Tag Archives: learning

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: […]

German Adjective Endings – The things we don’t hear

Adjective endings are the bane of most German learners. This is true because as a learner you are expected to get them right, but when you go out into the street you never really hear them from native speakers. This is especially true in Switzerland, but generally from all speakers. Like in English the spoken […]

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 […]

mich or mir? accusative vs. dative

I’m often asked: “when do I use mich and when do I use mir?” What at first seems to be a very straight forward question is unfortunately not that easy for many to get their heads around. The answer is that you need to understand the cases. German has four cases: Nominative, Accustaive, dative and […]

Same Same, but different — dasselbe / das Gleiche

As we have often seen German has a knack for precison and accuracy, whereby many works are specific to one thing and can’t be used for multiple functions like is so commonly done in English. An example of this is that German has two words for “the same”. So when you’re standing there at the […]

When to use wenn, wann and als

Last week we discussed when we use the conjunctions “wenn” and “ob” in their meaning of “if”. In the introduction to the post we also saw that “wenn” can also mean “when”. This is another place where German presents some difficulty. In German there are three words for the English “when”: wenn, als, wann. And […]

wenn or ob — if only they were simpler to understand

When a language presents two different words used in two different yet similar cases where your first language uses just one word, it becomes a little tricky. In German the conditional words “wenn” and “ob” pose a problem for many English speakers. This is true especially because “wenn” sounds like the English word “when”, which […]

Das Volk des Machens und Fahrens — The things Germans make and drive

German’s call Germany “Das Land der Dichter und Denker” (The country of poets and philosophers). Germans speakers should be called “Das Volk des Machens und Fahrens” (the people of making and driving). We’ve moved. You’ll find the full article here: http://marathonsprachen.com/das-volk-des-machens-und-fahrens/

False Friends (wollen vs. werden vs. bekommen) — Or why Germans become hot dogs

If there is one caveat that most people hear when learning a second language, it is to be aware of false friends. English and German are full of these false friends. I’m not going to get into all of them of even very many but there are three that you need to be careful of […]

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 […]