Category Collocations & Expressions

German indefinite pronouns – not being explicit, maybe in vague

I have often written and still maintain that German is a language of precision. However, when it comes to indefinite pronouns, many are left scratching their heads. First off German has many indefinite pronouns that are very similar in meaning and using the correct depends more on how well the speaker/writer understands common German collocations […]

Germans can’t “make” friends — Freundschaften entstehen

One of my first posts was on the verbs machen and fahren. In that post I stated that German speakers are makers and drivers and that when in doubt, travel is done by driving and other things that are normally “done” in English are “made” in German. While Germans can make many things, one of […]

4 German phrases that need the dative

As a German teacher there is really only one thing that makes my blood curdle… when students after hearing and reading the phrase “Wie geht es dir?” a million times spew out something like “Wie geht’s du?” Please, please, please do not make this mistake. We’ve moved. You’ll find the full article here: http://marathonsprachen.com/4-german-phrases-that-need-the-dative/

Visiting the doctor in German — zum Arzt gehen

Going to the doctor is never fun, but going to the doctor in a foreign language can add even more stress to a situation. With this in mind it’s important to remember a few important things: bring proper medical paper, make sure you understand everything clearly, and keep a sense of humor about you. In […]

“mir” or “für mich” when to use the Dative or an Accusative Prepositional Phrase

The other day I was giving one of my German lessons on the run… literally running with my students. The advantages of combining language training and physical exercise are huge. Students combine things (multi-task if you will) and don’t have to worry bout sacrificing one form of self-improvement for an other. Secondly, the increased blood-flow […]

Little differences in German — anders, verschiedene, unterschiedliche

“Ich hätte gern noch ein anderes Bier, bitte.”  This is a phrase that I hear far too often from non-native German speakers. The confusion lies in the translation of the English expression “I’d like another beer, please.” The word another. To help everyone getting confused with the words ander-, verschieden-, and unterschiedlich-. But before we […]

spürbar oder merkbar and the German suffix -bar

Last week we started looking at a list of words I was asked about by one of my Stammtisch regulars, Edvin. Last week we looked at the words dauernd and dauerhaft, which brought up the interesting topic of the German suffix -haft for adjectives. Edvin also has another similar question on the long list of […]

Common German Prepositional mistakes

Prepositions are always tricky in any language. One of the best ways to learn prepositions is to learn them in phrases, because the idiomatic collocation often does not directly translate. Here are ten of the most common prepositional mistakes I hear when I teach German and their correct forms. Learn these correctly and you’ll be […]

Giving Thanks in German — German Thanksgiving Vocabulary

This coming Thursday (Donnerstag) Americans in the United States and all over the world will once again celebrate their Thanksgiving festival (das Erntedankfest; literally festival in thanks of the harvest). Next to Christmas (Weihnachten) this is one of the most important celebrations in the US and many countries have similar festivals, though they may not […]

German Halloween Vocabulary and Customs

On Wednesday it’s Halloween again. No doubt many of you have celebrated this weekend, and those of you living in Catholic cantons (Kantone) and federal states (Bundesländer) can expect to have November 1st, All Saints’ Day (Allerheiligen) off. So there are a few things that I must tell you. Though Halloween is not completely foreign […]