Category Culture

Telephoning in German — What you need to know

[Ring, ring, ring. Click.] Marathon Sprachen. Langenegger am Apparat, guten Tag. Ah, ah, ah, … English?… Oh, yes, English is ok. We’ve moved our site. You’ll find the full article here: http://marathonsprachen.com/telephoning-in-german-what-you-need-to-know/

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 […]

Skiwortschatz — German Ski Vocabulary

It’s January and in German-speaking Europe that means it’s skiing season (die Skisaison). The word Ski in German presents this very phonetic language with a bit of a challenge because Germans typically say “she” for Ski and often even spell it as such: Schi. This has to do with its origin. The word actually comes […]

What are they asking after I buy my groceries? — German shopping vocabulary

Working with the expat community in Zurich there is a question I hear again and again and a short story that gets recounted. It goes something like this: “I was in the Migros the other day and I bought my groceries. I didn’t understand how much the cashier asked for, but I saw what I […]

im Urlaub oder auf Urlaub? Urlaub vs. Ferien — Vacation and Holidays in German

It’s that time of year again in Switzerland and Europe in general. The cities are quieter than usual and offices can appear as if they were abandoned, but without air conditioning in them, they may as well be when the mercury climbs to 30 degrees. It’s summer and summer means vacation time. Most employed people […]

Speak about the game — Fussball Wortschatz

For Germany fans this past Thursday was not a great day as the Italian team won the match 2-1 in Warsaw, however, Germany and Germany fans went into the match with a great deal of optimism. See this YouTube video to get an idea of how excited they were. The victory for Italy meant that […]

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 […]

Lesen Sie diesen Blog! — The imperative in German

Many of my students are parents. Why is this important? Because it is one of the few things you can be if you want to correctly use the informal imperative and be not only grammatically, but also contextually correct. The imperative mood (abbreviated imp) expresses commands or requests as a grammatical mood. These commands or […]

German Letter and E-Mail Basics

Every week I receive e-mails from students and readers asking me to clarify grammatical points and every week I receive the following e-mails with the following salutation: “Liebe Christian”. Now if you’re looking at that and think there is nothing wrong, this post is for you. Let’s look at some key basics for written communication […]

Ostern steht vor der Tür — German Easter Vocabulary & Tradition

Easter is once again upon us. In Switzerland, Austria, and Germany Easter is a serious holiday. Even though you’re sure to see the famous golden Lindt Easter bunnies in the shops as early as late January, the holiday is about more than Easter baskets and chocolates. It is still seen as a very important religious […]