (I like to drink beer/I like drinking beer.)

  • Er spielt gern(e) Fußball. (He likes to play soccer/He likes playing soccer.)

  • Wir lesen gern(e) Bücher. (We like to read books/We like reading books.)

  • Sie schreibt gern(e) Briefe. (She likes to write letters/She likes writing letters.)

Position of gerne

If you're not sure where to put gern(e): It goes to the same position as oft (often).

  • Ich trinke oft Bier. (I drink beer often.)
  • Ich trinke gern Bier. (I like to drink beer.)

Gern/gerne, allein/alleine

What's the difference between gern and gerne? They're just variations of the same word. There's no difference in terms of meaning or style. You can use whichever you like best.

The same goes for allein(e).

Position of auch

Auch corresponds to English "also, too".

The positioning follows different rules in both languages. Soon you will learn more about the peculiarities of German sentence structure. For now, remember that auch takes roughly the same position as nicht. When both occur together, auch will come before nicht.

Consider these two examples to get a first idea about this:

  • Ich laufe. Du läufst auch. Er läuft nicht. Sie läuft auch nicht.

  • Ich komme aus China. Du kommst auch aus China. Er kommt nicht aus China. Sie kommt auch nicht aus China.

Here's one more adverb, to see how they work together:

  • Ich trinke oft Bier. Du trinkst auch oft Bier. Er trinkt nicht oft Bier. Sie trinkt auch nicht oft Bier.

For reasons that will become clearer soon, Sie kommt aus China auch. is not a valid sentence in German.

Numbers 2 updated 2021-10-07

German numbers

You learned earlier that the numbers from 1-19 are very similar to those in English.

This mostly continues in German, with one important quirk. Did you ever notice that the digits in numbers 13-19 are kind of "switched" in English? German continues that through to 99.

So 84 would be vier|und|acht|zig (literally, four and eighty).

This might take some getting used to, but at least it's consistent ;)

Hundert

For "100", people would usually just say hundert, not einhundert (as in English).

Huge numbers

There used to be two different systems for huge numbers, called "short scale" and "long scale". Unfortunately, German and American English ended up with different ones. British English used to use the long scale, but switched to short scale.

Number US English (short scale) German (long scale)
10^6 million Million
10^9 billion Milliarde
10^12 trillion Billion
10^15 quadrillion Billiarde
10^18 quintillion Trillion

(10^6 means a one with six zeros)

Numbers 3 updated 2021-10-07

Ordinal numbers

German ordinal numbers are pretty regular. The general rule is:

number range ending
1-19 -te
> 19 -ste
Irregular forms
1. erste
3. dritte
7. siebte

Ordinal numbers behave like adjectives, so their endings will change accordingly:

Er kennt den ersten Sänger.

Er ist am sechsten August geboren.

Ich bin seine tausendste Lehrerin.

Location updated 2021-10-07

Location

Hier, da, dort

When talking about locations in English, you can use here, there, this, and that to express that something is close or far away. In German the word da is commonly used when talking about locations. The good thing about da is, you don't have to worry about the distance! It can mean anything close or far away.

Let's look at a few examples:

  • Wir sind da. (We are here/there.)
  • Da ist ein Apfel. (Here/There is an apple.)

With hier (here) and dort (there) you can be more specific about the distance.

  • hier (here)
  • da (here/there)
  • dort (there)

You can also say da oben for "up there" and so on:

  • Die Katze ist da oben. (The cat is up there.)
  • Da hinten wohnt er. (He lives there in the back.)

Das hier

You can combine all of them with articles, and use them similar to this and that !

  • das hier (this)
  • das da (this/that)
  • das dort (that)

Many people use this with the other articles as well. Note that while all of the following constructs are commonly used in spoken language, they are not appropriate for written, formal language.

  • der/die/das hier (this)
  • der/die/das da (this/that)
  • der/die/das dort (that)

To refer to one specific thing, you can put a noun between the article and hier/da/dort.

For example:

  • Der Apfel da ist groß. (That apple is big.)
  • Die Katzen da sind süß. (Those cats are cute.)

Some people might add drüben. This translates to over there.

  • Der Apfel da drüben ist groß. (That apple over there is big.)
  • Die Katzen dort drüben sind süß. (Those cats over there are cute.)

Innen, drinnen

Innen and außen mostly refer to the inside and outside of objects.

Drinnen and draußen are normally only used for rooms (more generally, enclosed spaces that people can be in).

  • Die Wassermelone ist innen rot und außen grün. (The watermelon is red on the inside, and green on the outside.)
  • Drinnen ist es trocken, aber draußen regnet es. (Inside, it is dry, but outside it is raining.)

Medical updated 2021-10-07

What is a Pflaster?

Das Pflaster is a small adhesive bandage.

Depending on where you live, you may call it "Band-Aid", "plaster" or "Elastoplast" in English.

The German word Pflaster does not refer to a plaster cast. The German for plaster cast is der Gips(verband).

Education updated 2021-02-15

Student or Schüler?

A Student is a university student and a Schüler is a pupil/student at a primary, secondary or high school. Students attending other types of schools such as language or dancing schools may also be called Schüler.

A Hochschule is not a high school

Careful: a Hochschule is not a high school. Depending on the context, Hochschule is either an umbrella term that comprises Universitäten and Fachhochschulen, or it's a synonym for Fachhochschule.

A Universität is a full research university and a Fachhochschule (often just called Hochschule) is a university with a practical focus that offers Bachelor and Master degrees. PhD programmes may be offered in cooperation with other universities.

A Gymnasium is not a gym

In German, the word das Gymnasium refers to a university prep-school.

The German for a sports gym is die Turnhalle (used by schools and sports clubs) or das Fitnessstudio (commercial).

Science updated 2021-02-15

Motor, Motoren

Normally, nouns don't change the stress pattern when they change into the plural:

  • Elefant, Elefanten
  • Gelegenheit, Gelegenheiten

Nouns ending in -or are an exception. In the plural, the emphasis lands on the -or- syllable.

  • Doktor, Doktoren
  • Motor, Motoren

Dates 2 updated 2021-10-07

Monatlich

Just as in English you have "year/yearly", German has the same word pairs. In German, some of these have an umlaut change:

noun adjective
das Jahr jährlich
der Monat monatlich
der Tag täglich
die Stunde stündlich
die Minute minütlich
die Sekunde sekündlich

Why does monatlich not change? All others are emphasized on the syllable that changes. Monatlich is emphasized on the first syllable.

Seasons

The seasons in German are as follows:

English German
spring der Frühling
summer der Sommer
autumn der Herbst
winter der Winter

Herbst sounds similar to "harvest", and Frühling has früh (early) in it.

When you refer to seasons or months, you use im. Here's the mnemonic again that helps you remind which is which:

  • am Montag
  • um drei Uhr
  • im Juni

Feelings 2 updated 2021-10-07

Long and short vowels

Which sounds are there?

In German, every vowel can be long or short. The short one often sounds more open than the long one.

The IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) is given for the geeks among you :) But you can also copy/paste one of these symbols into Wikipedia to get an in-depth explanation of it (with sound!).

vowel short IPA long IPA
a Mann /a/ Bahn /aː/
ä Bälle /ɛ/ Käse /ɛː/
e rennen /ɛ/ Beere /eː/
i Mitte /ɪ/ ziehen /iː/
o oft /ɔ/ ohne /oː/
ö Hölle /œ/ schön /øː/
u Mutter /ʊ/ Buch /uː/
ü Müll /ʏ/ Bücher /yː/

You can also google "german sounds" for a longer introduction to German sounds.

When is a vowel short or long?

German has a range of spelling convention which will clearly show whether a vowel is short or long:

A vowel before a double consonant will be short:

  • Mann, denn, Mutter, Bälle, backen, Pizza, Katze

Note that instead of "zz" (which only occurs in the Italian "Pizza"), German uses tz. Instead of "kk", we use ck.

There are also some signals that clearly show the vowel is long.

Sometimes, the vowel will be doubled:

  • paar, Beere, Boot, … (this only happens with a/e/o)

There might be a silent h behind the vowel:

  • fahren, zählen, sehen, ihr, ohne, höher, Uhr, Stühle, …

Note that if you read the list above, you should not hear a single h sound. It is geh|en, not ge|hen.

For i, it is more common to have an -e after it (sometimes even -eh):

  • die, Biene, spielen, sieben, Beziehung, …

Again, the h will be silent: Be|zieh|ung, not Be|zie|hung.

But sometimes, there will not be a signal.

The following examples have an unmarked long vowel:

  • Buch, da, Abend, wo, Not, Zitrone, …

And here are some short ones:

  • an, Onkel, un-, Mama, Hälfte, Zitrone, …

For these, you just have to trust your language feeling, it will normally not be a big problem :)

Time updated 2021-10-07

Times of day

German uses a system similar to English:

English German
morning der Morgen am Morgen
- der Vormittag am Vormittag
noon der Mittag am Mittag
afternoon der Nachmittag am Nachmittag
evening der Abend am Abend
night die Nacht in der Nacht
midnight die Mitternacht um Mitternacht

It's generally pretty straightforward. Remember this mnemonic:

  • am Montag
  • um drei Uhr
  • im Juni

Am Montag, am Mittag. Just "at night there are different rules": in der Nacht and um Mitternacht are irregular.

All of these have an adverbial form:

  • morgens, vormittags, abends, nachts, …

Morgen am Morgen?

Similar to Spanish, the words for "tomorrow" and "morning" are the same in German. Unlike Spanish, German escapes this problem by choosing a different word when they clash.

Instead of morgen am Morgen or morgen morgens we say morgen früh.

Telling the time

Official time

In German, there are "official" and informal ways to say the time. Here's the official one (often used on radio and television):

  • dreizehn Uhr neun (literally, "thirteen o'clock nine")

Official time uses a 24 hour system, from zero to 24.

Don't confuse "hour" and Uhr (they are false friends):

English German
the hour die Stunde
o'clock Uhr

Die Uhr can also mean "clock" or "watch". Die Stunde can also mean "lesson" (which confusingly might not last one hour).

Informal time

In everyday life, people will often use informal time.

There are several systems, with two forms dominant. In many parts of Germany, this system is used:

Time English German
14:05 five past two fünf nach zwei
14:10 ten past two zehn nach zwei
14:15 a quarter past two Viertel nach zwei
14:20 twenty past two zwanzig nach zwei
14:25 twenty-five past two fünf vor halb drei
14:30 half past two halb drei
14:35 thirty-five past two fünf nach halb drei
14:40 twenty to three zwanzig vor drei
14:45 a quarter to three Viertel vor drei
14:50 ten to three zehn vor drei
14:55 five to three fünf vor drei

Yes, the part in the middle is very confusing :) German considers the next hour to be half full. In addition, German relates "X:25" and "X:35" to the half hour.

Body 2 updated 2021-02-15

Hirn, Gehirn

The words das Gehirn und das Hirn are used more or less interchangeably in German.

Nature 2 updated 2021-10-07

Der See vs. die See

Der See means "the lake". Die See means "the sea, the ocean". It is less commonly used. German uses more often das Meer or der Ozean for the latter.

Check out Bodensee and Nordsee on Google Maps and see if you can figure out which one is feminine and which one is masculine :)

Der Strand

Der Strand means "the beach". This meaning still survives in the English adjective "stranded" (literally, ended up on a lonely beach).

Holz, Wald, Forst

In English, "wood" can refer to a material, and to a forest.

In German, Holz only refers to the material. Der Wald is "the forest". We also have a word Der Forst, but it only refers to a maintained forest (something like a garden for trees), where the trees are grown for commercial purposes.

Spiritual updated 2021-02-15

Wunderbar

Due to its use as a loanword in English, wunderbar is often overused by English-speaking learners of German. Contrary to popular opinion, most Germans don't run around in leather trousers, smiling broadly and shouting Wunderbar! at each other :)

Think of it as the equivalent to "splendid!". If you want to sound less antiquated, better use Super! or Toll! or something like that.

Banking updated 2021-02-15

Das Konto, die Konten

Most nouns in German for the plural by appending an ending. There might be an umlaut change.

  • der Hund, die Hunde
  • das Haus, die Häuser

A few loanwords will instead replace the singular ending with a different one:

  • das Konto, die Konten

You will learn more of these in the skill "Business 2".

Places updated 2021-10-17

Places

Business 2 updated 2021-02-15

Firma

Most nouns in German get their plural by attaching an ending. There might be an umlaut change:

  • der Hund, die Hunde
  • das Haus, die Häuser

A few nouns (from Ancient Greek and Latin) will instead replace a singular ending with a different plural ending:

  • das Museum, die Museen (same for Zentrum, etc.)
  • die Firma, die Firmen
  • das Konto, die Konten
  • das Virus, die Viren
  • das Visum, die Visa

Objects updated 2021-10-07

Hose, Schere, Brille

Pants used to be two hoses, until somebody had the idea of stitching them together. Glasses are now joined into one object. If you deconstruct scissors into multiple objects, you have two awkward knives and a screw.

German uses the singular for all of these. Die Hose is "a pair of pants". Die Hosen (plural) is at least two pairs of pants.

Stelle

Die Stelle has the meaning of "position" in at least two ways. It can be a location, or it can be a job position.

Geschenk, Gift

The common German word German for "gift" is das Geschenk. Das Gift means "poison". The reason is that a long time ago, "gift" in the meaning of "something that is given" was used as an euphemism for poison.

  • "Why did he die?"
  • "Kunigunde gave him something."

The original meaning survives in the word die Mitgift (dowry).

Adverbs 2 updated 2021-02-15

Damit vs. damit

There are two words spelled damit in German.

One is a combination of a pronoun and a preposition (da+mit). It means "with that".

  • Das ist ein Stift. Damit schreibe ich. (That's a pen. With that, I write.)
  • Ich habe ein Deutschzertifikat. Damit kann ich in Deutschland studieren. (I have a German certificate. With that, I can study in Germany.)

This word is generally emphasized on the first syllable. As any standard sentence element, if it is used in the first position, the subject will have to go after the verb (which has to be in position 2).

The other is a subordinating conjunction. It translates to "so that":

  • Ich kaufe einen Stift, damit ich schreiben kann. (I buy a pen so that I can write.)
  • Ich lerne Deutsch, damit ich in Deutschland studieren kann. (I learn German so that I can study in Germany.)

Because it creates a subordinate clause, the verb of that clause has to go to the end. This version of damit is pronounced at the second syllable.

To remember which is which, remember that the one that's emphasized at the end also sends the verb to the end.

Damit, um … zu …, zum …

There are at least three ways to express a goal.

Zum

The easiest just takes a simple verb:

  • Ich fahre zum Skifahren nach Japan. (I go to Japan for skiing.)
  • Zum Lachen geht er in den Keller. (He goes to the basement to laugh.)

The verb becomes a noun here, hence the upper-case initial, and the zum (zu+dem) preposition. If a verb turns into a noun, it always gets neuter gender (das Essen, das Lachen).

Um … zu …

If you have a more complicated verb complex (for example, with adverbs or objects), you cannot use zum. Use um … zu … instead:

  • Ich gehe ins Restaurant, um mit Freunden Pizza zu essen. (I go to the restaurant in order to eat pizza with friends.)

To do this, you start with an infinitive construction:

  • mit Freunden im Supermarkt einkaufen (to go shopping in the supermarket with friends)

If you were to use this in a sentence, it would look like this:

  • Ich kaufe mit Freunden im Supermarkt ein.

The um goes to the beginning of the infinitive construction. The zu goes where the verb part (in the above example, kaufen) splits off.

  • Ich fahre in die Stadt, um mit Freunden im Supermarkt einzukaufen.

Damit

If your main sentence has a different subject than your goal, you can't use an infinitive. Use damit, which comes with a subordinate clause.

  • Ich gebe ihm mein Handy, damit er seine Mutter anrufen kann. (I give him my phone so that he can call his mom)

Read the section "damit vs. damit" for more information on how to use it.

Womit? Damit!

Many prepositions can be combined with wo- and da-. Da roughly translates to "that" here, wo normally to "what" (not "where" which is its normal meaning).

wo- da-
woran daran
worauf darauf
woraus daraus
wobei dabei
wodurch dadurch
wofür dafür
wogegen dagegen
wohinter dahinter
worin darin
womit damit
wonach danach
worum darum
worüber darüber
worunter darunter
wovon davon
wovor davor
wozu dazu
wozwischen dazwischen

If the preposition starts with a vowel, there will be a binding r. So worum is pronounced wo-rum (not wor-um).

The World updated 2021-02-15

Congratulations! :)

Welcome to the last lesson of this course!

We hope you got a good first impression on how German works and thinks. But your journey should not end here :) Find other speakers, get some learning material, and/or keep using this course.

Wir wünschen dir alles Gute!

Questions updated 2021-10-17

The Upside Down Question Mark

In written Spanish, questions should always start with an upside down question mark (¿). For example, to ask “What are you eating?” you would write “¿Qué comes?”

Position of Personal Pronouns

When asking a question, it is possible to place the personal pronoun in different places without affecting the meaning. For example “¿Qué comes tú?” and “¿Tú qué comes?” mean the same thing (and also the same thing as “¿Qué comes?”).

The position of the personal pronoun is sometimes used for emphasis. For example “Tú qué comes” places the emphasis on “you” and would mean something like “You, what are you eating?”

“Por qué” versus “Porque”

Even native speakers sometimes confuse “por qué” and “porque,” because they sound exactly the same. However, “por qué” means “why” and “porque” means “because.” That is, “por qué” is typically used when asking a question and “porque” is used when answering it.

  • Q: “¿Por qué no eres un niño?” (Why are you not a boy?)
  • A: “Porque soy una niña” (Because I am a girl)

Animals updated 2021-10-17

Adjectives. As a general rule, in Spanish adjectives come after the noun they describe, e.g.

An English dog / Un perro inglés

A Spanish horse / Un caballo español


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