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Using German
A guide to
contemporary usage
Second edition

MARTIN DURRELL

CAMBRIDGE
UNIVERSITY PRESS

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P U B L I S H E D BY THE PRESS SYNDICATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP, United Kingdom
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

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http://www.cambridge.org
Cambridge University Press 1992,2003
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 1992
Second edition 2003
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge
Typeface Ehrhardt 10.5/12 pt.

System fflfcX 2S

[TB]

A catalogue recordfor this book is available from the British Library


Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Durrell, Martin.
Using German: a guide to contemporary usage / Martin Durrell. - 2nd edition
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0 521 53000 8 (paperback)
1. German language - Grammar. 2. German language - Textbooks for foreign
speakers - English. I. Title.
PF3112.D78 2003
438.2'421 - dc21 2002041692
ISBN 0 521 53000 8 paperback

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Contents

Introduction
page xi
Acknowledgements xiii
References
xv
Glossary of linguistic terms xxi
Abbreviations and conventions xxix
1

Varieties of language

1.1 Varieties according to use: register


1.1.1 Medium
4
1.1.2 Subject matter
5
1.1.3 Situation
5
1.1.4 Register and regionalism
1.1.5 Indicating register
7
1.2

Varieties according to user: regionalism


10
1.2.1 Regionalism and standard German
11
1.2.2 Regionalism and spoken German
11
1.2.3 Indicating regional variation
12

1.3 Examples of variation: pronunciation


13
1.3.1 Regional variation in pronunciation
1.3.2 Register variation in pronunciation

15
16

1.4 Examples of variation: grammar


18
1.4.1 Regional variation in grammar
19
1.4.2 Register variation in grammar
20
1.5

Examples of variation: vocabulary


23
1.5.1 Regional variation in vocabulary
23
1.5.2 Austrian and Swiss words
26
1.5.3 Register variation in vocabulary
29

1.6 Passages illustrating levels of register


35
1.6.1 Telephone conversation (informal colloquial speech)
35
1.6.2 Radio discussion (unprepared speech in a formal
context)
38
1.6.3 Literary prose (Gnter Grass, Die Blechtrommel) 41
1.6.4 Non-literary prose {Fachsprache) 43
45
1.6.5 Serious newspaper report (Die Welt)
48
1.6.6 Tabloid newspaper report {Bild)

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2
2.1

Words and meanings

52

Problems of meaning
52
2.1.1 Problems of meaning: English-German examples
2.1.2 Problems of meaning: German-English examples

52
88

2.2

Easily confused words


93
93
2.2.1 Easily confused words: similar form - different meaning
2.2.2 Easily confused words: different gender - different
meaning
102
2.2.3 Easily confused words: different plural - different
meaning
104
2.2.4 Easily confused words: different form - same meaning
105

2.3

Word formation
107
2.3.1 Forming nouns
107
2.3.2 Forming adjectives
109
2.3.3 Forming verbs - prefixes 111
2.3.4 Inseparable verb prefixes
111
2.3.5 Separable verb prefixes
114
2.3.6 Verb prefixes which can be separable or inseparable

115

2.4

Idioms

2.5

Prepositions
123
2.5.1 German prepositions with the accusative case
124
2.5.2 German prepositions with the dative case
127
2.5.3 German prepositions with the dative or the accusative
cases
132
2.5.4 German prepositions with the genitive case
139
2.5.5 English prepositions
140

2.6

Modal particles
155
2.6.1 Modal particles in statements
156
2.6.2 Modal particles in questions
160
2.6.3 Modal particles in commands
161
2.6.4 Modal particles in exclamations
163

2.7

Greetings and forms of address


2.7.1 Greetings
164
2.7.2 du and Sie
166

2.8

Letters

3
3.1

119

164

168

Words and forms

171

Nouns: genders and plurals


171
3.1.1 Suffixes as indicators of gender and plural
171
3.1.2 Suffixes or prefixes as clues to gender and plural
3.1.3 Plurals in-5
176

173

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3.1.4 Nouns with alternative plurals


177
3.1.5 Foreign words with unusual plurals
178
3.1.6 Differences in plural usage between German
and English
178
3.1.7 Nouns with variable gender
180
3.2

3.3

3.4

3.5

Nouns: case
181
3.2.1 'Weak' masculine nouns
182
3.2.2 'Mixed' nouns
183
3.2.3 The dative ending -e
184
3.2.4 The genitive singular ending ~(e)s

184

Verbs: strong and weak


186
3.3.1 Strong verb classes
186
3.3.2 Deceptive weak verbs
189
3.3.3 Irregular weak verbs
190
3.3.4 Verbs with strong and weak forms

190

Determiners and adjectives


192
3.4.1 Basic determiner endings
192
3.4.2 Basic adjective endings
193
3.4.3 Uncertainties and variation in current usage
3.4.4 Adjectives as nouns
196
Other words that decline: forms and uses
3.5.1 Demonstratives
198
3.5.2 Relative pronouns
200
3.5.3 Possessive pronouns
202
3.5.4 Interrogatives
202
3.5.5 man, einer, jemand 203
3.5.6 Some indefinites 204
Grammar: cases, tenses and moods

194

198

207

4.1

Verbs and cases: valency


207
4.1.1 Verbs governing the dative case
209
4.1.2 Verbs governing the dative and the accusative cases 211
4.1.3 Verbs governing the genitive case
213
4.1.4 Verbs governing a prepositional object
214
4.1.5 Infinitive clauses and idtfs-clauses with verbs governing a
prepositional object
219
4.1.6 Verbs with varying constructions
220

4.2

Cases: dative and genitive


224
4.2.1 Possessive dative
224
4.2.2 Genitive or von} 225
4.2.3 The position of genitive phrases
4.2.4 Measurement phrases
228

227

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4.3

Tenses
229
4.3.1 Present and future 229
4.3.2 Past and perfect
230
4.3.3 haben or sein in the perfect?

231

4.4

The passive
233
4.4.1 werden- or $m-passive?
234
4.4.2 The impersonal ('subjectless') passive
235
4.4.3 The passive with dative objects 236
4.4.4 von or durch with the passive?
236
4.4.5 Alternative passive constructions
237

4.5

The subjunctive
239
4.5.1 Forms of the subjunctive
239
4.5.2 The use of the past subjunctive and conditional forms
4.5.3 Indirect speech
242
4.5.4 Conditional sentences
245
4.5.5 Other uses of the subjunctive
246

4.6

The modal auxiliaries


248
4.6.1 The German modal auxiliaries
4.6.2 The English modal auxiliaries
Syntax and word order

240

249
253

262

5.1 Word order


262
5.1.1 The verbal bracket
262
5.1.2 The closing bracket
263
5.1.3 The initial element in a main clause
264
5.1.4 The use of initial position in German
265
5.1.5 The central section of German clauses
267
5.1.6 Can anything follow the closing bracket?
271
5.2

Alternatives to subordinate clauses


274
5.2.1 Alternatives to relative clauses
274
5.2.2 Alternatives to noun clauses with dass or wie and infinitive
clauses
275
5.2.3 Alternatives to other subordinate clauses
276
5.2.4 Adverbials rather than clauses
279
5.2.5 Other alternatives to subordinate clauses
281

5.3

The present participle in German and English


282
5.3.1 The use of the German present participle
282
5.3.2 German equivalents of English ing-form constructions

6
6.1

Spelling and punctuation

284

289

Spelling
290
6.1.1 Capital letters
290
6.1.2 One word or two?
292

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6.1.3 The use o f and ss 296


6.1A Miscellaneous spelling changes
Punctuation
297
6.2.1 The use of the comma
297
6.2.2 Other punctuation marks
299
Index

300

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Introduction

The primary intention of this book is to provide information on


German as it is actually used nowadays, especially on points where
conventional grammars and surveys of vocabulary are silent. It aims to
help English-speaking learners to communicate effectively and
accurately by developing an awareness of the subtleties of the language.
It is thus directed at those who have mastered the basics of German,
typically after three or four years at school or an intensive introductory
course and are venturing into the complexities and subtleties of the
language. It is not a comprehensive grammar, but it deals with those
aspects of German grammar and usage about which such advanced
learners may have questions, and it attempts to answer as many of those
questions as possible.
The areas treated in this book can be grouped under two headings.
First, there are those which result from variation within the German
language itself. Learners can often be confused because everyday
conversational German is often quite different from written German
and from what they have been taught. German, just like English, has
many alternatives and varieties - in pronunciation, grammar and
vocabulary. One purpose of this book is to explain for the
English-speaking learner how modern German usage can differ widely,
depending, for instance, on the formality or informality of the situation
or on where the speaker or writer comes from. This kind of variation in
usage can be puzzling for foreign learners, and standard reference
works often give insufficient detail or contradictory (or even
misleading) information on such points. In this book, the most
common variations in current usage which stem from regional
differences or differences depending on the degree of formality are
shown as fully as possible. It will be made clear, for example, that the
use of the present subjunctive is not a matter of grammatical rule, but
of register (see 4.5.3). Chapter 1 provides an introduction, with
examples and commented texts, to the range of variation in modern
German. The reader is advised to study this chapter closely before
consulting the other chapters, which are intended to be used for
reference and give extensive detail on selected points concerning
vocabulary (chapter 2), declensions (chapter 3), grammar
(chapter 4), syntax and word order (chapter 5), and spelling and
punctuation (chapter 6), where the changes in German spelling and

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punctuation rules which were introduced in the late 1990s are


explained in detail.
Secondly, the book covers those aspects of German which for one
reason or another seem to be difficult for English-speaking learners,
although the difficulties are often more apparent than real. This may be
because German expresses things in a different way to English, as when
English uses present participles and German does not (see 5.3), where
there is a lack of one-to-one correspondence between the vocabulary of
the two languages (see 2.1) or in the various uses of prepositions (see
2.5). In such cases the differences between the languages are shown in
as much detail as possible. There are other aspects of German, such as
gender and plural of nouns (see 3.1), which have to be coped with in
their own terms, as there is little comparable in English.

Second edition
In this second edition the major change is that the revised spelling of
German has been implemented throughout, with the exception of one
text (1.6.3) which was originally published before the introduction of
the new spelling and whose author is a well-known opponent of the
changes (indeed, he has insisted on his most recent books being
published using the old spellings). This is in itself a reflection of the
current situation, since, as explained in more detail in chapter 6, it
now seems likely that the two spelling systems will continue to co-exist
in the German-speaking countries for some considerable time beyond
2005, despite the fact that the old spellings are supposed to cease to be
used after this date.
Apart from this, the opportunity has been taken to revise the whole
text and the language material of the book, eliminating errors,
inconsistencies and ambiguities as far as possible. In particular, all the
explanatory material has been recast with the aim of making it clearer
and more explicit. For example, German words in lists are now
systematically glossed in English, and the account of the modal
particles in 2.6 has been reshaped to show how they are used in
statements, questions, commands and exclamations, with the intention
of helping the learner to see how they are used in actual communicative
situations. More than half the texts in 1.6 have been replaced to bring
them up to date and to reflect the variety of register in modern German
more consistently and systematically. In particular, contrastive
examples are now given from the 'serious' and 'popular' press.

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Acknowledgements

No book such as this can be the unaided work of a single individual,


and I must acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Wini Davies, Dr Karen
Herrmann, Professor R. E. Keller and Paul Webster for their many
helpful suggestions which have been incorporated in the text. The
remaining inadequacies are my own, especially where I have been
foolish enough to ignore their sound advice. I am also grateful for much
information, advice and encouragement to Stephen Barbour, Friedrich
Dehmel, Julie Flynn, Anna Hochsieder, Derek McCulloch, Herbert
Meyer, Manfred Prokop, Margaret Rogers, Jon West and Ellen
Wilhelmi, all of whom provided me with data or were kind enough to
read particular chapters. My thanks are due, too, to all colleagues at the
Institut fur Deutsche Sprache in Mannheim, especially Dr Karl-Heinz
Bausch, Tobias Bruckner, Professor Alan Kirkness, Professor Gerhard
Stickel and Eva Teubert. I was able to collect or check much of the
material in the book during a stay in Mannheim which was generously
funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst. The great
bulk of the initial work for the first edition was completed in the
academic year 1983/84, which I spent as an exchange professor at the
University of Alberta, and I must give special thanks to all my
colleagues in Edmonton for their help and encouragement during a
thoroughly enjoyable and productive stay in Canada. Particular
mention must be made of the superb library facilities at the University
of Alberta. I should also like to thank Rosemary Davidson, Amanda
Ogden, Annie Cave and Julia Harding for their invaluable editorial
advice and much encouragement, Debbie Carlisle for her skill in coping
with a difficult manuscript and, last but not least, all my past and
present students in London, Manchester and Edmonton, whose
queries and problems furnished much of the raw material.
For the second edition I must acknowledge a special debt of
gratitude to all those who have been kind enough since the appearance
of the first edition to write to me with questions and suggestions for
improvement. I hope that I have been able to incorporate the most
important of these. I continue to be immensely grateful to my
colleagues in Manchester, in particular Dr Wiebke Brockhaus, for their
continued help, assistance and support, and to the English and German
students in Manchester whose questions have provided constant
stimulation. I must again thank all colleagues at the Institut fur

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Deutsche Sprache in Mannheim where in the course of several visits


over the years I have been able to check the material and verify the
linguistic data on the basis of their incomparable collections of modern
German usage. Dr Kate Brett at Cambridge University Press deserves
especial thanks for her continued patience, encouragement and
practical advice whilst this edition was in preparation.

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References

General reference books


The following reference works were consulted at all stages of preparing
this book.
Agricola, E. et al. (eds.). 1977. Wrter und Wendungen. Wrterbuch zum deutschen
Sprachgebrauch. 8th edn. Leipzig.
Barbour, J. S. and P. Stevenson. 1990. Variation in German. A Critical Approach to
German Sociolinguistics. Cambridge.
Beaton, K. B. 1996. A Practical Dictionary of German Usage. Oxford.
Braun, P. 1993. Tendenzen in der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. Sprachvarietten. 3rd
edn. Stuttgart.
Clyne, M. 1995. The German Language in a Changing Europe. Cambridge.
Duckert, J. and G. Kempcke (eds.). 1984. Wrterbuch der Sprachschwierigkeiten.
Zweifelslle, Normen und Varianten. Leipzig.
Duden. 1998. Grammatik der deutschen Gegenwartssprache. 6th edn. Mannheim,
etc.
Duden. 2000a. Das groe Wrterbuch der deutschen Sprache. 3rd edn. 10 vols on
CD-ROM. Mannheim, etc.
Duden. 2000b. Rechtschreibung der deutschen Sprache und Fremdwrter. 22nd edn.
Mannheim, etc.
Durreil, M. 2000. Using German Synonyms. Cambridge.
Eisenberg, P. 1998-9. Grundri der deutschen Grammatik. 2 vols. Stuttgart/Weimar.
Engel, U. 1991. Deutsche Grammatik. 2nd edn. Heidelberg.
Farrell, R. B. 1977. Dictionary of German Synonyms. 3rd edn. Cambridge.
Freund, F. and B. Sundqvist. 1988. Tysk grammatik. Stockholm.
Glck, H. and W. Sauer. 1997. Gegenwartsdeutsch. 2nd edn. Stuttgart.
Gtz, D. et al. (eds.). 2000. Langenscheidts Growrterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache.
3rd edn. Berlin, etc.
Fox, A. 1990. The Structure of German. Oxford.
Heidolph, K. E. et al. (eds.). 1981. Grundzge einer deutschen Grammatik. Berlin.
Heibig, G. and J. Buscha. 1995. Deutsche Grammatik. Ein Handbuch fur den
Auslnderunterricht. 13th edn. Leipzig.
Heibig, G. and W. Schenkel. 1991. Wrterbuch zur Valenz und Distribution deutscher
Verben. 8th edn. Tbingen.
Hermann, U. 1996. Die (NEUE) deutsche Rechtschreibung. Revised by L. Gtze with
an introduction by K. Heller. Gtersloh.
Keller, R. E. 1978. The German Language. London.
Lamprecht, A. 1977. Grammatik der englischen Sprache. 5th edn. Berlin.
Quirk, R. et al. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.
London/New York.

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Schanen, F. and J.-P. Confais. 1986. Grammaire de Vallemand. Formes et fonctions.


Paris.
Schwitalla, J. 1997. Gesprochenes Deutsch. Eine Einfuhrung. Berlin.
Sommerfeldt, K.-E. (ed.). 1988. Entwicklungstendenzen in der deutschen
Gegenwartssprache. Tbingen.
Stevenson, P. 1997. The German-speaking World. A Practical Introduction to
Sociolinguistic Issues. London/New York.
Terrell, P. et al. (eds.). 1999. Collins German-English English-German Dictionary.
4th edn. Glasgow.
Wahrig, G. 2000. Deutsches Wrterbuch. 2nd edn. Gtersloh.
West, J. 1992-4. Progressive Grammar of German. 6 vols. Dublin.
Zifonun, G. et al. 1997. Grammatik der Deutschen Sprache. 3 vols. Berlin/New
York.

Specific references
Where the books listed above give more information than could be
encompassed in this book, or where I have made particular use of their
material or presentation, they are listed below in abbreviated form,
giving the author and the year of publication. Specialized works
relevant to individual sections are also listed below.

1.3 Examples of variation: pronunciation


This section was prepared with reference to C. Hall, Modern German
Pronunciation. An Introduction for Speakers ofEnglish
(Manchester/New York, 1992) and the following standard works of
reference: Duden, Band 6: Aussprachewrterbuch, 3rd edn (Mannheim,
etc., 1990) and T. Siebs, Reine und gemigte Hochlautung mit
Aussprachewrterbuch, 19th edn, revised by H. de Boor, H. Moser and
C. Winkler (Berlin, 1969). The latter both give details on acceptable
(and unacceptable) colloquial and regional usage as well as on the
received standard pronunciation of German.

1.5.1

Regional variation in vocabulary


The major sources for the material in this section were: J. Eichhoff,
Wortatlas der deutschen Umgangssprachen, vols. 1-2 (Bern/Munich,
1977-8), vols. 3-4 (Munich, 1998-2000) and W. Seibicke, Wie sagt man
anderswo? Landschaftliche Unterschiede im deutschen Wortgebrauch
(Mannheim, 1972).

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1.5.2 Austrian and Swiss words


This section was compiled with assistance from the following works,
which give much more detail on Austrian and Swiss lexical
peculiarities: J. Ebner, Wie sagt man in Osterreich? Wrterbuch der
sterreichischen Besonderheiten, 2nd edn (Mannheim, etc., 1980) and K.
Meyer, Wie sagt man in der Schweiz? Wrterbuch der schweizerischen
Besonderheiten (Mannheim, etc., 1989).

2.1 Problems of meaning


Much more detail on English-German lexical correspondences is to be
found in Beaton (1996) and Farrell (1977), to which this section is
indebted at many points, and I also consulted E. Leisi, Der Wortinhalt.
Seine Struktur im Deutschen und Englischen^ 5th edn (Heidelberg, 1975),
which is still unequalled as a comparative study of the vocabulary of the
two languages. Much of the new and revised material in this section is
based on the work undertaken in the preparation of Durrell (2000),
which contains more information on word-fields in German.

2.3 Word formation


For this section the following standard textbooks provided much
information: L. M Eichinger, Deutsche Wortbildung. Eine Einfiihrung
(Tbingen, 1999), W. Fleischer and I. Barz, Wortbildung der deutschen
Gegenwartssprache, 2nd rev. edn (Tbingen, 1995) and B. Naumann,
Einfiihrung in die Wortbildungslehre des Deutschen, 3rd edn (Tbingen,
2000).

2.5

Prepositions
The compilation of this section was particularly assisted by reference to
Lamprecht (1977), pp. 309-31, W. Schmitz, Der Gebrauch der deutschen
Prpositionen, 9th edn (Munich, 1981) and J. Schrder, Lexikon
deutscher Prpositionen, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1990).

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2.6 Modal particles


This section has benefited greatly from the account of the German
particles in G. Helbig and A. Helbig, Deutsche Partikeln - Richtig
gebraucht? (Leipzig, etc., 1995) and H. Weydt et al., Kleine deutsche
Partikellehre (Stuttgart, 1983).

3.1

Nouns: genders and plurals


The statistics in 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 are taken from G. Augst,
Untersuchungen zum Morpheminventar der deutschen Gegenwartssprache
(Tbingen, 1975), pp. 5-70.

4.1 Verbs and cases


Duden (1998), pp. 650-81, and Helbig and Schenkel (1991) give
extensive surveys of verb government and sentence patterns in German
and were of considerable assistance in the compilation of this chapter.

4.3.2 Past and perfect


K. Dieling and F. Kempter, Die Tempora, 2nd edn (Leipzig, 1989) and
R. Thieroff, DasfiniteVerb im Deutschen. Tempus - Modus - Distanz
(Tbingen, 1992) give good accounts of tense usage in modern
German. The use of the past and perfect tenses is comprehensively
documented in S. Latzel, Die deutschen Tempora Perfekt und Prteritum
(Munich, 1977).

4.4 The passive


This section draws in particular on the account of German passive
constructions in Zifonun et al. (1997), pp. 1788-858.

4.5 The subjunctive


This account of the subjunctive in modern German is based in large
measure on the survey by K.-H. Bausch, Modalitt und
Konjunktivgebrauch in der gesprochenen deutschen Standardsprache, Teil I

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(Munich, 1979). I am most grateful to Dr Bausch for allowing me to


consult the unpublished second part of his work. S. Jger, Empfehlungen
zum Gebrauch des Konjunktivs (Dsseldorf, 1970) can still be
recommended as a very sane survey of the uses of the subjunctive in
modern German.

4.6 The modal auxiliaries


The following works were particularly valuable in the compilation of
this section: G. Diewald, Die Modalverben im Deutschen.
Grammatikalisierung und Polyfunktionalitt (Tbingen, 1999),
Lamprecht (1977), pp. 163-75, and F. R. Palmer, Modality and the
English Modais (London, 1979).

5.1 Word order


This explanation of German word order draws in particular on the
accounts in Engel (1991), pp. 303^4, Heidolph et al. (1981),
pp. 702-64; U. Hoberg, Die Wortstellung in der geschriebenen deutschen
Gegenwartssprache (Munich, 1981), H. W. Kirkwood, 'Aspects of Word
Order and its Communicative Function in English and German',
Journal of Linguistics 5 (1969), pp. 85-106, and Zifonun et al. (1997),
pp. 1495-680.

5.2 Spelling and punctuation


I am grateful to my colleague Dr Sally Johnson of Lancaster
University, and to colleagues at the Institut fr Deutsche Sprache for
information about the controversies surrounding the introduction of
the revised orthography. G. ugst et al., Zur Neuregelung der Deutschen
Orthographie. Begrndung und Kritik (Tbingen, 1997) contains a
useful selection of critical articles, although the debate has
subsequently progressed further. Hermann (1996) includes full details
on the new rules, and the account here is based on this.
In addition, occasional examples and data were drawn from many
sources, in particular from the Mannheim corpus of modern spoken
and written German at the Institut fur Deutsche Sprache, from the
works of Alfred Andersch, Thomas Bernhard, Heinrich Boll, Friedrich
Drrenmatt, Max Frisch, Max von der Grn, Herrmann Kant,
Siegfried Lenz, Bernhard Schlink, Erwin Strittmatter, Patrick Sskind

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and from the following newspapers and periodicals: Bild, Frankfurter


Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Neues Deutschland, Neue
Zrcher Zeitung, Die Presse, Der Spiegel, Sddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit.
In order not to overburden the text unnecessarily, specific sources for
such occasional data are only given where the source is particularly
relevant or in the case of longer extracts.

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Glossary of linguistic terms

In order to talk about language we need to use some special terms.


Although I have tried in this book not to introduce a large number of
technical terms, some are necessary both for the sake of clarity and to
avoid lengthy and tedious repetitions. As far as possible, I have kept to
the more usual grammatical terms. Some, such as 'noun', 'verb' and
'adjective', need no explanation, but the less familiar ones commonly
used for German and English are explained below. Not all of them are
found in this book, but are included to help the reader consult other
works. For similar reasons German equivalents are given where they
exist. Terms used in these definitions which are themselves explained
in the glossary have been given an asterisk.
Ablaut The vowel changes in the *past tense and *past participle
of German * strong verbs, e.g. singen, sang, gesungen, see 3.3.1.
accusative {der Akkusativ) see case.
adverbial {die Adverbiale) A word or phrase used to indicate, for
instance, how, where, why or when something happens or is
done, e.g. heute, aus diesem Grunde, in der Stadt, see 5.1.5.
apposition {die Apposition) A descriptive phrase added to a
noun phrase without any connecting preposition, e.g. Kaiser
Wilhelm II, der letzte deutsche Kaiser, starb im Exil in Holland.
article {der Artikel) *Determiners which give a noun specific
reference. German has a 'definite' article {der, die, das, etc.) and
an 'indefinite' article {ein, eine, einem, etc.), see 3.4.
assimilation {die Assimilation) The pronunciation of a
particular sound may be affected by ('assimilated to')
neighbouring sounds, e.g. in colloquial German gebm, er hap mir
(for geben, er hat mir).
Ausklammerung Excluding a phrase from the verbal "bracket,
i.e. putting it after the *past participle, * separable prefix, etc.
which is usually last in the clause, e.g. Ich rufe an aus London,
see 5.1.6.
auxiliary verb {das Hilfsverb) A verb used with another verb to
make tenses, the passive voice, etc. The main German auxiliaries
are haben, sein, werden and the * modal auxiliaries drfen, mssen,
etc., see 4.6.

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(verbal) bracket (die Klammer) The characteristic sentence


construction of German whereby most elements of the sentence
(or clause) are enclosed between the two parts of the verb, e.g. Ich
habe sie gestern in Ulm gesehen, see 5.1.1.
case (der Fall) The indication of the role played by a noun in the
sentence by * inflection, i.e. by changing its form or the form of
the *determiners or adjectives used with it. German has four
cases: the nominative (mainly for the *subject of the verb), the
accusative (mainly for the * direct object), the dative (mainly for
the *indirect object) and the genitive (mainly to show possession
or to link nouns together), see 3.2,4.1 and 4.2.
cleft sentence A typically English construction, little used in
German, by which part of the sentence is emphasized by placing
it at the beginning in a clause introduced by it, e.g. It was
yesterday that she came, see 5.1.4.
(adjective) comparison (die Steigerung) The relative qualities
of persons or things may be compared by using the comparative
or superlative 'degree' of adjectives, usually formed in German
by the suffixes -er and -(e)st respectively, e.g. schnell - schneller
(comparative degree) - (der) schnellste (superlative degree),
complement (die Ergnzung) A part of the sentence which is
closely linked to the verb and 'completes' its meaning in some
way, e.g. the *direct and *indirect objects, *prepositional objects,
direction phrases with verbs of motion, etc., see 5.1.5.
compound (die Zusammensetzung) A word formed by joining
two (or more) words together, e.g. das Rathaus, die
Aktiengesellschaft, brustschwimmen.
conditional A conditional sentence (der Konditionalsatz) is
one which contains or implies a condition. In German, they often
contain the conjunctions wenn or falls and the verb is often in the
past or pluperfect *subjunctive (Konjunktiv //, see 4.5.4), e.g.
Wenn ich das Fenster aufmachte, wrden wir alle frieren. The wrde
form of Konjunktiv II is often called 'the conditional tense' in
English grammars of German,
conjugation (die Konjugation) see inflection,
conjunction (die Konjunktion) A word used to join clauses
together, e.g. und, aber, wenn, nachdem.
dative (der Dativ) see case,
declension (die Deklination) see inflection,
demonstrative (das Demonstrative) A word used to point to
something specific, e.g. English this, that, German dieser, jener.
Demonstratives can appear as *determiners or pronouns, see
3.5.1.
derivation (die Wortbildung) Forming a word on the basis of
another, usually with the help of ^prefixes and/or * suffixes, e.g.
verbessern ('derived' from besser), Bildung ('derived' from bilden),
see 2.3.

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determiner (das Artikelwort, das Determinativ) One of a small


group of function words used at the beginning of a noun phrase.
They include the definite and indefinite * articles, demonstrative
adjectives, possessive adjectives (mein, sein, etc.), the indefinites
(einige, jeder, mancher,; etc.), and so on; see 3.4 and 3.5. With a few
exceptions, only one determiner can be used in a single noun
phrase, see 3.4.3.
dialect (der Dialekt, die Mundart) A language * variety restricted
to a particular geographical area, see 1.2. In the German speech
area they are often strikingly different from * Hochdeutsch in
phonetics and grammar. Compare Zrich German Er isch i mys
Huus choo, or Westphalian (Mnster) He is in mien Huus kuemmen
for standard German Er ist in mein Haus gekommen.
direct object (das direkte Objekt) The person or thing directly
affected by the action of the verb. In German it is in the
accusative case, e.g. Er stellte den Stuhl in die Ecke.
doublet (die Dublette, die Formvariante) An alternative form of
the same word, e.g. benutzen/bentzen, see 2.2.4.
elision (die Elision) The omission of a sound, as
characteristically occurs in rapid colloquial speech. For example,
in a word like Hauptbahnhof the t is often 'elided5 in spoken
German so that it sounds like Haupbahnhof.
ellipsis (die Ellipse) Omitting words, typically in colloquial
speech where their meaning can be deduced from the context. In
spoken German, for instance, we often find ellipsis of pronouns,
e.g. Geht nicht for Das geht nicht, or Komm gleich for Ich komme
gleich.
extended epithet (das erweiterte Attribut) An adjective,
particularly a *participle, which is expanded into a clause-like
construction, e.g. die in dem Park spielenden Kinder. Such
constructions are characteristic of formal written German,
figurative meaning (die bertragene Bedeutung) A word may
have an 'extended' or 'figurative' meaning besides its 'literal'
meaning. For example, blass, besides its literal meaning 'pale', can
have afigurativesense 'vague, faint', e.g. eine blasse Ahnung, 'a
vague suspicion',
filler A conventionalized word or phrase used in conversation to
give the speaker time to think or express a reaction, e.g.
selbstverstndlich, das gibt's doch gar nicht.
finite verb (dasfiniteVerb) A verb form used with a subject and
agreeing with it through the ending, e.g. er machte, ihr kommt
an, er hat es gesagt. Finite forms of the verb are distinguished in
this way from the 'non-finite' forms, i.e. the *participles and the
"infinitive.
gender (das Genus) A grammatical classification system of
nouns indicated in German by the different forms of the
* determiners used with a particular noun, e.g. der Tisch, die Luft,

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das Heft. German has three genders: masculine, feminine and


neuter, see 3.1.
genitive {der Genitiv) see case.
government {die Rektion) The requirement that a particular
verb or preposition should be followed by a noun phrase in a
particular case. Thus, in German, we say that ohne 'governs' a
noun phrase in the accusative and helfen 'governs' a noun phrase
in the dative.
Hochdeutsch The codified, official *variety of German as used
in all the German-speaking countries, see 1.2.
idiom {die Redewendung) A set phrase with a special meaning
which cannot be understood by taking the words individually,
e.g. schwer auf Draht ('on the ball'), see 2.4.
imperative mood {der Imperativ) The form of the verb used to
give commands, e.g. Bleib da! Stellen Sie sich das vor!
imperfect tense see past tense.
indicative mood {der Indikativ) The form of the verb used to
make statements, ask questions, etc., e.g. Sie kam aus dem Haus,
Bringen Sie es mir morgen?
indirect object {das indirekte Objekt) A verb Complement
which typically refers to a person indirectly affected by the action
of the verb in some way, for instance by receiving the direct
object, e.g. Ich gab ihrem Bruder das Geld. In German the
indirect object is in the dative case, whilst in English it either
precedes the direct object or is in a phrase introduced by to, e.g. /
gave her brother the money or I gave the money to her brother.
indirect speech {die indirekte Rede) Also called 'reported
speech': a construction in which what someone said is
incorporated into our own sentence rather than quoted directly.
Compare 'direct speech' Er sagte: Ich bin krank" with 'indirect
speech' Er sagte, dass er krank sei, see 4.5.3.
infinitive {der Infinitiv) The base form of a verb (as typically
listed in dictionaries). In German it ends in -en or -n, e.g.
schlagen, ziehen, verhandeln. When used with another verb it is
usually preceded by zu in the so-called 'infinitive clause' {der
Infinitivsatz), e.g. Er hat mir empfohlen, den Wagen in die
Werkstatt zu bringen.
inflection {die Flexion) Changing the form of a word to show
different grammatical categories, e.g. for case and plural with
nouns, or tense, mood, person and number with verbs.
Traditionally the 'inflection' of nouns and adjectives is referred
to as 'declension', the 'inflection' of verbs as 'conjugation',
inseparable verb {das untrennbare Verb) A prefixed verb whose
* prefix is not stressed and remains attached to the verb in all types
of sentence construction. The main inseparable verb prefixes of
German are: be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, ver- and zer-y see 2.3.4.

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interjection (die Interjektion) A part of speech such as ah! oh!


ach! etc. expressing a reaction or response,
intransitive verb (das intransitive Verb) A verb which does not
govern a "direct object in the accusative case, e.g. bleiben, fallen,
see 4.1.
inversion (die Inversion) We speak of 'inversion' or 'inverted
word order' in German if the verb precedes the subject, for
instance in a question, or in a statement where something other
than the subject occupies the initial position, e.g. Gestern habe
ich ihn nicht gesehen, see 5.1.
Konjunktiv see subjunctive.
modal auxiliary verb (das Modalverb) In German, the six
verbs drfen, knnen, mgen, mssen, sollen and wollen are known
as 'modal auxiliary verbs'. They are used to express possibility,
permission, obligation, etc., see 4.6.
modal particle (die Modalpartikel) Short words such as aber,
auch, doch, ja, nur, etc. which are very characteristic of spoken
German and express the speaker's attitude to what is being said,
see 2.6.
nominative (der Nominativ) see case,
number (der Numerus) A grammatical category for indicating
the difference between singular and plural. The difference
between Haus and Huser or between ich komme and wir kommen
is one of'number',
object (das Objekt) see direct object and indirect object,
participle (das Partizip) see past participle and present
participle.
partitive (der Partitiv) An expression of measurement or
quantity, e.g. ein Stck Brot, zwei Flaschen Wein, see 4.2.4.
passive voice (das Passiv) A verb form using the "auxiliary
verbs werden or sein with the *past participle. The subject of the
verb in the passive voice is normally the "direct object of the
equivalent active construction, e.g. active: Sie lobte mich ~
passive: Ich wurde (von ihr) gelobt, see 4.4.
past participle (das zweite Partizip) A non-finite verb form
used as an adjective or with an "auxiliary verb to form the
"perfect tense or the "passive, e.g. gemacht, gestanden, zerbrochen.
past tense (das Prteritum) A simple tense (i.e. one formed
without an "auxiliary verb) mainly used to relate events which
occurred before the present moment, e.g. es machte, es brach, es
zerfiel, see 4.3.2. This tense is sometimes called the 'imperfect
tense' in English grammars of German, but this is a misleading
term which is best avoided,
perfect tense (das Perfekt) A tense formed with the present
tense of the "auxiliary verbs haben or sein and the "past participle,
e.g. Ich habe gegessen, Sie ist angekommen. It is used to relate past

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events to the moment of speaking and, especially in spoken


German, to report past events, see 4.3.2.
person (die Person) A grammatical category of the verb by
which we show the difference between the person(s) speaking
('first' person, i.e. ich, wir), the person(s) spoken to ('second'
person, i.e. du, ihr,; Sie) and other person(s) or thing(s) spoken
about ('third' person, i.e. er, sie, es).
personal pronoun (das Personalpronomen) Simple words
referring to persons or things such as ich, du, ihm.
phrasal verb (das Funktionsverbgefiige) A combination of a noun
derived from a verb and a common verb such as bringen, kommen
or nehmen, e.g. etrv zum Abschluss bringen ('to finish sth'), in
Betracht kommen ('to be considered'),
pluperfect tense (das Plusquamperfekt) A tense formed with the
*past tense of the *auxiliaries haben or sein and the *past
participle, e.g. Ich hatte geschlafen, Ich war gegangen.
prefix (das Prfix) An element added to the beginning of a word
or root, e.g. Anfall, gestanden, unglaublich.
prepositional adverb (das Prpositionaladverb) Words formed
by the combination of da(r)~ with a preposition, e.g. dabei, darin,
damit, see 4.1.5.
prepositional object (das Prpositionalobjekt) A * complement
of the verb, linked to it by means of a preposition, e.g. Ich warte
auf dich, Er glaubt an ein Wunder, see 4.1.4.
present participle (das erste Partizip) A non-finite verb form
made by suffixing -d to the form of the *infinitive, e.g. spielend,
verbessernd. Unlike the corresponding English ing-form (e.g.
playing), the German present participle is mainly used as an
adjective, see 5.3.
principal parts (die Stammformen des Verbs) The three main
inflectional forms of each verb, i.e. the form of the "Infinitive, the
*past tense (first person singular) and the *past participle, e.g.
machen - machte - gemacht', sinken - sank - gesunken, see 3.3.
progressive tenses In English, the tenses formed with the
*auxiliary verb to be and the ing-form of the verb, e.g. She is going,
We shall be sailing. There are no direct equivalents to these in
German.
reflexive verb (das reflexive Verb) A verb used in combination
with the reflexive pronoun, i.e. sich in the third person and the
pronoun corresponding to the subject in the first and second
persons, e.g. sich verabreden.
register (die Textsorte) A language * variety determined by use
and influenced by such factors as medium (i.e. speech or
writing), subject matter and situation, see 1.1.
relative pronoun (das Relativpronomen) A word which
introduces a subordinate clause describing a noun, for instance

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English who,, which, that, German der, die, das, etc., e.g. Die Frau,
Hut trgt, kenne ich nicht, see 3.5.2.
rhetorical question (dfe rhetorische Frage) A question which is
really a statement, as the answer is assumed to be obvious, e.g.
kennt ihn nicht?
Schachtelsatz A German sentence construction where a
number of clauses are contained within each other, e.g. Der Autor,
der ein Buch, das dieses Problem behandelt, geschrieben hat, hat in
der Nazizeit sehr gelitten. As such sentences can be confusing,
they tend to be avoided in modern German, see 5.1.6.
semantic (semantisch) Having to do with meaning,
separable verb (das trennbare Verb) A verb with a stressed
"prefix which is detached from the verb in some sentence types
(e.g. in statements) and forms the second part of the verbal
"bracket, e.g. ankommen: Wir kommen heute um fnf Uhr an, see
2.3.5.
stress (die Betonung) In all words of more than one syllable in
English and German, one syllable, known as the 'stressed'
syllable, is pronounced with more force than the others. This is
indicated in this book by the symbol1 before the stressed syllable,
e.g. Beltonung, 'Anfang,, lebendig.
strong verb (das starke Verb) A verb whose "principal parts are
made by altering the vowel (i.e. by *Ablaut) and which has the
suffix -en in the "past participle, e.g. schwimmen - schwamm geschwommen, see 3.3.
subject (das Subjekt) The noun or pronoun (in the nominative
case) which determines the ending of the verb, i.e. with which
the verb 'agrees' in "person and "number. In statements in the
active voice the subject is typically the person or thing
performing an action, e.g. Der Stein fiel mir aufden Kopf.
subjunctive mood (der Konjunktiv) A verb category mainly
used in German to show "indirect speech or in "conditional
sentences, see 4.5.
subordinate clause (der Nebensatz) Also called 'dependent
clause'. A clause, usually introduced by a "conjunction, which
functions as part of another clause (e.g. as subject, object,
adjective, adverbial) on which it depends. In German subordinate
clauses the "finite verb is typically the second part of the verbal
"bracket, e.g. Die Frau, die sehr klein war,; konnte es nicht
erreichen (the subordinate clause has the function of an adjective
qualifying Frau); Als er ankam, waren ihre Brder schon fort (the
subordinate clause plays the role of an "adverbial of time),
suffix (das Suffix) An element added to the end of a word or
root, e.g. Bedeutung, gelblich, machte. A grammatical suffix, as in
machte, is often termed an 'ending',
superlative (der Superlativ) see comparison.

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tag question In English, the short questions with an auxiliary


verb at the end of the sentence, e.g. He's coming, isn't he?
topic (das Thema) Also called 'theme'. The first stressed
element in a sentence typically refers to something 'given'
(having been mentioned previously) or 'known' to both speaker
and listener. This is the 'topic' of the sentence and some 'new' or
'unknown' information (known as the 'comment' or 'rheme') is
given about it. In German main clause statements the topic
typically occurs in first position before the "finite verb, see 5.1.
Thus the sentence Dieses Buch hat sie in Ulm gekauft starts with
an element (dieses Buch) which has just been referred to (the
'topic'), and says something about it.
transitive verb (das transitive Verb) A verb "governing a "direct
object (in the accusative case), e.g. schlagen, verbessern, see 4.1.
Umgangssprache The "register of everyday speech in modern
German, often coloured with regionalisms, see 1.1 and 1.2.
variant (die Variante) A word, sound or grammatical form
typical of a particular "variety, see chapter 1.
variety (die Variett) A particular form of language with
differences characteristic of a particular region, social group,
speech situation or medium, etc. * Hochdeutsch, "dialects,
*Umgangssprache, "registers are all 'varieties' of German, see
chapter 1.
valency/valence (die Valenz) A term often used to refer to the
types of "complement found with a particular verb or the kinds
of object it "governs, see 4.1.
verbal noun (das Verbalsubstantiv) A noun formed from a verb,
either the "infinitive used as a noun, e.g. das Kommen, or some
other form of "derivation, e.g. die Bedeutung (from bedeuten) or
der Bruch (from brechen).
weak masculine noun (das schwache Maskulinum) A masculine
noun which forms its genitive case with the ending -en, e.g. des
Menschen, des Franzosen, see 3.2.1.
weak verb (das schwache Verb) A verb which forms its "past
tense and "past participle with the ending -t, e.g. machen machte - gemacht, see 3.3.

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Abbreviations and conventions

acc
adj
AU
CH
conj
dat
demon
Engl
esp
etw
fem
Fr
fut
gen
Ger
intr
id
jdn
jdm
jds
masc
N
NE
NW
neut
nom
occ
perf
pi
pluperf
prep
pres
pron
R1
Rl*
R2
R3
R3a

accusative case
adjective
Austrian usage, see 1.2.3
Swiss usage, see 1.2.3
conjunction
dative case
demonstrative
English
especially
etwas
feminine gender
French
future tense
genitive case
German
intransitive verb
jemand
jemanden
jemandem
jemandes
masculine gender
North German, see 1.2.3
Northeast German, see 1.2.3
Northwest German, see 1.2.3
neuter gender
nominative case
occasionally
perfect tense
plural
pluperfect tense
preposition
present tense
pronounced; pronoun
spoken colloquial register, see 1.1.5
vulgar, see 1.1.5
neutral register, see 1.1.5
formal written register, see 1.1.5
literary register, see 1.1.5

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R3b
S
sb
SE
sing
sth
subj
SW
tr
/

non-literary written register, see 1.1.5


South German, see 1.2.3
somebody
Southeast German, see 1.2.3
singular
something
subject
Southwest German, see 1.2.3
transitive verb
or

Where necessary, a stressed syllable is indicated by 1 before the


syllable, e.g. der Maf or, das Kontinent, bersetzen,'umziehen.
Where appropriate the plural of a noun is indicated in brackets
after the noun, e.g. der Vater ( "), die Frau (-en), der Lehrer (-),
der Stuhl ( "e).
If the genitive singular of a noun does not end in ~(e)s it is given
with the plural in the following way (see 3.2): der Bube (-n-n),
der Mensch (-en, -en), der Name (-ns, n).
Adjectives used as nouns (see 3.4.4) are indicated in the following
way: der Beamte(r), der Fremde(r), dasAuere(s).

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1 Varieties of language

German is spoken as a native language by about 100 million people in


at least fifteen European countries. This constitutes by far the largest
speech community in Western and Central Europe. It is an official state
language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and
Luxembourg. It has recognized regional status in areas of Belgium,
Denmark, Italy and Romania and, even after the expulsion and
resettlement of large numbers of German speakers after the Second
World War, it still accounts for sizeable long-established minorities in
France, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Russia. It
also has a vast range in terms of possible uses: for everyday
conversation, formal speech, technical writing, journalism, literature
(in the widest sense), and so on.
Given this broad geographic spread and the number of uses to which
it is put, it is quite natural that it is subject to considerable variation.
Different words, grammatical constructions and sentence types are
used depending on who is speaking or writing, to whom, on what topic,
in what circumstances, in what region. Most people can choose to
speak formally or informally as they feel appropriate in a given
situation. Students, for instance, express themselves in very different
ways when discussing politics or sport with friends in a cafe, talking to
their parents or a lecturer, writing a seminar paper or a letter of
application for a job. The spoken language also differs markedly from
Berlin to Cologne, Munich, Zrich or Vienna. There can be substantial
differences between the written German of a modern novel, a serious
newspaper, a history book and a travel guide. All these different forms
are varieties of German, and we can identify those characteristic
features, the variants, which go to make up each variety.
In the process of learning their own language native speakers
develop an awareness of the variants available to them and a degree of
competence in using those which are appropriate to a given situation.
They also develop a keen sensitivity towards such variation, so that
when they hear or read a particular variant in an inappropriate context
it will sound out of place, and possibly comical, affected, pompous,
slipshod - or even rude. Clearly, this presents problems, and potential
traps, for foreign learners. In order to communicate effectively in
German they have to go through a much more conscious process of
acquiring the ability to recognize and use those forms which are right
for each particular situation. This is not always straightforward because

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there are no hard and fast rules - it is not a matter of grammar - and
the language is most often presented to foreign learners, certainly in the
early stages, in a uniform variety which can be rather artificial and
removed from actual everyday usage. Initial confrontation with
German as it is used in day-to-day situations, with all its variation, can
be confusing or frustrating - for example when learners find that
laboriously learnt grammatical constructions amuse native speakers if
they are used in everyday conversation, or when they are told that a
particular word or expression is 'not used here', possibly with the
implication that it is not very good German. But developing
competence in handling variation appropriately is an essential aspect of
mastering the language fully, as much for the foreign learner as for the
native speaker.
Within the scope of this book it would be impossible to give a
detailed account of all the varieties of modern German. They are in any
case not clearly defined; distinctions between individual varieties are
not clear-cut and each one tends to shade into the next. This book
identifies some of the most frequent variants which native speakers
have at their command and which the advanced foreign learner is most
likely to encounter. This is done by explaining in detail the major
factors which affect choice between variants. These factors can be
usefully divided into two categories: those relating to the uses which the
language serves and those relating to the users of the language, in
particular to the social groups to which they belong.
More extensive information on variation in German can be
found in Barbour & Stevenson (1990), Clyne (1995) and Stevenson
(1997). The account here draws on these works and has also benefited
from the analysis of register in French in R. E. Batchelor and M. H.
Offord, Using French, 3rd edn (Cambridge 2000), on which the
numbering in 1.1.5 is based.

NOTE:

1.1 Varieties according to use: register


The forms used by native speakers are influenced by factors like subject
matter (i.e. what they are talking about), medium (i.e. are they speaking
or writing?) and situation (i.e. where they are saying it and who they are
talking to). Variation of this kind, which depends on the use to which
the language is being put, is commonly known as register variation. A
register is a type, or stylistic level of language (e.g. colloquial, informal,
formal, technical, etc.), which is influenced by factors of this kind.

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1.1.1

Medium
The first crucial distinction affecting register is that between spoken
and written language. When we are writing we have more time to
consider what we are saying and how we are saying it, to be precise in
expression, and to formulate more carefully than in the flow of speech.
As a result written language tends to be more elaborate and complex
than spoken language. And because there is no direct contact with the
person being addressed, more detailed explanation and more formal
coherence are necessary than, for example, in a conversation with a
close friend, when we can leave words out, break sentences off and be
less precise in our use of words and still be perfectly well understood.
As a result, written language is structured more formally and precisely
and exhibits a greater degree of organization in every aspect. It has a
more extensive vocabulary, with distinctions of meaning which are
often ignored in the spoken language. There are grammatical forms,
such as, in German, the present subjunctive, the genitive case and the
past tense, which are used more sparingly (if at all) in everyday spoken
German than in writing. Sentences tend to be longer, with a more
complex structure. Regionalisms are very limited and are largely
restricted to a few items of vocabulary, principally those characteristic
of the different German-speaking countries.
Spoken German, on the other hand, is characterized in general by
considerable deviation from the formal norms of sentence construction
which are adhered to in writing. Sentences are often incomplete (often
just nouns or phrases without a verb), there are many broken or
elliptical constructions, repetitions and phrases added or inserted as
afterthoughts without linking them properly to the rest of the sentence.
There are fewer subordinate clauses, and main-clause constructions are
the rule. Filler words, like the modal particles (aber, doch, denn, etc., see
2.6), hesitation markers (h, mhm, etc.), interjections and comment
clauses (sehen Sie, weit du, etc.), are very common. Regionalisms are
almost inevitably present to some degree, and these become more
marked the further south one goes (see 1.2.2).
Despite the apparent paradox, not all writing is in the 'written'
register as described above, and not all speech is in the 'spoken'
register. We can imitate natural speech in writing, and many modern
popular novelists and the popular press use a variety which is close to
it. However, in practice this is restricted to certain characteristic words
and expressions, and possibly some phonetic contractions such as
sehense for sehen Sie. The lax sentence constructions which are typical
of spontaneous informal speech (see the examples in 1.4.2) are rarely
found in any form of writing, not least because they are conventionally
felt to be 'incorrect'. Similarly, characteristic written forms may be
spoken, often in the most formal situations, e.g. a sermon, a public
lecture, a parliamentary speech or a news broadcast; as often as not

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these are given from a prepared text. It is also broadly true that written
German has been moving closer to speech in many ways over the last
fifty years. This is a development which is typical of English and other
languages, too, and it is generally seen as a result of the increasing
importance of the spoken medium in the modern world, especially in
radio and television. In German, though, it is also probably due in part
to the more widespread use of standard German (Hochdeutsch), rather
than the dialects, in the everyday speech of most German speakers (see
1.2.2).

1.1.2 Subject matter


What is being talked or written about can influence the way it is
expressed. A discussion of politics calls for a whole range of vocabulary
and forms which would be inappropriate in other areas. Every activity
and field of study has its own special terminology and expressions, and
these are used irrespective of situation: the same characteristic forms
may be used by a politician in a television interview, in a newspaper
article or between friends. But this is not always so: an electric light
bulb is, in the everyday spoken register of German, die (Glh)birne, but
in the specialist register of electricians it is die (Glh)lampe. Similarly,
doctors regularly use different terms for diseases or conditions when
talking to other doctors from those they use to their patients. Although
subject matter most obviously influences the choice of vocabulary, it is
important to realize that, in modern German, it also affects grammar
and sentence construction. Much non-literary writing in German
favours forms and constructions which are found less often, for
instance, in a modern novel. The passage in 1.6.4 gives many
characteristic examples of these. Thus, there are forms which are
generally regarded as more appropriate to talk or (especially) write
about a particular range of subject matter.

1.1.3

Situation
The term situation refers to the whole context in which the language is
being used - especially in speech, as there is naturally little inherent
variation in written situations. With the important exception of
letter-writing, which is a special case, a writer does not have a personal
relationship to the reader. As a consequence, the most formal register
variants are typically selected in writing, as was shown in 1.1.1. On the
other hand, situation is the most important factor underlying register
variation in speech, and it appears typically in the degree of formality
in the words, expressions and constructions used.
This variation depends, first, on the context in which people are
speaking. Some contexts are inherently more structured and formal

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than others and may be taken as requiring a correspondingly high


register level. Some typical cases were mentioned at the end of 1.1.2,
but colleagues in an office, for example, often employ a greater degree
of formality in a meeting with set procedures than they would in the
normal course of everyday business. However, the notion of'speech
situation' is usually defined more widely, to include the relationship
between the people talking, and this plays a crucial part in the selection
of a particular register.
In general, the use of more formal language when we speak is
considered a mark of deference to the person addressed, and this forms
part of social conventions of politeness. Conversely, the use of an
inappropriately casual form may be interpreted as showing a lack of
respect. Most of the factors which affect the choice of register are
linked to norms of social behaviour in this way. This is certainly the
case with gender differences. For example, many German men feel it
appropriate to adopt a more formal mode of speech when addressing a
woman than a man. Although this is less true than it was a hundred
years ago, it is by no means unusual, particularly in the higher social
classes, when the man in question does not know the woman personally,
or among older people or in certain areas, like in Austria. More
generally, though, there are numerous forms (especially vulgarisms
such as Arschloch, Scheie, vgeln, see 1.1.5) which are avoided by many
Germans in mixed company, although they can be used fairly freely in
exclusively male or female gatherings.
The role of age is similar. It is still taken as a mark of respect to use a
more formal register when speaking to people older than oneself. This
is perhaps more widely expected by adults from children and young
people in the German-speaking countries than is the case in Britain or
the USA, and failure to observe these conventions may be resented. On
the other hand, a different form of speech, with simpler grammar and
special words, is often used towards young (especially pre-school age)
children. In general, too, a less formal tone is adopted towards all
children up to the age of fourteen or so, with the universal use of du
towards them, although this may be determined less by their age per se
than by their social status as dependants.
In conversations between adults, the relative social status of the
participants is often the crucial factor in setting the register level.
People in a subordinate social situation, such as a shopkeeper to a
customer, an employee to a boss, a student to a professor, often signal
this more deferential relationship by the use of a more formal speech
style than is normal between equals. Failure to do so may indeed have
serious social consequences, e.g. Ich kaufe nicht mehr bei Meyer, der redet
einen so grob an, as with the transgression of any other social
conventions.
How someone wishes to be seen by the person he or she is addressing
is also relevant here. People in a subordinate position, like those just
mentioned, sometimes express themselves in a particular manner in

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order to confirm their position to the person they are speaking to.
Alternatively, by using different, more casual forms, they may assert a
measure of equality, like an employee to a boss in the course of an
industrial dispute. In this way, we can adopt roles and present ourselves
in a particular manner through our speech. It has been noticed that
some German politicians choose an especially earthy or racy casual
register, very marked by regionalisms, when talking to rural
constituents in order to appeal to them as equals. This is likely to be
very different from the one they habitually use in the Bundestag. Some
people signal their contempt for all social conventions by ignoring
linguistic ones as well. They deliberately use the least formal register to
everybody, including those who might be seen as their superiors. This
attitude was particularly noticeable after 1968 among radical student
groups in West Germany, and it may still be encountered. In general,
though, the use of a less formal register most often marks a measure of
equality and intimacy with the person addressed. One clear indicator of
this in German is the switch from Sie to du.

1.1.4 Register and regionalism


There is a strong correlation between these varieties which depend on
variations in usage and varieties which depend on variation in the users,
which are explained in 1.2. As a rule, the extent of regionalisms in a
German native speaker's speech increases in proportion to the degree
of informality in the register. The most formal register, especially when
written, is fairly uniform over the whole of the German speech area,
with regional variation limited to a few items of vocabulary. The casual
register of everyday speech, on the other hand, is widely characterized
by regionalisms in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

1.1.5 Indicating register


There are no absolute, clear-cut divisions between different registers of
German. However, for the practical purposes of giving information
about register in this book it is useful to divide up the scale of register
into three main types. We can describe these roughly as 'informal
colloquial', 'neutral' and 'formal written', although the latter needs to
be subdivided into 'literary' and 'non-literary'. In the rest of the book
words and forms whose use is typically restricted to one of these
registers are marked by using the labels Rl, R2 and R3 (if necessary
split into R3a and R3b) to indicate these restrictions in
register-dependent usage:
Rl: The typical register of everyday colloquial speech, usually
referred to as Umgangssprache or Alltagssprache in German. It is used
between equals in informal situations to discuss everyday topics, and it

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is the natural mode of speech for most native speakers of German,


irrespective of the degree of education. Articulation is rather careless,
and unstressed syllables and words tend to be reduced or elided. Some
grammatical forms, like the genitive case or the present subjunctive, are
not found in this register, and there is some simplification in
inflectional forms, as with the -en ending of weak masculine nouns,
which is often dropped in this register (e.g. dem Polizist rather than dem
Polizisten). Sentence construction is typically rather loose compared
with the formal structures of writing. In spontaneous speech we
hesitate, correct ourselves, have afterthoughts, repeat ourselves and
break off sentences to go off along another track. Sentences are very
often incomplete because much is understood by implication; we can
rely on the person we are talking to to supply what is not said. In
matters of vocabulary there is a fondness for exaggeration, and many
words, like kriegen or klappen, are effectively restricted to this register
because they are considered too 'casual' or 'colloquial' for writing.
There may also be a lack of precision in the vocabulary, with
all-purpose words being used when the speaker cannot think of an exact
term. Informal speech usually has substantial regional colouring. In its
characteristic form it is rarely written, although some writing (e.g.
modern novels and the popular press) may imitate certain features of it.
This register has a wide range, from a normal conversational style
which is socially quite acceptable to gross vulgarisms. The latter mainly
concern items of vocabulary which correspond to the notorious
four-letter words of English and which are indicated here by the label
Rl*. Words designated like this are generally thought of as offensive.
They tend to sound particularly objectionable when used with a foreign
accent, and the foreign learner is best advised simply to note them and
to avoid using them.
R2: This label indicates words, forms and expressions which are
neutral in respect of register, i.e. those which are not specific to either
informal colloquial speech or formal writing, and which can be used
equally in all registers. In practice, most words, forms and expressions
of German fall into this category, so that any form not specifically
marked for register in this book is to be taken as belonging to it. Most
modern introductory material for foreign learners tends to use a type of
language which falls under this heading and is neither colloquial nor
formal.
However, there are a fair number of words, forms and expressions
whose use is best defined negatively, i.e. they are typically used over a
range of register except in colloquial speech, or except in formal writing.
Such usage is indicated in this book by the labels R2/3 or R l / 2
respectively. Other forms may be not absolutely restricted in their
usage to a single register, but if they are particularly common in Rl or
R3 this is indicated as 'esp. Rl' or 'esp. R3\
R3: By this label we indicate the register of modern written German,
with the complex sentence structures and elaborate vocabulary typical

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of the written medium. Regionalism is minimal and is usually limited


to a few items of vocabulary. It is spoken only in the most formal
situations, and then typically from a prepared text. In this case, the
pronunciation is much more careful and clear than in Rl. In grammar,
the formal requirements of standard Hochdeutsch, as set out in the
recognized authorities, is adhered to with very little deviation. The
choice of words is more careful (because we have time to think about
the best word for the context), and fine distinctions of meaning are
observed which may be ignored in everyday usage. It is useful to
distinguish two major types of this register, basically differentiated in
terms of subject matter, as follows.
R3a: The literary language as established and codified from the late
eighteenth century on, and still used in much formal writing, especially
works of literature and the serious press. It may have a rather archaic or
scholarly ring to it, but it enjoys great prestige through formal
education, and it is still widely regarded as the only 'good' or 'correct'
form of German, with deviations from it in other registers (even R3b)
considered as deficiencies.
R3b: Modern non-literary prose of all kinds, as found in business
letters, official documents, instruction manuals, popular scholarship,
writing in science, philosophy, economics, etc. Its most striking feature
is the preference for noun constructions over verb constructions; main
clauses prevail as contrasted to the complex sentences with dependent
clauses characteristic of R3a. Such features of R3b have been widely
criticized by purists (who think that old-fashioned R3a is the only kind
of German which ought to be used in writing) as Papierdeutsch or
Beamtendeutsch, and at its worst this register can be ludicrously
pompous and impenetrable. However, at its best it has a notable
conciseness, and most Germans consider it appropriate for
non-fictional writing of all kinds.
It must be stressed that these categories are a considerable
simplification. The scale of register is continuous, and there are no
natural divisions. Each of the categories above covers a wide range of
often very different types of German. Rl, for example, ranges from
wholly acceptable conversational language, as used every day by most
German speakers, to the kind of gross vulgarisms indicated by Rl* in
this book which are avoided except in very special cases. The other
registers have no less wide a range: R3b includes, for instance, the very
precise and considered expression of an editorial in Die Zeit and the
unnecessary verbosity of an official pronouncement. But there is still
enough similarity in some essential features to make these broad
categorizations useful, whilst to try to identify a larger number of
categories would simply be confusing.
Equally, these labels are only a very rough guide to usage. The scale
of register is continuous; there are no natural divisions and language
users are rarely consistent. However, the labels are handy and easy to

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operate with, and they are useful in giving an initial indication of the
restrictions on the use of particular forms. Much speech or writing
cannot be assigned as a whole to one of the above categories, and more
than anything it is a question of the greater or lesser use of those
variants which are typical of one register or another. For example, a
political discussion between friends in a cafe might drift between R2
and R1 (with more of the latter as the evening wears on), but with
certain features of R3b if they use words and phrasing typical of the
way their subject matter is treated in newspapers and in television
broadcasts by practising politicians. Some modern novelists, like
Gnter Grass, use the lexical and syntactic elaborateness which is
typical of R3a, but with a fair leavening of Rl, often vulgar, variants.
Other recent writers try to avoid the complexity of R3a and aim at a
more informal register level, using variants which are predominantly
neutral R2.

1.2 Varieties according to user: regionalism

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

Other varieties of language relate to the social group(s) to which people


belong. We can frequently observe people, quite unconsciously, using
forms and expressions which indicate their membership of a particular
group. Small groups of young people, say, at a particular school or
college, often have a range of slang forms and expressions which are
peculiar to the group; the use of these excludes outsiders and signals
membership of this 'in' group.
Variation according to user is equally typical of very much larger
social groups. Within the German speech area we come across
linguistic variation which is related to the social class of a speaker and
to the region which he or she comes from. Sometimes the two factors
are linked, as is typically the case in England: Eliza Doolittle, in George
Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, is marked by her speech as a lower-class
Londoner. This is less frequent in Germany, where, especially in the
South, regional variants are used by members of all social classes. In
fact, in the German-speaking countries the influence of social class is
most often seen in the ability (or willingness) to use a particular register,
as we saw earlier, and less educated speakers may characteristically be
less competent in more formal registers. Given the correlation between
more colloquial registers and the degree of regionalism, this may have
the secondary effect that such speakers use more regional varieties.
However, it is important for English learners of German to be aware
that, as a general rule, such local varieties, accents or dialects may be
widely accepted and used by all sections of society in a way that is not
found in England or some of the other English-speaking countries.The
kind of social stigmatism which in England is commonly attached to
broad accents like Eliza Doolittle's is much less usual in the German

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speech area, although it is not unknown and may be increasing,


especially in the large northern industrial conurbations like the
Ruhrgebiet or Berlin. On the other hand, a standard German
pronunciation lacks the clear association with prestigious social groups
which is so characteristic of Received Pronunciation in Britain.

1.2.1 Regionalism and standard German


Regional variation is an important feature of German and the learner
will encounter it at a much earlier stage and to a much greater degree
than, say, in French. We need first to look at it in relation to the
standard German which is taught to foreign learners. This variety
(Hochdeutsch, die deutsche Hochsprache) arose from the time of Luther
onwards as a written standard language for the whole of the German
speech area. In the terms we are using, it was restricted to R3; even
nowadays, it is still frequently referred to as Schriftdeutsch. In its
modern form, which is labelled R3 in this book, it has a uniform
spelling, which has been recently revised (see 6.1) and for which the
Duden Rechtschreibung (2000) is regarded as authoritative. Its grammar
also has a uniform codification of what is considered to be 'correct'
German, and the Duden Grammatik (1998) is usually accepted as the
standard authority for this. In these aspects of language, accepted
regional variation is limited. There is more such variation in the realm
of vocabulary, where there is no universally recognized authority. In
particular there is considerable variation here between the various
German-speaking countries, with different words being in current use
in Austria and Switzerland from those in Germany. The most
important of these are given in 1.5.2. Divergences also emerged
between the DDR and the other German-speaking countries. Although
these were mainly in the field of political and state institutions, a few,
like Broiler for Brathhnchen and Plaste for Plastik, remain in common
everyday use in the 'new' Bundeslnder, even after unification. Only
time will tell if these will ultimately survive as regional variants.
However, there are many instances where no single word has ever
gained full acceptance over the whole of the German speech area. The
case of Northern Sonnabend and Southern Samstag is well known, but
there are numerous others, although it is noticeable that they are more
prevalent in areas of everyday life, such as food and drink and
traditional trades, where the influence of the standard language may
have made itself felt less strongly.

1.2.2 Regionalism and spoken German


Certainly until 1800, and in many parts of Germany until 1900,
standard German (Hochdeutsch) was used for writing only. What people

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spoke was their dialect, a language variety peculiar to a particular


locality. In German this often differs from the standard language in so
many respects - in pronunciation and grammar as well as in
vocabulary - as to be all but incomprehensible to a speaker from
another region, and certainly to the foreigner who has learnt only
standard German. By the end of the eighteenth century, though, a
spoken form of Hochdeutsch had arisen, based on a North German
pronunciation of the written language, initially for very formal public
speech, as in stage declamation, rather than for everyday purposes.
This came to be used more widely in the course of the nineteenth
century. It was eventually accepted for teaching in schools in all the
German-speaking countries and codified for use on the stage in 1898.
Largely because of its use in education, some form of this spoken
supraregional standard was adopted in the course of the twentieth
century by most Germans for everyday use, but the extent to which this
is the case still varies considerably with region and register. The foreign
learner is still most likely to encounter in Rl anywhere a variety of
German coloured to a greater or lesser degree by regional features, and
it must be emphasized again that the correlation between the degree of
regional variation and social class is much less marked than in England
and some other English-speaking countries.
As a general, if not invariable rule, such regionalism becomes
stronger and the difference from standard German more marked as one
proceeds from north to south. From Saxony, Hesse and the Rhineland
southwards, and especially in Swabia, Bavaria and Austria, much
natural everyday (Rl) speech is in dialect or a variety very close to
dialect, especially outside the larger conurbations. In German-speaking
Switzerland, the local dialects are used by all social classes in all speech
situations except the most formal. Standard German is used almost
only in writing or when talking to people who are not Swiss German.
In conclusion the close link between the degree of regionalism and
the degree of formality in register must be stressed again. This means
that an individual's speech often shows more local features in more
casual speech, for instance at home or in the pub, than in formal
situations. Many speakers have command over a considerable range in
this way, from broad dialect to a slightly accented form of standard
German.

1.2.3 Indicating regional variation


Regional variation in language can be extremely confusing for foreign
learners, who may, for instance, encounter three or four apparently
synonymous equivalents for a single English word and be uncertain
which one to use because they are not initially aware that they are
dealing with regional variants. In the main, they need merely to be
aware which words and forms are regionally restricted and which are

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standard. In practice, learners are probably best advised to avoid


regional variants in their own usage, given the associations which might
be evoked. Outside the area in which such regionalisms are used they
can sound comical, whilst inside it they could sound patronizing or
condescending if used by a stranger or a foreigner.
Regional forms will be specified in terms of the following large areas
(see map on page 2). These are intended mainly to give a rough general
indication of where a particular form is current, rather than be
absolutely precise:
N: North of the river Main. If necessary, this area is split into NW
and NE along the border of the new (post-1990) Bundeslnder.
S: South of the river Main. If necessary, this area is split into SW
and SE along the western borders of Bavaria and Austria.
Forms specified as S, SW, SE are also current in Switzerland and/or
Austria unless a separate form is given, indicated as follows:
AU Austria
CH Switzerland
It must be stressed that the above are very broad indicators. It would
be impossible to give exact information about the regional distribution
of many words without overburdening such a book as this with detail. It
is also the case, in this age of mass communication, that words and
forms which have been typical of a particular area become more widely
known and often become fashionable in other areas. Over the last
twenty or thirty years, for instance, N tschss 'goodbye' has been
spreading rapidly into southern Germany, displacing older regional
variants like SW ade, especially among the younger generation in towns
and cities.

1.3 Examples of variation: pronunciation


In this section we give some of the most frequently encountered
variants in the pronunciation of modern German which are linked to
register and regionalism, with the reservations explained in 1.1 and 1.2
that these cannot always be distinguished clearly.

Phonetic alphabet
The spelling of standard German gives a pretty clear guide to
pronunciation (unlike English), at least for careful, standard speech.
However, there are times when we need to indicate the sometimes very
different sounds of colloquial or regional speech. As far as possible,
such forms are given in this section in an adapted version of standard
German spelling rather than in phonetic transcription, so that we

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write, for example, kommdn to represent the pronunciation of standard


German kommenden as it is often heard in fast colloquial speech.
Spellings like these are never usually found in print, but they are used
here for the sake of convenience and ease of recognition. However,
there are occasions when we have to use the special alphabet of the
International Phonetic Association (IPA) to make it quite clear exactly
what sounds we are dealing with. The following table gives all the IPA
symbols used here, with examples from German, (British) English or
French. Phonetic symbols are always given between square brackets,
e.g. Mann, pronounced [man].
1
i

e:
e
e:

a
a:
o
0

o:

u:

CONSONANTS

Rl = spoken
colloquial
RL* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

Ger biVten, Engl heat


Ger bitten, Engl bit
Ger b^ten, Fr ^couter
Ger Betty Engl bed
Ger wre, Fr seme
Ger Band, Fr passer
Ger Vater, Engl father
Engl hot
Ger kommen, Engl caught
Ger Booty Fr eau
Ger Butter, Engl butcher
Ger Kuh, Fr trow

Ger fassen, Engl^ass


Ger bitte, Engl bit
Ger fun, Engl ton
Ger dumm, Engl dumb
Ger kommen, Engl come
g Ger gut, Engl good
f
Ger faul, Engl foul
V Ger ipann, Engl van
s Ger lassen, Engl sat
z Ger sa, Engl zero
X Ger l i e e n , Engl sheet

P
b
t
d
k

Y
y*
ce

0i
ai
au
ceY
3
B
e

a
0

Ger Flle
Ger Mhle, Fr mur
Ger Hlle
Ger Hhle, Fr peu
Ger fein, Engl fine
Ger Maus, Engl mouse
Ger Muse
Ger bitte, Engl china
Ger bitter
Ger Pension, Fr pain
Ger Restaurant, Fr en
Ger Balkon, Fr on

Ger Genie, Engl leisure


X Ger Buch, Scots loch
9 Ger mich, Engl Hugh
h Ger holen, Engl Aole
m Ger mich, Engl mine
n Ger neun, Engl nine
Ger hing, Engl hung
1
Ger /aut, Engl /oud
K Ger rot
Ger ja, Engl year
j
Y A sound between [x] and [g],
the voiced ch often heard in
the N pronunciation of
Wagen.
3

(i) A subscript dot, e.g. [m], [n], indicates that the consonant
forms a syllable, e.g. in Ger bitten [bitn], geben [geibm], Engl button
[bAtn]. (ii) Stressed syllables are preceded by a stress mark, e.g.
ver'stehen (in phonetic transcription: |TA' Jteian]).

NOTES:

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1.3.1 Regional variation in pronunciation


(a) The following pronunciations are used almost universally in the
areas indicated, irrespective of register:
Regional

Hochdeutsch

-g- pronounced as
voiced -ch- [y]
between vowels

Waghen [vaiyan]

Wagen

initial^)/- pronounced
as f-

Fund

Pfund

Hoffnunk

Hoffnung

long vowels
pronounced short in
words of one syllable

Ratt, gropp, Tach

Rat, grob, Tag

-g pronounced as -ch
at end of words or
before consonants

taucht, Zeuch

taugt, Zeug

Area
NORTH

-ung pronounced as
-unk

long [e:]
wehre, speht
pronounced as eh [e:]
SOUTH

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark
-

wre, spt

-ig pron as -ik

dreiik

dreiig [draisi9]

initial ch- pron as k-

Kina

China [91: na]

some long vowels


pronounced short,
especially before
[K]+ consonant

Art [aKt], wird [viKt]

Art [aiBt], wird


[viiKt]

nasal vowels
pronounced as
simple vowel + n
unstressed -e
pronounced as [e]

Balkon [balkorn],
Pension [pensjo:n]

Balkon [balko],
Pension [pensjo]

gute [gurte]

gute [guita]

different stress in
some words

Tun'nel, Kaffee,
Ta'bak

'Tunnel, 'Kaffee,
'Tabak

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(b) The following pronunciations are mainly confined to Rl. They


are not necessarily found in the whole of the areas indicated, and major
exceptions and restrictions are noted:
Regional

Hochdeutsch

initial sp-, stpronounced with [s]


(especially Hanover,
Hamburg)

S-tein [stain],
S-prung [sprorj]

Stein [Jtain],
Sprung [Jprurj]

initial g- pron. as j(NE, Rhineland)

jut, jemacht

gut, gemacht

pronunciation of nicht

nich

nicht

-nd- pron as -nn-

anners, Kinner

anders, Kinder

ich-Laut [9]
pronounced as sch

Teppisch, siebzisch

Teppich, siebzig

word-final -en
pronounced as -e

komme, g(e)bliebe

kommen, geblieben

medial and final st and


sp pronounced as
seht, schp

beschte, Weschpe,
du bischt

beste, Wespe, du
bist

p, t, k pronounced as
by dy g (also Saxony)

Abodehge, dodal

Apotheke, total

Area
NORTH

SOUTH-WEST

SOUTH

w, pronounced as i, e Brieder, scheen


(also Saxony)

Brder, schn

a pronounced as 0 [0]
or a [D]

Wsser, schlafen

Wasser, schlafen

unstressed -e dropped
in all words

heut, Leut

heute, Leute

pronunciation of nicht

net/nit

nicht

ge-, be-, pronounced


as g-,b-

gmacht, bstellt

gemacht, bestellt

1.3.2 Register variation in pronunciation


Rl speech is characterized by less careful articulation. However, even
rather more formal spoken language tends to simplification, especially
of unstressed syllables. There is thus a gradual progression from the

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Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

most casual speech style, Rl, to the most formal, spoken R3, where
every letter is given its full value. R3 is, of course, primarily a written
register, and the extremely precise and distinct articulation it
represents is only found in rather special situations, like reading a
written text aloud in public or giving a lecture. Some German speakers
may insist that foreign learners ought only to use and be taught this
style of speech, as only it is 'correct'. But it can sound very stilted and
artificial in any but the most formal situations. The table below gives
the two extremes of pronunciation variation, but numerous
intermediate forms exist which are used depending on the level of
relative formality.

Rl

R3

unstressed -en
reduced and
assimilated to
preceding consonant

gebm [geibm]
kommdn [komdn]
fahrn [faien]
eigng'n [aigrjn]
sinkng [zirjkrj]

geben
kommenden
fahren
eigenen
sinken

simplification and
assimilation of
consonant groups,
especially at the
beginning and end of
words, and where
compound words are
joined

Norpol [noBpoil]
Herbsflanse [heepsflansa]
scho m a [Joma]
m a tu doch [matudox]

Nordpol
Herbstpflanze
schon mal
man tut doch
fnfzig
da habe ich
gewartet
und er ist
er hat mir

reduction of
pronouns in
conjunction with
verbs

f u f f z i g [fuftsi9]

dabbich [dabi]
gewart [gavaet]
u n a i s [ u n B?IS]
a hap mir [e hap

hammer
simmer

[hame]
[simu]

haben wir
sind wir
wissen Sie
kommst du
ist sie
muss ich

wissnse [visnsa]
kommste [komsta]
isse

[is3]

mussich

reduction of articles,
pronouns and other
determiners

mi:e]

[musig]

da [dB], di [di], (d)s

(d)n, (d)m
n,ne(N)/e(S),n'n
nem/eim, ner

meim, unsem

[nn]

der, die, das


den, dem
ein, eine, einen
einem, einer
meinem, unserem

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Rl contd

R3 contd

articles fused with all


common prepositions

ausn, bein
mitn, in'n
nachn, von'n
mim, minnem
minner
durchn, durchn'n
ausm, hinnem
nachm

aus den, bei den


mit den, in den
nach den, von den
mit dem, mit einem
mit einer
durch den, durch einen
aus dem, hinter dem
nach dem

unstressed -e
dropped in verb
endings

ich geh, ich komm


ich tu, ich knnt
ich sollt

ich gehe, ich komme


ich tue, ich knnte
ich sollte

unstressed -e
dropped in basic
form of some
adjectives

bld, feig, mild, trb, zh

blde, feige, milde,


trbe, zhe

unstressed -e added
in some numerals and
other words when
stressed

fnfe, sechse, neune, elfe, alleine, vorne fnf, sechs, neun, elf,
allein, vorn

foreign words given


German
pronunciation
denn reduced and
suffixed to verb

Schenie [Jeni:]
Restaurang [restorarj]

Genie feeni:]
Restaurant [restora]

Was machs'n du hier?

Was machst du denn


hier?

wi [vfe], Ede [eeda] bess [bese]

wir, Erde, besser

r pronounced as [B]
(similar to the vowel
of S. English but)
after vowels and in
the ending -er

1.4 Examples of variation: grammar


In this section we give some common examples of how the grammar of
German varies depending on region and register.

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1.4.1

Regional variation in grammar


Regionalism is perhaps less significant in grammar than in
pronunciation and vocabulary. However, the following variant uses are
widespread and are sometimes found in writing (especially in the case
of S variants in Austrian and Swiss usage), although the foreign learner
is advised to keep to standard forms. Some of them (indicated with an
asterisk below) are beginning to be used outside their original
geographical limits and are now found more generally in Rl.
Regional

Hochdeutsch

sein in perfect of
anfangen and
beginnen

ich bin angefangen


ich bin begonnen

ich habe angefangen


ich habe begonnen

splitting da +
preposition*

Da wei ich nichts


von

Davon wei ich


nichts

confusion of
accusative and dative

Er hat mir gesehen

Er hat mich gesehen

am + infinitive to
express continuous
action*

Mein Vater ist a m


Schreiben

Mein Vater schreibt


gerade

more nouns have a


plural in -s (see 3.1.3)

die Doktors, die


Onkels

die Doktoren, die


Onkel

nach used for zu

Ich fahre nach dem


Zoo

Ich fahre zum Zoo

wo used as relative
pronoun

das Auto, wo da
kommt

das Auto, das da


kommt

deviant verb forms

gedenkt, gewunken,
bruchte

gedacht, gewinkt,
brauchte/wrde
brauchen

Area
NORTH

SOUTH

nachdem used to mean nachdem sie erst


spter kommen
'as', 'since', 'because'
kann,...

da sie erst spter


kommen kann

sein used in perfect of


liegen, sitzen and
stehen (see 4.3.3)

Ich bin gelegen,


gesessen,
gestanden

Ich habe gelegen,


gesessen,
gestanden

no -n in dative plural
of nouns*

mit den Bcher

mit den Bchern

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Regional contd

Hochdeutsch contd

different plural forms


used with some
nouns

die Stiefeln
die Stcker
die Wgen

die Stiefel
die Stcke
die Wagen

some nouns used with


different genders

die Bach
der Butter
der Gewalt
der Kartoffel
der Radio
der Schokolad

der Bach
die Butter
die Gewalt
die Kartoffel
das Radio
die Schokolade

no umlaut in present
tense

er schlaft, lasst

er schlft, lsst

dative used to mark


possession

Das ist mir

Das ist mein(e)s

definite article used


with names*

der Peter, die


Monika

Peter, Monika

double auxiliary in
pluperfect tense*

Sie hat meinen


Vater gesehen
gehabt

Sie hatte meinen


Vater gesehen

Area contd

es hat in place of es gibt Hat es einen


Apotheke hier in
(SW)
der Stadt?
different verb
valencies (see 4.1.4)

Er hat auf das Geld


vergessen (SE)
Sie hat mir
angerufen (SW)
Sie hat darauf
gedacht

Gibt es einen
Apotheke hier in
der Stadt?
Er hat das Geld
vergessen
Sie hat mich
angerufen
Sie hat daran
gedacht

1.4.2 Register variation in grammar

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Usage isflexiblewith a number of these variants, but most German


speakers take care to avoid specifically Rl forms in writing, and, in
general, less casual spoken German (i.e. R2) tends to follow R3 norms.
The table below gives the two extremes of Rl and R3, with variations
and exceptions indicated.

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Rl

R3

no ending -en in
singular of weak
masculine nouns
in Rl

den Mensch
dem Mensch

den Menschen
dem Menschen

genitive case rarely


used in spoken
German (R1/R2)
(see 4.2.2)

meinem Vater sein Hut (Rl)/der


Hut von meinem Vater (R1/R2)
trotz dem Regen (also R3 in CH)
Ich erinnere mich an den Vorfall
(R2)

der Hut meines Vaters

no vowel change in
imperative of
strong verbs in Rl

Ess deine Mhren!


Nehm's doch!
Geb's her!

Iss deine Mhren!


Nimm's doch!
Gib's her!

demonstrative der
used for personal
pronoun in Rl

Ich habe den gesehen


Die kommt heute nicht

Ich habe ihn gesehen


Sie kommt heute nicht

das... hier or
das... da used as
demonstratives
in Rl

das Buch hier


die Stadt da

dieses Buch
diese Stadt / (R3 only) jene Stadt

wer used for jemand


in Rl

Es hat wer angerufen

Es hat jemand angerufen

solch not used in Rl

so 'ne Farbe
so Ansichten (wie die)

eine solche Farbe


solche Ansichten

was used with


prepositions in Rl

An was denkst du?


Von was lebt er?

Woran denkst du?


Wovon lebt er?

wie and als


confused in Rl

Die ist grer wie (die) Petra


Die ist anders wie du

Sie ist grer als Petra


Sie ist anders als du

double negatives
used in Rl

Der hat nie nix gesagt


Wir haben nirgends keinen Vogel
gesehen

Er hat nie etwas gesagt


Wir haben nirgends einen Vogel
gesehen

tun used as an
auxiliary verb in
Rl

Sie tut gerade schreiben


Ich tt's nicht machen

Sie schreibt gerade


Ich wrde es nicht machen

zu omitted after
brauchen in Rl

Wir brauchen nicht so schwer


arbeiten

Wir brauchen nicht so schwer zu


arbeiten

trotz des Regens


Ich erinnere mich des Vorfalls

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Rl contd

R3 contd

weil and obwohl


followed by main
clause word order
in Rl

. . . , weil der kann kein richtiges


Deutsch sprechen

. . . , weil er kein richtiges


Deutsch sprechen kann

extended adjectives
and participles
only used in R3

die Sitzung, die auf Januar


verschoben wurde (R2)
die Zahlung, die vor Jahresende
geleistet werden muss (R2)

die auf Januar verschobene


Sitzung
die vor Jahresende zu leistende
Zahlung

main clauses used


rather than
relative clauses
in Rl

Es gibt Leute, die freuen sich


ber die Fahrt

Es gibt Leute, die sich ber die


Fahrt freuen

wo + preposition
used in Rl for
preposition +
relative pronoun

der Tisch, wo die Blumen drauf


stehen

der Tisch, auf dem die Blumen


stehen

da often used to
begin sentences
in Rl

Da kann man in dem Fall einfach


nix machen

In diesem Fall kann man einfach


nichts machen

elements are often


placed after final
verb in Rl

Sie hat Post bekommen von zu


Hause

Sie hat von zu Hause Post


bekommen

Pronouns and
auxiliary verbs
are often omitted
in Rl

Hab' ich ihm schon gesagt


Mal schauen, was da los ist

Das habe ich ihm schon gesagt


Wir wollen mal schauen, was da
los ist
Willst du mit uns kommen?

dislocated
repetitions used
for highlighting
in Rl

Der Peter, den kann sie nicht


leiden
Den hatt ich schon, den Wunsch

Peter kann sie nicht leiden

past tense less


frequent in Rl
(especially in S)
(see 4.3.2)

Dann sind sie nach Hause


gegangen
Ich hab nicht gewusst, was sie
gesagt hat

Dann gingen sie nach Hause

the subjunctive is
used in indirect
speech only in R3
(see 4.5.3)

Sie hat gesagt, sie wei es schon


Er hat erklrt, dass er zu neuen
Verhandlungen bereit ist

Sie sagte, sie wisse es schon


Er erklrte, dass er zu neuen
Verhandlungen bereit sei

Willst mit uns kommen?

Den Wunsch hatte ich schon

Ich wusste nicht, was sie sagte

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1.5 Examples of variation: vocabulary


1.5.1 Regional variation in vocabulary

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

As with pronunciation, it is not always simple to disentangle


regionalism from register in matters of vocabulary, and many regional
words are limited to Rl. Others, including the familiar case of
Sonnabend and Samstag, are used freely in all registers. This is
especially true of Austria and Switzerland, where a South German (SE
or SW) variant is often used, even in writing (R3).
The table below gives some of the most frequent regional variants,
together with their more generally used equivalent(s). None are wholly
restricted to Rl; although some are commoner there than in more
formal registers it is difficult to give hard and fast rules. Standard
German has sometimes adopted more than one regional variant, often
with a distinction in meaning. For example, Pferd, Gaul and Ross were
originally all regionally restricted words for 'horse'. But in standard
German (Hochdeutsch) the general word is Pferd, whereas Gaul and
Ross have the more specific meanings 'nag' and 'steed'. What were
originally regional variants have also sometimes become register
variants in general usage. For example, in much of South Germany, and
especially in Austria, schauen is the everyday word for 'to see'. But for a
majority of Germans it is a more formal (R3) word compared to sehen.

Area

Regional

Hochdeutsch

NORTH

das Abendbrot
abwaschen
die Apfelsine
belmmern
buddeln
denn
doof
der Eierkuchen
der Fahrstuhl
Gehacktes

das Abendessen evening meal


splen to wash up
die Orange orange
belstigen to pester
graben to dig
dann then
dumm stupid
der Pfannkuchen pancake
der Aufzug lift
das Hackfleisch minced/ground
meat
die Kinder children
die Ferse heel
die Schublade drawer
plaudern to chat
schlagen to hit
sehen to look

die Gren
die Hacke
der Kasten
klnen
kloppen
kucken, kieken

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Area contd

Regional contd

Hochdeutsch contd

[NORTH]

langskommen
der Pott
die Pulle
der Schlachter, Schlchter
der Schlips

vorbeikommen to drop in
der Topf pot
die Flasche bottle
der Fleischer butcher
die Krawatte tie

NORTH-WEST

extra
flten
malochen
die Pinte
es schellt (also SW)
die Wurzel

absichtlich on purpose
pfeifen to whistle
schwer arbeiten to work hard
die Kneipe pub
es klingelt the doorbell's ringing
die Mohrrbe, die Karotte carrot

NORTH-EAST

die Brause
der Broiler
die Fahrerlaubnis
das Kompott
pltten
Sonnabend
die Stulle

die Limonade fizzy drink


das Brathhnchen roast chicken
der Fhrerschein driving licence
der Nachtisch dessert
bgeln to iron
Samstag Saturday
das belegte Brot sandwich

SOUTH

arg
aufdrehen
der Bub
der Christbaum

sehr very
anmachen to switch on
der Junge boy
der Weihnachtsbaum Christmas
tree
zu Hause at home
natrlich of course
der (Haus)flur (entrance) hall
die Ziege goat
die Mohrrbe, die Karotte carrot
nicht wahr? isn 't it?
intelligent clever
schnell quick(ly)
der Topf pot
eben just
nach Hause home
der Schornstein chimney
der Schrank cupboard
fegen sweep
der Briefumschlag envelope
fassen, greifen to reach (for sth)
es klingelt the doorbell's ringing
das Mdchen girl
die Aktentasche briefcase

daheim
freilich
der Gang (not AU)
die Gei
die gelbe Rbe (not AU or CH)
gell?
gescheit
geschwind
der Hafen
halt
heim
der Kamin
der Kasten
kehren
das Kuvert
langen
es lutet
das Mdel, das Mdle
die Mappe (not AU)

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Area

Regional

Hochdeutsch

[SOUTH]

der Metzger (not AU)


pressieren
der Rahm
der Randstein
schauen
die Schnake (not AU)
die Schnur
sieden
die Stiege
sich verklten (not AU)
der Zahnweh
der Zins

der Fleischer butcher


Eile haben be in a hurry
die Sahne cream
der Bordstein kerb
sehen to see, to look
die Stechmcke midge
der Bindfaden string
kochen to boil
die Treppe stairs, steps
sich erklten catch cold
die Zahnschmerzen toothache
die Miete rent

SOUTH-EAST

all(e)weil
Brsel
deppert
das Dirndl
eh
der Erdapfel
finster (also Saxony)
die Gasse
der Gehsteig
die Gsch
gschert
heuer (also CH)
heute in der Frhe/ heute
frh (also Saxony)
der Kndel
die Nachspeise
der Schwamm
die Semmel (also Saxony)
sperren
stad

immer always
Brotkrmel breadcrumbs
dumm stupid
das Mdchen girl
sowieso anyway
die Kartoffel potato
dunkel dark
die Strae street
der Brgersteig pavement
der Mund mouth
dumm stupid
dieses Jahr this year
heute Morgen this morning

als
Brosamen
das Gaul (not CH)
der Gehweg, das Trottoir
der Lauch
die Mcke
das Nachtessen
schaffen
schmecken
springen
der Weck(en)

immer always
Brotkrmel breadcrumbs
das Pferd horse
der Brgersteig pavement
der Porree leek
die Fliege fly
das Abendessen evening meal
arbeiten to work
riechen to smell
laufen to run
das Brtchen bread roll

SOUTH-WEST

derKloss dumpling
der Nachtisch dessert
der Pilz mushroom
das Brtchen bread roll
schlieen, zumachen to shut
still quiet

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1.5.2 Austrian and Swiss words


Usage in Austria and Switzerland is a rather special case, and it is in
many ways quite distinct from Germany. In the spoken register, dialect
is widely used - in Switzerland exclusively, in Austria still
predominantly, at least in informal registers outside the larger cities. In
writing, standard German is used, but over the centuries of political
separation from Germany independent traditions have grown up in
these two countries, especially in matters of vocabulary. Thus, the
regional words and grammatical forms (see 1.4.1 and 1.5.1) which are
widespread in speech in southern Germany are in these countries
commonly used in writing. Also, unlike in Germany, there has been no
movement to eliminate foreign words, so that, in Switzerland, for
example, we buy a Billett for the Tram, not a Fahrkarte or Fahrschein for
the Straenbahn. In addition, each country has a stock of words peculiar
to itself which are almost always used in writing within the country and
are not always familiar even to Germans. The following tables list of
some of the most common. There are many more, though - Duden
(2000b) lists over 900 words which are specific to High German as used
in Switzerland. In some instances the Austrian or Swiss word can have
the meaning it usually has in Germany as well as a specifically Austrian
or Swiss meaning. For example, Mist can be used to mean 'dung' or
'rubbish' in Austria, whereas in Germany it only means 'dung'. In these
cases only the specifically Austrian or Swiss meaning is given below.
AUSTRIA
Austria

Germany

Austria

Germany

die Abwasch

der Splbecken sink

allfllig (also CH)

gelegentlich now and


again
der Sessel armchair

fesch(Rl)
die Gelse
der Gendarm

auen
das Beisel

gegebenenfalls if
necessary
der Anlieger neighbour
vorkommen to appear
aussehen to look
(as i f )
drauen outside
die Kneipe pub

fallweise (also
CH)
der Fauteuil

der Beistrich
der Corner
(also CH)
da

das Komma comma


der Eckball corner
(soccer)
hier here

in Hinkunft
innen

schick chic
die Stechmcke midge
der Landpolizist rural
policeman
das Tor goal (soccer)
der Hausbesitzer
home-owner
in Zukunft in future
drinnen inside

entlehnen

entleihen to borrow

Jnner

der Anrainer
aufscheinen
ausschauen

das Goal
der Hausherr

inskribieren

sich immatrikulieren to
register
Januar January

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Austria

Germany

Austria

Germany

diejause

der Imbiss snack

der Polster

kampieren

zelten to camp

der Professor

der Karfiol

raunzen

die Kassa

der Blumenkohl
cauliflower
die Kasse cash desk, till

der Kerker

das Zuchthaus prison

komplett

(voll) besetzt full

die Marille

die Aprikose apricot

das Kissen cushion,


pillow
der Studienrat high
school teacher
nrgeln to grumble, to
whinge
die Rckfahrkarte
return ticket
die Johannisbeere
blackcurrant
das Karousell
roundabout
die Tasche pocket

die Matura

das Abitur school


certificate
der Straenzoll road toll
der Nachtisch dessert
der Milchkaffee white
coffee
die Aubergine aubergine

die Maut
die Mehlspeise
die Melange
die Melanzane
der Mist

der Paradeiser

der Mll rubbish,


garbage
bernachten spend the
night
das Abendessen evening
meal
die Sahne cream
ohne weiteres without
further ado
der Pfannkuchen
pancake
die Tomate tomato

der
Parteienverkehr
der Pensionist

die Brostunden office


hours
der Rentner pensioner

der Plafond

die Decke ceiling

nchtigen
(also CH)
das Nachtmahl
das Obers
ohneweiters
die Palatschinke

die Retourfahrkarte
die Ribisel
das
Ringelspiel
der Sack (also
CH)
das Sackerl
die Schale
die Schnalle
das
Schuhband
selchen
der Sessel

die Tte (paper) bag


die Tasse cup
die Klinke door-handle
der Schnrsenkel
shoelace
ruchern to smoke
(meat)
der Stuhl chair

skoren
(also CH)
der Spagat

ein Tor schieen to score

der Spezi
das Spital
(also CH)
der Sturm

der Kumpel friend, mate


das Krankenhaus
hospital
der neue Wein new wine

der Turnus
(also CH)
der Vorrang

die Arbeitsschicht shift

die
Umfahrung
sich verkhlen
das Zndholz

der Bindfaden string

die Vorfahrt priority


(traffic)
die Umgehungsstrae
by-pass
sich erklten catch cold
das Streichholz match

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SWITZERLAND
NB: in Switzerland, unlike Germany or Austria, the letter is not used, only ss> see 6.1.3.
Switzerland

Germany

Switzerland

Germany

der Abwart

die Extrafahrt

gltten

die Sonderfahrt
special trip
der Fhrerschein
driving licence
die Klinke
door-handle
der Rechtsanwalt
lawyer
bgeln to iron

das Grosskind

der Enkel grandchild

grezi! (Rl)

hallo! hello

hssig

verdrielich morose

das Billett

der Hausmeister
caretaker
der Anlieger
neighbour
das Penthaus
penthouse
sich empren to
protest
Himmelfahrt
Ascension Day
zusammenbringen to
collect
der Autofahrer car
driver
auf beiden Seiten on
both sides
die Fahrkarte ticket

die Identittskarte

bis anhin

bisher until now

innert

bis und mit

insknftig

erst noch
der Estrich

bis einschlielich up
to and including
die Geldstrafe fine
der Lastwagen lorry,
truck
der Reisebus bus
der Fahrer driver
der Friseur
hairdresser
das Ministerium
ministry
eingehend
thorough (ly)
jenseits on the other
side of
obendrein moreover
der Dachboden attic

der Personalausweis
identity card
innerhalb inside,
within
in Zukunft in future

etwelche

einige some

das Motorfahrzeug

der Anstsser
die Attikawohnung
aufbegehren
Auffahrt
ufnen
der Automobilist
beidseitig

die Busse
der Camion
der Car
der Chauffeur
der Coiffeur
das Departement
einlsslich
ennet

der Fahrausweis
die Falle
der Frsprech

das Kleid
der Kondukteur
die Konfitre
lrmig
das Lavabo
leid
es macht kalt
manche
merci! (Rl)
das Morgenessen

der Anzug suit


der Schaffner
conductor
die Marmelade jam
laut noisy
der Waschbecken
wash-basin
unangenehm
unpleasant
es ist kalt it is cold
(weather)
viele many
danke! thank you
das Frhstck
breakfast
das Kraftfahrzeug
motor vehicle

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Switzerland

Germany

Switzerland

Germany

nachten

Nacht werden grow


dark
auerdem in addition
parken to park
die Parkuhr parking
meter
der Bahnsteig
platform
der Reifen tyre

die Stnderlampe

die Stehlampe
standard lamp
anstrengend strenuous
die Straenbahn tram
urwchsig original,
native
das Fahrrad bicycle

das Brathhnchen
roast chicken
die Grundschule
primary school
der Redakteur editor

vorab

die Rckfahrkarte
return ticket
das Verzeichnis list,
register
die Bratkartoffeln
fried potatoes
das Gehalt salary
die Kellnerin waitress

whrschaft

nebstdem
parkieren
der Parkingmeter
der Perron
der Pneu
das Poulet
die Primarschule
der Redaktor
das Retourbillett
der Rodel
die Rsti
das Salr
die Serviertochter

streng
das Tram
urchig
das Velo
verunfallen

zum vornherein
der Vortritt

der Wartsaal
weissein
wischen
zgeln

verunglcken to have
an accident
besonders especially
von vornherein from
the outset
die Vorfahrt priority
(traffic)
tchtig solid, reliable,
genuine
der Wartesaal
waiting-room
tnchen to whitewash
fegen to sweep
umziehen to move
(house)

1.5.3 Register variation in vocabulary


The effect of register is perhaps most obvious to the foreign learner in
respect of vocabulary. Many words are restricted to informal speech
(Rl) or formal writing (R3), and when these are used they signal very
clearly the degree of formality which the speaker or writer wishes to
give the text. There are also words (indicated as R2/R3) which are
characteristically rarely used in the most informal register, but are
widely encountered outside that. Similarly, there are words which are
widely used in all but the most formal written German (R1/R2). On
the other hand, there is a large core vocabulary of neutral (R2) words
which can be used equally in informal speech or formal writing and
have no such characteristic effect. The following list, which is arranged
in alphabetical order of the R2 words, gives some common examples of
this register variation in vocabulary.

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Some of the equivalents given are not absolutely identical in


meaning. For example, the Rl word pumpen is used for 'to lend', 'to
borrow', i.e. = leihen (R2) or borgen (R3), only in the context of money.
Indications of such distinctions are given in some instances below, but
not all details can be covered in a summary of this kind.
Rl

R2

R3

das Abi

das Abitur school


leaving certificate

die Hochschulreifeprfung

losgehen

anfangen (R1/R2),
beginnen (R2/R3)
to begin, to start

anheben (R3a)

protzen

angeben (R1/R2) to
boast

prahlen, sich
rhmen

Schiss haben (Rl*)

sich furchten
Angst haben
(R1/R2) to be afraid (R2/R3)

schuften

(schwer) arbeiten to
work (hard)

sich fuchsen

sich rgern to get


annoyed

pleite broke

a r m poor

mittellos,
bedrftig

die Puste

der Atem breath

der Odem (poetic


R3a)

sich aufhalten to
stay (in a place)

weilen

aufmachen to open

ffnen

cool, dufte,
fantastisch, geil,
prima, spitze, super

ausgezeichnet
excellent

die Fisimatenten

die Ausreden excuses

hinhauen, langen (S)

ausreichen to be
enough

gengen

unheimlich

uerst extremely

extrem

die Backe cheek

die Wange (R2 in


AU)

begraben to bury

beisetzen,
bestatten

verscharren

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Rl

R2

R3

kriegen

bekommen to
receive

empfangen,
erhalten

eingeschnappt,
verschnupft

beleidigt offended,
hurt

gekrnkt

der Sprit

das Benzin petrol

der Treibstofffuel

anstnkern

beschimpfen to
abuse

schmhen

meckern

sich beschweren to
complain

schmieren

bestechen to bribe

bescheien (Rl*),
mogeln, schummeln

betrgen to cheat

besoffen (Rl*), blau,


voll

betrunken drunk

der Kahn, die Klappe

das Bett bed

korrumpieren

berauscht

die Bitte request

das Gesuch

anhauen

bitten to ask, to
request

ersuchen

ksig

blass pale

bleich (R2/R3)

bleiben to remain, to verweilen


stay
brauchen to need

bedrfen,
bentigen

dauern to last

whren (R3a)

bld (R1/R2),
dmlich, doof

d u m m stupid

einfltig, tricht

der Bldmann, der


Dussel, der Depp
(SE)

der Dummkopf
(Rl/R2)fool

der Tor

dunkel dark

dster, finster (R2


in S)

drftig wretched

armselig

erfrischen to refresh

erquicken

miserabel

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Rl contd

R2 contd

R3 contd

erlauben to allow, to gestatten, zulassen


permit
essen to eat

speisen

die Fahrkarte ticket

der Fahrausweis

trmen, verduften

flchten to flee

fliehen (R2/R3)

der Kumpel

der Freund friend

futtern, knabbern,
mampfen, naschen

das Frhjahr spring

der Frhling

die Kneipe

die Gaststtte pub

das Kittchen, der


Knast

das Gefngnis
prison

die Strafanstalt,
das Zuchthaus

gehen to go

sich begeben

latschen, laufen (NE,


SW)

gehen to walk

der Kies, die Kohle,


die Moneten, das
Zaster

das Geld money

klappen

gelingen to succeed

die Fratze, die Fresse,


die Visage

das Gesicht face

das Angesicht
(R3a), das Antlitz
(R3a)

der Mief

der Gestank smell

der ble Geruch

Schwein haben

Glck haben be
lucky

die Pfote

die Hand hand

der Arsch (Rl*)

der Hintern backside das Ges

die Klamotten

die Kleider clothes

die Birne, der De(e)z

der Kopf head

der Krach

der Lrm noise

der Pauker

der Lehrer teacher

der Studienrat
(Gymnasium)

pumpen (of money)

leihen to lend, to
borrow

borgen

das Haupt

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Rl

R2

bffeln, pauken

lernen to learn, to
study

die Biene, die Mieze,


die Puppe, die
Tussi

das Mdchen girl

der Alte

der Mann husband

der Ehemann, der


Gatte, der Gemahl

schief gehen

misslingen to be
unsuccessful

scheitern (R2/R3)

erschossen, fertig

mde tired

ermattet

die Fresse, die


Klappe, das Maul
(Rl*), die
Schnauze

der Mund mouth

blo

nur only

der Lffel

das Ohr ear

die Polente

die Polizei police

piesacken

qulen to torment

peinigen

schicken to send

senden

pennen, ratzen

schlafen to sleep

ruhen, schlummern

hauen

schlagen to hit

mies

schlecht bad

bel (R2/R3)

schmecken to taste

munden

R3

lediglich

zumachen (R1/R2)

schlieen (R2/R3)
to close, to shut

dreckig,
schmuddelig

schmutzig dirty

unsauber

die Penne

die Schule school

die Bildungsanstalt
(R3b)

dichthalten, den
Mund halten, das
Maul halten (Rl*)

schweigen (R2/R3)
to be silent

gucken

sehen to see, to look schauen (R2 in S)

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Rl contd

R2 contd

R3 contd

enorm, echt,
unheimlich,
verdammt (Rl*),
verflucht (Rl*)

sehr very

hchst, beraus

klauen, mausen,
mitgehen lassen,
mopsen, stibitzen

stehlen to steal

entwenden

abkratzen, krepieren,
verrecken, den
Arsch zukneifen
(Rl*)

sterben to die

abieben,
entschlafen,
verscheiden,
versterben

der Schwof

der Tanz dance

saufen (R1/R2)

(Alkohol) trinken to
drink (alcohol)

kotzen (Rl*),
brechen (R1/R2)

trotzdem, dennoch
nevertheless

gleichwohl,
nichtsdestoweniger

sich bergeben to
vomit

(sich) erbrechen

berlegen to consider erwgen


baff, verdattert,
verdutzt (R1/R2)

berrascht surprised

befremdet

das Pech

das Unglck bad


luck, misfortune

das Missgeschick
(R2/R3)

der Kse (N), der


Quatsch

der Unsinn nonsense


verbieten to forbid

verpatzen,
verpfuschen,
versauen (Rl*)

untersagen

verderben to spoil

vergessen to forget

entfallen

losschlagen,
verkloppen,
verscheuern

verkaufen to sell

veruern

versohlen

verprgeln to thrash

zchtigen

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Rl=spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
N E = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Rl

R2

R3

behmmert,
bescheuert,
meschugge,
plemplem,
bergeschnappt

verrckt mad

geistesgestrt
(R2/R3)

verschwenden to
waste

vergeuden

checken, kapieren,
mitkriegen,
schnallen

verstehen to
understand

erfassen (R2/R3)

lauern (N), passen (S)

warten to wait

harren (R3a)

wieso?

warum? why?

weshalb?

abhauen, sich
verpissen (Rl*)

weggehen to go
away, to leave

sich entfernen

wehtun to hurt

schmerzen

schmeien

werfen to throw

blechen, lhnen

zahlen to pay

fackeln

zeigen to show

weisen

zgern to hesitate

zaudern

1.6 Passages illustrating levels of register


In this section a selection of passages is given to show the reader how
the differences in register outlined in earlier sections are reflected in
longer texts. The progression is initially from least formal (Rl) to most
formal (R3), concluding with contrasting passages from a serious and a
popular newspaper. The most characteristic features are indicated
briefly after each passage.

1.6.1 Telephone conversation (informal colloquial speech)


This passage illustrates characteristic features of spontaneous informal
speech in private conversation between friends. Its specific linguistic
features all belong to this register (Rl).

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Frau A:

Frau
Frau
Frau
Frau

B:
A:
B:
A:

Frau B:
FrauA:

Frau
Frau
Frau
Frau

B:
A:
B:
A:

Frau
Frau
Frau
Frau

B:
A:
B:
A:

Frau
Frau
Frau
Frau

B:
A:
B:
A:

Frau B:

Ach so! U n d die Wohnung, em. Der Typ hat sich no nich
entschieden, morgen r u / ruft wohl noch jemand an, an dem er
noch mehr Interesse hat als als an uns, ne.
Ah so.
Aber wir sind ziemlich . . . , w e i l . . .
Naja, immerhin etwas.
Ich nehm auch an, wenn en Typ so auf morgen verschiebt, ne, hat
der au nich so'n groes Interesse, oder?
Wenn er das auf morgen ver/ ja, kann sein!
Guck ma, wenn ich ne Wohnung unheimig gut finde, dann/ da
geh ich doch das Risiko nich ein, dass der die Wohnung jemand
anders gibt, ne?
Jaja.
Naja, jedenfalls isses 110 Quadratmeter.
110! Is ja irre! Wir ham nur 90!
In nem gepflegten . . . Altbau, ganz toll. Mssen wer allerdings
selber renovieren, ne, aber sie is nich in nem scheulichen
Zustand, sondern zwar nich/ also die is bewohnt, ne. Alles
scheuliche Tapeten und so, aber sauber, ne, nich irgendwie in
nem ekeligen Zustand. Naja, bin ma gespannt! Also, den
Quadratmeterpreis, den gibts berhaupt nich ansonsten, ne.
Toll, ja! U n das immerhin . . . doch direkt in der Innenstadt, ne?
Hm, gnstig!
Na schn, ja!
U n es is, wie gesagt, fr mich auch gnstig nach Gummersbach,
ne. Muss ja ab 1.2. nach Gummersbach.
Ja. Freust dich drauf, oder findsdes schlimm?
Och, hab ich jetz noch keine Meinung zu.
Ja.
Ich mein, die erzhlen immer viel von dieser Referendarzeit, ne.
Am Anfang soils wohl gemtlich sein, hinterher sehr
anstrengend, ich mach mir da jetz keine Gedanken.
Naja.
(Ruth Brons-Albert, Gesprochenes Standarddeutsch: Telefondialoge, Tbingen:
Narr, 1984, pp. 59-60)

Pronunciation

much ellipsis and elision

no nich
ich nehm
en Typ
au nich
ne Wohnung
isses
is

wir h a m
in nem
bin m a
un
findsdes
jetz
soils

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Grammar

Sentence
construction

verb forms

only present and perfect tenses; no


subjunctive

case

genitive case not used

demonstratives for
personal pronouns

hat der au nich


die is bewohnt

repetitions

mehr Interesse hat als als an uns

highlighting

den Quadratmeterpreis, den gibts


berhaupt nich ansonsten

subordination

Over 80% of clauses are main clauses

initial da

da geh ich doch das Risiko nich ein

sentences beginning with


und

Und die Wohnung, em

ellipsis of pronouns, etc.

(das) Mssen wer allerdings


freust (du) dich drauf
(ich) bin ma gespannt

In general, sentence units are brief and emotive in tone


ansonsten anywhere else
hinterher afterwards
bin m a gespannt I can't wait
irgendwie somehow
gemtlich relaxed
irre fantastic
toll fantastic

Vocabulary

der Typ bloke


ziemlich fairly
so'n like that
guck m a look
unheimig very, very
scheulich awful
ekelig awful

Interjections,
particles and
fillers

Extensive use of these is very typical of this register.


allerdings
ach so
zwar
em
berhaupt
ne
immer
naja
wohl
oder?
kann sein
also
guck m a
hm
jedenfalls
och
und so
wohl noch
immerhin
gnstig
schn
auch
wie gesagt
au nich
ich mein
doch

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Regionalisms

The speakers are from Cologne, which is in NW.


nich (N)
cf: net, nit (S)
und so
typical filler in NW
wir, wer (N)
cf: mir (S)
(da) hab ich noch keine
splitting da + prep (N)
Meinung zu
jemand anders (N)
cf: jemand anderer (S)

1.6.2 Radio discussion (unprepared speech in a formal


context)
This passage illustrates unprepared speech in the formal situation of a
radio discussion where the participants do not know one another. It
shows fairly careful pronunciation, relatively elaborate sentence
structures and a choice of vocabulary which is almost exclusively R2 or
R3. Nevertheless, there are still several features which are typical of
informal German Rl.
Herr A:

Ich wollte ganz gerne, Herr L., wenn es gestattet ist, noch eine
Anmerkung zu dem machen, was Herr Doktor S. sagte. Ich habe
vor kurzem mit Wissenschaftlern der Technischen Universitt
Karlsruhe (die hier vor der Tr liegt) gesprochen, und die haben
mir erzhlt, dass sie solche Modellversuche zur Zeit in der
Schweiz und auch im Lande Hessen, wo diese
Richtgeschwindigkeiten etwa von achtzig bis einhundertzwanzig
Kilometer - (Sie sehen das auf der Autobahn ja in der NordSd-Richtung, wenn Sie da fahren) durchfuhren. Die sind also
der Meinung, man brauche einen bestimmten Zeitraum, um
berhaupt erst Erkenntnisse endgltig sammeln zu knnen, ob
sich das bewhrt hat. Wenn Sie mich als praktischen
Verkehrsteilnehmer fragen wrden, wrde ich Ihnen sagen, ich
habe immer den Eindruck, dass sich zumindest auf der
Bundesautobahn an diesen Richtgeschwindigkeiten achtzig bis
einhundertzwanzig meiner Meinung nach kaum jemand richtig
hlt.

Herr B:

Ja also, wenn ich was sagen darf, ich halt von den
Richtsatzgeschwindigkeiten auch nichts, oder (ich mchte es
noch deutlicher sagen) gar nichts, denn es muss immer noch der
Autofahrer eigenverantwortlich entscheiden, wie schnell er
fahren k a n n , . . . wie b e r h a u p t . . . So ist es auch nicht die
objektive, absolute, gefahrene Geschwindigkeit, die eigentliche
Unfallursache ist, sondern die relativ zu hohe Geschwindigkeit in
dem konkreten Fall, und wenn man die Unflle
zusammenaddieren wrde, die sich zum Beispiel bei hheren
Geschwindigkeiten, als zum Beispiel hundertzwanzig ereignen,
dann werden die sehr selten sein, (die liegen alle darunter),

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und das zeigt eben, dass im konkreten Fall bei der Situation,
(sagen wir), bei der Sicht, bei dem Abstand zu schnell gefahren
wird, das knnen schon achtzig sein, wo s zu schnell is, was er
nicht mehr sollte.
(Charles van Os (ed.), Texte gesprochener deutscher Standardsprache, Munich:
Hueber, Dsseldorf: Schwann, 1974, vol. 2, pp. 545)

Pronunciation

Grammar

little ellipsis or elision - just three


instances

was
ich halt
wo s zu schnell is

most often no ellipsis

ich habe, ich wollte,


etc.

tense

mainly present and


perfect tenses

Sie sehen das


die haben mir
erzhlt

one past tense

was Herr Dr. S. sagte

one future tense

dann werden die


sehr selten sein

Konjunktiv II

mainly forms with


wrde except for
modal verbs
(mchte, sollte,
wollte)

Wenn Sie mich . . .


fragen wrden,
wrde ich Ihnen
sagen,...

indirect speech

mainly in indicative

ob sich das bewhrt


hat

Konjunktiv I used
once

man brauche einen


bestimmten
Zeitraum

case

genitive case used


occasionally

mit Wissenschaftlern
der Technischen
Universitt

demonstratives
widely used for
personal pronouns

die haben mir erzhlt


Die sind also der Meinung
dann werden die sehr selten sein

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Sentence
construction

afterthoughts
inserted in the
middle of the
sentence
(parenthesis)

(Sie sehen das auf der Autobahn . . . , wenn


Sie da fahren)

strings of words or
phrases

die objektive, absolute, gefahrene


Geschwindigkeit,... bei der Situation . . . ,
bei der Sicht, bei dem Abstand

extensive use of
subordinate clauses

over 50% of all clauses in the text are


subordinate

a few broken,
incomplete or
truncated clauses

. . . , wo diese Richtgeschwindigkeiten etwa


von achtzig bis einhundertzwanzig
Kilometer [speaker forgets to add a verb]
wie schnell er fahren kann,... wie
berhaupt...

It is very noticeable in general that, although sentences are complete in


the main, they are extremely long - Herr B's contribution consists of a
single sentence! The sentences are also very loosely strung together, as
the speakers expand what they have already said with afterthoughts
and qualifications.
Vocabulary

The vocabulary is characteristically technical and formal, with several


compounds and many words typical of R3b. There are no Rl words at
all.
gestattet
relativ
Zeitraum
solche
objektiv
bewhrt
sich ereignen
Modellversuche
eigenverantwortlich
Verkehrteilnehmer
Anmerkung
Richt(satz)geschwindigkeit
Erkenntnisse

Interjections,
particles, and
fillers

There are no
interjections and
noticeably few
particles.

also
ja
auch
berhaupt

Each speaker defers


to the other
participants by
starting with a
polite, formal filler.

wenn es gestattet ist


wenn ich was sagen darf

Regionalisms

These are lacking entirely, although the speakers are from SW.

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1.6.3 Literary prose (Gnter Grass, Die Blechtrommel)


Gnter Grass's novel Die Blechtrommel was a best-seller in Germany
and many other countries and is one of the most famous German
post-war novels. This passage begins with the main character, Oskar, in
a psychiatric unit after the war, and continues in the second and third
paragraphs with recollections of his childhood in pre-war Danzig. The
whole passage has the typically rich vocabulary and complex sentence
structure of modern literary prose (R3a).
Frulein Dr. Hornstetter, die fast jeden Tag auf eine Zigarettenlnge in mein
Zimmer kommt, als Arztin mich behandeln sollte, doch jedesmal von mir
behandelt weniger nervs das Zimmer verlt, sie, die so scheu ist und
eigentlich nur mit ihren Zigaretten nheren Umgang pflegt, behauptet immer
wieder: ich sei in meiner Jugend kontaktarm gewesen, habe zu wenig mit
anderen Kindern gespielt.
Nun, was die anderen Kinder betrifft, mag sie nicht ganz unrecht haben.
War ich doch so durch Gretchen Schefflers Lehrbetrieb beansprucht, so
zwischen Goethe und Rasputin hin und her gerissen, da ich selbst beim
besten Willen keine Zeit fr Ringelreihn und Abzhlspiele fand. Sooft ich aber
gleich einem Gelehrten die Bcher mied, sogar als Buchstabengrber
verfluchte und auf Kontakt mit dem einfachen Volk aus war, stie ich auf die
Gren unseres Mietshauses, durfte froh sein, wenn es mir nach einiger
Berhrung mit jenen Kannibalen gelang, heil zu meiner Lektre
zurckzufinden.
Oskar konnte die Wohnung seiner Eltern entweder durch den Laden
verlassen, dann stand er auf dem Labesweg, oder er schlug die Wohnungstr
hinter sich zu, befand sich im Treppenhaus, hatte links die Mglichkeit zur
Strae geradeaus, die vier Treppen hoch zum Dachboden, wo der Musiker
Meyn die Trompete blies, und als letzte Wahl bot sich der Hof des Mietshauses.
Die Strae, das war Kopfsteinpflaster. Auf dem gestampften Sand des Hofes
vermehrten sich Kaninchen und wurden Teppiche geklopft. Der Dachboden
bot, auer gelegentlichen Debatten mit dem betrunkenen Herrn Meyn,
Ausblick, Fernsicht und jenes hbsche aber trgerische Freiheitsgefuhl, das
alle Turmbesteiger suchen, das Mansardenbewohner zu Schwrmern macht.
(Danziger Trilogiey Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1980, pp. 79-80)

Grammar

tense

The narrative in the second and third


paragraph is exclusively in the past
tense, but the first paragraph is in the
present tense to refer to the time of
narration.

indirect speech

Konjunktiv I used

ich sei... kontaktarm


gewesen, habe zu
wenig... gespielt

case

genitive case used


freely

unseres Mietshauses
des Hofes

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demonstratives

Sentence
construction

Vocabulary

the typically R3a


demonstrative jener
is used

mit jenen Kannibalen


jenes...
Freiheitsgefiihl

war... doch used


in the sense 'but
then...'

War ich doch so durch Gretchen Schefflers


Lehrbetrieb beansprucht,...

use of phrases with


a participle

von mir behandelt

extensive use of
subordinate
clauses

over 50% of all clauses in the text are


subordinate

sentence length

There are 32 clauses in 8 sentences. Most of


the sentences have three or more clauses,
and some are extremely complex, e.g. the
single sentence of the first paragraph and the
last sentence of the second.

The sheer range of vocabulary is striking.


The first paragraph has some rather technical and formal terms such as
the psychiatrist Dr. Hornstetter would use:
kontaktarm
nheren Umgang pflegen
The second paragraph has much rather lofty typically R3a diction. In
the mouth of this narrator, and linked to the very elaborate sentence
construction, this gives it a pompous ring which does not sound wholly
serious:
betreffen
Gelehrten
Berhrung
mag
meiden
Lektre
gleich einem
nach einiger
heil zurckfinden
The vocabulary of the third paragraph of third-person narrative is
rather less lofty, although it is all still characteristic of formal literary
writing:
sich befinden
Ausblick
jenes trgerische
sich bieten
Fernsicht
Freiheitsgefuhl
sich vermehren
Schwrmer
A last noticeable feature is the extensive use of imaginative compounds,
some of which will be the author's invention:
Zigarettenlnge
Buchstabengrber
Turmbesteiger
Mansardenbewohner

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1.6

Passages illustrating levels of register

43

Interjections,
particles and fillers

The use of these is very limited: typically the few that occur (nun,
doch, aber) are in the second paragraph where a first-person narrator
is 'speaking'.

Regionalisms

Only Gren (N) children used deliberately to emphasize that these are
rough brats.

1.6.4 Non-literary prose {Fachsprache)


This passage is a characteristic piece of modern specialist writing
(Fachsprache) dealing with the situation of German as a minority
language in Italy (South Tyrol). It has many features typical of this
register (R3b); its complexity derives from the extensive use of noun
constructions rather than from subordination.
In der autonomen Provinz Bozen-Sdtirol im Norden Italiens ist Deutsch
gleichberechtigte Amtssprache neben Italienisch. Im ladinischen Teil ist
zudem seit einigen Jahren Ladinisch dritte Amtssprache. Die
Gleichberechtigung von Deutsch und Italienisch ist garantiert im
Autonomiestatut von 1972, das eine Reihe von Bedingungen dafr festlegt,
insbesondere
(1) den Proporz der beiden Sprachgruppen in der ffentlichen Verwaltung.
Binnen 30 Jahren (ausgehend von 1972) sollen die ffentlichen
Verwaltungsstellen proportional zur zahlenmigen Strke der
Sprachgruppen besetzt werden.
(2) Verwaltungsbeamte mssen zweisprachig sein in Italienisch und Deutsch,
in den ladinischen Tlern dreisprachig.
(3) Deutsch und Italienisch werden in den mtern gleichberechtigt
verwendet. Bei Sitzungen der Organe der Provinz sowie der Gemeinden
und ffentlichen Krperschaften ist auch die Verwendung von Deutsch
allein zulssig.
(4) Die Gleichberechtigung von Deutsch und Italienisch in den Schulen. Die
Sprachgruppen haben jeweils getrennte Schulen; die ladinische Gruppe
hat ein mehrsprachiges Schulsystem. Im zweiten Grundschuljahr kommt
in den italienischsprachigen Schulen Deutsch und in den
deutschsprachigen Schulen Italienisch als Pflichtfach hinzu und bleibt es
bis zum Ende der Sekundarstufe. Hierdurch soll die generelle
Zweisprachigkeit der Bevlkerung erreicht werden.
Sdtirol war bis zum Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs Teil Tirols und damit
sterreichs. Es war seit dem spten Mittelalter (1363) in Habsburgischem
Besitz, mit nur kurzer Unterbrechung whrend der napoleonischen Zeit. Erst
im Jahre 1919 wurde es von sterreich abgetrennt und - ohne
Volksabstimmung und sicher gegen den Willen der Bevlkerungsmehrheit Italien zugesprochen, gewissermaen als Belohnung fr Italiens Eintritt in den
Krieg gegen die Mittelmchte. In der Zeit des italienischen Faschismus
(1922-1943) war die ffendiche Verwendung der deutschen Sprache verboten.
Durch repressive Sprachenpolitik gegenber dem Deutschen und durch

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gezielte Ansiedlung italienischsprachiger Bevlkerungsgruppen sollte das


Gebiet italianisiert werden. Zur Ergnzung dieser Manahmen sollte das
Geheimabkommen zwischen Hitler und Mussolini vom 23. Juni 1939 dienen,
das die deutschsprachigen Sdtiroler vor die Entscheidung stellte, entweder
Sdtirol zu verlassen oder die italienische Sprache anzunehmen.
(Ulrich Ammon, Die deutsche Sprache in Deutschland, Osterreich und der
Schweiz. Das Problem der nationalen Varietten, Berlin and New York:
Walter de Gruyter, 1995, p. 405)

Grammar

Sentence
construction

tense

exclusively the present and (in the final


paragraph dealing with the history of the
region) the past tense

passive

extensive use of the


passive voice suits
the impersonal tone

Konjunktiv II

two instances of the simple form of


Konjunktiv II of the modal verb sollen, i.e.
sollte.
No other subjunctive forms are used.

case

genitive case used


extensively (more
genitives than
accusatives)

constructions with
verbal nouns

Die ffentliche Verwendung der deutschen


Sprache
Zur Ergnzung dieser Manahmen

'blocks' of noun
phrases linked by
the genitive or by
prepositions

den Proporz der beiden Sprachgruppen in


der ffentlichen Verwaltung
als Belohnung fr Italiens Eintritt in den
Krieg gegen die Mittelmchte

Ausklammerung of
long phrases

. . . wurde es . . . Italien zugesprochen,


gewissermaen als Belohnung fr
Italiens Eintritt in den Krieg

use of phrasal verbs

das die deutschsprachigen Sdtiroler vor die


Entscheidung stellte

sollte das Gebiet


italianisiert
werden

Bei Sitzungen der


Organe der Provinz
im Norden Italiens

The preference for noun constructions rather than verbs and


subordinate clauses is very typical of this register (there are only two
subordinate clauses). As a consequence, very few full verbs are used,
and sein and haben make up a third of the verbs in the passage. The
effect is to reinforce the factual, impersonal tone and give an
impression of preciseness.

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Vocabulary

T h e vocabulary is highly specialized and abstract, consisting


exclusively o f words w h i c h are R 2 or R3.

Gleichberechtigung
Krperschaften
in Habsburgischem Besitz
Verwaltung

Zweisprachigkeit
zahlenmig
zusprechen
Ansiedlung

T h e r e are many words o f foreign origin, o f t e n with specialized


meanings:

autonom
Proporz
generell

Provinz
proportional
repressiv

garantieren
Organe
italianisieren

T h e r e are m a n y c o m p o u n d words, o f t e n w i t h foreign elements. T h e s e ,


too, o f t e n b e l o n g to specialist terminology:

Amtssprache
Verwaltungsstelle
Grundschuljahr
Sekundarstufe
Sprachenpolitik
Autonomiestatut
Verwaltungsbeamte
italienischsprachig

Volksabstimmung
Bevlkerungsgruppen
Sprachgruppe
Schulsystem
Pflichtfach
Bevlkerungsmehrheit
Geheimabkommen

A s m i g h t b e e x p e c t e d in this very formal written register, interjections,


fillers and particles are entirely absent, and there are n o regionalisms o f
any kind.

1.6.5

Serious newspaper report: Die Welt


T h i s passage and the following o n e (1.6.6) provide contrasting
examples o f the register o f journalism in the form o f reports o f the
same incident f r o m a 'broadsheet' newspaper (Die Welt) and a 'tabloid'

(Bild).
After the striking headlines, w h i c h are designed to catch the eye, the
account in Die Welt maintains the serious and objective t o n e o f a factual
report, w i t h the aim o f i n f o r m i n g the reader fully about the event and
its causes as k n o w n at the t i m e o f writing. T h e register shares
characteristics o f R3a and R 3 b (although t e n d i n g m o r e to the latter),
and m a n y o f the linguistic features are comparable to those f o u n d
in the factual writing o f 1.6.4, w i t h relatively simple sentence
construction, blocks o f n o u n phrases and w i d e use o f technical
terminology.

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Beide Triebwerke ausgefallen: Todesangst im Urlauberjet


Flug 3378 musste mit 150 Menschen an Bord notlanden - Elf
Verletzte - Osterreichische Behrde vermutet Pilotenfehler
Die Rckkehr aus dem Urlaub wurde am Mittwoch fur 142 deutsche
Touristen zum Albtraum: Nur knapp konnte die achtkpfige Crew ihres
Airbus A310-300 mit der Flugnummer H F 3378 mit einer Notlandung in
Wien-Schwechat eine Katastrophe abwenden. Als die Maschine um 13 Uhr
auf Rckweg von Kreta nach Hannover gerade die ungarische Hauptstadt
Budapest berflog, meldete der Pilot Treibstoffverlust und Probleme mit
beiden Triebwerken. Schon beim Start hatten die Piloten Sorgen mit dem
Fahrwerk. Es lie sich nicht einfahren. U m 13.10 Uhr ersuchte der Pilot um
Erlaubnis zur Notlandung in Wien-Schwechat.
Zu spt, wie die sterreichischen Behrden meinen. Sie fuhren die
Bruchlandung des Airbus 310 auf einen Pilotenfehler zurck. Der Pilot habe
sich zu spt zu einer Notlandung entschlossen, nachdem er das Fahrwerk nach
dem Start nicht mehr habe zurckfahren knnen, sagte der Sprecher des
zustndigen Verkehrsministeriums. Die Maschine sei auf Grund des dadurch
hheren Luftwiderstandes der Treibstoff ausgegangen. Der Pilot hatte den
hheren Verbrauch ausrechnen knnen", sagte der Sprecher. Es sei daher
unklar, warum der Pilot nicht schon in Zagreb oder Graz eine Notlandung
versucht habe.
Denn um 13.31 Uhr ging die Maschine, die den letzten Tropfen Treibstoff
verbraucht hat und mit ausgefallenen Triebwerken unterwegs ist, im Gleitflug
zur Notlandung in Wien-Schwechat ber. Der Pilot setzte aus
Sicherheitsgrnden neben der Landepiste auf. Der Airbus drehte sich um die
eigene Achse, verlor das Fahrgestell, die linke Tragflche bricht. Die Maschine
kam auf einer Wiese neben der Landebahn 34 zum Stillstand.
Feuerwehr und Rettungswagen rasten zum Unglcksort knapp drei
Kilometer vom Hauptgebude des Flughafens entfernt. Der Flugbetrieb
wurde fr eine halbe Stunde zur Gnze eingestellt. ber aufgeblasene
Notrutschen verlieen die schwer geschockten und groteils unverletzten
Passagiere das Flugzeug. Sie wurden medizinisch untersucht, elf von ihnen
mussten zur Beobachtung in Krankenhuser der Umgebung gebracht werden.
Die wenigen Augenzeugen sagten im sterreichischen Rundfunk, die
Maschine sei ungewhnlich niedrig und geruschlos geflogen. Sie habe
buchstblich mit letzter Kraft die Umzunung des Flughafens berflogen.
Dies wurde als Beweis dafr gewertet, dass beide Triebwerke bereits
ausgefallen waren.
(Die Welt, 13 July 2000, p. 36)

Grammar

formal and correct in all respects


tense

The report is predominantly in the past tense.


pluperfect used to
indicate remoter
past time

ausgefallen waren

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passive

The 'historic'
present or perfect
tenses give an effect
of immediacy at the
dramatic highpoint
of the event.

unterwegs ist
verbraucht hat
die linke Tragflche
bricht

complex verbal forms


used

nachdem er das
Fahrwerk . . . nicht
mehr habe
zurckfahren
knnen

wide use of the


werden-passive in
the last paragraph,
giving an
impersonal tone

Der Flugbetrieb
wurde eingestellt
Sie wurden
medizinisch
untersucht

passive equivalent
Es lie sich nicht
with sich lassen used einfahren

Sentence
construction

indirect speech

consistent use of
Konjunktiv I

Der Pilot habe


sich...
entschlossen
die Maschine s e i . . .
niedrig und
geruschlos
geflogen

case

genitive case used


freely (similar
proportion to
passage 1.6.3)

der Sprecher des


zustndigen
Verkehrsministeriums
Krankenhuser der
Umgebung

sentence length

Sentences are not unduly long (about 14 words


per sentence on average, with the longest
having 28 words). This corresponds to the
norm in R3b.

Subordination

relatively little subordination (about 20% of all


the clauses are subordinate)

strings of main
clauses

characteristic use of strings of main clauses


placed side by side without any linking
conjunctions - the succession of short main
clauses at the highpoint of the event enhance
the dramatic effect of the presentation

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Vocabulary

constructions with
verbal nouns

Der Pilot habe sich zu spt zu einer


Notlandung entschlossen
. . . meldete der Pilot Treibstoffverlust

phrasal verbs
(compare 1.6.4)

. . . ging die Maschine . . . zur


N o t l a n d u n g . . . ber
Die Maschine kam auf einer Wiese . . .
zum Stillstand

extended adjective
constructions

auf Grund des dadurch hheren


Luftwiderstandes
die schwer geschockten und groteils
unverletzten Passagiere

The vocabulary is relatively formal, with a high proportion of words


and phrases which are used exclusively in R3.
eine Katastrophe abwenden
u m Erlaubnis ersuchen
sich zu einer Notlandung
das zustndige
entschlieen
Verkehrsministerium
der hhere Verbrauch
aus Sicherheitsgrnden
sich u m die eigene Achse drehen
Unglcksort
zur Gnze einstellen
schwer geschockt
groteils unverletzt
medizinisch untersuchen
zur Beobachtung
geruschlos
Umzunung
als Beweis fur etwas werten
Several specialist terms relating to air travel are used, as
appropriate to the subject matter of the report. A significant
number of these are foreign words or compounds:
Flugnummer
Crew
Notlandung
Treibstoffverlust
Triebwerk
Start
Fahrwerk
einfahren
Bruchlandung
Pilotenfehler
Luftwiderstand
Treibstoff
Gleitflug
Fahrgestell
Landepiste
Tragflche
Notrutsche
Flugbetrieb
As in other formal varieties of German, interjections, fillers and
particles are entirely absent, and there are no regionalisms of any kind.

1.6.6 Tabloid newspaper report: Bild


This report in Bild of the same incident as that dealt with in Die Welt in
1.6.5 is significantly different in tone and register. It is presented in a
much more dramatic, sensational and less objective fashion, to make
the readers feel as if they are experiencing the incident directly. The
emphasis is on the emotional responses as much as on the factual
event.

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Ferien-Airbus: Kein Sprit mehr, Triebwerkausfall


Pilot rettet 142 Urlauber
Notlandung! Triebwerkausfall! Die Passagiere an Bord waren wie gelhmt.
Stewardessen halfen, die Gurte fest anzuziehen, trsteten zitternde Urlauber.
Auf dem Flug HF3378 von Chania (Kreta) nach Hannover fielen in 9000
Meter Hhe beide Triebwerke aus. 142 Urlauber litten Todesangst - und
feiern jetzt den Piloten wie einen Helden.

Er brachte den 122-Tonnen-Airbus A310 im Gleitflug runter!


U m 11.55 Uhr war das Flugzeug gestartet, Minuten spter die erste
Alarmmeldung: Das Fahrwerk lie sich nicht einfahren. Der erfahrene Pilot
Wolfgang Arminger (55, Mnchner, 20 000 Flugstunden) und Flugsicherung
entschieden: Weiterflug, aber auerplanmige Zwischenlandung in
Wien-Schwechat.
13.12 Uhr im Landeanflug, 25 Kilometer vor dem Wiener Airport, der
Notruf: Flug H S 3378,9000 Meter, short on fuel!" Das heit: kein Sprit
mehr! Eine Minute spter: beide Triebwerke fielen aus! Austro Control, wir
gehen in Gleitflug", funkte der Pilot. Die Fluglotsen antworteten: Wir
rumen alles frei. Wir sind bei euch!"
Groalarm auf dem Boden, Feuerwehr und Krankenwagen fuhren auf.
Fluglotsen beobachteten auf dem Radarschirm, wie die deutsche Maschine
immer mehr an Hhe verlor.
13.32 Uhr, die Notlandung auf Piste 34: Der Jet flog sehr tief an,
unheimlich leise, wie ein Segelflugzeug. Wackelte mit dem Heck. Er setzte vor
der Piste im Gras auf, kam gerade so ber den Zaun", sagte die
Flughafenangestellte Anita Arshay.
Ein Feuerwehrmann: Fahrwerksteile rissen weg, die Maschine drehte sich
um 180 Grad, der linke Flgel brach ab, der Jet schlidderte bers Gras."
Als er stand, sind meine Leute hingestrmt. Wir hrten die Passagiere
rufen. Dann schssen die Luftkissen der Notrutschen hervor. Innerhalb von
drei Minuten hatten wir alle Passagiere raus. Ein Glck, dass es nicht gebrannt
hat", sagte Dr. Bernhard Sigall, Einsatzleiter der Rettungskrfte.
BILANZ: Nur elf Passagiere verletzt, doch die meisten standen unter
Schock.
(Bild, 13 July 2000, p. 3)

A significant characteristic of this text is that, although most of its


features are still predominantly those of written German (R3, especially
R3b), a significant number are more typical of less formal Rl, so that a
deliberate impression is given of a kind of language much closer to
spontaneous colloquial speech (and thus to the everyday usage of the
intended readership). We have indicated the relevant register of all the
features listed below.
Grammar

tense

The report is exclusively in the past (or


pluperfect) tense, as would be expected in R3.
Present and perfect tenses only used in quoted
speech:
Wir rumen alles frei
Ein Glck, dass es nicht gebrannt hat

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The past tense is also used in much of the


quoted speech. This would not be the case in
actual spoken Rl, esp. in AU.
Fahrwerksteile rissen weg, die Maschine
drehte sich um 180 Grad, der linke Flgel
brach ab, der Jet schlidderte bers Gras
passive

No passives with werden are used; the event is


not being presented in an impersonal,
objective fashion (Rl).
Passive equivalent with sich lassen (typically
R3b) used once:
Das Fahrwerk lie sich nicht einfahren

Sentence
construction

quoted speech

There is no indirect speech, and thus no


Konjunktiv I (this mood is restricted to
formal R3). All quotations are given in direct
speech (although, as the past tense is used,
these cannot be the actual words and forms
employed by the people being reported).

case

The genitive case is used sparingly (Rl) - only


twice:
die Luftkissen der Notrutschen
Einsatzleiter der Rettungskrfte

incomplete sentences

Many 'sentences' are simply nouns or


phrases without a verb. This is typical of
Rl, and here it gives a breathless, urgent
tone to the report, emphasizing the drama
of the situation.

sentence length

All sentences are very short, as in Rl (about 8


words per sentence on average; the longest
has 20 words).

subordination

The text consists chiefly (over 90%) of main


clauses, with only two subordinate clauses
and one infinitive clause. This is typical of
both Rl and R3b:
. . . , wie die deutsche Maschine immer
mehr an Hhe verlor
Als er stand, sind . . .
Stewardessen halfen, die Gurte fest
anzuziehen

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strings of main
clauses

As in 1.6.5, there are several strings of main


clauses placed side by side without any
linking conjunction (Rl and R3b):
Fahrwerksteile rissen weg, die Maschine
drehte sich um 180 Grad, der linke Flgel
brach ab, der Jet schlidderte bers Gras

ellipsis of pronoun

This is typical of Rl (see 1.6.1):


. . . Wackelte mit dem Heck

Some typical R3b constructions found in 1.6.5 are lacking entirely.


There are no constructions with verbal nouns, phrasal verbs or
extended adjective constructions.
Vocabulary

The vocabulary is predominantly neutral (i.e. R2); typically, the R2


word Flgel is used, for example, rather than R3b Tragflche as found in
1.6.5. However, there are several colloquial (Rl) words and phrases.
These are often expressive or have a high emotional content:
. . . wie gelhmt
schliddern
brachte . . . runter
hervorschieen
Groalarm
feiern . . . wie einen Helden
wackeln
Wir sind bei euch
hinstrmen
kam gerade so ber den Zaun
Todesangst
bers Gras
kein Sprit mehr
. . . hatten wir alle . . . raus
unheimlich leise
Some specialist R3b terminology is employed, as in 1.6.5, with some of
the typical anglicisms used in aviation. It will be assumed that the
paper's readership is familiar with these (or would like to think they
are).
Notlandung
Airport
starten
Austro Control
einfahren
Einsatzleiter der Rettungskrfte
Gleitflug
Landeanflug
short on fuel
Fahrwerk
auerplanmige Zwischenlandung
Notrutsche
Notruf
Triebwerkausfall
Fluglotsen
Alarmmeldung
Weiterflug
There are no interjections, fillers and particles, and no regionalisms.

Punctuation

The exclamation mark is used liberally, both after single words and
sentences. This serves to heighten the sense of urgency and the
emotional, subjective tone of the report.

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2 Words and meanings

2.1

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

2.1.1

Problems of meaning
M o r e than two-thirds o f errors m a d e by advanced English-speaking
learners o f G e r m a n involve matters o f vocabulary. T h e central problem
is that different languages reflect a different perspective o f the world in
their vocabulary. E a c h language divides u p things, ideas, events, etc. in
terms o f words from a quite different viewpoint, categorizing and
drawing distinctions in an individual way. T h e result is not just that
there are words in G e r m a n w h i c h are 'untranslatable', s u c h as gemtlich,
but that for m u c h o f the vocabulary w e d o not find any o n e - t o - o n e
correspondences b e t w e e n an E n g l i s h word and a G e r m a n word. Cases
o f exact equivalence, s u c h as Baum/tree
or Tisch/table are relatively
rare. L e a r n i n g G e r m a n involves learning h o w to break out o f the
E n g l i s h framework o f m e a n i n g and operate in the framework peculiar
to G e r m a n . A s w e are dealing w i t h individual words, there are n o rules;
each word has to be taken o n its o w n terms and there may be c o n t e x t s
w h e r e m o r e than o n e will serve equally for a particular E n g l i s h word.
T h e following sections aim to explain s o m e o f the m o s t c o n f u s i n g
cases where the range o f m e a n i n g o f a word or group o f words in o n e o f
the languages does not correspond to that o f the nearest equivalents in
the other.

Problems of meaning: English-German examples


T h i s section gives, in alphabetical order, a selection o f c o m m o n E n g l i s h
words w h i c h have a n u m b e r o f G e r m a n equivalents because they cover
a wider area o f m e a n i n g than any single word in G e r m a n . It aims to
help English-speaking learners to c h o o s e the word w h i c h best suits
what they want to say by explaining briefly the differences in m e a n i n g
b e t w e e n the possible G e r m a n equivalents. T h e r e are, o f course, m a n y
m o r e s u c h words than can b e dealt w i t h here - more information is to
b e f o u n d in the c o m p a n i o n v o l u m e Using German Synonyms (Durrell
2 0 0 0 ) - but the examples given will help learners w i t h other g r o u p s o f
words by s h o w i n g the kind o f information w h i c h n e e d s to b e looked for
w h e n using a dictionary.

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2.1

ACCEPT

etw akzeptieren
jdn akzeptieren
etw annehmen
jdn [in etw] aufnehmen

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

ACCIDENT

etw einsehen
etw gelten lassen
etw hinnehmen
etw ber' nehmen )
etw auf sich nehmen J
der Unfall

to take sth on (e.g. task)

das Missgeschick (R2/R3)


versehentlich)
aus Versehen)

inadvertently

zufallig

by chance

die Durchfhrung (R3b)


die Fertigkeit
die Leistung
die Vollendung (R3b)

execution, implementation
skill (learned or acquired)
achievement, performance
completion

das Malheur (Rl)

ACCOMPLISHMENT

to accept, agree with sth (e.g.


suggestion)
to accept sb (e.g. as a friend)
to accept sth (i.e. take sth
offered)
to admit sb [to sth] (e.g. to a
club)
to recognize, realize sth
to take sth as valid (e.g. excuses)
to put up with sth

less serious, not necessarily


fatal
fairly major, disaster (e.g. rail,
plane)
minor mishap (possibly
embarrassing)
mishap, misfortune

das Unglck

ACCIDENTALLY

53

Problems of meaning

ACTUALLY see really


ADMIT

etw zugeben
to confess (to) sth
jdn (zu etw) zulassen
j
to admit sb to sth, let sb in
jdn (in etw) hin-/hereinlassen i

ADVISE

jdm von etw abraten


jdn beraten
jdm raten
jdn von etw in Kenntnis \
setzen (R3b)
jdn von etw verstndigen /
jdm zuraten, etw zu tun 1

to advise sb against sth


to advise sb at length (esp
professionally)
to advise sb (general sense)
to inform sb of sth
to advise sb in favour of doing sth

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ADVERTISING/
ADVERTISEMENT

die Annonce \
die Anzeige >
das Inserat )

small ad

das Plakat
die Reklame

poster, bill, placard


commercial advertisement

der Werbespot

television commercial

die Werbung

advertising (general sense)

noch einmal
nochmals |
wiederum)

one more time

wieder

once more as before

AGE

das Alter
das Zeitalter

length, stage of life; old age


(historical) period

AGREE

etw (mit jdm) abmachen (Rl) )


etw (mit jdm) ausmachen (Rl))
sich (zu etw) bereit erklren
etw billigen (R3)
(sich) (mit jdm) einig/
einverstanden sein
mit etw einverstanden sein
sich (mit jdm) einigen
in etw einwilligen
bereinkommen

to agree (on) sth (with sb)

AFRAID see fear


AGAIN

(mit jdm/etw) bereinstimmen


etw verabreden (R1/R2) 1
etw vereinbaren (R2/R3)J
jdm/etw zustimmen

zugeben, dass . . .

once again, stressing repetition

to be prepared (to do sth)


to approve (of) sth
to be of the same opinion as sb
not to object to sth
to reach an agreement (with sb)
to consent to sth
to reach an agreement on a course
of action
to agree with sb/sth (i.e. to
concur with sb, to tally with sth)
to agree (on) sth (e.g. dates, plan)
to be in agreement with sb's
opinion or with a proposed
course of action
to admit t h a t . . .

ALTER see change

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APPEARANCE

der Anschein (R2/R3)


der Auftritt
das Aussehen

das Erscheinen
die Erscheinung

outward appearance (e.g. clothes,


face)
action of becoming visible
appearance, phenomenon, vision
(i.e. what is seen, referring to
persons or events)

der Schein

outward look (often false)

das uere(s)

ASK

jdn/etw anfordern (R2/R3)


(bei jdm/CH: jdn) anfragen
jdn (zu etw) auffordern
jdn ausfragen
jdn befragen
jdn (um etw) bitten
|
jdn (um etw) ersuchen (R3) J
jdn einladen
etw erfordern (R3)
sich nach jdm/etw \
erkundigen (R3)
/
nach jdm/etw fragen J
(um etw) flehen (R3a)
etw fordern
jdn fragen
(jdm) eine Frage stellen
(bei jdm) nachfragen
etw verlangen

AVOID

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

impression (judged to be true)


entrance, appearance (e.g. on
stage, TV)
general look of sb or sth

jdm/etw ausweichen
sich jdm/etw entziehen (R3a)
jdn/etw meiden (R3)
1
jdm/etw aus dem Weg gehen )
etwum 1 gehen
etw vermeiden

to request, require sb/sth (to be


provided)
to enquire (of sb) (simple enquiry)
to challenge, require sb (to do sth)
to interrogate sb
to question sb (fully)
to request (sth) of sb, ask sb (for sth)
to invite sb
to require, call for sth (of a thing)
to enquire about sb/sth
to plead (for sth)
to demand, require sth (with
insistence)
to ask sb (a question)
to ask (sb) a question
to enquire (of sb) (repeated
questioning)
to demand, require, want sth
to steer clear of sth (e.g. danger)
to elude, evade sb/sth
to keep clear of sb/sth
to find a way round sth (e.g.
obstacle)
to manage not to do sth
\\\\\
V
77/7/r

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56

2 Words and meanings

BAD

arg(R3;S)
bse
schlecht
schlimm

BANK

BEHAVE

bel
der Abhang
die Bank
der D a m m
die Sandbank, Wolkenbank
das Ufer
sich auffhren (R1/R2)

sich benehmen
sich betragen (R3)
sich verhalten

bad (possibly with serious


consequences)
evil, wicked, nasty
not good, of sth which can possibly
be good given other conditions
inherently bad, of sth which cannot
possibly ever be good (accident,
serious illness)
bad, nasty, repulsive, sick
slope
financial establishment
embankment
sandbank, cloudbank
shore of river, lake, etc.
to behave (making a particular
good or bad impression on
others)
to behave well, observe accepted
standards
to conduct oneself
to behave (act in a particular way
in response to sb or sth)

BELONG

etw angehren
jdm gehren
zu etw gehren

to be a member of sth (e.g. club)


to be the possession of sb
to be a part of sth, be one of sth

BLAME

jdn beschuldigen
jdm die Schuld (an etw) geben
jdn tadeln (R3a)
jdm etw vorwerfen

to accuse sb, fix the blame on sb


to blame sb (for sth)
to censure sb
to reproach sb with sth, accuse sb
of sth

BOX

die Bchse

can, tin, box (with lid) (less


common than Dose, except in
CH)
small box; tin can
cardboard box
small wooden box, casket (e.g. for
jewels)

die Dose
der Karton
das Kstchen

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der Kasten
die Kiste
die Schachtel
BREAK

ein Ei aufschlagen
(etw) brechen
kaputt sein (Rl)
kaputtgehen (itr) (Rl)
etw kaputtmachen (Rl)
(etw) reien

etw unterbrechen
(etw) zerbrechen
(etw) zerreien
etw zerschlagen
jdn/etw zerschmettern
BRIGHT

glnzend
heiter
hell
intelligent
leuchtend
strahlend

BRUSH

der Besen
die Brste
der Pinsel

solid, fair-sized box or case; crate


(for bottles) (S also: cupboard)
wooden packing-case or chest
(e.g. for tea, cigars)
flat,flimsybox, packet (e.g. for
matches, chocolates)
to break an egg
to break cleanly, of solid objects
(e.g. arm, mast, branch)
to be broken
to break (almost anything)
to break sth (almost anything)
to snap (sth), of non-hard things
(e.g. string); to rip or tear (e.g.
cloth)
to interrupt sth (e.g. journey)
to break (sth) into fragments (e.g.
window)
to tear (sth) into little pieces
(non-hard things)
to smash sth into fragments (esp
deliberately)
to smash, shatter, crush sb/sth
gleaming (e.g. of metal, prospects)
cheerful (e.g. of weather, day,
person)
not dark (of light)
clever
glowing (of colours)
shining (e.g. of sun, eyes, jewel)
broom, for sweeping
stiff brush, for cleaning (e.g. hair,
shoes)
soft brush for applying sth (e.g.
paint)

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58

Words and meanings

CALL

jdn/etw abholen
jdn (CH: jdm) anrufen
jdn besuchen
|
bei jdm vorbeikommen (Rl) J

to call for sb, pick sb up


to call sb on the telephone

heien
jdn/etw herbeirufen
jdn etw nennen
(etw) rufen
jdm etw zurufen

to be called
to summon sb/sth (e.g. doctor, taxi)
to call, name sb sth
to shout (sth) out
to call sth out to sb (from a distance)

CARE

die Frsorge (R3b)


die Obhut (R3)
die Pflege
die Sorge
die Sorgfalt
die Vorsicht

care (of a sick or elderly person)


care, safe keeping
looking after sb/sth
worry, anxiety
attentiveness, carefulness
attention, caution, prudence

CAREFUL

behutsam (R2/R3)
sorgfaltig
umsichtig
vorsichtig

cautious, careful, considerate


painstaking, taking care in doing sth
circumspect, prudent
cautious, avoiding mishaps

CARELESS

leichtsinnig
nachlssig
sorglos
unvorsichtig

foolishly thoughtless
negligent (opposite of sorgfltig)
carefree, unworried
not paying attention

CASTLE

die Burg
das Schloss

medieval fortress
stately home, palace

CATHEDRAL

der Dom
die Kathedrale
das Mnster

within German-speaking countries


outside German-speaking countries
in a few specific cities mainly in SW
(e.g. Strasbourg, Basle, Freiburg,
Ulm, Essen)

CAUSE

der Anlass

cause, occasion (immediate cause or


trigger for sth)
reason, motivation
sth producing an effect (i.e.
Wirkung)

to call on sb, visit sb

CASE see box

der Grund
die Ursache

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CHANGE

sich/etw ndern
sich/etw verndern

etw tauschen
'umsteigen
etw 'umtauschen
sich 'umziehen
jdn/etw verwandeln
etw wechseln

to change (sth) a lot, typically quickly


and producing a striking difference
to alter (sth) less radically, esp in
gradual process - typically a person's
appearance
to swap sth for one of the same value
to change (trains, buses, planes, etc.)
to exchange sth (e.g. goods in a shop,
money)
to get changed (clothes)
to transform sb/sth completely (e.g.
magic)
to substitute sth for another of the
same kind (e.g. job, topic, money)

CLEVER

begabt
clever (esp Rl)
gescheit (esp S)
geschickt
intelligent
klug
schlau

gifted
smart, sharp
shrewd, quick-witted
skilful, dexterous
mentally gifted, bright
sensible, clear-headed
astute, ingenious

CLIMB

etw besteigen

to climb, ascend sth (not necessarily


right to the top)
to reach the top of sth (e.g. mountain)
to climb, clamber up/over sth, using
hands
to climb, ascend (intr)
climb up (onto) sth, ascend sth

etw ersteigen
auf/ber etw klettern
steigen
auf etw steigen
CLOSE

etw dichtmachen (Rl)


etw schlieen (R2/R3) )
etw zumachen (R1/R2)J

to shut sth (esp shop)

etw sperren

to close sth off (e.g. road); (SE): to shut


sth
to shut

zugehen (Rl)

to shut, close sth

COAT see jacket

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COLLECT

jdn/etw abholen
etw ansammeln
sich ansammeln
etw aufsammeln
etw einnehmen )
etw kassieren (R1)J
etw einsammeln

sich/etw hufen
etw sammeln

sich sammeln
sich versammeln
|
zusammenkommen)
COMPLAIN

sich (ber jdn/etw) beklagen


sich (ber etw) beschweren)
(etw) reklamieren
)
(ber etw) klagen (R2/R3)
meckern (Rl))
nrgeln
J

CONTENT(S)

der Gehalt
der Inhalt

CONTINUE

to pick sb/sth up (e.g. at station,


airport)
to accumulate, amass sth
(indiscriminately)
to gather (crowds)
to collect sth up (things lying
around)
to collect sth (money, taxes)
to collect sth up/ in (things lying
around, or one thing from each
person in a group)
to pile (sth) up
to collect things to keep (e.g.
stamps) or for use (e.g. berries,
mushrooms, wood)
to collect (of things, or of people
assembling casually in a place)
to assemble in a place (of people, for
a specific purpose)
to express annoyance about sb/sth
to make a complaint (about sth)
to express concern, dissatisfaction
(about sb/sth)
to moan, grouse
content in terms of ideas;
proportion of sth in sth
contents, what is physically in sth

fortfahren, etw zu tun


etw fortsetzen (R3)J
etw weiterfuhren J

to continue to do sth

weitermachen (Rl)

to carry on (intr)

to continue sth

the most natural German equivalent of'to continue', 'to carry


on doing sth' is most often weiter with an appropriate verb, see 5.2.4.

NOTE:

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COPY

die Kopie
das Exemplar

replica, exact copy


one of a number (e.g. book)

COW/CATTLE

die Kuh
das Rind
das Rindvieh
das Vieh

cow, i.e. the female animal


head of cattle (Rl also: beef)
cattle as species (Rl*: term of abuse)
livestock, esp, but not only, cattle

CROSS

NOTE:

CRY

the most idiomatic R2 equivalent of'to cross' used transitively


is ber etw gehen, fahren, etc.; used intransitively it is hinbergehen,
hinberfahren, etc.
etw durch 1 queren (R3)
sich kreuzen
etw passieren
etw ber 1 queren (R3)
etw berschreiten (R3)

to go across sth of wide area (e.g. desert)


to pass one another (e.g. trains, letters)
to pass through or over sth (e.g. frontier)
to go from one side of sth to the other
to step over sth (esp a line, e.g. railway)

(etw) brllen (esp Rl)

to yell, roar (sth), esp in excitement or


rage
to bawl, howl (esp children)
to call (sth), usually articulate
to sob
to shout, scream, yell (sth), often
inarticulate (e.g. in fear)
to weep, cry

heulen (Rl)
(etw) rufen
schluchzen
(etw) schreien
weinen
DAMAGE

etw beschdigen
jdm/etw schaden
jdn/etw schdigen

to cause actual physical damage to sth


to be bad for sb/sth
to be to the disadvantage of sb/sth (e.g.
reputation, business)

DARK

dunkel
dster (R3)

not bright (opposite of hell)


gloomy, with little light and thus
unpleasant
pitch black, with no light and thus
sinister; S: dark, not bright
dull, dim (e.g. of light), murky (e.g. of
water)

finster (R3)
trbe

1
stressed syllables are
preceded by a stress
mark

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62

Words and meanings

DECIDE

etw beschlieen
etw bestimmen
sich (fur etw) entscheiden
sich zu etw entschlieen
jdn veranlassen etw zu tun

to reach a decision to do sth


to fix, determine sth (e.g. time, place)
to decide (on sth) by choosing from the
available alternatives
to reach a firm decision to do sth after
due consideration
to make sb decide to do sth

DEMAND see ask


DENY

etw ableugnen (R2/R3)

etw in Abrede stellen (R3b)


etw bestreiten
etw dementieren (R3b)
(etw) leugnen

jdn/etw verleugnen
etw verneinen
jdm etw verweigern

to deny sth forcefully (with the


implication that the denial is not
credible)
to deny, dispute sth (accusation)
to deny, dispute, contest sth
to deny sth officially
to declare sth to be untrue (with the
implication that the denial is not
credible)
to disclaim a connection with sb/sth
to answer a question in the negative
to refuse sb sth

DIE

abkratzen (Rl)
)
den Arsch zukneifen (Rl*) l to croak, kick the bucket,
ins Gras beien (Rl)
( snuff it
krepieren (Rl)
/
entschlafen (R3))
to pass away (euphemistic)
verscheiden (R3) f
to die (general sense)
sterben
'umkommen (R2/R3)l
to be killed (e.g. in an accident)
ums Leben kommen i

DIFFERENT

ander
unterschiedlich
verschieden

not the same as before, another


varied
not the same as each other, various

DOUBT

etw anzweifeln
etw bezweifeln

to cast doubt on sth (e.g. sb's honesty)


to doubt sth which has been taken to be
true or accurate
to have doubts about sb/sth

an jdm/etw zweifeln

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2.1

63

Problems of meaning

ENTRY/
ENTRANCE

die Aufnahme
der Auftritt
die Einfahrt
der Eingang
die Einreise
der Eintrag
der Eintritt
der Zugang
der Zutritt

admittance (e.g. to a club) as a member


entrance on stage
way in for vehicles
way in (on foot)
entry to a country
entry in book (e.g. dictionary, ledger)
act of entering, admission
(point of) access
right of entry, admittance

EVENT

die Begebenheit (R3)


das Ereignis

chance occurrence, esp extraordinary


event, incident (i.e. significant
ocurrence)
case (cf. im Falle eines Krieges)
events, happenings (esp sequence of
events)
organized function
unexpected incident
event seen as process (pi Vorgnge =
sequence of events)
occurrence (e.g. precious metals
minerals, etc.)
single occurrence, often unpleasant
incident, esp political or diplomatic

der Fall
das Geschehen
die Veranstaltung
der Vorfall
der Vorgang
das Vorkommen
das Vorkommnis (R3)
der Zwischenfall (R3)
EXAMINE

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

etw kontrollieren
etw prfen
jdn prfen
jdn/etw untersuchen

to check, scrutinize sth (e.g. passport)


to test sth for genuineness or accuracy
to subject sb (e.g. candidate) to an
examination
to subject sb/sth to careful scrutiny,
investigate sb/sth

EXPERIENCE

die Erfahrung
das Erlebnis

knowledge, skills acquired over time


event, sensation which one has
experienced

FALL

fallen
strzen

to fall (general sense)


to fall violently, usually causing injury or
damage (e.g. from height, off bicycle)

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64

FAT

dick
fett

Words and meanings

fettig
FEAR/
FRIGHTEN

Angst haben (R1/R2)

to be rather afraid, uneasy (fairly


weak)

jdm Angst machen


)
jdn in Angst versetzen (R3)J

to scare, frighten sb

etw befrchten

to be afraid that sth unpleasant


will happen
to be physically frightened
(suddenly)
to startle sb, frighten sb suddenly

(vor jdm/etw) erschrecken (R3)


strong verb, see 3.3.4
jdn erschrecken
NOTE: weak verb, see 3.3.4
furchten, dass . . . (R1/R2)

NOTE:

jdn/etw furchten (R2/R3)


sich (vor jdm/etw) furchten
(es) graut jdm (vor jdm/etw)
(R3)
es tut mir Leid(, dass . . . )
FEEL

sich + adj anfhlen


etw betasten
etw empfinden (R2/R3)

etw fhlen
sich + adj fhlen
meinen(, dass . . . )
etw spren
(nach etw) tasten
FIGHT

corpulent, large, hefty (of people)


containing fat (Rl also = fat - of
people in pejorative sense)
greasy, covered in fat

etw bekmpfen
boxen
fechten

to be afraid that (sth unpleasant


will happen)
to be in awe, dread of sb/sth
to be frightened of sb/sth (fairly
strong)
sb has a dread (of sb/sth)
I am sorry, I regret (that...)
(of things) to feel + adj, e.g. hard,
hot, damp (to the touch)
to feel sth to test quality
to be sensitive to sth (e.g. cold);
feel emotions (e.g. joy, sorrow,
respect)
to perceive sth through the senses
(of people) to feel + adj, e.g. well,
sick, tired
to feel, be of the opinion (that...)
to be aware of sth, notice, sense
sth
to grope, feel (for sth) searchingly
to combat sth (e.g. disease,
fascism)
to box
to fence

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2.1

sich hauen (Rl)]


sich prgeln ?
sich schlagen )
(gegen jdn/etw) kmpfen
sich (mit jdm) streiten

FINALLY

im Endeffekt (Rl)
endgltig
endlich
letztendlich )
letzten Endes J

FIRE

to have a fight
to fight (sb/sth), esp prolonged struggle
to argue, quarrel (with sb), possibly, but
not necessarily, physically; (R3) to
fight
in the end, in the final analysis
for ever, definitive(ly)
at last, after a long time (often
impatient)
ultimately, in the final analysis

schlielich
zum Schluss
zuletzt

eventually, after all


in the end, in conclusion
finally, in the end (last of a series of
events)

der Brand

a fire, causing damage (e.g. house,


forest)
fire as element

das Feuer
(AT) FIRST

65

Problems of meaning

erst
erst mal (Rl))
zunchst
)
erstens

first (followed by dann in series)


initially, for the moment
first(ly) - in list, followed by zweitens,
drittens, etc.

erstmals
)
zum ersten Malf
zuerst

before the rest

FLOW

flieen
strmen

toflow(general senses)
to pour out,flowin large masses, stream

FOLLOW

etw befolgen

for the first time

to act in accordance with sth (e.g.


orders)
etw besuchen
to attend sth (e.g. course)
(jdm/etw) folgen (R2/R3) to follow (sb/sth)
NOTE: in the neutral sense of'to follow' an appropriate verb of motion
prefixed by nach- or hinterhere.g. jdm nachlaufen, hinterherlaufen, is the
most frequent equivalent in Rl and R2

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66

Words and meanings

[FOLLOW]

auf jdn/etw folgen


aus etw folgen
(jdm/etw) nachfolgen
jdn verfolgen
etw verfolgen
jdn/etw verstehen

FOOD

to succeed sb/sth in chronological


sequence
to follow from sth (logically)
to come after/behind sb/sth (i.e. come
on later); to succeed sb
to pursue sb (e.g. thief); persecute sb
to follow sth keenly (e.g. aims, TV
series)
to understand sb/sth (e.g. 'Do you
follow me?')

das Essen
der Fra
das Futter
das Gericht
die Kost (R2/R3)
die Lebensmittel (pl) )
die Nahrungsmittel (pl) f

food (i.e. what is eaten for a meal)


animal food; (Rl) (lousy) grub
food for animals; (Rl) grub
dish

die Nahrung
die Speise

nourishment, sustenance
dish (usually in compound, e.g.
Sspeise; in R3 and S also =
nourishment)

FORCE

jdm etw aufzwingen


jdn/etw bezwingen
etw (von jdm) erzwingen
jdn (zu etw) zwingen

to force sth on sb
to overcome sb/sth (e.g. enemy, fear)
to force sth (from sb)
to force, compel sb (to sth)

FREEZE

einfrieren

to freeze up (e.g. pipes), freeze in


(ships)
to freeze sth (e.g. food, post in
institution)
to freeze to death
there is a frost, it is freezing

etw einfrieren
erfrieren
es friert
ich friere (N)
)
mich friert (es) (R3; S) 1
frieren
)
gefrieren (R3))
zufrieren
FRUIT

die Frucht
das Obst

fare, type of food


foodstuffs, comestibles

I am cold
to turn to ice
to freeze over (e.g. of lake)
fruit (general sense)
edible fruit (e.g. apples, pears)

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2.1

GARAGE

Problems of meaning

67

die Garage
die Tankstelle
die Werkstatt

place to store cars, etc.


petrol station, gas station
repair shop for cars, etc.

etw begreifen
)
etw erfassen (R2/R3) j

to comprehend sth

GATHER see collect


GRASP

sich jds/etw (gen)


bemchtigen (R3)
jdn/etw ergreifen (R3)

jdn/etw fassen
nach etw grapschen (Rl) \
nach etw greifen
?
nach etw langen (Rl)
'
jdn/etw greifen (R3, S)
jdn/etw packen (R1/R2)
jdn/etw schnappen (Rl)
GREET

jdn/etw begren
(jdn) gren
jdn willkommen heien
(R3)

GRIN

feixen (Rl)
grinsen
lcheln
schmunzeln

GROW (UP)

etw anbauen
aufwachsen (R2/R3)
erwachsen werden
gro werden (R1/R2)
heranwachsen (R3)
wachsen
adj + werden

to seize hold of sb/sth (e.g. radio


station)
to grasp, take hold of sb/sth in sudden
movement (also: opportunity, power,
etc.)
to take hold of sb/sth (also of ideas,
usually in negative)

to grasp, snatch at sth


to seize, grasp, take hold of sb/sth
to grab (hold of), seize, catch sb/sth
to grab sb/sth quickly, to catch sb (esp
of police)
to greet, welcome sb/sth
to say hello (to sb); give one's regards
to sb
to welcome sb
to smirk
to grin, smirk, esp scornfully or
unpleasantly
to smile (can be pleasant or
unpleasant)
to grin in a friendly or pleasant way
to grow, cultivate sth (agriculture)
to grow up, spend one's childhood
to become adult
to grow (of children)
to grow up, stressing development
to grow (general sense)
to grow, get, become + adj (e.g. large,
red)

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[GROW (UP)]

etw ziehen
zunehmen
etw zchten

to grow sth (plants)


to increase in size or quantity
to cultivate sth (plants)

GUESS

etw erraten
(etw) raten
etw schtzen
auf etw tippen (Rl)
etw vermuten

to guess sth correctly


to have a guess (at sth)
to estimate sth (e.g. weight)
have a guess at sth, predict sth
to suppose sth

HAPPEN/ OCCUR

ausbleiben
ausfallen
sich begeben (R3a)

to fail to happen (against expectations)


not to take place, to be cancelled
to happen, come to pass (significant
event)
to happen (unusual or remarkable
event)
to take place (as a result, or in the
normal course of events), ensue
to happen, occur (to sb)
to happen, occur (to sb) (typically sth
unpleasant or harmful)
to take place (organized event)
to happen (rather unexpectedly)
to be going on
to occur (i.e. be found); take place
(often repeatedly)

sich ereignen
erfolgen
(jdm) geschehen
(jdm) passieren (R1/R2)
stattfinden
vorfallen (R2/R3)
vorgehen
vorkommen
1

stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

jdm wider* fahren (R3a))


jdm zustoen (R3)
f
sich zutragen (R3a)

to befall sb

der Feiertag
die Ferien (pi)
der Urlaub

public, bank holiday


institutional break (e.g. from school)
leave (from work), vacation

to take place, occur (noteworthy event)

HARM see damage


HILL see mountain
HIRE see rent
HOLIDAY(S)

the distinction between Urlaub and Ferien is not always


maintained in Rl, and both are frequently used in the sense of
'vacation'.

NOTE:

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2.1

IDEA

IMAGINE

IMPROVE

69

Problems of meaning

die Absicht
die Ahnung
der Begriff
der Einfall
der Gedanke
die Idee
die Meinung
die Schnapsidee (Rl)
die Vorstellung

intention, plan of action


inkling, suspicion
concept, generic idea
idea, plan which occurs to one
suddenly
thought
notion, thought; philosophical idea
opinion
nutty idea
image in the mind, idea one has of sth

sich etw denken (R1/R2) |


sich etw vorstellen
j

to make oneself a mental picture of sth,


possibly correct, possibly not

sich etw einbilden

merely to imagine sth which is quite


illusory

jdn/etw bessern (R3)

to make sb/sth rather better (in a


limited way; of people often in a
moral sense, 'reform')
to become rather better (esp. health,
morals, social conditions, situation in
life, etc.)
to put (sb/sth) right, correct (sb/sth)
to correct sth, bring sth nearer to ideal,
improve on sth (e.g. quality of
product)
to better oneself (in career); do better
(in sport); correct oneself

sich bessern

(jdn/etw) korrigieren
etw verbessern

sich verbessern
INCIDENT see event
INHABITANT(S)

die Bevlkerung
der Bewohner

der Eingeborene(r)
der Einheimische(r)
der Einwohner

inhabitants of a city, etc. seen as a


collective whole
inhabitant, occupier, sb who happens
to live in a particular place, road,
house
primitive, aboriginal native
native, sb who belongs to a place
resident, permanent inhabitant (e.g. of
a city) with some legal or official
status

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70

2 Words and meanings

JACKET

dasJckchen
die Jacke
das Jackett j
der Rock (S))
der Mantel
der (AU das) Sakko

jacket (short, esp woman's)


jacket (general sense)

die Anstellung

(position of) employment,


appointment
work in general (esp manual),
piece of work
specific task set sb
order, commission, specific piece
of work relating to one's trade or
profession
profession, employment of a
professional nature, (skilled)
trade

JOB

die Arbeit
die Aufgabe
der Auftrag

der Beruf

die Berufsttigkeit (R3b) j


die Erwerbsttigkeit (R3b) S
der Job (Rl)
der Posten
die Stelle
die Stellung
etw aufbewahren (R3)
etw aufheben
jdn/etw behalten

KEEP

etw beibehalten
etw bewahren (R2/R3)
etw einhalten (R2/R3)

jdn/etw erhalten
t

jdn/etw halten

jacket, coat (man's, also of suit)


(over-)coat
jacket (man's, separate)

(gainful) employment
casual or part-time job
specific post, esp in
administration or commerce
paid job, position of employment
situation in general
to keep sth safe
to keep, look after sth
not to give sth away, not to allow
sb to go
retain sth (rather emphatic)
to preserve, maintain sth (esp sth
abstract, in difficult conditions)
to keep, adhere to, observe sth
(appointment, promise, rules,
etc.)
to keep, maintain, preserve sb/sth
(i.e. prevent deterioration or
loss)
to keep sb/sth (i.e. not allow to
move or change), to observe,
stick to sth

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sich halten

etw unter 1 halten


1

stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

jdn versorgen
jdn/etw zurckhalten

to remain in good condition (e.g.


food), maintain a course or
position
to keep sth going, maintain sth
(e.g. building)
to provide for sb (e.g. family)
to keep sb/sth back, detain sb,
withhold sth

KNOW

bekannt sein
jdn/etw kennen
eine Sprache knnen
(etw) wissen

to be known
to be familiar with sb/sth
to be able to speak a language
to have knowledge (of sth)

KNOWLEDGE

die Erkenntnis

knowledge, recognition,
realization (knowledge with
clear understanding)
specific (piece of) knowledge
specialized knowledge in a certain
field
knowledge in general, total
knowledge which a person
possesses

die Kenntnis
die Kenntnisse (pi)
das Wissen

LEARN

etw erfahren
etw erlernen
(etw) lernen

LEAVE

abfahren
|
losfahren (Rl)j
jdn/etw dalassen (Rl)
jdn/etw hinterlassen

etw lassen

etw liegen lassen


losgehen (Rl))
(weg)gehen )

to learn sth by chance, find sth out


to learn sth completely (e.g.
language, skill)
to learn (sth) by effort, through
study
to depart (in vehicle, by train, etc.)
not to take sb/sth with one, leave
sb/sth behind
to leave sb/sth behind (after
death; for sb, as sign that one has
been there)
to allow sth to remain (in a
particular place or in a certain
condition)
to leave sth behind (inadvertently)
to depart

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72

[LEAVE]

jdn/etw stehen lassen

Words and meanings

jdm etw ber'lassen


etw verlassen
jdn/etw weglassen (Rl)
jdn/etw zurcklassen

to leave sb/sth behind (usually


intentionally)
to leave sth in sb's care, entrust
sth to sb
to go away from sb/sth
to leave sth out, let sb go
leave sb/sth behind (intentionally,
or leave a trace, or on death)

(AT) LAST see finally


LIFT

jdn/etw aufheben
etw erheben (R3)
etw erhhen
jdn/etw heben
etw hochheben

LIKE

etw gefallt jdm (see 4.1.1)


jdn/etw gern haben
jdn/etw nicht leiden knnen
jdn/etw lieben
jdn lieb haben
jdn/etw mgen (see 4.6.1)
etw schmeckt jdm

to pick sb/sth up (off the ground)


to raise sth up high (e.g. hand,
glass)
to make sth higher (e.g. wall,
prices)
to move sb/sth higher
to lift sb/sth up (in the air)
sb likes sth (esp on the basis of a
first impression)
to like sb/sth (esp an established
affection)
not to be able to stand sb/sth
to love sb/sth
to be fond of sb
to like sb/sth (esp people or food)
sb likes sth (food)

referring to people and food, gern haben and mgen are very
similar in meaning. With verbs, e.g. 'to like doing sth', German most
often uses gern with an appropriate verb, see 5.2.4, e.g. Ich reite gern 'I
like horse-riding'.

NOTE:

LITTLE see small


LIVE

leben
wohnen

LOCK

(etw) abschlieen
)
(etw) absperren (SE) S
jdn/etw einschlieen \
jdn einsperren
I
etw wegschlieen
)
etw verschlieen

to be alive, have a certain lifestyle


to dwell
to lock (e.g. house, car, door)
to lock sb up, lock sth away
to lock sth (small, e.g. case, box)

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LOVE see like


MAN

der Mann
der Mensch

MARRY

heiraten
jdn heiraten
jdn trauen
sich (mit jdm) verheiraten
\
(R2/R3)
[
sich (mit jdm) vermhlen (R3) /
verheiratet sein

MEAN

etw bedeuten
etw besagen
etw heien
jdn/etw meinen

etw vorhaben
MEET

jdn abholen
jdm begegnen (R3)
jdn kennen lernen
jdn sehen
jdn treffen
auf jdn/etw treffen
sich (mit jdm) treffen (R1/R2)
(mit jdm) zusammenkommen
(R3)
(mit jdm) zusammentreffen
(R3)
zusammentreten

male human, as opposed to


woman
man as species, as opposed to
animals
to get married
to marry sb
to marry sb (i.e. perform the
ceremony)
get married (to sb)
to be married
to signify sth
to make sth clear, express sth
to have a certain meaning (e.g.
foreign word)
to have sb/sth in mind, intend
sb/sth (esp in questions, e.g.
'Who/What do you mean?')
to mean to do sth
to pick sb up
to meet, encounter sb (by chance)
to meet sb for the first time
to see, meet sb (frequent
equivalent in Rl)
to meet sb (by chance or
arrangement)
to come across sb/sth
to meet (sb) by arrangement
to collect, assemble, meet (in a
previously agreed place for a
specific purppose)
to have a meeting (with sb) (often
important people)
to meet, convene (public bodies,
etc.)

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74

MEMORY

das Andenken

Words and meanings

die Erinnerung
das Gedchtnis
der Speicher
MISS

etw auslassen
fehlen
etw ber'hren
etw ber'sehen
etw verfehlen
jdn/etw vermissen
etw verpassen
etw versumen (R2/R3)

souvenir; (R3) remembrance, memory


(solemn, e.g. of deceased)
remembrance, recollection
faculty of remembering
memory of computer or calculator
to miss sth out
to be missing
not hear sth (deliberately or not)
not see sth (deliberately or not)
not to get the right sth (e.g. path,
purpose)
to notice, regret the absence of sb/sth
to come too late for sth (e.g. train), let sth
slip (e.g. opportunity)
not to do sth one ought to have done (e.g.
miss an opportunity)

in R1/R2 the German equivalent of English 'miss' is often


daneben with an appropriate verb, e.g. er hat daneben geschossen.
NOTE:

MISTAKE

der
der
der
der
der

Fehler
Fehlgriff
Irrtum
Patzer (Rl)
j
Schnitzer (Rl) i

error, fault, defect


mistake (esp wrong choice or judgement)
mistaken belief or judgement
boob, goof, blunder

MOUNTAIN

der Berg
der Hang
der Hgel (esp N)
das Gebirge
der Gipfel

mountain, hill
slope, incline
rather small hill, often solitary
mountains, hills (range)
summit

NARROW

eng

constricted, difficult to get through


(opposite of weit)
of small width or breadth (opposite of
breit)

schmal
NECK

das Genick )
der Nacken i
der Hals
die Kehle

nape, back of neck


whole neck or throat, also of bottles
throat (front of throat, inside or outside)

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2.1

Problems of meaning

75

NOISE see sound


NOTICE

jdn/etw bemerken
etw merken
etw spren

NUMBER

die Anzahl
die Nummer
die Zahl
die Ziffer

to become aware of sth


to perceive, realize sth abstract
(e.g. intention, deceit)
to sense, feel sth (e.g. smell, pain,
cold)
rather vague, indefinite number
numbers in series applied to sth
(e.g. house, car, telephone)
quite specific number
actual digit (e.g. 4, 7)

OCCUR see happen/occur


OCCURRENCE see event
ODD

absonderlich (R3)
eigenartig
eigentmlich (R2/R3)
fremd
fremdartig
komisch (R1/R2)
merkwrdig (R2/R3)
seltsam
sonderbar
ungerade (Zahl)
unheimlich
wunderlich (R2/R3)

peculiar, abnormal
peculiar, difficult to comprehend
peculiar, unusual
unfamiliar, strange, foreign, alien
strange, unfamiliar, exotic
funny, peculiar
strange, strikingly out of the
ordinary
odd, peculiar, unusual
strange, odd, disconcerting
odd (number)
uncanny, weird
strange, odd, very peculiar

OFFER

jdm etw anbieten


(jdm) etw bieten

to hand sth to sb for acceptance


to afford sth, make sth available
(to sb) (usually sth abstract, e.g.
opportunity)

OFFICER

der Beamte(r)

civilian official (incl e.g.


policeman), civil servant (officer
of the state)
military officer

der Offizier

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76

ONLY

blo (R1/R2))
lediglich (R3) f
nur
'
erst

limiting (i.e. that number and no


more, at that time and only then,
see also 2.6)
indicating more to follow, that
there is time left, or that sth is
not happening before a certain
time (see also 2.6)

OPEN

aufgehen
aufhaben (Rl)
etw aufmachen (R1/R2)
etw aufschlagen

to open, come open


to be open (shops, etc.)
to open sth
to crack sth open (egg, nut), to
open sth (book, newspaper,
(R3a) eyes)
to unlock sth
to perform the opening of sth (e.g.
school, exhibition, proceedings)
to open (sth)

Words and meanings

etw aufschlieen
etw erffnen
sich/etw ffnen (R3)
ORDER

etw anordnen

jdm (etw) befehlen


|
(jdm) etw gebieten (R3a) j
etw bestellen

ORGAN

etw ordnen
das Organ
die Orgel

PACKET

das Pckchen

die Packung
das Paket
PAINT

etw (an)streichen
(jdn/etw) malen

to decree, instruct sth (esp of


official); to arrange sth according
to a system
to command, order sb (e.g. to do
sth)
to make an order to be provided
with sth (e.g. in shop)
to sort sth into order, organize sth
part of body, etc.
musical instrument
packet, pack, package (of goods,
quite small); small postal parcel
(under 2 kilos)
small package or packet (e.g. for
tea, cigarettes)
large package, packet; large postal
parcel
to put paint on sth (e.g. house,
fence)
to paint a picture (of sb/sth)

PATH see street

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PAY

etw begleichen (R3b)


(jdn/etw) bezahlen
(etw) blechen (Rl)|
etw lhnen (Rl) }

settle, pay sth (bill, invoice, debt)

etw entrichten (R3b)


bei jdm zahlen

to pay sth (fees, dues, taxes, etc.)


to pay sb (i.e. waiter, bus
conductor)
to pay (sth - i.e. a sum of money for sth)

(etw fr etw) zahlen

to pay (sb/for sth)


to fork (sth) out (excessive sum of
money)

the distinction between etw bezahlen 'pay for sth' and etw fur etw
zahlen 'pay sth (i.e. a sum of money) for sth' is no longer consistently
upheld, esp in Rl, and the two verbs are used almost interchangeably.
NOTE:

PEOPLE

die Leute (pl)


die Menschen (pl)
das Volk

people (seen as making up a


specific group)
people as a number of individuals
people as a nation or community;
the 'common' people

in Rl the distinction between Leute and Menschen is blurred,


and Leute is used more generally. Neither Leute nor Menschen is used as
widely as English 'people', which often corresponds to man (e.g. Man
sagt... 'People say . . . ' , see also 3.5.5 and 4.4.5).
NOTE:

PERSUADE

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

PLACE

jdn (dazu) bewegen, etw zu tun


(R3)
jdn (zu etw) breitschlagen (Rl)
jdm etw einreden
jdn ber'reden, etw zu tun
jdn von etw ber'zeugen

to induce sb to do sth

der Ort

place, spot, locality, location in


general, not precise
village, settlement
place to do sth specific (e.g. to sit
down, to play sth, etc.); square
(in town); room, space (of
sufficient size to do sth)
precise spot, usually with a
certain relevance or in relation to
surroundings

die Ortschaft
der Platz

die Stelle

talk sb round (to sth)


to talk sb into believing sth
to talk sb into doing sth
to convince sb of sth

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POUR

(jdm etw) einschenken (R2/R3)


sich ergieen (R3)
(etw) gieen
etw schtten
etw streuen
strmen

POWER

die Gewalt
die Kraft
die Macht
die Strke

to pour (sb sth, i.e. a drink)


to pour (out) (largeflow,also of
people)
to pour (sth) (only liquids)
to pour sth in large quantities
to pour, strew sth (having grains,
e.g. sand)
to pour (out), stream, flow (large
quantities of liquid; also air,
light, people)
power exercised, force, violence,
might
physical strength
power, ability to control (esp
latent)
measurable strength, size,
intensity

anwesend
augenblicklich
derzeitig (R3)
gegenwrtig
vorhanden

topical, current, relating to the


present
in attendance
current, existing at the moment
current, of the present time
of/at the present moment
existing in a place, available

PREVENT

jdn von etw abhalten


jdn/etw behindern
jdn an etw hindern
etw verhindern
etw verhten

to stop, prevent sb doing sth


to obstruct, hinder sb/sth
to stop, impede sb in sth
to make sth impossible
to prevent, stop sth (undesirable)

PUSH

(jdn/sich) drngeln (Rl)|


(jdn/sich) drngen
j

to push, shove, jostle (sb) (of


people, esp in a crowd)

(jdn/etw) drcken

to apply pressure (to sb/sth, e.g.


door, button)
to move (sb/sth) by pushing (esp
along a surface)
to shove, push, nudge sb
to give a short, violent shove (to
sb/sth); CH also to push (doors,

PRESENT

aktuell

(jdn/etw) schieben
jdn schubsen (Rl)
(jdn/etw) stoen

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2.1

PUT

79

Problems of meaning

etw hngen
etw in etw (hinein)geben
jdn/etw legen
jdn/etw setzen
jdn/etw stellen

jdn/etw stecken

NOTE:

to put sth so that it then hangs (i.e. hngt;


e.g. picture on wall)
to add sth to sth (e.g. salt to cooking pot)
to put sb/sth so that it then lies (i.e. liegt;
e.g. book on table, person on couch)
to put sb/sth so that it then sits (i.e. sitzt;
e.g. child on chair, pot on stove)
to put sb/sth so that it then stands (i.e.
steht; e.g. chair in corner, bottle, plate on
table)
to put sb/sth so that it is then hidden
from view (i.e. steckt; e.g. hand in
pocket, letter in mailbox)

in Rl, tun commonly replaces these more specific words.

leise
ruhig
still

not loud
calm (of people or things), undisturbed
silent, not talkative

READY

bereit
fertig

prepared, willing
finished, completed (and ready to go)

REALIZE

jdm aufgehen
etw begreifen
etw (be)merken
etw einsehen
etw erkennen
etw feststellen
jdm klar werden
etw verwirklichen

to become apparent to sb
to comprehend sth
to notice sth (see NOTICE)
to acknowledge, accept, see sth
to recognize sth
to discover sth, find sth out
to become clear to sb
to make sth real (e.g. plans, aims)

REALLY/
ACTUALLY

echt

real, genuine, not faked; esp Rl: really,


very
actual(ly), real(ly) (in actual fact, possibly
despite the appearances)
in actual fact, in reality (as opposed to
imagination or illusion)

QUIET

RAISE see Lift

eigentlich
tatschlich |
in der Tat J
wahrhaftig (R2/R3)
wirklich

really, truly; (as adjective, R3 only)


truthful
real(ly) (actually in existence)

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80

Words and meanings

REFUSE

etw ablehnen
(jdm) etw versagen (R3)j
(jdm) etw verweigern )

to decline sth, turn sth down

sich weigern (, etw zu tun)


etw nicht (tun) wollen

to refuse (to do sth - of people)


to refuse (to do sth - of things)

RENT

etw mieten
etw vermieten

to rent, hire sth (from sb)


to rent, hire sth (to sb)

RISE

aufstehen
)
sich erheben (R3) J

to get up, rise

steigen

to rise upwards, ascend

das Gemach (R3a)


die Kammer
der Raum

chamber, apartment (e.g. in palace)


box-room; (R3a, S) chamber, bedroom
space (in most senses, e.g. for sth to fit
into); room (in public building)
very large room, hall (e.g. for concerts)
room (esp living-room, parlour)
room in private house

to refuse, not to grant (sb) sth

ROAD see street


ROOM

der Saal
die Stube (R3a, S)
das Zimmer
ROPE

das Seil
der Strick
das Tau

rope
thin rope, esp for tying things (also
hangman's rope)
thick rope, hawser (esp on ships)

SAME

der gleiche
another identical one
derselbe
the very same one
NOTE: in Rl derselbe and der gleiche are used interchangeably.

SATISFY

jdn/etw befriedigen
etw entsprechen (R3)
etw erfllen

to fulfil sb's wishes, needs, desires, etc.


to fulfil, meet, comply with sth
to satisfy, meet, fulfil sth (e.g.
condition, requirement, equation)

jdm/etw gengen (R2/R3)


gesttigt sein (R3)j
satt sein
f
jdn (von etw) berzeugen
sich mit etw zufrieden
geben
(mit jdm/etw) zufrieden
sein
jdn zufrieden stellen

to comply with sth; be enough for sb


to have had enough to eat
to convince sb (of sth)
to (have to) be content, satisfied with
sth
to be satisfied, happy (with sb/sth)
to make sb contented (e.g. customer)

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SAVE

etw aufsparen
etw ersparen
jdm etw ersparen
sich etw ersparen
jdn (vor etw) retten
etw schonen
etw sparen

SECRET

to put sth to one side for later


to save (money)
to save sb sth (esp unpleasant
details)
to avoid sth (e.g. trouble)
to save sb (from sth, e.g. danger)
to go easy on sth (e.g. eyes,
clothes)
not to use sth (e.g. money, time)

geheim
heimlich

deliberately kept from public view


(kept) hidden, invisible,
clandestine

glnzen

to reflect light, gleam, sparkle (esp


of things which do not give out
their own light)
to give out or reflect light (esp in
dark surroundings)
to give out light (of sun, moon,
lamps)

SEIZE see grasp


SHINE

leuchten
scheinen
SHUT see close
SHY

scheu

schchtern
SIMPLE

SKIN

timorous, esp used of animals or


expressions of emotion (smile,
glance, etc.)
of a reserved, introverted nature
(of people)

einfach
einfltig)
simpel )
leicht
schlicht

simple, plain

das Fell
die Haut
die Schale

animal skin with fur


skin of human or animal (no fur)
skin, peel, rind (e.g. fruit,
vegetable)

simple-minded
uncomplicated, easy
plain, straightforward (not
negative sense)

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SMALL

gering
klein

slight, low, small in value or importance


small in size

SMELL

der Duft
der Geruch
)
der Geschmack (SW)J

pleasant smell, fragrance

der Gestank

unpleasant smell, stench

das Gerusch

any indistinct sound or noise (general


sense)
resonant, musical sound
crashing noise (in Rl also used for Lrm)
loud, unpleasant noise
sound made by humans or animals (e.g.
speech sound)
sound as a physical phenomenon (e.g.
Schallgeschwindigkeit); (R3) clear and
distinct sound (e.g. bell)
single musical note; tone (of voice)

SOUND

der
der
der
der

Klang
Krach
Lrm
Laut

der Schall

der Ton
SPACE see room and place
SPEND

SPREAD

smell (general sense)

Geld ausgeben
etw verbrauchen

to spend money
to use sth up, consume sth (e.g. strength,
energy)

etw verbringen)
etw zubringen i

to pass sth (e.g. time)

sich/etw ausbreiten

to spread (sth) (out), extend sth (evenly in


all directions, e.g. wings, map on floor)
to expand, extend (sth), stretch (sth) out
(in time or space, esp over a wide area)
to expand, spread, extend (sth) (esp
increasing in significance, e.g. riots,
plague)
to stretch, lengthen, extend (sth)
to extend, stretch over an area (without
movement, e.g. forest to horizon)
to expand, enlarge, widen (sth) (i.e. make
larger in area; also of abstract things)
spread out from centre (esp of pernicious
things, e.g. disease, fire, trouble)

sich/etw ausdehnen
sich/etw ausweiten

sich/etw dehnen
sich erstrecken
sich/etw erweitern
um sich greifen

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2.1

Problems of meaning

etw (auf etw) schmieren |


etw (auf etw) streichen J
sich/etw verbreiten

sich/etw verteilen
STEP

STOP

83

to spread sth (on sth, e.g. butter


on bread)
to disseminate sth, i.e. spread sth
patchily over wide area (e.g.
disease, panic)
to distribute sth (e.g. forces,
payments, cushions round
room)

der (Fu)tritt
der Schritt
die Stiege (S, esp AU))
die Treppe
i

sound of human step


pace (of person); stride

die Stufe

individual step or stair

jdn von etw abhalten


etw abstellen

to stop sb from (doing) sth


to switch sth off (e.g. motor,
machine)
to stop (sb/sth) (person or vehicle
in motion, esp temporarily or
unexpectedly)
to prevent sb/sth from continuing
to cease (sth, e.g. an activity)
to suspend sth (e.g. work,
payment, production)
to come to a halt (esp of scheduled
stop for vehicles; also of people)
to come to a halt (people,
machines, vehicles)
to come to/be at a standstill, stop
working
to stop (sb/sth) (most senses)

(jdn/etw) anhalten

jdn/etw aufhalten
(mit etw) aufhren
etw einstellen
halten
stehen bleiben
stillstehen
(jdn/etw) stoppen (R1/R2)

stairs, staircase, flight of steps

STRANGE see odd


STREET

die Gasse
der Pfad
die Strae
der Weg

lane, alley; (AU) street in town


path, track (narrow, not for
vehicles)
surfaced street or road
way, path, track (unsurfaced, but
well-defined)

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84

Words and meanings

STRENGTH see power


STRING

SUSPICIOUS

der Bindfaden (N) \


die Schnur (S)
\
der Spagat (AU) J

string (for tying things)

die Saite

string (of musical instrument)

argwhnisch (R3a)

inclined to have suspicions,


distrustful
suspicious, distrustful
suspicious (as a reaction to sth)

misstrauisch
stutzig (only used with sein or
werden)
suspekt )
verdchtig)
TAKE

etw brauchen
jdn/etw wohin bringen

jdn/etw nehmen
TALL

THEN

tall (of people)

hoch

tall (of things, e.g. tree, tower)

damals
dann

then (i.e. at that time in the past)


then (for sequences of events, or
referring to present or future)
then (in questions, i.e. 'What are
you doing, then?')

dicht
dick

THING

to take sth (of time, e.g. to take


two hours to do sth)
to convey, accompany sb/sth to a
place (e.g. cases upstairs, sb to
station)
to remove, take hold of, receive
sb/sth

gro
)
lang(Rl)/

denn (see also 2.6.2)


THICK

arousing suspicion

das Ding

das Dings/Dingsbums/
Dingsda (Rl)
der Gegenstand

packed together, dense (e.g. trees,


hair, traffic); not leaky
measuring a long way through
(e.g. book, layer, wall); also of
soup
in sing: concrete object; in pi:
concrete objects; matters of a
serious nature
thingummy, whatsit
object

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[THING]

die Sache

das Zeug/Zeugs (Rl)

in sing: matter, affair, business; in


pl: personal belongings; matters,
affairs of a rather nebulous, less
serious kind
things, stuff, gear (often
pejorative)

the German equivalent of thing(s) is often an adjective used as a


noun, e.g. das Wichtige 'important things', see 3.4.4.

NOTE:

THINK

jdn/etw als jdn/etw


\
betrachten (R3)
/
jdn/etw fur jdn/etw halten/
(etw) denken
sich (dat) etw denken )
sich (dat) etw vorstellen)
(etw) glauben
viel (usw) von jdm/etw halten
(etw) meinen

to take sb/sth for sb/sth; think


that sb/sth is sb/sth
to form (sth) in the mind, have
(sth) in the mind as an idea
to imagine sth
to believe (sth)
to think a lot (etc.) of sb/sth
to hold (sth) as an opinion

glauben and meinen are closein meaning and interchangeable in


many contexts.
(ber jdn/etw) nachdenken
to reflect (on sb/sth), consider
(sb/sth)
sich (etw) ber'legen
to consider, deliberate sth (e.g.
decision)

NOTE:

THREATEN

(jdm) etw androhen


(jdm mit etw) drohen

jdn (mit etw) bedrohen

to threaten (sb with) sth abstract


(e.g. punishment, revenge)
to warn, threaten (sb with sth) in
general way, not necessarily
involving force
to threaten sb/sth (with sth),
involving direct, physical force;
endanger sb/sth

TIME

das Mal
die Zeit

occasion
time as duration, fourth
dimension

TOUCH

jdn/etw anfassen
|
jdn/etw angreifen (S)j

to touch (and get hold of)


sb/sth with the hand

jdn/etw nicht anrhren


(usually in the negative)

not to touch sb/sth (e.g. me, food,


money)

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86

Words and meanings

[TOUCH]

jdn/etw berhren
jdn bewegen (R3)|
jdn rhren
j

TURN

to make contact with sth


(slightly)

abbiegen

to turn off (e.g. from one road


into another)
to turn (sth) away (from sb/sth)

wohin (ein)biegen
sich/etw herumdrehen
etw wohin kehren (R3)
sich/jdn/etw 'umdrehen

'umdrehen
'umkehren
(etw) 'umkippen
sich/jdn/etw wenden (R2/R3)
1

UNDERSTANDING

to move sb emotionally

an etw rhren (R3)

sich/etw (von jdn/etw)


abwenden
sich/etw drehen

stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

to come into (slight) contact with


sb/sth

wenden
die Einsicht
das Einverstndnis
die Vernunft
der Verstand
die Verstndigung

to spin, revolve (sth) (e.g. knob,


key, wheel)
to turn off straight course in new
direction
turn (sth) (right) round/over
turn sth (esp part of the body) in a
particular direction
to turn (sb/sth)
(over/round/upside down - esp
on its own axis or round a
centre)
to turn round, back
to turn round and go back
to turn (sth) upside down (e.g. car,
plate)
to turn (sth) onto the other side or
to face in another direction (e.g.
steak, page, car, glance, head)
to turn (vehicles)
insight, realization,
understanding of sth specific
consent
good sense, reasonableness
ability to understand, wit(s),
intellect, reason
mutual understanding, agreement

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USE

etw (auf etw) anwenden


to apply sth (to sth)
etw (aus)nutzen (N),
to make full use of sth, exploit sth
(aus)ntzen (S)
sich jds/etw bedienen (R3)
1 to make use of sb/sth
etw benutzen (N), bentzen (S) f
to find a use for sth in accordance
with its intended purpose
to use sth up, consume sth
etw verbrauchen
to utilize sth, often for a purpose
etw verwenden
for which it was not intended
N O T E : benutzen, gebrauchen and verwenden are very close in meaning; in
Rl and R2 they are often used interchangeably.

etw gebrauchen

VIEW

etw verwerten (R3)

to find a use for sth (e.g.


left-overs, ideas)

der Anblick

sight (i.e. sth seen, often with


reference to the reaction of the
person seeing it)
view of sb/sth; opinion
outlook from a place, perhaps
restricted
(panoramic) view from a place,
prospect
look, glance, view (in general)
opinion
range of vision (e.g. in Sicht
kommen)

die Ansicht
der Ausblick
die Aussicht
der Blick
die Meinung
die Sicht
WAKE (UP)

aufwachen
\
erwachen (R3)
>
wach werden (R1/R2) j
jdn (auf)wecken j
jdn erwecken (R3)J
etw erwecken (R3)
wachen

WALL

die Mauer
der Wall (R3)
die Wand

to wake up (become wide awake)

to wake sb up
to awaken, arouse sth (e.g.
emotions)
to stay awake, be awake, keep
watch
outside wall of brick, stone, etc.
rampart, fortification
wall of building, inside or outside

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88

Words and meanings

WASH (UP)

(etw) abwaschen
(etw) splen (NW, SW)
etw wohin splen
sich/jdn/etw waschen

to wash (sth) off, down; (N, AU)


to wash (sth) up (i.e. dishes)
to wash sth (up) (i.e. dishes)
to wash sth up in a place (of
waves, river)
to wash (sb/sth) (general sense)

WELCOME see greet

2.1.2 Problems of meaning: German-English examples


Mark Twain wrote that the word Zug had so many meanings you could
always use it in German if you didn't know the right word for the
context. This is something of an exaggeration, but many German
words have two or more quite distinct English equivalents. Such words
are called homonyms, like English bank (e.g. bank of a river, or bank
which deals in money, see 2.1.1). They can be confusing if you only
know one of the meanings and this section gives a selection of common
homonyms in German to help you to sort them out.
With some of these words, you can use a compound if the simple
word is ambiguous. If this is so, the appropriate compound is given
below in italics. However, in all registers - and especially Rl - the simple
word is often preferred where there is no chance of ambiguity in the
context.

NOTE:

der Absatz

heel (i.e. of shoe: Schuhabsatz)


paragraph half-landing (i.e. on stairs:
Treppenabsatz)
(R3b) sales (i.e. of goods or services)

etw annehmen
anziehen

etw bemerken
das Blatt

to accept sth
to presume, assume sth
etw anziehen
sich anziehen
jdn/etw anziehen

to put sth on (clothes)


to get dressed
to attract sb/sth
to notice sth
to remark on sth
leaf
sheet (of paper)
hand (of cards)

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2.1

89

Problems of meaning

der Boden

ground, soil
floor (Fuboden)
bottom (e.g. of cup, sea)
(N) loft (Dachboden)

die Decke

ceiling
blanket (Wolldecke)
quilt, duvet (Steppdecke)
covering (e.g. surface of road: Straendecke)
dense (e.g. trees, fog)
thick (e.g. hair, feathers)
heavy (e.g. traffic)
close (to sth = an etw)
(water-, air-) tight (wasserdicht, luftdicht)
(Rl) shut (e.g. of shop)

dicht

dick

einfallen

fat (of people)


thick (e.g. tree-trunk, wall, soup)
(Rl) big (e.g. car, business, wallet)
einfallen (intr)

in etw einfallen
jdm einfallen
etw erklren
erst

das Fach

der Fall
die Farbe
fertig

to join in (e.g. singing)


to cave in
(R3a) to fall (e.g. night, winter)
to invade sth (e.g. country)
to occur to sb
to explain sth
to declare sth
first (if followed by dann, see 2.1.1)
only (see 2.1.1)
(also used as modal particle, see 2.6)
compartment (e.g. in bag)
pigeon-hole
subject (e.g. at school: Schulfach,
Studienfach)
fall
case, instance
colour
paint
finished
ready
(Rl) tired out

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fremd

strange
foreign
someone else's

der Gang

corridor, passage
gait, way of walking
course (e.g. of events, of meal)
gear (in car)
operation (e.g. of machine)

die Geschichte

story
history
(Rl) matter, affair, business

gleich

same
equal(ly)
immediately, at once

der Grund

reason
bottom (e.g. of sea)
ground

der Hahn

cock, rooster
tap, faucet (e.g.: Wasserhahn, Gashahn)

hell

bright (of light)


light, pale (of colours)

der Himmel

sky (am Himmel in the sky)


heaven (im Himmel = in heaven)

die Kapelle

chapel
band

die Karte

card (Spielkarte)
ticket (Fahrkarte, Eintrittskarte, etc.)
map (Landkarte)
menu (Speisekarte)

das Kissen
kosten
das Kreuz
das Land

cushion
pillow
kosten
(etw) kosten

to cost
to taste (sth)
cross
small of the back
country (as opposed to town)
country (i.e. a state or nation)
land (as opposed to water)
German province (Bundesland)

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die Landschaft

countryside
landscape
scenery

der, die, das Letzte


meinen

the last
the latest
meinen, (dass...)
jdn/etw meinen

der, die, das Nchste

packen

the next
the nearest
the shortest, quickest (e.g. way)
jdn packen (Rl)
etw packen

die Politik

price
prize

der Rat

reichen

advice
council (e.g. of town: Stadtrat)
councillor, official
jdm raten
(etw) raten

to advise sb
to guess (sth)

reichen (itr)

to extend, stretch
to be enough
to pass sb sth

jdm etw reichen


der Schein

scheinen
das Schloss
sicher

to grab, grip sb
to pack sth (e.g. suitcase)
(Rl) to manage (to do) sth
politics
policy

der Preis

raten

to think, be of the opinion (that...)


to mean sb/sth

appearance
certificate
banknote (Geldschein)
light, glow (e.g. of sun: Sonnenschein)
(esp R3b) ticket (Fahrschein)
to seem, appear
to shine (see 2.1.1)
castle, mansion, stately home
lock
safe, secure
sure, certain

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92

Words and meanings

voice
vote

die Stimme
der Stock

stick
storey, floor (in building = das Stockwerk)

der Stoff

material, fabric
substance
subject, topic (e.g. of discussion)

tragen

jdn/etw tragen
etw tragen

treffen jdn treffen


jdn/etw treffen
'umziehen
unter'halten

whlen

jdn/etw unterhalten
jdn unterhalten
sich unterhalten

to maintain, support sb/sth


to entertain sb
to have a talk, to enjoy oneself
try, attempt
experiment, test

sich etw vorstellen


jdn (jdm) vorstellen

to imagine sth
to introduce sb (to sb)

jdn/etw whlen
(jdn) whlen
jdn whlen
whlen

to choose sb/sth
to vote (for sb)
to elect sb
to dial (on telephone)
wide, broad
long (e.g. way, journey)
far away (weit entfernt)
economy
pub (Gastwirtschaft)

die Wirtschaft

der Zug

2.1.1)

to move (house)
to get changed (clothes)

weit

zeigen

to meet sb (see
to hit sb/sth

umziehen
sich umziehen

der Versuch
vorstellen

to carry sb/sth
to wear sth (clothes)
to bear sth (e.g. name, costs)

jdm etw zeigen


auf jdn/etw zeigen

to show sb sth
to point at sb/sth
train
draught (Luftzug)
procession (Straenzug)
feature, trait (Charakterzug)

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2.2 Easily confused words


2.2.1

Easily confused words: similar form - different


meaning
Some German words are easily confused because they look so much
alike. A selection of such words is given in this section, grouped into
pairs or sets. A number of these words are similar because they are built
up from the same root, often using the prefixes and suffixes explained
in 2.3. To help you recognize these sets more easily, some of them are
arranged according to the root, rather than in alphabetical order; it is
important to look at and learn each group of words as a whole.

R l = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

die Achsel
shoulder

die Achse
axle

der Akt
act; nude (painting);(AU also = file)

die Akte
file

der Antrag
application
etw beantragen
to apply for sth

der Auftrag
order
jdn (mit etw) beauftragen
(= jdm etw auftragen (R3)
to instruct sb to do sth

die Auffuhrung
performance

die Ausfuhrung
carrying out (task, etc.)

die Aufgabe
task

die Ausgabe
issue; edition

aufrsten
to arm (i.e. get weapons)

jdn/etw ausrsten
to equip sb/sth

jdm etw ausrichten


to tell sb sth

etw einrichten
to furnish sth
etw verrichten
to perform sth (e.g. task)

der Ball
ball

der Ballen
bale

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der Band (see 2.2.2)


volume
das Band
ribbon
die Bande
gang
der Verband
bandage; association
die Verbindung
connection

der Bund (see 2.2.2)


confederation
das Bund
bundle, bunch
das Bndnis
alliance
die Verbundenheit
solidarity
die Verbindlichkeit
obligingness

bedingungslos
unconditional

unbedingt
absolute

der Beruf
profession

die Berufung
calling; vocation; (legal) appeal

etw beurteilen
to judge sth

jdn verurteilen
to condemn sb

etw bezeichnen
to indicate, mean sth

etw verzeichnen
to record, note sth

das Bild
picture, image

jdn ausbilden
to train sb

die Bildung
education; formation
die Ausbildung
training
etw herausbilden
to form, develop sth

jdn um etw bitten (bat - gebeten)


to ask sb for sth
jdm etw bieten (bot - geboten)
to offer sb sth

beten (betete - gebetet)


to pray
betteln (bettelte - gebettelt)
to beg

blinken (Rl)
to indicate (in car)

blinzeln
to blink
jdn blenden
to blind sb

bse
wicked, bad; angry

boshaft
spiteful
bswillig
malicious

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etw brauchen
to need sth
der Brauch
custom
etw verbrauchen
to consume sth
der Verbraucher
consumer

etw gebrauchen
to use sth
der Gebrauch
use
gebraucht
used; second-hand
gebruchlich
customary

der Busch
bush

die Bschung
slope

das Cafe
cafe

der 'Kaffee (SE der Kaffee)


coffee

der Dank
thanks

der Gedanke
thought

dauern
to last; (R3) to pity
bedauerlich
regrettable

etw/jdn bedauern
to regret sth; to feel pity for sb
bedauernswert
pitiful (R3)

die Decke
ceiling; blanket (see 2.1.2)
die Deckung
cover (to hide in)

der Deckel
cover; lid
das Gedeck
place (laid at table)

denken
to think

durch etw dringen


to penetrate sth
auf etw dringen
to insist on sth

etw drcken
to press sth
etw ausdrcken
to express sth
' stressed syllables are
preceded by a stress
mark

der Ausdruck
expression

etw bedenken
to consider sth
jds/etw gedenken (R3)
to remember sb/sth
jdn drngen
to push sb (in crowd)
auf etw drngen
to press for sth
jdn bedrngen
to put pressure on sb
etw drucken
to print sth
etw eindrcken
to push sth in
jdn beeindrucken
to impress sb
der Eindruck
impression

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die Ehre
honour

ehrbar (R3)
respectable
ehrlich
honest

die Ehrfurcht (R3)


reverence
der Ehrgeiz
ambition
ehrenhaft
honourable
ehrwrdig
venerable

die Eigenschaft
quality; feature
das Eigentum
property

die Eigenart
individuality
die Eigentmlichkeit
peculiarity

einfach
simple
einheitlich
uniform
einsam
lonely
einzeln
single; individual

einfaltig
simple (-minded)
einig
in agreement
einzig
only (adjective)
vereinzelt
occasional, sporadic

jdm einfallen
to occur to sb

auf jdn/etw hereinfallen (Rl)


to be taken in by sb/sth

empfanglich
receptive; susceptible

empfindlich
sensitive

endlos
endless

endlich
at last; finally
unendlich
infinite

der Entschluss
decision

die Entschlossenheit
determination

erst (see 2.1.1)


first; only
zuerst
at first

erstens
first(ly)
erstmals
for the first time

die Etikette
etiquette (AU, CH also: label)

das Etikett
label

der Fahrer
driver

der Fhrer
leader; guide

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etw fordern
to demand sth
etw erfordern (R3)
to necessitate sth
die Forderung
demand; claim

jdn/etw frdern
to support sb/sth
jdn/etw befrdern
to promote sb; to transport sth
die Frderung
support; encouragement;
promotion

der Fotograf
photographer

die Fotografie
photograph, photography

geistig
intellectual; mental

geistlich
spiritual
geistreich
witty

die Gelegenheit
opportunity

die Angelegenheit
matter; affair

die Gemeinheit
meanness

die Gemeinschaft
community
die Gemeinsamkeit
common ground

etw gewohnt sein


to be used to sth

sich an etw gewhnen


to get used to sth

der Glubige(r)
believer

der Glubiger
creditor

gleich
same; immediately (see 2.1.2)
zugleich
at the same time
gleichgltig
indifferent

gleichfalls
likewise
gleichmig
even; regular
gleichviel (R3)
none the less, all the same

das Grab
grave
(etw) graben
to dig (sth)

der Graben
ditch
jdn begraben
to bury sb

grausam
cruel

grauenhaft
atrocious, appalling

grndlich
thorough

grundstzlich
fundamental

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jdn gren
to say hello to sb, salute sb
der Hahn
cock, rooster; tap, faucet

jdn begren
to welcome sb
die Henne
hen (i.e. female chicken)
das Huhn
chicken

der Handel
trade

die Handlung
action, plot

das Herd
stove (for cooking)

die Herde
herd

die Hhe
height

die Anhhe
high point, hilltop

der Inder
Indian

der Indianer
Native American (Red Indian)

der Kegel
skittle; cone

die Kugel
ball; sphere

kostbar
precious
die Kost (R3)
food, fare

kstlich
exquisite
die Kosten (pi)
cost(s)

jdm kndigen
etw verknden (R3)
to give notice to sb, fire sb
to announce sth
sich erkundigen
to inquire
knstlich
artificial

knstlerisch
artistic

lebendig
live, living, alive

lebhaft
lively, vivacious; vivid

etw legen (legte - gelegt)


liegen (lag - gelegen)
to put, lay sth
to lie, be lying (down)
lgen (log - gelogen)
to tell lies
das Leid
sorrow, grief

das Leiden
suffering; illness
die Leidenschaft
passion; enthusiasm

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die Lerche
lark
das Mahl (R3a)
meal, repast

die Lrche
larch
die Mahlzeit
meal
der Gemahl (R3a)
husband

etw mieten
to rent, hire sth (from sb)

etw vermieten
to rent, hire sth (to sb)

der Muskel
muscle

die Muschel
(sea-)shell

namentlich
by name; in particular

nmlich
namely; because
namhaft
renowned

offiziell
official

offizis (R3b)
semi-official

ein paar
a few

ein Paar
a pair

der Pfeil
arrow

der Pfeiler
pillar

die Post
der Posten
post (i.e. mail), post office
post (i.e. job)
der Pfosten
post (i.e. upright)
der Rahmen
frame

der Rahm (esp S)


cream

rascheln
to rustle
rauschen
to roar (of water)

rasseln
to rattle
rasen
to race; to rave

rau
rough

roh
raw

das Recht
right, law
die Rechtfertigung
justification

die Berechtigung
entitlement
die Gerechtigkeit
justice

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reisen
to travel

etw reien
to tear, break sth

rmisch
Roman

romanisch
Romanesque, Romance

die Sammlung
collection

die Versammlung
assembly

schadhaft
faulty, defective

schdlich
harmful

der Schal
shawl

die Schale
bowl; peel; (AU) cup

der Schlager
hit (record)

der Schlger
tennis racket

schlecht
bad

schlicht
simple

die Seite
side; page

die Saite
string (violin, guitar, etc.)

sonderbar
peculiar

sonderlich
particularly

springen
to jump

etw sprengen
to blow sth up; to break sth apart

das Stadium
stage (in development)

das Stadion
stadium (sports)

jdn/etw sttzen
to support sb/sth

etw stutzen
to trim sth
stutzen (intr)
to hesitate

strzen (intr)
to fall heavily; to rush

jdn/etw strzen
to fling sb/sth

das Tablett
tray

die Tablette
tablet

etw tauschen
to change sth

jdn tuschen
to deceive sb

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2.2

Easily confused words

jdm/etw trauen
to trust sb/sth

101

jdm (or auf jdn) vertrauen


to have confidence in sb
jdm etw anvertrauen
to confide, entrust sth to sb

der Tropfen
drop

der Tropf (Rl)


dope; rascal

brigens
by the way

im brigen
otherwise

ungewhnlich
unusual

auergewhnlich
out of the ordinary

unglaublich
unbelievable

unglaubwrdig
implausible; unreliable (of
person)

das Verhalten
behaviour

das Verhltnis
relationship

jdn/etw verschonen (R3)


to spare sb/sth

etw verschnen
to improve sth (appearance)

der Versuch
attempt

die Versuchung
temptation

vorher
previously; beforehand

vorhin
just now

der Wagen
car, cart, carriage

der Waggon
goods truck (railway)

etw wahren (R3)


to preserve sth
jdn vor etw bewahren
to protect sb from sth
etw gewahren (R3)
to notice sth
etw aufbewahren
to keep, store sth

whren (R3)
to last
sich bewhren
to prove one's worth
jdm etw gewhren (R3)
to grant sb sth
sich wehren
to defend oneself

wieder
again

wider (R3)
against

wunderbar
wonderful

wunderlich
strange; odd
verwunderlich
astonishing

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sich wundern
to be amazed, astonished
jdn/etw bewundern
to admire sb/sth

jdn verwundern
to astonish sb
jdn verwunden
to wound sb

2.2.2 Easily confused words: different gender - different


meaning
A number of words in German have two meanings which are
differentiated by gender. For example, the masculine der See means
'lake', but the feminine die See means 'sea'. The following is a selection
of the most common of these:
der Band volume

das Band (ribbon (pi "er)


(see 2.2.3) \bond (R3, pi -e)

die Band [bend] band, (pop) group


der Bulle bull (Rl also = cop)

die Bulle (papal) bull

der Bund confederation

das Bund bundle (e.g. twigs);


bunch (e.g. radishes)

der Erbe heir

das Erbe inheritance

der Flur (N) entrance hall (in


house)

die Flur (R3a) meadow

der Gang corridor; gait (see 2.1.2) die Gang [gerj] (Rl) gang (e.g.
robbers)
der Gefallen favour

das Gefallen (R3) pleasure

der Gehalt content; (AU also =


salary)

das Gehalt salary

der Golf gulf (on coast)

das Golf golf

der Gummi rubber (eraser)

das Gummi rubber (material)

das Harz resin

der Harz Harz mountains

der Heide heathen

die Heide heath

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2.2

Easily confused words

103

der Hut hat

die Hut guard (in the R3 phrase


auf der Hut sein)

der Junge (N) boy

das Junge young (of animals)

der Kiefer jaw

die Kiefer (N) pine

der Kunde customer

die Kunde (R3) news

der Laster (Rl) lorry; truck

das Laster vice

der Leiter leader

die Leiter ladder

der Mangel lack; fault

die Mangel mangle

die Mark Mark (currency)

das Mark (bone-)marrow

die Marsch (N) fen

der Marsch march

das Ma measure

die Ma (SE) litre (of beer)

der Mensch human being

das Mensch (Rl*) woman


(pejorative)

der Messer surveyor

das Messer knife

der Moment moment

das Moment (R3b) factor;


element

der Otter otter (also: Fischotter)

die Otter adder (also: Kreuzotter)

der Pack pile; pack

das Pack rabble

das Pony pony

der Pony fringe (hair)

der Schild shield

das Schild sign; (number-)plate

der See lake

die See sea

der Single single (unmarried)


person

die Single single (record)

die Steuer tax

das Steuer steering wheel; tiller

der Stift pen; pencil; peg

das Stift foundation; institution


(esp religious)

der Tau dew

das Tau rope; (ship's) cable

das Single singles (tennis)

m\

///// r

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der Tor (R3) fool

das Tor gate

der Verdienst earnings

das Verdienst merit

das Wehr weir

die Wehr defence (mostly in


compounds, e.g. Feuerwehr, and
phrases, e.g. sich zur Wehr setzen)

2.2.3 Easily confused words: different plural - different


meaning
A few words which have more than one meaning have different plural
forms for each meaning. These are some of the most common:
der Abdruck

offprint
impression

die Abdrucke offprints


die Abdrcke impressions

das Band (see 2.2.2)

ribbon
(R3a) bond

die Bnder ribbons


die Bande bonds

die Bank

bench
bank

die Bnke benches


die Banken banks

das Land

country
(R3) region

die Lnder countries


die Lande (R3) regions

die Mutter

mother
nut (for bolt)

die Mtter mothers


die Muttern nuts

der Rat

council, official
advice

die Rte councils, officials


die Ratschlge pieces of advice

der Stock

stick
storey

die Stcke sticks


die Stockwerke storeys

der Strau

bunch (of flowers)


ostrich

die Strue bunches


die Straue ostriches

das Wort

word

die Wrter words (in isolation)


die Worte words (connected, e.g.
in phrase)

NOTE:

in Rl the distinction between Wrter and Worte is often ignored and only Wrter is used.

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2.2.4 Easily confused words: different form - same meaning


Several German words appear to have two distinct forms, so that, for
example, the learner often receives confusing answers from native
speakers or reference books as to whether the German for 'toe' is der
Zeh or die Zehe. These are called 'doublets', i.e. words with alternative
forms. However, few German doublets are totally interchangeable.
Often there are regional or register variations involved, and
sometimes the forms may replace one another freely in one meaning
but not in another. In all cases the most frequent variant is given on the
left.

die Backe (-n)

der Backen (-) (S)

cheek

die Ecke (-n)

das Eck (-e; AU -en) (S)

corner

NOTE:

das Eck is used generally in compounds, e.g. das Dreieck, das Viereck.

der Felsen (-)

der Fels (-en) (R3)

rock

in general R2 use a difference is usually made between der Fels 'rock as a substance' and
der Felsen 'individual rock'.

NOTE:

der Fleck (-e)

der Flecken (-)

stain, spot

in practice, der Fleck is the commonest form in the singular and die Flecken in the plural.
In R3a der Flecken can also mean 'market town'.

NOTE:

der Karren (-) (S)

die Karre (-n) (N)

cart (Rl also: old crock)

der Korken (-)

der Kork (-e) (N)

cork

der Kork is generally used to refer to 'cork' as a substance, whereas der Korken always
refers to an individual cork in a bottle.

NOTE:

der Nutzen

der Nutz (R3a)

use

der Nutz is only found nowadays in set phrases, e.g. zu Nutz und Frommen ('to the
greater good of).

NOTE:

nutzen

ntzen

to be of use

ntzen was originally S and nutzen N, but the forms with and without umlaut are both
widespread (also in derived verbs like benutzen/bentzen).

NOTE:

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106

Words and meanings

der Pack ("e or -e)

der Packen (-)

pile, stack

die Ritze (-n)

der Ritz (-e) (S)

crack

das Rohr (-e)

die Rhre (-n)

pipe, tube

das Rohr and die Rhre are interchangeable in the most general sense, but for specific
types of'pipe' or 'tube', usage has become fixed, e.g.:
-rohr: Gas-, Wasser-, Seh-, Fern-, Blas-, Kanonen-rhre: Back- (= oven), Fernseh-, Rntgen-, Glas-, Luft-, Harn-,

NOTE:

die Ruine (-n)


NOTE:

ruin

die Ruine is used to refer to a building, der Ruin for economic ruin.

der Schreck
NOTE:

der Ruin

der Schrecken (S)

scare, fright

in the meaning 'terror', only der Schrecken is used.


to chatter

schwtzen (S)

schwatzen (Rl)

die Socke (-n)

der Socken (-) (S)

sock

der Spalt (-e)

die Spalte (-n)

gap, opening

only der Spalt is used in the phrase einen Spalt offen (= ajar); die Spalte also = 'column'
(in newspaper).

NOTE:

das (CH der) Taxi

die Taxe (-n) (Rl)

taxi

der Trupp (-s)

troop

(-S)

die Truppe (-n)

die Truppe usually refers to a large company of soldiers, etc.; der Trupp is usually smaller,
e.g. a squad of soldiers or group of people.

NOTE:

die Tr (-en)

die Tre (-n) (CH, AU)

door

der Typ (-en)

die Type (-n)

type, character (Rl also bloke, guy)

die Type is mainly used in the sense of'(printers') type' or '(odd) character', or in AU in
the meaning 'model' (of car, aeroplane, etc.).

NOTE:

der Zeh (-en)

die Zehe (-n) (R3; N)

toe

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2.3 Word formation


An understanding of German word formation can help you to expand
your vocabulary because the meaning of a German word can often be
understood from the sum of its parts. This is more true of German
than of English. For example, the relationship of Frage to fragen or
Dankbarkeit to Dank is quite clear, unlike that of question to ask or
gratitude to thanks.
Complex German words can be made up by adding suffixes at the
end of a word, e.g. gesund 'healthy' die Gesundheit 'health'), or
prefixes at the beginning, e.g. besser 'better' -> verbessern 'to make
better, improve'. Sometimes the vowel is changed, especially by
umlaut, e.g. der Hammer 'hammer' > hmmern 'to hammer'. This
section shows you more of the common ways in which words are
constructed in modern German.

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

2.3.1
(a)

Forming nouns
By adding suffixes

-chen,
-lein (esp R3a)

diminutives (from nouns) (umlaut is usually added), e.g.:


die Stadt > das Stdtchen little town
das Auge > das uglein (poetic R3a) little eye

-e

(i) an action or an instrument (from verbs), e.g.:


pflegen die Pflege care
bremsen die Bremse brake
(ii) a quality (from adjectives) (with umlaut), e.g.:
gro -> die Gre size
stark > die Strke strength

-er

(i) a person who does sth, or an instrument (from verbs), e.g.:


lehren > der Lehrer teacher
bohren -> der Bohrer drill
(ii) the inhabitant (from town names), e.g.:
Wien der Wiener Viennese
Zrich der Zrcher person from Zurich

-erei (esp Rl),


Ge... e

repeated, irritating action (from verbs), e.g.


fragen die Fragerei, das Gefrage lots ofannoying questions

-heit, -(ig)keit

a quality (from adjectives), e.g.:


bitter die Bitterkeit bitterness
geschwind
die Geschwindigkeit
heftig -> die Heftigkeit violence

speed

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-in

forms the feminine (from nouns) (with umlaut), e.g.:


der Arzt > die Arztin lady doctor

-ler

a practitioner (from nouns), e.g.:


die Kunst > der Knstler artist
-ler can have a pejorative sense, e.g.: der Kriegsgewinnler
profiteer

war

-ling

(i) the person sth is done to (from verbs), e.g.:


prfen - der Prfling examinee
strafen
der Strfling prisoner
(ii) person of that quality, sometimes derogatory (from
adjectives), e.g.:
feige -> der Feigling coward
fremd > der Fremdling stranger

-mittel, -stoff,
-zeug

things used for sth (from verbs), e.g.:


heilen das Heilmittel cure
waschen -> das Waschmittel detergent
brennen -> der Brennstoff fuel
kleben der Klebstoff glue
fahren > das Fahrzeug vehicle
rasieren
das Rasierzeug shaving tackle

-schaft, -tum

collective or quality (from nouns), e.g.:


der Beamte -> das Beamtentum civil servants
der Freund -> die Freundschaft friendship
der Student
die Studentenschaft student body

-ung

action or process (from verbs), e.g.:


bilden die Bildung formation
verwarnen > die Verwarnung warning

-wesen

collective organization of sth (from nouns), e.g.:


die Erziehung
das Erziehungswesen education system
(b)

Erz- (Rl),
Riesen- (Rl)

By adding prefixes
augmentative, intensive, e.g.:
der Reaktionr der Erzreaktionr dyed-in-the-wool reactionary
der Erfolg > der Riesenerfolg enormous success
NOTE: Rl is very rich in other augmentative and intensive prefixes,
e.g.: Bombengeschft, Heidenlrm, Hllendurst, Mordsapparat,
Scheiapparat (Rl*), Spitzengehalt, Superhit, Topmanager

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Fehl-, Miss-

opposite, negative, e.g.:


die Einschtzung > die Fehleinschtzung (R3b)
der Erfolg -> der Misserfolg failure

Grund- (R3b)
HauptNicht-

false estimation

basic, essential, e.g.:


die Tendenz die Grundtendenz

basic tendency

main, e.g.:
der Bahnhof -> der Hauptbahnhof

main station

non-, e.g.:
der Raucher

der Nichtraucher non-smoker

Un-

opposite, abnormal, e.g.:


die Ruhe -> die Unruhe unrest
das Wetter das Unwetter bad weather

Ur-

original, e.g.:
die Sprache > die Ursprache

original language

2.3.2 Forming adjectives


(a)
-bar

By adding suffixes
-able (from verbs), e.g.:
brauchen brauchbar

usable

-(e)n, -era

made of sth (from nouns), e.g.:


das Gold -> golden golden
das Holz -> hlzern wooden

-haft

like sth (from nouns), e.g.:


der Held > heldenhaft heroic

-ig
(sometimes with
umlaut)

(i) having sth (from nouns), e.g.:


das Haar > haarig hairy
(ii) like sth (from nouns), e.g.:
der Riese
riesig giant
(iii) duration (from time expressions), e.g.:
zwei Stunden
zweistndig lasting two hours

-isch

(i) having that quality (from nouns), e.g.:


das Kind > kindisch childish
(ii) origin (from geographical names), e.g.:
England englisch English
(iii) relating to sth (from foreign nouns), e.g.:
die Biologie -> biologisch biological

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-lich
(often with umlaut)

(i) relating to a person or a thing, e.g.:


der Arzt rztlich medical
der Preis
preislich in respect of price
(ii) having that quality (from nouns), e.g.:
der Frst > frstlich princely
(iii) frequency (from time expressions), e.g.:
zwei Stunden zweistndlich every two hours
(iv) -able (from verbs), e.g.:
begreifen > begreiflich understandable
(v) rather (from adjectives), e.g.:
rot
rtlich reddish

-(s)los

lacking in sth (from nouns), e.g.:


die Hoffnung hoffnungslos hopeless

-mig (esp R3b)

(i) according to sth, e.g.:


der Instinkt instinktmig instinctive
(ii) with regard to sth, e.g.:
der Verkehr > verkehrsmig relating to traffic
(iii) like sth, e.g.:
der Frst furstenmig like a prince
Especially in R3, a large number of suffixes which were originally
separate words are now in common use, e.g.:

having sth:
-haltig
-reich
-stark
-(s)voll

koffeinhaltig
erlebnisreich
charakterstark
rcksichtsvoll

protected from sth:


-dicht
-echt
-fest
-sicher

schalldicht
kussecht
hitzefest
kugelsicher

lacking sth:
-arm
-frei
-leer

nikotinarm
alkoholfrei
gedankenleer

similar to sth:
-artig
-frmig
-gleich

kugelartig
plattenfrmig
maskengleich

capable of sth:
-fhig

strapazierfhig

needing sth:
-bedrftig

korrekturbedrftig

worth(y of) sth:


-wert
-wrdig

lesenswert
nachahmenswrdig
(b)

unur-

By adding prefixes
opposite, e.g.:
wahrscheinlich > unwahrscheinlich improbable
original, e.g.:
deutsch > urdeutsch typically German

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many more intensifying adjective prefixes are found, especially


in Rl. Most of these come from separate words, e.g. erzkonservativ,
extralang, hochintelligent, saudumm (Rl*), scheiklug (Rl*), superklug,
tiefernst, todunglcklich, vollautomatisch.

NOTE:

2.3.3 Forming verbs - prefixes


The prefixes used to form verbs in German fall into two groups. Most
prefixes are 'separable'; they detach from the verb and go the end of the
clause, e.g.:
ankommen 'to arrive': Ich komme heute an 'I am arriving today'
'Inseparable' prefixes, on the other hand, always stay with the verb, e.g.:
erwarten 'to expect': Ich erwarte sie morgen 'I expect her tomorrow'
The prefixes be-, emp-, ent-, erge-, ver- and zer- are always
inseparable, and they are explained in section 2.3.4. Separable prefixes
are dealt with in section 2.3.5, and those few prefixes which are
sometimes separable and sometimes inseparable are treated in section
2.3.6.

2.3.4 Inseparable verb prefixes


The seven prefixes be-, emp-, ent-, er-, ge-, ver- and zer- are always
inseparable, emp- is a form of ent- used before roots in f-, e.g. empfinden,
empfehlen. ge- is now rare and only found with a few verbs, e.g. gefallen,
geschehen. The others are very widely used, and their main senses are
detailed below (although not all verbs with these prefixes fall into these
patterns). Sometimes the suffix -ig- is added.
be-

(a)

used with a verb, be- makes an intransitive verb transitive or converts a


prepositional object into an accusative object (see 4.1). The meaning
often changes slightly:
Er dient dem Knig
Er bedient den Knig
Er drohte mir
Er bedrohte mich
Er hat auf meinen Brief nicht
Er hat meinen Brief nicht
geantwortet
beantwortet
Sie kmpfen gegen das Unrecht
Sie bekmpfen das Unrecht

(b)

used with a noun, be- makes a verb with the idea of providing
something. Sometimes the suffix -ig- is added:
etw beklecksen (Rl)
to splatter sth (i.e. to provide with
spots)
to expose sth (e.g. film) (i.e. to
etw belichten
provide with light)

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etw bewssern
jdn benachrichtigen

ent-

er-

to irrigate sth (i.e. to provide with


water)
to notify sb (i.e. to provide with
news)

(c)

used with an adjective, be- makes a verb with the idea of providing a
quality. Sometimes the suffix -ig- is added:
etw befeuchten
to moisten sth (i.e. to make sth
moist)
jdn befreien
to liberate sb (i.e. to make sb free)
jdn beunruhigen
to disturb sb (i.e. to make sb
uneasy)
etw begradigen
to straighten sth (i.e. to make sth
straight)

(a)

with verbs of motion, ent- gives the idea of 'going away' or 'escaping
from sb/sth':
to slip away from sb (e.g. vase from
jdm entgleiten
hands)
jdm/etw entlaufen
to run away, escape from sb/sth
to snatch sth from sb
jdm etw entreien (R3a)
etw entsteigen (R3)
to get /ie climb] out ofsth (e.g. car,
train)

(b)

with nouns, adjective or verbs, ent- has the sense of removing


something (cf. English de-, dis-):
etw entgiften
to decontaminate sth (i.e. to take
poison away)
to discourage sb (i.e. to take
jdn entmutigen
courage away)
etw entschrfen
to defuse sth (e.g. situation), (i.e. to
make not sharp)
jdn/etw entspannen
to relax sb, slacken sth (i.e. to make
not tense)

(a)

with verbs and nouns, the sense of er- is often of getting something or
finishing something off. The root vowel often has umlaut:
etw erarbeiten
to acquire sth by working for it (i.e.
to gain by work)
etw erbitten
to ask for sth (i.e. to gain by
asking)
etw erkmpfen
to win sth (i.e. to gain through
struggle)
jdn erschieen
to shoot sb dead (i.e. to finish off by
shooting)

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(b)

ver-

(a)

with adjectives, er- has the sense of becoming sth, or giving sth a
certain quality. The root vowel often has umlaut:
erblinden
to lose one 's sight (i.e. to become
blind)
errten
to blush (i.e. to become red)
jdn ermuntern
to liven sb up (i.e. to make sb
cheerful)
etw erwrmen
to heat sth (i.e. to make sth warm)
This is the most frequent inseparable prefix. It has a wide range of
meanings, but it very often carries the idea of a change of state or of the
end of a process.
with verbs, ver- often gives the idea of finishing or going away:
verblhen
to fade (of flowers) (i.e. to finish
blooming)
etw verbrauchen
to use sth up, consume sth (i.e. to
finish using)
jdn/etw verdrngen
to oust, replace sb/sth (i.e. to press
away)
verklingen
to fade away (of sounds) (i.e. to
finish sounding)

(b)

with some verbs ver- expresses the idea of'wrongly' or 'to excess':
etw verbiegen
to bend sth out ofshape
etw verlernen
to forget (how to do) sth (i.e. to
un-learn it)
etw versalzen
to oversalt sth (i.e. to put in excess
salt)
sich verwhlen
to misdial (i.e. to dial wrongly)

(c)

with nouns and adjectives ver- has the sense of becoming sth, or giving
sth a certain quality:
verarmen
to become poor
to become isolated
vereinsamen
etw verlngern
to lengthen sth (i.e. to make it
longer)
to enslave sb (i.e. to make sb into a
jdn versklaven
slave)

(d)

with many nouns ver- gives the idea of providing with something:
etw verglasen
to glaze sth (i.e. to provide with
glass)
etw vergolden
to gild sth (i.e. to provide with
gold)
jdn verwunden
to wound sb (i.e. to provide with
wounds)
jdn verzaubern
to enchant sb (i.e. to provide with
magic)

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zer-

zer- (usually with verbs) always has the idea of'into pieces':
etw zerbeien
to crunch sth (i.e. to bite into
pieces)
to disintegrate (i.e. to fall into
zerfallen
pieces)
etw zerstreuen
to scatter, disperse sth (i.e. to strew
pieces about)

2.3.5

Separable verb prefixes


Most separable verb prefixes derive from prepositions or adjectives and
their meanings are quite transparent. A selection of the most common
is given below.

ab-

usually has the idea of'away', 'down' or 'off' - finishing sth in the
widest sense:
etw abdrehen
to switch sth off
sich/etw abkhlen
to cool (sth) down
Schuhe ablaufen
to wear shoes out
jdm etw ablisten
to trick sb out ofsth

an-

beginning sth, or doing sth partially:


anbrennen
to catchfire,get scorched
etw andrehen
to turn sth on
anfaulen
to begin to go rotten
etw anfressen
to nibble at sth

auf-

'up' or 'on', or a sudden start:


etw aufessen
auflachen
aufleuchten
etw aufpolieren

to eat sth up
to burst out laughing
to light up
polish sth up

expresses completion:
(etw) ausbrennen
ausdorren
ausreifen

to burn (sth) out


to dry up
to ripen, mature

getting used to sth:


sich einarbeiten
etw einfahren
sich einleben

to get used to the work


to run sth in (e.g. car)
to get settled in a place

aus-

ein-

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starting off or releasing sth:


losgehen
etw loslassen
losquatschen (Rl)

los-

to set o f f , start
to let go ofsth
to prattle away

vor-

demonstrating (i.e. doing sth for sb to copy), performing:


vorbeten
to lead the prayers
etw vorfhren, vormachen
to demonstrate sth
etw vorlesen
to read sth out

zusammen-

'up' or 'together':
etw zusammenfalten
jdn zusammenhauen (Rl)
sich zusammenrollen
zusammenrcken

to fold sth up
to beat sb up
to curl up
to move closer together

2.3.6 Verb prefixes which can be separable or inseparable.


A few prefixes can be used separably or inseparably, usually with a clear
distinction in meaning. The prefix is stressed in pronunciation if the
verb is separable, but unstressed if it is inseparable - this is the way the
difference is indicated here, as in most reference books and dictionaries
of German.
durch-

always has the idea of'through', whether separable or inseparable.

separable or
inseparable

Many verbs form separable or inseparable compounds with durch-.


The meaning of the separable verbs is always 'right the way
through', whilst the inseparable verbs express penetration into sth,
rather than stressing coming out the other side. But the distinction
in meaning is often barely noticeable, e.g.:
Er ritt durch den Wald durch
He crossed the forest on horseback
He rode through the forest
Er durchritt den Wald
He cut the loaf in two
Er schnitt das Brot durch
The river cuts through the plain
Der Fluss durchschneidet die
Ebene

separable

Many verbs form compounds with durch- which are only separable:
'durchblicken to look through
'durchkommen to get through, to
succeed
'durchfallen to fall through; to
'durchkriechen to crawl through
fail
'durchfuhren to carry out
'durchrosten to rust through
'durchhalten to hold out, to
'durchsehen to look through
survive

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark

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inseparable

A very small number of verbs form compounds with durch- which are
only inseparable:
durchdenken think through
durch 1 leben experience
durch 1 lchern make holes in

hinter-

Verbs with hinter- are normally inseparable. Separable verbs are


restricted to S:
hinterlassen to leave, bequeathe
hinter'gehen to deceive
hinterlegen to deposit
hinter'fragen to analyse

inseparable

'hintergehen (S) to go to the back

separable

'hinterbringen (S) to take to the


back

miss-

miss- is normally inseparable except in the infinitive form of


missverstehen to understand: misszuverstehen.

berinseparable

Many verbs only form inseparable compounds with ber-, with the
following meanings:
ber'arbeiten to rework
repetition
ber'prfen to check
berfordern to overtax (ability,
more than enough
strength)
bertreiben to exaggerate
ber'hren to fail to hear
failing to notice
ber1 sehen to overlook
ber 1 denken to think over
ber 1 fallen to attack

separable

Very few verbs only form separable compounds with ber-. They
are all intransitive verbs, with the literal meaning 'over':
'berhngen to overhang
'berkippen to keel over
'berkochen to overcook

separable or
inseparable

Where verbs form both separable and inseparable compounds with


ber-, the separable verbs are mainly intransitive, with the meaning
'over', and the inseparable verbs are transitive and have a more
figurative meaning similar to that with verbs which only form
inseparable compounds:

1
stressed syllables are
preceded by a stress
mark

berfahren
berfuhren
bergehen
berlaufen
berlegen

separable
to cross over
to transfer
to turn into sth
to overflow; desert
to put sth over sb

inseparable
to knock sb down
to convict sb (R3)
to leave sth out
to overrun sb
to consider sth

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uminseparable

bersetzen
berspringen
bertreten

to ferry across
to jump over
to change over

berziehen

to put sth on

to translate sth
to skip sth
to infringe sth (i.e.
law)
to cover sth

Inseparable verbs with urn- have the meaning of'encircling' or


'surrounding':
um 1 armen to embrace
um 1 ringen to surround
1
um fassen to embrace, encircle
um 1 segeln to sail round,
circumnavigate
um'zingeln to surround, encircle
um 1 geben to surround

separable

Separable verbs with urn- have the meaning of'turning round', 'turning
over', 'changing' or 'switching':
'umfallen fall over
'umblicken look round
' umbringen kill
' umschalten switch
'umdrehen turn round
'umsteigen change (trains, etc.)

separable or
inseparable

Where verbs form both separable and inseparable compounds with


um-, the difference in meaning usually corresponds to that given
above, i.e. the inseparable verbs express 'surrounding' and the
separable verbs 'changing' or 'switching', etc.:
separable
inseparable
umbauen
to rebuild
to enclose
umfahren
to run down
to travel round
umgehen
to circulate
to avoid
umreien
to tear down
to outline
umschreiben
to rewrite
to paraphrase
umstellen
to rearrange
to surround (R3a)

unterinseparable

Many verbs only form inseparable compounds with unter-, with the
following meanings:
unter'bieten to undercut
less than enough
unterschtzen to underestimate
unterschreiten to fall short
'under'
unterdrcken to suppress
unter'liegen to be defeated
unterschreiben to sign
unter'sttzend support
miscellaneous figurative meanings unterbleiben (R3) to cease
unterbrechen to interrupt
unter'richten (R3) to teach
unter'suchen to investigate

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separable

Many verbs form separable compounds with unter-, all with the literal
meaning 'under':
'unterkriegen to bring down
'unterbringen to accommodate
'untergehen to sink, decline
'untersetzen to put underneath
'unterkommen tofindaccommodation

separable or
inseparable

Where verbs form both separable and inseparable compounds with


unter-, the separable verbs are mainly intransitive, with the meaning
'under'. The inseparable verbs have more figurative meanings
similar to that with verbs which only form inseparable compounds.
inseparable
separable
to prevent (R3)
unterbinden
to tie underneath
to undermine
untergraben
to dig in
to entertain
unterhalten
to hold underneath
to underlay
unterlegen
to put underneath
to insinuate (Rl)
unterschieben
to foist sth on sb
to embezzle (R3)
to cross (i.e. legs)
unterschlagen
to assume (R3)
to keep, store
unterstellen
to put on underneath to undergo
unterziehen

' stressed syllables are


preceded by a stress
mark
Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

vollseparable

The many separable verbs with the prefix voll- all express the meaning
'full':
'vollbekommen to manage to fill 'vollstopfen to cram full
'vollschreiben tofillwith writing 'volltanken tofillup (car with
fuel)

inseparable

Inseparable verbs with voll- all mean 'complete' or 'accomplish' and are
restricted to R3:
voll'bringen to achieve,
voll'strecken to execute, carry out
accomplish
voll'ziehen to execute, carry out
voll'enden to complete

widerinseparable
separable

Most verbs with wider- are inseparable:


wider'stehen to resist
wider'legen to refute
!
Only two verbs with wider- are separable:
'widerspiegeln to reflect
'widerhallen (R3) to echo,
reverberate
Almost all verbs with wieder- are separable:
'wiedersehen to see again
'wiederkehren to return

wiederseparable
inseparable

Only one verb with wieder- is inseparable:


wieder'holen to repeat

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2.4

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Idioms
Idiomatic expressions are a notorious pitfall for foreign learners because
their overall meaning cannot be understood from their individual parts.
The learner has no way of knowing that when Germans say, for
instance, schwer auf Draht (literally: 'heavy on wire'), they mean 'on the
ball'. The use of expressive idioms is most characteristic of Rl, but
some are restricted to more formal registers. Even in serious
newspapers idioms and what would normally be regarded as Rl
expressions can be used to enliven an argument or a factual account,
and much of the colloquial tone of popular newspapers derives from
their wide use of idiomatic expressions. Given below is a selection of
some frequent current idioms which differ markedly in phrasing from
their English equivalents, or which have no simple English equivalent.
They are arranged in alphabetical order of the key word.

A
mit Ach und Krach
bei jdm gut/schlecht angeschrieben sein
den Anschluss verpassen
sich schwarz rgern
jdn auf den Arm nehmen (N)
jdm unter die Arme greifen
etw aus dem rmel schtteln
beide Augen zudrcken
unter vier Augen

by the skin of your teeth


to be in sb's good/bad books
to miss the boat
to get really mad
to pull sb's leg
to help sb out
to produce sth from nowhere
to turn a blind eye
in confidence

B
etw auf die lange Bank schieben
Ich fresse einen Besen
in die Binsen gehen
den Bock zum Grtner machen
Das sind fr mich bhmische Drfer
Ich habe ein Brett vor dem Kopf
ein dicker Brocken

to put sth off


I'll eat my hat
to go down the pan
to choose someone totally unsuitable
I can't make head or tail of it
I can't think straight
a tough nut

D
jdm aufs Dach steigen
etw unter Dach und Fach bringen
die Daumen drucken
an die Decke gehen
mit jdm unter einer Decke stecken
auf gut Deutsch (gesagt)
Das geht nicht mit rechten Dingen zu
schwer auf Draht

to have a go at sb
to get sth all wrapped up and finished
to keep one's fingers crossed
to hit the roof
to be hand in glove with sb
in plain English (i.e. bluntly)
That's a bit odd
on the ball

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E
etw aus dem Effeff knnen
im Eimer
jdn/etw zum alten Eisen werfen

to be able to do sth standing on one's head


gone west, broken
to throw sb/sth on the scrap-heap

F
Das ist nicht mein Fall
Es passt wie die Faust aufs Auge
Dann ist Feierabend
ins Fettnpfchen treten
Du bist eine Flasche
zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen
die Flinte ins Korn werfen
Sei doch kein Frosch
G

It's not my cup of tea


It's totally out of place
Then it's all over
to put one's foot in it
You're a dead loss
to kill two birds with one stone
to throw in the towel
Be a sport, join in

hinter schwedischen Gardinen


Darauf kannst du Gift nehmen
Der Groschen ist gefallen

behind bars
You can bet your life on it
The penny's dropped

H
Haare lassen
an den Haaren herbeigezogen
der Hahn im Korbe sein
fur jdn die Hand ins Feuer legen
Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer
etw ber den Haufen werfen
gleich mit der Tr ins Haus fallen
aus dem Huschen sein
aus der Haut fahren
etw auf dem Herzen haben
Mir fallt ein Stein vom Herzen
auf dem Holzweg
mit jdm (noch) ein Hhnchen zu rupfen
haben
Da liegt der Hund begraben
wie Hund und Katze leben
Das ist ein dicker Hund
Das kannst du dir an den Hut stecken

to come off badly


far-fetched
to be the only man in female company
to vouch for sb
There's the catch
to throw sth out
to say sth straight out
to be out of one's mind
to hit the roof
to have sth on one's mind
That's a load off my mind
on the wrong track
still to have a bone to pick with sb
That's the snag, the trouble
to lead a cat and dog life
It's a bit much
You can keep it

K
Das war fr die Katz'
die Katze aus dem Sack lassen
Die Katze lsst das Mausen nicht
eine Katze im Sack kaufen

It was a waste of time


to let the cat out of the bag
The leopard doesn't change its spots
to buy a pig in a poke

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wie die Katze u m den heien Brei


herumgehen
Nachts sind alle Katzen grau
etw auf dem Kerbholz haben
das Kind beim Namen nennen
Mit dem ist nicht gut Kirschen essen
wie auf glhenden Kohlen sitzen
jdn vor den Kopf stoen
sich den Kopf zerbrechen
jdm einen Korb geben
jdn/etw aufs Korn nehmen
Jetzt geht's ihm an den Kragen
Dagegen ist kein Kraut gewachsen
in Teufels Kche kommen
Was macht die Kunst?

to beat about the bush


All cats are grey in the dark
to have done sth wrong
to call a spade a spade
It's best to stay out of his way
to be like a cat on a hot tin roof
to antagonize sb
to rack one's brains
to turn sb down
to hit out at sb/sth
Now he's for it
There's no cure for that
to get into a mess
How's things?

L
Ich kann auch ein Lied davon singen
mit dem linken Bein zuerst aufstehen
Das mache ich mit der linken Hand
auf dem letzten Loch pfeifen
wie ein Loch saufen
Er geht gleich in die Luft
etw unter die Lupe nehmen (R2/R3)

I can tell you a few things about that


to get out of bed the wrong side
I can do that with my eyes shut
to be on one's last legs
to drink like a fish
He's on a short fuse
to look closely at sth

M
Das ging mir durch Mark und Bein
eine Mattscheibe kriegen
Er hat eine Meise
in den Mond gucken
jdm mit gleicher Mnze heimzahlen

It went right through me


not to be able to think straight
He's crackers
to go empty-handed
to pay sb back in his own coin

N
die Nase (gestrichen) voll haben
der Nase nachgehen
jdn mit der Nase auf etw stoen
gelb vor Neid
Der ist eine Niete
Null-Acht-Fuffzehn

to be fed up
to follow one's nose
to make sth crystal clear to sb
green with envy
He's a dead loss
run of the mill, bog standard

O
bis ber die Ohren verliebt
sich (dat) etw hinter die Ohren
schreiben
es faustdick hinter den Ohren haben
jdm einen Floh ins Ohr setzen
Der ist schwer in Ordnung

head over heels in love


to be sure to remember sth
to be fly
to put an idea into sb's head
He's OK

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P
Ich kenne meine Pappenheimer
Es ist keinen Pappenstiel wert
in der Patsche/Tinte sitzen
jdm den schwarzen Peter zuschieben
nach seiner Pfeife tanzen
Ich pfeife darauf
Er hat die Pfoten berall drin
Bei dir piepst's wohl
wie ein begossener Pudel dastehen
Er hat das Pulver nicht erfunden

I know what those people are like


It's not worth a bean
to be in the soup
to leave sb holding the baby
to dance to his tune
I couldn't care less
He's got a finger in every pie
You're off your head
to stand there looking pathetic
He won't set the Thames on fire

R
das fnfte Rad a m Wagen sein
jdm einen Strich durch die Rechnung
machen
aus der Rolle fallen
Rosinen im Kopf haben
jdm in den Rcken fallen

to be out of place
to spoil sb's plans
to act out of character
to have big ideas
to stab sb in the back

S
mit Sack und Pack
jdn mit Samthandschuhen anfassen
sein Schfchen ins Trockene bringen
sein Scherflein zu etw beitragen
Das ist zum Schieen
jdn auf die Schippe nehmen (S)
aus dem Schneider sein
etw in den Schornstein schreiben
vom alten Schrot und Korn
jdm etw in die Schuhe schieben
Wo drckt der Schuh?
schwarzarbeiten
ins Schwarze treffen
aus dem Stegreif reden
den Stier bei den Hrnern packen
sich an einen Strohhalm klammern
sich zwischen zwei Sthle setzen
(R2/R3)

with bag and baggage


to handle sb with kid gloves
to see oneself all right
to do one's bit towards sth
That's hilarious
to pull sb's leg
to be out of the wood
to write sth off
of the old school
to put the blame for sth on sb
What's the matter?
to moonlight
to hit the bull's-eye
to speak impromptu
to take the bull by the horns
to clutch at a straw
to fall between two stools

T
Er hat nicht alle Tassen im Schrank
Hier geht's zu wie im Taubenschlag
auf Teufel komm raus
den Teufel an die Wand malen

He's a few short of a full set


It's like a madhouse here
Come hell or high water
to tempt fate

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unter den Tisch fallen


vom Regen in die Traufe kommen
zwischen Tr und Angel

to go by the board
to fall out of the frying-pan into the fire
in passing

W
jdm auf den Wecker fallen
Die Weichen sind gestellt (R2/R3)
Unter Wlfen muss man heulen (R2/R3)
aus allen Wolken fallen
jdm die Wrmer aus der Nase ziehen
Jetzt geht's u m die Wurst

to drive sb up the wall


The course is set
When in Rome do as the Romans do
to be taken aback
to extract information from sb
This is the crunch

Z
jdm auf den Zahn fhlen
jdn in die Zange nehmen
Zier dich nicht!
auf keinen grnen Zweig kommen

2.5

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

to sound sb out, grill sb


to put the screws on sb
Don't be shy!
to get nowhere

Prepositions
Being able to use prepositions confidently is a real marker of
competence in a foreign language, and time spent working on them is
always worthwhile. Some German prepositions, like hinter 'behind' or
ohne 'without' are pretty straightforward and have a clear normal
English equivalent, but the meaning and use of many of the common
ones often seems very difficult to pin down. Apart from this, each
German preposition is followed by (i.e. 'governs') a noun in a particular
case, and this can sometimes vary according to context or register.
For these reasons, it is essential to memorize prepositions in
contexts, learning phrases and sentences in which they occur. In
sections 2.5.1 to 2.5.4 the German prepositions are explained according
to the cases they govern, giving details of their most typical meanings.
Section 2.5.5 lists the commonest English prepositions in alphabetical
order and gives the German equivalents for their most frequent
meanings. For each German and English preposition a selection of
widely used expressions is given where the choice of a particular
preposition is idiomatic and there is no parallel between the two
languages. The use of prepositions with verbs, so-called 'prepositional
objects', e.g. warten auf jdn 'to wait for sb', is treated separately in 4.1.4.
Since German prepositions govern particular cases, some familiar
English constructions are not possible in German, for instance:
(a) The same noun cannot be governed by two prepositions, as it can
in English. In German, the sentence has to be split into separate
phrases, e.g.:

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I was rather astonished by and


Ich war von dieser pltzlichen
pleased at this sudden turn of
Wende etwas berrascht und
events
freute mich sehr darber
(b) In general, two prepositions cannot be used with a single noun in
German. The commonest alternative to this in German is to
replace one of the English prepositions with a directional adverb
(i.e. a compound of hin- or her- plus preposition), e.g.:
Er schaute zu mir herber
He looked across at me
Das Wasser strmte durch das
The water poured down through
the hole
Loch hinunter
Er zog es unter dem Bett hervor
He pulled it from under the bed
She looked in at the window
Sie schaute zum Fenster herein

2.5.1

German prepositions with the accusative case


The common prepositions which govern the accusative case are:
bis, durch, fur, gegen, ohne, u m
Less widely used, but worth noting, are:
per, pro, wider

BIS

bis is never followed by an article or any other determiner. It is


used on its own only with names, adverbs and some time words.
Otherwise it always has another preposition with it, and it is this
preposition which determines the case of the following noun.
(a) bis expressing place = as far as, (up) to
bis (nach) Rostock
as far as Rostock
bis dorthin
(to) there, as far as that
bis zu meinem Hausl
up to, as far as my house
bis an mein Haus
]
bis aufs Dach
right onto the roof
(b) bis expressing time = until, by
from Monday to Friday
von Montag bis Freitag
until tomorrow, by tomorrow
bis morgen
by then, between now and then
bis dahin
until further notice, for the present
bis auf weiteres
children up to the age of ten
Kinder bis zu zehn Jahren
bis auf can express exclusion = but for, down to (this can be ambiguous,
(C)
as the example shows)
The bus was full down to the last
seat
Der Bus war bis auf den letzten
The bus was full but for the last
Platz besetzt
seat
NOTE:

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DURCH

(a)

(b)

(c)

FR

(a)

GEGEN

(a)

durch expressing place = through


durch das Feuer
through the fire
durch die ganze Stadt
throughout the town
mitten durch den Park
through the middle of the park
durchs Examen fallen (Rl)
to fail the exam
durch expressing means, cause = by, through (for the use of durch in the
passive, see 4.4.4)
die Erfindung des
the invention of the internal comVerbrennungsmotors durch
bustion engine by Benz and
Benz und Daimler
Daimler
Ich lernte ihn durch eine
I got to know him through a friend
Freundin kennen
durch Bettigung des
by activating the mechanism
Mechanismus (R3b)
durch expressing time = throughout (often reinforced by adding
hindurch)
throughout one's whole life
durch das ganze Leben
(hindurch)
das ganze Jahr durch (Rl)
throughout the year

fr in most senses = for


fr meine kranke Schwester
for my sick sister
fr sein Alter
for his age
fr den Fall, dass . . .
in case . . .
ein Sinn, ein Beispiel fur etw
a sense, an example of sth
(b) fur expressing time = for (i.e. a period of time from 'now')
Ich habe das Haus fur sechs I've rented the house for six
Monate gemietet
months
Tag fr Tag
day after day
Schritt fr Schritt
step by step
gegen expressing place = against, into
Mbel gegen die Wand stellen
to put furniture against the wall
gegen den Strom schwimmen to swim against the current
(also fig)
etw gegen das Licht halten
to hold sth up to the light
gegen den Tisch stoen
to bump into the table
(b) gegen expressing opposition = against, for, compared with
against my wishes
gegen meinen Willen
a medicine for asthma
ein Mittel gegen Asthma
Gegen deinen Bruder ist er
He is small compared with your
klein
brother
(c) gegen expressing approximation = towards, about
towards/about four o'clock
gegen vier Uhr
There were about 50,000
Es waren gegen 50 000
Zuschauer im Stadion
spectators in the ground

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126

OHNE

ohne = without
ohne mein Wissen
without my knowing
ohne Mantel
without a coat, without his coat
Ohne mich! (Rl)
Count me out!
NOTE: ohne is used mainly without any following indefinite article or
possessive.

UM

Words and meanings

urn expressing place = round


um die Ecke
round the corner
(rund/rings) um die Kirche
(right) round the church
um die Stadt (herum)
(right) round the town
(b) u m expressing time = at (with clock times), about (with other time
phrases)
um zwanzig nach sechs
at twenty past/after six
ungefhr um sieben
at/about seven (o'clock)
around Christmas
um Weihnachten (herum)
einen Tag um den anderen
one day after another
(c) u m expressing measurement = by
um die Hlfte teurer
dearer by half
um nichts besser
no better
(d) u m in the sense of'concerning' = for; about
ein Streit um etw
a quarrel about sth
(es ist) schade um etw
(it's a) pity about sth
um nichts in der Welt
for nothing in the world

(a)

A few less widely used prepositions govern the accusative case.


PER

per = by (mainly commercial R3b; often followed by the dative case)


per Einschreiben
by registered mail
by, for 31 December
per 31. Dezember
It has come to be widely used in Rl in some phrases, e.g.:
per Auto, per Bahn
by car, by train
mit jdm per du sein
to call sb 'du'
per Anhalter fahren
to hitch-hike

PRO

pro = per (originally commercial R3b, but now widely used in Rl; often
used with a dative)
50 Cent pro Stck
50 cents each
5 Euro pro Person
5 euros per person

WIDER

wider = against (R3a, now rarely used except in a few set phrases)
wider alles Erwarten
against all expectations
wider Willen
against my (his, her, etc.) will
wider besseres Wissen
against my (his, her, etc.) better
judgement

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2.5.2

German prepositions with the dative case


The common prepositions taking the dative are:
aus, auer, bei, gegenber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu
Less widely used, but worth knowing, are:
ab, binnen, gemss, laut, zufolge

aus expressing place = out of, from


She came out of the house
Sie kommt aus dem Haus
He comes from Saxony (i.e. that is
Er kommt aus Sachsen
his native region)
to drink out of the bottle
aus der Flasche trinken
from close by
aus der Nhe
at first hand
aus erster Hand
to get out of practice
aus der bung kommen
You'll never come to anything
Aus dir wird nichts werden
(Rl)
(b) aus expressing material = (made) of
made of wood, steel, iron
aus Holz, Stahl, Eisen
(c) aus expressing cause, motive = for, from, out of
aus Furcht vor etw
for fear of sth
aus diesem Grund
for this reason
aus berzeugung
from conviction
aus Mitleid
out of pity

AUS

(a)

AUSSER

(a)

auer expressing restriction = except (for), but for, besides, apart from
Auer dem Gehalt bekommt
Apart from/Besides his salary he
receives an allowance
er noch einen Zuschuss
Nobody saw her except (for) me
Niemand hat sie gesehen
auer
(b) auer expressing place = out of
In modern usage auer is mainly used in this meaning in set phrases
with no article. In some the noun is in the genitive case, or, after verbs
of motion, in the accusative case.
auer Betrieb
out of order
auer Dienst (a.D.)
retired/not in active service
to disregard sth
etw auer Acht lassen
out of the country
auer Landes (R3)
I was beside myself
Ich war auer mir (R2/R3)
It is beyond all doubt
Es steht auer jedem Zweifel
etw auer jeden Zweifel stellen to put sth beyond all doubt

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BEI

(a)

(b)

(c)

GEGENUBER

(a)

MIT

bei expressing place, etc = by, at


Pinneberg liegt bei Hamburg
Pinneberg is by /near Hamburg
bei meinen Eltern
at my parents' (house)
(dicht) bei der Kirche
(right) by the church
die Schlacht bei Hastings
the battle of Hastings
bei Gnter Grass
in Gnter Grass's works
Er ist bei der Bahn
He works for the railways
Wir haben Englisch bei Frau
Frau Henne teaches us English
Henne
bei expressing time = at, by
beim Frhstck
at breakfast
bei Gelegenheit
when the opportunity arises
bei schnem Wetter
if/when the weather is fine
bei diesen vielen Problemen
with/given these many problems
das Schnste bei der ganzen
the best thing about the whole
Sache
business
bei with verbal nouns = on
This usage is particularly frequent in modern R3b, though it is by no
means restricted to it, see 5.2.3 and 5.3.2.
bei der Ankunft des Zuges (R3) on the arrival of the train
bei nherer Betrachtung (R3)
on closer observation
beim Schlafen, Essen
whilst sleeping, eating
bei der Arbeit
when working
This can come before or after the noun. It tends to follow words for
persons and always follows pronouns, otherwise it is commoner before
the noun. In Rl it is often followed by von rather than being used on its
own.
gegenber expressing place = opposite
mir gegenber
1
opposite me
gegenber von mir (R1)J
gegenber (von Rl) der Kirchel
church
der Kirche gegenber (R3)
j
PPosite the

(b)

gegenber expressing comparison = compared with, towards


ein Fortschritt gegenber den an advance compared with previous
Jahren davor
years
eine neue Politik gegenber
dem Irak
a new policy towards Iraq

(a)

mit in most senses = with


mit dem Schlssel
mit meinem Freund
zusammen
etw mit dem Fu stoen
mit den Achseln zucken
mit anderen Worten

with the key


together with my friend
to kick sth
to shrug one's shoulders
in other words

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(b)

NACH

SEIT

mit leiser Stimme


mit 20 Jahren
mit der Zeit
etw mit Absicht tun
mit expressing means of
transport = by
mit dem Flugzeug, Schiff, Zug

in a quiet voice
at the age of 20
in (the course of) time
to do sth on purpose

by aeroplane, boat, train

nach expressing place = to (only with names and place adverbs except in N)
nach Genf
to Geneva
nach Sden (hin)
to the south
nach Finnland
to Finland
nach innen, auen, oben, unten to go inside, outside, up, down
gehen
to go (to the) right, left
nach rechts, links gehen
nach Hause gehen
to go home
nach allen Seiten
in all directions
Er geht nach dem Bahnhof (N) He is going to the station
(b) nach expressing time = after, past
afterfiveyears,fiveyears later
nach fnf Jahren
ten past seven
zehn nach sieben
Ich bin nach ihm dran
It's my turn after him
nach
in
the
sense
of'according'
=
according
to, judging by
(c)
N O T E : in this sense nach can follow the noun, especially in some set
phrases, in R3 and in the meaning 'judging by'.
nach dem Gesetz/ (R3) dem
according to the law
Gesetz nach
meiner Meinung nach/nach
in my opinion
meiner Meinung
der Reihe nach
in turns
allem Anschein nach
to all appearances
in the French manner
nach franzsischer Art
Ihrer Sprache nach ist sie
Judging by the way she speaks, she
Schweizerin
is Swiss
nach allem, was er gesagt hat
from all he said
etw nach dem Gewicht
to sell sth by weight
verkaufen

(a)

seit = for (a period of time up to now), since (a point in time)


Seit drei Jahrhunderten gehrt This house has belonged to the
dieses Haus der kniglichen
royal family for three centuries
Familie
since the beginning of the year
seit Anfang des Jahres
erst seit kurzem
not for long, only for a little while

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VON

(a)

ZU

(a)

von expressing place = from. Aus is added after the noun to stress the
point of origin, and in some set phrases; her can be added after the noun
to stress movement away from a point.
Er kommt von seiner Mutter
He's comin%from his mother's
Sie fahrt von Aachen nach Kln She's going from Aachen to
Cologne
Von meinem Fenster (aus) kann From (out of) the window I can see
ich die Schule sehen
the school
von mir aus (Rl)
as far as I'm concerned
von Natur aus
by nature
Die Stimme kam von oben
The voice came from above
(her)
(b) von expressing time = from. It can be strengthened by adding an after
the noun.
von Montag (an)
from Monday
von alters her (R3)
from time immemorial
von Zeit zu Zeit
from time to time, occasionally
(c) von expressing possession, etc. = of. For the use of von or the genitive
case, see 4.2.2.
ein Stab von dieser Lnge
a bar of this length
der Verkauf von Diamanten
the sale of diamonds
Das war nett von dir
That was nice of you
(d) von in passive constructions = by (see 4.4.4)
eine Oper von Verdi
an opera by Verdi
Das wird von ihm behauptet
That is claimed by him

(b)

zu expressing place = to
Dieser Bus fahrt zum Rathaus
Er geht zu seiner Nichte
zur Decke (hin) blicken
zur Schule gehen
zu Hause
zu beiden Seiten
Setz dich zu uns
zu expressing time = at
zur Zeit des letzten deutschen
Kaisers
zu Ende
zu Weihnachten
die Nacht zum Dienstag
Zu meinem Geburtstag hat
sie mir ein Computerspiel
geschenkt
zum Schluss
zu Mittag essen

This bus goes to the town hall


He is going to his niece's
to glance towards the ceiling
to go to school/attend school
at home
on either side
Sit down with us
at the time of the last German
emperor
at an end
at/for Christmas
in the night from Monday to
Tuesday
She gave me a computer game for
my birthday
finally
to eat lunch

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zu expressing purpose = for


zu diesem Zweck
for this purpose
zu frh zum Aufstehen
too early for getting up/to get up
der Stoff zu einem Kleid
the material for a dress
zum Spa
for fun,for a joke
zum Glck
fortunately
zu Fu
on foot
zur Not
if need be, at a pinch
(d) zu expressing change
zu nichts werden
to become nothing
jdn zum Prsidenten whlen
to elect sb president
Das ist zum Sprichwort
That has become proverbial
geworden
(e) zu expressing quantity
zehn Stck Seife zu je zwei Euro ten pieces of soap at two euros each
zur Hlfte fertig
half finished
zum Teil
partially
drei zu zwei gewinnen
to win three to two

(c)

A few less widely used prepositions govern the dative.


AB

ab = from
Originally ab was a typical R3b word, but it is now widely used in other
registers for von... an. In time phrases it can be followed by the
accusative case, especially in Rl.
ab allen deutschen Bahnhfen from all stations in Germany
ab nchste(r) Woche
from next week
ab Dienstag, dem/den 19. Mai from Tuesday, 19 May

BINNEN

binnen = within is restricted to R3. It can occur with the genitive in


old-fashioned R3a.
binnen einem Jahr
)
. ,.
,.
.
v>
within a year
binnen eines Jahres (R3a))

GEM

gem = in accordance with, according to. It can come before or (more


commonly) after the noun. It is mainly used in R3; if it is used in R2 or
Rl it sometimes takes the genitive.
gem den Anweisungen I
accordance with the instructions
den Anweisungen gem )

LAUT

laut = according to (i.e. verbatim). In R3 it is often used with the


genitive case if the following noun has an article, another determiner or
an adjective with it.

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132

Words and meanings

laut unserem Bericht aus \


Berlin
1
laut unseres Berichtes aus [
Berlin (R3)
)
Laut Hans-Joachim will er
nicht
ZUFOLGE

zufolge = according to
unbesttigten Berichten
zufolge
einem Regierungssprecher
zufolge

2.5.3

according to our report from Berlin

According to Hans-Joachim (i.e.


what Hans-Joachim says is:), he
doesn't want to
according to unconfirmed reports
according to a government
spokesman

German prepositions with the dative or the accusative


cases
Ten German prepositions can be followed by a noun in the dative or
the accusative case, with a difference in meaning depending on which
case is used. These prepositions are:
an, auf, entlang, hinter, in, neben, ber, unter, vor, zwischen
These prepositions are followed by a noun in the dative case if they
express 'rest', e.g. being 'in' or 'at' a particular place, but by a noun in
the accusative case if they express 'movement', or, more accurately, the
'direction' in which someone is moving or something is being put.
Compare:
Wir stehen an der Grenze

We are standing on the border

(DATIVE)

Wir fahren an die Grenze

We are driving to the border

(ACCUSATIVE)

Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch

The book is lying on the table

(DATIVE)

Ich lege das Buch auf den


Tisch (ACCUSATIVE)

I am putting the book on the table

Obviously, this rule cannot apply if these prepositions are used to


express time or some other meaning which doesn't refer to place or
direction, and in these other meanings they tend to be used all the time
with a single case, i.e. either the dative or the accusative. For most of
them this is the dative case, but with auf and ber the accusative is
usual.

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The following survey explains the common uses of these


prepositions, separating those with the accusative and those with the
dative to show the distinctive meanings.
A N (DAT)

(a)

an (dat) expressing position = on, at, by (i.e. on, at or by the side of


someone or something)
an der Grenze
on/at the border
an der Universitt Marburg
at the University of Marburg
Er stand an der Wand
He was standing by the wall
Das Bild hngt an der Wand
The picture is hanging on the wall
am Rathaus
at/by the town hall
nahe am Hotel
near (to) the hotel
unten am Fluss
down by the river
an einem Buch arbeiten
to be working on a book

(b)

an (dat) expressing time = on (esp with nouns denoting days or parts of


the day)
am 31. Oktober
on 31 October
on Sunday(s)
am Sonntag
the next day/the following day
am nchsten Tag/am Tag
darauf
am Anfang
in the beginning
finally
am Ende
an (dat) in other expressions
arm/reich an Bodenschtzen
poor/rich in mineral resources
Es ist was dran
There's something to it
Jetzt ist's an ihm
It's up to him now
sieben an der Zahl
seven in number

(c)

AN(ACC)

A U F (DAT)

an expressing direction = to, on


an die Grenze fahren
ein Bild an die Wand hngen
eine Bitte an seinen Onkel
an das Klavier heran

to go, drive to the border


to hang a picture on the wall
a request to his uncle
(right) up to the piano

auf (dat) expressing position = on (i.e. on top of); at (with public


buildings, events)
Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch
The book is on the table
auf dem Mond landen
to land on the moon
auf dem Feld
in the field
auf dem Rathaus
at the town hall
auf dem Land(e)
in the country
auf einer Tagung
at a conference
auf dem Weg nach Erfurt
on the way to Erfurt
blind auf einem Auge
blind in one eye

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AUF (ACC)

(a)

(b)

(c)

ENTLANG

auf (acc) expressing movement = on (to); to (with public buildings,


events)
Sie legte das Buch auf den
She put the book on the table
Tisch
Er kletterte auf die Mauer
He climbed (up) on to the wall
Ich gehe auf das Rathaus
I'm going to the town hall
Ich gehe auf eine Tagung
I'm going to a conference
auf die Tr zu
towards the door
auf (acc) expressing time = for (i.e. for a length of time from now. This
usage is now chiefly R3 except in set phrases)
Sie will auf ein paar Tage
She's going away for a few days
verreisen
von heute auf morgen
from one day to the next, at a moment's notice
Das Taxi ist auf acht bestellt
The taxi has been ordered for eight
auf unbestimmte Zeit
indefinitely
auf (acc) in other expressions
auf Deutsch, auf Englisch, auf in German, in English, in Russian
Russisch
aufs angenehmste/
most pleasantly
Angenehmste (R3)
auf meinen Brief hin
following my letter
auf diese Weise
in this way
auf den ersten Blick
at first sight
/keinen Fall
on no account
auf eigene Kosten
at one's own expense
auf den Gedanken kommen
to get an/the idea
Auf Ihr Wohl!
Your health!
etw /Raten kaufen
to buy sth by instalments
Es kommt darauf an
It all depends
entlang = along (often shortened to lang in Rl)
The commonest usage with entlang is as follows:
(i) expressing 'rest': entlang comes before a noun in the dative case (R3
also often the genitive case)
(ii) expressing movement: entlang comes after a noun in the accusative
case
(iii) an (dat) entlang is a common alternative for either rest or movement,
but it is not used in the sense of'along the middle of sth' (e.g. roads,
rivers, etc.)
Wir flogen die Kste entlang ]
Wir flogen an der Kste
/
Weflewalong the coast
entlang
>

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Entlang der Kste wachsen


'
hohe Palmen
An der Kste entlang wachsen
hohe Palmen
Wir kamen die Strae entlang

Tall palm-trees grow along the


coast
We came along/up/down the
street

HINTER (DAT)

hinter (dat) expressing position == behind


He was standing behind the garage
Er stand hinter der Garage
20 Kilometer hinter der Grenze 20 kilometres beyond the border
He was walking behind me/
Er ging hinter mir her
following me
behind my back
hinter meinem Rcken

HINTER (ACC)

hinter (acc) expressing movement = behind


He ran behind the garage
Er lief hinter die Garage
to get to the truth
hinter die Wahrheit kommen

IN

(DAT)

in (dat) expressing position = in(side)


in the refrigerator
im Khlschrank
in(side) the hut
in der Htte
in the north
im Norden
in Switzerland
in der Schweiz
near by
in der Nhe
abroad
im Ausland
(b) in (dat) expressing time = in (i.e. within a period of time, or after a
period of time)
in a week ('in a week's time' or
in einer Woche
'inside a week')
a week today
heute in acht Tagen
in (the) winter
im Winter
in the night
in der Nacht
(during) the following week
in der nchsten Woche
last year
im vergangenen Jahr
in the time after the war
in der Zeit nach dem Krieg
in advance
im voraus
at the last moment
im letzten Augenblick

(a)

(c)

in (DAT) in other expressions


nicht im Geringsten/
Entferntesten
im Durchschnitt
in dieser Weise
in gewissem Mae
im hchsten Grad
im Allgemeinen
in dieser Hinsicht

not in the slightest


on average
in this way
to a certain extent
extremely
in general
in this respect

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IN

in (acc) expressing movement = in(to), to


Sie hat es in den Ofen gestellt
She put it in (to) the oven
Wir gehen ins Theater
We're going to the theatre
in die Schweiz fahren
to go to Switzerland
etw ins Deutsche bersetzen
to translate sth into German
in die Arbeit vertieft
engrossed in one's work
in einen weien Anzug
dressed in a white suit
gekleidet
to begin to move, start
sich in Bewegung setzen
moving
to drag sth out, prolong sth
etw in die Lnge ziehen

(ACC)

NEBEN (DAT)

(a)

(b)

(c)

neben (dat) expressing position = next to, beside


Er sa neben mir
He was sitting next to/beside
me
Das Buch steht neben dem
The book is next to the radio
Radio
Er ging neben ihr her
He was walking beside her
neben (dat) expressing exclusion = besides, apart from
Neben einigen Deutschen
Apart from a few Germans most of
kommen die meisten
the tourists come from Japan
Touristen aus Japan
neben (dat) expressing comparison = compared with
Neben seinem Bruder ist er
He is tall compared with his
gro
brother

NEBEN (ACC)

neben (acc) expressing movement = next to, beside


Er setzte sich neben mich (hin) He sat down next to/beside me
Er stellte das Buch neben das
He put the book next to the radio
Radio

BER (DAT)

ber (dat) expressing position = over, above, across, beyond


Das Bild hngt ber dem
The picture is hanging over/above
Schreibtisch
the desk
Die Sonne ging ber den Bergen The sun rose over the mountains
auf
3000 Meter ber dem
3000 metres above sea-level
Meeresspiegel
Es lag (quer) ber dem Weg
It lay across the path
Er wohnt ber der Grenze
He lives over/across/beyond the
border

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BER (ACC)

(a)

ber (acc) expressing movement =: over, across, via, beyond


Er hing das Bild ber den
He hung the picture over the desk
Schreibtisch
die Gnse flogen ber das Watt The geeseflewover the mud-flats
(hin)
Er ging ber die Strae
He went across the road/he crossed
the road
Er ist ber die Grenze
He swam across/over the border
geschwommen
Der Baum fiel uns (quer) ber The tree fell across our path
den Weg
einen Pullover ber die Bluse to put a sweater on over one's
ziehen
blouse
Wir sind ber Calais
We came via Calais
gekommen
Es lief mir kalt ber den Rcken A cold shiver went down my spine
ber etw hinwegsehen
to ignore sth
over
ber
(acc)
expressing
time
=
(b)
ber Nacht
overnight
over the weekend
bers Wochenende
ber kurz oder lang
sooner or later
(c) ber (acc) expressing quantity = over
Es kostet ber 1000 Euro
It costs more than 1000 euros
ein Scheck ber 100 Euro
a cheque for 100 euros
ber alle Maen (R3a)
beyond measure
(d) ber (acc) in the sense of'concerning' = about
ein Buch ber den
a book about the Black Forest
Schwarzwald
ber deine Mutter sprechen
to talk about your mother
my delight at her success
meine Freude ber ihren
Erfolg

UNTER (DAT)

(a)

unter (dat) expressing position = under(neath)y below, beneath,


among(st)
Der Hund liegt unter dem Tisch The dog is lying under the table
unter der Erde
beneath the ground
unter der Herrschaft der
under the rule of the Empress
Kaiserin Augusta
Augusta
Es gab Streit unter den Kindern There was quarrelling among the
children
unter uns (gesagt)
between ourselves
unter vier Augen
privately
unter anderem
among (st) other things

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[UNTER (DAT)]

(b)

(c)

unter (acc) expressing movement =


Der Hund kroch unter den
Tisch
Er ging unter die Erde
Er lief unter die Kinder

UNTER (ACC)

VOR

(DAT)

(a)

(b)

(c)

VOR

unter (dat) expressing circumstances = with, on, in, amid


unter grten Schwierigkeiten
with the greatest difficulty
unter diesen Umstnden
in these circumstances
unter diesen Bedingungen
on these conditions
unter tosendem Beifall
amid thunderous applause
Sie gestand unter Trnen
She confessed amid tears
unter (dat) expressing quantity = under, below
ein Fahrrad unter 500 Euro
a bicycle under/for less than
500 euros
below -20 degrees (Celsius)
unter 20 Grad Klte

(ACC)

ZWISCHEN (DAT)

under, below, among


The dog crawled under the table
He went below the ground
He ran among(st) the children

vor (dat) expressing position = in front of ahead of


Er wartet vor dem Kino
He is waiting in front of/ by the
cinema
Der Pazifik lag vor uns
The Pacific lay before us
vor mir in der Dunkelheit
ahead of me in the darkness
Er schlenderte vor mir her
He was strolling ahead of me
Es liegt vor der Kste
It isojf the coast
vor (dat) expressing time = before, ago
zwei Tage vor ihrer Ankunft
two days before their arrival
zehn Minuten vor fnf
ten minutes to five
heute vor acht Tagen
a week ago today
erst vor einer Woche
not until a week ago
vor (dat) expressing a cause or reason for sth (typically involuntary)
NOTE: in this sense vor is used without a following article.
blass vor Furcht
pale with fear
aus Furcht vor jdm/etw
for fear of sb/sth
Vor Nebel war nichts zu sehen
Nothing could be seen for the fog
Vor ihm ist keiner sicher
Nobody is safe from him
vor (acc) expressing movement = in front of
Sie fuhr vor das Kino
She drove up in front of/by the
cinema
vor sich hin
to oneself
zwischen (dat) expressing position = between, among
Sie sa zwischen mir und
She was sitting between me and my
meiner Frau
wife
between three and half-past
zwischen drei und halb vier

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ZWISCHEN (ACC)

zwischen (acc) expressing direction = between, among


Sie setzte sich zwischen mich She sat down between me and my
und meine Frau
wife
Sie pflanzte Schneeglckchen
She planted snowdrops among the
zwischen die Strucher
bushes

2.5.4 German prepositions with the genitive case


There are four frequent prepositions which take the genitive case:
(an)statt, trotz, whrend, wegen
However, in Rl and CH they commonly take the dative case, and the
dative case is used in all registers if the following noun is plural and has
no article, e.g. wegen Unfllen. Other prepositions which take the
genitive are given below.
(AN)STATT

(an)statt = instead of. The longer alternative anstatt is mainly used in


R3.
(an)statt eines Radios
.
, r
v (R2/R3)\
.

'( instead of a radio


statt einem nRadio mix
(Rl)
J
instead of pictures
statt Bildern

TROTZ

trotz = despite; in spite of


trotz des Regens (R2/R3) \
trotz dem Regen (Rl)
J
trotz Einwnden

despite the rain


in spite of objections

the dative is used with trotz in a few set phrases.


trotz allem/trotz alledem
in spite of everything//^ all that

NOTE:

WAHREND

whrend = during
whrend meines Urlaubs
\
during my holiday
(R2/R3)
whrend meinem Urlaub (Rl) J
whrend zweier Tage (R3)
)
for two (whole) days
whrend zwei Tagen (R1/R2) j
N O T E : whrend, unlike during} is not normally used with nouns such as
Tag, Abend, Nacht, Jahr, etc. in the singular, see 2.5.5.

WEGEN

wegen = because of (Rl often von wegen)


In R3 wegen occasionally follows the noun, but it is much more usual for
it to come first.

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140

[WEGEN]

wegen des schlechten Wetters


(R2/R3)
des schlechten Wetters wegen
(R3a)
(von) wegen dem schlechten
Wetter (Rl)
wegen Unfllen
wegen Umbau(s) geschlossen
meinetwegen

Words and meanings

wegen mir (Rl)


)
wegen meiner (SE) j
(a)

because of the bad weather

because of accidents
closed for alterations
because of me (R2/R3)/ I don't
mind (Rl)
because ofme

A number of specific place prepositions are used with a following


genitive case.
auerhalb outside
innerhalb inside
oberhalb above
unterhalb below

diesseits on this side of


jenseits on that side of
beid(er)seits on both sides of
unweit not far from

If these prepositions are used in R2 or Rl, they are most often followed
by von, e.g.:
innerhalb dreier Tage (R3) \
within three days
innerhalb von drei Tagen >
(R1/R2)
)
(b)

Other prepositions with the genitive


There are very many of these; they are mainly typical of R3b, e.g.:
angesichts dieser
Schwierigkeiten
anlsslich seines siebzigsten
Geburtstages
hinsichtlich dieses Briefes
kraft seines Amtes
mittels eines speziell
konstruierten
Unterwasserstudios

2.5.5

in view of these difficulties


on the occasion of his seventieth
birthday
with regard to this letter
by virtue of his office
by means of a specially
constructed underwater studio

English prepositions
In this section the most common German equivalent of each frequent
English preposition is given first, with one or more examples (even if
the equivalent is not a preposition in German). Further examples are
then given of some idiomatic or less usual equivalents.

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ABOUT

(a)

about in the sense of 'concerning^ ber (acc)


a book about the war
ein Buch ber den Krieg
Er wei darber Bescheid
He knows all about it
She doesn't understand anything
Sie versteht nichts davon
about it
(b) about in the sense of'approximately' = etwa, ungefhr
about fifty people
etwa!ungefhr fnfzig Leute
Sie ist etwa/ungefhr dreiig/
She is about thirty
um die dreiig herum
(at) about seven
gegen sieben/so um sieben (Rl)
(c) about expressing place = . . . herum
im Garten umher-/herumgehen
to walk about the garden
im Haus herumsitzen
to sit about the house

ABOVE

above= ber (dat), oberhalb (R3)


ber dem Dorf
above the village
der Rhein oberhalb der Stadt
the Rhine above the city of Basle
Basel (R3)
vor allem
above all

ACCORDING TO

according to =

nach - may follow noun in R3


laut - direct quotation
,entsprechend, gem,
zufolge - all these are typically
R3b and follow or, less
k commonly, precede the noun

nach den Vorschriften


laut Polizeiberichten
den Erwartungen entsprechend
(R3b)
according to our principles
unseren Prinzipien
gem/zufolge (R3b)
according to foreign press reports auslndischen
Pressemeldungen zufolge
(R3b)

according to the regulations


according to police reports
according to expectations

ACROSS

across =
to walk across the bridge
A tree lay across the path
to go across the meadows
She lives across the street

ber (dat) - indicating rest


ber (acc) - indicating direction
ber die Brcke gehen
Ein Baum lag (quer) ber dem
Weg
durch die Wiesen gehen
Sie wohnt gegenber

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142

AFTER

(a)

(b)

AGAINST

Words and meanings

after expressing time = nach


after the party
nach dem Fest
bernchste Woche
the week after next
bermorgen
the day after tomorrow
Tag fur/um Tag
day after day
after expressing place = hinter (dat)
Sie machte die Tr hinter ihr zu
She shut the door after her
Sie lief hinter ihm her
She ran after him
hinter jdm herrufen
to shout after sb
fgegen
1 wider (R3, or in a few idioms)
gegen unseren Beschluss
gegen den Wind segeln
wider Erwarten
an der Wand lehnen
etw an die Wand lehnen

against ==
against our decision
to sail against the wind
against expectations
to be leaning against the wall
to lean sth against the wall

ALONG

AMONG(ST)

entlang followed by a noun in the


dative (R3 genitive) case,
indicating rest
entlang
preceded by a noun in the
along =
accusative case, indicating direction
an (dat) entlang indicating rest or
; direction
f Wir fliegen die Kste entlang
We are flying along the coast
[ Wir fliegen an der Kste entlang
[ Bume standen entlang dem Ufer
1 (R3: des Ufers)
Trees stood along the bank | Bume standen am Ufer
\ entlang
Along the coast the weather is
An der Kste ist das Wetter schn
fine
along the floor
am Boden hin
(unter (acc/dat)
among(st) =
\ zwischen (acc/dat)
unter der Menge
among the crowd
unter anderem
among other things
Sie fand sie unter/zwischen den
She found them among(st)
Bumen
the trees
Er ging unter die Kinder
He went among the children
Sie gehrt zu den Besten
She is among the best

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AT

(a)
at expressing place =
at the corner
at the station

an (dat)
bei - esp 'vaguely in the vicinity
of, 'at sb's house'
auf (dat) - with public buildings
an der Ecke/ bei der Ecke
am Bahnhof/ auf dem Bahnhof

(R3)
at the town hall
at the butcher's
at our house
at university
at the office
at the bank, the post office
at home
at school
at a distance of400 metres
(b)

at expressing time =
at five (o'clock)
at 7.20 pm
at about seven

(c)

at the weekend
at present, at the moment
at the same time
at the end of April
at Christmas
at night
at this time tomorrow
at in other expressions
at a speed of 100 kilometres per
hour
at -40 degrees (Celsius)
at any rate
at two euros a pound
at all costs
at first sight
at bottom
to begin at the beginning
at his expense

auf dem Rathaus


beim Metzger
bei uns
an (R3 auf) der Universitt
im Bro
auf der Bank, auf der Post
zu Hause/ (S) daheim
in der Schule
in einer Entfernung von 400
Metern
u m - with precise clock times
an (dat) - in most other contexts
um fnf (Uhr)
um 19.20 Uhr
gegen sieben/ungefhr um
sieben/so um sieben (Rl)
am Wochenende
zurzeit
zu gleich/ zur gleichen Zeit
Ende April
zu (Rl an, AU auf) Weihnachten
in der Nacht
morgen um diese Zeit
mit einer Geschwindigkeit von
100 Stundenkilometern
bei 40 Grad Klte
auf alle Flle
zu zwei Euro das Pfund
um jeden Preis
auf den/beim ersten Blick
im Grunde (genommen)
von vorn(e) anfangen
auf seine Kosten

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BEYOND

(a)

beyond expressing place =

{ j j ^ j j ^

beyond the hills

BY

(b)

ber den Bergen, jenseits der


Berge (R3)
20 kilometres beyond Frankfurt
20 Kilometer hinter Frankfurt
meaning 'surpassing' = ber (acc)... hinaus
beyond human understanding
ber den Menschenverstand
hinaus
nothing beyond that
nichts auerdem/sonst nichts
beyond doubt
auer Zweifel

(a)

by expressing place =
by the window
by my side
to sit by sb
to take sb by the hand
to lead sb by the hand
We went by his house

(b) by expressing time = bis


by Friday
by then (in future)
by then (in past), by now
(c) by expressing measure = u m
taller by a head
by the hour, metre
by far
(d) by expressing means = mit
by train, bus, car

(e)

( an (dat) 'right by'


\ bei 'in the vicinity of
am Fenster/ beim Fenster
an meiner Seite
neben jdm sitzen
jdn an die Hand/ bei der Hand
nehmen
jdn an der Hand fhren
Wir gingen an seinem Haus
vorbei
bis Freitag
bis dann, bis dahin
inzwischen
um einen Kopf grer
stundenweise, meterweise
bei weitem

mit dem Zug, dem Bus, dem


Auto
to pay by cheque
mit (einem) Scheck (be)zahlen
by expressing cause = durch (for by in passive constructions see 4.4.4)
the discovery of America by the die Entdeckung Amerikas
Vikings
durch die Wikinger
by pressure on the button
durch einen Druck auf den
Knopf
durch Zufall, zufallig
by accident, by chance
aus Versehen
by mistake
ein Stck von Frisch
a play by Frisch

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2.5

[BY]

(f)

Prepositions

by in other expressions
one by one
to know sb by sight
side by side
by heart
by request
not by any means

DOWN
down =

We went down the street


She came down the street
He lives down the street
down the side of the house
down the centuries
Tears rolled down her cheeks
DURING

einer nach dem anderen


jdn vom Sehen her kennen
nebeneinander
auswendig
aw/Wunsch
keineswegs / noch lange nicht
(Rl)
. . . hinab (R2/R3),... hinunter
- 'away from one'
1 . . . herab (R2/R3),... herunter
- 'towards one'
. . . runter (Rl) - 'away from one'
k or 'towards one'
Wir gingen die Strae
hinab/hinunter
Sie kam die Strae
herab/herunter
Er wohnt etwas weiter (unten)
seitlich a m Haus entlang
durch die Jahrhunderte
(hindurch)
Trnen rollten ihr ber die
Wangen

during = whrend
during the war
during the day
during the night

EXCEPT (FOR)
except (for) =
except for me
The flat is finished except for
the kitchen
except for a few little things
FOR

145

( wahrend des Krieges (R2/R3)


| whrend dem Krieg (Rl)
l im Krieg
am Tag
in der Nacht
{ auer
( bis auf (acc)
l abgesehen von
auer mir
Bis auf die Kche ist die
Wohnung fertig
auer/bis auf/abgesehen von ein
paar Kleinigkeiten

(a) for expressing benefit = fur


room for us
Platz fur uns
a present for her husband
ein Geschenk fur ihren Mann
a reward for sth
eine Belohnung fur etw
NOTE: with verbs, the person benefiting may be in the dative, but a
phrase with fur can also be used, especially in Rl (see 4.1.2), e.g.: ^

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[FOR]

He bought a book for me


(b) for expressing purpose = zu
for this purpose
What's it for, then?
for pleasure
for breakfast

Er hat mir ein Buch gekauft


Er hat ein Buch fur mich
gekauft

zu diesem Zweck
Wozu dient es denn?
zum Vergngen
zum Frhstck

(c)

seit - 'for' a period of time up to now


f r / (R3) auf (acc) - 'for' a period of time
from 'now'
for expressing time =
accusative noun (often with lang) - 'for'
any length of time entirely in the past or
future (Rl also a period from 'now')
I have been sitting here for three Ich sitze seit drei Stunden hier
hours
I had been sitting there for three Ich sa seit drei Stunden dort
hours
I am going to Kiel for three weeks Ich fahre fr drei Wochen/(R3)
auf drei Wochen/ (Rl) drei
Wochen nach Kiel
Ich habe zwei Stunden (lang)
I sat there for two hours
dort gesessen
He won't be back for a month
Erst in einem Monat ist er
wieder da
I'll do it for Monday
Ich mache es bis Montag fertig
for years on end
jahrelang/(R3) Jahre hindurch
for the first time
zum ersten Mal
for hours on end
stundenlang
for
expressing
place
(d)
change for Dortmund
nach Dortmund umsteigen
leave for Bochum
nach Bochum abfahren
bends for 5 kilometres ahead
Kurven auf 5 Kilometer
for
in
other
expressions
(e)
not see anything/or fog
vor Nebel nichts sehen
the thirst for knowledge
der Drang nach Wissen
for example
zum Beispiel
as for me
was mich angeht
ein Scheck ber 100 Euro
a cheque for 100 euros
etw aus Liebe tun
to do sth for love
aus diesem Grund
for this reason

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FROM

(a)

from expressing place =

von - coming from a place one has


been 'at', with the idea of direction from (the opposite of zu)
aus - coming from, or out of a
place one has been 'in', with the
idea of origin (the opposite of in
i (acc))

She comes from Ireland (i.e. that is Sie kommt aus Irland
her native land)
She is commgfrom Ireland (i.e. she Sie kommt von Irland
is travelling from there)
der Zug aus Bern
the train from Berne
the train from Berne to Basle
der Zug von Bern nach Basel
20 kilometres from the coast
20 Kilometer von der Kste
entfernt
to drink from a glass
aus einem Glas trinken
from top to bottom
von oben bis unten
Where did you get that from ?
Wo hast du das her? (Rl)
(b) from expressing time =

IN

' v o n . . . an
; ab (esp R3b) - with precise times

from today
from 1 May
from the start
from (last) January
from (next) January
from morning till night
from childhood
(c) from in other expressions
from 50 euros
from experience
from what F ve heard
from the outset
She was trembling from the cold

von heute an, ab heute (R3b)


vom 1. Mai an/ab 1. Mai (R3b)
von Anfang an
seit Januar
von Januar an, Januar (R3b)
von morgens bis abends
von Kind auf/an, von klein auf

(a)

in (dat) - position in
in (acc) - movement into
Es ist in seiner Tasche
Er steckte es in die Tasche
in Braunschweig
zu Braunschweig (R3a)
in der Stadt
auf dem Lande
auf dem Bild
am Himmel

in expressing place =
It is in his pocket
He put it in his pocket
in Brunswick
in town
in the country
in the picture
in the sky

ab 50 Euro
aus (der) Erfahrung
nach dem, was ich gehrt habe
von vornherein
Sie zitterte vor Klte

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[IN]

in heaven
im Himmel
in the direction of the station
(in) Richtung Bahnhof
to go in that direction
in diese(r) Richtung gehen
NOTE: both accusative and dative cases are used but the dative is more
frequent.
in the field
auf dem Feld/auf der Wiese
in (among) the trees
unter den Bumen
wounded in the arm
am Arm verletzt
in your place
an deiner Stelle
in
expressing
time
=
in
(dat)
(b)
im Herbst
in autumn
im Mai
in May
Mitte Mai
in mid May
in zehn Tagen
in ten days
in frheren Zeiten
in earlier times
2001, im Jahre 2001
in 2001
am Abend/abends
in the evening(s)
spter am Tag
later in the day
in the days when . . .
zu der Zeit, wo (Rl/R2)/als
(R2/R3)...
auf
die Dauer
in the long run
im
voraus
in advance
(C) in used in other expressions
in any case
auf jeden Fall
in that case
in dem Fall
just in case
fr alle Falle
in German
/Deutsch
j meiner Meinung nach
in my opinion
\ meines Erachtens (R3)
mit lauter Stimme
in a loud voice
umsonst, vergeblich
in vain
auf diese Weise/ in dieser
in this way
Weise
in jeder Hinsicht
in all respects
vier an der Zahl
four in number
alles in allem
all in all
nicht im Geringsten
not in the least

INSIDE
inside =

inside the house

in (dat)j innerhalb (R3) expressing place


in (acc) - expressing direction
in (dat)y innerhalb (R2/R3),
binnen (R3) - expressing time
{ im Haus/im Haus drin (Rl)/
\ innerhalb des Hauses (R3)

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He went inside the house

Er ging ins Haus (hinein)


in einem Monat
innerhalb eines Monats (R3)
binnen einem Monat (R3)
innerhalb von einem
Monat (R2)

inside a month

INSTEAD OF

instead of = statt, anstatt (R3), anstelle von


j statt/(83) anstatt Blumen
instead /flowers
1 anstelle von Blumen
statt seines Bruders (R2/R3)
instead of his brother
statt seinem Bruder (Rl)
anstelle von seinem Bruder
.statt meiner (R3)
instead of me
statt mir (Rl)
an meiner Stelle

into = in (acc)
She went into the room
to translate into Spanish
to drive into a tree

INTO

OF

Sie ging ins Zimmer (hinein)


ins Spanische bersetzen
gegen einen Baum fahren

(a)

of expressing possession, etc. : genitive case or von (see 4.2.2)


( das Dach des Hauses (R2/R3)
the roof of the house
1 das Dach vom Haus (R1/R2)
the danger of an earthquake
die Gefahr eines Erdbebens
the discovery of America
die Entdeckung von Amerika

(b)

of expressing quantity = apposition, genitive case or von (see 4.2.2)


a cup of coffee
eine Tasse Kaffee
zwei Gruppen junger Arbeiter
(R2/R3)
two groups ofyoung workers
zwei Gruppen von jungen
Arbeitern (R1/R2)
all of them
the fi\tof us
a friend of mine

of with names = apposition


the city of Cologne
the month of February
the University of London
(d) of expressing material = aus
a house of straw
a table of beechwood

sie alle
wir fnf
ein Freund von mir

(c)

die Stadt Kln


der Monat Februar
die Universitt London
ein Haus aus Stroh
ein Tisch aus Buchenholz

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[OF]

(e)

OFF

of used in other expressions


of course
of its own accord
today of all days
to die of hunger
north of Kassel
the battle of Ltzen
an example of sth
typical, characteristic of sb/sth
off = von . . . (her-/hinunter)
He jumped off the train
He took it off the shelf
10 kilometres off the main road
off the south coast of England

ON

(a)

on expressing place =

The book is on the table


He put the book on (to) the table
The picture hung on the wall
He hung the picture on the wall
on the river
We are sitting on the floor
on the ceiling
on (the) stage
on top of the mountain
to kiss sb on the mouth
on the piano
on the way
on the left
on the wall
on the coast
on the telephone

selbstverstndlich, natrlich
von selbst
ausgerechnet heute
vor Hunger sterben
nrdlich von Kassel
die Schlacht bei Ltzen
ein Beispiel fr etw
typisch, charakteristisch fr
jdn/etw
Er sprang vom Zug (hinunter)
Er nahm es vom Regal
(herunter)
10 Kilometer von der
Hauptstrae weg
vor der englischen Sdkste
auf (dat) - 'on (top of)' - position
auf (acc) - 'on/onto (the top
of)' - direction
an (dat) - 'on (the side of)' position
an (acc) - 'on/onto (the side
of)' - direction
Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch
Er legte das Buch auf den
Tisch
Das Bild hing an der Wand
Er hngte das Bild an die
Wand
( auf dem Fluss (on it, e.g. in a boat)
1 am Fluss (beside it)
Wir sitzen am Boden/auf dem
Boden
an der Decke
auf der Bhne
oben auf dem Berg
jdn auf den Mund kssen
am Klavier
auf dem Weg/unterwegs
auf der linken Seite/links
an der Wand/auf der Mauer
an der Kste
am Telefon

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a house on the main road


on board
on the train
to go on the train
on his face
on the second floor
it says on the poster t h a t . . .
(b)
on expressing time =

ein Haus an der Hauptstrae


an Bord
im Zug
mit dem Zug fahren
im Gesicht
im zweiten Stock
... auf dem Plakat steht,
dass...
/ an (dat)
| bei 'on the occasion of (especially
I with nouns from verbs)

on Sunday
am Sonntag
on Sundays
sonntags/am Sonntag
on weekdays
an Wochentagen
on the morning of 4 July
am Morgen des 4. Juli
on the following evening
am Abend darauf
on this occasion
bei dieser Gelegenheit
bei seiner Ankunft
on his arrival
(c) on in the sense of'concerning' = ber (acc)
a book on German history
ein Buch ber deutsche
Geschichte
(d) on used in other expressions
auf eine Reise gehen
to go on a journey
on the radio, the television
im Radio, im Fernsehen
K/keinen Fall
on no account
on average
im Durchschnitt
on purpose
mit Absicht/absichtlich
unter einer Bedingung
on one condition
It was improved on her suggestion Es wurde auf ihren Vorschlag
hin verbessert
OPPOSITE

opposite = gegenber
opposite me

opposite the hospital


OUT OF,
OUTSIDE

( m i r gegenber (R2/R3)
1 gegenber von mir (Rl)
/ gegenber dem Rathaus
| dem Rathaus gegenber (R3)
l gegenber vom Rathaus (Rl)

(nicht in (dat), auerhalb


| (R2/R3) - position
l aus - direction
to be out of town
nicht in der Stadt sein
auerhalb der Stadt sein (R3)
The car pulled up outside the house Das Auto hielt vor dem Haus
aus dem Zimmer
to go out of the room
(hinaus)gehen
out of, outside =

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[OUT OF,
OUTSIDE]

She looked out of the window


out of breath, danger, sight
out of control
outside office hours

OVER

over =
Clouds hung over the city
Weflewover the city
the bridge over the Neckar
children over ten years old
over and above that
over a year ago
over dinner
over the years

PAST

(a) past expressing place =


We drove past the house
just past the barn
(b) past expressing time = nach
twenty past seven

ROUND

round = u m
round the corner
right round the lake
all round the house
all round Belgium

THROUGH

through = durch
through the tunnel
through the city
to go through a red light
cancelled through illness
all through her life
all through the night
all through/throughout the city

Sie sah zur Tr hinaus


auer Atem, auer Gefahr,
auer Sicht
auer Kontrolle
auerhalb der Dienstzeit
( ber (dat) - position
1 ber (acc) - direction
Wolken hingen ber der Stadt
Wir flogen ber die Stadt (hin)
die Brcke ber den Neckar
Kinder ber zehn Jahre alt
darber hinaus
gut ein Jahr her/ vor gut einem
Jahr
beim Abendessen
im Laufe der Jahre
j an (dat)... vorbei
\ hinter (dat) - 'beyond'
Wir fuhren am Haus vorbei
gleich hinter der Scheune
zwanzig nach sieben
um die Ecke
j um den ganzen See herum
1 rings/rund um den See
( um das Haus herum (outside)
\ im ganzen Haus (inside)
durch ganz Belgien
durch den Tunnel
durch die Stadt
bei Rot durchfahren
wegen Krankheit ausgefallen
ihr ganzes Leben lang
die ganze Nacht hindurch
{in der ganzen Stadt
1 berall in der Stadt

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TO

(a)

to expressing direction has three main equivalents, depending on the


context, region or register:
(i) an (acc), auf (acc), in (acc) - movement to a particular place; the
preposition chosen depends on 'where' you will be when you arrive
(i.e. an, auf or in the place).
I am going to university (i.e. to
study there)
She walked (up) to the window
They went to the station
She went (up) to her room
to the Isle of Wight
They are going to town
I am going to the office
We are going to Switzerland
to go to bed
close to sth
a visit to my (girl-)friend

Ich gehe an die Universitt


Sie trat an das Fenster
' Sie fuhren auf den Bahnhof
(R2/R3)/
zum Bahnhof (Rl)/
nach dem Bahnhof (N)
Sie ging auf ihr Zimmer
auf die Insel Wight
Sie fahren in die Stadt
Ich gehe ins Bro
Wir fahren in die Schweiz
ins Bett (R3 zu Bett) gehen
nahe bei/an etw
ein Besuch bei meiner
Freundin

(ii) zu - general direction towards a place - the opposite of von. Also


used with people. Often used in Rl instead of an or auf
Ich gehe zur Universitt
I am going to the university
(i.e. that is my destination)
Fhrt dieser Bus zum Bahnhof?
Does this bus go to the station?
zum Metzger
to the butcher's
die Tr zum Hof (hin)
the door to the yard
parallel zur Mauer
parallel to the wall
(iii) nach - 'to'with neuter names of towns or countries, or with some
adverbs. Often used in N instead of an, auf, in or zu.
Wir fahren nach Italien, nach
We are going to Italy, to Rostock
Rostock
nach Sden
to the south
nach rechts
to the right
nach vorn(e)
to the front
dative case
(b)
to expressing indirect object =
He gave the case to me
She has been a good friend to me
I wrote to her

an (acc) - if the notion of


direction is stressed
Er hat mir den Koffer gegeben
Sie ist mir eine gute Freundin
gewesen
Ich habe ihr/an sie geschrieben

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[TO]

TOWARDS

UNDER

der Alkoholausschank an
Jugendliche (R3b)
Das hat er seinem Freund
He told that to his friend
gesagt
(c) to expressing time = vor (dat) - in telling time
zehn vor sechs
ten to six
pnktlich auf die Minute
punctual to the minute
(d) to used in other expressions
Was geht dich das an}
What's that to you?
Leverkusen hat drei zu eins
Leverkusen won three to one
gewonnen
zu meiner Freude
to my delight
200 Einwohner pro
200 inhabitants to the square
Quadratkilometer
kilometre
to my knowledge
meines Wissens
nach Vorschrift arbeiten
to work to rule
in hohem Grad, in hohem
to a great extent
Mae
eine Antwort auf Ihre Frage
an answer to your question
etw gegen das Licht halten
to hold sth to the light
serving drinks to minors

towards expressing direction = auf (acc)... zu


auf die Tr zu
towards the door
Sie kam auf mich zu/ mir
She came towards me
entgegen
nach
Oldenburg hin
towards Oldenburg
nach
Norden
hin/zu
towards the north
(b) towards expressing time = gegen
towards the end of the last century gegen Ende des vorigen
Jahrhunderts

(a)

( unter (dat) - position


\ unter (acc) - direction
He parked the car under the bridge Er hat den Wagen unter der
Brcke geparkt
Sie hat das Geld unter
She put the money under the
die Matratze gesteckt
mattress
Kinder unter 12 Jahren
children under 12 years old
im Bau
under construction
undpr

MffM'Cr

UNTIL/TILL
until/till =
until 2009
until then
until the end of the month

bis - in positive sentence


erst + appropriate preposition -

in negative sentence
bis 2009
bis
dahin Monatsende
bis (zum)

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until his death


until after his death
not until tomorrow
not until three hours ago
not until the 20th century
not until the late evening
not until after his death
UP
up =
They went up the street
They came up the street
We live up the street
He lives up the mountain
up one's nose
further up this page
WITH

with = mit
with a hammer
with his girlfriend
with a trembling hand
He lives with his mother
She lives with her boyfriend
I've no money with me
35 years with the firm
Do you want to go with us?
Put it with the others
to tremble with cold
with a hat and coat on

bis zu seinem Tod


bis nach seinem Tod
erst morgen
erst vor drei Stunden
erst im 20. Jahrhundert
erst am spten Abend
erst nach seinem Tod
. . . hinauf - away from one
. . . herauf - towards one
. . . 'rauf (Rl) - away from or
towards one
Sie gingen die Strae hinauf/
(Rl Yrauf
Sie kamen die Strae herauf/
(Rl Yrauf
Wir wohnen etwas weiter die
Strae entlang
Er wohnt (oben) auf dem Berg
in der Nase
weiter oben auf dieser Seite
mit einem Hammer
mit seiner Freundin
mit zitternder Hand
Er wohnt bei seiner Mutter
Sie wohnt mit ihrem Freund
(zusammen)
Ich habe kein Geld bei mir
35 Jahre bei der Firma
Willst du mit?
Leg es zu den anderen
vor Klte zittern
in Hut und Mantel

2.6 Modal particles


Modal particles are small words like aber, doch Ja, mal, schon, etc.
which express the speaker's attitude to what is being said. They alter
the tone of what is being said and make sure that the speaker's
intentions and attitudes are clearly understood They can typically
appeal for agreement, express surprise or annoyance, tone down a blunt
question or statement, or help you to sound reassuring. They are very
characteristic of informal spoken German (Rl), but their meanings are
elusive and their use is difficult to paraphrase or explain concisely.

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R l = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

2.6.1

ABER

In English we obtain these effects in other ways, typically through


changes in tone of voice or intonation, which are difficult to describe,
or through so-called 'tags', like don't you? or isn't it? The best way to
learn how to use them is to become familiar with as many examples as
possible and try to judge the meaning as they are used, and to help you
a number of typical examples of usage are given in this section. It is
helpful to separate out the use of particles in different types of sentence
(i.e. statements, questions, commands and exclamations), not least
because most of the particles are typically used in one of these types or
because, if they can be used in more than one, their meanings can be
slightly different in each. To help you get some idea of their effect, we
have given an indication of possible English equivalents - i.e. how you
might get a similar effect in English. However, these should not be
understood as standard translations; their purpose is only to convey
some idea of the force of the German particles.
Many words which are used as modal particles in German have other
uses, often (but not always) with related meanings. For example, aber is
used as a conjunction meaning 'but', and vielleicht as an adverb meaning
'perhaps'. In this section we concentrate on their use as particles.

Modal particles in statements

expresses contradiction or insistence (it is rather weaker thm jedoch).


Possible English equivalents: but, though.
Mein Freund kam aber nicht
Sie muss uns aber gesehen
haben

AUCH

confirms the case and may give reasons for a contradiction. Possible
English equivalents: too, you know, after all.
Er ist auch
fleiig
Wir knnen's auch lassen

DOCH

My friend didn't come, though


But she must have seen us

He does work hard, you know


After all, we can drop it

contradicts (if heavily stressed) or appeals for agreement (if more


lightly stressed). In this way, it can turn a statement into a question
expecting a positive answer. Possible English equivalents: stressed verb
(possibly do form), though, after all, negative tag, initial but.
Es hat 'doch geschneit
Ich habe 'doch recht gehabt
Wir mssen doch morgen nach
Trier
Er hat doch gesagt, dass er
kommt

It 'did snow, though


I 'was right after all, wasn't I?
We've got to go to Trier tomorrow,
though
But he did say he was coming

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Das musst du doch zugeben


Den Wagen kann ich doch
morgen frh abholen?
Er ist doch nicht krank?

You've got to admit it, though


I'll be able to collect the car
tomorrow morning, won't I?
He's not ill, is he?

EBEN

emphasizes an inescapable conclusion. Possible English equivalents:


well,... just...
Du musst eben zu Hause Well, you'll just have to stay at
bleiben
home
Dann mssen wir eben den
We'll just have to take the train,
Zug nehmen
then
NOTE: eben is mainly used in N. In S halt is used, with the same
meaning.

EIGENTLICH

tones down a refusal, an objection or a contradiction. Possible English


equivalents: well, actually/really, strictly speaking.
Wir haben eigentlich schon zu
Ich wollte eigentlich blo eine
neue Bluse
Eigentlich darfst du das nicht
Wir haben eigentlich schon
verloren

ERST

(a)

implies that something is the absolute limit. It is often strengthened by


adding recht. Possible English equivalents: really, simply.
Dann ging's erst recht los
Das konnte sie erst recht nicht
Das macht es erst recht
schlimm

(b)

Then things really got going


She simply couldn't manage that
That really does make it bad

Referring to time, erst suggests that it is earlier than expected or


desired. In this sense it is also used in other sentence types. Possible
English equivalents: only, not before/until, as late as.
Wir kommen erst recht spt in
Mnchen an
Sie knnen den Film leider erst
morgen abholen
Es ist erst halb fnf

(c)

Well, really, we're already closed


Well, actually, I only wanted a new
blouse
Strictly speaking, you are not
allowed to
We've already lost, really

We shan't get to Munich till very


late
I'm afraid you won't be able to
collect the film before tomorrow
It's only half past four

Referring to quantities, erst suggests that more is to follow. In this sense


it is also used in other sentence types. Possible English equivalent:
only... (asyet).
Ich habe erst zehn Seiten
geschrieben
Sie ist erst sieben Jahre alt

I've only written ten pages (as yet)


She's only seven years old

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ETWA

in negative sentences, intensifies the negation. Possible English


equivalent: really (not).
Sie mssen nicht etwa denken,
dass ich ihn verteidigen will

appeals for agreement, with the speaker insisting that what he or she
says is correct. Possible English equivalents: stressed verb (do-form),
really, you know, of course.

JA

Gestern hat's ja geregnet


Das ist ja eine Gemeinheit
Er ist ja schon lngst im
Ruhestand
Sie wissen ja, dass es keiner
geschafft hat
Ich komme ja schon

It did rain yesterday, you know


That really is mean
He's been retired for a long time
now, you know
You do know, of course, that
nobody's managed it
I really am on my way

in requests, especially with knnen, gives a reassuring tone. Possible


English equivalents: I don 7 mind, don't disturb yourself etc.

RUHIG

Sie knnen ruhig Ihre Jacke


ausziehen
Sie knnen mir ruhig die
Wahrheit sagen
SCHON

You really musn't think that I


want to defend him

(a)

You can take your jacket off, it's


OK by me
You can tell me the truth, I don't
mind

Referring to time, schon suggests that sth is earlier than expected or


desired, or that sth has happened on occasions. In this sense it is also
used in other sentence types. Possible English equivalents: already, as
early as, sometimes.
Have you finished already?
They're coming tonight (I know
we hadn't expected them so soon)
I've sometimes seen him at the
cinema, too
I suspected that as early as 2001
Have you ever been there?
There she is again (I know we
didn't want to see her so soon)
With the future tense, schon expresses reasonable expectation that sth
will happen. Possible English equivalents: all right, don't worry.

Bist du schon fertig?


Sie kommen schon heute
Abend
Ich habe ihn auch schon im
Kino gesehen
Das habe ich schon 2001 geahnt
Warst du schon mal dort?
Da ist sie schon wieder
(b)

(c)

Ich werde schon aufpassen


I'll watch out all right
Er wird's schon hinkriegen
He'll manage it, don't worry
Dir werde ich's schon zeigen
I'll (soon) show you all right
Expresses agreement in principle, but with reservations (often followed
by aber...). zwar and, esp. in N, wohl, are used in the same sense.
Possible English equivalents: stressed verb (Jo-form), well,

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Paris ist schon eine schne


Stadt(, aber . . . )
Ich wollte schon
kommen(, aber . . . )
Das schon, aber . . .

Paris is a lovely city(, b u t . . . )


Well, I did want to come(, b u t . . . )
Well, may be, b u t . . .

UBERHAUPT

makes statements more general. Possible English equivalents: anyhow,


anyway,... at all, all in all, in any case.
London is berhaupt eine
London is a dreadful city anyhow
grssliche Stadt
Er sagt berhaupt sehr wenig
He says very little anyway

WOHL

expresses probability or supposition. It has a similar force to the future


tenses (see 4.3.1), and it is often used in conjunction with them.
Possible English equivalents: future tense (see 4.3.1), probably, I
suppose /presume . . . , positive statement with negative tag, no doubt.
Franz ist wohl schon wieder
Franz will be ill again, I suppose
krank/wird wohl schon
wieder krank sein
Sabine ist wohl gestern Abend Sabine will have arrived last night,
no doubt
angekommen
I presume you're the last
Sie sind wohl der Letzte
You must be mad, mustn't you?
Du bist wohl verrckt
geworden
The combination ja wohl sounds more certain, cf English certain(ly).
Sie wird ja wohl noch in Essen She's pretty certainly still in
sein
Essen
The combination doch wohl sounds rather less certain, but the speaker
hopes it is the case, cf English surely... with a negative tag.
Er hat doch wohl noch einen
Surely, he's got another key,
Schlssel
hasn't he?
In N, expresses agreement in principle, but with reservations (often
followed by aber...). This sense is the same as that of schon or zwar.
Possible English equivalents: stressed verb (i-form), may, well,
Er ist wohl mein Freund, aber Well, he may be my friend, but I
can't help him
ich kann ihm nicht helfen
Anja did go to Kiel, but only for a
Anja ist wohl nach Kiel
few days
gefahren, aber nur fur ein
paar Tage

ZWAR

expresses agreement in principle, but with reservations (often followed


by aber...). This sense is the same as that of schon or, esp in N, wohl.
Possible English equivalents: stressed verb (do-form), may, well,...
Er ist zwar krank, aber er
Well, he may be ill, but he's still
kommt heute Abend noch
coming with us tonight
mit

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2.6.2 Modal particles in questions


AUCH

(a)

In yes/no questions, auch asks for confirmation of something which the


speaker thinks should be taken for granted. Possible English equivalents:
positive statement followed by negative tag, are you sure that... ?.
Hast du auch die Rechnung You have paid the bill, haven't you?
bezahlt?
Haben Sie's auch verstanden?
You did understand it, didn't you?
(b) In B?A-questions, auch expects a negative answer. Possible English
equivalent: well,...
Was kann man auch dazu
Well, what can you say to that?
sagen?
Warum musste er auch
Well, why did he have to go away?
wegfahren?

DENN

tones down the question, making it sound less blunt. It is often added
almost as a matter of course, especially in zpA-questions. Possible
English equivalent: then (at end of sentence).
Hast du denn Renate gesehen? Did you see Renate, then?
Willst du sie denn fragen?
Are you going to ask her, then?
Wie bist du denn gekommen?
How did you get here, then?
Wie lang fahrt man denn nach How long does it take to get to
Ulm?
Ulm, then?
NOTE: in informal Rl denn is often shortened to n and placed straight
after the verb, e.g.: Hast'n du die Renate gesehen?

EIGENTLICH

tones down questions and makes them sound casual. It is often used
together with denn. Possible English equivalents: actually, tell me...
Kommt er eigentlich oft zu
Tell me, does he visit you often?
Besuch?
Wie spt ist es (denn)
What time is it, actually?
eigentlich?

ETWA

in yes/no questions, implies that something is undesirable and that the


answer ought to be nein. Possible English equivalents: negative
statement with positive tag, don *t tell me.
Habt ihr etwa geschlafen?
You haven't been asleep, have you?
Ist das etwa dein Wagen?
That's not your car, is it?
Hast du es etwa gelesen?
Don't tell me you've read it?

NUR

in zpA-questions, stresses the importance of sth.


blo is often used in this sense in place of nur in Rl.
Possible English equivalents: -ever,... on earth.

NOTE:

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Wo bleibt er nur (Rl: blo)?


Wie kann er sich nur so einen
Wagen leisten?
Was ist nur mit ihm los?

Where on earth is he?


How on earth can he afford a car
like that?
What ever's up with him?

SCHON

in ^-questions, expects a negative answer. Possible English equivalent:


negative statement, positive tag.
Wer wird ihm schon helfen?
Nobody's going to help him, are
they?
Was heit das schon?
That's not supposed to mean
anything, is it?

UBERHAUPT

casts doubts on a basic assumption. Possible English equivalent:... at


all.
Trinkt er denn berhaupt
Does he drink wine at all, then?
Wein?
Kann er berhaupt Deutsch
Can he speak German at all?
sprechen?

VIELLEICHT

in yes/no questions, expects a negative answer. Possible English


equivalents: negative statement with positive tag, really.
Willst du mir vielleicht
You don't mean to tell me
erzhlen, dass . . ?
t h a t . . . , do you?
Soll ich vielleicht bis abends
Am I really supposed to work till
u m sieben arbeiten?
seven at night?

WOHL

signals uncertainty on the part of the speaker. Possible English


equivalents: possibly, I wonder.
Wer hat den Brief wohl
Who can possibly have written that
geschrieben?
letter?
Wie spt ist es wohl?
I wonder what time it is

2.6.3 Modal particles in commands


ABER

qualifies a previous statement. Possible English equivalents: but, though.


Du kannst ruhig etwas weiter
Don't worry, you can go a bit
nach links gehen
Pass
further to the l e f t . . . Look out
aber an der Tr auf!
by the door, though!

AUCH

reinforces a command. Possible English equivalent: Make sure...


Aber schreib ihm auch
But make sure you write to him
morgen!
tomorrow
Sei auch schn brav!
Make sure you behave!

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DOCH

can sound impatient or encouraging. Possible English equivalents:


stressed do, negative tag, why not... ?
Hr doch auf!
Do stop it
Mach doch nicht immer so ein Don't keep on making a face like
Gesicht!
that
Leg dich doch zwei Stunden Why not go and lie down for a
hin!
couple of hours?
Kommen Sie doch morgen
Do call in tomorrow, won't you?
vorbei

EBEN

stresses the lack of an alternative (halt is used for eben in S). Possible
English alternatives: well, just... then.
Bleib eben dort sitzen!
Well, just stay sitting there, then
Fahr eben durch die
Well, just drive through the city
Stadtmitte!
centre, then

JA

expresses a threat (usually stressed). Possible English equivalents:


stressed pronoun, just..., or else.
Sei ja vorsichtig!
You just be careful(, or else)
Mach mir ja keine
Just don't do anything silly(, or
Dummheiten!
else)

MAL

tones down commands, making them sound less blunt or peremptory.


Possible English equivalents: just, won't you, etc.
Lies den Brief mal durch!
Just read the letter through
Gib mir mal das Buch her!
Just give me the book, would you?
Hol mal schnell die Milch!
Just go and fetch the milk, would
you?
Komm mal Montag vorbei!
Just pop in on Monday, won't
you?
The combination doch mal softens the tone of a command even more.
Possible English equivaent: Why don't you...?, Why not... ?
N i m m doch mal ein neues Why don't you just take another
Blatt!
sheet of paper?
Komm doch mal mit ins Kino! Why not come to the cinema with
us?

NUR

when unstressed, makes a command sound more tentative. Possible


English equivalent: just.
Kommen Sie nur herein!
Do just come in
Lass mich nur machen!
Just let me get on with it
Sagen Sie nur!
Just say the word
When stressed, especially in negative commands, expresses a warning.
Possible English equivalents: you added to command, just, better.

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Komm nur nicht zu spt!

( J ^ 0 " ' * be late


I You d better not come too late

d i v e 80 f 1
;
f
(st ^
( Don t you drive so fast
NOTE: In Rl, blo is often used for nur to express a warning in
commands.

Fahr 'nur nicht so schnell!

RUHIG

gives a reassuring tone. Possible English equivalents: I don't mind, don't


disturb yourself etc.
Bleib ruhig sitzen!
Don't get up for me
Mach ruhig weiter!
Carry on, don't disturb yourself

SCHON

gives commands a tone of urgency and emphasis, or, especially if the


sentence starts with Nun..., impatience. Possible English equivalents:
do...
please).
Beeile dich schon!
Do hurry up(, please)
Sag mir schon, was du
Do tell me what you think. I shan't
denkst! Ich werde dir's nicht
take offence
belnehmen
Nun, gib's schon her!
Well, give it to me, then
Nun, fahr schon!
Well, get a move on, then

WOHL

makes a command sound more urgent, insistent or abrupt (often with


werden or wollen). Possible English equivalents: once andfor all! right
away!
Hebst du wohl das Buch wieder Pick that book up again right away!
auf!
Wirst du wohl sofort wieder ins Will you go straight back to bed!
Bett gehen!
Wollt ihr wohl endlich still
Once and for all, will you be quiet!
sein!

2.6.4 Modal particles in exclamations


aber, doch Ja and vielleicht all convert statements into exclamations
expressing surprise.
ABER

possible English equivalents: OA/, rhetorical question, negative tag.


Das Bier ist aber kalt!
Oh! This beer is cold!
Der Film war aber gut!
Wasn't that a good film?
Das war aber eine Reise!
That was quite a journey, wasn't
it?

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164

DOCH

possible English equivalents: initial but, negative tag.


Die Milch ist doch sauer!
Oh, but the milk is sour!
Heute ist es doch kalt!
It is cold today, isn't it?

JA

possible English equivalents: initial but, negative tag.


Die Milch ist ja sauer!
Oh, but the milk is sour!
Heute ist es ja kalt!
It is cold today, isn't it?

VIELLEICHT

possible English equivalents: OA/, rhetorical question, negative tag.


Das Bier ist vielleicht kalt!
Oh! This beer is cold!
Der Film war vielleicht
Wasn't that a bad film?
schlecht!
Das war vielleicht eine Reise!
That was quite a journey, wasn't
it?
NOTE: In exclamations of this kind, aber and vielleicht signal surprise
due to a difference in degree, whereas doch and ja signal surprise due to
a difference in kind, i.e. that something is the case at all. Compare:
Die Milch ist doch/ja kalt!
But the milk is cold! (you hadn't
expected it to be cold at all)
Die Milch ist aber/vielleicht
How cold the milk is! (much
kalt!
colder than you had expected)

2.7
2.7.1

Words and meanings

Greetings and forms of address


Greetings
The choice of formula for greeting and leave-taking is a matter of
register, determined by the relationship between the people involved. It
is important in an area of usage governed so much by social convention
that the English-speaking learner should be aware that more
conventional greetings are used in Germany than is now usual in
Britain or some other English-speaking countries. Not only are there in
German greetings such as Mahlzeit and Feierabend which have no
equivalent in English, but other standard forms of greeting are used
more frequently. It would, for instance, be considered impolite to enter
or leave a small shop in Germany without the customary Guten Tag!
and Auf Wiedersehen! The following table shows a progression from
informal greetings (used to friends) to formal ones (showing respect to
the person addressed).

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Situation

Rl

R1/R2

R2

meeting

Hallo!
Gr dich!
Moin! (NW)
Servus (SE)
<-

(Gu'n) Morgen!
(Gu'n) Tag!
(Gu'n) Ahmt!

Guten Morgen!
Guten Tag!
Guten Abend!

Gr Gott (SE)
4leave-taking

Tschss! (N)

(uf) Wiedersehn!
(uf) Wiederschaung!
(SE)
(uf) Wiederluege!
(CH)

Ade! (SW)
Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
N E = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Grezi (CH)

Sal! Tschau!

Auf Wiedersehen!
Auf Wiederschauen!
(SE)

Adj! (CH)
Servus! Pfiati! (SE)
Mach's gut!
Bis gleich! Bis bald!
NOTE:

(i) Recently, auf Wiederschauen has become rather fashionable in


Germany, whilst in Austria auf Wiedersehen is often regarded as
more refined, especially in larger towns and cities.
(ii) Tschs (also spelled tschss) is now spreading into S, but it is considered typically 'German' in Austria and Switzerland. In the last few
years it has increasingly come to be used in more formal situations
(i.e. R1/R2), especially among younger people.

Situation

Rl

R2

at table

Lass es dir schmecken!

Guten Appetit!

lunchtime

end of week

Schnen Sonntag!

Schnes Wochenende!

end of work

Mahlzeit!

Feierabend!

Good luck!

Toi toi toi!


Hals- und Beinbruch!

Viel Glck!
Viel Erfolg!

Have a good time!

Viel Spa!

Viel Vergngen!

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Situation contd

Rl contd

R2 contd

bedtime

Schlaf gut!

Angenehme Ruhe! (very formal)

journey
going home

Komm gut nach Hause!

Gute Reise!

Gute Heimfahrt!

2.7.2 du and Sie


German makes a difference between the so-called 'informal' pronouns
of address, the singular du and plural ihr, and the so-called 'formal' Sie,
which is used for both singular and plural. Sie and its forms (Ihnen, Ihr,
etc.) are always spelled with a capital letter to distinguish them from the
forms of sie 'they'. When Sie is used as the subject of a verb, it always
has the ending (most often -en) of the third person plural.
This distinction is unknown in modern English, and this section
gives a brief description of modern usage in German. If you know
another European language, you should be aware that the use of the
'informal' and 'formal' pronouns in those languages can be different to
that in German. In particular, 'informal' French tu and (especially)
Spanish tu are used more widely than 'informal' German du.
Broadly speaking, du (and its plural ihr) are used
(a)

(b)

when speaking to . . .
children (up to about the age of 15; in schools to the end of the
tenth school year)
animals and inanimate objects
oneself
God
between . . .
family members and close relatives
close friends
all schoolchildren and students
workmates (blue collar)
non-commissioned soldiers
members of some clubs, interest groups and (especially left-wing)
political parties
Sie is used in all other situations. This is especially the case with
adult strangers and generally in white-collar employment (e.g. to
colleagues in an office).
However, matters are often less clear-cut. With changing social
attitudes and conventions the usage of du and Sie has come to be in a
state of flux, so that many Germans nowadays feel insecure about
which one to use in unfamiliar surroundings. Nevertheless,

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consciousness of the need to use the 'right' one is as strong as ever. In


the 'wrong' situation du sounds too familiar, condescending,
patronizing and can signal contempt and a lack of respect verging on
rudeness, whilst Sie in the 'wrong' situation sounds stand-offish,
pompous, haughty, with a hint of arrogance verging on rudeness.
du signals intimacy, affection and solidarity. People who use du to
one another are conscious of belonging to the same group or standing
together. The modern move towards du, especially among young
people, reflects this clearly, du has become much more frequent since
the late sixties, and the old ceremony of Brderschaft trinken associated
with the switch from Sie to du between acquaintances and friends is
practised less. It has been reported recently that the conventional shift
from du to Sie at the end of the tenth school year, on entry to the
Oberstufe, is no longer observed as rigorously as it once was. Certainly,
the use of du is more widespread among younger people than thirty
years ago, and it has definitely always been used more readily in S
(especially in Switzerland) than N.
Nevertheless, the trend towards du has shown signs of slowing down
and current practice can be quite variable. It is very important for
English-speaking learners to be aware that the use of du is still much less
widespread and acceptable than the use of first names in Britain or
North America. It can often signal a lack of respect rather than the
friendliness typically associated with using first names there. In a bank
or a shop, with a fairly formal, professional atmosphere, people who
work together every day can be on Sie terms for thirty years or more
without feeling in any way distant or uncollegial. A recent survey
reported that 67% of skilled workers, 59% of unskilled workers, 49%
of lower-level professional workers and 35% of more senior
professionals normally used du to colleagues of similar rank. The
example of a well-known Swedish furniture company which has
decreed that all its staff in its German branches should use du and first
names to each other, whatever their rank, is still very much the
exception. Finally, there is a very clear tendency for du to be used more
readily between people of the same sex than between the sexes.
In general, Sie is associated with using formal titles, e.g., Herr Meyer,
Frau Wimmer, etc., and the shift to du involves the corresponding shift
to the use of the first name. But the use of Sie with the first name may
be an intermediate stage before moving to du. It is common, for
example, when parents are speaking to their (older) children's friends.
It is also the norm in some television chat shows and interviews with
media or sports personalities, and it is reported to be widespread in
'trendy' circles (e.g. in the media), in these cases possibly in imitation of
American usage.
Finally, ihr deserves special mention, as its use is wider than simply
as the plural of du - i.e. to address more than one person all of whom
you would call du. It is quite common when speaking to any group of

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people even if one might address individuals among them by Sie


(although less common if you would call all of them Sie). In this way,
ihr can sometimes function as a kind of neutral compromise to mask the
speaker's uncertainty about whether to use du or Sie.

2.8

Letters
The layout of letters in the German-speaking countries differs in
several respects from English conventions.

(a)

N a m e and address on the envelope


Herrn
Prof. Dr. Albert Schrder
Waldstrae 27

Frau
Angelika Trautmann
Korinthstrae 39

35037 Marburg/Lahn

04103 Leipzig
To a family with children:

To a couple:
Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

Herrn und Frau


Manfred und Ute Schwenk
Josefgasse 5

Fam.
Andreas Christmann
Am Kronberg 87

31787 Hameln

53181 Leverkusen

Note the position of titles, the lack of indentation and, in printed


addresses, the space left before the name of the town or village. The
house number comes after the street name, and the postcode before the
name of the town or village. If writing from outside the countries
concerned, an international indicator, i.e. A (Austria), CH
(Switzerland), D (Germany) is placed before the postcode, e.g.:

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
N E = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

A-1080 Wien

CH-3010 Bern

D-35037 Marburg/Lahn

Frulein is now used, if at all, only to address young girls. Any


adult woman, irrespective of whether she is married or single, is
addressed as Frau.

NOTE:

(b)

The sender's n a m e and address


On personal letters, these are written as one line on the back of the
envelope, preceded by Abs. ( Absender), e.g.:
Abs.: Susana Hofmann, Bismarckplatz 19, 68165 Mannheim

In personal letters this information is not usually repeated at the top of


the letter, where just the place and date are given, e.g.:

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In commercial or official correspondence the sender's address is


normally given at the top of the letter, above that of the addressee. The
latter is given in a form similar to that on the envelope, e.g.:
Susana Hofmann
Bismarckplatz 19
68165 Mannheim
Mannheim, 7. September 2001
Firma
Eugen Spengler
Rossgasse 17-21
07973 Greiz

(c)

Openings

Opening and closing formulae


The choice of these depends on your relationship to the person you are
writing to. The following table shows the most common. The most
important thing to remember is that, unlike English Dear, German
Liebe (r) is not used in business correspondence to strangers, or to
anyone whose relationship to you is formal.
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Sehr geehrte Herren,
Sehr geehrte gndige Frau,
Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Dr. Schrder,
Sehr geehrter Herr Ahrens,
Lieber Herr Pedersen,
(less formal)
Liebe Frau Havemann,
R2 (least formal)
Lieber Wolfgang,
Liebe Uschi,
Liebe Mutti,
Lieber Opa,
NOTE: if you are writing to more than one person the adjective has to
be repeated, e.g.:

R3 (most formal)

Lieber Wolfgang, liebe Uschi,


Older practice was to follow these with an exclamation mark (e.g. Sehr
geehrter Herr Hartmann!), but it is now usual to use a comma, in which
case the first word of the letter should not start with a capital letter.
Closings

R3 (very formal)

R3 (most common)

Hochachtungsvoll
followed by Ihr(e) [sehr ergebene(r)] before
the signature
Mit freundlichen Gren
optionally followed by Ihr(e) before the
signature

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R2 (less formal)

Mit besten Gren


Herzliche Gre
optionally followed by Ihr(e) or Dein(e)
before the signature
R2 (least formal)
(Viele) liebe Gre
Herzlich/Herzlichst
optionally followed by Dein(e) before the
signature
The least formal phrases are only used to a person addressed as du. In
correspondence, du (dich, dein, etc.) and ihr (euch, etc.) are no longer to
be written with capital letters according to the reformed spelling.
However, at the moment very few people appear to be following this
ruling.

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3 Words and forms

3.1

Nouns: genders and plurals


For English speakers learning German, one of the most striking
differences between the languages is the way German nouns and other
words used with nouns have endings and other changes to show gender,
number and case. These inflections seem difficult at first, but they are
central to the way German works as a language. An important stage in
learning German is realizing the system which underlies them and the
role they play in showing how sentences fit together. It is vital, first, to
know the gender of any nouns you need to use and how they form their
plurals in order to be able to express yourself properly and understand
written and spoken German easily. In fact, gender and plural formation
in German is not as varied and unsystematic as would appear from
many books, and in this section we show you how you can master it
more easily.
It is easy to think that every German noun has an arbitrary gender
and an arbitrary way of forming the plural, and that both of these must
be learnt separately for every noun in the language. The meaning of a
noun, aside from the tendency for names of male beings to be masculine
and those of female beings to be feminine, rarely gives any indication of
gender. In practice, though, there are many helpful regularities. To
start with, the gender of 80% of German nouns can be immediately
recognized from their suffixes (or, less often, prefixes), and the plural
ending is also always predictable from the suffix. This leaves a relatively
small number of nouns with no suffix whose gender has to be learned
individually. But even then, there is usually a link between the plural of
a noun and its gender, so that if you know the one, then you have a good
chance of being able to pick the other correctly.

3.1.1

Suffixes as indicators of gender and plural


Most suffixes are almost invariably linked to a particular gender and a
particular plural, with a few common exceptions.

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(a) Masculines

Suffix

Plural

Examples
Tischler, der Redner,
{der
der Lehrer, der Bcker

-ler, -ner,
j
-er (from verbs))
-an, -n, -r, -eur, \
-ich, -ig, -ling, >
-or (stressed)
)

-e

-and, -ant, -ent, -et,]


-graph, -ist, -krat,
-loge, -nom
)

-en, -n

Suffix

Plural

der Kapitn, der Friseur,


der Knig, der Lehrling,
der Maj'or

der Komdiant, der Student,


der Athlet,
der Komponist, der Demokrat,
k der Astrologe, der Gastronom
-or (unstressed)
-s, -en
der Professor
NOTE: the stress shifts in the plural: die Profess'oren.
-ismus
-ismen
der Organismus
Exceptions: das Labor, das Organ, das Restaurant

(b) Feminines

Examples

-anz, -ei, -enz,


' die Bcherei, die Residenz,
-heit, -ie, -ik, -ion,
die Panik, die Revolution,
-en
-keit, -schaft, -tt,
die Eitelkeit, die Mannschaft,
-ung, -ur
k die Bedeutung, die Natur
-in
-nen
die Freundin
Exceptions: das Abitur, der Atlantik, der Pazifik
(c) Neuters

Suffix

Plural

Examples

-chen, -lein, -sei, -tel


das Mdchen, das Viertel
-tum
"er
das Eigentum
-at, -ett, -il, -ment
-e
das Format, das Ventil, das Dokument
-um
-en
das Datum
NOTE: -um is replaced by en in the plural, e.g. die Daten.
Exceptions: der Automat, der Irrtum, der Reichtum, der Salat
(d) Masculine if
persons, neuter if
things

Suffix

Plural

Examples

-al, -ar, -ier,


-e
der General, das Regal
-on (stressed)
-e
der Bar' on, das Mikro' phon
-on (unstressed)
-en, -en
der 'Dmon, das E'lektron
NOTE: the stress shifts in the plural: die D'monen, Elek'tronen.
Exceptions: der Kanal, die Moral, die Person

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3.1.2

Suffixes or prefixes as clues to gender and plural


With other nouns, the link between gender, suffix (or, in one case,
prefix) and plural is less regular. However, it is worth knowing these
regularities, even if there are more exceptions.

(a)

(b)

Nouns in -nis and -sal (pi: -nisse, -sale)


Nouns in -nis and -sal are
predominantly (70%) neuter

das Ergebnis, das Hindernis, das


Zeugnis, das Scheusal (R3a), das
Schicksal, etc.

A minority of nouns in -nis and


sal (30%) are feminine

die Besorgnis, die Erkenntnis, die


Erlaubnis, die Finsternis, die
Kenntnis, die Wildnis, die
Trbsal (R3)

Nouns in GeNouns in Ge- usually have the plural -e if they have no suffix, e.g. das
Gebet 'prayer', die Gebete, but they have no ending in the plural if they
end in -e, e.g. das Gebude 'building', die Gebude.
Nouns in Ge- are predominantly das Gebet, das Gebot, das Gebiet,
das Gebirge, das Gehr, das Gesetz,
neuter (90%)
das Gesindel, das Getriebe, etc.
A few feminines (plural -en
or -n)

die Gebhr, die Geburt, die Geduld,


die Gefahr, die Gemeinde, die
Geschichte, die Gestalt, die Gewalt

A few masculines (plural "e


except where indicated)

der Gebrauch, der Gedanke (-ns,-n),


der Gefallen (-), der Gehorsam, der
Genosse, der Genuss, der Geruch,
der Gesang, der Geschmack, der
Gewinn

Six neuters form the plural in "er das Gehalt, das Gemt (R3), das
Geschlecht, das Gesicht, das
Gespenst, das Gewand (R3)

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Nouns in -el, -en,-er


Nouns with these suffixes are predominantly masculine.
Nouns in -erfrom verbs are all
masculine

der Bcker, der Bettler, der Bohrer,


der Fahrer, der Lehrer, der
Redner, der Sprecher, der
Unternehmer, etc.

Other nouns in -el, -en, -er


are predominantly (60%)
masculine: They are
endingless in the plural

der Flgel, der Kmmel, der Lffel,


der Pegel, der Kragen, der
Schatten, der Schuppen, der
Wagen, der Adler, der Fehler, der
Weiher, etc.

A quarter (25%) ofnouns


in -el and -er are feminine
and have the plural -n

die Formel, die Gabel, die Kugel,


die Regel, die Butter, die
Kiefer, die Schwester,
die Ziffer, etc.

A small proportion (15%) of


nouns in -el, -en and -er are
neuter and are endingless in
the plural

das Kabel, das Segel, das Kissen,


das Zeichen, das Fenster, das
Messer, das Zimmer, etc.

There are some common exceptions to these regularities:


About twenty masculines
in -el, -en, -er have the
plurali.e. no ending is
added but the vowel has
umlaut, e.g.: der Vogeldie Vgel

der Apfel, der Boden, der Bogen,


der Bruder, der Faden, der
Garten, der Graben, der Hafen,
der Hammer, der Kasten, der
Laden, der Mantel, der Nagel,
der Ofen, der Schaden, der Vater,
der Vogel

A few masculines in -el and


-er have the plural -n

der Bauer (-n, -n), der Muskel,


der Pantoffel, der Stachel, der
Vetter

Two feminines in -er have the


plural"

die Mutter, die Tochter

Two neuters in -er have the


plural"

das Abwasser, das Kloster

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(d)

Nouns in -e (all have plural -n)


Nouns in -e are predominantly
(90%) feminine

die Biene, die Blume, die Bhne, die


Fichte, die Gabe, die Garage, die
Lampe, die Liebe, die Reise, etc.

Some nouns in -e denoting male der Affe, der Bote, der Chinese, der
beings are masculine. They are Franzose, der Gatte (R3), der
Kunde, der Riese, etc.
all weak nouns (-n, see
3.2.1;

There are a few masculine nounsder Buchstabe, der Friede, der


in -e with the ending -ns in the Funke, der Gedanke, der Glaube,
genitive
der Name, der Wille
One or two other nouns in -e are der Charme, der Kse
masculine
A very few nouns in -e are neuter das Auge, das Ende, das Erbe, das
Image, das Interesse, das Prestige,
das Regime
(e)

Other nouns
Most of the remaining nouns of German are words of one syllable. In
practice, the gender of these is best learned by heart, but it is always
worth remembering how these nouns divide up between the three
genders, i.e.:
60% masculine
25% neuter
15% feminine
The way the plural is usually formed with these remaining nouns
differs between the genders. It is helpful particularly to learn those
whose plural goes against the normal rule for their gender, e.g. the
masculine nouns with the 'typically neuter' plural" er, or the neuters
with the 'typically feminine' plural -en:

Masculine

der Arzt - die rtze


Most ofthese
masculine nouns form der Bach - die Bche
their plural by adding der Fu - die Fe
-e, with umlaut if
possible

der Gast - die Gste


der Stuhl - die Sthle
der Tisch - die Tische

A significant number der Arm - die Arme


ofcommon nouns takeder Besuch - die Besuche
the ending -e, with no der Hund - die Hunde
umlaut (even ifthe
vowel could have
umlaut)

der Monat die Monate


der Schuh die Schuhe
der Tag - die Tage

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Some names ofmale der Br - des Bren - die Bren


humans and animals der Mensch - des Menschen - die Menschen
are 'weak9nouns,
with -en, -en
A dozen or sohave a der Geist - die Geister der Rand - die Rnder
der Mann -- die Mnner der Wald - die Wlder
plural in 'er
A dozen or sohave a der Dorn - die Dornen der Staat - die Staaten
plural in -en
der Nerv - die Nerven der Strahl -die
Strahlen
Most of these feminine die Arbeit die Frau - die Frauen
nouns (75%) form
die Arbeiten
die Last - die Lasten
their plural by
die Form - die Formen die Pacht - die Pachten
adding -en
die Flut - die Fluten

Feminine

A quarter (25%)
have a plural in "e
Neuter

die Gans - die Gnse


die Hand - die Hnde
die Kuh - die Khe

die Luft - die Lfte


die Maus - die Muse
die Stadt - die Stdte

Most of these neuter das Bein - die Beine


das Brot - die Brote
nouns (75%) form
das Gas - die Gase
their plural by
adding -e

das Jahr - die Jahre


das Schaf - die Schafe
das Stck - die Stcke

A quarter (25%)
have a plural in "er

das Bad - die Bder


das Buch - die Bcher
das Ei - die Eier

das Haus - die Huser


das Kind - die Kinder
das Tal - die Tler

A few have a plural


in -en

das Bett - die Betten


das Hemd die Hemden

das Insekt die Insekten


das Ohr - die Ohren

One has the plural "e das Flo - die Fle

3.1.3

Plurals in -s
A large and increasing number of nouns of all genders have a plural
in -s. It is of relatively recent or regional (i.e. N) origin, and it has been
looked down on in the past by purists, especially in R3a. It is found
principally in new words, especially those loaned from French and
English, and it is current with the following groups of nouns:

Words ending in a vowel other


than -e
Abbreviations, names of letters,
shortened words

das Auto -> die Autos


die Mutti die Muttis
der LKW die LKWs
das L -> die Ls, etc.
die Lok
die Loks (Rl)

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Other parts ofspeech (esp in Rl)

Some N nautical words

To refer to families

With words for persons (Rl in N


only)

In French words pronounced in


(semi-) French way

In words recently adopted from


English

das Aber -> die Abers


das Blau
die Blaus, etc.
das Deck -> die Decks
das Dock die Docks
der Kai
die Kais
das Wrack
die Wracks
die Mllers, Schmidts, Werners,
etc.
der Bengel -> die Bengels
das Frulein
die Fruleins
der Onkel > die Onkels
der Junge
die Jungs, etc.
das Atelier
die Ateliers
das Amendement
die
Amendements, etc.
das Baby
die Babys (!)
die Band -> die Bands
der/das Essay
die Essays, etc.

With the following words, the plural in -s is now the most frequent.
Other plural forms (e.g. die Balkone, die Ballone, die Parke), are
restricted to very traditional R3a:
das Karussell
das Kotelett
das Labor
das Parfm
der Park

der Balkon
der Ballon
das Etikett
das Kabarett
der Karton

das Portrt
der Schal
der Scheck
der Streik

3.1.4 Nouns with alternative plurals


A number of other words have alternative ways of forming the plural.
These are often associated with regional or register differences.The
most usual plural is given first, then the less frequent one, with notes
where necessary:
der Admiral
der Bogen
das Ding
der Erlass
der Fasan
der General
der Geschmack
die Kartoffel
der Kragen

-e

-e
-e
-en
-e
-e
-n
-

(also "e)
(N-)
(Rl -er)
(AU "e)
(also -e)
(also "e)
(Rl "er)
(RH
(S )

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der Kran
der Laden
das Lager
das Mdel
der Magnet
der Pastor
das Ross
der Stiefel
das Stck
der Wagen

3.1.5

"e
-

-en, -en
-en
-e
-

-e
-

(also -e)
(N - 'shutters')
(S, R3b ")
(N -s; S -n)
(also -e)
(N"e)
(S "er)
(S-n)
(S-er)
(S")

Foreign words with unusual plurals


Many words taken from the classical (or some other) languages have an
unusual plural, although in some instances this is only used in R3.
Some of the commonest are given below, with variant forms where
theyexist:
das Album
die Alben (Rl -s)
der Atlas -> die Atlanten
(Rl Atlasse)
das Cello
die Celli (R1/R2
Cellos)
das Drama > die Dramen
der Espresso > die Espressi
(Rl Espressos)
das Examen > die Examina
(R1/R2 Examen)
die Firma die Firmen
das Fossil -> die Fossilien
der Kaktus
die Kakteen
(Rl Kaktusse)
das Komma > die Kommata
(R1/R2 Kommas)
das Konto > die Konten
(Rl Kontos)
das Lexikon
die Lexika (Rl
Lexiken)

3.1.6
(a)

das Material die Materialien


das Mineral - * die Mineralien (rare:
Minerale)
das Museum
die Museen
der Mythos - die Mythen
das Prinzip - die Prinzipien
das Privileg - die Privilegien
das Reptil die Reptilien
der Rhythmus
die Rhythmen
das Risiko
die Risiken (also: -s)
das Schema die Schemata
(Rl -men/-s)
die Villa die Villen
das Virus die Viren
das Visum die Visen
(also Visa)
das Zentrum die Zentren

Differences in plural usage between German


and English
In some instances German uses a singular word where English has a
plural:

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der Anfang beginning(s)


der Arbeitsanzug overalls
das Archiv archives
die Asche ashes
das Aussehen looks
das Benehmen manners
der Besitz possessions
der Bodensatz dregs
die Brille glasses, spectacles
der Dank thanks
der Darm intestines, guts
das Einkommen earnings
die Eisenbahn railways
das Fernglas binoculars
das Feuerwerk fireworks
die Gebrauchsanweisung
instructions
der Gewinn winnings
der Hafer oats
das Hauptquartier headquarters
das schottische Hochland the
Highlands
der Hopfen hops
die Hose trousers, pants
der Inhalt contents
die Kaserne barracks
der Kehrricht sweepings
die Kundschaft customers
der Lohn wages

die Lunge lungs


das Mittel means
das Mittelalter the Middle Ages
die Mhe pains
die Pension lodgings
die Physik physics
die Politik politics
das Protokoll minutes
der Pyjama pyjamas
der Reichtum riches
der Schadenersatz (legal) damages
die Schere scissors
das Schilf reeds
der Schlpfer knickers
die Schutzbrille goggles
der Stadtrand outskirts
die Statistik statistics
die Stehleiter stepladder
die Treppe stairs, steps
die Umgebung surroundings
das Unkraut weeds
die Unterhose underpants
die Waage scales
die Wahl election(s)
der Wald wood(s)
die Zange pliers, tongs
der Ziegenpeter mumps
der Zirkel compasses
der Zoll customs

All the above nouns must of course be used with a verb in the singular,
e.g.:
Meine Brille ist kaputt
My glasses are broken
The same applies to singular collective nouns, which are often used
with a plural verb in English, but never in German, e.g.:
Die Polizei kommt
The police are coming
Similarly with die Mannschaft, das Publikum, die Regierung, das Volk, etc.
In a few instances German uses a plural word for an English singular:
die Flitterwochen honeymoon die Rnke (R3) intrigue
die Kosten cost(s)
die Trmmer rubble
die Lebensmittel food
die Wirren turmoil
die Mbel furniture
die Zinsen interest
die Pocken smallpox

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(c)

(d)

Incertain instances English and German differ as to whether certain


nouns can have a plural:
Singular

Plural

der Atem breath


die Auskunft (piece of) information
der Blitz (flash of) lightning
das Brot bread, loaf
das Essen meal
der Fortschritt advance
die Hausaufgabe (piece of) homework
die Kenntnis (piece of) knowledge
die Nachricht (piece of) news
das Obst fruit
der Rasen lawn
der Schaden damage
die See sea
das Spielzeug toy
der Sport sport
der Tod death
das Versprechen promise

die Atemzge breaths


die Ausknfte information
die Blitzeflashesof lightning
die Brote loaves
die Mahlzeiten meals
die Fortschritte progress
die Hausaufgaben homework
die Kenntnisse knowledge
die Nachrichten news
die Obstsorten fruits
die Rasenflchen lawns
die Schden instances ofdamage
die Meere seas
die Spielwaren toys
die Sportarten sports
die Todesflle deaths
die Versprechungen promises

Other instances of difference in the use of singular and plural:


Masculine and neuter nouns of measurement used with numerals keep
their singular form:
vier Pfund Rindfleisch sechs Paar Schuhe zwei Glas Bier
With words denoting clothes, parts of the body, etc., the singular is
used if each person has one of each:
Alle hoben die rechte Hand . . . their right hands
Sie redete die Leute nie mit dem Namen an . . . by their names
Manche haben ein leichtes Leben Some people have easy lives

3.1.7

Nouns with variable gender


The gender of a number of nouns is not fullyfixedand a sample of
these is given below. The variation is often linked to regional and
register differences.

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der (CH das) Aperitif


der (also das) Barock
der (S das) Bonbon
die (S der) Butter
das (occ der) Dossier
der (also das) Dotter
der (occ das) Dschungel
der or das Fakt
das (CH die) Foto
das (occ der) Gulasch
der (Rl das) Gummi
der (also das, Rl die) Joghurt

die (S der) Kartoffel


der (AU das) Keks
das (also der) Knuel
das (CH, Rl der) Liter
das (AU, CH der) Match
der (also das) Meteor
das (AU der) Polster
der (CH das) Pyjama
das (S der) Radio
der (also das) Sims
das (CH der) Taxi
das (Rl der) Virus

A few words have more complex variation:


Meter

Mut

Teil

der/das Blackout
der/das Break
der/das Cartoon

is nowadays usually masculine (i.e. der Meter), but, especially in R3a,


is quite commonly neuter (i.e. das Meter). Most compounds have the
same variation, but there are exceptions:
always masc: der Kilometer, der Gasometer
always neuter, das Barometer, das Thermometer
is masculine, but some of its compounds are feminine:
masc: Freimut, Gleichmut, Hochmut, Kleinmut, Ubermut, Unmut
fem: Anmut, Armut, Demut, Gromut, Sanftmut, Schwermut,
Wehmut
is nowadays always masculine in all its meanings, except in a few set
phrases where it is neuter, i.e.:
ich fr mein (or: meinen) Teil
Er hat sein (or: seinen) Teil getan
It is neuter, too, in the sense of'detached part', esp in technical R3b:
jedes einzelne Teil
Its compounds are also usually masculine, except for the following:
das Abteil, das Einzelteil, das Ersatzteil, das Gegenteil, das Urteil
das (also der) Oberteil; das (legal R3b der) Erbteil
With many recent loan-words from English, no gender has yet become
established. The majority (over 60 per cent) are masculine and most of
the rest are neuter, but many show variation, e.g.:
der/das Deal
der/das Ketchup
der/das Plaid
der/die Forehand
der/das Looping
der/das Radar
der/das Go-slow
der/die Parka
die/das Soda

3.2 Nouns: case


The grammatical category of case relates to endings on nouns,
pronouns, adjectives and determiners which indicate the role played by

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a noun phrase in the sentence. In English this is usually shown by the


position of the noun phrase before or after the verb, and English
learners need to be aware of this crucial difference between the
languages and, when they are reading or listening to German, get used
to paying attention to these endings rather than the position of the
noun phrase.
Case in German is most often shown through the endings of
determiners (especially the definite and indefinite articles) and
adjectives rather than endings on the noun itself. For most nouns the
only endings in modern German are:

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

(i) Masculine and neuter nouns add


in the genitive singular.
(ii)
is added in the dative plural if possible (i.e. if the plural does not
end in -n or -s).

nominative
accusative
genitive
dative

singular
der Vater
den Vater
des Vaters
dem Vater

plural
die Vter
die Vter
der Vter
den Vtern

singular
das Kind
das Kind
des Kind(e)s
dem Kind

plural
die Kinder
die Kinder
der Kinder
den Kindern

There are a few exceptions to this pattern, and these are outlined in
3.2.1-4.

3.2.1

'Weak' masculine nouns


About 10 per cent of masculine nouns (mostly denoting living beings)
have the ending -(e)n in the plural and in the genitive, dative and
accusative singular.

Most of these nouns end in -e.


der Kollege
die Kollegen
des Kollegen
der Kollegen
dem Kollegen
den Kollegen
den Kollegen
die Kollegen

Those that do not end in -e often decline regularly in the singular in


spoken Rl, although this is regarded as 'incorrect' in written R2 and
R3.
Rl
R2/R3
der Br
der Br
des Brs
des Bren
dem Br
dem Bren
den Br
den Bren

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Similarly: der Automat, der Bauer, der Bunch, der Frst, der Graf, der
Held, der Hirt, der Kamerad, der Mensch, der Planet, der Prinz, der
Soldat, der Typ and many nouns ending in -ant, -ent, -ist like der
Student and der Komponist.
NOTE: der Nachbar and der Oberst always have -n in the genitive
singular in all registers, e.g. des Nachbarn, but often lack it in the dative
and accusative singular, especially in Rl, e.g. dem, den Nachbar (for
R2/R3 dem, den Nachbarn).
The singular endings are omitted in R2 and R3 if the noun has no
article or adjective with it:
die Gemeinsamkeit zwischen Mensch (not Menschen) und Tier
eine Herde ohne Hirt (not Hirten)
Some nouns have now switched entirely to a regular singular in all
registers, though older R3a may use weak endings, i.e.: der Nerv,, der
Papagei, der Pfau, der Spatz, der Vetter, e.g.:
der Vetter, des Vetters (R3a: des Vettern), die Vettern
der Herr has the ending -n in the singular, but -en in the plural:
der Herr
die Herren
den Herrn
die Herren
des Herrn
der Herren
dem Herrn
den Herren

3.2.2

'Mixed' nouns
Eight masculine nouns have a mixture of weak and regular endings and
are known as 'mixed' nouns, e.g.:
der Name
des Namens
dem Namen
den Namen

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
N E = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

die Namen
der Namen
den Namen
die Namen

The other nouns of this type are: der Buchstabe, der Friede, der Funke,
der Gedanke, der Glaube, der Same, der Wille. However, with some of
these nouns, forms with a final -n in the nominative singular (e.g. der
Frieden rather than der Friede) are now more frequent in all registers
than the forms without -n. This applies to der Frieden, der Funken and
der Samen. The neuter noun Herz has a similar irregular pattern:
das Herz
des Herzens
dem Herzen
das Herz

die Herzen
der Herzen
den Herzen
die Herzen

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3.2.3

The dative ending -e


Masculine and neuter nouns of one syllable sometimes add the ending
-ie in dative singular, e.g.:
dem Manne, dem Kinde, dem Bilde, dem Tische
This ending -e is restricted to R3a and it has become rather unusual
even there since the 1930s. However, it is still normal in a few set
phrases and idioms, e.g.:

Always -e:
im Grunde genommen
bei Lichte betrachtet
am Rande bemerkt
jdn zu Rate ziehen

unter Tage arbeiten


zu Werke gehen
im Zuge sein

Usually -e in R2/R3, but often no -e in Rl:


auf dem Lande
im Falle
bis zu einem gewissen Grade im Laufe des Tages
im Lichte
in hohem Grade
in gewissem Mae
zum Halse heraushngen
im Sande verlaufen
nach Hause, zu Hause
im Schwnge sein
von Hause aus
in diesem Sinne
aus dem Jahre 1897
zum Zuge kommen
im Jahre 2005

3.2.4 The genitive singular ending -(e)s


(a) -es or -s?

The genitive singular of regular masculine and neuter nouns has the
ending -s or -es. The following general rules apply for this:
Nouns ending in -s, -, -sch or -z always add -es, e.g.:
des Hauses, des Fues, des Tisches, des Netzes

Nouns of more than one syllable or those ending in a vowel usually add
e.g.:
des Knigs, des Brgertums, des Lehrers, der Autos, des Baus

Nouns of one syllable ending in a consonant can have -es or -s, e.g.:
des Kinds/des Kindes des Tags/des Tages
The choice between these often depends on register, with the
ending -es usually felt to be more formal (and thus preferred in R3a,
even, sometimes, with nouns of two or more syllables). But -es is often
used more widely for reasons of rhythm or ease of pronunciation.

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Omission of the genitive singular ending


In certain instances, the ending -(e)s is often dropped, i.e.:
with foreign nouns ending in -s, e.g.:
des Organismus, des Atlas (but always: des Busses, des Kongresses)
with abbreviations and other parts of speech used as nouns, although
with these the ending -s is sometimes found in R3, e.g.:
des Ich, des Aber, des LKW, des EKG (R3: des Ichs, des LKWs, etc.)
with many foreign nouns, especially in R3b with technical terms, words
seen as specific names, and names of artistic styles and epochs, e.g.:
des britischen Establishment, die Werke des Barock, der Gebrauch des
Dativ
with foreign geographical names, e.g.:
die Berge des High Peak
with names of the days of the week, seasons and months (although the
months in -er often retain the -5), e.g.:
des Montag, des Mittwoch, des Januar, des Herbst, des Mai, des
Oktober(s)
with prepositions if there is no article with the noun (however, the
ending is preferred in R3a in these contexts):
wegen Geldmangel (R3a: wegen Geldmangels)
with names preceded by article (R2 increasingly has -s here), e.g.:
des modernen Deutschland (R2: des modernen Deutschlands)
Usage with personal n a m e s
Personal names have the ending -s and come first, e.g.:
Sabines Fahrrad, Vatis Auto
With multiple names, the last one has the ending -s and the genitive
phrase can come before or after, e.g.:
Helmut Kohls Politik OR die Politik Helmut Kohls
If the name has a noun preceding it, the name has -s and the genitive
phrase can come before or after, e.g.:
der Sieg Kaiser Wilhelms OR Kaiser Wilhelms Sieg
When Herr is used with a surname, both decline, e.g.:
Herrn Paulis Einladung
In the combination article, noun and name, the noun and the article
decline, e.g.:
der Sieg des Kaisers Wilhelm
In the combination of a name with an article and an adjective, all three
decline, e.g.:
der Sieg Wilhelms des Zweiten

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3.3

Verbs: strong and weak


There are two main classes of verb in German, the 'weak' verbs, which
have a -t- suffix in the past tense and the past participle, like machen machte - gemacht, and 'strong' verbs, which have vowel changes in the
past tense and often in the past participle, like singen - sang-gesungen.
The weak verbs are far more numerous, but the strong verbs include
many really common verbs.

3.3.1

Strong verb classes


Although there is no way of telling from the infinitive whether a verb is
strong or weak, and so no real alternative to learning which verbs are
strong, the strong verbs with their principal parts (i.e. the infinitive, the
past tense and the past participle) fall into recognizable groups which
can help you to remember them.

(a)

Present tense in -eiblieb


bleiben to stay
beien to bite
biss
(i) Like bleiben are:
leihen to lend
meiden to avoid
preisen to praise
reiben to rub
schreiben to write
schreien to cry out
(ii) Like beien are:
erbleichen to turn pale
gleiten to glide
greifen to seize
kneifen to pinch
pfeifen to whistle
reien to tear
reiten to ride
scheien (Rl*) to shit

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

geblieben
gebissen
schweigen (R3) to be silent
steigen to climb
treiben to drive
verzeihen to excuse
weisen to show

schleichen to creep
schleifen to sharpen
schmeien (Rl) to throw
schreiten (R3) to stride
streichen to stroke
streiten to argue
vergleichen to compare
weichen to yield

With slight variations on these patterns:


litt
gelitten
leiden to suffer
hie
geheien
heien to be called
schneiden to cut
schnitt
geschnitten

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(b)

Present tense in -ibinden to bind


schwimmen to swim
(i) Like binden are:
dringen to penetrate
finden to find
gelingen to succeed
klingen to sound
ringen to wrestle
singen to sing

band
schwamm

(ii) Like schwimmen are:


beginnen to begin
gewinnen to win
rinnen to runf flow

gebunden
geschwommen

sinken to sink
springen to jump
stinken to stink
trinken to drink
verschwinden to disappear
zwingen to force
sinnen (R3) to think
spinnen to spin

With a slight variation on these patterns:


gesessen
sitzen to sit
sa
(c)

Present tense in -iebog


biegen to bend
Like biegen are:
bieten to offer
fliegen to fly
fliehen (R2/R3) to run away
flieen to flow
frieren to freeze
gieen to pour
kriechen to creep

gebogen
riechen to smell
schieben to push
schieen to shoot
schlieen (R2/R3) to shut
verlieren to lose
wiegen to weigh

With slight variations on this pattern:


gelegen
liegen to lie
lag
gezogen
zog
ziehen to pull
(d) Present tense in -ehalf
helfen to help
gab
geben to give
fechten to fence
focht
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

(i) Like helfen are:


befehlen to order
bergen to hide
bersten (R3) to burst
brechen to break
empfehlen to recommend
erschrecken (R3) to be frightened
gelten to be valid
sprechen to speak

geholfen
gegeben
gefochten
stechen to prick, sting
stehlen to steal
sterben to die
treffen to meet, hit
verderben to spoil
werben to advertise
werfen to throw

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(ii) Like geben are:


fressen to eat (of animals)
genesen* to get better
geschehen to happen
lesen to read
(iii) Like fechten are:
bewegen* (R3) to move
flechten to plait
heben* to raise
scheren* to shave

messen to measure
sehen to see
treten to step
vergessen to forget
schmelzen to melt
schwellen to swell
weben to weave

With slight variations on these patterns:


a
essen to eat
nahm
nehmen to take
wurde (R3a: ward)
werden to become

gegessen
genommen
geworden

All strong verbs in -e-, except those marked*, change the vowel in the
second and third person singular of the present tense (i.e. the du and
er/sie/es-forms) and the singular (i.e. the du-form) of the imperative. In
most cases the vowel is -i-, e.g.:
helfen: du hilfst; er/sie/es hilft; hilf!
geben: du gibst; er/sie/es gibt; gib!
With variation on this:
nehmen: du nimmst; er/sie/es nimmt; nimm!
werden: du wirst; er/sie/es wird; werde!
treten: du trittst; er/sie/es tritt; tritt!
Most verbs with a long -e- [ex] change this to long -ie- [i:], e.g.:
lesen: du liest; er/sie/es liest; lies!
sehen: du siehst; er/sie/es sieht; sieh!
NOTE: In Rl, there is often no vowel change in the imperative of these
verbs, e.g. geb!
Present tense in -afuhr
fahren to go, drive
fallen to fall
fiel
(i) Like fahren are:
backen to bake
graben to dig
laden to load
schaffen to create
(ii) Like fallen are:
blasen to blow
braten to roast, fry
halten to hold

gefahren
gefallen

tragen to carry
wachsen to grow
waschen to wash

lassen to leave, let


raten to advise
schlafen to sleep

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With a slight variation on these patterns:


fing
gefangen
fangen to catch
All these verbs, with the exception of schaffen, have umlaut in the
second and third person singular (i.e. the du and er/sie/es- forms) of the
present tense, e.g.:
fahren: du fahrst; er/sie/es fahrt
fallen: du fllst; er/sie/es fallt
With slight variation on this pattern (i.e. no ending in the third person
singular):
halten: er/sie/es hlt
laden: er/sie/es ldt
raten: er/sie/es rt
NOTE: In S, umlaut is often missing with these verbs, e.g. er/sie/es
schlaft, etc.
(f)

Other strong verbs


These do not fit into any of the above patterns:
betrgen to deceive
betrog
betrogen
erlosch
erloschen
erlschen (R3) to go out
(fire, light)
gegangen
gehen to go
ging
gehangen
hngen to hang
hing
gekommen
kommen to come
kam
laufen to run
gelaufen
lief
lgen to tell lies
gelogen
log
rufen to call
gerufen
rief
saufen (Rl) to booze
gesoffen
soff
schwren to smear
geschworen
schwor
stehen to stand
gestanden
stand
stoen to push
gestoen
stie
tun to do
getan
tat

(er erlischt)

(er luft)

(er suft)

(er stt)

3.2 Deceptive weak verbs


All compounds and derivatives of strong or irregular verbs follow the
same pattern of changes as the simple verb, so that, for example,
bekommen 'to get, receive' has the forms bekam and bekommen.
However, a few verbs look as if they are derived from strong verbs, but
they are not, and their forms are weak. The following are
common:

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beantragen to apply for


begleiten to accompany
beinhalten (R3) to comprise
fehlen to lack
handhaben to manipulate
veranlassen to cause
verleiden to spoil

3.3.3

beantragte
begleitete
beinhaltete
fehlte
handhabte
veranlasste
verleidete

beantragt
begleitet
beinhaltet
gefehlt
gehandhabt
veranlasst
verleidet

Irregular weak verbs


A few verbs have the typical endings of weak verbs, but have vowel
changes, too:
brennen to burn
brannte
gebrannt
kennen to know
kannte
gekannt
nennen to name
nannte
genannt
rennen to run
rannte
gerannt
senden (R3) to send sandte/sendete
gesandt/gesendet (see 3.3.4)
wenden to turn
wandte/wendete gewandt/gewendet (see 3.3.4)
bringen to bring
brachte
gebracht
denken to think
dachte
gedacht
wissen to know
wusste
gewusst
The present tense of wissen is irregular in the singular:
ich wei
wir wissen
du weit
ihr wisst
er wei
sie wissen
Some verbs usually have a regular past tense, but a strong past
participle:
mahlen to grind
mahlte
gemahlen
salzen to salt
salzte
gesalzen
spaltete
gespalten
spalten to divide

3.3.4 Verbs with strong and weak forms


Some verbs have both strong (or irregular) and weak forms.
With most of these there is no difference in meaning, although there
are then usually register or regional restrictions in usage. With
several verbs, though, the weak and strong forms have different
meanings.

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(a) Strong and weak forms with no difference in meaning


backen to bake
fragen to ask
hauen to hit
melken to milk
saugen to suck

schmelzen to melt
stecken to be stuck
weben to weave
wenden to turn

(b)
bewegen (R3)
bewegen
hngen
hngen
erlschen (R3)
loschen
erschrecken (R3)
erschrecken
schaffen
schaffen
scheren
scheren
schleifen
schleifen
senden (R3)
senden
weichen
weichen

buk (R3)
backte
frug (N, R3)
fragte
hieb (R3)
haute
molk (R3a)
melkte
sog
saugte

gebacken

schmolz
schmelzte (R3a)
stak (R3a)
steckte
wob (R3)
webte
wandte (R3)
wendete

geschmolzen
geschmelzt (R3a)
gesteckt

gefragt
gehauen
gehaut (S)
gemolken
gemelkt (Rl)
gesogen
gesaugt

er bckt
er backt (Rl, S)
er frgt (Rl, S)
er fragt

(weak and strong forms are


equally frequent; weak forms
esp in Rl and R3b)

(stak only in intransitive uses)

gewoben (R3)
gewebt
gewandt (R3)
gewendet

Strong and weak forms with a difference in meaning


bewog
bewogen
to induce
bewegte
bewegt
to move
hing
gehangen
to hang (intr)
hngte
gehngt
to hang (tr)
erlosch
erloschen
to go out (e.g. fire, light)
lschte
gelscht
to put sth out (e.g. fire, light)
erschrak
erschrocken
to be frightened (intr)
erschreckte
erschreckt
to frighten sb (tr)
schuf
geschaffen
to create
schaffte
geschafft
to manage (SW also: to work)
schor
geschoren
to shear, shave
scherte
geschert
to concern
schliff
geschliffen
to sharpen
schleifte
geschleift
to drag
sandte
gesandt
to send
sendete
gesendet
to broadcast
wich
gewichen
to yield
weichte
geweicht
to soak

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3.4 Determiners and adjectives

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

3.4.1

In German it is above all the endings of determiners and adjectives to


indicate case, gender and number which show the role of a noun phrase
in the sentence. In this way, they are central to the way in which
German works, and learning to use them and recognize their function
is a crucial aspect of mastering the language. Until you do this, you will
not find it easy to express yourself properly or to understand spoken or
written German fully.
These endings are in no way as daunting as they might appear at first
sight. There is a clear system to them, and grasping this makes it much
simpler to acquire confidence in using them. In this section the
emphasis is on explaining this system, with notes on those aspects
which you need to pay most attention to and where usage is uncertain.
However, it must be emphasized that you can only learn them properly
through practice in real phrases and sentences, not through tables. The
endings of the articles in particular are absolutely vital, because, more
than any other endings, they show gender, case and number fully and so
provide the clues as to how the sentence is constructed and what it
means.
The determiner is typically the first word in a noun phrase, and the
underlying principle of German inflections is that if it has an ending
which shows gender, case and number clearly, then the following
adjective can have a less distinctive, 'weaker' ending (i.e. -e or -en). On
the other hand, if there is no determiner, or the determiner has no
ending, then the adjective has to have more distinctive ('strong')
endings, which are very like those of the definite article. Determiners
and adjectives thus back each other up in making it clear what gender,
case and number we are dealing with in any noun phrase.

Basic determiner endings


The endings of the demonstrative dieser show the basic set of
distinctive endings clearly.

Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Plural

dieser
diesen
dieses
diesem

diese
diese
dieser
dieser

dieses
dieses
dieses
diesem

diese
diese
dieser
diesen

All German determiners have endings which are related to this basic
set. Many decline like dieser, i.e.:

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aller all
einiger some
etlicher some
folgender the following
irgendwelcher some... or other
jeder each

jener that
mancher some
smtlicher all
solcher such
welcher which

A few are only used in the plural:


viele many
beide both
mehrere several
wenige a few
The endings of the definite article are like those of dieser, with slight
variations:

Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Plural

der
den
des
dem

die
die
der
der

das
das
des
dem

die
die
der
den

The indefinite articles ein and kein and the possessives mein, dein, sein,
unser, euer and ihr decline like dieser except that they have no ending in
the nominative singular masculine and neuter, and the accusative
singular neuter, e.g.:

Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Plural

mein
meinen
meines
meinem

meine
meine
meiner
meiner

mein
mein
meines
meinem

meine
meine
meiner
meinen

3.4.2 Basic adjective endings


The basic principles are as follows:
(i)

If an adjective is used alone with a noun (i.e. it is not following a


determiner), then it has endings like dieser. These are called the 'strong'
adjective endings:
Masculine

Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

guter
guten
guten
gutem

Feminine

Wein
gute
Wein
gute
Weines guter
Wein
guter

Suppe
Suppe
Suppe
Suppe

Neuter
gutes
gutes
guten
gutem

Plural
Brot
Brot
Brotes
Brot

gute
gute
guter
guten

Weine
Weine
Weine
Weinen

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(ii)

(iii)

Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

The only difference between these 'strong' adjective endings and those
of dieser is in the genitive singular masculine and neuter, which is -en
rather than -es. In practice, this only occurs in R3.
Adjectives preceded by a determiner which has no ending also have these
'strong' endings, e.g.:
mit viel kaltem Wasser manch braver Mann solch hartes Los
This applies particularly to the endingless forms of the indefinite
articles ein and kein, and the possessives mein, unser, etc.:
ein runder Tisch
ein kleines Schiff
kein neues Haus
mein neuer Mantel
dein langes Ohr
sein krankes Herz
unser treuer Hund
euer altes Auto
ihr rotes Kleid
On the other hand, when the adjective follows a determiner with an
ending, it has the less distinctive ('weak') endings -e (in the nominative
singular and the accusative singular feminine and neuter) or -en (in all
other cases).
Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Plural

der neue Tag


den neuen Tag
des neuen Tages
dem neuen Tag

die blaue Luft


die blaue Luft
der blauen Luft
der blauen Luft

das weite Tal


das weite Tal
des weiten Tals
dem weiten Tal

die weiten Tler


die weiten Tler
der weiten Tler
der weiten Tlern

3.4.3 Uncertainties and variation in current usage


There is some variation in current usage in a few contexts:

aller, mancher, solcher, welcher nowadays usually have the ending -en in
the genitive singular masculine and neuter if the noun has the
ending -(e)s. In practice this only occurs in written R3, e.g.:
trotz allen Eifers
Er erinnerte sich manchen Tages
solchen Gedankens welchen Fortschritts
jeder is tending to follow the same pattern, if not always, i.e.:
am Ende jeden Abschnitts OR am Ende jedes Abschnitts

When there is more than one adjective before a noun they all have the
same ending, e.g.:
bei nachhaltender, andauernder Wirkung
However, in the dative singular masculine and neuter, a second
adjective sometimes has -en in R3, e.g.:
mit unverantwortlichem individuellem Fehlverhalten (more usual)
mit unverantwortlichem individuellen Fehlverhalten (frequent R3)

After a pronoun the strong endings are the rule, e.g.:


du armer Bursch mit mir jungem Kerl

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However, the ending -en is usual after wir and ihr, e.g.:
wir fremden Leute ihr lieben Kinder
An adjective after uns and euch usually has the ending -e, e.g.:
das geht uns Deutsche an gegen euch arme Leute
Colour adjectives ending in a full vowel are not usually declined in R2
and R3, e.g.:
ein rosa Kleid ein lila Hemd
But they often are declined in Rl, usually with an -n- after the vowel,
e.g.:
ein rosanes Kleid ein lilanes Hemd
Adjectives in -er from city names are never declined, e.g.:
die Frankfurter Messe die Berliner Autobahn
The declension of adjectives after some indefinites is subject to
variation and uncertainty in all registers. Current usage in the plural,
where these words are most often found, is as follows:
alle, beide, smtliche are usually followed by adjectives with weak
endings, e.g.:
alle fremden Truppen
aller fremden Truppen
allen fremden Truppen
In R3 the genitive plural occasionally has the strong ending -er, e.g.:
aller fremder Truppen
solche and irgendwelche can be followed by weak or strong endings.
The weak endings are more common, e.g.:
solche guten (gute) Freunde
solcher guten (guter) Freunde
solchen guten Freunden
manche can be followed by weak or strong endings. The strong endings
are more common, e.g.:
manche gute (guten) Freunde
mancher guter (guten) Freunde
manchen guten Freunden
einige, etliche, folgende, mehrere, viele, wenige are usually followed
by strong endings, e.g.:
viele gute Freunde
vieler guter Freunde
vielen guten Freunden
In R3 the genitive plural is occasionally weak, e.g.:
vieler guten Freunde
Some determiners can be used in combination with others. In this case
the second of them normally declines like an adjective. The following
such combinations are common:

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die beiden . . .
both ... ,the two ...
die folgende . . .
the following...
ein jeder (...)
any (.. .) (see 3.5.6)
der meine, etc.
mine, etc. (see 3.5.3)
der smtliche . . .
all the...
ein solcher . . .
such a . . . (see 3.5.6)
viele solche . . .
many such ...
die vielen . . .
the many...
die wenigen . . .
the few...
einige wenige . . .
a few...

die beiden Postkarten


diese beiden Postkarten
die folgende Erluterung
die folgenden Worte
eines jeden Pastors
einer jeden Mutter
das meine, dem deinen
der Ihre, den unseren
das smtliche Geld
mein smtliches Geld
ein solches Wetter
einem solchen Betrger
viele solche Menschen
vieler solcher Versuche
die vielen Anwesenden
dieser vielen Reisen
die wenigen Besucher
der wenigen Schallplatten
einiger weniger Grostdte
einigen wenigen Stunden

With declined alle, however, the second word keeps its own declension
(see 3.5.6):
alle die . . .
alle die Bnde
all the...
alle diese Operationen
alle meine . . . , etc.
alle meine Freunde
all my... , etc.
allen Ihren Trumen

.4 Adjectives as nouns
In German almost any adjective can be used as a noun. This is not
possible in English, where we have to use adjectives with 'dummy'
nouns such as man, woman, person, people, one, things to express the
same idea, e.g.:
der Alte the old man
Abwesende people absent
die Alte the old woman
die Zuhrenden the people listening
das Wichtige the important thing
ein Singender someone singing
Wichtiges important things
das Grne the green one
All adjectives used as nouns keep their adjective endings. It is
important to realize the difference between these and 'weak' masculine
nouns (see 3.2.1). Compare the endings for der Fremde 'the stranger',
ein Fremder 'a stranger' with those of der Kollege 'the colleague' and ein
Kollege 'a colleague':

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Singular
der Fremde
den Fremden
des Fremden
dem Fremden

Plural
die Fremden
die Fremden
der Fremden
den Fremden

Singular
der Kollege
den Kollegen
des Kollegen
dem Kollegen

Plural
die Kollegen
die Kollegen
der Kollegen
den Kollegen

ein Fremder

Fremde
strangers
Fremde
Fremder
Fremden

ein Kollege

Kollegen
colleagues
Kollegen
Kollegen
Kollegen

einen Fremden
eines Fremden
einem Fremden

einen Kollegen
eines Kollegen
einem Kollegen

Similarly: einige Fremde 'some strangers', alle Fremden 'all (the)


strangers', solche Fremde(n) 'strangers like that', etc.
Many of these adjectives used as nouns are the equivalent of ordinary
nouns in English, and the following are very frequent. In most
instances they can be used as masculine or feminine with an
appropriate article, e.g.: der Fremde, 'the (male) stranger', die Fremde,
'the (female) stranger'. The exception to this is die Beamtin, 'the
(female) civil servant'.
der/die Abgeordnete representative
Angestellte employee
Arbeitslose unemployed person
Bekannte acquaintance
Deutsche German
Einheimische local person
Erwachsene adult
Freiwillige volunteer
Gefangene prisoner
Geistliche clergyman
Gelehrte scholar

der/die Gesandte (R3) emissary


Geschworene jury member
Heilige saint
Industrielle industrialist
Jugendliche (R3b) young person
Reisende traveller
Verlobte fiance(e)
Verwandte relative
Vorbeigehende passer-by
Vorgesetzte superior
Vorsitzende chair (of meeting)

A few adjectival nouns are always feminine:


die Linke the left (side), (political) left
die Rechte the right (side), (political ) right
die Illustrierte 'the magazine' is most often treated as a feminine
adjectival noun, e.g. in dieser Illustrierten. In the plural, though, it can
have the endings of an adjective or of a regular feminine noun, e.g. Wir
haben zwei Illustrierte/Illustrierten gekauft.
A few adjectival nouns are always neuter:
das Auere/ das Innere the outside/inside
das Freie the open (air)
Gehacktes mince
In Rl, the names of German regions are often given by using a neuter
adjective:
das Bayerische Bavaria
im Hessischen in Hesse

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An adjective after the indefinites alles, etwas, viel and nichts is treated as
an adjectival noun (with the appropriate endings) and spelled with a
capital letter:
alles Gute all good things
dative: allem Guten
dative: etwas Gutem
etwas Gutes something good
dative: viel Gutem
viel Gutes many good things
dative: nichts Gutem
nichts Gutes nothing good
Names of languages usually appear in the form of a neuter adjective.
In most cases this is not declined, e.g.:
Wir lernen Spanisch, Franzsisch, Russisch, Englisch
In Hannover soll man das beste Deutsch sprechen
der Unterschied zum heutigen Deutsch
die Aussprache des modernen Deutsch
If it is used with a definite article and no other adjective, names of
languages are declined, e.g.:
Das Englische ist dem Deutschen verwandt
eine Ubersetzung aus dem Italienischen
Names of colours are dealt with similarly and do not usually decline,
e.g.:
das Grn der Wiesen
von einem glnzenden Rot
in Blau gekleidet
ein hssliches Gelb
Only in a few set phrases with the definite article are these colour
adjectives declined, e.g.:
ins Grne fahren
ins Schwarze treffen
das Blaue vom Himmel herunter versprechen
Es ist das Gelbe vom Ei

3.5
3.5.1

Other words that decline: forms and uses


Demonstratives
The most frequent common demonstrative pronoun and determiner in
spoken Rl and R2 is der, i.e. a stressed form of the definite article. As a
determiner (i.e. when it is used with a following noun) it declines like
the definite article (see 3.4.1). As a pronoun (i.e. when it is used on its
own to refer back to a previously mentioned noun) it declines as
follows. Note the highlighted differences to the declension of the
definite article:

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Nominative
Accusative
Genitive
Dative

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Plural

der
den
dessen
dem

die
die
deren/derer
der

das
das
dessen
dem

die
die
deren/derer
denen

In spoken Rl der is used as the equivalent of both English this and


that, e.g.:
der Tisch this table OR that table
Den mag ich nicht I don *t like this one/that one

In Rl da and hier are often added for clarity or emphasis, e.g.:


der Tisch hier this table
der Tisch da that table
der da, der hier that one, this one

In Rl der is often used instead of a personal pronoun, e.g.:


Die kommt heute nicht (R2: Sie kommt heute nicht)

In Rl the genitives dessen or deren can be used instead of a possessive,


e.g.:
deren Kleid (R2: ihr Kleid)
dessen Frau (R2: seine Frau)

In R3, the genitive can be used to replace an ambiguous possessive,


e.g.:
Manfreds Freund und dessen Bruder (i.e. the friend*s brother, NOT
Manfred's brother)

The genitive plural derer is normally used (in R3) only before a
following relative pronoun (but see 3.5.2):
die Ansichten derer, die nicht anwesend waren
Otherwise deren is normal, e.g.: ihre Freunde und deren Kinder

In written German (R2/R3) the determiner der could be confused


with the definite article, and so it is used less, although it is not
unknown. In these registers the usual demonstrative is dieser (see
3.4.1), which is used for both this and that, e.g.:
dieser Tisch this table OR that table

jener, 'that', is restricted to R3, and is not common even there. It is


mainly used only:
(i) to contrast with dieser, e.g.:
Herr Schrder wollte nicht dieses alte Buch kaufen, sondern jenes
(ii) for something well known, especially if a relative pronoun follows,
e.g.:
die Ruinen jener Palste, welche die deutschen Kaiser bauten

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For emphatic that, derjenige is increasingly frequent, especially in R3b,


either as a pronoun or an adjective. Both parts decline, e.g. denjenigen,
dasjenige, etc. It is used most when a relative clause follows, e.g.:
diejenigen, die ich traf
einige von denjenigen Bchern, die ich in der Schule lesen musste

Usage with a following relative pronoun (= that which, etc.) is as


follows:
(i) Demonstrative der followed by the relative pronoun der is common
in R2 and R3, despite the repetition:
die, die ich kaufen wollte
einige von denen, die gekommen sind
(ii) Demonstrative der followed by the relative pronoun welcher is
restricted to old-fashioned R3a
die, welche ich kaufen wollte
(iii) Frequent in R3b (and not uncommon in spoken Rl) is derjenige
followed by the relative pronoun der, e.g.:
diejenigen, die ich kaufen wollte

3.5.2 Relative pronouns


Relative pronouns introduce subordinate clauses (called 'relative
clauses') which describe or qualify nouns, e.g. die Frau, die heute kommt
'the woman who is coming today'; das Buch, das ich gerade lese 'the
book which/that I am just reading'.
NOTE: In English, we often drop a relative pronoun, especially in
speech (The book (which) I am just reading), but in German it can never
be left out like this.
The common relative pronoun in German in all registers is der,
which has exactly the same forms as the demonstrative pronoun (see
3.5.1). It takes the gender and number of the noun it refers to:
der Mann, der in die Stadt geht (masculine)
die Frau, die in die Stadt geht (feminine)
das Kind, das in die Stadt geht (neuter)
die Leute, die in die Stadt gehen (plural)
The case indicates the role the relative pronoun plays in the relative
clause:
der Mann, der in die Stadt geht (nominative subject of geht)
der Mann, den ich kenne (accusative object of kennen)
der Mann, dem ich helfen musste (dative object of helfen)
der Mann, dessen Buch ich geliehen habe (genitive indicating
possession [= whose])

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Further information on relative clauses and relative pronouns:


welcher is occasionally used as a relative pronoun in R3a, but it can
sound old-fashioned:
usual R3:
der Herr, der gestorben ist
less frequent R3a: der Herr, welcher gestorben ist
In the genitive plural and genitive singular feminine, deren is in
practice less common than derer, which purists consider incorrect, e.g.:
Correct R3:
die Autoritt, deren sich die Bischfe in Polen
erfreuen
More frequent R3: die Autoritt, derer sich die Bischfe in Polen
erfreuen
was is used as a relative pronoun after alles, etwas, nichts, viel, das,
neuter adjectives used as nouns and to refer to whole clauses, e.g.:
alles, was er hrte
etwas, was ihm fehlte
das Beste, was sie gesehen hatte
Er sah mich nie direkt an, was ich nicht leiden konnte
In Rl das and was are often used interchangeably, e.g.:
das Zeug, was (R2: das) man da kriegt
etwas, das (R2: was) nicht stimmt
der is now the usual relative in all registers after prepositions when
referring to things. Using the compound wo + preposition in such
contexts is now restricted to old-fashioned R3a, e.g.:
usual:
das Haus, in dem wir wohnten der Tisch, auf dem das
Buch lag
older R3a: das Haus, worin wir wohnten
der Tisch, worauf das
Buch lag
In these contexts Rl often uses wo with the prepositional adverb, e.g.:
der Tisch, wo die Blumen drauf stehen
The compound wo + preposition is used in those contexts where the
simple relative pronoun would be was (i.e. to replace preposition +
was), e.g.:
alles, worber sie sprach
etwas, womit er uns schlagen konnte
wo is commonly used after time and place words in Rl and R2, although
R3a may prefer other possibilities, especially a preposition plus a
relative pronoun, or da, e.g.:
das Land, wo (R3a in dem) wir wohnen
am Tag, wo (R3a da OR an dem) er gekommen ist
zu einer Zeit, wo (R3a zu der OR da) der Kaiser noch mchtig war
jetzt, wo (R3a da) er fort ist

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As the equivalent to English what after a preposition, German needs to


insert an appropriate form of the demonstrative das, e.g.:
Er wusste nichts von dem, was mich dorthin gefhrt hatte.
He knew nothing of what had led me there.

3.5.3 Possessive pronouns


There are a number of possibilities corresponding to English mine,
yours, hers, etc., depending on register:
R1/R2: meiner mine; deiner yours; seiner hisf its; ihrer hers, theirs;
unserer ours; eu(e)rer yours; Ihrer yours
R3
der meine, der deine, etc.
der meinige, der deinige, etc.
meiner, etc. decline like dieser (see 3.4.1). This means that, unlike the
possessive determiner (see 3.4.1), they have the ending -er in the
nominative singular masculine and -es in the nominative and accusative
singular neuter, e.g.:
Das ist nicht mein Koffer, sondern seiner
Ist das Ihr Fahrrad oder sein(e)s?
Wollen wir mit eurem Wagen fahren oder mit unserem?
The second parts of der meine, der meinige, etc. decline like adjectives,
e.g.:
mit der ihrigen durch das meine von den unseren

3.5.4

Interrogatives
Interrogative words are used to ask questions:

WER?

wer? 'who?' declines for case:


Nominative
wer?
who?
Wer ist gekommen?
Accusative
wen?
whom?
Wen hat sie gesehen?
Genitive
wessen? whose? Wessen Buch hat sie geliehen?
Dative
wem?
to whom? Wem hat sie das Buch gegeben?
In practice wessen is limited to R3 and is scarcely used even there, e.g.:
R3 (rare): Wessen Bcher sind das?
R2: Von wem sind diese Bcher?
common in all registers: Wem gehren diese Bcher?

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WO + preposition?

is normally used in R2 and R3 for English preposition + what? In Rl a


preposition is often used with was, e.g.:
womit? (Rl mit was?) with what?
worin? (Rl in was?) in what?
NOTE: WOZU? (Rl zu was?) what.. .for?

WO?

For English where?, German always distinguishes place (wo?) from


direction.
to (wohin?) and direction from (woher?), wohin? and woher? are often
split in Rl.
Place: Wo wohnen Mllers?
Direction towards: Wohin muss ich es stellen? (Rl Wo muss ich es
hinstellen?)
Direction from: Woher kann ich es nehmen? (Rl Wo kann ich es
hernehmen?)

WOHIN?
WOHER?

WAS FR EIN?

The equivalent of what sort of?, e.g.:


Er hat einen neuen Wagen. Was fur einer ist es?
Mit was fur einem Zug ist er gekommen?
The case of ein in was fr ein? does not depend on fur (i.e. it is not
automatically accusative), but on the role of the phrase with was fiir
ein? in the sentence.
In Rl was is often separated f r o m r ein, e.g.:
Was hat sie fur einen Mantel gekauft?
In Rl was fur? and welcher? are used interchangeably, e.g.:
Was fur ein Hemd ziehst du an? (which?; R2 welches)
Welcher Vogel ist das? (what sort of?; R2 was fur ein?)

3.5.5

MAN

mariy einer, jemand


man, 'one', unlike its English equivalent, is common in all registers. It
does not decline, and einem and einen are used in the dative and
accusative, e.g.:
Man wei nie, ob sie es gut mit einem meint
As a possessive, sein is used, e.g.:
Man kann sein Schicksal nicht ndern
It is never referred back to by er, but always repeated, e.g.:
Man drfte meinen, dass m a n (not er) jetzt weiterkommen sollte

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204

Words and forms

EINER
KEINER

einer, 'one', and keiner, 'none', used as pronouns (i.e. without a noun
following), decline like dieser (see 3.4.1). They thus have an ending in
the nominative singular masculine and nominative/accusative singular
neuter, unlike the indefinite article, e.g.:
eines von diesen wenigen modernen Husern
einer der schnellsten Zge
mit keinem ihrer Freunde
They are often used to mean 'somebody' and 'nobody', especially in Rl
and S, e.g.:
Sie hat wohl keinen gesehen (R2 niemand)
Es wird schon einer kommen (R2 jemand)

JEMAND
NIEMAND

jemand, 'somebody', and niemand, 'nobody', have dative and accusative


forms jemandem/niemandem and jemanden/niemanden. However, these
do not have to be used. The endingless forms are more common in the
dative and accusative in all registers, e.g.:
Ich habe niemand gesehen (less common niemanden)
Sie wird jemand geholfen haben (less common jemandem)
The declension ofjemand (niemand) anders, 'somebody (nobody) else'
varies regionally:
N
jemand anders
jemand(en) anders
jemand(em) anders
S

jemand anderer

jemand(en) anderen

() e m a n < j anderem
l jemandem anderen

einer and keiner are commonly used in S and Rl to mean 'somebody'


and 'nobody'. In Rl, wer is a frequent alternative to jemand, e.g.: Es ist
wer an der Tr

3.5.6
ALL-

Some indefinites
The basic meanings are 'all', 'everybody' or 'everything'.

alle = 'everybody', e.g. Alle sind gekommen


alle also means 'all gone' in Rl, e.g. Mein Geld ist alle
alles = 'everything', e.g. Wir wollen alles wissen
in Rl, with wer or was, alles emphasizes quantity, e.g.:
Wer will denn alles mit?
Was will er alles gesehen haben?

das alles OR alles das = 'all that', e.g. Das alles/alles das geht uns
nichts an
In the dative we find dem allen, all(em) dem or (R3) allem, e.g. Von dem
allen/all(em) dem wissen wir ja gar nichts

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aller is used for 'all' in the singular in R3. It declines like dieser (see
3.4.1), e.g. ein Hotel mit allem modernen Komfort

all der = 'all the'; all does not normally have any endings in the
singular, e.g.:
all das Geschwtz nach all der Mhe
It can be used with dieser and the possessives, e.g.:
nach all dieser Mhe nach all meiner Mhe
In the plural alle, all die or (esp Rl) alle die are common in the sense of
'all the'. There is no distinction in meaning between these:
alle Kinder all die Kinder (Rl) alle die Kinder

alle can also be used with dieser or the possessives, e.g.:


alle diese Kinder alle meine Kinder
NOTE: in Rl die ganzen is used for 'all the': die ganzen Kinder

EINIGE
ETLICHE

einige and etliche both correspond to 'some' or 'any'. They decline like
dieser and are used most often in the plural.

einige refers to a limited number, like English unstressed 'some' (or 'a
few'). It is very close in meaning to ein paar.
Ich wolte einige Ansichtskarten kaufen
Der Zug war voll und einige mussten stehen

etliche typically implies more than the expected number. In this sense it
is similar in meaning to English 'several' or 'a fair number of. It is quite
frequent in all registers:
Den Schlern gelang es, etliche nette Bilder zu machen
Etliche dieser Stcke sind relativ leicht

JEDER

jeder = 'everybody', 'anybody', e.g. Das wei doch jeder


In Rl and R2 ein jeder is a more emphatic alternative in the sense of
'anybody', e.g. Da kann doch ein jeder lernen

MANCH

mancher declines like dieser (see 3.4.1). It always has the meaning of
stressed 'some', i.e. 'a fair number, but by no means all'. This can be
close to English 'many a' or, in certain contexts, 'several', e.g.:
Mancher will es nicht wahrhaben
manche Arbeitslose
Undeclined manch, with ein or an adjective, is used in R3a, e.g.:
Manch einer htte Mhe
manch reiches Land

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SOLCH

The German equivalents of English


Singular
Rl: so ein (so'n): so ein Wetter
R2: (ein) solcher: (ein) solches
Wetter
R3: solch ein: solch ein Wetter

'such (a)' vary with register.


Plural
Rl: so: so Gerchte
R2/R3: solche: solche Gerchte

solcher used on its own declines like dieser (see 3.4.1); after ein it
declines like an adjective, e.g. bei einem solchen Wetter
VIEL/WENIG

WELCH

These do not usually have endings in the singular, e.g.:


viel Lrm, viel Wasser
wenig Mhe, wenig Geld

These are not usually declined in the plural, e.g.: viele Bauern, wenige
Politiker

Declined forms are found in the singular:


(i) in older R3a, in the nominative and accusative feminine and neuter,
e.g. vieles Rauchen, viele Hoffnung
(ii) in a few idioms and phrases, e.g. vielen Dank, mit vielem Flei

Undeclined welch occurs in exclamations in R3 (for Rl Was fiir


ein... /), e.g. Welch frchterlicher Tag!
Declined welcher is used as an interrogative pronoun or determiner, e.g.:
Welches Buch nimmst du?
Da sind die Bucher. Welches willst du nehmen?

In Rl it is used as an indefinite pronoun (i.e. = 'some', 'any'), e.g.:


Ich habe schon welche
Soll ich dir Brot reichen? - Danke, ich habe welches

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4 Grammar: cases, tenses and moods

4.1 Verbs and cases: valency


In German, the link between the verb and the other parts of the
sentence is provided mainly through the use of cases. In English, we
can tell who is doing what to whom from the order of the various
elements: first the subject, then the verb, and then the objects (in the
order indirect object - direct object). In a sentence like My sister gave
her friend Monika the tickets yesterday we cannot move the elements
round without saying something quite different, e.g.: Her friend gave
my sister that book yesterday. In German, though, we can move the
various elements around in the sentence (mainly for reasons of
emphasis, as explained in 5.1) without changing the essential
meaning:

R l = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

Meine Schwester hat gestern ihrer Freundin Monika die Karten


gegeben
() Ihrer Freundin Monika hat meine Schwester gestern die Karten
gegeben
(i) Die Karten hat meine Schwester gestern ihrer Freundin Monika
gegeben
(iv) Meine Schwester hat die Karten gestern ihrer Freundin Monika
gegeben
(i)

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Realizing how the cases work to form the framework of a sentence is an


important step in being able to use German effectively.
With different verbs we find different ways of expressing these links
to the rest of the sentence. Some verbs, like schlagen, have an accusative
object, others, like dienen, have a dative object, whilst some, likz geben in
the example above, have both an accusative (direct) object and a dative
(indirect) object. Finally, a large number of verbs, like warten, have a
construction with a preposition rather than a case. We can usefully
classify verbs in German in terms of what cases, etc. they 'govern' (i.e.
how sentences with them are constructed). This is called the 'valency'
of the verb. The valency of a verb is often related to its meaning, but
this is no sure guide. German provides many examples of verbs which

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have very similar meanings but govern different cases or constructions,


e.g.:
to impress sb
jdn beeindrucken
jdm imponieren
jdn beglckwnschen
to congratulate sb
jdm gratulieren
to damage sth
etw (dat) schaden
etw beschdigen
jdn auslachen
to laugh at sb
ber jdn lachen
As German uses cases to make the connections between the various
parts of the sentence clear, German verbs are often lessflexiblethan
their English counterparts and restricted in the constructions which
they can be used in. It is not unusual to find that an English verb can be
used either transitively or intransitively, or with a person or a thing as
object, but that this is not always possible with the verb which appears
to have the same meaning in German. We often find that we have to use
different verbs or different sentence constructions for the different
uses of a single English verb. The following common examples
illustrate this:
answer

She answered her friend


She answered the letter

climb
cut
drop
feel
force
grow
keep
leave

open

The plane climbed (intr)


We climbed the mountain
He cut the meat
The paper cuts easily (intr)
I dropped the pencil
The stone dropped (intr)
She felt the pain
She feels ill
He forced us to do that
He forced it from us
The child is growing (intr)
He grows flowers
We kept the book
These apples will keep (intr)
He left today (intr)
He left the town
They opened the door
The door opened (intr)

Sie antwortete ihrem Freund


Sie beantwortete den Brief
Sie antwortete auf den Brief
Das Flugzeug stieg
Wir bestiegen den Berg
Er schnitt das Fleisch
Das Papier lsst sich leicht schneiden
Ich lie den Beistift fallen
Der Stein fiel
Sie fhlte den Schmerz
Sie fhlt sich krank
Er zwang uns das zu tun
Er erzwang es von uns
Das Kind wchst
Er zchtet Blumen
Wir behielten das Buch
Diese Apfel halten sich gut
Er fuhr heute ab
Er verlie die Stadt
Sie machten die Tr auf (R1/R2)
Sie ffneten die Tr (R2/R3)
Die Tr ging auf (R1/R2)
Die Tr ffnete sich (R2/R3)

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sell
sink
stand
wake up
walk

wash

We sold the books quickly


The books sold quickly (intr)
The ship sank (intr)
We sank the ship
It is standing in the corner
She stood it in the corner
We woke up (intr)
He woke us up
We walked home (intr)
He walked her home
I washed at seven (intr)
I washed the dog

Wir verkauften die Bcher schnell


Die Bcher verkauften sich schnell
Das Schiff sank
Wir versenkten das Schiff
Es steht in der Ecke
Sie stellte es in die Ecke
Wir wachten auf/(R3) erwachten
Er weckte uns/(R3) erweckte uns
Wir gingen nach Hause
Er brachte (R3 begleitete) sie nach
Hause
Ich habe mich um sieben gewaschen
Ich habe den Hund gewaschen

Many further similar examples may be found in 2.1.1. In many


instances a transitive verb can be formed from an intransitive verb with
the prefix be- (see 2.3.4).
In the rest of this section we give lists of common verbs classified
according to the cases or prepositions they govern, concentrating
particularly on those which show differences from their usual English
equivalents, and on those which have different constructions with
different meanings.
This means that you should always remember German verbs in
typical constructions (e.g. einem etwas mitteilen, auf meinen Freund
warten, etc). To help you, German verbs in this book are usually given
with an indication of their valency, i.e. the sentence construction they
are used in.

4.1.1

Verbs governing the dative case


Many German verbs have an object in the dative case, but no accusative
object. There is no direct equivalent to these in English, and you have
to learn which verbs 'govern' the dative case. With many of these verbs,
the dative object is a person who in some way benefits from the action
expressed in the verb (or is disadvantaged by it). The following are the
most typical common verbs which are used with a dative, and you
should make sure that you know them:
antworten to answer
begegnen (R3) to meet
danken to thank
dienen to serve
drohen to threaten

Der Junge hat mir auf meine Frage


geantwortet
Sie ist einem lteren Herrn begegnet
Ich danke Ihnen sehr fur Ihre Mhe
Er dient dem Knig von Schweden
Er drohte dem kleinen Jungen mit
einem Stock

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einfallen to occur to sb
folgen to follow
gehorchen to obey
gehren to belong to
gratulieren to congratulate
helfen to help
nutzen to be of use
passen to suit
passieren to happen
raten to advise
schaden to harm
schmeicheln to flatter
trauen to trust

Zu diesem Thema fiel dem Mdchen


nichts ein
Er folgte ihr ins Exil
Sie gehorcht ihrem Vater
Dieser Wagen gehrt dir doch nicht
Sie wollte ihrer Freundin zum
Geburtstag gratulieren
Er hilft seiner Mutter bei der Arbeit
Das nutzt ihnen doch gar nichts
Das neue Kleid passt dir gut
Was ist dir denn passiert?
Er wollte seinem Sohn raten lieber in
Gieen zu studieren
Rauchen schadet der Gesundheit
Damit hat sie dem Professor
schmeicheln wollen
Ich konnte meinen Augen nicht
trauen

Apart from these, it is a general rule that verbs with the prefixes bei-,
ent-, entgegen-, nach-, wider- and zu- have an object in the dative case
(though some have an object in the accusative as well, see 4.1.2, and
there are a few exceptions). For example:
jdm beistehen (R3) to stand
by sb
etw (dat) entsprechen to
correspond to sth
jdm entgegenkommen to
come to meet sb

jdm nachschauen to follow sb with one's


eyes
jdm widerfahren (R3) to befall sb
jdm/etw zuhren to listen to sb/sth

In a few verbs the German phrase in the dative case corresponds to the
subject of the closest equivalent verb in English:
etw gelingt mir I succeed in sth
etw entfallt mir I forget sth
etw reicht mir I have had
es fallt mir leicht I find sth
enough of sth
easy
etw schmeckt mir I like sth
etw fehlt/mangelt mir \
es fehlt/mangelt mir > / lack sth (food)
an etw
)
etw tut mir Leid / am sorry
etw gefallt mir I like sth
about sth
etw geht mir auf / realize sth
With the following impersonal verbs, the phrase in the dative case
corresponds to an English subject. With the one exception indicated
below, these verbs are restricted to R3a.

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mir bangt vor etw / am afraid of sth


mir (OR mich) ekelt vor etw / am disgusted by sth
mir (OR mich) graut vor etw I am terrified by sth
mir (OR mich) schaudert vor etw I tremble at sth
mir schwindelt (R2) / feel dizzy

4.1.2 Verbs governing the dative and the accusative cases


Many German verbs, typically verbs of giving and taking, have an
accusative ('direct') object (usually a thing) and a dative ('indirect')
object (usually a person), e.g. Ergab seinem Onkel (dat) das Geld (acc).
It is always helpful to remember them as einem etwas verbs. With one
or two rare exceptions (i.e. the verbs kosten and lehren), if there are two
objects with a verb in German, one will be in the accusative and one in
the dative, i.e. you should never have two accusatives in the same clause.
The German dative often corresponds to an English prepositional
phrase with to, e.g. He gave the money to his uncle. In German the
indirect object is indicated simply by the dative case, and no
preposition is needed, i.e. you do not say * Er gab das Geld zu seinem
Onkel in German.

There are too many einem etwas verbs in German to list in full here, and
you should consult your dictionary if you are uncertain. Here are some
common examples:
anbieten to offer
Die Firma hat mir eine Stelle
angeboten
empfehlen to recommend
Ich kann dir diesen Film sehr
empfehlen
Er hat seinem Freund das Buch
geben to give
gegeben
Mein Bruder hat ihr sein Fahrrad
leihen to lend
geliehen
Ich habe Ihnen meine neue Adresse
mitteilen to inform
mitgeteilt
Wir haben ihr die Tasche genommen
nehmen to take
Ich kann dir diese Bitte nicht
verweigern to refuse
verweigern
With some verbs the German dative and accusative construction is
different from that of the nearest English equivalent:
jdm etw ermglichen to make sth possible for sb
jdm etw erschweren to make sth difficult for sb
jdm etw mitteilen to inform sb ofsth
jdm etw nachmachen to copy sth from sb
jdm etw umbinden to tie sth round sb
jdm etw verschweigen not to tell sb about sth

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Where the German phrase in the dative case is some kind of beneficiary
(i.e. = English for) it is increasingly common in German in all registers
to use a phrase with fur rather than a dative, e.g.:
Sie will ihr/fr sie Blumen kaufen
Er hat uns/fr uns die Tr aufgemacht
Die Mutter hat ihm/fur ihn eine Wurst gekocht
This is especially the case if there is ambiguity. The following sentence
could mean He wrote a letter to his father or for his father:
Er hat seinem Vater einen Brief geschrieben
But the following is quite clear:
Er hat fr seinen Vater einen Brief geschrieben
With some verbs of sending, etc. a phrase with an (acc) can be used
rather than a phrase in the dative case. The effect is to emphasize the
person on the receiving end, e.g.:
Er schickte das Manuskript an die Universitt Passau
Er verkaufte sein altes Fahrrad an meinen Freund Peter
Er schrieb einen Brief an seinen Vater
As you can see, using an can also resolve the kind of ambiguity
mentioned above.
Many verbs governing dative and accusative can be used with a dative
reflexive pronoun, e.g.:
Ich will mir Ruhe gnnen
Du erlaubst dir aber viel
Das hat er sich aber nicht verweigern wollen
With the following verbs a dative reflexive pronoun with an accusative
object is the usual construction in the meaning given:
sich (dat) etw aneignen to acquire sth
sich (dat) etw anmaen (R3) to claim sth
sich (dat) etw einbilden to imagine sth
sich (dat) etw verbitten to refuse to tolerate sth
sich (dat) etw vornehmen to intend to do sth
sich (dat) jdn vornehmen (Rl) to have a word with sb
sich (dat) etw vorstellen to imagine sth
With some other verbs the reflexive pronoun is in the accusative case,
and there is an additional dative object in the given meanings:
sich jdm/etw anpassen to adapt to sb/sth
sich jdm/etw anschlieen to join sb/sth
sich jdm/etw ergeben to give in to sb/sth
sich jdm/etw fugen (R3) to bow to sb/sth
sich jdm/etw nhern to approach sb/sth
sich jdm/etw widersetzen (R3) to oppose sb/sth

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4.1.3

Verbs governing the genitive case


The use of a genitive object with verbs, e.g.: Sie erinnerte sich dieses
Tages 'She remembered that day', is quite rare in modern German. In
general such constructions are only found in R3, and many such verbs
are peculiar to legal R3b. Below you find a list of the verbs which are
still used with a genitive object in R3, together with the equivalent
constructions which are used in their place in R2.
R3

R2

Verbs with a
genitive object
alone

jds/etw (gen) bedrfen to need sb/sth jdn/etw brauchen


jds/etw (gen) gedenken to think of
an jdn/etw denken
sb/sth
auf jdn/etw warten
jds/etw (gen) harren to wait for
sb/sth

Verbs with a
genitive
object and an
accusative object

jdn etw (gen) anklagen to accuse sb of jdn wegen etw anklagen


sth
jdn etw (gen) berauben to rob sb ofsth jdm etw rauben
jdn etw (gen) versichern to assure sb jdm etw versichern
ofsth

Reflexive verbs
with a genitive
object

sich jds/etw (gen) annehmen to look


after sb/sth
sich etw (gen) bedienen to make use
ofsth
sich jds/etw (gen) bemchtigen to
take hold ofsb/sth
sich jds/etw (gen) entsinnen to
remember sb/sth
sich etw (gen) erfreuen to enjoy sth
sich jds/etw (gen) erinnern to
remember sb/sth
sich etw (gen) rhmen to pride oneself
on sth
sich jds/etw (gen) schmen to be
ashamed ofsth

sich um jdn kmmern


etw benutzen
jdn/etw in seine Gewalt
bringen
sich an jdn/etw erinnern
etw genieen
sich an jdn/etw erinnern
auf etw stolz sein
sich wegen jds/etw schmen

A few other verb constructions with the genitive are found in set
phrases. They are mainly restricted to R3, e.g.:
der Gefahr nicht achten to pay no heed to danger
jemanden eines Besseren belehren to teach someone better
sich eines Besseren besinnen to think better ofsomething
jeder Beschreibung spotten to beggar description
jemanden des Landes verweisen to expel someone from a country
seines Amtes walten to discharge one's duties
jemanden keines Blickes wrdigen not to deign to look at someone

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4.1.4 Verbs governing a prepositional object


Very many German verbs are followed by an object introduced by a
preposition, e.g. Sie hat auf mich gewartet 'She waited for me'. These
are quite different from usual prepositional phrases, as the preposition
involved loses its full meaning, and the choice of preposition depends
simply on the individual verb. It is always best for you to learn the
combination of verb and preposition as a whole. In this section we give
some of the commonest examples of German verbs used with
prepositional objects.

Some common prepositions are sometimes followed by the accusative


case and sometimes by the dative case, depending on their meaning (see
2.5.3). However, only one of these cases usually occurs when these
prepositions are used in prepositional objects. For example, auf is
almost always used with a following accusative case in prepositional
objects, and vor with a following dative case.
Many verbs are used with an accusative or dative object in addition to a
prepositional object, e.g. Sie hat ihn an seinem langen Bart erkannt 'She
recognized him by his long beard'. These verbs are clearly indicated in
the following lists, e.g.: jdn an etw erkennen 'to recognize sb by sth'.
For the use of the prepositional adverb (i.e. da(r)-\- preposition) when
these verbs are followed by an infinitive phrase or arfass-clause,see
4.1.5.

AN (+ dative)

an is most often followed by the dative case in prepositional


objects, often with the idea of'in respect of, 'in connection with':
to work at sth
an etw arbeiten
to recognize sb by sth
jdn/etw an etw erkennen
to fall ill with sth
an etw erkranken
to lack sth
an etw fehlen (see 4.1.1)
to take pleasure in sb/sth
sich an jdm/etw freuen
to prevent sb from (doing) sth
jdn an etw hindern
to interest sb in sth
jdn an etw interessieren
to suffer from sth
an etw leiden
to orientate o.s. by sth
sich an etw orientieren
to smell at sth
an etw riechen
to die ofsth
an etw sterben
to take part in sth
an etw teilnehmen
to doubt sth
an etw zweifeln

AN (+ accusative)

an is used in a prepositional object with the accusative case after


a few verbs, which mainly denote mental processes:
an jdn/etw denken
to think ofsb/sth
jdn an jdn/etw erinnern
to remind sb ofsb/sth
sich an jdn/etw erinnern
to remember sb/sth

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sich an jdn/etw gewhnen


an jdn/etw glauben
sich an jdn/etw halten

to get used to sb/sth


to believe in sb/sth
to stick to sth

AUF (+ dative)

The dative case is used in prepositional objects with auf with a very
small number of verbs. They all express very clearly the idea of not
moving:
to be based on sth
auf etw basieren (R3)
auf etw beharren (R3)
to insist on sth
auf etw beruhen
to be based on sth
auf etw bestehen
to insist on sth
auf etw fuen (R3)
to be based on sth

AUF (+ accusative)

auf with the accusative case is the most frequent preposition used in
prepositional objects:
auf jdn/etw achten
to pay attention to sb/sth
to keep an eye on sb/sth
auf jdn/etw aufpassen
to restrict sth to sth
etw auf etw beschrnken
to refer to sb/sth
sich auf jdn/etw beziehen
to press for sth
auf etw drngen
to succeed sb/sth
auf jdn/etw folgen
to look forward to sth
sich auf etw freuen
to hope for sth
auf etw hoffen
to concentrate on sth
sich auf etw konzentrieren
to react to sth
auf etw reagieren
to count on sb/sth
auf jdn/etw rechnen
to specialize in sth
sich auf etw spezialisieren
to lean, count on sb/sth
sich auf jdn/etw sttzen
to rely on sb/sth
sich auf jdn/etw verlassen
to do without sth
auf etw verzichten
to wait for sb/sth
auf jdn/etw warten
to count on sb/sth
auf jdn/etw zhlen
to put sth down to sth
etw auf etw zurckfuhren

AUS

aus usually has the meaning 'of or 'from' in prepositional objects:


aus etw bestehen
to consist ofsth
etw aus etw entnehmen (R3)
to infer sth from sth
sich aus etw ergeben
to result from sth
etw aus etw folgern/schlieen
to conclude sth from sth

FR

fur usually has the meaning 'for' in prepositional objects:


to say thank you for sth
sich fr etw bedanken
sich fr etw begeistern
to be enthusiastic about sth
jdm fr etw danken
to thank sb for sth
sich fur etw eignen
to be suitable for sth

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[FR]

sich fur etw entscheiden


jdn/etw fr etw halten
sich fur jdn/etw interessieren

IN (+ dative)

in with the dative case is used in very few prepositional objects:


in etw bestehen
to consist in sth
sich in jdm/etw tuschen
to be mistaken about sb/sth

IN (+ accusative)

in is used with the prepositional object of a number of verbs with the


accusative case. Its meaning is very varied.
jdn in etw einfuhren
to introduce sb to sth
in etw einwilligen
to agree to sth
sich in etw ergeben (R3)
to submit to sth
sich in jdn verlieben
to fall in love with sb
sich in etw vertiefen
to become engrossed in sth

MIT

mit usually has the meaning 'with' in prepositional objects:


sich mit etw abfinden
to be satisfied with sth
mit etw anfangen/beginnen
to begin/start (with) sth
to stop sth
mit etw aufhren
sich mit jdm/etw befassen
to deal with sb/sth
sich mit etw begngen
to be satisfied with sth
sich mit jdm/etw beschftigen
to occupy o.s. with sth
jdm mit etw drohen
to threaten sb with sth
mit jdm/etw rechnen
to count on sb/sth
mit jdm telefonieren
to telephone sb
to agree with sth
mit etw bereinstimmen
to converse with sb
sich mit jdm unterhalten
to compare sb/sth to/with sb/sth
jdn/etw mit jdm/etw vergleichen
sich mit jdm verheiraten
to get married to sb
jdn/etw mit etw versehen
to provide sb/sth with sth
to collide with sth
mit etw zusammenstoen

NACH

In prepositional objects, nach often has the sense of'for' with


verbs of calling, asking, longing or seeking:
to enquire after sb/sth
sich nach jdm/etw erkundigen
to ask sb for sth
jdn nach etw fragen
to grab for sth
nach etw greifen
to callfor sb/sth
nach jdm/etw rufen
to shout for sb/sth
nach jdm/etw schreien
to yearn for sb/sth
sich nach jdm/etw sehnen (R3)
to strive for sth
nach etw streben
to search for sb/sth
nach jdm/etw suchen
to long for sb/sth
nach jdm/etw verlangen

to decide on sth
to consider sb/sth to be sth
to be interested in sb/sth

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With verbs of smelling, etc., nach has the sense of'of


nach etw aussehen
to look like sth
nach etw duften
to smell (nicely) ofsth
nach etw riechen
to smell ofsth
nach etw schmecken
to taste ofsth
BER (+ accusative)

ber is always used with the accusative case in prepositional objects.


It is most often used with verbs of saying, etc. in the meaning 'about':
to be annoyed about sb/sth
sich ber jdn/etw rgern
to be pleased at/about sb/sth
sich ber jdn/etw freuen
to inform sb of/about sth
jdn ber etw informieren
ber jdn/etw lachen
to laugh at sb/sth
ber jdn/etw nachdenken
to think about sb/sth
to mock sb/sth
ber jdn/etw spotten
to talk about sb/sth
ber jdn/etw sprechen
sich ber etw streiten
to argue about sth
ber jdn/etw urteilen
to judge sth
ber etw verfugen
to have sth at one's disposal
sich ber jdn/etw wundern
to be surprised at/about sb/sth

UM

um commonly means 'concerning' or 'in respect of in prepositional


objects:
sich u m jdn ngstigen
to be worried about sb
sich u m etw bemhen
to take trouble over sth
jdn u m etw beneiden
to envy sb sth
jdn u m etw betrgen
to cheat sb out ofsth
to ask sb for sth
jdn u m etw bitten
to make sb lose sth
jdn u m etw bringen
It is a matter ofsth
Es geht u m etw
to be a question ofsth
sich u m etw handeln
u m jdn/etw kmpfen
tofightabout sth
sich u m jdn/etw kmmern
to take care ofsb/sth
to be worried about sb/sth
sich u m jdn/etw sorgen
to argue about/over sth
sich u m etw streiten

VON

von usually has the meaning 'of or 'from' in prepositional objects:


von jdm/etw abhngen
to depend on sb/sth
to advise sb against sth
jdm von etw abraten
von etw absehen
to refrain from sth
jdn von etw befreien
to liberate sb from sth
sich von etw erholen
to recover from sth
von jdm/etw herrhren
to stem, originate from sth
jdn von etw informieren
to inform sb ofsth
von jdm/etw sprechen
to talk ofsb/sth
von jdm/etw trumen
to dream ofsb/sth
jdn von etw berzeugen
to convince sb ofsth
jdn von etw verstndigen
to inform sb ofsth

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VOR (+ dative)

vor is always used with the dative case in prepositional objects. It


has the meaning 'of with verbs of fearing, etc.:
Angst vor jdm/etw haben
to be afraid ofsb/sth
sich vor etw drcken (Rl)
to dodge sth
vor jdm/etw ekeln
to have a horror ofsb/sth
vor jdm/etw erschrecken (R3)
to be scared by sb/sth
sich vor jdm/etw frchten
to be afraid ofsb/sth
sich vor jdm/etw hten
to beware ofsb/sth
sich vor jdm schmen
to feel ashamed in front ofsb
sich vor etw scheuen
to shrink from sth
jdn vor jdm/etw warnen
to warn sb against sb/sth
vor often has the meaning 'from' with verbs of protecting, etc.:
jdn vor jdm/etw beschtzen
to protect sb from sb/sth
vor jdm/etw fliehen (R3)
tofleefrom sb/sth
jdn vor etw retten
to save sb from sth

ZU

zu has the meaning 'to' with verbs of empowering, leading,


persuading, etc.:
jdn zu etw berechtigen
to entitle sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw einladen
to invite sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw ermchtigen
to empower sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw ermutigen
to encourage sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw herausfordern
to challenge sb to (do) sth
jdm zu etw raten
to advise sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw treiben
to drive sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw berreden
to persuade sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw veranlassen
to cause sb to (do) sth
jdn zu etw verfuhren
to seduce sb into (doing) sth
jdn zu etw zwingen
to force sb to (do) sth
zu with other verbs has a variety of meanings:
etw zu etw beitragen
to contribute sth to sth
zu etw dienen
to serve as sth
sich zu etw eignen
to be suitable as sth
sich zu etw entschlieen
to decide (to do) sth
zu etw fhren
to lead to sth
zu etw gehren
to be one ofsth, be part ofsth
jdm zu etw gratulieren
to congratulate sb on sth
zu etw neigen
to tend to sth
zu jdm/etw passen
to suit sb/sth
jdn/etw zu etw rechnen
to count sb/sth as one ofsth
sich zu jdm/etw verhalten
stand in a relationship to sb/sth
jdn/etw zu etw zhlen
to count sb/sth as one ofsth

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4.1.5

Infinitive phrases and //^-clauses with verbs governing


a prepositional object
Verbs with a prepositional object are often followed by an infinitive
phrase or a rf^-clause. This is often anticipated in German by the
prepositional adverb (i.e. da(r) + preposition), e.g.:
Wir bestanden darauf, dass er die Rechnung sofort bezahlte
We insisted on his paying the bill immediately
Ich verlasse mich darauf, ihn morgen sprechen zu knnen
I am relying on being able to speak to him tomorrow
As you see from these examples, German puts things in a very different
way to how we do it in English (often with the -ing form of the verb,
see 5.3), and you need to learn how to recognize and use constructions
like this.
With some verbs, the prepositional adverb can be left out in
sentences like this, e.g.:
Sie hat sich nicht (davor) gescheut, ihm die Wahrheit zu sagen
Sie haben sich (darber) gefreut, dass er gekommen ist
There are no precise rules about when the prepositional adverb is used
or not, and it is often left out with some common verbs. If it is used, it
tends to emphasize the following clause more strongly. In general, it is
more commonly included in R3, whilst it tends to be dropped more
often in Rl. The following list gives some of the most common verbs
with which the prepositional adverb is often omitted:
abhalten von
abraten von
Acht geben auf
anfangen mit
(sich) rgern ber
aufhren mit
aufpassen auf
beginnen mit
sich beklagen ber
sich bemhen u m
sich beschweren ber
bitten u m

sich ekeln vor


sich entscheiden fr
sich entschlieen zu
(sich) erinnern an
fragen nach
sich freuen auf/ber
sich furchten vor
glauben an
hindern an
hoffen auf
sich hten vor
klagen ber

raten zu
sich scheuen vor
sich schmen ber
sich sehnen nach
sorgen fr
sich sorgen u m
sich streiten ber
trumen von
berzeugen von
urteilen ber
sich wundern ber
zweifeln an

In addition, the prepositional adverb can be omitted with all the


transitive verbs used with zu, like jdn zu etw ermutigen, which are listed
in 4.1.4.

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4.1.6 Verbs with varying constructions


Many verbs can be used in more than one construction, most often with
a clear difference in meaning, register or usage, and some common ones
are given below in sentences illustrating the different constructions.
absehen

jdn etw absehen


von etw absehen
es auf jdn absehen (Rl)

achten

etw achten
auf jdn/etw achten

angeben

etw angeben
angeben (Rl)

angehen

angehen
etw angehen
jdn um etw angehen
jdn angehen (Rl)

ankommen

ankommen
mit etw ankommen

auf etw ankommen


bestehen

bestehen
etw bestehen
aus etw bestehen

Er hat mir diesen Kunstgriff abgesehen


He copied that trick from me
Ich sehe von etwas ab
I am refraining from sth
Sie hat es auf mich abgesehen
She 's got it in for me
Ich achte ihre Leistungen
I respect their achievements
Wir haben auf ihn geachtet
We paid attention to him
Sie mssen den Grund angeben
You must state the reason
Er hat gewaltig angegeben
He boasted dreadfully
Das Licht ging an
The light came on
Wie sollen wir diese Aufgabe angehen?
How are we to tackle this task?
Er ging mich um Untersttzung an
He asked me for support
Das geht dich nichts an
That's none of your business
Wir kommen gleich in Mnster an
We shall shortly be arriving in Mnster
Mit so einer Bitte kommst du bei mir nicht
an (Rl)
You won't get anywhere with me with a
request like that
Es kommt sehr auf das Wetter an
It depends a lot on the weather
Das Schloss besteht nicht mehr
The castle doesn 't exist any more
Er muss die Prfung bestehen
He has got to pass the examination
Der Teller bestand aus reinem Gold
The plate was made ofpure gold

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in etw bestehen

auf etw bestehen


bringen

jdm etw bringen


jdn auf etw bringen
es auf etw bringen
jdn um etw bringen
es zu etw bringen
jdn zu etw bringen

drngen

jdn drngen
auf etw drngen
jdn zu etw drngen

sich eignen

sich fur jdn eignen


sich zu etw eignen

Das Problem besteht darin, dass wir es


nicht beweisen knnen
The problem lies in the fact that we can't prove
it
Sie besteht auf ihrem Recht
She is insisting on her right
Er hat mir die pfel gebracht
He brought me the apples
Sie hat mich auf diese Idee gebracht
She put this idea into my head
Er hat es auf 10 Punkte gebracht
He managed to get 10 points
Das hat mich heute um den Schlaf gebracht
That made me lose my sleep today
Sie haben es im Leben zu nichts gebracht
They achieved nothing in their lifetime
Das wird mich noch zur Verzweiflung
bringen
That will drive me to despair
Die Polizei drngte sie vorwrts
The police pushed them forward
Sie drngen auf Zahlung
They are pressing for payment
Sie drngte ihn zu dieser Entscheidung
She urged him to (take) this decision
Der Film eignet sich nicht fur Kinder
Thefilmis not suitable for children
Er eignet sich nicht zum Lehrer
He is not suitable as a teacher

Er hat sich mir ergeben


He gave in to me
sich in etw ergeben (R3) Sie haben sich in ihr Schicksal ergeben
They submitted to their fate
sich aus etw ergeben
Das eine ergibt sich aus dem anderen
The one follows from the other

sich ergeben

sich jdm ergeben

folgen

jdm folgen
aufjdn/etw folgen
aus etw folgen

Sie ist ihm heimlich gefolgt


She followed him secretly
Auf Karl II. folgte Jakob II.
James II succeeded Charles II
Aus diesem Brief folgt, dass . . .
It follows from this letter that.. .

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sich freuen

sich ber jdn/etw freuen


sich auf etw freuen
sich an jdm/etw freuen

gelten

gelten
als etw gelten
jdm gelten
es gilt etw zu tun

halten

halten
jdn/etw halten
auf etw halten
von jdm/etw halten
zu jdm halten
jdn/etw fr etw halten

kommen

kommen
auf etw kommen
hinter etw kommen
um etw kommen

liegen

Ich habe mich ber seinen Erfolg gefreut


I was pleased about his success
Sie freut sich auf Ihren Besuch
She is looking forward to your visit
Er freut sich sehr an seinen Kindern
He gets a lot ofpleasure from his children
Diese Fahrkarte gilt nicht mehr
This ticket is no longer valid
Es darf als sicher gelten, dass . . .
It may be regarded as certain that.. .
Diese Bemerkung galt mir
That comment was meant for me
Jetzt gilt es einen Entschluss zu fassen
Now it is necessary to reach a decision
Der Wagen hlt nicht
The car is not stopping
Er hielt das Kind im Arm
He was holding the child in his arms
Ich halte sehr auf seine Meinung
I attach a lot of importance to his opinion
Ich halte viel von ihm
I think a lot of him
Du hast immer zu ihm gehalten
You 've always stood by him
Ich halte sie fr eine Freundin
I consider her a friend
Heute kommt sie nicht
She 's not coming today
Wie bist du auf diese Idee gekommen?
How did you get that idea?
Ich bin hinter sein Geheimnis gekommen
Ifound out his secret
Er ist um ein Vermgen gekommen
He lost a fortune

liegen

Das Kind lag auf dem Boden


The child was lying on the floor
viel/wenig an etw liegen Es lag ihm viel an diesem Beruf
This job was very important to him
jdm liegen
Diese Arbeit liegt mir nicht
I don yt like this work
an jdm liegen
An mir soll es nicht liegen
It shouldn 't be up to me

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passen

passen
jdm passen
zu etw passen

passieren

etw passieren
passieren

rechnen

aufjdn/etw rechnen
mit etw rechnen
zu etw rechnen

reichen

wohin reichen
jdn etw reichen
jdm reichen

Ich passe
I pass (at cards)
Das Kleid passt dir gut
The dressfits/suitsyou
Er passt nicht zum Lehrer
He 's not suited to be a teacher
Wir passierten die deutsche Grenze
We crossed the German border
Was ist dir gestern passiert?
What happened to you yesterday?
Ich rechne auf dich
I'm counting on you
Du musst mit dem Schlimmsten rechnen
You have to reckon with the worst
Sie rechnet ihn zu ihren Freunden
She counts him as her friend
Die Felder reichen bis zum Wald
Thefieldsextend to the forest
Sie hat mir den Teller gereicht
She handed me the plate
Das Geld reicht mir nicht
I haven *t got enough money

sich schmen

sich wegen etw schmen Er schmte sich wegen seiner Feigheit


He was ashamed ofhis cowardice
Du sollst dich nicht vor ihm schmen
sich vor jdm schmen
You don yt need to feel ashamed in front ofhim
Sie schmte sich fr ihn
sich fur jdn schmen
She was ashamedfor him

schlieen

etw schlieen
etw aus etw schlieen

stimmen

stimmen
fiir etw stimmen
etw stimmen

Ich habe die Tr geschlossen


I have shut the door
Aus seinem Verhalten kann man auf seinen
Charakter schlieen
You can deduce his character from his
behaviour
Stimmt das, was er sagt?
Is what he says correct?
Fr diese Partei habe ich nicht gestimmt
I didn yt vote for that party
Ich muss die Gitarre stimmen
I've got to tune the guitar

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4.2

Cases: dative and genitive


German has four cases, nominative, accusative, genitive and dative.
Their most important role is to show the relationship of noun phrases
to the verb, and this has been explained in 4.1. German prepositions are
also always followed by a noun phrase in a particular case as detailed in
2.5. The dative and genitive cases, though, have other uses, and these
are dealt with in this section.

4.2.1

Possessive dative
The dative has the widest range of all of the German cases, with many
idiomatic uses. One of the most important (which is quite different to
any English construction) is to mark possession.

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

To indicate possession with parts of the body, clothing, etc. German


often uses a dative of the person(s) concerned. The body-part, etc. then
has a definite article, not a possessive construction, e.g.:
She ran her fingers through the
Sie fuhr dem Jungen ber das
boy's hair
Haar
He looked into her eyes
Er sah ihr in die Augen
The patient's appendix was
Dem Kranken wurde der
operated on
Blinddarm operiert
Especially in R3 this dative phrase can appear a long way from the
noun it refers to, e.g.:
The image of his father pressed
Dem in seiner Zelle
itself into the memory of the man
Eingeschlossenen drang sich
shut up in his cell
das Bild des Vaters in die
Erinnerung
When more than one person is involved, the singular of the noun will
be used if each person has one of each (see 3.1.6), e.g.:
Their hearts were beating
Ihnen klopfte das Herz
Er hat uns das Leben gerettet
He saved our lives
In most cases a construction with the genitive (at least in R3) or with a
possessive is possible in such contexts, e.g.:
Ich verband dem Kind die Hand j
I bandaged the child's hand
Ich verband die Hand des Kindes J
Ich verband ihm die Hand 1
I bandaged his hand
Ich verband seine Hand )
However, the construction with the dative case stresses that the whole
person is directly affected as well as the body-part specifically
mentioned, and it is usually preferred. In some contexts there may

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be a clear difference in meaning. Compare the following pairs of


examples:
Regen tropfte ihm auf den Hut (i.e. he was getting wet)
(here it is not clear whether he was
Regen tropfte auf seinen Hut
actually wearing it at the time)
(i.e. they startled me)
Rehe liefen mir ber den Weg
(i.e. across my path - not someone
Rehe liefen ber meinen Weg
else's)
With some verbs an accusative of the person involved is used rather
than a dative, e.g.:
Er hat mich/mir auf die Schulter
He tapped me on the shoulder
geklopft
Die Biene hat ihn/ihm in den
The bee stung his finger
Finger gestochen
Sie hat ihn/ihm ins Gesicht
She laughed in his face
gelacht
It has been claimed that there is a distinction between the accusative
and the dative in such contexts, with the accusative emphasizing more
strongly that the person is directly affected. This is rarely adhered to
and in practice the two cases are used interchangeably with these verbs,
although the dative is usual in Rl. In R2 and R3 the accusative is
common with the following verbs:
beien, kssen, stechen, stoen
With the following verbs the accusative is sometimes found in R2 and
R3 but the dative is more frequent:
hauen, klopfen, schieen, schlagen, schneiden, treten

4.2.2

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Genitive or van}
This section deals only with the use of the genitive case to link nouns;
its use with prepositions is covered in 2.5.4, with verbs in 4.1.3.
The use of the genitive case is very much dependent on register: the
more formal the register, the more it occurs, as the texts in 1.6
illustrate. It is widely used in R3 and it is particularly frequent in R3b,
but it is avoided entirely in Rl, except with names, e.g.:
Alfreds Tasche, Monikas Schwester, Angelikas Handschuhe,
Vatis Schuhe, Frau Mayers Bluse
A common alternative to the genitive is a phrase with the preposition
von, e.g.:
Rl: das Dach vom Haus
R2/R3: das Dach des Hauses
Although the genitive is used regularly in R3 and commonly in R2,
there are constructions where a construction with von must be used
even in the more formal registers, and others where it is quite frequent.

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(a)

von must be used, even in R3:


if a noun stands by
itself, without any
article or adjective
which declines

with personal pronouns


after viel, wenig

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

der Geruch von Benzin


die Wirkung von wenig Wein
eine Mutter von sechs Kindern
der Tod von Tausenden
der Vater von zwei Tchtern
(R3a also: der Vater zweier Tchter)
jeder von uns
eine Tante von mir
viel von dem, was sie sagte
wenig von dem guten Wein

(b)

von is more usual than the genitive, even in R3:


to avoid consecutive
die Tr von dem Haus meines
genitives in -s,
Bruders
especially with names
die Ubersetzung von Goethes
Taust'
die Antwort von Martins Freund
if a noun has an
der Bau von modernen Kraftwerken
adjective, but no
ein Erzeugnis von hchster Qualitt
article
die Produktion von reinem Stahl
der Preis von sechs neuen
Fahrrdern
with indefinite
eine Dauer von mehreren Jahren
pronouns
in der Gesellschaft von einigen
Freunden
die Ansicht von vielen
Wissenschaftlern

(c)

von is often found in R2 and R3, although more formal registers often
prefer the genitive:
with words of quantity
die Hlfte von diesem Buch
in partitive
eines von diesen neuen Husern
constructions
drei von unseren Nachbarn
ein Teil von den Zuschauern
viele von den Manahmen
with geographical
die Zerstrung von Dresden
names
die Hauptstadt von Deutschland
das Alpengebiet von Krnten
die Straen von Frankfurt

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(d)

In other contexts R3 always has, and R2 usually has, a genitive, but in


Rl von is normally used:
Rl
R2+R3
die Adresse von meiner Tante
in der Nhe vom Rathaus
das Dach von der alten Kirche
das Benehmen von den Kindern
die Abfahrt vom Zug

die Adresse meiner Tante


in der Nhe des Rathauses
das Dach der alten Kirche
das Benehmen der Kinder
die Abfahrt des Zuges

(e)

von is even commonly used with names in Rl:


das Buch von (der) Petra
das Haus von (der) Frau Mller

(f)

To express possession with persons, the most casual Rl often uses a


paraphrase with the dative. This construction is never used in higher
registers.
(S: dem) Jrgen seine Tasche
(S: der) Mutter ihr Schlssel
meinen Freunden ihre Fahrrder
The genitive case also occurs in a number of set phrases. Some of
these are used in less formal registers, as indicated:
when all is said and done
letzten Endes (R2/R3)
allen Ernstes (R3)
in all seriousness
meines Erachtens (R3)
in my view
stehenden Fues (R3)
immediately
with his head held high
erhobenen Hauptes (R3)
erster Klasse fahren (R2/R3)
to travelfirstclass
ich bin deiner Meinung (R2/R3)
I agree with you
frohen Mutes (R3)
in good spirits
er ging seines Weges (R3)
he went his way
meines Wissens (R2/R3)
to my knowledge
The genitive also occurs in some time expressions which are used in
all registers:
eines Tages, Abends, Nachts, etc.
one day, evening,, night, etc.
eines schnen Sommers
onefinesummer

4.2.3

The position of genitive phrases


In modern German, a phrase in the genitive case follows the noun it
qualifies, e.g.:
die Gefahr eines Erdbebens
die Hlfte meines Vermgens
die Kultur des Ostens
die Auswirkungen dieser schweren Krise

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The only exception is with names, e.g.:


Manfreds Stereoanlage) n o n m l b a r e ^ s t e r s
Antjes neue Bluse
)
Frau Mllers Sohn
Rl also: der Sohn von (S: der) Frau
Mller
R2-R3 also: der Sohn der Frau Mller
Goethes Werke
R3 also: die Werke Goethes
R1-R3 also: die Werke von Goethe
Frankfurts Straen
R3 also: die Straen Frankfurts
R1-R3 also: die Straen von Frankfurt
In R3a other genitives can come first. However, this construction is rare
and usually sounds rather old-fashioned (or facetious), e.g.:
des Mannes Ehre
des khnen Helden blankes Schwert
des Postministers Kabelplne

4.2.4 Measurement phrases


(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

The most common usage in all registers is for the nouns to be in the
same case, e.g.:
eine Menge Fehler
ein Glas badischer Wein
ein Kilo italienische Tomaten
Er trank eine Tasse schwarzen Tee (accusative)
mit einem Zentner polnischer Kohle (dative)
In R3a the genitive case can be used if an adjective is present. This has
an archaic flavour, especially in the singular, e.g.:
ein Glas badischen Weines
ein Becher frischer Milch
ein Dutzend erbaulicher Bcher
von is often used with vague quantity words such as Anzahl, Haufen,
Menge, especially if they are plural, e.g.:
eine Menge von Fehlern
eine Anzahl von Touristen
zwei Gruppen von Schulkindern
vier Kategorien von Ausnahmen
eine ganze Reihe von Beispielen
With these vague quantity words, the genitive is quite frequent in R3 if
an adjective follows, e.g.:
ein Haufen alter Zeitschriften
eine Anzahl deutscher Touristen
Millionen hungernder Menschen

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4.3

Tenses
German has six tenses, as the table below shows:

PRESENT
PAST
PERFECT
PLUPERFECT
FUTURE
FUTURE PERFECT

ich kaufe
ich kaufte
ich habe gekauft
ich hatte gekauft
ich werde kaufen
ich werde gekauft haben

I buy
I bought
I have bought
I had bought
I shall/will buy
I shall/will have bought

These German tenses are very similar in form to the English tenses,
with two simple tenses of a single word, i.e. the present tense and the
past tense, and four compound tenses, formed with the auxiliary verbs
haben, sein and/or werden and the past participle and/or the infinitive,
i.e. the perfect, pluperfect, future and future perfect tenses.
In general, the uses of the corresponding tenses in German and
English are also very similar. This section explains the most important
contexts where there are significant differences between the two
languages.

4.3.1

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Present and future


The future tense is used much less in German than in English,
particularly in Rl. As long as there is no real risk of ambiguity, German
can use the present tense where the future tense must be used in
English (whether the future tense with will/shall/ 7/ is used in English
or the construction with to be going to, which has no equivalent in
German), e.g.:
In zwei Stunden bin ich wieder da Fll be back in two hours
Weitere Einzelheiten erteilt
Our specialist staff will give you
Ihnen unser Fachpersonal
further information
Ich erwarte, dass sie kommt
I expect that she will come
Sie findet es nie
She '11 neverfindit
Wir sagen es ihm morgen
We're going to tell him tomorrow
Only if the future meaning is not clear is it absolutely necessary to use
the future tense in German, e.g.:
Er wird wieder als Ingenieur
He will be working as an engineer
arbeiten
again
(Er arbeitet wieder als Ingenieur could only mean: He is working as
an engineer again)

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The future tense often expresses a prediction or a probability. This is


similar to English, and it is frequently strengthened by wohl in German
(see 2.6), e.g.:
Er wird den Zug (wohl) noch erreichen
Dagmar wird (wohl) auch kommen wollen
Die Vorstellung wird (wohl) gegen 11 Uhr zu Ende sein
Schalke wird (wohl) auch in Mnchen verlieren
The future tense can also stress determination to do something, e.g.:
Ich werde es heute Abend noch erledigen
Wir werden es schon schaffen
The future perfect tense is uncommon in any register, and the perfect
tense is often used in its place. It often expresses a supposition in the
past, e.g.:
Bald wird er es geschafft haben = Bald hat er es geschafft
Er wird (wohl) nicht ohne
= Er ist wohl nicht ohne Absicht
Absicht gekommen sein
gekommen
Er wird (wohl) seinen Schlssel
= Er hat wohl seinen Schlssel
verloren haben
verloren

4.3.2 Past and perfect


The term 'imperfect tense', which is sometimes used to refer to
the German past tense, is better avoided as it is misleading. Unlike the
French or Spanish imperfect tenses, the past tense in German and
English does not express any idea of uncompleted or continuing action.

NOTE:

(a)

In modern German there is little real difference in meaning between


the past and perfect tenses. Both ich kam and ich bin gekommen can
express much the same idea and both can be used to translate I came or
I have come. Which one is used depends largely on region and register.
Broadly speaking, written registers (R2/R3) prefer the past tense,
whereas spoken German Rl prefers the perfect, especially in S, e.g.:
Rl: spoken German
R2/R3: written German
Sein Bruder Robert ist gestern
Sein Bruder Robert fuhr gestern
mit ein paar Freunden nach
mit ein paar Freunden nach
Hamm gefahren, wo sie Uwe
Hamm, wo sie Uwe Fuhrmann
Fuhrmann besucht haben
besuchten
The past tense is not used at all in speech in S. In N, however, it does
occur, especially:
in als- and wie-chuses:
Als ich sie sah, hat sie mich nicht erkannt
Ich habe gehrt, wie er die Treppe herunterkam
in the passive, with modal auxiliary verbs, with verbs of saying,
hearing and feeling and many very common verbs, such as sein,
haben, bleiben, gehen, kommen, stehen, etc.:

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(b)

(c)

4.3.3

Da blieb ich stehen und sagte nichts


Ich konnte auch nichts sagen
Ich war vor ihm dran
Sie hatte nichts dagegen
Er wurde schlecht behandelt
The perfect tense is normally used in written German R2/R3 to stress
a result, to express the immediate past or actions which have continued
up to now. In all these contexts English typically also uses a perfect, e.g.:
stressing result:
Es hat geschneit (i.e. I can see the snow)
Wir sind gelandet (i.e. we're on the ground)
Man sieht, dass er schwer gearbeitet hat
immediate past:
Jetzt hat Kahn den Ball eingeworfen
Damit haben wir unsere kurze Einleitung beendet
In diesem Augenblick ist der Zug abgefahren
events continuing up to now:
Seit dem Sommer hat sie zwanzig Bcher gelesen
Das habe ich wiederholt gesagt
Bis jetzt hat alles geklappt
The past tense is not unknown in R3 in the contexts listed under (b),
especially in R3b (newspaper headlines, etc.). However, it is much less
frequent than the perfect, e.g.:
stressing result:
Das ist der erste solche Bericht, der uns erreichte
immediate past:
Sie hrten soeben eine Sendung des sterreichischen
Rundfunks
events continuing up to now:
Noch nie wurde ein Auto so oft gebaut

haben or sein in the perfect?


The German perfect tenses can be formed with the auxiliaries haben or
sein, e.g.:
perfect
pluperfect
future perfect

Sie hat es gekauft


Sie ist schnell gelaufen
Sie hatte es gekauft
Sie war schnell gelaufen
Sie wird es gekauft
Sie wird schnell
haben
gelaufen sein
With most verbs the choice between haben and sein is quite
straightforward.

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(a)

(b)

The following verbs form their perfect tenses with sein:


intransitive verbs which express a change of place, e.g.:
Sie ist geflogen/geflohen/gegangen/gelaufen, etc.
intransitive verbs expressing a change of state, e.g.:
Es ist geworden/gestorben/verblht, etc.
verbs meaning 'to happen', 'to fail', 'to succeed', e.g.:
Es ist geschehen/passiert/vorgekommen/zugestoen, etc.
Es ist gelungen/misslungen/geglckt, etc.
[NOTE: es hat geklappt (Rl)]
the verbs sein and bleiben, e.g.:
Er ist gewesen/geblieben
some other verbs in certain regions only, i.e.:
N: anfangen/beginnen
S: liegen/sitzen/stehen
(In standard German these always form their perfect tenses
with haben.)
The following verbs form the perfect with haben:
transitive verbs, i.e. those which have an accusative object, e.g.:
Sie hat ihn geschlagen/gesehen/getragen/gewaschen, etc.
reflexive verbs, e.g.:
Er hat sich beeilt/gefreut/verabschiedet, etc.
intransitive verbs which express a continuous action, e.g.:
Wir haben gewartet/gearbeitet/geholfen, etc.
impersonal verbs, e.g.:
Es hat geregnet/geschneit/gedmmert, etc.
The choice between haben and sein is not linked to the particular verb
in German, but depends on the meaning as given above. Several verbs
can fall into more than one of the categories above if their meaning
varies, or if they can be used transitively or intransitively. In this case
they sometimes take haben and sometimes take sein. The following
examples show the effect of this with some common verbs:
The cat jumped up at him
Die Katze hat ihn angesprungen
Der Motor ist angesprungen
The motor started
Ich habe das Geschenk
I received the present
bekommen
The shellfish didn ft agree with her
Die Muscheln sind ihr nicht
bekommen
Er hat die Rhre gebogen
He bent the tube
Wir sind um die Ecke gebogen
We turned round the corner
Er hat das Rohr gebrochen
He broke the pipe
Das Rohr ist gebrochen
The pipe broke
Sie hat auf Zahlung gedrungen
She pressed for payment
Wasser ist in das Haus gedrungen Water penetrated into the house
Er hat einen Audi gefahren
He drove an Audi

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Er ist nach Gieen gefahren


He drove to Gieen
Sie hat ihm gefolgt
She obeyed him
Sie ist ihm gefolgt
She followed him
Es hat in der Nacht gefroren
It froze during the night
The lake froze
Der See ist gefroren
You were mistaken
Da haben Sie sich geirrt
We strayed through the forest
Da sind wir durch den Wald
geirrt
He ran into town
Er ist in die Stadt gelaufen
He got sore feet from running
Er hat sich die Fe wund
gelaufen
She tore a hole in her dress
Sie hat sich ein Loch ins Kleid
gerissen
The rope broke
Der Strick ist gerissen
He shot him in the head
Er hat ihn in den Kopf
geschossen
The weeds shot out of the ground
Das Unkraut ist aus dem Boden
geschossen
She pushed him to one side
Sie hat ihn zur Seite gestoen
Ich bin an den Schrank gestoen I bumped into the cupboard
He kicked it by accident
Er hat es aus Versehen getreten
He stepped into the water
Er ist in das Wasser getreten
She pulled on the string
Sie hat am Strick gezogen
She moved to Emden
Sie ist nach Emden gezogen
A rather special case concerns some verbs of motion which can take sein
if they express movement from one spot to another, but haben if they
just refer to the activity as such, e.g.
Er hat den ganzen Tag gebummelt/ gefahren/ geflogen/
geritten/ gerudert/ geschwommen/ gesegelt/ getanzt
Er ist durch die Stadt gebummelt/ gefahren/ geflogen/
geritten/ gerudert/ geschwommen/ gesegelt/ getanzt
The tendency in Rl is to use sein with all these verbs in both meanings,
and this usage is also well established in R2 and R3. Only with rudern,
segeln and tanzen is the distinction kept at all consistently.

4.4 The passive


We typically express actions by using the active voice, both in English
and in German. This tells us what is happening and who or what is
doing it, e.g. Der Brgermeister erffnete gestern die Ausstellung. But we
can present a different perspective on an action by using the passive
voice, which places the emphasis simply on what is happening,
without necessarily mentioning who or what is doing it, e.g. Die
Ausstellung wurde gestern erffnet.

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4.4.1

werden- or s^m-passive?
German has two forms of the passive voice, using the auxiliary verbs
werden or sein together with the past participle of the main verb:
The werden-passive (e.g. die Stadt wurde zerstrt) expresses a process
(in German it is called the Vorgangspassiv). It is closely related to the
corresponding active voice.
The ^m-passive (e.g. die Stadt war zerstrt) expresses a state (in
German it is called the Zustandspassiv). Its use is more restricted than
that of the werden-pzssive.
The werden-p&ssive is formed from the appropriate tense of the verb
werden with the past participle of a verb indicating the action:
Present Die Ausstellung wird erffnet
Past
Die Ausstellung wurde erffnet
Perfect Die Austeilung ist erffnet worden
(NOTE: worden is used as the past participle of werden in
the passive voice)
Future
Die Ausstellung wird erffnet werden

Rl = spoken
colloquial
RL* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

A U = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
N E = North East
N W = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

The ^/-passive is much less frequent than the werden-passive. It is


formed with the present or past tense of sein (other tenses are rarely
used) and the past participle, and it is essentially descriptive, with the
past participle being equivalent in meaning to an adjective, e.g.:
Die Tr ist geffnet
= Die Tr ist offen (i.e. somebody
has opened it)
Der Brief ist geschrieben
= Der Brief ist fertig (i.e. somebody
has written it)
Die Stadt war zerstrt
= Die Stadt war kaputt (i.e.
somebody had destroyed it)
Compare these examples with sentences with the werden-passive:
Die Tr wird geffnet
(somebody is in the process of
opening it)
Der Brief wird geschrieben (somebody is in the process of writing
it)
Die Stadt wurde zerstrt
(somebody carried out the action of
destroying it)
For this reason the sm-passive is often the equivalent of an English
perfect or pluperfect tense, e.g.:
The letter has been written
Der Brief ist geschrieben
Die Stadt war zerstrt
The town had been destroyed
In practice, the difference in meaning may be very slight between the
German ^'-passive and the perfect or pluperfect tenses of the
wrcfew-passive, e.g.:
Der Brief ist geschrieben / Der Brief ist geschrieben worden
Die Stadt war zerstrt / Die Stadt war zerstrt worden

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On the other hand, the werden-passive, especially in the present, often


corresponds to an English progressive tense because it indicates an
action in progress, e.g.:
The letter is being written
Der Brief wird geschrieben
The application is being dealt with
Der Antrag wird bearbeitet
As the sm-passive expresses a state resulting from a previous action, it
is only ever used with verbs which have some tangible result, like
verletzen, e.g.:
Meine Hand ist verletzt
i.e. you can see the resulting injury
Der Wagen ist beschdigt
i.e. you can see the resulting damage
Verbs which do not express a clear result cannot be used in the i m passive at all, e.g.:
Das Mdchen wurde bewundert
The girl was admired
war bewundert is quite impossible, as admiring does not produce a result
which can be seen. Other common verbs which similarly cannot be
used in the sein-passive are:
anbieten
bemerken
erwarten
schmeicheln
befragen
brauchen
hindern
schulden
begren
erblicken
loben
zeigen
In N and CH the sew-passive may be more widely used to refer to an
action, e.g.:
Die Anwesenden sind aufgefordert, ihre Pltze einzunehmen
(In standard German, only werden is acceptable here.)
Only in a very few cases is the distinction between werden and sein
unimportant in standard German, most commonly when we are
dealing with a general truth or a permanent state of some kind, usually
referring to things, e.g.:
Die Stadt wird/ist von etwa eine Million Menschen bewohnt
Das Zentrum wird/ist durch die Ringstrae von den
Auenbezirken getrennt

4.4.2

The impersonal ('subjectless') passive


A characteristic and frequent use of the passive in German is in an
impersonal construction to refer, in general terms, to an action or
activity going on. It is particularly common in written German
(especially R3b), but it is by no means restricted to that register. The
following examples illustrate this construction:
Es wird wieder getanzt
The dancing is starting up again
Es wurde abgestimmt
A vote was taken
Es wurde noch lange diskutiert
The discussion still continued for a
long time

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If another part of speech is in initial position in a main clause statement,


or in questions and subordinate clauses, the es is dropped (though the
verb still agrees with it), giving the so-called 'subjectless' passive, e.g.:
Jetzt wird wieder getanzt
The dancing is starting up again now
Nachmittags wurde Karten
People played cards in the afternoons
gespielt
Er langweilte sich, weil noch
He was bored because the discussion
lange diskutiert wurde
still continued for a long time
Wurde noch lange diskutiert?
Did the discussion still continue for a
long time?

4.4.3 The passive with dative objects


In German, only the accusative object of a transitive verb can become
the subject of the passive, e.g.:
Herr Altmann baut das Haus
Das Haus wird von Herrn
Altmann gebaut
Der Feind zerstrte die Stadt
Die Stadt wurde vom Feind
zerstrt
This means that dative objects and prepositional objects can never
become the subject of a passive sentence; they remain as datives or
prepositional phrases in the passive. This is quite different in English,
e.g.:
Sie schenkte dem Mdchen
eine Puppe
Er antwortete dem Knig
nicht
Sie sorgten fr die Kinder

Dem Mdchen wurde eine


Puppe geschenkt
The girl was given a doll
Dem Knig wurde nicht
geantwortet
The king was not answered
Fr die Kinder wurde gesorgt
The children were looked after

4.4.4 von or durch with the passive?


The equivalent of English by in the passive can be von or durch in
German, von is much more frequent and is used for the agent, i.e. the
'doer' or the cause of an action. This is most often a person, but it can
sometimes be some natural agency, e.g.:
Holger wurde von seiner Schwester informiert
Diese Zeitschrift wird eher von anspruchsvollen Menschen gelesen
Sie wurden von einer Lawine mitgerissen

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durch refers to the means of doing an action, which is commonly a


thing, or to an intermediary, e.g.:
Die Stadt wurde durch Bomben verwstet
Die Fhigkeit des Fahrers wurde durch Alkohol erheblich
gemindert
Die Katastrophe wurde durch die ungewhnliche Klte
herbeigefhrt
However, this distinction between von and durch is not always strictly
adhered to, especially in Rl. In particular, there are many instances
where it is not clear whether one is dealing with a 'doer' or the means of
doing an action, and either von or durch can be used, e.g.:
Die Stadt wurde durch/von Bomben verwstet
Alle unsere Erzeugnisse werden durch/von Fachexperten geprft
NOTE: In general, von/durch phrases are only used with the
werden-passive, not with the sm-passive.

4.4.5

(a)

(b)

Alternative passive constructions


It is rather misleading to say, as some books do, that the passive is used
less in German than in English. If it is true to any extent it is because
German can use an active construction with something other than the
subject in initial position in a way which is not possible in English
(see 5.1.4). However, the German passive is widely used, if rather more
in R3 (especially R3b) than Rl, and it is certainly not to be 'avoided'
almost as a matter of course.
Nevertheless, German is rich in alternative means of expressing
passives, and it is worthwhile knowing these constructions. They are
very frequent, and they can provide useful variation and differences in
emphasis.
man can be used if the subject is truly indefinite. It is much more used
in all registers than English 'one':
Man sagt
= Es wird gesagt
Das tut man nicht
= Das wird nicht getan
Man schloss die Sitzung
= Die Sitzung wurde geschlossen
bekommen, erhalten (R3) or kriegen (Rl) can be used to emphasize the
person receiving something, e.g.:
Ich bekam den Weg von einem
= Mir wurde der Weg von einem
Passanten beschrieben
Passanten beschrieben
Er erhielt das Geld ausgezahlt
= Ihm wurde das Geld
(R3)
ausgezahlt
Die Kleine hat eine Puppe
= Der Kleinen wurde eine Puppe
geschenkt gekriegt (Rl)
geschenkt

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gehren (S) has the force of mssen or sollen, e.g.:


Das gehrt doch bestraft
= Das muss/soll doch bestraft
werden
Dem gehrt das deutlich gesagt
= Ihm muss/soll das deutlich
gesagt werden
Phrasal
verbs,
especially
with
kommen,
are frequent in R3b, e.g.:
(d)
Es kommt demnchst zur
= Darber wird demnchst
entschieden
Entschiedung (R3b)
= Die Verhandlungen werden
Die Verhandlungen kommen
heute abgeschlossen
heute zum Abschluss (R3b)
= Die Angelegenheit soll
Die Angelegenheit soll einer
grndlich uberprft werden
grndlichen berprfung
unterliegen (R3b)
(e) Reflexive constructions are often used instead of passives in all
registers, e.g.:
Sie nennt sich Hildegard
= Sie wird Hildegard genannt
Der Schlssel wird sich sicher
= Der Schlssel wird sicher
noch
finden
noch gefunden werden
Das Buch liest sich schnell
= Das Buch kann schnell
gelesen werden
The natural German equivalent of many English passive (or
passive-like) constructions is a reflexive verb, e.g.:
sich rgern to be annoyed
sich schmen to be ashamed
sich freuen to be pleased
sich verbinden to be associated
(f) sich lassen, with an impersonal subject, has the force of knnen, e.g.:
= Das kann noch gemacht
Das lsst sich noch machen
werden
Der Apparat lsst sich nicht
= Der Apparat kann nicht mehr
mehr reparieren
repariert werden
Dieser Satz lsst sich nur
= Dieser Satz kann nur schwer
schwer bersetzen
bersetzt werden
(g) sein with an infinitive phrase (the so-called 'modal infinitive'
construction) has the force of knnen, mssen or sollen (and may then be
ambiguous), e.g.:
Die Arbeit ist bis morgen zu
= Die Arbeit muss bis morgen
erledigen
erledigt werden
Diese Sulen sind an jeder
= Diese Sulen knnen an jeder
Straenecke zu finden
Straenecke gefunden
werden
Diese Ausdrcke sind tunlichst
= Diese Ausdrcke sollen
zu vermeiden
tunlichst vermieden werden
This construction can be converted into an extended adjective based on
the present participle. This is very typical of R3b:
Diese tunlichst zu vermeidenden Ausdrcke . . .

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(i)

4.5

= Das Ergebnis muss


Das Ergebnis bleibt
abgewartet werden
abzuwarten
= Das Radio kann noch
Das Radio geht noch zu
repariert werden
reparieren (Rl)
Adjectives in -bar (and some in -lich) have the force of passives with
knnen, e.g.:
Die Pfirsiche sind kaum essbar
= Die Pfirsiche knnen kaum
gegessen werden
= Solche Wrter knnen
Solche Wrter sind jederzeit
jederzeit gebildet werden
bildbar
= Seine Antwort konnte nicht
Seine Antwort war
verstanden werden
unverstndlich

The subjunctive
The use of the subjunctive in German is subject to considerable
variation dependent on register. 'Rules' which are given in many
grammar books are only kept to strictly in R3. Everyday Rl usage can
be very different, particularly in the area of indirect speech.

4.5.1

Konjunktiv I

Konjunktiv II

The forms of
Konjunktiv I

Forms of the subjunctive


In English, we usually call the main forms of the German subjunctive
the present subjunctive and past subjunctive. However, the difference
in meaning between these has nothing to do with time differences, and
it is common practice in books on German nowadays to refer to them as
Konjunktiv I and Konjunktiv //, as follows:
er schlafe
present subjunctive
er habe geschlafen
perfect subjunctive
er werde schlafen
future subjunctive
er schliefe
past subjunctive
er htte geschlafen
pluperfect subjunctive
er wrde schlafen
conditional
The terms Konjunktiv I and Konjunktiv II are used in this section as
they are less misleading and make it simpler to explain the use of the
subjunctive in modern German.
Konjunktiv I only has a distinct form in the third person singular,
except for the verb sein, and this is formed simply by dropping the -n of
the infinitive. There are no irregularities or vowel changes with any
other verbs.
er mache
er solle
er habe
er nehme
er werde

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Other forms sometimes found in grammar books, e.g. du machest, ihr


machet, are artificial and never used in practice, even in R3.
The verb sein has distinct forms for all persons:
ich sei
wir seien
du sei(e)st
ihr seiet
er sei
sie seien
In practice only the third person singular and plural are at all frequent.
The other tenses of Konjunktiv I are formed with auxiliary verbs, i.e.:
perfect subjunctive the present subjunctive of haben or sein (see 4.3.3)
with the past participle of the main verb:
er habe geschlafen
er sei gekommen
future subjunctive the present subjunctive of werden with the
infinitive:
er werde schlafen
The forms of
Konjunktiv II

Rl = spoken
colloquial
RL* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

There are three tenses of Konjunktiv II:


a one-word form based on the forms of the past tense.
(a) past
For weak verbs it is identical with the past tense; for
subjunctive
strong (and some irregular) verbs it is formed by
umlauting the vowel of the past tense, if possible, and
adding -e, if possible, e.g.:
knnen
gehen
kommen
machen
ich ginge ich knnte
ich kme
ich machte
du machtest du kmest du gingest du knntest
er ginge
er knnte
er kme
er machte
wir machten wir kmen wir gingen wir
knnten
ihr machtet ihr kmet ihr ginget ihr knntet
sie machten sie kmen sie gingen sie knnten
(b) pluperfect the past subjunctive of haben or sein (see 4.3.3) with
the past participle of the main verb:
subjunctive
er htte geschlafen
er wre gekommen
(c) conditional the past subjunctive of werden with the infinitive:
er wrde schlafen
A few strong verbs have an irregular past subjunctive, with a
different vowel, sometimes as an alternative. Only the following are
used nowadays, even in literary R3a:

NOTE:

helfen: ich hlfe (less common: hlfe)


stehen: er standi (less common: standi)

4.5.2 The use of the past subjunctive and conditional forms


The compound conditional form is often used instead of the simple
past subjunctive, in exactly the same meanings and contexts, so that,

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for example, people often say or write ich wrde kommen or ich wrde
wissen rather than ich kme or ich wsste. The one which is used
depends on the individual verb involved and on register. German
school-teachers and stylists have often tried to encourage the use of the
simple forms as a mark of good style, but in practice they often sound
stilted or archaic, and most people avoid using them in any register.
Modern usage can be summarized as follows.:
(a)

(b)

(c)

Rl, R2 & R3:


R2 & R3:
(d)

With weak verbs the one-word form is sometimes used in R3, if the
meaning is otherwise clear from the context, i.e. from a distinct
subjunctive form in the other half of a conditional sentence, e.g.:
Wenn er noch lebte, wrde ich diese Frage nicht beantworten
Wenn wir das Fenster aufmachten, htten wir ein bisschen frische
Luft hier im Zimmer
However, the conditional form with wrde is always preferred in Rl,
and it is used quite commonly in R2, and often in R3, e.g.:
Wenn er noch leben wrde, wrde ich diese Frage nicht
beantworten
Wenn wir das Fenster aufmachen wrden, htten wir ein bisschen
frische Luft hier im Zimmer
With very common irregular verbs (i.e. sein, werden, haben and the
modal auxiliaries) the one-word past subjunctive is almost always
preferred in all registers, so that:
wre
drfte
msste
htte
knnte
sollte
wrde
mchte
wollte
are almost always preferred to wrde sein, wrde haben, wrde knnen,
etc. This also means that the forms of the pluperfect subjunctive always
have htte and wre, e.g.:
Ich htte es getan
Wir wren gefahren
Forms like Ich wrde es getan haben for English 'I would have done it'
are very rare.
With a few other common strong or irregular verbs the one-word
past subjunctive forms are about as frequent as conditional forms with
wrde in the registers indicated:
kommen: kme tun: tte
wissen: wsste
brauchen: (S)
bruchte
finden: fnde
gehen: ginge
heien: hiee
stehen: stnde
geben: gbe
halten: hielte lassen: liee
With a limited number of other strong or irregular verbs the
one-word past subjunctive forms are found in R3 only, and even there
they are less frequent than conditional forms with wrde. The
following are still not unusual in R3:

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bleiben: bliebe
bringen: brchte
denken: dchte
fallen: fiele
fahren: fhre
gelingen: gelnge
geschehen: geschhe
hngen: hinge

helfen: hlfe
kennen: kennte
laufen: liefe
liegen: lge
nehmen: nhme
scheinen: schiene
schlafen: schliefe
schlagen: schlge

schreiben: schriebe
sehen: she
treffen: trfe
tragen: trge
verschwinden:
verschwnde
ziehen: zge

(e)

With the remaining strong and irregular verbs, the one-word past
subjunctive forms are still very occasionally found in R3a, but the
conditional forms with wrde are far more usual. These one-word
forms, especially irregular ones in -o- and -- (e.g. begnne, hbe, wrbe,
etc.) sound pompous and comical nowadays and are best avoided
entirely.

(f)

The one context where the one-word past subjunctive forms and the
conditional forms are not interchangeable is where the sense is of a
'future-in-the-past', i.e. where the speaker or writer is looking forward
within a past-tense narrative, and there is no sense of it being a
supposition or merely a possibility, e.g.:
Manfred wusste, dass sein Freund es nie so weit bringen wrde
Ich beschloss das Buch zu lesen, sobald ich gro sein wrde
The conditional is always used in these contexts, never the one-word
past subjunctive.

4.5.3 Indirect speech


In indirect speech (sometimes called 'reported speech') we report what
someone said by putting it into a sentence of our own, typically
introduced by that. This contrasts with direct speech, where we quote
what someone said in the original spoken form. Compare the following
English examples:
Direct speech:
He said, 'She knows it'
Indirect speech:
He said that she knew it
In German the subjunctive is regularly used to indicate indirect speech.
However, usage is highly variable and determined mainly by register.
Grammatical 'rules' are widely ignored and those given in many
reference works are misleading, inaccurate or unrepresentative of actual
usage. A basic starting point is that whereas the most formal R3 uses
Konjunktiv I wherever possible, informal Rl avoids it almost entirely.
Typical R3 usage

Konjunktiv I is used to indicate indirect speech, as long as


there is a distinct subjunctive form. In practice, this means in
the third person singular, or with the verb sein. The same tense
is kept as in the original direct speech, although if this was the
past tense, the perfect subjunctive is used:

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PRESENT

original tense
:
PA s T :

direct speech
Sie wei es"
Sie wusste es"

PERFECT:

Sie hat es gewusst"

FUTURE:

Sie wird es wissen"

indirect speech
Er sagte, sie wisse es
Er sagte, sie habe es
gewusst
Er sagte, sie habe es
gewusst
Er sagte, sie werde es
wissen

However, if there is no clear Konjunktiv I form (typically in the third


person plural of all verbs except sein), the corresponding Konjunktiv II
forms are used:
original tense direct speech
indirect speech
PRESENT:
Sie wissen es"
Er sagte, sie wssten es
PAST:
Sie wussten es"
Er sagte, sie htten es
gewusst
PERFECT:
Sie haben es gewusst" Er sagte, sie htten es
gewusst
FUTURE:
Sie werden es wissen" Er sagte, sie wrden es
wissen
If the one-word Konjunktiv II form is unusual (see 4.5.2) then the
wrde-form is used, e.g.:
Direct speech: Diese Bche flieen alle in den Neckar"
Indirect speech: Sie sagte, diese Bche wrden alle in den Neckar
flieen
(the one-word formflssenis no longer used)
This pattern is most closely adhered to in the R3b of newspaper
reports, where the subjunctive provides a handy means of indicating
reported speech, for example (from Die Zeit):
Der iranische Parlamentsprsident Rafsanjani ist mit dem ueren
Erscheinungsbild der schiitischen Revolutionre unzufrieden. D i e
fundamentalistischen Moslems w r d e n immer mehr mit Begriffen wie
ungewaschen, unrasiert und unordentlich gekleidet" g l e i c h g e s e t z t .
Auerdem sei es an der Zeit, den revolutionren Eifer etwas zu zgeln. [ . . . ]
Im brigen s o l l e man den Personenkult um den Ajatollah Chomeini nicht
bertreiben. Etwas weniger Portrts des Imam t t e n es auch.

Note the alternation of Konjunktiv I and Konjunktiv II forms and the


lack of any explicit verb of saying; only the subjunctive shows us that
this is reported speech.

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There are one or two common deviations from this pattern in R3, as
follows:
(a)

(b)

(c)

R2 usage

If the conjunction dass is used, the indicative is as frequently used as


Konjunktiv I (but normally still in the tense of the original direct
speech), e.g.:
Er sagte, dass er schon lnger hier wohnt
However, if dass is omitted, then Konjunktiv I is essential, e.g.:
Er sagte, er wohne schon lnger hier
The indicative is often used even if the Konjunktiv I form is not clear
(i.e. in the third person plural), e.g.:
Sie sagten, sie arbeiten schon in der Schweiz
If the indicative is used in indirect speech, there is no difference in
meaning to the subjunctive, i.e. it does not represent 'fact' as opposed
to 'mere report'.
Konjunktiv II is common even when a clear Konjunktiv I form is
available (i.e. in the third person singular), e.g.:
Er hat gefragt, ob sie schon lange in Gttingen wre
Er behauptete, er htte ihn nicht geschlagen
If Konjunktiv II is used, there is no difference in meaning to Konjunktiv
/, i.e. it does not imply 'doubt' as opposed to 'mere report'.
R2 usage differs from R3 mainly in that Konjunktiv I forms are less
frequent:

(a)

Konjunktiv II forms are used rather than Konjunktiv /, with the exception
of sein and haben:
Sie sagte, sie wsste es schon
Sie sagte, sie wrde es versuchen
Sie sagte, sie sei mde geworden

(b)

One-word Konjunktiv II forms are used only with a few common verbs
(see 4.5.2), e.g.:
Er sagte, er kme heute nicht
Sie meinte, sie knnte es schon machen
Otherwise, wrde-forms or the indicative are used, e.g.:
Der Schaffner sagte, dass unsere Rckfahrkarten nicht mehr
gelten/gelten wrden
Viele behaupten, sie lesen keine Tageszeitung mehr/ . . . sie wrden
keine Tageszeitung mehr lesen

(c)

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In Rl, Konjunktiv I is not used at all (except in SW).

Rl usage
(a)

The indicative and Konjunktiv II are used interchangeably, with the


indicative predominating, e.g.:
Sie hat gesagt, sie wei es schon / sie wsste es schon
Sie hat gesagt, sie hat es verstanden / sie htte es verstanden
Sie hat gesagt, sie wird es versuchen / wrde es versuchen

(b)

If Konjunktiv II is used, it is in the wrde- form except with a few common


verbs (see 4.5.2), e.g.:
Sie sagt, sie wrde auf dem Land leben
Er hat gesagt, er kme heute nicht

(c)

Konjunktiv II is used mainly if there is a longer stretch of reported speech


covering more than one sentence, e.g.:
Der sagt, dass er 'nen neuen Wagen gekauft hat. Der htte ber
30 000 Euro gekostet und htte eine Klimaanlage

4.5.4

Conditional sentences
Typical conditional sentences consist of a subordinate clause,
introduced by the conjunction wenn (= English i f ) , expressing a
condition, and a main clause, expressing the consequence. There are
other kinds, with the condition expressed in other ways, e.g. through an
adverbial. Konjunktiv II is used in all registers in German in
conditional sentences which express a possibility, e.g.:
Wenn wir Zeit htten, knnten wir einen Ausflug machen
Die Europer wren erleichtert, wenn England wieder austreten
wrde
Wir wrden es begren, wenn du uns besuchen knntest
Ich wrde mich freuen, wenn sie es schaffen wrde
(R3: schaffte)
Wenn sie auf der Autobahn gefahren wren, htten sie die Fhre
auch rechtzeitig erreicht
Bei dem Wetter wre ich nicht in Urlaub gefahren
Ich wrde sonst das Fenster aufmachen
Ich htte schon an sie geschrieben, nur habe ich ihre Adresse nicht
gewusst
The choice of the one-word past subjunctive form or conditional
wrde-form depends on the individual verb or on register, see 4.5.2.
Either can be used in either part of the sentence, as the examples show.
This is different to English, where we typically always use a past tense
in the if-clause, and a conditional with would in the main clause.

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A common variant in conditional sentences in all registers, but very


frequent in Rl, is the combination of sollte in the wenn-clause and a
future (or present) tense in the main clause. This is similar to the use of
should or were to in English, e.g.:
Wenn er sich dazu entschlieen sollte, werden wir
zusammenarbeiten knnen
Wenn sich die Umstnde nun ndern sollten, wird die Situation
wohl etwas besser aussehen
Sollte ich die Vase fallen lassen, zerbricht sie sicher
wollte is also a frequent alternative, especially (though not only) in R3
with wenn omitted, e.g.:
Es wrde uns zu lange aufhalten, wollten wir alle diese Probleme
ausfuhrlich behandeln

For 'real' or 'open' conditions, where the present and future tenses are
used in English, German uses the indicative, e.g.:
Wenn ich Zeit habe, komme ich
mit

I f l have time, 77/ come with you

Contrast:
Wenn ich Zeit htte, kme ich mit I f l had timey I would come with you

4.5.5
(a)

Other uses of the subjunctive


In comparative clauses with als ob and other conjunctions with the
meaning 'as if, Konjunktiv II is commonly used in all registers, e.g.:
als ob sie sich amsierte
als ob er nicht einverstanden wre
als ob sie nicht kmen
als ob sie nicht bezahlt htten
In R3, Konjunktiv I is sometimes found, if there is a distinct form.
However, it is less frequent than Konjunktiv 77. There is no difference
in meaning, e.g.:
als ob sie sich amsiere
als ob er nicht einverstanden sei
In R2 and Rl, wrde-forms are frequent in appropriate cases (see
4.5.2), e.g.:
als ob sie sich amsieren wrde
In Rl, the indicative is equally common, especially in N, without any
distinction in meaning, e.g.:
als ob sie sich amsiert
als ob er nicht einverstanden ist
als ob sie nicht kommen
als ob sie nicht bezahlt haben

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For English 'as if, als ob is possible in all registers. In written R3, it is at
least as usual for ob to be dropped and the verb to be brought forward
to a position immediately after als, e.g.:
als amsierte sie sich
als wre er nicht einverstanden
As alternatives to als ob, als wenn is used in R3, e.g.: als wenn sie nicht
kmen, and wie wenn, usually with the indicative, is frequent in Rl, e.g.
wie wenn sich nicht kommen.
(b)

Consecutive clauses with als dass, ohne dass


Konjunktiv II is fairly regular with these in R3, e.g.:
Diese Hi-Fi-Anlage ist viel zu teuer, als dass ich sie mir leisten
knnte
Diese Mannschaft ist seit Jahren in der Bundesliga, ohne dass sie je
deutscher Meister geworden wre
The indicative is used in other registers (and, in practice, main clause
constructions are often preferred in Rl, see 5.2) and is not unknown in
R3, e.g.:
Diese Hi-Fi-Anlage ist zu teuer, als dass ich es mir leisten kann
Diese Mannschaft ist seit Jahren in der Bundesliga, ohne dass sie je
deutscher Meister geworden ist

(c)

Purpose clauses with damit


Konjunktiv II (or Konjunktiv /, if there is a clear form) is occasionally
found in R3a, e.g.:
Er zog sich zurck, damit wir ihn nicht shen
Er gab ihr Geld, damit sie einen neuen Mantel kaufe
Ich will ihm die Uhr bringen, damit er sie repariere
However, even in R3, the indicative is now more usual, i.e.:
Ich will ihm die Uhr bringen, damit er sie repariert
Nevertheless, the most natural construction in these sentences in all
registers is to use knnen or sollen, i.e.:
Er zog sich zurck, damit wir ihn nicht sehen konnten/sollten
Er gab ihr Geld, damit sie einen neuen Mantel kaufen
konnte/sollte
Ich will ihm die Uhr bringen, damit er sie reparieren kann/soll

(d)

Idiomatic uses
Konjunktiv II is very common, especially in spoken Rl and R2, and
particularly in S, to moderate the tone of an assertion, a statement, a
request or a question and make it sound more polite, e.g.:
Das wre eigentlich alles, was ich dazu zu sagen htte
Ich wrde auch meinen, dass es jetzt viel zu spt ist
Das drfte Peter gewesen sein
Das wre nun das Letzte
Somit htten wir es geschafft
Knnten Sie mir bitte sagen, wo hier die Paulskirche ist?
Wrden Sie mir bitte das Salz reichen?

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Konjunktiv /, in particular of the ^m-passive, is frequent in technical


R3b to express a proposition, e.g.:
In diesem Zusammenhang sei nur darauf verwiesen, dass diese
Hypothese auf Humboldt zurckgeht
Hier sei nur vermerkt, dass ihm dieses Experiment nie einwandfrei
gelungen ist

4.6 The modal auxiliaries

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Tense
present
present
future
past
perfect
past subjunctive
past subjunctive
pluperf subjunctive

The verbs drfen, knnen, mgen, mssen, sollen and wollen are known as
'modal auxiliary' verbs. They typically express the attitude of the
speaker to the content of the sentence, expressing volition, possibility,
necessity, permission, etc. They are very common, and the
English-speaking learner needs to pay particular attention to them, not
least because they all have a wide range of meanings which shade into
one another, because they have a number of idiomatic uses, and because
the English verbs to which they are deceptively similar are themselves
irregular and elusive in meaning. It is good practice to treat each
possible combination of modal auxiliary and main verb, in the various
tenses and moods, separately and to know the possible equivalent(s) for
each in the other language. In this section these major correspondences
are illustrated as fully as possible.
A significant initial difference between these verbs in English and
German is that, whereas the English modals have at most only a
present tense and a past tense (often with conditional meaning), the
German modals have a full range of moods and tenses. The following
forms, illustrated here with knnen, are the most common and they
have to be learned for all the verbs:
Construction

Example

+ infinitive
+ past infinitive
+ infinitive
+ infinitive
4- infinitive
+ infinitive
+ past infinitive
+ infinitive

sie kann es machen


sie kann es gemacht haben
sie wird es machen knnen
sie konnte es machen
sie hat es machen knnen
sie knnte es machen
sie knnte es gemacht haben
sie htte es machen knnen

There is no real difference in meaning between the past and


perfect tenses of these verbs (see 4.3.2). In general usage, the past tense
is commoner with most of them, even in Rl (except in S). Only with
knnen and mssen is the perfect equally frequent.

NOTE:

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4.6.1
DRFEN

The German modal auxiliaries


drfen expresses permission or, in Konjunktiv //, probability, e.g.:
They may/can come in/ III let
Sie drfen hereinkommen
them come in

KNNEN

1
stressed syllables
are preceded by a
stress mark

They are allowed to come in


f They mustn 7 come in
I They aren't allowed to come in
Das darf als Vorteil betrachtet
That can/may be seen as an
werden
advantage
Das darf doch nicht wahr sein
But
that can 7 be true
Wir freuen uns, Ihnen mitteilen zu
are
pleased to be able to
We
drfen, dass . . . (R3b)
inform
you that...
Sie werden spielen drfen
They
will
be allowed to play
Er durfte diese Reise machen
He was allowed to go on that
journey
Endlich durfte er die Augen
last he could open his eyes
At
aufmachen
again
Drfte ich das Fenster aufmachen?
Would you mind if I opened the
window?
Das drfte sie doch gar nicht
She
ought not to know that
wissen
(i.e.
it shouldn't be allowed)
Sie drfte krank sein
She will be ill/ She is probably
ill
Sie drfte krank gewesen sein
She will have been ill/ She was
probably ill
Das htten Sie nicht
You
ought not to have signed
unterschreiben drfen
that (i.e. it shouldn't have
been allowed)
knnen expresses ability. In some contexts it can express possibility
and, in Rl, permission, e.g.:
He can swim well
Er kann gut schwimmen
She can 7 do it/ She isn7 able
Sie kann es nicht machen
to do it
(You can/may play football
Du kannst Fuball spielen (Rl)
1/7/ let you play football
Er kann jeden Augenblick kommen He may come at any moment
Sie kann es (auch) verloren haben
She may (well) have lost it
Er kann es (auch) gesehen haben
He may (well) have seen it
Er kann es nicht gesehen haben
He can 7 have seen it
Er kann es auch 'nicht gesehen
He may not have seen it
haben
Er kann Spanisch
He can speak Spanish
Du wirst es schon finden knnen
You 7/ be able to find it
Sie drfen nicht hereinkommen

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(/ couldn 9t help him


1/ wasn yt able to help him
I could run just as fast
I would be able to run just as
fast
Das knnte schwierig sein
That could/might be difficult
Er knnte (wenigstens) seine
He could/might (at least) pay
Schulden bezahlen
his debts
Knnten Sie ihn darum bitten?
Could you ask him for it?
Er knnte uns belauscht haben
He could have eavesdropped on
us (i.e. it is possible that he
did)
Er htte uns belauschen knnen
He could have eavesdropped on
us (i.e. he would have been
able to, but he didn't)
Sie knnte den Brief nicht
She couldn yt have written the
geschrieben haben
letter (i.e. it wasn't possible
that she did)
Sie htte den Brief nicht schreiben She couldn't have written the
knnen
letter (i.e. she wouldn't have
been able to)
You might have been rather
Sie htten etwas hflicher sein
knnen
more polite
NOTE: the use of knnen to express possibility (= English may, see
4.6.2) is limited to cases where it is not ambiguous (i.e. where it could
not be interpreted as expressing ability = English be able to). It is
most frequent with a past infinitive, but even then, especially in the
negative, auch is usually added to resolve the possible ambiguity.

[KNNEN]

Ich konnte ihm nicht helfen


)
Ich habe ihm nicht helfen knnen)
I
Ich knnte genau so schnell laufen

MGEN

mgen expresses liking or desire, normally in the present or


Konjunktiv IL In R3, and some more generally used set phrases, it
can express possibility (like English 'may'). In this case, it often has a
concessive sense, with the force of'although'.
Sie mag keinen Kaffee
She doesn ft like coffee
Wir mgen den Lehrer nicht
We don 9t like the teacher
Das mag (wohl) sein
That may well be
Wie dem auch sein mag
However that may be
Er mag etwa dreiig (gewesen) sein He is (was) perhaps about thirty
(R3)

Wie schwierig es auch sein


mag/(R3) mge
Das mag deutschen Ohren etwas
fremd klingen, aber . . . (R3)
Das mag vielen nicht einleuchten,
aber . . . (R3)

However difficult it may be


That may sound rather strange to
German ears, but...
That may not be clear to many,
but...

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Er sagte ihr, sie mge unten warten


(R3)
Das Zeichen x mge ein Winkel
von 30 bezeichnen (R3b)
Die Herren mgen sich beim
Direktor melden (R3)
Er mochte etwa dreiig sein (R3)
Er hat sie auch nicht gemocht
Er mchte nach Wien fahren
Mchten Sie noch Wein?
Ich mchte Sie nicht langer
aufhalten
Sagen Sie ihr, sie mchte
(R3 mge) zu mir kommen
Ich mchte, dass sie sofort weggeht
Ich mchte dein Gesicht gesehen
haben
MSSEN

He asked her to kindly wait


downstairs (indirect command)
Let x be an angle of3(P
Would the gentlemen be good
enough to go and see the
principal
He was probably about thirty
He didn't like her; either
He would like to go to Vienna
Would you like some more wine?
I wouldn 9t want to keep you
any longer
Ask her to be kind enough to come
and see me (indirect command)
I want her to leave immediately
I would like to have seen your
face

mssen expresses necessity, compulsion or certainty, e.g.:


(We must go now
Wir mssen jetzt gehen
I We have (got) to go now
We needn 9t/ don 9t have to go
Wir mssen noch nicht gehen
yet
That must be the right one
Das muss das Richtige sein
Something must have happened
Etwas muss passiert sein
(i.e. just now)
Sie wird sich beeilen mssen
Shell have to hurry
Ich musste zu Hause arbeiten \
I had to work at home
Ich habe zu Hause arbeiten \
mssen
)
I couldn't help laughing
Ich musste einfach lachen
Something must have happened
Etwas msste passiert sein
(i.e. a long time ago)
You would have to ask the boss
Du msstest den Chef fragen
He really ought to/should know
Er msste es eigentlich besser
better
wissen
He should/ought to be there by
Er msste schon dort sein
now
He should/ought to have
Er msste langst angekommen sein
arrived long ago (i.e. we can
assume that he has arrived)
Er htte heute ankommen mssen He should/ought to have
arrived today (i.e. he ought to
have done, but he hasn't)

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SOLLEN

sollen most commonly expresses an obligation, occasionally an


assertion, a supposition or a condition, e.g.:
{I'm supposed/meant to stay here
Ich soll hier bleiben
(I've got to stay here
Du sollst die Tr zumachen
I want you to shut the door
{He is to/has got to come at once
Er soll sofort kommen
I Tell him to come at once
{I'm not supposed to stay here
Ich soll nicht hier bleiben
\I mustn91 stay here
Er hat gesagt, ich soll unten warten He told me to wait downstairs
(indirect command)
Hier soll das neue Rathaus gebaut
The new town hall is to be built
werden
here
Sollen wir uns die Stadt ansehen?
Shall we look round the town?
Sie soll sehr ehrgeizig sein
She's supposed/said to be very
ambitious
Sie soll sehr ehrgeizig gewesen sein She 's supposed/said to have
been very ambitious
Wir sollten uns dort treffen
It was agreed that we should
meet there
It was meant to be a surprise
Es sollte eine berraschung sein
Everyone should/ought to read
Jeder sollte das Buch lesen
the book
Das solltest du mal probieren
You should/ought to try that
Sollte das wahr sein?
Could that be true?
Er sollte den Freund nie
He was (destined) never to see
wiedersehen
his friend again
Wenn/Falls es morgen regnen
If it should/ were to rain
sollte
tomorrow
Ich trat zurck, damit sie mich
I stepped back, so that they
nicht sehen sollten
shouldn't see me
Jeder sollte das Buch bis Freitag
Everyone should/ought to have
gelesen haben
read the book by Friday (i.e. I
would expect it of everyone)
Jeder htte das Buch voriges Jahr
Everyone should/ought to have
lesen sollen
read the book last year (i.e. it
was expected of everyone, but
they didn't)
She should/ought to have
Das sollte ihr inzwischen klar
realized that by now (i.e. I
geworden sein
would expect she has)
Er htte es mir doch gleich sagen
He should/ought to have told
sollen
me right away (i.e. I would
have expected it, but he didn't)

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the form sollte is potentially ambiguous, as there is nothing to


show the difference between indicative and subjunctive. Er sollte
mitkommen could mean 'He was supposed to come with us' or 'He
ought to come with us', depending on the context.

NOTE:

WOLLEN

wollen most often expresses desire or intention, occasionally a claim


or necessity, e.g.:
(7 want to/will sell the piano
Ich will das Klavier verkaufen
lI'm going to sell the piano
Won't you help us?
Willst du uns nicht helfen?
The rain isn't going to stop
Der Regen will nicht aufhren
He wants you to read it
Er will, dass du es liest
Shall we look round the town
Wollen wir uns die Stadt ansehen?
That needs to be practised
Das will gebt sein
Ein solcher Wagen will gut gepflegt A car like that needs looking
after well
werden
He claims/says he is ill
Er will krank sein
He claims/says he was ill
Er will krank gewesen sein
She won9t want to work there
Sie wird dort nicht arbeiten
wollen
Sie wollte ihn darum bitten
She wanted to ask him for it
Sie hat ihm darum bitten wollen
She was going to ask him for it
(Rl)
(The window wouldn 9t shut
Das Fenster wollte nicht zugehen
I The window refused to shut
I wish I didn 't have to do it
Ich wollte, ich msste es nicht tun
Wenn er es nur zugeben wollte,... If he would only admit it...
If we were to ask him, he would
Wenn wir ihn fragen wollten,
deny it
wrde er es bestreiten
It looked as if he was going to
Es sah aus, als wollte er jeden
fall asleep at any moment
Augenblick einschlafen
I wouldn 9t have wanted to do it
Ich htte es auch nicht machen
either
wollen

4.6.2 The English modal auxiliaries


In this section we take the various forms of the English modal auxiliary
verbs and give their most common German equivalents.
CAN

can most often expresses ability or possibility, and knnen is the usual
German equivalent. However, knnen is ambiguous, and if the context
permits, it is naturally interpreted as expressing ability (i.e. = 'be able
to'), vielleicht or a paraphrase has to be used in such sentences, rather
than knnen, to make it clear that possibility is meant.

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stressed syllables
are preceded by a
stress mark

She can play tennis


Pigs can't fly

Sie kann Tennis spielen


Schweine knnen nicht
fliegen
Ich kann morgen nicht
I can't come tomorrow
kommen
Er kann auch 1nicht kommen
He can 'not come
Repariert er den Wagen
vielleicht?
Can he be mending the car?
Kann es sein, dass er den
Wagen repariert?
Ist es mglich, dass er den
Wagen repariert?
NOTE: Kann er den Wagen reparieren? = Can he mend the car?
He can't be mending the car

Es ist unmglich, dass er den


Wagen repariert
NOTE : Er kann den Wagen nicht reparieren = He can't mend the car.
Can they have missed the
connection?
The road can be blocked

Knnen sie den Anschluss


verpasst haben?
Haben sie vielleicht den
Anschluss verpasst?
Die Strae kann gesperrt
werden

In all but the most formal English, can expresses permission.


This is usually expressed by drfen in German, although knnen
is quite common in Rl, or where there is a sense of possibility,
e.g.:
Can I go to the cinema?
Darf (Rl: Kann) ich ins Kino
gehen?
Das darf/kann als
This can be regarded as a valid
berechtigter Einwand
objection
angesehen werden
With verbs of sensation (e.g. see, hear,; smell, feel) can is often used in
English with no real idea of ability. In these contexts knnen is not used
in German, e.g.:
We can hear the music
Wir hren die Musik
I can see him quite well
Ich sehe ihn ganz gut
COULD

could can be used as the past tense of can in the senses given above
(i.e. = was able to). In such cases appropriate past or perfect tense
forms will be found in German, e.g.:

I could swim well then

' Ich konnte damals gut


schwimmen
Ich habe damals gut
schwimmen knnen

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I couldn't come yesterday


She could go out whenever she
liked
They could see the church

Ich konnte gestern nicht


kommen
Ich habe gestern nicht
kommen knnen
Sie durfte (Rl: konnte)
ausgehen, wenn sie wollte
Sie sahen die Kirche
Sie haben die Kirche
l gesehen

could frequently has a conditional sense (i.e. = would be able to). The
German equivalent is knnte (or drfte, if permission is involved). As
with can, it may be preferable in some contexts to use vielleicht or a
paraphrase with es ist mglich to avoid ambiguity.
Ich wrde mich freuen, wenn
I would be pleased if you could
Sie kommen knnten
come
Drfte/Knnte ich das
Could I open the window?
Fenster aufmachen?
Sie knnten Recht haben
You could be right
Das knnte schwierig sein
That could be difficult
' Knnte der Zug Versptung
haben?
Hat der Zug vielleicht
Could the train be late?
Versptung?
Wre es mglich, dass der
Zug Versptung hat?
Repariert er den
Wagen vielleicht?
Could he be mending the car?
Wre es mglich, dass er den
Wagen repariert?
NOTE: Knnte er den Wagen reparieren? could mean Would he be
able to mend the car?
could have is ambiguous and has two possible equivalents in German
depending on the sense of the English:
Er knnte es getan haben
He could have done it (i.e. it is
possible that he did it)
Er htte es tun knnen
He could have done it (i.e. he
would have been able to, but he
didn't)

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There are a number of German equivalents for couldn't help:


Sie musste einfach lachen
Sie konnte nicht anders, als zu
lachen
Sie konnte nicht umhin zu
She couldn't help laughing
lachen (R3)
Sie konnte nichts dafr, sie
musste lachen (Rl)
MAY

may expresses permission in rather formal English (for more usual


can). The equivalents are drfen or knnen (see can above).
You may go now
Sie drfen (Rl: knnen) jetzt
gehen
We may take it as our starting point Wir drfen/knnen davon
that. ..
ausgehen, dass . . .
The commonest use of may is to express possibility. The usual
German equivalent is vielleicht or a phrase with mglich (see can above).
knnen can be used, often in the past subjunctive form knnte, but only
if it cannot possibly be misunderstood in another sense (i.e. 'be able to').
mgen is restricted to R3 or S, apart from a few set phrases, and most
often expects or implies a concessive qualification, e.g. that may well be,
(but...).
Vielleicht stimmt diese
Umfrage
Es ist mglich, dass diese
Umfrage stimmt
This survey may be correct
Diese Umfrage kann/knnte
stimmen
Diese Umfrage mag
, stimmen(, aber . . . ) (R3)
Vielleicht stimmt diese
Umfrage nicht
Es ist mglich, dass diese
This survey may not be correct
Umfrage nicht stimmt
Diese Umfrage kann auch
t nicht stimmen
NOTE: . . . kann nicht stimmen would m e a n ' . . . cannot be correct'
I Es kann sein, dass
er im Garten arbeitet
Vielleicht arbeitet
He may be working in the garden
er im Garten
Es ist mglich, dass er im
i Garten arbeitet
NOTE: Er kann im Garten arbeiten means 'He is able to work in the
garden'. Er knnte im Garten arbeiten means 'He would be able to
work in the garden'.

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Die Strae ist vielleicht


gesperrt
The road may be blocked
Die Strae kann/knnte
k gesperrt sein
Er kann/knnte den
Bren gesehen haben
He may have seen the bear
Vielleicht hat er den Bren
gesehen
Er kann den Bren auch nicht
gesehen haben
He may not have seen the bear
Vielleicht hat er den Bren
nicht gesehen
may after verbs of hoping, fearing, wishing, etc. and after so that, has
no equivalent in German:
I hope that he may recover
Ich hoffe, dass er sich bald
erholt
I am telling you this so that you
Ich sage Ihnen das, damit
may know exactly what I am going
Sie genau wissen, was ich
to do
vorhabe
MIGHT

might is sometimes used to ask permission (= drfte), e.g.:


Might I ask you a favour?
Drfte ich Sie u m einen
Gefallen bitten?
The most frequent use of might is to express possibility. This is close
to could (see under could above) and the usual German equivalent is
knnte, unless this is ambiguous, as explained above under can and
may.
Sie knnte jetzt in Berlin sein
She might be in Berlin now
Die Strae knnte gesperrt
The road might be blocked
sein
Du knntest die Tr
You might shut the door
zumachen
(reproachful)
I Er kommt mglicherweise
nicht
Er
kommt vielleicht nicht
He might not come
Es wre mglich, dass er
' nicht kommt
NOTE: Er knnte nicht kommen = 'He wouldn't be able to come'
might have, like could have, is ambiguous in English and the two senses
have different German equivalents:
Er knnte umgekommen sein
Er ist vielleicht
umgekommen
He might have been killed (i.e. it is Er htte umkommen knnen
possible, but he wasn't)

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He might have toldUrsula


(i.e. it is possible that he did)
He might have told Ursula (i.e.
possible, but he didn't)

He might not have received it

MUST

Er knnte es Ursula gesagt


haben
Vielleicht hat er es Ursula
gesagt
Er htte es Ursula (doch)
sagen knnen
Er hat es vielleicht nicht
bekommen
Er hat es mglicherweise nicht
bekommen
Es wre/ist mglich, dass er
es nicht bekommen hat

must expresses necessity or compulsion; mssen is the usual German


equivalent, e.g.:
I must talk to him today
Ich muss ihn heute sprechen
They must leave at seven
Sie mssen u m sieben
abfahren
Sabine must be mad
Sabine muss verrckt sein
They must have left at seven
Sie mssen u m sieben
abgefahren sein
I must have lost it
Ich muss es verloren haben
mustn V is usually nicht drfen. nicht mssen (see under mssen above)
= English don't have to or needn 't (although it is sometimes heard for
mustn 7 in N):
You mustn't play football here
Ihr drft hier keinen Fuball
spielen
I mustn't forget that
Das darf ich nicht vergessen
Sie hat den Brief wohl nicht

SHALL

gesehen
The use of shall is much restricted inSie
modern
Apart
from its
kann English.
den Brief
nicht
use to form the future tense (see under will
below),
its
usual
German
gesehen haben
equivalent is sollen:
Shall I bring you the
flowers?
Soll ich dir die Blumen
bringen?
He shall pay for this
Er soll mir dafr ben
Thou shalt not steal
Du sollst nicht stehlen
Shall we... ? often corresponds to Wollen wir... ? rather than Sollen
wir . . . which has more the sense of'do you want us to . . . ?', e.g.:
Now what shall we do?
Nun, was wollen wir machen?
Shall we have lunch here?
Wollen wir hier zu Mittag
essen?

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SHOULD/
OUGHT TO

In English, should is usually interchangeable with ought to in its


commonest sense of expressing obligation or probability. The German
equivalents are sollte or msste, which are close in meaning but not
always interchangeable: sollte carries more the sense of being obliged,
whereas msste has rather the idea of probability or necessity.
We should/ought to try that
Das sollten/mssten wir mal
probieren
Sie sollte heute im Bro sein
She should/ought to be in the
office today (i.e. it is her duty)
She should/ought to be in the
Sie msste heute im Bro
office today (i.e. it is most likely)
sein
Wir sollten uns beeilen
We ought to hurry (i.e. we are
obliged to)
The letters ought to be on my desk Die Briefe mssten auf
(i.e. it is probable)
meinem Schreibtisch
liegen
For negative shouldn V or ought not to, sollte nicht is the usual
equivalent, but drfte nicht emphasizes the idea that something ought
not to be or have been allowed, e.g.:
She ought not to know that
Das drfte/sollte sie
eigentlich nicht wissen
Sales shouldn't/ought not to have So viel drfte/sollte der
fallen off so much
Absatz nicht nachgelassen
haben
Simple drfte can also express the idea of probability, and in this
meaning it is very close to that of the future tense (see 4.3.1), e.g.:
That should/ought to be enough
Das drfte/msste reichen
That should/ought to be right
Das drfte/msste stimmen
should have/ought to have is ambiguous in English, but the ambiguity
is resolved in German by using sollte/msste with a past infinitive or
htte... sollen/mssen, e.g.:
He should/ought to have grasped Das sollte er nun begriffen
that now (i.e. it is an obligation on
haben
him)
You should/ought to have told me Das htten Sie mir gestern
that yesterday (i.e. it was an
sagen sollen
obligation on you, but you didn't)
He should/ought to have written
Er msste den Brief schon
the letter by now (i.e. it is probable
geschrieben haben
that he has)
He should/ought to have written
Er htte den Brief schon
the letter yesterday (i.e. it was most
gestern schreiben mssen
likely, but he seems not to have
done)

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[SHOULD/
OUGHT T O ]

WILL

should is used in some subordinate clauses in English as a kind of


subjunctive substitute. In most cases this has no equivalent in German,
although sollte is found in damit-clauses in R2 and R3 (see 4.5.4).
I am pleased that she should have Ich freue mich, dass sie
gekommen ist
come
It is surprising that he should have Es ist erstaunlich, dass er
durchgefallen ist
failed
should is sometimes used rather than would (see under would below)
in the first person conditional, but it is frequent, alongside were to, in
other conditional sentences, where German uses sollte (see 4.5.3), e.g.:
If you should/were to change your Sollten Sie es sich anders
mind, please let me know
berlegen, dann sagen Sie
mir bitte Bescheid
Wenn er schon a m
If he should/were to arrive in the
Vormittag ankommen
morning, I can pick him up from
sollte, dann kann ich ihn
the station
a m Bahnhof abholen
will (often simply '//) is in its most familiar use the auxiliary verb for
the future tense. This may correspond to a present or a future in
German (see 4.3.1). However, if will has a sense of desire or intention,
then wollen is quite possible as an equivalent in German, e.g.:
He will do everything in his power
Er will alles tun, was in seiner
Macht steht
Die Tr will nicht zugehen
The door won't close
Wollt ihr heute Abend
Will you come with us tonight?
mitkommen?
Er will nicht hren
He won't listen
If the future tense expresses probability, German, too, can use a
future, often with wohl (see 2.6). Common alternatives are drfte or,
especially in Rl, simply wohL
i Das wird (wohl) der
Brieftrger sein
Das drfte der Brieftrger
That'll be the postman
sein
1
Das ist wohl der Brieftrger
' Er wird (wohl) gestern von
Hamburg abgefahren sein
He'll have left from Hamburg
Er drfte gestern von
yesterday
Hamburg abgefahren sein
Er ist wohl gestern von
t Hamburg abgefahren
will can also express a characteristic or habitual activity. This has a
variety of possible equivalents in German, depending on the context,
e.g.:

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Pigs will eat anything


Boys will be boys
She will sit there for hours doing
nothing
WOULD

1
stressed syllables
are preceded by a
stress mark

Schweine fressen nun einmal


alles
Jungen sind nun einmal so
Oft sitzt sie stundenlang da
und macht nichts

would (often simply *d) is characteristically used for the English


conditional (= Konjunktiv //, see 4.5.4). However, it can occur for the
past tense of will in the other senses given above:
She wouldn't come when I called Sie wollte nicht kommen, als
her
ich sie rief
The lift wouldn't come
Der Aufzug wollte nicht
kommen
Every evening he would go for a
Jeden Abend ging er a m
walk by the river
Fluss spazieren
Sie stand gewhnlich
She would get up early in the
morgens frh auf
morning
Sie pflegte morgens frh
aufzustehen (R3)
It 'would rain today
Ausgerechnet heute musste
es regnen
Natrlich hat er das gesagt
He 'would say that
Von ihm war ja nichts
anders zu erwarten

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5 Syntax and word order

5.1 Word order


German word order is much moreflexiblethan English word order.
Apart from the basic framework, it is rarely a matter of'rules' and
'exceptions' because the order can often be varied for emphasis. This
section gives some simple basic guidelines to help you construct
sentences in German.

5.1.1

The verbal bracket


The basic framework for any German sentence (or clause - the
distinction is unhelpful in this context, and both are called Satz in
German) can be seen as a pair of'brackets' which is made up of the
verb and certain other elements linked to the verb. The position of
these is fixed and most of the rest of the sentence is contained between
these brackets. There are three main types of'bracket' construction in
German:

Type 1
Type 2
Type 3

Initial element

Opening bracket
[

Central elements

Closing bracket
]

(a)
(b)
(a)

hat
hat
Hat
Hren
weil
statt

er frh damit
er gestern frh damit
er schon damit
Sie sofort damit
er gestern damit
sofort damit

aufgehrt
aufgehrt?
aufgehrt?
aufl
aufgehrt hat
aufzuhren

(b)
(a)
(b)

Gestern
Warum

The three types of bracket construction in German are as follows:


Type 1:
finite verb
SECOND

The opening bracket is formed by the finite verb, which is always in


second place after a single initial element (see 5.1.3). The closing
bracket is usually another part of the verb, i.e. a separable prefix, an
infinitive or a past participle, although this is of course lacking in
the simple tenses of simple verbs. This type is found:

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(a) in statements, including those where clauses are joined by und,


aber, denn, oder and sondern
(b) in ?A-questions: the initial element is always a question word
such as was, wer, warum, welcher, etc.
Type 2:
finite verb FIRST

The opening and closing brackets are formed by the same elements
as in type 1, but the finite verb is the first element in the sentence.
This type is found:
(a) in yes/no questions
(b) in commands
The verb is also first in conditional clauses if the conjunction wenn
is left out, see 4.5.4.

Type 3:
finite verb LAST

The opening bracket is formed by a conjunction or preposition and


the closing bracket is formed by all parts of the verb. This type is
found:
(a) in subordinate clauses: here the opening bracket is a
conjunction
(b) in infinitive clauses: the opening bracket may be one of the
prepositions ohne, (an)statt or urn but otherwise there is no
word in this position.
This basic framework covers all German sentences in all registers;
the only exception is that, especially in Rl, some element may
follow the closing bracket (see 5.1.6).

5.1.2 The closing bracket


The closing bracket may be formed by more than one element. The
order is then as follows:
R l = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

Full verb
Er hat es mir nicht
Das ist mir doch
Er wird es bald
. . . , ohne es mir

Closing bracket
Auxiliary verb

sagen
gesagt
geschrieben
gesagt

wollen
worden
haben
zu haben

In subordinate clauses the finite verb usually follows all infinitives and
participles:

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Full verb
...,
...,
...,
...,
...,

weil er es mir nicht


weil er es mir nicht
weil es mir nicht
weil es mir nicht
weil er es bald

Closing bracket
Auxiliary verb Finite verb

gesagt
sagen
gesagt
worden
gesagt
werden
geschrieben haben

hat
will
ist
kann
wird

There is one exception to this rule. If there are two infinitives at the
end of the clause (e.g. in the compound tenses of modal verbs), then the
finite verb comes before them:
Finite verb
. . . , weil er es mir
. . . , weil er es mir

hat
wird

Closing bracket
Full verb
Auxiliary verb
sagen
sagen

wollen
mssen

5.1.3 The initial element in a main clause


It is an invariable rule of German that in main clause statements (i.e.
type la clauses) one and only one element can occur before the finite
verb which forms the opening bracket. This initial element can be a
single word, a phrase or a subordinate clause:

Initial element

Finite verb
t

Central elements

Gestern
Vor drei Tagen
Als ich klein war,

haben
sind
habe

wir hitzefrei
wir nach Ulm
ich in Berlin

gehabt
gefahren
gewohnt

Sometimes an interjection, a name or certain adverbs are placed before


the initial element, usually separated by a comma. These are not really
exceptions to the basic rule that the verb is the second element; they are
simply too loosely linked to the rest of the sentence to be thought of as
part of it. The most common of these apparent exceptions are:
(a)

Interjections, exclamations, names, etc. e.g. ach, ja, nein, du liebe Zeit,
Herr Kollege',
Ach, dort kommt sie!
M e n s c h , das ist doch nicht wahr!
Karl, du spielst auch, oder?
Gut, das machen wir!

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(b)

Some linking adverbs or phrases, e.g. das heit, weit du, kurz (gesagt),
mit anderen Worten:
K u r z u m , er hat unrecht
Wissen Sie, das htte er mir doch gestern sagen knnen

(c)

A few adverbs can occur initially with another element or be placed in


their usual position in the clause. The commonest are: aber, also,
allerdings, freilich, hchstens, immerhin, sozusagen, brigens, wenigstens,
e.g.:
EITHER: Sonntag also kannst du nicht kommen
OR: Also kannst du Sonntag nicht kommen
OR: Sonntag kannst du also nicht kommen

(d)

Two elements can precede the verb if one simply extends the other.
This is commonest with adverbs of time or place, e.g.:
D o r t in der k l e i n e n D o r f s c h u l e hat der Junge wenig gelernt
M o r g e n u m zwei U h r kommt ihr Zug an

(e)

Main clauses which begin with two or more elements are common in
English. Apart from the few cases explained above, in the
corresponding German sentences all but one of these elements will be
shifted into a position between the brackets (with no commas), e.g.:
Dann ist er jedoch eingeschlafen
Er ist dann jedoch eingeschlafen
Jedoch ist er dann eingeschlafen

5.1.4 The use of initial position in German


In German main clause statements (type la in the table in 5.1.1), almost
any element can occupy initial position. It is thereby given prominence
as the 'topic' of the clause, about which some new information is given
later on in the sentence. Very often it refers back to something just
mentioned or is something well known to both speaker and listener.
Time phrases are particularly common in this position.
This facility in German of using the initial position whilst keeping
the basic construction of the clause intact is not shared by English,
where the subject must come before the verb. In English the position of
the subject is the only way we can tell that it is the subject, because,
unlike German, the subject is not distinguished by having special
endings (i.e. for the nominative case). As a result, things are often put
in a different way in German compared to English; we have to use
complicated constructions in order to manoeuvre an element into
initial position to make it the topic of the clause if it is not the subject of
the verb. The following examples show how German can cope with
such shifts in emphasis within the basic bracket construction and has
no need for the complex constructions which we often use in English.

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Subject there/es
In both English and German the subject can be moved out of initial
position to give it more emphasis later in the clause, in which case it is
replaced by there in English and es (or in Rl, da) in German, e.g.:
There was no-one
waiting for her

( Es hat niemand auf sie gewartet


l Da hat niemand auf sie gewartet (Rl)

On the other hand, German does not need to use this construction if
there is another element which can be placed in initial position, e.g.:
There was no one waiting for her
There are some pages missing in
this book
There's no one there, though

Auf sie hat niemand gewartet


In diesem Buch fehlen ein paar
Seiten
Da ist doch niemand

have + participle
In English we can shift something into initial position by making it the
subject of to have; the 'real' verb of the sentence then becomes a
participle. There is no need for this construction in German, where the
elements are simply shifted within the basic construction, e.g.:
This book has some pages missing In diesem Buch fehlen ein paar
Seiten
They've had their windows
Ihnen wurden die Fenster
smashed
eingeworfen
The room next door has a student Im Zimmer nebenan wohnt ein
living in it
Student

Passive
A common reason for preferring a passive construction in English is to
put what would normally be the object of the verb into initial position.
This is usually unnecessary in German, where we can simply move the
object and the subject round within the basic construction, e.g.:
These words must now be followed
by deeds
They were being helped by the
gipsies

Auf diese Worte mssen nun


Taten folgen
Ihnen haben die Zigeuner
geholfen

Cleft sentences
An element can be shifted into initial position in English by putting it
into a clause of its own, usually with it and the verb to be. These
so-called 'cleft sentence' constructions are unnecessary in German; the
relevant element simply goes into the initial position of the basic
construction, e.g.:

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It was only yesterday that I saw him


It's that television I wanted to
complain about
It's what you do that counts

Erst gestern habe ich ihn


gesehen
ber diesen Fernseher habe ich
mich beschweren wollen
Was man tut, zhlt

There are many variations on this construction, all of which have


simpler equivalents in German, e.g.:
That's the book I'm supposed to read
This is where she lives
That's the sort of man he is
Autumn is when it's lovely here

5.1.5

Das Buch da soll ich lesen


Dort wohnt sie
So einer ist er
Im Herbst ist es hier schn

The central section of German clauses


Except for the initial element in type 1 clauses, all the words in a
German clause come inside the bracket explained in 5.1.1, i.e. between
the various parts of the verb. The relative order of these central
elements is exactly the same for all clause types. The table on page 269
gives a rough guide to the most usual order of these elements. A more
detailed explanation is given in (a)-(e) below.

(a)

Pronouns
We must distinguish:
(i) the personal pronouns: ich, dir, Ihnen, ihm, etc.
(ii) the demonstratives: der, dieser, etc. used without a noun following.
The order is then:
(i) Personal pronouns come before demonstratives, e.g.:

Gestern

[VERB1

pronoun

demonstrative

hat
Mchten
Hat

mich
Sie
er

der
diese
die

VERB2]
nicht
gleich
wohl

erkannt
mitnehmen?
gesehen?

(ii) Personal pronouns have the order: nominative-accusative-dative,


e.g.:

Wann

....,

[VERB1

nom

acc

dat

VERB2]

werden
Wenn
statt

Sie
er

es
sie
es

ihm
Ihnen
mir

geben?
bringt,...
zu sagen

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However, in Rl an unstressed 's can follow a dative pronoun, e.g.:


Er will mir's nicht sagen
The only exception to the rule that pronouns are always found
immediately after the opening bracket is that a subject noun in the
nominative can come before a pronoun, e.g.:
EITHER: Gestern hat mein Mann ihn in der Stadt gesehen
OR: Gestern hat ihn mein Mann in der Stadt gesehen
However, it is common in all registers for the pronoun to come first.
Adverbials and subject/object noun phrases
Within the bracket, adverbials and subject/object noun phrases come
immediately after the pronouns and before the complements. The table
on page 269 shows the order in which they most commonly occur in
relation to one another. It must be stressed, though, that this order is
not an absolute rule of German grammar; much variation is permitted
for reasons of emphasis. Basically, the more we want to stress one of
these elements, the later it will come. Conversely, an element may be
given less prominence by being placed earlier, e.g.:
Das hat er dann seinem
\
Vorgesetzten nach langem
In the second sentence who he
Zgern mitgeteilt
I
told is seen a more important
than the hesitation, and the
Das hat er dann nach langem
dative object follows the adverb.
Zgern seinem Vorgesetzten
mitgeteilt
When the action took place is less
Der Lehrer hat nach der Pause
dem Jungen das Heft gegeben
important, and the adverbial
precedes both objects.
Die Tatsache, dass der EG
What will run out is by far the
unausweichlich 2004 das Geld
most important piece of new
ausgeht
information, and thus the
subject comes last.
,
. . ,
,
Ich habe mir diesen neuen
\ T
.
. rr ,
, ~
In each case it is the second
Anzug im Herbst
gekauft
I
,
,., . .
f i
/ phrase which is given the
, , ,
. .
Ich habe mir im THerbst diesen
greater emphasis.
neuen Anzug gekauft
Adverbials
An adverbial is an optional element giving additional information about
the circumstances of an action, i.e. how, when, where, etc. it took place.
It is not dependent on the verb in the way that complements are.
Adverbials can be:
(i) single words: schlecht, trotzdem, vorhin, grndlich, etc.
(ii) noun phrases: den ganzen Tag, eines Abends, eine Weile, etc.
(iii) preposition phrases: in der Kirche, zum Glck, ohne Zgern, am
Ende, etc.

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These differences in form do not affect word order in any way. The
same form can have different functions, though, and its position
changes accordingly, e.g.:
Verb complement dependent on the verb. It cannot be left out and is
always the last element before the closing bracket (see (e) below):
Er wohnt seit drei Jahren in Frankfurt
Phrase qualifying the preceding noun and placed immediately after
it:
Im Rmer in Frankfurt wurden die deutschen Kaiser gekrnt
Adverbial giving extra information. It is in the usual position for
adverbials:
Er mchte in Frankfurt Jura studieren
The table on page 269 shows that most adverbials - with the exception
of adverbials of manner, which invariably come immediately before the
complements - tend to come between the dative object and the
accusative object, whether the adverbial is a single word such as
trotzdem or a phrase such as voriges Jahr or in der Stadt. If there is more
than one adverbial, they will most often appear in the order given in the
table on page 272. However, this order, too, can be varied for emphasis;
an adverbial can be stressed more or less by being placed later or earlier,
e.g.:
Wir sollten zehn Minuten vor dem Bahnhof auf sie warten
Wir sollten vor dem Bahnhof zehn Minuten auf sie warten
Er hat ihr trotzdem gestern geschrieben
Er hat ihr gestern trotzdem geschrieben
Sie hat sehr lange dort gewartet
Sie hat dort sehr lange gewartet
The position of nicht
In general, nicht (and all other negatives, such as nie and kaum) comes
after all adverbials except those of manner and after the accusative
object, but before adverbials of manner and all complements, e.g.:
after place and time adverbials but before manner adverbials:
Die Berliner haben gestern in Frankfurt nicht schlecht
gespielt
Sie haben sich seit langem nicht mehr ausfhrlich unterhalten
after the accusative object:
Er will mir das Kleid nicht kaufen
Sie hat die Vase nicht zerbrochen
before all complements:
Wir fahren morgen nicht ans Meer
Er ist sicher nicht gro
The above guideline applies if nicht is understood to refer to the whole
clause. With a change in emphasis, though, i.e. if a particular element

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in the sentence is to be negated, then nicht precedes it. In such


instances there is usually an implied contrast with sondern, e.g.:
Er will mir nicht 'das Buch
geben
Ich war nicht a m 'Sonntag in
der Stadt
Ich fahre nicht mit meinen
'Eltern nach Italien

stressed syllables
are preceded by a
stress mark

(e)

not on Sunday, but some other


time
not with my parents, but perhaps
with someone else

Complements
Complements are those elements which are most closely linked with
the verb in a sentence (or 'governed' by it, see 4.1) and 'complete' its
action in some way. With the exception of the subject and the
accusative and dative objects, which have their own place in the clause
(see above), they invariably come last, immediately before the closing
bracket. The following list gives all the types of complement to which
this rule applies:
(i)

(ii)

(iii)

(iv)

(v)

(vi)

5.1.6

not that book, but a different one

Genitive object (restricted to R3, see 4.1.3), e.g.:


Das Gericht hat den Hausierer zu Unrecht des Diebstahls
beschuldigt
Prepositional object (see 4.1.4), e.g.:
. . . , weil sich die Mutter nun u m ihre beiden Kinder
kmmern wird
Phrases of place after verbs expressing position, e.g. bleiben,
wohnen, sitzen, stehen, liegen, sich befinden (R3), sich aufhalten (R3),
e.g.:
Warum willst du unter keinen Umstnden in Wrzburg
wohnen?
Direction phrases after verbs of motion, e.g.:
Dann hat Peter den Stein in den Bach geworfen
Ich will schnell mit dem Auto in die Stadt fahren
Nominative noun phrases and adjectives after the verbs sein,
werden, bleiben, scheinen, heien, e.g.:
Immerhin ist Hans-Jrgen lngere Zeit der beste Schler
gewesen
Hedwig ist in den letzten Jahren sehr gro geworden
The noun portion of phrasal verbs, e.g.:
Der Betriebsrat hat uns gestern davon in Kenntnis gesetzt

Can anything follow the closing bracket?


It is by no means an absolute rule of German that the verb has to go
right to the end of the clause, i.e. that a sentence (or clause) must
end with the closing bracket. This has never been the case in
Rl, but so-called Ausklammerung (i.e. putting some element after the

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G
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bo
bo :g
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closing bracket) has recently become common in R2 and R3.


Nevertheless, there are limitations on what can follow the closing
bracket, as follows.
(a)

Some elements are rarely enclosed within the bracket in any register.
These include:
(i) Subordinate clauses. In particular, constructions where a number
of clauses are enclosed within one another (the so-called Schachtelsatz),
with a cluster of verbs at the end, are now avoided, even in R3a:
NOT: Mein Vater, der selten, obwohl er immer zeitig aufstand,
frhstckte, a an dem Tag vier Butterbrote
RATHER: Mein Vater, der selten frhstckte, obwohl er immer zeitig
aufstand, a an dem Tag vier Butterbrote
To achieve this, even a relative clause can be separated from the noun it
refers to:
NOT: Else hatte dem Fremden, dem sie am Tag vorher mittellos auf
dem Paradeplatz begegnet war, geholfen
RATHER: Else hatte dem Fremden geholfen, dem sie am Tag vorher
mittellos auf dem Paradeplatz begegnet war
(ii) Infinitive clauses are not enclosed unless they consist merely of
the simple zu + infinitive, and even this is only common in R3:
Er fing zu weinen an (R3)
Er fing an zu weinen
NOT: Er hat eine kleine Atempause zu machen beschlossen
RATHER: Er hat beschlossen, eine kleine Atempause zu machen
(iii) Comparative phrases with als or wie are never enclosed, e.g.:
. . . , wo wir uns bewegten wie Tiere auf der Wildbahn
Gestern hat es mehr geschneit als heute

(b)

Less regular, but still common, is the postponement of prepositional


phrases of any kind or, in Rl only, of any adverbial.
(i) In Rl, a prepositional phrase or an adverbial may follow the closing
bracket, either as an afterthought or to emphasize it, e.g.:
Du hast ihn doch gestern gesehen in der Stadt (Rl)
Der wird doch nix lernen bei dem Lehrer da (Rl)
(ii) Especially in written R3, a long prepositional phrase may be
postponed in order not to make the bracket construction too long, or if
a further clause depends on it, e.g.:
Diese Aufgabe kann nun gelst werden auf der Grundlage eines
einheitlichen Systems des Bildungswesens (R3b)
Von dieser Hhe aus konnte er wenig sehen von der kleinen Stadt,
die am anderen Ufer im Dunst lag (R3a)

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5.2 Alternatives to subordinate clauses

Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)
AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

5.2.1

A characteristic feature of modern German is a tendency not to use


subordinating constructions if alternatives are available. This varies
from register to register, i.e.:
Rl: main clauses used predominantly.
R2: some subordination, but each main clause will rarely have more
than one subordinate clause dependent on it.
R3a: fairly free use of subordinate clauses, but complex sentences
with numerous such clauses are still less frequent than in English.
R3b: little subordination and a clear preference for phrases with
verbal nouns instead.
The texts in 1.6 illustrate how the extent of subordination varies with
register, but English uses subordinate clauses in all registers much
more readily than German. This means that, if English learners of
German express themselves in German using the main and subordinate
clause constructions which sound most natural in English, their
German can sound rather forced, artificial and foreign.
It is difficult to give any hard and fast rules for this. Subordinate
clauses are not ungrammatical in German; they are simply used less,
and other constructions often sound much more natural. For this
reason it is important for English-speaking learners to be aware of
possibilities of expressing themselves in German through main clauses
or noun phrases - rather than through the subordinate clauses which
may often appear to be the nearest equivalent to the corresponding
English sentence.
Examples of these possibilities are given in the following sections.
However, the possibilities are endless and the list cannot hope to be
exhaustive.

Alternatives to relative clauses


The main alternatives to relative clauses include the use of extended
epithets (esp R3b), compounds (esp R3b) and simple main clauses
(esp Rl).
Subordinate clause
construction
das Gebiet, das an Bodenschtzen
reich i s t , . . .

Alternative
das an Bodenschtzen reiche
G e b i e t . . . (R3b)
das Gebiet, an Bodenschtzen
r e i c h , . . . (R3)

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Subordinate clause
construction

Alternative

ein Ereignis, das das Leben


bedroht,...

ein lebensbedrohendes
Ereignis . . . (R3b)

Die Stahlarbeiter, die um ihre


eigenen Arbeitspltze frchten,
wollen nicht streiken

Die u m ihre eigenen


Arbeitspltze frchtenden
Stahlarbeiter wollen nicht
streiken (R3b)

Ich bemerkte den Mann, der


neben meiner Frau sa

Ich habe den Mann bemerkt,


der hat neben meiner Frau
gesessen (Rl)

Techniken, durch die Abgase


gereinigt werden,

Abgasreinigungstechniken...
(R3b)
Techniken zur Reinigung von
Abgasen . . . (R3b)

ein Formular, in dem ein Auftrag


besttigt wird

ein Auftragsbesttigungsformular (R3b)

5.2.2 Alternatives to noun clauses with dass or wie and


infinitive clauses
Especially in R3b, verbal nouns (often compounded) are used as an
alternative to noun clauses with dass or wie and infinitive phrases. Rl
often uses main clause constructions if possible.
Subordinate clause
construction

Alternative

Vorschlge, wie das


herkmmliche Jurastudium neu
gestaltet werden kann

Vorschlge zur Neugestaltung


des herkmmlichen
Jurastudiums (R3b)

Sie haben dagegen protestiert,


dass zwanzig Zechen stillgelegt
werden sollen

Sie haben gegen die geplante


Stilllegung von zwanzig
Zechen protestiert (R3b)
Zwanzig Zechen sollen
stillgelegt werden, und
dagegen haben sie protestiert
(Rl)

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Subordinate clause
construction contd
Er bestreitet, an dieser
Demonstration teilgenommen
zu haben
Er bestreitet, dass er an dieser
Demonstration teilgenommen
habe

Alternative contd
Er bestreitet die Teilnahme an
dieser Demonstration (R3b)

5.2.3 Alternatives to other subordinate clauses


It is worth knowing some common alternatives to subordinating
constructions with other conjunctions:
Subordinate clause
construction

Alternative

als

Als sie hinausging, bemerkte sie


einen roten Schein in der Ferne

Beim Hinausgehen bemerkte


sie einen roten Schein in der
Ferne (R3)
Sie ging hinaus, und da
bemerkte sie einen roten
Schein in der Ferne (R1/R2)

als dass

Das Wasser ist zu kalt, als dass


man da baden knnte (R3)

Das Wasser ist zu kalt, da kann


man nicht baden (R1/R2)

als ob (see 4.5.5)

Es sieht aus, als ob es in der


Nacht geschneit htte

Es sieht aus, als htte es in der


Nacht geschneit (R2/R3)

auer wenn

Ich gehe spazieren, auer wenn


es stark regnet

Ich gehe spazieren, auer es


regnet stark (Rl)

bevor

Bevor er einschlief, hat er den


Brief gelesen

Er hat den Brief vor dem


Einschlafen gelesen
Er schlief ein, aber vorher hatte
er noch den Brief gelesen

d a m i t / u m . . . zu

Wir machen es immer so, damit


Missverstndnisse vermieden
werden

Zur Vermeidung von


Missverstndnissen machen
wir es immer so (R3b)

Wir machen es immer so, um


Missverstndnisse zu
vermeiden

Wir machen es immer so; so


knnen wir auch
Missverstndnisse vermeiden

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5.2

Alternatives to subordinate clauses

Subordinate clause
construction

277

Alternative

dadurch,...
dass/indem

Sie verrieten ihre Ziele dadurch,


dass sie die demokratischen
Institutionen missachteten (R3)
Sie verrieten ihre Ziele, indem sie
die demokratischen Institutionen
missachteten (R3)

nachdem

Nachdem er Monate lang gewartet Nach monatelangem Warten


hatte, erhielt er die Nachricht von erhielt er die Nachricht von
seinem Erfolg
seinem Erfolg (R3)

Sie verrieten ihre Ziele durch


ihre Missachtung der
demokratischen
Institutionen (R3b)

Nachdem ich den Brief


geschrieben hatte, ging ich im
Park spazieren

Ich schrieb den Brief und ging


dann im Park spazieren

obwohl

Obwohl er alt ist, geht er jeden


Sonntag im Wald spazieren

Trotz seines Alters geht er


jeden Sonntag im Wald
spazieren (R3)
Er ist zwar alt, aber er geht
jeden Sonntag im Wald
spazieren
Er ist schon alt, trotzdem
geht er jeden Sonntag im
Wald spazieren

ohne dass/
o h n e . . . zu

Er hat jahrelang studiert, ohne


dass er jemals ein Hauptseminar
belegt htte (R3)

Er hat jahrelang studiert und


hat nie ein Hauptseminar
belegt (Rl)

Er hat jahrelang studiert, ohne


jemals ein Hauptseminar belegt
zu haben
Sie ging in die Stadt, ohne dass er
es wsste (R3)

seit(dem)

Er hinkt, seitdem er vom Fahrrad


gestrzt ist

Sie ging ohne sein Wissen in


die Stadt
Sie ist in die Stadt gegangen,
und er hat nichts davon
gewusst (Rl)
Er hinkt seit seinem Sturz
vom Fahrrad
Er ist vom Fahrrad gestrzt,
und seitdem hinkt er (Rl)

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278

Syntax and word order

Subordinate clause
construction contd

Alternative contd

so dass

Er stand mitten im Gang, so dass


keiner vorbeikommen konnte

Er stand mitten im Gang, also


konnte keiner vorbeikommen
(Rl)

whrend

Whrend er in Marburg
studierte, hat er immer den
evangelischen Gottesdienst
besucht

Whrend seines Studiums in


Marburg hat er immer den
evangelischen Gottesdienst
besucht (R3)

weil

Hier gibt es eine Umleitung,


weil die Marienkirche
restauriert wird

Hier gibt es eine Umleitung,


die Marienkirche wird
nmlich restauriert (Rl)
Wegen der Restaurierung der
Marienkirche gibt es hier eine
Umleitung (R3b)
Hier gibt es eine Umleitung,
denn die Marienkirche wird
restauriert (R2/R3)
Die Marienkirche wird
restauriert, deshalb gibt es
hier eine Umleitung

wenn

Wenn man diese Zeitschrift


regelmig bezieht, erhlt man
viele Sonderangebote

Beim regelmigen Bezug


dieser Zeitschrift erhlt man
viele Sonderangebote (R3b)
Bezieht m a n diese Zeitschrift
regelmig, dann erhlt man
viele Sonderangebote (R3)

Wenn der Dollar nochmals


aufgewertet wrde, so wrde
das zu einer schweren Krise
fuhren

Eine nochmalige Aufwertung


des Dollars wrde zu einer
schweren Krise fuhren (R3b)

Wir werden es schon schaffen,


wenn wir auch wenig Hilfe
erwarten knnen

Wir werden es schon schaffen,


allerdings knnen wir wenig
Hilfe erwarten (Rl)
Wir werden es zwar schaffen,
aber wir knnen wenig Hilfe
erwarten
Wir knnen wenig Hilfe
erwarten, aber wir werden es
trotzdem schaffen

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5.2.4 Adverbials rather than clauses


(a)

In many cases German can use an adverbial construction or a


subordinate clause where English generally uses a clause. In general the
German constructions on the left, with adverbials, sound more
idiomatic.
Das ist allerdings richtig

Ich muss zugeben, dass das


richtig ist
I have to admit that this is correct

Er wird allmhlich (Rl


Er beginnt ungeduldig zu werden
langsam) ungeduldig
He is beginning to get impatient
Er ist angeblich krank

Er behauptet, dass er krank ist


He claims to be ill

Er ist anscheinend nicht


Es scheint, dass er nicht
gekommen
gekommen ist
He seems not to have come
Hast du auch deine Socken
Bist du sicher, dass du deine
eingepackt?
Socken eingepackt hast?
Are you sure you *ve packed your socks?
Wir knnen Ihnen
Wir bedauern, dass wir Ihnen
bedauerlicherweise nicht
nicht weiter behilflich sein
weiter behilflich sein (R3b)
knnen
We regret that we can be of no further assistance to you
Er ist bekanntlich ein
Es ist bekannt, dass er ein
hervorragender Physiker
hervorragender Physiker ist
Everyone knows that he is an outstanding physicist
Hier knnen Sie beliebig lange
Hier knnen Sie so lange bleiben,
bleiben
wie Sie wollen
You can stay here as long as you wish
Thomas kommt bestimmt mit

Ich bin sicher, dass Thomas


mitkommt
Vm sure Thomas is coming with us

Es ist freilich nicht einfach

Man muss zugeben, dass es nicht


einfach ist
It must be admitted that it isn yt easy

Gegebenenfalls kann man auch


eine andere Taste whlen

Wenn es ntig sein sollte, kann


man auch eine andere Taste
whlen
If the need should arise, another key may be chosen

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Hoffentlich erreicht er die


Ich hoffe, dass er die Htte vor
Htte vor Sonnenuntergang
Sonnenuntergang erreicht
I hope he reaches the cabin before sunset
Sie kann leider nicht kommen

Ich furchte, dass sie nicht


kommen kann
I'm afraid she can't come

Meiner Meinung nach ist er


Ich meine, dass er dazu kaum
dazu kaum fhig
fhig ist
I think that he is hardly capable of it
Er kommt mglicherweise noch Es ist mglich, dass er noch vor
vor dem Abendessen
dem Abendessen kommt
It is possible that he will come before dinner
Die Firma stellt diese Ersatzteile
Die Firma hat aufgehrt, diese
nicht mehr her
Ersatzteile herzustellen
Thefirmhas ceased/stopped making these spare parts
Alle Passagiere sind vermutlich
ums Leben gekommen

Man vermutet, dass alle


Passagiere ums Leben
gekommen sind
It is presumed that all the passengers lost their lives

Er hat wohl keine Lust dazu

Ich nehme an, dass er keine Lust


dazu hat
I imagine/suppose he doesn *t want to

Zweifellos ist dieses Jahr die


Ernte besser als letztes Jahr

Es besteht kein Zweifel darber,


dass dieses Jahr die Ernte besser
ist als letztes Jahr
There is no doubt that the harvest is better this year than last

In some cases a German adverbial is the only natural idiomatic


equivalent for an English verb.
Er hat andauernd gelacht
Es wird bestimmt regnen
Sie strt mich dauernd
Im Sommer spielt er gern Tennis
Sind Sie mit dem Lesen fertig?
Er hat frher im Garten
gearbeitet
Sie zieht sich gern/oft
extravagant an
Er arbeitet abends gewhnlich
im Garten
Jetzt sehe ich ein, dass ich mich
geirrt habe

He kept on laughing
It is sure to rain
She keeps (on) disturbing me
He likes playing tennis in the
summer
Have youfinishedreading?
He used to work in the garden
She tends to dress extravagantly
He tends to work in the garden in
the evenings
I have come to realize I was wrong

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Im Winter spielt er lieber


Handball
Er kam nicht rechtzeitig an
Sei ja/nur pnktlich!
Nimm dir ruhig noch etwas zu
trinken
Er las weiter
Ich habe sie zufallig in der
Straenbahn gesehen

5.2.5
(a)

Other alternatives to subordinate clauses


Some modal verb constructions correspond to more elaborate
constructions in English (see also 4.6), e.g.:
Wir drfen hier nicht so viel
Lrm machen
Man muss nicht so fest ziehen
Ich soll den Brief morgen
schreiben
Er soll bleich geworden sein
Dieses Zeugnis soll uns helfen
Sie soll eine Fnf in Latein
gekriegt haben
Du sollst das Licht ausmachen
Es sollte ein Geschenk sein
Er will es ihr erzhlt haben

(b)

He prefers playing handball in the


winter
He failed to arrive on time
Mind you're on time!
Don 9t be afraid to help yourselfto
another drink
He continued to read
I happened/chanced to see her in
the tram

We're not allowed to make so


much noise here
It is not necessary to pull so hard
I'm supposed to write the letter
tomorrow
People say that he went quite pale
This certificate is intended to help us
I've heard that she got a five in
Latin
I want you to switch off the light
It was meant to be a present
He claims to have told her

Especially in R3, German often uses adjectives and participles as nouns


where a full clause is needed in English.
Die Farbe dieser Vgel war das
fr mich Interessante
Er hat sich ber das Gesagte
aufgeregt

The colour of these birds was what


interested me
He got annoyed about what had
been said

Sie hat das brige kaum


beachtet
Er wollte die Ankommenden
begren
Das Erschreckende an diesem
Vorfall war seine scheinbare
Unabwendbarkeit

She hardly paid attention to what


remained
He wanted to welcome the people
who were arriving
What was terrifying about this
occurrence was its apparent
inevitability

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Where emphasis can be given in English by the use of cleft sentences


with two clauses, German almost always prefers a single main clause
construction, using the initial position to give emphasis (see 5.1.4 for
further details), e.g.:
Dort sind wir uns begegnet
In diesem Haus wohnt sie
Klar will er nicht mitmachen

It was there that we met


This is the house (which) she lives
in
It's obvious that he won yt join in

(d) English often uses to do to repeat the idea of a previous verb. German
does not use tun in this way but prefers constructions without a verb at
all.
Ein Gebiet, das alle Tiere
meiden, nur die Vogel nicht
Ich schreibe genau wie meine
Mutter
Er fhlt sich jetzt besser als
gestern

An area which all animals avoid


and only the birds do not
I write just like my mother does
He feels better now than he did
yesterday

5.3 The present participle in German and English


The English ing-iovm (sometimes called 'present participle' or
'gerund') appears to correspond to the German present participle
in -end, e.g. lachend, lesend, sterbend, etc. However, it is used far less
often than the English ing-form, and English-speaking learners of
German need to know when present participles can occur in German and when German prefers to use other constructions.

5.3.1

The use of the German present participle


The German present participle is used most often simply as an
adjective or an adverb; this is found in all registers, e.g.:
die schreienden Vgel
die streikenden Arbeiter
berraschend schnell

das kochende Wasser


das laufende Jahr
berzeugend dargestellt

Like all adjectives, it can be used as a noun (mainly R3), e.g.:


der Hinkende

etwas Erschreckendes

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It can be used with zu to make an adjective from an infinitive (typically


R3b), e.g.:
das abzufertigende Gepck
die zu schreibenden Briefe
It can be compounded with a noun (most often in R3), e.g.:
von atemberaubender
die fuballspielenden Jungen
Schnheit
die Arbeitssuchenden
die Zusptkommenden
The use of extended adjectives with a present participle is
characteristic of R3b, e.g.:
diese von den vorgeschriebenen Normen abweichende
Aufmachung
A few present participles have become true adjectives and can even be
used after sein, sometimes with a change in meaning. The most
common are:
Rl = spoken
colloquial
Rl* = vulgar
R2 = neutral
R3 = formal
R3a = literary
R3b = non-literary
(see 1.1.5)

abstoend
abwesend
ansteckend
anstrengend
anwesend
auffallend
aufregend
bedeutend

beruhigend
dringend
drckend
einleuchtend
emprend
entscheidend
glhend
reizend

rhrend
spannend
berzeugend
umfassend
verblffend
verlockend
zwingend

Note that there are very few of these. English speakers must beware of
confusing them with the ing-forms of the progressive tenses. Only the
above are real adjectives and can be used after the verb sein, e.g.:
ein berzeugendes Argument
das Argument ist berzeugend

a convincing argument
the argument is convincing

Compare the above with:


die fehlenden Seiten
die Seiten fehlen

the missing pages


the pages are missing

A sentence like *die Seiten sind fehlend is not possible, since fehlend is
not an adjective and present participles are not used in German to form
progressive tenses.
A present participle can be used in isolation, most commonly in R3:
Er antwortete mir lachend
Die Kinder strmten singend durch die Gassen
Phrases with present participles are sometimes to be found, e.g.:
Ich sa, meine Puppe auf den Knien haltend, zwischen
meinen Eltern am groen Tisch

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Using present participles in German like this is limited to R3a and,


although it is not uncommon there, there are complex restrictions on
when it can be used, and English students are best advised not to
imitate it but instead to use one of the alternative constructions detailed
in 5.3.2.

5.3.2 German equivalents of English in^-form constructions


As the German present participle is used almost exclusively as an
adjective or an adverb (see 5.3.1), the German equivalents for the many
constructions possible with the English wg-form need to be mastered.
The possibilities are almost endless, and only the most common are
illustrated below. In many instances, some registers of German may
prefer alternatives without subordinate clauses, the details of which are
given in 5.2.
(a)

ing-form qualifying a noun


German usually uses a relative clause or, especially in R3b, an
extended adjective:
Die Reisenden, die auf Einlass
The passengers waiting to be
admitted were becoming
warteten, wurden ungeduldig
impatient
The steel-workers, fearing for
Die um ihre eigenen
their own jobs, did not want to
Arbeitspltze frchtenden
strike
Stahlarbeiter wollten nicht
streiken (R3b)

(b)

AU = Austrian
CH = Swiss
N = North
NE = North East
NW = North West
S = South
SE = South East
SW = South West
(see 1.2.3)

mg-form expressing simultaneous actions or attendant


circumstances
The commonest German equivalent in all registers is simple main
clauses joined by und, possibly with dabei to stress the link. Note that
in modern German a clause with indem is not found in these contexts.
He gazed into the book, biting his Er starrte in das Buch und biss
sich (dabei) auf die Lippe
up
Er sa oft stundenlang da und
He would sit watching her for
sah ihr zu
hours
Sie drehte sich um, und dabei
She turned round, her heart
klopfte ihr das Herz vor Freude
beating with joy

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If the English sentence begins with a phrase with an wg-form, a clause


with als or wenn may be possible in German if the actions are
simultaneous:
Als wir zum Fenster
hinausschauten, sahen wir
Looking out ofthe window, we saw
den Polizisten
the policeman
Wir schauten zum Fenster
hinaus und sahen den
Polizisten
Depending on the sense of the English phrase, other conjunctions
may be appropriate in German:
It being late, they decided to take Da es schon spt war,
a taxi
beschlossen sie, ein Taxi zu
nehmen
Standing on top of the tower you
Wenn man oben auf dem Turm
can see both the streets
steht, kann man die beiden
Straen sehen
Having changed the wheel, he set Nachdem er das Rad gewechselt
hatte, fuhr er los
off
Obwohl ich die Tr offen fand,
Finding the door open, I
klingelte ich
nevertheless rang the bell
ing-iovms used as nouns
The German equivalent for these is most commonly a dto-clause, an
infinitive clause with zu or, especially in R3b (see 5.2), a verbal noun:
Es ist wichtig aufmerksam
zuzuhren
Es ist wichtig, dass man
Attentive listening is important
aufmerksam zuhrt
Aufmerksames Zuhren
k ist wichtig (R3b)
Er gab zu, dass er das
Fenster zerbrochen hatte
He admitted having broken the
Er gab zu das Fenster
window
zerbrochen zu haben
Entering the operating-theatre is
Das Betreten des Operationsaals
forbidden
ist verboten (R3b)
I can't imagine her selling her ring Ich kann es mir nicht
vorstellen, dass sie ihren Ring
verkauft
the art ofwriting
die Kunst des Schreibens

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Where a verb (or noun or adjective) takes a preposition, the same


options are available in German, but therf^ss-clauseor infinitive clause
will usually be anticipated by the adverb da(r) + preposition. (More
details about this construction are given in 4.1.5.)
Ich erinnere mich nicht
(daran), ihr begegnet zu
sein
I don't remember having met her
Ich erinnere mich nicht
(daran), dass ich ihr
\ begegnet bin
(ihr Einwand dagegen, die
Tempelhalle zu betreten
their objection to entering the hall
]ihr
Einwand gegen das
of the temple
Betreten der Tempelhalle
(d)

iwg-form after prepositions

by

by + wg-form: a common equivalent is a clause with dadurch .. ., dass


or indem, or durch followed by a verbal noun, e.g.:
Wir konnten ihr dadurch helfen,
dass wir den Termin verschoben
Wir konnten ihr helfen, indem
We were able to help her by
wir den Termin verschoben
postponing the deadline
Wir konnten ihr durch eine
Verschiebung des Termins helfen

on

on + ing-form: a common equivalent is a clause with als or wenn, or


beim followed by a verbal noun, e.g.:
(Als sie den Brief las, wurde sie rot
On reading the letter she
{Beim Lesen des Briefes wurde sie
blushed
l rot

for

for + wg-form: a common equivalent is (um)... zu, or zu followed by


a verbal noun, e.g.:
(Sie hat keine Zeit mehr, (um) zu
She no longer has any time
\ ben
for practising
VSie hat keine Zeit mehr zum ben
Sie benutzen sie, um daraus Bier zu
They use them for drinking
trinken
beer out of

with

with + ing-form: there are various possible types of equivalent for this,
e.g.:
Sie stand im Flur, und Trnen liefen
She stood in the hall with
tears Streaming down her
ibr (dabei) ber das Gesicht
face

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The proposal was accepted Der Vorschlag wurde akzeptiert,


with France voting against wobei Frankreich dagegen stimmte
Wir sahen die alte Stadt, ber die das
We could see the old town
with the castle towering over Schloss emporragte
it
Mit dem Anstieg der Arbeitslosigkeit
auch in Deutschland knnen
wir wenig Verbesserung in den
With unemployment
brigen europischen Lndern
increasing even in
erwarten
Germany, we can expect
Da die Arbeitslosigkeit auch in
little improvement in the
Deutschland gestiegen ist, knnen
other European countries
wir wir wenig Verbesserung in den
brigen europischen Lndern
i erwarten
It's lovely here in autumn,
Es ist im Herbst hier schn, wenn die
with the leaves turning
Bltter sich verfrben
With enemy troops
Jetzt, wo sich die feindlichen Truppen
approaching from the East, von Osten nhern, ist die Lage
the position is hopeless
hoffnungslos
(e)
see, hear, feel

Other miscellaneous instances with verbs


We saw them approaching
He felt his heart beating
wildly

They heard the boys crying


for help

fWir sahen, wie sie nher kamen


|
tWir sahen sie nher kommen (R3)
[Er fhlte, wie sein Herz heftig
J1 schlug
]| Er fhlte sein Herz heftig schlagen
1 (R3)
Sie hrten, wie die Jungen u m
Hilfe schrieen
Sie hrten die Jungen u m Hilfe
k schreien (R3)

keep

We were kept waiting

Man lie uns warten

leave

She left her things lying


about

Sie lie ihre Sachen herumliegen

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288

have

I have a coat hanging in the


closet

Ich habe einen Mantel im Schrank


hngen

go

We went sailing

Wir sind segeln gegangen

come

They came running towards Sie kamen auf uns zugelaufen


us

Syntax and word order

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6 Spelling and punctuation

German spelling and punctuation are markedly more consistent than


English, but some of the rules are quite different, and the most
important differences are explained in this chapter. An important
distinction from English is that spelling and punctuation are set down
officially for the German-speaking countries on the basis of agreements
between the countries involved, and not simply left to the compilers of
dictionaries and guides to style, and these official rulings (including
those for the placement of commas) are taught systematically in
schools, with considerable attention paid to correctness in all respects.
A uniform official spelling for German was only finally established
just over a hundred years ago, and many people came to feel that the
rulings made then still left some unnecessary inconsistencies and
anomalies. For this reason, the countries where German is used as an
official language agreed in 1994/95 on a set of reforms which began to
be introduced in 1996. For a transitional period the old and the new
spellings are permitted, but from 2005 only the new spellings will be
regarded as correct. This spelling reform has been immensely
controversial and generated much vociferous opposition. Although
most books and newspapers now published have gone over to the new
rules, not all are using them fully and consistently, and it is by no means
certain whether the target date of 2005 for the abandonment of the old
rules will be held to. Most people who grew up with the old rules are
still keeping to them for private and business correspondence, and
there seems to be considerable variation in practice even in schools. In
late 2002 opinion polls reported that only 10 per cent of German
speakers accepted the new rulings and used them consistently. It is
quite possible that both systems (and mixtures of them) will continue
to co-exist for many years yet.
In this book, the new rulings have been adhered to consistently
throughout, with the exception of certain texts in 1.6 which were
published before the new rules were introduced. Foreign learners of
German (and their teachers) are best advised to adopt the new rulings
consistently for their own usage (they are in many ways much simpler,
particularly in respect of punctuation). In this section we set out the
main features of the new rulings, pointing out the most important
differences to previous practice.

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6.1
6.1.1

Spelling
Capital letters
It is a basic rule of German that every noun is written with an initial
capital letter. However, there are a few areas of uncertainty and
variation, although the intention of the revised spelling rules is to
extend the use of capitals to all cases where there may have been doubt.

(a)

Other parts of speech used as nouns have a capital letter, e.g.:


das Entweder-Oder
das Ich
eine Fnf
das Warten
das Fr und Wider
das Zgern
This is in particular the case with adjectives used as nouns (see 3.4.4),
e.g.:
das schon Gesagte
der Alte
etwas Neues
alles Angenehme
nichts Schlimmes
ein Bekannter
There are a few (mainly apparent) exceptions to this rule:
(i) A small letter is used for an adjective if a preceding or following
noun is understood, e.g.:
Die grne Bluse gefllt mir nicht, ich nehme die rote
Es ist sicher das schnellste von diesen drei Autos
(ii) Superlatives with am have a small letter, e.g. am schnellsten. In
the revised spelling superlatives with aufs can be spelled with a
small or a capital letter, e.g. aufs heftigste or aufs Heftigste.
(iii) ander and beide always have small letters, even where it would
appear that they are being used as nouns, e.g. etwas anderes, diese
beiden.
Under the old spelling rules there were many occasional exceptions to
the rule that all nouns should have capital letters, in particular in
respect of set phrases like im allgemeinen 'in general' or im voraus 'in
advance', and number words like das erste, das nchste, das letzte, etc.
Most of these exceptions have been eliminated under the revised
spelling, and capitals are to be used consistently, e.g.:
im Allgemeinen
im Klaren sein
des fteren
das Erste
das Letzte
im Voraus
als Erstes
das Nchste
However, small letters are still to be used in a number of idiomatic
expressions where we are not dealing with distinct nouns. The most
frequent are:

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bei weitem by far


durch dick und dnn through thick and thin
gegen bar for cash
ohne weiteres without thinking
schwarz auf wei in black and white
seit langem for a long time
ber kurz oder lang sooner or later
von klein auf from childhood
von nah und fern from near and far
von weitem from afar
(b)

A few nouns in set phrases have small letters, in particular in the


following indefinite expressions of number:
ein bisschen ein paar (see 2.2.1)
The number of these has been much reduced in the revised spelling,
and most nouns in set phrases are now spelled with a capital, e.g.: auer
Acht lassen, Recht haben. In practice, a small letter is now to be used
only in very few instances, i.e. the above expressions of number and
nouns in phrases with the verb sein, e.g.:
ihr ist angst
er ist schuld daran
das ist schade
ich bin es leid

(c)

Nouns used as time adverbs generally have small letters, e.g.:


abends
morgens
vormittags
anfangs
sonntags
zurzeit
beizeiten
tagsber
zuzeiten
derzeit
von morgens bis abends
However, under the revised spelling rules:
(i) nouns indicating periods of the day used with gestern, heute and
morgen are spelled with a capital letter, e.g.:
gestern Morgen heute Vormittag morgen Abend
(ii) nouns indicating a period of the day have a small letter when used
with days of the week (or can be written together with them), e.g.:
Dienstag mittag OR Dienstagmittag
(iii) -mal can be compounded with numerals, e.g. einmal 'once', dreimal
'three times', hundertmal 'a hundred times' and in two or three
other phrases, i.e. diesmal 'this time', ein paarmal 'a few times', ein
andermal 'another time'. In all other contexts Mai is written as a
separate word and given a capital letter, e.g.:
das erste Mal jedes Mal zum ersten Mal
Compounds like das erstemal, jedesmal are no longer used.

(d)

Adjectives of nationality are spelled with a small letter when they


are used as adjectives or adverbs. This contrasts with usage in English,
e.g.:

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das deutsche Volk the German people


ein britisches Schiff a British ship
italienische Weine Italian wines
russische Lieder Russian songs
Der Minister hat mit ihr deutsch gesprochen
Redet sie jetzt deutsch oder niederlndisch?
However, they have capital letters when used as nouns to refer to the
language, e.g.:
Er kann kein Wort Deutsch
Das ist (kein) gutes Deutsch
Sie spricht / kann / liest (kein) Deutsch
Das Buch ist in Deutsch und Englisch erschienen
Under the revised spelling rules this also applies to usage after the
preposition auf, e.g.:
auf Deutsch, auf Englisch in German, in English
(e)

Nouns which have become prepositions have small letters, e.g.:


angesichts kraft mittels statt trotz

(f)

As in English, capitals are used for titles and proper names, e.g.:
das Deutsche Eck
die Olympischen Spiele
der Heilige Abend
der Rote Milan
Karl der Fnfte
das Schwarze Meer
die Lange Gasse
der Stille Ozean
die Letzte lung
However, adjectives in idiomatic combinations which are not names of
unique things are spelled with a small letter, e.g.:
die erste Hilfefirstaid
die goldene Hochzeit golden wedding
das schwarze Brett the notice board
der schwarze Markt the black market
Adjectives from proper names ending in -sch or -sch are written with
small letters under the revised spelling rules:
das elisabethanische Drama das ohmsche Gesetz

(g)

The pronoun Sie and its forms (Ihr, Ihnen, etc.) always have capitals. In
letters, the pronouns du, ihr and their forms (dich, euch, dein, etc.) are no
longer to be written with capitals under the revised spelling. This
ruling is being widely ignored.

6.1.2 One word or two?


The general principle of German spelling is that compound words are
written as a single word if they are felt to express a single idea (even if

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the resulting words can be quite long). If, on the other hand, the
individual words are still felt to retain full meaning, they are written
separately. The word stress often gives a clue to this, as a true
compound only has one main stress, whereas separate words are still
stressed independently. Compare the following:
'gutschreiben to credit
'gut 'schreiben to write well
'so 'weit so far
'soweit on the whole
There has always been considerable uncertainty about how to apply
this principle, and the revised spelling rules have attempted (not always
successfully) to eliminate some of the more troublesome
inconsistencies. The general principle of the revised spelling rules is to
prefer spelling as separate words in cases of uncertainty. The rest of
this section gives details on some of the main areas of difficulty and the
major changes prescribed by the revised spelling rules.

' stressed syllables


are preceded by a
stress mark

(a)

Separable and other compound verbs


Separable verbs are normally written as a single word when the prefix is
not at the end of the clause, e.g. ankommen, angekommen, anzukommen,
wenn sie ankommt. However, there are some exceptions and
uncertainties in respect of this ruling.

Combinations of a noun with a verb are written consistently as separate


words. The noun has a capital letter:
Acht geben to pay attention
Not tun to be necessary
Eis laufen to skate
Rad fahren to cycle
Halt machen to stop
Ski laufen to ski
Leid tun to be sorry
Weh tun to hurt
Ma halten to be moderate
However, some nouns are taken to have lost their full meaning in
combination with a verb, i.e.:
heim- irre- preis- stand- statt- teil- wett- wunderThese are seen as separable prefixes and written together with the verb,
e.g.:
heimgehen to go home
stattfinden to take place
teilnehmen to participate
irrefhren to mislead
preisgeben to expose
wettmachen to make up for
standhalten to stand
firm
wundernehmen to surprise
Combinations of an adjective, an adverb, an infinitive or a participle
with a verb are normally written as separate words, e.g.:
anheim fallen to fall victim to
liegen bleiben to remain lying
durcheinander bringen to muddle up nahe legen to suggest
fallen lassen to drop
spazieren gehen to go for a walk
gefangen nehmen to take captive
stehen bleiben to stop
kennen lernen to get to know
brig bleiben to be left over
leicht machen to make sth easy
verloren gehen to be lost

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However, adjectives and adverbs are seen as forming fixed idiomatic


combinations with the verb and written together with it if they cannot
be used in the comparative or with sehr without changing the meaning.
For example, fernsehen 'to watch television' is regarded as a single idea,
because ich sehe sehr fern can only have the literal meaning of 'I am
looking a long way'. Similarly:
gutschreiben to credit
bereithalten to have ready
blostellen to show up
schwarzarbeiten to moonlight
festsetzen to
fix
totschlagen to kill
Combinations with the verb sein are always written as separate words,
e.g.:
da sein to be there
inne sein to be conscious of
los sein to be up
vorbei sein to be past
zufrieden sein to be satisfied
zurck sein to be back
Compound verbs which are only used in the form of the infinitive
and/or the past participle, like brustschwimmen 'to swim breast-stroke'
and seiltanzen 'to walk the tightrope' are always written as a single
word. These verbs tend to have specialized meanings and are especially
frequent in R3b.
Combinations of prepositions with a noun
These form adverbs or prepositions and they are written separately if
the individual words are still felt to retain independent meanings. The
noun has a capital letter, e.g.:
mit Bezug auf with reference to
zu Ende gehen to come to an end
nach Hause gehen to go home
in Kraft treten to come into effect
Such combinations are written as single words if they are considered to
be single entities, e.g.:
beiseite to/on one side
infolge as a result of
inmitten in the middle of
vonnten necessary
vorderhand for the present
zurzeit at present
Alternative forms are accepted in some set phrases where it is
questionable whether the words involved retain their separate meanings
or not, e.g.:
anhand/an Hand on the basis of
anstelle/an Stelle instead of

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aufgrund/auf Grund on the basis of


imstande/im Stande sein to be capable
infrage/in Frage stellen to call into question
mithilfe/mit Hilfe with the aid of
zugrunde/zu Grunde gehen to perish
zugunsten/zu Gunsten in favour of
zumute/zu Mute sein to feel
zustande/zu Stande bringen to manage
zuwege/zu Wege bringen to manage
(c)

(d)

Combinations of a noun or an adverb with an adjective or


participle
In principle these are written as separate words, with the noun being
given a capital letter, e.g.:
ein Aufsehen erregendes Ereignis
die weit gehende Ubereinstimmung
ein schwer beschdigter Wagen
die Eisen verarbeitende Industrie
die dicht bevlkerte Stadt
ein hoch gelegener Ort
Idiomatic combinations with an adjective (i.e. those where the meaning
is not literally the sum of the parts) are written as a single word, e.g.:
altmodisch old-fashioned
schwerwiegend serious
zeitraubend time-consuming
Combinations with a noun which come from a phrase are written as a
single word, e.g.:
das bahnbrechende Werk
(from: sich eine Bahn brechend)
die staubbedeckten Bcher (from: mit Staub bedeckt)
Other common forms ( i r g e n d s o - , wie-, -viel, -wenig)
All compounds with irgend are spelled as one word under the revised
spelling rules, e.g.:
irgendetwas something
irgendjemand somebody
irgendwo somewhere
However, if another word intervenes, all are spelled separately, e.g.
irgend so etwas.
Combinations with so or wie are spelled as one word if they have a
distinctive meaning, but separately if each word retains its own
meaning, e.g.:
sobald as soon as
so bald so soon
solange as long as
so lange so long
sooft as often as
so oft so often

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wieweit? to what extent? wie weit? how far, what distance?


woanders elsewhere
wo anders? where else?
womglich possibly
wo mglich if possible
NOTE: The conjunction sodass 'SO that' can alternatively be spelled as
two words, i.e. so dass.

Combinations with viel and wenig are all spelled with two words under
the revised spelling, e.g. so viel, wie viel?, zu wenig, etc. However, as a
conjunction, soviel is spelled as a single word, e.g. soviel ich wei 'as far
as I know'.

6.1.3 The use o f and ss


The letter (usually called scharfes s or eszet) is used universally, both
in handwriting and printing, throughout Germany and Austria.
However, it is not normally used in Switzerland, where only ss is usual
and one sees, for example, Bahnhofstrasse rather than Bahnhofstrae. It
is advisable for foreign learners to follow the majority practice and use
where appropriate.
Originally,^ was only used as a small letter and not used in capitals,
e.g. Strae, but STRASSE. However, it has become increasingly
common to use in capitals, too, e.g. STRAE.
The ruling on the use o f and ss is probably the most obvious
change brought about by the revised spelling rules, affecting the largest
number of common words. The new rule is that, in the middle or at the
end of a word:
(a) is used after a long vowel or diphthong:
beien der Fu, die Fe gro, grer der Ma, die Mae
(b) ss is used after a short vowel:
dass
mssen, ich muss, ich musste
der Fluss, die Flsse
das Wasser
lassen, er lsst
wissen, ich wusste
This ruling extends the principle of German spelling that short vowels
are indicated by being followed by double consonants, long vowels by a
single consonant. It means that there is no longer the confusing
alternation between ss and in the declension of many common
words.

6.1.4 Miscellaneous spelling changes

The spelling of a few other words has been revised in the new spelling
rules. The aim is to achieve greater consistency. Some of the most
noteworthy are:

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new spelling

old spelling

aufwndig costly
belmmert sheepish
die Gmse chamois
nummerieren to number
die Rohheit roughness
sich schnuzen to blow one's nose
der Stngel stem, stalk
berschwnglich effusive
der Zierrat decoration

aufwendig
belemmert
Gemse
numerieren
Roheit
sich schneuzen
Stengel
berschwenglich
Zierat

Some words borrowed from other languages have an alternative


spelling which corresponds more closely to their pronunciation in
German. In all these cases either spelling is permissible, although the
one given first is preferred:
die/der Chicoree/Schikoree
der Fotograf/Photograph
die Fotografie/Photographie
das Getto/Ghetto
der/das Joghurt/Jogurt
die Majonse/Mayonnaise
das Mikrofon/Mikrophon
das Portmonee/Portemonnaie
potenziell/potentiell
die Soe/Sauce
der Spaghetti/Spagetti
das Telefon/Telephon

6.2
6.2.1

chicory
photographer
photography
ghetto
yoghurt
mayonnaise
microphone
purse
potential
sauce
spaghetti
telephone

Punctuation
The use of the comma
The comma in German is not used to mark a pause in speaking but to
show the beginning and end of a grammatical unit (especially clauses).
English learners should be aware that Germans regard the placing of
commas as part of correct spelling, and mistakes in comma placement
are penalized in German schools in the same way as spelling words
incorrectly.
The previous rules for the placement of commas were full of
exceptions and inconsistencies, and the new rules represent a
considerable (and very welcome) simplification. The basic principle is

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that all clauses within a sentence should begin and end with a comma,
e.g.:
Der Bauer, der dabei war, seinen dicken Wintermantel anzuziehen, war
der Meinung, dass man in den nchsten Tagen Schnee erwarten drfte
Among other things, this means that, unlike typical English usage,
adverbials within a clause are never surrounded by commas, e.g.:
Sie hat jedoch recht gehabt
She was, however, correct
Nach dem Krieg ging er
However; after the war; he returned
jedoch nach Kln zurck
to Cologne
There are a few exceptions to this basic rule:
(a)

No comma is required before a clause beginning with und or oder, e.g.:


Der junge Mann ffnete ihm die Tr und er ging mit ihm hinein
Almut rief an und er erzhlte ihr, was passiert war
Gehst du morgen ins Theater oder bleibst du zu Hause?
However, a comma can be used if the writer feels the need to make the
sentence clearer or avoid ambiguity:
Jrgen fotografierte die Berge(,) und seine Frau lag in der Sonne
Leaving the comma out might lead you to think, on first reading, that
Jrgen took a photograph of the mountains and his wife.

(b)

No comma is required before clauses with an infinitive with zu or a


participle:
Sie beschloss den Betrag von 2000 mglichst bald zu berweisen
Ich brauche heute nicht nach Mannheim zu fahren
Ich konnte nichts tun um sie zu beruhigen
Er verlie ihr Haus ohne gesehen zu werden
Aus vollem Halse lachend nahm er das Geschenk entgegen
Er sank zu Tode getroffen auf das Bett
However, a comma may be used if the writer feels it necessary to avoid
ambiguity or make the sense clear. Compare the following pair of
sentences, where the placing of the comma shows which clause heute
belongs to:
Das Kind versprach heute, nichts mehr von dem Kuchen zu essen
Das Kind versprach, heute nichts mehr von dem Kuchen zu essen

(c)

A comma is always required before infinitive clauses which are


anticipated by es or a prepositional adverb with da(r) in the preceding
clause, e.g.:
Ihm steht es nicht zu, ein Urteil zu fllen
Wichtig ist es vor allem, den Satz richtig zu verstehen
Wir sind dazu bereit, Ihnen darber Auskunft zu geben
Sie erinnerte sich daran, ihn in der Stadt gesehen zu haben

(d)

Insertions, exclamations, interjections, explanatory phrases, phrases in


apposition and the like usually have commas, e.g.:

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Fleisch, insbesondere Rindfleisch, war jetzt sehr knapp geworden


Er war, wie schon gesagt, durch den Tod seines Freundes bestrzt
Wir wurden durch Herrn Meiner, den Direktor des Instituts, in der
Eingangshalle empfangen
Petra, komm bitte schnell in die Kche!

6.2.2

Other punctuation marks

(a)

Quotation marks are used much as in English, though it is normal


practice to place the first set on the line rather than above it, and foreign
learners should follow this, e.g.:
Er sagte: Vater will, dass ich Jura studiere."
NOTE: a colon is used to introduce direct speech.

(b)

The exclamation mark is normally used with commands, e.g.:


Komm bitte sofort in den Garten!
Geben Sie mir diese beiden Schachteln!
This rule is not adhered to consistently, and a full stop is now
sometimes preferred. For the use of the exclamation mark in letters, see
2.8.

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Index

The index gives all the German and English words, and the grammatical and linguistic
topics about which specific information is given in this book. Individual words in lists
illustrating points of grammar or usage are not included.
To facilitate finding particular entries, German words are given in regular type,
English words in italics and grammatical (and other general) topics in SMALL
CAPITALS (with any German terms ITALICISED). Prefixes and suffixes are indicated
with a hyphen, e.g. an-, -lich, etc. Phrases are listed under the head-word, e.g. zum
Schluss under Schluss.
ab 131,147
ab-114
abbiegen 86

(sich) abwenden 86
abwesend 283

ABBREVIATIONS 176, 185

accept 53
accident 53
accidentally 53
accomplishment 53
according to 141

Abdruck, der 104


aber (conjunction) 158,
159,263,265
aber (particle) 156,161,
163
abfahren 71
sich abfinden 216
Abgeordente(r), der 197
abgesehen von 145
abhalten 78,83,219
Abhang, der 56
abhngen 217
abholen 58,60,73
abkratzen 62
ablehnen 80
ableugnen 62
abmachen 54
about 141,217
above 141
abraten 53,217,219
in Abrede stellen 62
Absatz, der 88
abschlieen 72
absehen 217,220
Absender, der 168
Absicht, die 69
absonderlich 75
absperren 72
abstellen 83
abstoend 283
abwaschen 88
Abwasser, das 174

ACCENT 10

ACCUSATIVE CASE 19,

146,211,225\ see also


accusative object,
preposition
ACCUSATIVE OBJECT

207,211,213,214,
232,236,270; see also
word order
Achse, die 93
Achsel, die 93
Acht geben 219,293
achten 213, 215, 220
across 141
ACTIVE VOICE 233

actually 53,79
ADDRESSES 168
ADJECTIVE
AFTER PRONOUN 194
COMBINED WITH
NOUN OR ADVERB

295
DECLENSION 1 9 3 - 6
FROM NAMES 195,

292
OF COLOUR 195
OF NATIONALITY 291
STRONG DECLENSION

193,194

USED AS NOUN 85,

196-8,201,281,282,
290
WEAK DECLENSION

194
WITH SEIN 271

see also extended


epithet, word
formation
Admiral, der 177
admit 53, 279
ADVERB/ADVERBIAL 264,

273,279-81,298
DIRECTIONAL 124
OF ATTITUDE 272
OF MANNER 270, 272
OF PLACE 2 6 5 , 2 7 0 , 2 7 2
OF REASON 272

OF TIME 265,270,272,
291
see also prepositional
adverb, word order
advertisement 54
advertising 54
advise 53
afraid 54, 280,281
after 142
again 54
against 142
age 54
AGE (effect on register) 6
AGENT 236

agree 54
Ahnung, die 69
Akt, der 93
Akte, die 93

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aktuell 78
akzeptieren 53
-al 172
Album, das 178
all-/alles/alle 193-6,198,
201,204-6
allerdings 265, 279
im Allgemeinen 290
allmhlich 279
allow 281
ALLTAGSSPRACHE 1\ See
also spoken German
along 142
als 'than' 21, 273
als 'when' 230,276,285,
286
als dass 247,276
als ob 246,276
als wenn 247
also 265
Alter, das 54
alter 54
although 250
among(st) 142
an 133, 143,144,150, 151,
153,212,214-15
an-114
-an 172
-n 172
an . . . entlang 142
an . . . vorbei 152
anbauen 67
anbieten 7 5 , 2 1 1 , 2 3 5
Anblick, der 87
-and 172
andauernd 280
Andenken, das 74
ander 6 2 - 3 , 2 9 0
(sich) ndern 59
androhen 85
sich aneignen 212
Anfang, der 179
anfangen 1 9 , 2 1 6 , 2 1 9 , 2 3 2
anfassen 85
anfordern 55
anfragen 55
sich anfhlen 64
angeben 220
angeblich 279
angehen 220
angehren 56
Angelegenheit, die 97
angesichts 292
Angestellte(r), der 197
angreifen 85
angst sein 291

Angst haben 64,218


Angst machen 64
in Angst versetzen 64
sich ngstigen 217
anhalten 83
anhand/an Hand 294
anheim fallen 293
Anhhe, die 98
anklagen 213
ankommen 220
Anlass, der 58
sich anmaen 212
(sich) annehmen 53,88,
213
Annonce, die 54
anordnen 76
sich anpassen 212
anrufen 58
anrhren 85
(sich) ansammeln 60
Anschein, der 55
anscheinend 279
sich anschlieen 212
Ansicht, die 87
anspringen 232
(an)statt 139,149,292
(an)statt... zu 263
ansteckend 283
anstelle/an Stelle von 149,
294
Anstellung, die 70
anstreichen 76
anstrengend 283
answer 208
-ant 172,183
Antrag, der 93
antworten 209
anvertrauen 101
anwenden 87
anwesend 78,283
-anz 172
Anzahl, die 75, 228
Anzeige, die 54
(sich) anziehen 88
anzweifeln 62
Aperitif, der/das 181
appearance 55
APPOSITION 149,298
-ar 172
-r 172
Arbeit, die 70
arbeiten 214
Arbeitsanzug, der 179
Arbeitslose(r), der 197
Archiv, das 179
arg 56

(sich) rgern 217, 219


argwhnisch 84
-arm 110
den Arsch zukneifen 62
ARTICLE 17-18,226; see
also definite article,
determiner, indefinite
article
-artig 110
as if 246
Asche, die 179
ask 55
ASSIMILATION 17

at 143
-at 172
at last 72
Atem, der 180
Atlas, der 178
auch 156,160,161,250,
279
auf 1334,143,146,150,
153,21415,292
auf- 114
a u f . . . zu 154
auf Wiederschauen 165
auf Wiedersehen 165
aufbewahren 70,101
auffallend 283
auffordern 55
sich auffuhren 56
Auffhrung, die 93
Aufgabe, die 7 0 , 9 3
aufgehen 76,79, 210
aufgrund / auf Grund 294
aufhaben 76
aufhalten 83
aufheben 7 0 , 7 2
aufhren 8 3 , 2 1 6 , 2 1 9
aufmachen 76
Aufnahme, die 63
aufnehmen 53
aufpassen 215, 219
aufregend 283
aufrsten 93
aufsammeln 60
aufschlagen 57, 76
aufschlieen 76
aufsparen 81
aufstehen 80
Auftrag, der 7 0 , 9 3
auftragen 93
Auftritt, der 55,63
aufwachen 87
aufwachsen 67
aufwndig 297
aufwecken 87

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aufzwingen 66
augenblicklich 78
aus 127,147, 149, 151
aus- 114
ausbilden 94
Ausbildung, die 94
ausbleiben 68
Ausblick, der 87
(sich) ausbreiten 82
(sich) ausdehnen 82
Ausdruck, der 95
ausdrcken 95
ausfallen 68
ausfragen 55
Ausfuhrung, die 93
Ausgabe, die 93
ausgeben 82
AUSKLAMMERUNG 22,
271
Auskunft, die 180
auslassen 74
ausmachen 54
ausnutzen/ausntzen 87
ausrichten 93
ausrsten 93
aussehen 217
Aussehen, das 55,179
auer 127,145
auer wenn 276
uere(s), das 55,197
auergewhnlich 101
auerhalb 140,151
Aussicht, die 87
AUSTRIA 1 3 , 2 3 , 2 6 - 7
ausweichen 55
(sich) ausweiten 82
Automat, der 183
AUXILIARY VERB 2 0 , 21,

229,231-4,240,263;
see also modal
auxiliary verb
avoid 55
Backe, die 105
Backen, der 105
backen 188,191
bad 56
Balkon, der 177
Ball, der 93
Ballen, der 93
Ballon, der 177
Band, der 9 4 , 1 0 2
Band, die 102
Band, das 9 4 , 1 0 2 , 1 0 4
Bande, die 94
bangen 211

bank 56
Bank, die 56,104
-bar 109,239
Barock, der/das 181
basieren 215
Bauer, der 183
be-111-12,209
be able to 250
be going to 229
be intended to 281
be meant to 281
be supposed to 281
Beamte(r), der 75
BEAMTENDEUTSCH 9
beantragen 93,190
beauftragen 93
(sich) bedanken 215
bedauerlich 95
bedauerlicherweise 279
bedauern 95
bedauernswert 95
bedenken 95
bedeuten 73
bedeutend 283
sich bedienen 87,213
bedingungslos 94
bedrngen 95
bedrohen 85
bedrfen 213
-bedrftig 110
beeindrucken 95
sich befassen 216
befehlen 76,187
befolgen 65
befrdern 97
befragen 55,235
befreien 217
befriedigen 80
befurchten 64
begabt 59
sich begeben 68
Begebenheit, die 63
begegnen 73,209
sich begeistern 215
begin 279
beginnen 19,187,216,
219,232
begleichen 77
begleiten 190
sich begngen 216
begraben 97
begreifen 67,79
Begriff, der 69
begren 6 7 , 9 8 , 2 3 5
behalten 70
beharren 215

behave 56
behindern 78
behutsam 58
bei 128, 143,144,151,286
bei weitem 291
bei-210
beibehalten 70
beide 193,195,196,290
beid(er)seits 140
beinhalten 190
beiseite 294
beien 186,225
beitragen 218
bekmpfen 64
bekannt 71
Bekannte(r), der 197
bekanntlich 279
sich beklagen 60,219
bekommen 232,237
belmmert 297
belehren 213
beliebig 279
belong 56
sich bemchtigen 67,213
bemerken 7 5 , 7 9 , 8 8 , 2 3 5
sich bemhen 217,219
sich benehmen 56
Benehmen, das 179
beneiden 217
benutzen/bentzen 87
beraten 53
berauben 213
berechtigen 218
Berechtigung, die
bereit 79
sich bereit erklren 54
bereithalten 294
Berg, der 74
bergen 187
bersten 187
Beruf, der 7 0 , 9 4
Berufsttigkeit, die 70
Berufung, die 94
beruhen 215
beruhigend 283
berhren 86
besagen 73
beschdigen 61
sich beschftigen 216
beschlieen 62
beschrnken 215
beschuldigen 56
beschtzen 218
sich beschweren 60,219
Besen, der 57
sich besinnen 213

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Besitz, der 179


(sich) bessern 69
bestehen 215,216,220
besteigen 59
bestellen 76
bestimmen 62
bestimmt 279,280
bestreiten 62
besuchen 58,65
betasten 64
beten 94
betrachten 85
sich betragen 56
betrgen 189,217
betteln 94
beurteilen 94
Bevlkerung, die 69
bevor 276
bewahren 70,101
bewhren 101
bewegen 77,86, 188,
191
Bewohner, der 69
bewundern 102,235
beyond 144
bezahlen 77
bezeichnen 94
sich beziehen 215
bezweifeln 62
bezwingen 66
biegen 8 6 , 1 8 7 , 2 3 2
bieten 75,94, 187
Bild, das 94
Bildung, die 94
billigen 54
binden 187
Bindfaden, der 84
binnen 131,148
bis 124, 144,154
bis auf 124,145
bitten 5 5 , 9 4 , 2 1 7 , 2 1 9
blame 56
blasen 188
Blatt, das 88
blechen 77
bleiben 186,230,232,239,
242,271
blenden 94
Blick, der 87
blinken 94
blinzeln 94
Blitz, der 180
blde 18
blo 7 6 , 1 6 0 , 1 6 3
blostellen 294
Boden, der 89

Bodensatz, der 179


Bogen, der 177
Bonbon, der 181
Bschung, die 95
bse 5 6 , 9 4
boshaft 94
bswillig 94
box 56
boxen 64
BRACKET
CONSTRUCTION see
word order
Brand, der 65
braten 188
Brauch, der 95
brauchen 21, 8 4 , 9 5 , 2 3 5 ,
241
break 57
brechen 57, 187, 232
breit 74
breitschlagen 77
brennen 190
bright 57
Brille, die 179
bringen 84, 190,217,221,
242
Broiler, der 11
Brot, das 180
brllen 61
brush 57
Bchse, die 56
Buchstabe, der 183
Bulle, der 102
Bulle, die 102
bummeln 233
Bund, der 9 4 , 1 0 2
Bund, das 9 4 , 1 0 2
Bndnis, das
Burg, die 58
Bursch, der 183
Brste, die 57
Busch, der 95
Butter, die 181
by 1 4 4 - 5 , 2 3 6 , 2 8 6
Cafe, das 95
call 58
can 238
CAPITAL LETTERS 166,
290-2
care 58
careful 58
careless 58
case 58
CASE 181-5,192,207,
2248; see also

accusative case,
dative case, genitive
case, nominative case,
valency
castle 58
cathedral 58
cattle 61
cause 58
cease 280
Cello, das 178
chance 281
change 59
Charme, der 175
-chen 107,172
Chicoree/Schikoree, die
297
claim 279, 281
CLAUSE 262; see also
comparative clause,
conditional clause,
itfss-clause, infinitive
clause, main clause,
purpose clause,
relative clause,
subordinate clause
CLEFT SENTENCE 266,
282
clever 59
clever 59
climb 59,208
close 59
CLOSING BRACKET see
verbal bracket
CLOTHING, ARTICLES
OF 180,224
coat 59
collect 60
COLLECTIVE NOUNS see
nouns
COLLOQUIAL SPEECH
see spoken German
come 280,288
COMMA 169,264,265,
297-9
COMMANDS 161-3, 263,
299
COMMERCIAL
CORRESPONDENCE
169
COMPARATIVE CLAUSES
246
COMPARATIVE PHRASES
273
complain 60
COMPLEMENT 268,270;
see also word order

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COMPOUND TENSE see

tense
COMPOUND WORD see

word formation
CONDITIONAL see

subjunctive

DATIVE OBJECT 2 0 7 ,

209-12,214,236;
also word order
dauern 95
dauernd 280
DAYS OF THE WEEK 185,

291

CONDITIONAL
SENTENCE 2 4 5 - 6 ,

decide 6 2

263

Decke, die 89,95


Deckel, der 95
Deckung, die 95

WITH 'OPEN'
CONDITIONS 2 4 6
congratulate

208

CONJUNCTION 2 6 3
content (s) 6 0
continue

60,281

CONTINUOUS ACTION

19

formation
Ding, das 84,177
Dings, das 84
Dingsbums, das 84
Dingsda, das 84
DIRECT OBJECT see

accusative object
DIRECT SPEECH 242

DEFINITE ARTICLE 20,

DIRECTION PHRASES

182,193,199,224
(sich) dehnen 82

do

(DETERMINER/

271
282
doch 156,162, 164
doch mal 162
doch wohl 159
Dom, der 58

PRONOUN) 2 1 , 1 9 2 ,

don ft have to 236

demand

62

could 196

DEMONSTRATIVE

61

62

DIMINUTIVES see word

adjective, noun

dementieren 62

cow

different

DECLENSION see

copy 61
couldn't help 196

dieser 192, 199,267; see


also demonstrative
diesseits 140

da 22,201,266
da sein 294

198-200,267
(sich) denken 69,85,95,
190,214,242
denn (conjunction) 263
denn (particle) 18,84,
160-2

doubt (noun) 280


doubt (verb) 62

DA (R) + PREPOSITION

deny 6 2

down 145

see prepositional
adverb
dabei 284
dadurch . . . , dass 277,
286
dalassen 71
damage 61,208
damals 84
damit 247,276
Damm, der 56
daneben 74
Dank, der 95,179
danken 209,215
dann 84

DEPENDENT CLAUSE see

subordinate clause
der see definite article
der (demonstrative) 198,
267
der (relative pronoun) 200
der . . . da/hier 199
derer 201

Drama, das 178


(sich) drngeln 78
(sich) drngen 78,95,215,
221
(sich) drehen 86
dringen 95,187,232
dringend 283
drohen 85,209,216

DERIVATION see word

drop 2 0 8

formation
derjenige 200
derselbe 80
derzeitig 78

dicht 84,89
-dicht 110
dichtmachen 59
dick 64,84,89

drucken 95
(sich) drcken 78,95,218
drckend 283
Dschungel, der/das 181
du 166-8,292
Duft, der 82
duften 217
dunkel 61
durch 125,144,152,236,
272,286
durch- 115-16
durch dick und dnn 291
durcheinander bringen
293
Durchfhrung, die 53
durchqueren 61
drfen 249,281

die 62

during 145

dienen 209,218

dster 61

cross 61

61
cut 208
cry

Darm, der 179


das (demonstrative)
199-200
dass 244
DASS-CLAUSE

DETERMINER 1 7 , 1 8 2 ,

192-206

dark 61

219,275,

285
DATIVE CASE 19, 153,

209
EXPRESSING
POSSESSION 20,

224-5,227
see also dative object,
noun, preposition

DECLENSION 1 9 2 - 6

see also definite article,


demonstrative,
indefinite article,
possessive
Deutsche(r), der 197
DIALECT 1 0 , 1 2

Dose, die 56
Dossier, das/der 181
Dotter, der/das 181
DOUBLET 1 0 5 - 6

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-e (noun suffix) 107, 175,


182
eben 157,160-2
echt 79
-echt 110
Eck, das 105
Ecke, die 105
ehrbar 96
Ehre, die 96
ehrenhaft 96
Ehrfurcht, die 96
Ehrgeiz, der 96
ehrlich 96
ehrwrdig 96
-ei 172
Eigenart, die 96
eigenartig 75
Eigenschaft, die 96
eigentlich 79, 157, 160
Eigentum, das 96
eigentmlich 75
Eigentmlichkeit, die 96
sich eignen 215,218,221
ein- 114
ein bisschen 291
ein paar 99,205-6,291
einbiegen 86
sich einbilden 69, 212
Eindruck, der 95
eindrcken 95
einer 203,204
einfach 81,96
Einfahrt, die 63
Einfall, der 69
einfallen 89,96,210
einfltig 81,96
einfrieren 66
einfuhren 216
Eingang, der 63
Eingeborene(r), der 69
einhalten 70
Einheimische(r), der 69,
197
einheitlich 96
einig (sein) 54,96
einige(r) 193,195-6,
205
sich einigen 54
Einkommen, das 179
einladen 55,218
einleuchtend 283
einnehmen 60
einreden 77
Einreise, die 63
einrichten 93
einsam 96

einsammeln 60
einschenken 78
einschlieen 72
einsehen 53,79
Einsicht, die 86
einsperren 72
einstellen 83
Eintrag, der 63
Eintritt, der 63
einverstanden sein 54
Einverstndnis, das 86
einwilligen 54,216
Einwohner, der 69
einzeln 96
einzig 96
Eis laufen 293
Eisenbahn, die 179
(sich) ekeln 211, 218,219
-el 174
empfnglich 96
empfehlen 187,211
empfinden 64
empfindlich 96
emprend 283
-en (adjective suffix) 109
-en (noun suffix) 174
im Endeffekt 65
endgltig 65
ENDING see adjective,

noun, verb
endlich 65,96
endlos 96
eng 74
ent-112,210
-ent172,183
entfallen 210
entgegen- 210
entlang 134,142
entnehmen 215
entrance 63

entrichten 77
entry 63

sich entscheiden 62, 216,


219
entscheidend 283
entschlafen 62
sich entschlieen 62,218,
219
Entschlossenheit, die 96
Entschluss, der 96
sich entsinnen 213
entsprechen 80
entsprechend 141
sich entziehen 55
-enz 172
-er (adjective suffix) 195

-er (noun suffix) 107,172,


174
er- (verb prefix) 112-13
Erbe, der 102
Erbe, das 102
erbleichen 186
erblicken 235
-erei 107
sich ereignen 68
Ereignis, das 63
erfahren 71
Erfahrung, die 63
erfassen 67
erfolgen 68
erfordern 55,97
sich erfreuen 213
erfrieren 66
erfllen 80
sich ergeben 212,215,216,
221
sich ergieen 78
ergreifen 67
erhalten 70, 237
(sich) erheben 72, 80
erhhen 72
sich erholen 217
(sich) erinnern 213, 214,
219
Erinnerung, die 74
erkennen
Erkenntnis, die
erklren 89
erkranken 214
sich erkundigen 55,98,
216
Erlass, der/das 177
Erlebnis, das 63
erlernen 71
erlschen 189,191
ermchtigen 218
ermglichen 211
ermutigen 218
-ern 109
erffnen 76
erraten 68
Erscheinen, das 55
Erscheinung, die 55
erschrecken 64, 187, 191,
218
erschweren 211
(sich) ersparen 81
erst 65,76,89,96,154,157
erst mal 65
erst recht 157
das Erste 290
als Erstes 290

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ersteigen 59
zum ersten Mal 65
erstens 6 5 , 9 6
erstmals 6 5 , 9 6
sich erstrecken 82
ersuchen 55
erwachen 87
erwachsen 67
Erwachsene(r), der 197
erwarten 235
erwecken 87
(sich) erweitern 82
Erwerbsttigkeit, die 70
Erz- 108
erzwingen 66
es 266, 298; see also
pronoun, personal
Espresso, der 178
essen 188
Essen, das 66,180
-et 172
Etikett, das 96,177
Etikette, die 96
etliche(r) 193,195,205
-ett 172
etwa 141,158,160
etwas 198,201
-eur 172
event 63
Examen, das 178
examine 63
except (for) 145
EXCLAMATION 264,298
EXCLAMATION MARK
169,299
Exemplar, das 61
experience 63
EXTENDED EPITHET 22,
238,274,283,284
Fach, das 89
FACHSPRACHE 7, 4 3 - 5
-fhig 110
fahren 1 8 8 , 2 3 2 , 2 3 3 , 2 4 2
Fahrer, der 96
fail 281
Fakt, der/das 181
Fall, der 6 3 , 8 9
fall 63
fallen 63, 188,242
fallen lassen 293
fangen 189
Farbe, die 89
Fasan, der 177
fassen 67
fat 64

fear (A
fechten 64,187
feel 64,208,287
Fehl- 109
fehlen 7 4 , 1 9 0 , 2 1 0 , 2 1 4
Fehler, der 74
Fehlgriff, der 74
Feiertag, der 68
feige 18
feixen 67
Fell, das 81
Fels, der 105
Felsen, der 105
FEMININE see gender
Ferien, die 68
Fernglas, das 179
fernsehen 294
fertig 7 9 , 8 9 , 2 8 0
Fertigkeit, die 53
-fest 110
festsetzen 294
feststellen 79
fett 64
fettig 64
Feuer, das 65
Feuerwerk, das 179
fight 64
finally 65
finden 187,241
finish 280
FINITE VERB see verb
finster 61
fire 65
Firma, die 178
(at) first 65
Fischotter, der 103
flechten 188
Fleck, der 105
Flecken, der 105
flehen 55
fliegen 187, 233
fliehen 187, 218
flieen 65,187
Flitterwochen, die 179
flow 65
Flur, der 102
Flur, die 102
folgen 6 5 , 6 6 , 2 1 0 , 2 1 5 ,
221,233
folgende(r) 193,195,
196
folgern 215
follow 65
food 66
for 1 4 5 - 6 , 2 1 2 , 2 8 6
force 66,208

fordern 55,97
frdern 97
Forderung, die 97
Frderung, die 97
FOREIGN WORDS 18,
177,178,185
FORMAL SPEECH 38-40
FORMAL WRITING see
written German
-frmig 110
fortfahren 60
Fortschritt, der 180
fortsetzen 60
Fossil, das 178
Foto, das 181
Fotograf/Photograph, der
97, 297
Fotografie/Photographie,
die 97,297
eine Frage stellen 55
fragen 5 5 , 1 9 1 , 2 1 6 , 2 1 9
Fra, der 66
Frau, die 168
Frulein, das 168
freeze 66
-frei 110
Freie(s), das 197
freilich 265, 279
Freiwillige(r), der 197
fremd 7 5 , 9 0
fremdartig 75
fressen 188
sich freuen 214,215, 217,
219,222
Friede(n), der 183
frieren 6 6 , 1 8 7 , 2 3 3
frighten 64
from 147
Frucht, die 66
frher 280
fruit 66
sich fugen 212
(sich) fhlen 64
fhren 218
Fhrer, der 96
Funke(n), der 183
fr 125,145,146,212
(sich) furchten 64, 218,
219
Frsorge, die 58
Frst, der 183
fuen 215
Futritt, der 83
Futter, das 66
FUTURE PERFECT
TENSE see tense

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FUTURE SUBJUNCTIVE

see subjunctive
FUTURE TENSE see tense
Gmse, die 297
Gang, der 90,102
Gang, die 102
ganz 205
Garage, die 67
garage 67
Gasse, die 83
gather 67
G D R (GERMAN

gelten 187,222
gelten lassen 53
Gemach, das 80
Gemahl, der 99
gem 131,141
Gemeinheit, die 97
Gemeinsamkeit, die 97
Gemeinschaft, die 97
GENDER (effect on
register) 6
GENDER (of noun) 20,
171-81,195
DOUBLE 1 0 2 - 4

DEMOCRATIC

FEMININE 1 7 2 - 6

REPUBLIC) 11

MASCULINE 172-5,
180,182,184
NEUTER 172-6, 180,
182,184

Ge- / G e - . . . -e 107,173
geben 7 9 , 1 8 7 , 2 1 1 , 2 4 1
gebieten 76
Gebirge, das 74
Gebrauch, der 95
gebrauchen 87,95
gebruchlich 95
Gebrauchsanweisung, die
179
gebraucht 95
Gedchtnis, das 74
Gedanke, der 6 9 , 9 5 , 1 8 3
Gedeck, das 95
gedenken 95,213
gefallen 72,210
Gefallen, der 102
Gefallen, das 102
gefangen nehmen 293
Gefangene(r), der 197
gefrieren 66
gegebenenfalls 279
gegen 125,142,154
gegen bar 291
Gegenstand, der 84
gegenber 128
gegenwrtig 78
Gehacktes 197
Gehalt, der 60,102
Gehalt, das 102
geheim 81
gehen 189,217,230,239,
241
gehorchen 210
gehren 5 6 , 2 1 0 , 2 1 8 , 2 3 8
geistig 97
geistlich 97
Geistliche(r), der 197
geistreich 97
Gelegenheit, die 97
Gelehrte(r), der 197
gelingen 187,210, 242

VARIABLE 1 8 0 - 1

General, der 177


genesen 188
Genick, das 74
GENITIVE CASE 21, 149,

213,224-8
IN MEASUREMENT
PHRASES 2 2 8
POSITION OF
GENITIVE PHRASES

227
IN TIME EXPRESSIONS

227
see also genitive object,
preposition
GENITIVE OBJECT 213,

271
gengen 80
Gerusch, das 82
Gerechtigkeit, die 99
Gericht, das 66
gering 82
gern 72,280
gern haben 72
Geruch, der 82
GERUND 2 8 2

Gesandte(r), der 197


gesttigt 80
geschehen 6 8 , 1 8 8 , 2 4 2
Geschehen, das 63
gescheit 59
Geschichte, die 90
geschickt 59
Geschmack, der 82,177
Geschworene(r), der 197
Gestank, der 82
gestern 291
Getto/Ghetto, das 297

gewahren 101
gewhren 101
Gewalt, die 78
Gewinn, der 179
gewinnen 187
sich gewhnen 97, 215
gewhnlich 280
gewohnt 97
(es) gibt 20
gieen 78,187
Gipfel, der 74
glnzen 81
glnzend 57
Glaube, der 183
glauben 8 5 , 2 1 5 , 2 1 9
Glubige(r), der 97
Glubiger, der 97
gleich 8 0 , 9 0 , 9 7
-gleich 110
gleichfalls 97
gleichgltig 97
gleichmig 97
gleichviel 97
gleiten 186
glhend 283
go 288
Golf, der 102
Golf, das 102
Grab, das 97
graben 97,188
Graben, der 97
Graf, der 183
-graph 172
grapschen 67
ins Gras beien 62
grasp 67
gratulieren 210,218
grauen 64, 211
grauenhaft 97
grausam 97
greet 67
GREETINGS 1 6 4 - 6

greifen 67, 8 2 , 1 8 6 , 2 1 6
grin 67
grinsen 67
gro 84
gro werden 67
grow (up) 67,208
Grund, der 5 8 , 9 0
Grund-109
grndlich 97
grundstzlich 97
gren 6 7 , 9 8
guess 196
Gulasch, der/das 181
Gummi, der 102

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Gummi, das 102,181


gutschreiben 294
haben 230-3,241
Hafer, der 179
-haft 109
Hahn, der 9 0 , 9 8
Hals, der 74
halt 157
Halt machen 293
(sich) halten 7 0 , 7 1 , 8 3 , 8 5 ,
188,189,215,216,
222,241
-haltig 110
Handel, der 98
sich handeln 217
handhaben 190
Handlung, die 98
Hang, der 74
hngen 79, 189, 191, 242
happen 68,281
harm 68
harren 213
Harz, der 102
Harz, das 102
(es) hat 20
(sich) hauen 65, 191,225
Haufen, der 228
(sich) hufen 60
Haupt- 109
Hauptquartier, das 179
Hausaufgabe, die 180
Haut, die 81
have 288
have + PARTICIPLE 266
hear 281, 287
heben 72,188
Heide, der 102
Heide, die 102
Heilige(r), der 197
heim- 293
heimlich 81
heiraten 73
heien 5 8 , 7 3 , 1 8 6 , 2 4 1 ,
271
-heit 107,172
heiter 57
Held, der 183
helfen 1 8 7 , 2 1 0 , 2 4 0 , 2 4 2
hell 5 7 , 9 0
Henne, die 98
her- 124
herab 145
heranwachsen 67
herauf 155
herausbilden 94

herausfordern 218
herbeirufen 58
Herd, das 98
Herde, die 98
hereinfallen 96
Herr, der 183,185
herrhren 217
herum 141
(sich) herumdrehen 86
herunter 145
Herz, das 183
heulen 61
heute 291
HIGHLIGHTING 22
hill 68
Himmel, der 90
hin- 124
hin-/hereinlassen 53
hinab 145
hinauf 155
hindern 7 8 , 2 1 4 , 2 1 9 , 2 3 5
hindurch 125
hineingeben 79
hinnehmen 53
hinter 142,152
hinter- 116
hinterher- 65
hinterlassen 71
hinber- 61
hinunter 145
hire 68
Hirt, der 183
hoch 84
HOCHDEUTSCH see
Standard German
hochheben 72
hchstens 265
hoffen 215,219
hoffentlich 280
Hhe, die 98
holiday (s) 68
HOMONYMS 88
hope 280
Hopfen, der 179
Hose, die 179
Hgel, der 74
Huhn, das 98
Hut, der 103
Hut, die 103
sich hten 218,219
-ich 172
idea 69
Idee, die 69
IDIOMS 119-23
-ie 172

-ier 172
*/245
-ig (adjective suffix) 109
-ig (noun suffix) 172
ihr (second-person
pronoun) 166,292
-ik 172
-il 172
Illustrierte, die 197
imagine 69, 280
immerhin 265
IMPERATIVE 21,188
IMPERFECT TENSE see
tense
IMPERSONAL PASSIVE
see passive
IMPERSONAL VERB see
verb
impress 208
improve 69
imstande / im Stande sein
295
in (German preposition)
135-6,147-9,151,
153,216
in (English preposition)
147-8
-in (noun suffix) 108,172
incident 69
INDEFINITE
(DETERMINER /
PRONOUN) 195,
204-6
INDEFINITE ARTICLE
182,193,194
indem 111, 284,286
Inder, der 98
Indianer, der 98
INDIRECT OBJECT see
dative object
INDIRECT SPEECH 22,
242-5
Industrielle(r), der 197
INFINITIVE 186,229,248,
262,283
MODAL INFINITIVE
238
PAST INFINITIVE 248
WITH AM 19
see also infinitive clause
INFINITIVE CLAUSE 21,
219,263,273,275,
285,286,298
INFLECTION see adjective,
noun,verb
infolge 294

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INFORMAL SPEECH see


spoken German
informieren 217
infrage / in Frage stellen
295
ING-FORM 282-8; see also
participle
inhabitant(s) 69
Inhalt, der 60,179
INITIAL
ELEMENT/INITIAL
POSITION see word
order
inmitten 294
inne sein 294
Innere(s), das 197
innerhalb 140,148
INSEPARABLE VERB see
prefix, verb
Inserat, das 54
inside 148
instead of 149
intelligent 57, 59
(sich) interessieren 214,
216
INTERJECTION 264, 298
INTERROGATIVE 202-3,
263
into 149
INTRANSITIVE VERB see
verb
-ion 172
irgend- 295
irgendwelcher 193,195
irre- 293
irren 233
Irrtum, der 74
-isch 109
-ismus 172
-ist 172
ja 158,162,164,281
ja wohl 159
Jckchen, das 70
Jacke, die 70
jacket 70
Jackett, das 70
jeder 193,194,196,
205
jedoch 156
jemand 21,204
jener 193,199
jenseits 140,144
jetzt 280
job 70
Job, der 70

Joghurt/Jogurt, der/das
181,297
JOURNALISM 45-51,231,
243
Jugendliche(r), der 197
Junge, der 103
Junge, das 103
Kabarett, das 177
Kaffee, der 95
Kaktus, der 178
Kamerad, der 183
Kammer, die 80
kmpfen 65,217
Kapelle, die 90
kaputt sein 57
kaputtgehen 57
kaputtmachen 57
Karre, die 105
Karren, der 105
Karte, die 90
Kartoffel, die 177,181
Karton, der 56,177
Karussell, das 177
Kse, der 175
Kaserne, die 179
kassieren 60
Kstchen, das 56
Kasten, der 57
Kathedrale, die 58
kaum 270
keep 70,208, 287
keep on 280
Kegel, der 98
Kehle, die 74
kehren 86
Kehrricht, der 179
kein 193,194
keiner 204
-keit 107,172
Keks, der/das 181
kennen 71, 190,242
kennen lernen 73, 293
Kenntnis, die 71,180
(in) Kenntnis setzen 53
Kenntnisse, die 71,180
Kiefer, der 103
Kiefer, die 103
Kissen, das 90
Kiste, die 57
klagen 60,219
Klang, der 82
klar werden 79
im Klaren 290
klein 82
klettern 59

klingen 187
klopfen 225
Kloster, das 174
klug 59
Knuel, der/das 181
kneifen 186
know 11, 279
knowledge 71
komisch 75
Komma, das 178
kommen 189,222,230,
241
KONJUNKTIV
i/nsee
subjunctive
knnen 7 1 , 2 3 8 , 2 3 9 ,
247-50,257
Konto, das 178
kontrollieren 63
sich konzentrieren 215
Kopie, die 61
Kork, der 105
Korken, der 105
korrigieren 69
Kost, die 6 6 , 9 8
kostbar 98
kosten 90,211
Kosten, die 9 8 , 1 7 9
kstlich 98
Kotelett, das 177
Krach, der 82
kraft 292
Kraft, die 78
Kragen, der 177
Kran, der 178
-krat 172
krepieren 62
Kreuz, das 90
Kreuzotter, die 103
sich kreuzen 61
kriechen 187
kriegen 237
Kugel, die 98
Kuh, die 61
sich kmmern 217
Kunde, der 103
Kunde, die 103
kndigen 98
Kundschaft, die 179
knstlerisch 98
knstlich 98
kssen 225
Labor, das 177
lcheln 67
lachen 217
laden 188,189

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Laden, der 178


Lager, das 178
Land, das 90,104
Landschaft, die 91
lang 84,146
langen 67
langsam 279
Lrche, die 99
Lrm, der 82
(sich) lassen 71, 188,238,
241
Laster, der 103
Laster, das 103
laufen 189,233,242
laut (preposition) 131,141
Laut, der 82

Letzte, der/die/das 91,


290
letzten Endes 65
letztendlich 65
leuchten 81
leuchtend 57
leugnen 62
Leute, die 77
Lexikon, das 178
-lieh 110,239
lieb haben 72
lieben 72
lieber 281
liegen 19,98, 187,222,
232,242
liegen bleiben 293
liegen lassen 71

learn 71

lift 11

leave 71,72,208,287

like 72,280
-ling 108,172
Linke, die 197
Liter, der/das 181

laugh 2 0 8

LEAVE-TAKING 165

leben 72
ums Leben kommen 62
lebendig 98
Lebensmittel, die 66,
179
lebhaft 98
lediglich 76
-leer 110
legen 79,98
lehren 211
leicht 81
leicht fallen 210
leicht machen 293
leichtsinnig 58
Leid, das 98
leid sein 291
Leid tun 64,210,293
leiden 186,214
nicht leiden knnen 72
Leiden, das 98
Leidenschaft, die 98
leider 280
leihen 186-90,211
-lein 107,172
leise 79
Leistung, die 53
Leiter, der 103
Leiter, die 103
-ler 108,172
Lerche, die 99
lernen 71
lesen 188
LETTERS OF ALPHABET

176
LETTER-WRITING

168-70

LITERARY REGISTER 7,

mancher 193-5,205
Mangel, der 103
Mangel, die 103
mangeln 210
Mann, der 73
Mantel, der 70
Mark, die 103
Mark, das 103
marry 73

Marsch, der 103


Marsch, die 103
MASCULINE see gender

Ma, die 103


Ma, das 103
Ma halten 293
-mig 110
Match, der/das 181
Material, das 178
Mauer, die 87
may 250
mean 7 3
MEANING 5 2 - 1 7 0
MEASUREMENT

9,41-3

PHRASES 1 8 0 , 2 2 8

little 12

meckern 60

live 12

MEDIUM (effect o n

loben 235

register) 4

lock 12

meet 7 3

-lge 172
Lohn, der 179
lhnen 77
-los 110
los- 115
los sein 294
lschen 191
losfahren 71
losgehen 71

mehrere 193,195
meiden 55,186
meinen 64,73,85,91
Meinung, die 69,87
meiner Meinung nach
280
melken 191

love 7 3

lgen 98,189
Lunge, die 179

memory

-ment

Macht, die 78
Mdel, das 178
Magnet, der 178
Mahl, das 99
mahlen 190
Mahlzeit, die 99
Majonse/Mayonnaise,
die 297
mal (particle) 162
-mal 291
Mal, das 85
malen 76
Malheur, das 53
man 77,203,237
man 73

74

Menge, die 228


Mensch, der 73, 103,183
Mensch, das 103
Menschen, die 77
172

merken 75,79
merkwrdig 75
messen 188
Messer, der 103
Messer, das 103
Meteor, der/das 181
Meter, der/das 181
mieten 80,99
might 196

Mikrofon/Mikrophon,
das 297
milde 18
mind (verb) 281
Mineral, das 178
Miss- (noun prefix) 109

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mit 128-9, 144, 155, 164,


216,272
mithilfe / mit Hilfe 295
mitteilen 211
-mittel 108
Mittel, das 179
Mittelalter, das 179
mittels 292
Mbel, die 179

nachdenken 85,217
nachfolgen 66
nachfragen 55
nachlssig 58
nachmachen 211
Nachricht, die 180
Nchste, der/die/das 91,
290
Nacken, der 74
nahe legen 293
sich nhern 212
Nahrung, die 66
Nahrungsmittel, die 66
Name, der 183
namendich 99

MODAL AUXILIARY

NAMES 185

miss- (verb prefix) 116


miss 7 4

Missgeschick, das 53
misstrauisch 84
missverstehen 116
mistake 7 4

VERB 230, 241,

248-61
ENGLISH MODAL
AUXILIARIES 2 5 3 - 6 1
MODAL INFINITIVE See

infinitive
MODAL PARTICLES 155,

GEOGRAPHICAL 185,

226
OF ARTISTIC STYLES

185
OF CITIES 195
OF COLOURS 198
OF GERMAN REGIONS

197

272
IN COMMANDS 1 6 1 - 3
IN EXCLAMATIONS

163^4
IN QUESTIONS 1 6 0 - 1
IN STATEMENTS 1 5 6 - 9

mgen 72,250-1
mglich 196
mglicherweise 280
Moment, der 103
Moment, das 103

OF LANGUAGES 198,

292
PERSONAL AND
PROPER NAMES 20,

185,226-8,264,292
namhaft 99
nmlich 99
narrow 7 4

neben 136
necessary 281

MONTHS 185

neck 7 4

MOOD see imperative,

needn't

subjunctive
morgen 291

NEGATIVE 21 \ see also

mountain

74

Mhe, die 179


Mnster, das 58
Muschel, die 99
Museum, das 178
Muskel, der 99
mssen 238,248,251,258,
281
must 2 5 8

Mut, der 181


Mutter, die 104,174
Mythos, der 178
nach 19,129,141,142,
152, 153,216
nach- 65,210
Nachbar, der 183
nachdem 19,277

196

nicht
nehmen 53,84, 188,211,
242
neigen 218
nennen 58,190
-ner 172
Nerv, der 183

noch einmal 54
nochmals 54
noise 75

-nom 172
NOMINATIVE CASE 2 6 5 ,

271
NON-LITERARY
REGISTER 7, 9,

43-51
nrgeln 60
NORTH GERMAN 13, 15,

16,19,23-*
Not tun 293
notice 75
NOUN
COLLECTIVE 108, 179
DATIVE SINGULAR IN
-E

184

DECLENSION 1 7 1 - 8 5
FROM OTHER PARTS
OF SPEECH 177, 185,

290
GENITIVE SINGULAR

IN -(E)S 182,184-5
MIXED 1 7 5 , 1 8 3
USE OF SINGULAR

179,180,224
VERBAL NOUN 128,

274,275,285,286
WEAK MASCULINE 21,

172, 175, 176, 182-3,


196
see also adjective, capital
letter, doublet,
gender, measurement
phrases, plural,
umlaut, word
formation
NOUN CLAUSE see
dass-chwst
NOUN PHRASE 192
NUMBER 192; see also

plural
number 75

NEUTER see gender

NUMERALS 1 8 , 1 8 0

NEUTRAL REGISTER 7 - 8 ,

Nummer, die 75
nummerieren 297
nun 163
nur 76, 160, 162,281
Nutz, der 105
nutzen/ntzen 87, 105,
210
Nutzen, der 105

29
NEWSPAPER REPORT

45-51
nicht 16,270-1,281
Nicht- 109
nicht mehr 280
nichts 198,201
nie 270
niemand 204-5
-nis 173

oberhalb 140,141
Oberst, der 183

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Obhut, die 58

Papagei, der 183

OBJECT see accusative

PAPIERDEUTSCH

object, dative object,


genitive object,
prepositional object
Obst, das 66,180
obwohl 22, 111
occur 68,75

Parfm, das 177


Park, der 177

occurrence 15
odd IS

oder 263,298
of 149-50
off 150

PARTICIPLE 2 2 , 2 9 8
PAST PARTICIPLE 186,

229,262
PRESENT PARTICIPLE

282-4
see also extended
epithet, have +
participle, ing-form
PARTITIVE

Pfad, der 83
Pfau, der 183
pfeifen 186
Pfeil, das 99
Pfeiler, der 99
Pferd, das 23
Pflege, die 58
Pfosten, der 99
PHONETIC ALPHABET

13-14
PHRASAL VERBS see verbs

Physik, die 179


Pinsel, der 57

offer IS

CONSTRUCTIONS

place 11

officer IS

226

Plakat, das 54
Planet, der 183
Plaste, die 11
Platz, der 77

offiziell 99
Offizier, der 75
offizis 99
(sich) ffnen 76
oft 280
des fteren 290
ohne 126,272
o h n e . . . zu 263,277
ohne dass 247,277
ohne weiteres 291
on 150-1,286
-on 172
only 76

open 76,208
opposite 151

PARTS OF THE BODY

180,224
passen 210,218,223
passieren 61,68,210,223
PASSIVE 2 3 3 - 9 , 2 6 6 , 2 7 2
ALTERNATIVE

PLUPERFECT TENSE see

tense
PLUPERFECT
SUBJUNCTIVE see

PASSIVE

subjunctive

CONSTRUCTIONS

237-9

PLURAL, OF NOUNS 19,

IMPERSONAL PASSIVE

235-6

20,171-80
ALTERNATIVE

SE/N-PASSIVE 2 3 4 - 5 ,

248

PLURAL 177
DATIVE PLURAL 19,

SUBJECTLESS PASSIVE

235-6

-or 172

TENSE USE 230

order 76

VORGANGSPASSIV

ordnen 76
Organ, das 76

WERDEN-PASSWE

organ 7 6

WITH DATIVE

182
DIFFERENT USAGE IN
ENGLISH AND

234

GERMAN 1 7 8 - 8 0
DOUBLE PLURAL 104

outside 151

Pastor, der 178

IN 5 176-7
see also noun, umlaut
Pocken, die 179
Politik, die 91,179
Polizei, die 179
Polster, das/der 181
Pony, der 103
Pony, das 103
Portmonee/Portemonnaie,
die 297
Portrt, das 177

over 152

path 76

POSSESSIVE (DETER-

Orgel, die 76
sich orientieren 214
Ort, der 77
Ortschaft, die 77
Otter, der 103
Otter, die 103
ought to 196
out of 151

Paar, das 99
Pack, der 103,106
Pack, das 103
Pckchen, das 76
packen 67,91
Packen, der 106
packet 7 6

Packung, die 76
paint 7 6

Paket, das 76

234-5
OBJECTS 236
ZUSTANDSPASSIV

234

past 152
PAST PARTICIPLE see

participle
PAST SUBJUNCTIVE see

subjunctive
PAST TENSE see tense

Patzer, der 74

MINER/PRONOUN)

pay 11

193, 194, 196, 199,


202,224

Pension, die 179


people 11

possible 2 8 0

per 126

Post, die 99
postcode 168
Posten, der 70,99
potenziell/potentiell 297

PERFECT TENSE see tense


PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE

see subjunctive
PERSONAL PRONOUN see

pronouns
persuade

11

pour 78
power 78
prefer 281

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PREFIX

PERSONAL PRONOUN

21,199,226,267

INSEPARABLE VERB
PREFIX 1 1 1 - 1 4 ,

PRONOUNS OF

115-18

ADDRESS 1 6 6 - 8

N O U N , SHOWING

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN

212
see also demonstrative,
indefinite, possessive,
relative pronoun

GENDER 171, 173


SEPARABLE VERB
PREFIX 1 1 4 - 1 8 , 2 6 2 ,

293
see also word formation
preis- 293
Preis, der 91
preisen 186
PREPOSITION 18,

PRONUNCIATION 1 3 - 1 8

Protokoll, das 179


prfen 63
sich prgeln 65
PUNCTUATION 289,

123-55,214
COMBINED WITH A
NOUN 2 9 4
ENGLISH 1 4 0 - 5 5
PREPOSITIONAL

297-9
PURPOSE CLAUSE 247
pushl

79
Pyjama, der/das 179,181

put

PHRASES 273
USED WITHOUT
ARTICLE 185
WITH ACCUSATIVE
CASE 1 2 4 - 6
WITH ACCUSATIVE OR
DATIVE CASE 1 3 1 - 9

WITH GENITIVE CASE

139-40
see also prepositional
object, relative
pronoun
PREPOSITIONAL
ADVERB 19, 22, 201,

203,219,286,298
PREPOSITIONAL
OBJECT 1 1 1 , 2 0 7 ,

214-19,236,271
present 7 8
PRESENT PARTICIPLE see

participle
PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE

see subjunctive

QUESTIONS see

interrogatives,
jpA-questions,
yes/-questions

REGISTER 3 - 1 0 , 1 6 - 1 8 ,

20-2,29-51
regret 2 7 9

reiben 186
-reich 110
reichen 91,210,223
Reichtum, der 179
reisen 100
Reisende(r), der 197
reien 57, 100, 186,233
reiten 186,233
reizend 283
Reklame, die 54
reklamieren 60
RELATIVE CLAUSE 22,

200,273,274,284
200-2
AFTER PREPOSITION

201
rennen 190

quiet 7 9

rent 80

QUOTATION MARKS 2 9 9

REPORTED SPEECH see

Rad fahren 293


Radio der/das 181
Rahm, der 99
Rahmen, der 99
raise 80

Rnke, die 179


rascheln 99
rasen 99
Rasen, der 180
rasseln 99
Rat, der 91,104
raten 53,68,91,188,189,
210,218,219
rau 99
'rauf 155
Raum, der 80
rauschen 99

PRESENT TENSE see tense

ready 79

presume 2 8 0

reagieren 215

prevent

realize

78

13,15-16,19-20,
23-9

RELATIVE PRONOUN 19,

WITH DATIVE CASE

127-32

REGIONAL VARIATION 7,

79

indirect speech
Reptil, das 178
retten 81,218
Rhythmus, der 178
riechen 187,214,217
Riesen- 108
Rind, das 61
Rindvieh, das 61
ringen 187
rinnen 187
rise 80

Risiko, das 178


Ritz, der 106
Ritze, die 106
road 8 0

Rock, der 70
roh 99
Rohheit, die 297
Rohr, das 106
Rhre, die 106
romanisch 100
rmisch 100

PRINCIPAL PARTS see

really 7 9

verb
Prinz, der 183
Prinzip, das 178
Privileg, das 178
pro 126

rechnen 215,216,218,223
Recht, das 99
Rechte, die 197
Rechtfertigung, die 99

room 80

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN

rudern 233
rufen 58,61,189,216
ruhig 79, 158,163,281
sich rhmen 213

PROGRESSIVE TENSE see

tense
PRONOUN 1 7 , 2 2

see pronoun
REFLEXIVE VERB see verb
refuse 80

rope 80

Ross, das 178


round 152

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rhren 86
rhrend 283
Ruin, der 106
Ruine, die 106
'runter 145
Saal, der 80
Sache, die 85
Saite, die 84,100
Sakko, der/das 70
-sal 173
salzen 190
Same(n), der 183
same 80

(sich) sammeln 60
Sammlung, die 100
smtliche(r) 193,195,196
Sandbank, die 56
satisfy 80

satt 80
saufen 189
saugen 191
save 81
say 281

Schachtel, die 57
SCHACHTELSATZ

273

schade sein 291


schaden 61,210
Schaden, der 180
Schadenersatz, der 179
schadhaft 100
schdigen 61
schdlich 100
schaffen 188, 189,191
-schaft 108,172
Schal, der 100,177
Schale, die 81,100
Schall, der 82
sich schmen 213,218,
219,223
schtzen 68
schaudern 211
Scheck, der 177
Schein, der 55,91
scheinen 81,91,242, 271
scheien 186
Schema, das 178
Schere, die 179
scheren 188,191
scheu 81
sich scheuen 218,219
schieben 78,187
schieen 187,225,233
Schild, der 103
Schild, das 103
Schilf, das 179

schlafen 188,242
(sich) schlagen 65,225,
242
Schlager, der 100
Schlger, der 100
schlau 59
schlecht 56,100
schleichen 186
schleifen 186,191
schlicht 81,100
schlieen 59, 187,215,223
schlielich 65
schlimm 56
Schloss, das 58,91
schluchzen 61
Schlpfer, der 179
zum Schluss 65
schmal 74
schmecken 72,210, 217
schmeicheln 210,235
schmeien 186
schmelzen 188,191
schmieren 83
schmunzeln 67
schnappen 67
Schnapsidee, der 69
sich schnuzen 297
schneiden 186,225
Schnitzer, der 74
Schnur, die 84
schon 158-9,161,163
schonen 81
schottische Hochland, das
179
Schreck, der 106
Schrecken, der 106
schreiben 186,242
schreien 61,186, 216
schreiten 186
SCHRIFTDEUTSCH

11

Schritt, der 83
schubsen 78
schchtern 81
schuld sein 291
die Schuld geben 56
schulden 235
schtten 78
Schutzbrille, die 179
schwarz auf wei 291
schwarzarbeiten 294
schwatzen 106
schwtzen 106
schweigen 186
schwellen 188
schwimmen 187, 233
schwindeln 211

schwren 189
secret 81

see 279,287
See, der 103
See, die 103,180
seem 279

segeln 233
sehen 73,188,242
sich sehnen 216,219
Seil, das 80
sein (possessive) see
possessive
sein (verb) 19,230-4,238,
239,241,271,283,
291,294
5/N-PASSIVE see passive

seit (preposition) 129,146


seit(dem) (conjunction)

111
seit langem 291
Seite, die 100
seize 81

-sei 172
seil 209

seltsam 75
senden 190,191
SEPARABLE VERB SEE

prefix, verb
setzen 79
shall 229
shine 81
should 246
shut 81
shy 81

sicher 91
-sicher 110
Sicht, die 87
Sie 166-8,292
simpel 81
simple 81

Sims, der/das 181


singen 187
Single, der 103
Single, die 103
Single, das 103
sink 209

sinken 187
sinnen 187
SITUATION (effect on

register) 5
sitzen 19,187, 232
Ski laufen 293
skin 81
small 82
smell 82

so-295

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so dass / sodass 278,296


so (ein) 206
sobald 295
SOCIAL STATUS 6

Socke, die 106


Socken, der 106
solange 295
solch/solche(r) 21,193-6,
206
Soldat, der 183
sollen 238,246,247,248,
252-3,281
sonderbar 75,100
sonderlich 100
sondern 263,271
sooft 295
Sorge, die 58
(sich) sorgen 217, 219
Sorgfalt, die 58
sorgfltig 58
sorglos 58
Soe/Sauce, die 297
sound 82
SOUTH GERMAN 13, 15,

16, 19-20,24-5
soviel 296
sozusagen 265
space 8 2

Spagat, der 84
Spaghetti/Spagetti, die
297
Spalt, der 106
Spalte, die 106
spalten 190
spannend 283
sparen 81
Spatz, der 183
spazieren gehen 293
Speicher, der 74
Speise, die 66
SPELLING 2 8 9 - 9 7
spend 8 2

sperren 59
sich spezialisieren 215
Spielzeug, das 180
spinnen 187
SPOKEN GERMAN 4, 29,

35-40
Sport, der 180
spotten 213, 217
spread 8 2

sprechen 187,217
sprengen 100
springen 100,187
splen 88
spren 64,75

(letter) 28,296
Stadion, das 100
Stadium, das 100
Stadtrand, der 179

Streik, der 177


(sich) streiten 65,186,217,
219
strength 8 4

stand- 293

streuen 78
Strick, der 80

STANDARD GERMAN 9,

string 8 4

11-12,23
Stngel, der 297
-stark 110
Strke, die 78

strmen 65, 78

STATEMENTS 2 6 3

STRONG VERB see verb

Statistik, die 179


statt see anstatt
statt- 293
stattfinden 68
stechen 187, 225
stecken 79,191
stehen 19, 189,230,232,
240,241
stehen bleiben 83, 293
stehen lassen 72
Stehleiter, der 179
stehlen 187
steigen 59, 80,186
Stelle, die 70,77
stellen 79
Stellung, die 70

Stube, die 80
Stck, das 178
Stufe, die 83
strzen 63,100
stutzen 100
(sich) sttzen 100, 215
stutzig 84

stand 2 0 9

step 83

sterben 62, 187, 214


Steuer, die 103
Steuer, das 103
Stiefel, der 178
Stiege, die 83
Stift, der 103
Stift, das 103
still 79
stillstehen 83
Stimme, die 92
stimmen 223
stinken 187
Stock, der 92,104
-stoff 108
Stoff, der 92
stop 83,280
stoppen 83
stoen 78, 189,225,
233
strahlend 57
strange 83

Strae, die 83
Strau, der 104
streben 216

STRONG ADJECTIVE
DECLENSION see

adjective

SUBJECT 2 6 5 , 2 6 8 ; see also

agent, nominative
case, word order
SUBJECT MATTER (effect

on register) 5
SUBJECTLESS PASSIVE

see passive
SUBJUNCTIVE 22,

239-48
CONDITIONAL 2 3 9 - 4 2 ,

245-6
FUTURE
SUBJUNCTIVE 239,

240
KONJUNKTIV

239-40,242-8
KONJUNKTIV

II

239-47,249
PAST SUBJUNCTIVE

239-42,245
PERFECT
SUBJUNCTIVE 2 3 9 ,

240
PLUPERFECT
SUBJUNCTIVE 239,

240
PRESENT
SUBJUNCTIVE 2 3 9

WRDE-FORM 240-2
SUBORDINATE CLAUSE

263,273-82
such (a) 2 0 6

suchen 216
SUFFIX

street 83

OF NOUN, SHOWING

streichen 76, 83,


186

see also word formation

GENDER 1 7 1 - 5

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SUPERLATIVE
WITH AM 2 9 0
WITH AUFS 2 9 0

PROGRESSIVE TENSE

283
then 8 4

suppose 2 8 0

there 2 6 6

sure 279, 2 8 0

thick 8 4

suspekt 84

thing 8 4

suspicious 8 4

think 85,280

SWITZERLAND 12, 1 3 , 2 3 ,

threaten

26,28-9

85

through 152

till see until


Tablett, das 100
Tablette, die 100
tadeln 56
TAG QUESTIONS 156
take 8 4
tall 8 4

Tankstelle, die 67
tanzen 233
tasten 64
in der Tat 79
-tat 172
tatschlich 79
Tau, der 103
Tau, das 80,103
tauschen 59,100
(sich) tuschen 100,
216
Taxe, die 106
Taxi, der/das 106,181
Teil, der/das 181
teil-293
teilnehmen 214
-tel 172
Telefon/Telephon, das
297
telefonieren 216
tend to 2 8 0
TENSE 2 2 9 - 3 3
COMPOUND TENSE

229
FUTURE-INTHE-PAST 2 4 2
FUTURE PERFECT
TENSE 2 2 9 - 3 1
FUTURE TENSE 158,

159,229-30,246
IMPERFECT TENSE

230
PAST TENSE 22, 186,

time 85

tippen 68
TITLES 292

to 153-4,211
Tochter, die 174
Tod, der 180
Ton, der 82
TOPIC 265

Tor, der 104


Tor, das 104
totschlagen 294
touch 85
towards

154

tragen 92, 188,242


TRANSITIVE VERB see

verb
trauen 73,101,210
trumen 217,219
(sich) trefTen 73,92, 187,
242
treiben 186,218
Treppe, die 83,179
treten 188,225,233
trinken 187
Tritt, der 83
Tropf, der 101
Tropfen, der 101
trotz 139,272,292
trbe 18,61
Trmmer, die 179
Trupp, der 106
Truppe, die 106
tschs(s) 165
-tum 108,172
tun 21,79, 189,241,282
Tr(e), die 106
turn 86

Typ, der 106,183


Type, die 106

229-31,248
PERFECT TENSE 19,

229-33,248
PLUPERFECT TENSE

20,229,231
PRESENT TENSE 20,

229,246

bel 56
ber 61,136-7,141,144,
151,152,217
ber- 116-17
ber... hinaus 144
ber kurz oder lang 291

bereinkommen 54
bereinstimmen 54,216
berhaupt 159,161
berhren 74
berlassen 72
sich berlegen 85
bernehmen 53
berqueren 61
berreden 77,218
berschreiten 61
berschwnglich 297
bersehen 74
berzeugen 77,80,217,
219
berzeugend 283
brig bleiben 293
im brigen 101
brigens 101,265
Ufer, das 56
um 126, 143,144,152,217
um-117
-um 172
um . . . zu 263,276,286
umbinden 211
(sich) umdrehen 86
umfassend 283
UMGANGSSPRACHE

1 see

also spoken German


Umgebung, die 179
umgehen 55
umkehren 86
umkippen 86
umkommen 62
UMLAUT
IN NOUN PLURAL

174-6,177-8
IN PAST
SUBJUNCTIVE 2 4 0
IN PRESENT TENSE
OF VERBS 20, 189
IN WORD FORMATION

107-10,112,113
umsichtig 58
umsteigen 59
umtauschen 59
(sich) umziehen 59,92
un- (adjective prefix) 110
Un- (noun prefix) 109
unbedingt 94
und 263,284,298
under 154
understanding

86

unendlich 96
Unfall, der 53
-ung 15,108,172
ungefhr 141

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ungerade 75
ungewhnlich 101
unglaublich 101
unglaubwrdig 101
Unglck, das 53
unheimlich 75
Unkraut, das 179
unter 137-8,142,154
unter- 117-18
unterbrechen 57
unterhalb 140
(sich) unterhalten 71,92,
216
Unterhose, die 179
unterschiedlich 62
untersuchen 63

PHRASAL VERB 2 3 8

until 154

VERBS OF SENDING

unvorsichtig 58
unweit 140
up 155
ur- (adjective prefix) 110
Ur- (noun prefix) 109
-ur (noun sufx) 172
Urlaub, der 68
Ursache, die 58
urteilen 217,219
use 81
used to 2 8 0
VALENCY (verb) 20,

207-23
VARIANT 1
VARIATION 1 - 5 1
VARIETY 1

ver-113
verabreden 54
(sich) verndern 59
veranlassen 62,190,218
Veranstaltung, die 63
VERB
AGREEMENT IN
SINGULAR 179
CONJUGATION 18,

186-91
EINEM ETWAS VERB

211-12
FINITE VERB 2 6 2 - 5

GOVERNMENT 207-19
IMPERSONAL VERB

232
INSEPARABLE VERB

111-14,115-18
INTRANSITIVE VERB

111,208,232
IRREGULAR VERB

186-91,240-2

PRINCIPAL PARTS 186


REFLEXIVE VERB 211,

213,232,238
SEPARABLE VERB

114-18,293-4
STRONG VERB 21,

186-91,240-2
TRANSITIVE VERB

111,208,232,236
VERBS OF GIVING
AND TAKING 211
VERBS OF MOTION

112,232,233
VERBS OF SAYING,
HEARING 2 3 0

212
VOWEL CHANGE IN
PAST TENSE 1 8 6 - 9
VOWEL CHANGE IN
PRESENT TENSE

188, 189
WEAK VERB 186,

189-91,240,241
see also auxiliary verb,
imperative, modal
auxiliary verb,
subjunctive, tense,
valency, word
formation, word
order
VERBAL BRACKET see

word order
VERBAL NOUN see n o u n

Verband, der 94
(sich) verbessern 69
Verbindlichkeit, die 94
Verbindung, die 94
sich verbitten 212
verblffend 283
verbrauchen 82,87,95
Verbraucher, der 95
(sich) verbreiten 83
verbringen 82
Verbundenheit, die 94
verdchtig 84
verderben 187
Verdienst, der 104
Verdienst, das 104
vereinbaren 54
vereinzelt 96
verfehlen 74
verfolgen 66
verfugen 217
verfhren 218

vergessen 188
vergleichen 186,216
sich verhalten 56,218
Verhalten, das 101
Verhltnis, das 101
sich verheiraten 73,216
verheiratet 73
verhindern 78
verhten 78
verknden 98
verlangen 55, 216
(sich) verlassen 72, 215
verleiden 190
verleugnen 62
sich verlieben 216
verlieren 187
Verlobte(r), der 197
verlockend 283
verloren gehen 293
sich vermhlen 73
vermeiden 55
vermieten 80,99
vermissen 74
vermuten 68
vermutlich 280
verneinen 62
Vernunft, die 86
verpassen 74
verrichten 93
versagen 80
sich versammeln 60
Versammlung, die 100
versumen 74
verscheiden 62
verschieden 62
verschlieen 72
verschonen 101
verschnen 101
verschweigen 211
verschwinden 187,242
versehen 216
aus Versehen 53
versehentlich 53
versichern 213
versorgen 71
Versprechen, das 180
Verstand, der 86
verstndigen 54, 217
Verstndigung, die 86
Verstndnis, das 86
verstehen 66
Versuch, der 92,101
Versuchung, die 101
(sich) verteilen 83
sich vertiefen 216
vertrauen 101

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verurteilen 94
verwandeln 59
Verwandte(r), der 197
verweigern 62, 80,211
verweisen 213
verwenden 87
verwerten 87
verwirklichen 79
verwunden 102
verwunderlich 101
verwundern 102
verzeichnen 94
verzeihen 186
verzichten 215
Vetter, der 183
Vieh, das 61
viel 198,201,206,226,296
viele 193, 195,196,206
vielleicht 161,164
view 87

Villa, die 178


Virus, der/das 178,181
Visum, das 178
VOCABULARY 2 3 - 3 5 ,

52-170
VOICE see passive

Volk, das 77
voll- 118
-voll 110
Vollendung, die 53
von 130, 147, 149,217,
225-8,236,272
v o n . . . an 131,139,147
von . . . her-/hinunter 150
von klein auf 291
von nah und fern 291
von weitem 291
vonnten 294
vor 138,154,214,218
vor- 115
im Voraus 290
vorbei sein 294
Vorbeigehende(r), der 197
vorbeikommen 58
vorderhand 294
Vorfall, der 63
vorfallen 68
Vorgang, der 63
VORGANGSPASSIV

See

passive
vorgehen 68
Vrgesetzte(r), der 197
vorhaben 73
vorhanden 78
vorher 101
vorhin 101

vorkommen 68
Vorkommen, das 63
Vorkommnis, das 63
sich vornehmen 212
Vorsicht, die 58
vorsichtig 58
Vorsitzende(r), der 197
(sich) vorstellen 69,92,
212
Vorstellung, die 69
vorwerfen 56
VULGARISM 8

Waage, die 179


wach werden 87
wachen 87
wachsen 67,188
Wagen, der 101,178
Waggon, der 101
Wahl, die 179
whlen 92
wahren 101
whren 101
whrend (conjunction) 278
whrend (preposition)
139,145
wahrhaftig 79
wake (up) 87,209
Wald, der 179
walk

im

Wall, der 87
wall 87

walten 213
Wand, die 87
want 281

weglassen 72
wegschlieen 72
Weh tun 293
Wehr, die 104
Wehr, das 104
sich wehren 101
weichen 186,191
sich weigern 80
weil 22,278
weinen 61
weisen 186
weit 74,92
weiter 60,281
weiterfuhren 60
weitermachen 60
welcher (interrogative)
193,194,203,
205-206
welcher (relative pronoun)
200,201
welcome 88

wenden 86,190, 191


wenig 206,226,296
wenige 193,195,196,206
wenigstens 265
wenn 245,263,278,285,
286
wer 21,202,206
werben 187
Werbespot, der 54
Werbung, die 54
werden 67,188,234,241,
271
WERDEN-PASSIVE

See

passive

warnen 218
warten 215
was (interrogative) 21,
203-206
was (relative pronoun) 201
was fr ein 203,205-206
waschen 88,188
wash (up) 88,209

werfen 187
Werkstatt, die 67
-wert 110
-wesen 108
wessen 202
wett- 293

WEAK ADJECTIVE

WH-Q UESTIONS 1 6 0 - 1 ,

DECLENSION see

adjective
WEAK MASCULINE
NOUN see n o u n
WEAK VERB see verb

weben 188,191
wechseln 59
wecken 87
Weg, der 83
aus dem Weg gehen 55
wegen 139,272
weggehen 71

were to 2 4 6

what 2 0 2

202-3,263
wider 101,126,142
wider-118,210
widerfahren 68
widerhallen 118
sich widersetzen 212
widerspiegeln 118
wie 21,230,273,275
wie- 295
wie wenn 247
wieder 54,101
wieder- 118

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wiederholen 118
wiederum 54
wiegen 187
wieweit 296
will 229

Wille, der 183


willkommen heien 67
wirklich 79
Wirren, die 179
Wirtschaft, die 92
wissen 71, 190,241
Wissen, das 71
with 155,286
wo 19,201,203

Wort, das 104


would 245

wozu 203
WRITTEN GERMAN 4,

7-9,29,41-51
wunder- 293
wunderbar 101
wunderlich 75,101
sich wundern 102,217,
219
WRDE-FORM

see

subjunctive
-wrdig 110
wrdigen 213

WO + PREPOSITION see

prepositional adverb
woanders 296
woher 203
wohin 203
wohl 158,159,161, 163,
230,280
wohnen 72
Wolkenbank, die 56
wollen 80,246,253,281
womglich 296
WORD FORMATION

107-18
ADJECTIVES 1 0 9 - 1 1
BY PREFIXES 1 0 8 - 1 8
BY SUFFIXES 1 0 7 - 1 0
COMPOUND WORD 17,

274,283,292,294
DIMINUTIVES 107
NOUNS 1 0 7 - 9
VERBS 1 1 1 - 1 8
VOWEL CHANGES 107

see also umlaut


WORD ORDER 2 6 2 - 7 3
ADVERBIALS 2 6 8 - 7 0 ,

272
AFTER THE CLOSING
BRACKET 2 7 1 - 3
CENTRAL SECTION

267-71
COMPLEMENTS 271
INITIAL POSITION

262,264,282
OBJECTS 268
PRONOUNS 267
SUBJECT 268
VERBAL BRACKET

262-4

YES/NO

QUESTIONS

160-1,263
zhe 18
Zahl, die 75
zahlen 77
zhlen 215,218
Zange, die 179
Zeh, der 106
Zehe, die 106
zeigen 92,235
Zeit, die 85
Zeitalter, das 54
Zentrum, das 178
zer- 113
zerbrechen 57
zerreien 57
zerschlagen 57
zerschmettern 57
-zeug 108
Zeug, das 85
Zeugs, das 85
Ziegenpeter, der 179
ziehen 68,187,233,
242
Zierrat, der 297
Ziffer, die 75
Zimmer, das 80
Zinsen, die 179
Zirkel, der 179
Zoll, der 179
zu 19, 130-1, 146, 153-4,
218,286
zu-210
zubringen 82
zchten 68
zuerst 65,96

zufllig 53,281
zufolge 132,141
sich zufrieden geben 80
zufrieden sein 80,294
zufrieden stellen 80
zufrieren 66
Zug, der 92
Zugang, der 63
zugeben 53, 54
zugehen 59
zugleich 97
zugrunde / zu Grunde
gehen 295
zugunsten / zu Gunsten
295
zulassen 53
zuletzt 65
zumachen 59
zumute / zu Mute sein
295
zunchst 65
zunehmen 68
zuraten 54
zurck sein 294
zurckfuhren 215
zurckhalten 71
zurcklassen 72
zurufen 58
zurzeit 294
zusammen- 115
zusammenkommen 60,
73
zusammenstoen 216
zusammentreffen 73
zusammentreten 73
zustande / zu Stande
bringen 295
ZUSTANDSPASSIV

See

passive
zustimmen 54
zustoen 68
sich zutragen 68
Zutritt, der 62-3
zuwege / zu Wege bringen
295
zwar 158,159
zweifellos 280
zweifeln 62,214,219
zwingen 66,187,218
zwingend 283
zwischen 138,142
Zwischenfall, der 63

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