Tag Archives: english

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 […]

Asking where in German — Woher, wo, wohin

Visit almost any German speaking country and one of the questions you’re sure to be asked within the first few minutes of meeting someone is: “Woher kommen Sie?” (Where do you come from?) It’s not meant to be a rude question, but one of interest. People really want to know where you are from, in […]

Tricky, tricky — nach vs. zu

One feature of language that will cause most anyone grief is prepositions. Why are prepositions so difficult? Well it is perhaps because they are used in so many ways with different meanings and also used differently in different dialects, pretty much irregardless of language. Two somewhat troubling prepositions in German for suggesting direction towards something […]

Same same but different — aber vs. sondern

It’s that day of the year again, when we in europe decide that we should all set our clocks to be an hour earlier. Spring ahead. Americans and Canadians did this two weeks ago. The result is a lack of sleep and confusion both mentally and physiologically as we force our bodies to reset their […]

Wine and German — What you like and would like

Every spring and autumn there is a wine exhibition in Zurich. Its a great place to go and try new wines, see what is available and even buy wines. A good sales person won’t try to sell you on the most expensive wine right away, nor suggest the cheapest wine in the selection without asking […]

Saying “there” in German (da vs. dort vs. hier)

When learning any new languages, one of the hardest things for most people to do is to stop translating word for word from their first language to the new language. Even if you have a large vocabulary doing this will still render more incorrect sentences than correct ones. The same is true from between German […]

No “Not Jokes” in German — The Placement of nicht

If you’ve seen the the Sacha Baron Cohen film Borat, you are probably familiar with the “Not joke.” One of the most confusing things in German word order is where to negate, that is where to place the word “nicht” (not, no). Read on and see why trying to make a not joke in German […]

word cloud

Noch einmal — Danke schön!

When I studied in Germany I had a friend who would always say “Danke schon” when the waiter or waitress brought him his cappuccino. I’d always wait till the server left and tell him, “Danke schön”, emphasizing the o with the umlaut.  His retort was always the same, “That’s what I said.” We’ve moved. You’ll […]

Reflexive Verbs Word Cloud

I buy me a coffee — The reflexive in German

When I lived in Vancouver I had a German friend who would always ask us the following question: “I’m going to buy me a coffee, would anyone else like one?” We always tried to explain to him that English unlike German does not use the reflexive as much as German. Though in the case above […]

Der Die Das

The DER — DIE — DAS

If there is one thing that I stress when teaching German it is the importance of learning nouns with their articles. Like French, Spanish and many other languages German has genders. What makes German just that little harder though is that there are three genders. And the article for words in the plural is the […]