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JohnDesEtageres

John

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4.

Learning German from English

Level 25 · 57230 XP

Crowns: 809/826

Skills: 137

Lessons: 674

Lexemes: 4450

Strength: 100%

Created: 2021-03-24
Last Goal: 2022-12-01
Daily Goal: 20 XP
Timezone: UTC-6

Last update: 2022-11-30 12:01:38 GMT+3


751963777

German Skills by StrengthCrownsNameOriginal Order

  • ••• 05 Basics 112 @ 100% 0
    bin · bist · brot · du · ein · eine · er · es · frau · ich · ist · junge · kind · mann · mädchen · und · wasser
    17 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.

  • ••• 05 Family21 @ 100% 0

    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.)
  • ••• 05 Basics 231 @ 100% 0
    frauen · ihr · jungen · kinder · männer · seid · sie · sind · wir
    9 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).

  • ••• 05 Greetings32 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Restaurant41 @ 100% 0

    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.
  • ••• 05 Places42 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Jobs51 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Hobbies81 @ 100% 0

    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.

  • ••• 05 Directions53 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Questions61 @ 100% 0

    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?).

  • ••• 05 Market193 @ 100% 0

    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.
  • ••• 05 Weather383 @ 100% 0
    blitz · blitz · blitze · donner · gewitter · grad · nass · regen · regenbogen · regenbogen · regenschirm · regnet · schneit · sturm · sturms · trocken · wetter · wolke
    18 words

    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.

  • ••• 05 Family 2192 @ 100% 0
    cousine · cousinen · cousinen · cousins · halbbruder · halbbrüder · halbschwester · halbschwestern · hochzeit · hochzeit · neffen · nichten · onkel · partnerschaft · partnerschaften · schwanger · tanten · tanten · urenkel · urgroßmutter · urgroßmütter · verheiratet · verwandte · verwandte · verwandten · zwilling · zwilling · zwillinge · zwillinge · zwillinge
    30 words

    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.

  • ••• 05 Languages131 @ 100% 0

    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)
  • ••• 05 Leisure142 @ 100% 0

    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.

  • ••• 05 Plans91 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Apartment92 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Shopping101 @ 100% 0
    apotheke · apotheke · apotheken · billig · bäckerei · bäckerei · bäckereien · einkaufswägen · einkaufszentrum · geschäft · gratis · gutschein · gutschein · gutscheine · gutscheine · kasse · kassen · kunde · kunden · kunden · kunden · kundinnen · laden · läden · marktplatz · sonderangebot · sonderangebot · sonderangebote · supermarkt · supermarkt · supermärkte · tüte · tüten · verkaufe · verkaufen · verkaufst · verkauft
    37 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.

  • ••• 05 Travel222 @ 100% 0
    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 · fahrrad · fahrrad · fahrräder · fahrt · ferien · fliegst · fliegt · flug · flüge · flüge · frankreich · frankreich · fähre · fähren · großbritannien · großbritannien · hamburg · italien · mietwagen · mietwagen · mietwägen · motorrad · motorräder · motorräder · pass · pässe · reise · reise · reiseführer · reisen · schweden · schweiz · schweizer · schweizer · sehenswürdigkeiten · spanien · spanien · 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 · züge · österreich · österreich
    94 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!)
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  • ••• 05 Hobbies 2131 @ 100% 0
  • ••• 05 Health262 @ 100% 0

    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)
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    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)
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    apfelsaft · bier · durst · ei · eis · erdbeere · essen · fisch · fisch · fisch · fleisch · fleisch · frisch · gemüse · gut · hunger · kaffee · kaffee · kartoffel · käse · käse · lecker · nudeln · obst · orange · orange · orangensaft · pizza · reis · saft · salz · salz · schmeckt · schokolade · suppe · süß · tee · wein · zucker · öl
    40 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.)
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    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
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    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
    55 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.

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    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.

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    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?)

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    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.
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    angst · böse · böse · dumm · ehrlich · eindruck · ernst · ernst · freude · 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 · ruhe · ruhe · ruhe · schlau · schlimm · spaß · spaß · stolz · tapfer · total · traum · träume · träume · träumen · träumt · unheimlich · verständnis · witz · witz · witzig · wunsch · wunsch · wünsche · ärger
    60 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 :)

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    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).

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    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
    28 words

    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
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    fleck · flecken · hemd · hemden · hose · hose · hosen · hut · hüte · hüte · jacke · jacken · jacken · jacken · kleid · kleid · kleider · kleidung · kleidung · knopf · knöpfe · kosmetik · mantel · mäntel · passt · passt · ring · ringe · ringe · rock · rock · röcke · schmuck · schuh · schuhe · tasche · taschen · trage · tragen · tragt · trägst · trägt
    42 words

    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.

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    ausland · ausland · bereich · bereiche · bereichen · bezirk · bezirk · bezirke · bundesland · bundesland · bundesländer · europa · europa · ferienhaus · ferienhaus · ferienhäuser · ferienhäuser · flughafen · flughafen · fläche · flächen · gegenüber · grund · grundstück · grundstück · grundstücke · gründe · halle · halle · hallen · hauptstadt · hauptstädte · heimat · hof · höfe · innenstadt · innenstadt · innenstädte · innere · innere · insel · insel · inseln · kneipe · kneipe · kneipen · ort · ort · ort · orte · pension · pension · platz · platz · plätze · region · regionen · standort · standort · standorte · umgebung · umgebung · unterkunft · unterkunft · wohne · wohnen · wohnst · wohnt · zentrale · zentren · zentrum · zentrum
    72 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".

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    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 · zaun · zäune · öffne · öffnen · öffnet
    59 words

    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!)
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    besuche · besuchen · besuchst · besucht · besucht · bevölkerung · einwohner · gemeinde · gemeinden · man · nutzer · nutzer · paar · paare · verbindung · verbindungen · verbindungen · verein · vereine · verhältnis · öffentlichkeit
    21 words

    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).

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    arme · auge · auge · augen · bein · beine · blut · brust · brüste · drücke · drücken · drückt · finger · fuß · füße · füße · gesicht · gesichter · haar · haare · haare · hals · 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
    48 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.
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    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)

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    39 words

    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.
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    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.

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    baumwolle · beton · beton · eisen · glas · gold · holz · kupfer · leder · mauer · mauern · metall · papier · papier · papiere · pappe · plastik · silber · stahl · stein · steine · wolle · wolle
    23 words

    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.

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    dritte · dritte · dritten · erste · erste · erste · ersten · erstes · fünfte · mathematik · sechste · sechste · siebte · vierte · ähnlich
    15 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.

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    bessere · besseren · beste · besten · besten · eher · ganz · gewöhnlich · gute · guten · guten · guter · gutes · normalerweise · sehr · super · ziemlich
    17 words

    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.)
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    alltag · anfang · bald · bis · danach · dienstag · donnerstag · ende · ende · endlich · freitag · inzwischen · mittwoch · montag · samstag · samstage · sonntag · sonntage · spätestens · tag · tage · tage · tagen · täglich · vergangenheit · werktag · werktage · woche · woche · wochen · wochenende · wochenenden · wöchentlich · zukunft · zukunft
    35 words

    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
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    außen · da · dort · draußen · drinnen · drüben · hier · hinten · innen · nebenan · oben · unten · vorne · überall
    14 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.)
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    51 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).

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    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 · januar · juli · juni · jährlich · kalender · kühl · letzte · mai · monat · monate · monatlich · märz · märz · märz · november · oktober · phase · phasen · quartal · quartale · saison · saison · schluss · schluss · september · sommer · spargel · spargel · vorbei · weihnachten · winter
    56 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
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    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 :)

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    abend · abend · 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 · uhr · uhr · uhr · uhren · uhrzeit · uhrzeit · viertel · zeit · zeit · zeiten · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkt · zeitpunkte · zeitraum
    57 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.

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    35 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.

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    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
    26 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).

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    akademie · akademie · akademien · ausbildung · ausbildung · bildung · bildung · erziehung · fachbereich · forschung · grundschule · grundschule · grundschulen · gymnasien · gymnasium · hochschule · hochschule · hochschulen · institut · institut · institute · kindergarten · kindergarten · kindergärten · klasse · klasse · klassen · klassen · kurs · kurs · kurse · lehre · leser · leser · leser · 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 · unterricht · weiterbildung · überlege · überlegst · übung · übung · übungen · übungen
    69 words

    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).

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    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 · teste · testen · testest · testet · theorie · wissen · wissenschaft · wissenschaft · wissenschaftlerin
    56 words

    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
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    43 words

    Hirn, Gehirn

    The words das Gehirn und das Hirn are used more or less interchangeably in German.

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    gefühl · gefühl · gefühle · gefühlen · geist · geist · geister · gleichgewicht · gleichgewicht · glücklich · hoffnung · hoffnung · leben · leben · leben · leben · lebens · meditiere · meditieren · meditierst · meditiert · schicksal · seele · seele · seelen · sinn · sinne · sinne · spiritualität · wahrheit · wunder · wunderbar · wunderschön · wunderschöne
    34 words

    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.

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    betrag · finanzierung · frist · fristen · konten · konto · kreditkarte · kreditkarten · münze · münzen · rechnung · rechnung · zahlung · zahlung · zahlungen · zinsen · zinsen
    17 words

    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".

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    angebot · angebot · angebote · antrag · anträge · anzeige · anzeigen · auftrag · auftrag · ausgabe · ausgabe · ausgaben · ausgaben · bedarf · betrieb · betrieb · betriebe · bewertung · bewertung · bezahlung · branche · branchen · börse · börse · chance · chancen · dienstleistung · dienstleistungen · einzelhandel · firma · 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 · versicherung · ware · waren · werbung · werbung
    63 words

    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
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    40 words
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    allein · außerdem · bereits · besonders · dabei · daher · damit · darüber · dazu · durchaus · einmal · erneut · genauso · jedenfalls · jedoch · kaum · meistens · mindestens · nun · selber · selbst · sonst · sowohl · völlig · weder · zuerst · zuletzt · überhaupt
    28 words

    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).

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    30 words
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    20 words

    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!


2022-01-06
0.227

Basics 1 updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Family updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.)

Basics 2 updated 2022-03-25 ^

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).

Restaurant updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Hobbies updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Questions updated 2022-03-25 ^

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. "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?).

Market updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Leisure updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Shopping updated 2022-03-25 ^

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 2022-03-25 ^

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!)

People updated 2022-03-25 ^

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)

Food updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.)

Party updated 2022-03-25 ^

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

Food 2 updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Pets updated 2022-03-25 ^

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 2022-03-25 ^

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?)

Jobs 2 updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.

Feelings updated 2022-03-25 ^

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 :)

Friends updated 2022-03-25 ^

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).

University updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.)

Cooking updated 2022-03-25 ^

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

Café updated 2022-03-25 ^

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.


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