Category Meaning Clarification

German Verbs With Inseparable Prefixes — Nicht trennbare Verben

Verbs, they seem to be one of the trickiest types of words to learn because there are so many of them and every sentence needs them. They also often have multiple meanings that change when put together with prepositions and in German when they have separable prefixes. I’ve already written about verbs with separable prefixes […]

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 […]

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 […]

dauernd vs. dauerhaft and the German suffix -haft

At our Stammtisch last week, one of our attendees, Edvin from Slovenia, asked me if I could quickly clarify the difference between some words. Thinking it would only be a few words, I said sure. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a page long list of words he wanted to know how […]

Actually, there is a difference — eigentlich vs. tatsächlich

During one of my lessons the other day a student used the word eigentlich, which I was very happy to hear, as many beginners don’t use this word; however, I also had to correct him and tell him that the word he was looking for was tatsächlich. Now some might think that this is just […]

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 […]

Where you’re from — Using the German prepositions von and aus

During last week’s Stammtisch here in Zurich, many people were speaking about where they were from and where they had recently traveled to. It’s always great to hear about people’s background and see the plurality of different cultures that are moving to Switzerland and diversifying the city. Of course there is plenty of opportunity to […]

Bodies of Water in German and their Prepositions

Today I went stand up paddling for my first time on Lake Zurich. The experience was a perfect balance to the Limmatschwimmen from yesterday, where some 4200 people swam and floated down the Limmat. What does this all have to do with German? It’s a great vocabulary and preposition learning opportunity. First vocabulary related to […]

Fernseher oder Fernsehen? Auf dem Internet or Im Internet?

It’s Olympics (Olympiade, die) time again and many of you are watching your country’s best athletes give it there all in London. Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to get a ticket (Ticket, das) to one of the many events in London, you’re probably watching the competition (Wettkampf, der) on your television (Fernsehgerät, das) or online […]