Category Pronouns

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 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 […]

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 […]

German Personal Pronouns at Après-Ski with Schlager Musik

Last week I gave you quite a bit of German ski vocabulary. It’s winter and in Switzerland that means Ski fahren. After a day of skiing many then hit the Après-Ski. Here is the a brief account of happens at Après-Ski: We’ve moved. You’ll find the full article here: http://marathonsprachen.com/german-personal-pronouns-at-apres-ski-with-schlager-musik/

Using the German Dative Case this Christmas

It’s the already the third advent (der dritte Advent) and many of you are probably busy writing Christmas cards (die Weihnachtskarte), to-do-lists (die Aufgabenliste) and letters to Santa (Briefe an den Weihnachtsmann). With all the wishing (wünschen), and giving (schenken) that goes on at this time of year one German case becomes very important: the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Prepositions 2: Datives on the Danube

For over a week now you’ve been busy learning your accusative prepositions: bis, durch, entlang, für, gegen, ohne, um. You’ve done so well that you’ve even come up with your own mantras, rhymes, and even songs. Congratulations, you’re on your way. As I hinted at last week and as you’ve surely already encountered there are […]

bis durch für ohne gegen um entlang

Prepositions Part 1: The Accusative 7

If there was a villain in languages it would be prepositions. These are tricky things that if you look them up in a dictionary you’ll get dozens of usages and then all the colloquial expressions which use them in different manners. On top of that depending on region the same language might use different prepositions: […]

Bleib dran: da-compounds

English speakers often haver to crack a smile when listening to German and hearing the word “damit” which sounds like a curse in English. However, the smiles quickly change to faces of confusion when a flurry of “dran“, “drauf“, “davon” etc come at them and they aren’t quite sure what to make of them. Then […]