Category Conjunctions

German Grammar Basics — What you need to know to understand German

I’ve been teaching German for almost ten years, and the one thing that I understand is that many learners have such a tough time because of grammatical terminology. In English speaking school systems, grammar is generally avoided, whereas German seems to worship grammar. One could say that the formal teaching of English grammar has been […]

Correlations in German — Combining ideas in sentences

Quite a few of my students are presently preparing for their B1 and B2 German Exams (Goethe Zertifikat). As we progress through different learning materials, I place a huge focus on writing. Writing is a great way to apply grammatical rules, because you have time to think about it. Writing in this respect is an […]

Using während and damit correctly in German

One of the things that I so often claim about the German languages is that it’s very specific and that words aren’t used with as much freedom as in English. I still maintain this, but there are certain words that often cause some confusion, when learned with a specific rule and then used differently from […]

Explaining your actions in German — using um … zu and damit clauses

A post that gets a great deal of attention is the one about how zu is not always used as an preposition, but often with verbs whereby it is followed by the infinitive of the verb. If you haven’t read that post yet, I highly suggest you do after reading this one. We’ve moved. You’ll […]

Being polite and dreaming in German — Konjunktiv II

Learning a second language is hard, especially for adults. Why? Because it’s like you’re a child again. In your native language and any other language you’ve mastered, you can express yourself clearly and eloquently. In your new language you want to talk about complex things like a news story, something that happened to you, what […]

Indirekte Fragen — Taking the Directness out of German

Many of you may have recently seen a picture circulating around the web recently that graphically represents stereotypes of European languages and cultures. Austrian speak German, as do the Swiss, Liechtensteiners and South Tyrolleans (Südtirol). That said, the way these cultures and languages communicate is different. In the graphic German is represented as a straight […]

vor vs. bevor vs. vorher — yes, there’s a difference!

Last week we looked at the words nach, nachdem and nachher. We learned that these words, while they can be used to convey the same information, have different grammatical functions and word order and event order must be observed. This week we’ll look at their counterparts: vor, bevor and vorher. We’ve moved. You’ll find the […]

nach vs. nachdem vs. nachher — what’s the difference?

Anyone learning German should also find that both their logic and English are improving as well. The logic because German sentences are constructed more like mathematical equations and one’s English because you’ll become aware of the different uses of English words and possible substitutes. A brilliant example of this is the German words nach, nachdem, […]

German Letter and E-Mail Writing Formulations

Last week we looked at ways to correctly address letters and write your salutations and conclusions. What we learned was that adjective endings are particularly important for these tasks. This week we’ll look at some key formulations that will be helpful for writing the body of your letter in German. I’ve broken this up according […]

5 Ways to negate in German besides using “nicht”

When I communicate with my students over e-mail, assigning extra homework or answering questions that they have between lessons, I generally try to do it in German. The more exposure language learners have to their target language the faster they’ll learn — just like fitness training. However, every once in a while this can lead […]