Category Verbs

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 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 […]

Death in German — So sicher wie das Amen in der Kirche

Anyone who has studied German literature in the past 50 years will know the novella Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice) by Thomas Mann. For most of us, death is an uncomfortable topic because it causes reflection on our own mortality and often means loss. However, next to taxes, it’s one of the two inevitable […]

4 German phrases that need the dative

As a German teacher there is really only one thing that makes my blood curdle… when students after hearing and reading the phrase “Wie geht es dir?” a million times spew out something like “Wie geht’s du?” Please, please, please do not make this mistake. We’ve moved. You’ll find the full article here: http://marathonsprachen.com/4-german-phrases-that-need-the-dative/

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 […]

German Verbs with Separable Prefixes — Trennbare Verben

You’ve probably had this happen to you before: You’re reading a German sentence and you’re convinced you know what’s happening. The verb is in the second position and then you get to the end of the sentence and there’s a preposition, but nothing after it, just a period. End of sentence. You’re confused. Don’t fret […]

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 […]

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 […]

Expressing your New Year’s Resolutions in German — Future Tense with Modals

Today is New Year’s Eve (Silvester) and everyone is getting ready for the big party (die Party) tonight. Of course many of you are also putting together lists of your New Year’s Resolutions (der Neujahrsvorsatz / die Neujahrsvorsätze) one of which if you’re reading this blog might be to improve your German (dein Deutsch verbessern). […]

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 […]