Category Genitive

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 […]

German Nouns with N-Declination — Nomen der N-Dekination

Sound. So much of language comes down to sound. What is the easiest sound to make? In German this is one of the reasons for adjective endings being what they are — mostly ending in -en, right?! It’s that same basic principle that is to blame for you getting Name and Namen mixed up or […]

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 […]

German Cases — Understanding verbs, subjects, and objects

If you’re reading this, you’re under 40 years old, and you’re from an English-speaking country, you probably have at least two things in common with most of the readers of this blog. You’re interested in learning German or improving your German. The other thing is that you never really learned English grammar. Sure you just […]

How to congratulate someone on their baby in German

This year I turned 30. Now you might think, “Big deal.” If you’re at this age or around it though you surely have noticed many of your friends are getting married or have already gotten married and are starting families. Families of course mean children. as one of Zurich’s most eligible bachelors I’m not in […]

What’s mine is yours — German Possessive Articles

This past week in one of my classes we were looking at possessive adjectives, which are exactly what you need to express ownership in German. Possessive adjectives are the: my, your, his, her etc. When you see something that you want, you want it to be yours. Sometimes you want it to be someone else’s. Being able […]

German Subordinating Conjunctions — Yes, Sometimes the Verb Goes at the End

German has a reputation. Having spent a great deal of time in Canada, I know that German is perceived as a terrible sounding language. Irish comedian Dylan Moran says in one of his routines that, “German sounds like typewriters eating tinfoil being kicked down stairs.” where does this idea come from? Probably from all the […]

German Adverbs of Time (wann? wie oft?)

Christmas is just one week away and many people will be going home to spend the holidays with their family. Others will be spending time with friends. Inevitably we tell stories when we’re around other people. One of the most important parts of speech that you need to tell a flowing narrative are adverbs. We’ve […]

Prepositions Part 4: Don’t Fear the Genitive

One of the things I often have to reiterate in my German lessons is that students need to take German in small chunks. Learn the basics and learn them well and take a lot of the language as it’s given to them. Coming from English this is difficult for many as English is a fairly […]

Really?! You can say that? — German sentence structure

Tell any German speaker that you are learning German and you’re sure to here this phrase: “Deutsche Sprache — schwere Sprache”. There are many reasons why German comes off as more difficult than English. First there are the three genders, then there are the four cases and then of course the verbs. The most important […]