Category Archives: vocabulary

Job interview in German

Author: Jadranka Bokan

So you have that much sought-after language certificate (for example TELC B2 or C1) in your pocket and you’d like to get a job in Germany. You apply for a job and get invited.

Yaaay!! Excitement is large and tension grows.

How should you prepare yourself for a job interview in German?

Maybe you’ve already been on some job interviews before, however, they were never in German.

The answer is: you should prepare yourself as much as you can – in terms of the content and the foreign language.

This means that you should read a lot about the employer and of course think about all the details about you that could be interesting for the potential employer. That way you’ll be well prepared for all the questions that the employer could ask you AND you will be able to present your own qualities in the best way – in German, of course!

First of all, inform yourself about the company and try to remember the names of: the head of department, his/her deputy and all the people who have invited you for a job interview. If there are some photos on their web page, make sure to remember their faces.

Before the conversation officially starts, you could say something like:

Danke, dass Sie sich heute für mich Zeit genommen haben!

Let’s get going!

Here are potential questions that the employer could ask you during a job interview in German. They are sorted by topics that you should prepare in advance:

Self presentation
Your questions
Plans for the future
Good knowledge of the new firm
Professional experience
General questions


At the very beginning the employer could say something like:

Stellen Sie sich nochmals kurz vor! / Können Sie mir zunächst etwas über Sie erzählen? / Gibt es etwas, was Sie hervorheben (betonen) wollen?

  • This means that you should prepare a short presentation and sum up everything that’s in your curriculum vitae, but say only those things that your potential boss should hear and know about you: present your background and career, your studies and additional qualifications. Also, make sure to say why you have chosen this company and explain how you have decided to study medicine/economics etc.
  • It should last for 2-3 minutes

Your questions

Of course, at some point the potential employer could say:

Haben Sie Fragen für uns?

That is the moment when you should show that you have prepared yourself good and ask for example the following questions:

  • Wie ist die Firma / die Abteilung strukturiert?
  • Gibt es eine Bezugsperson oder einen Mentor, der mich einweist?
  • Wie ist die Rotation geplant? (if you are a doctor)
  • Ab wann warden in der Regel Dienste übernommen?
  • Wie sieht das Schichtsystem aus?
  • Wird man für Fortbildungen freigestellt?
  • Gibt es die Möglichkeit, sich in Forschung oder Lehre zu engagieren?
  • Gibt es freie Tage?
  • sieht der Dienstplan Fortbildungstage vor?
  • Gibt es einen Etat für Fortbildungen?
  • Gibt es ein Ausbildungs-Curriculum?

Plans for the future

The potential employer could also ask:

Wo sehen Sie sich in 5 Jahren? / Welche Ambitionen haben Sie?

Streben Sie eine langfristige Niederlassung an?

Wie sieht es mit der Familienplanung?

Sind Sie schwanger?

A good boss should never ask questions about your religion, sexual orientation or family planning and you have right not to answer to these questions or even to lie.

Good knowledge of the new firm

When the potential employer asks the following questions make sure that you have the right answer:

Was wissen Sie bereits über unser Unternehmen?

Warum bewerben Sie sich genau bei uns? / Was ist der Grund, dich für dieses Haus zu entscheiden? / Warum möchten Sie für unser Unternehmen tätig sein?

Wo haben Sie sich noch beworben? / Haben Sie sich bei anderen Unternehmen beworben?

Wie würden Sie Ihr Interesse an diesem Job auf der Skala von 1 bis 10 einordnen?

It is also recommended that you inform yourself about the publications of your potential boss, that you are interested in research if you are applying at the university clinic or just say that you are a beginner who is interested in new methods.

Here is an interesting video that you should watch:

Professional experience

Welche Erfahrungen bringen Sie für die Firma / Abteilung mit? / Wie sieht Ihre bisherige Erfahrung aus?

Wo liegen Ihre Schwerpunkte / Spezialitäten? / Was sind Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte?

Warum sind Sie genau die richtige Person für den Job?

Wann haben Sie Examen gemacht?

Wie ist das Thema Ihrer Disertation? Ist sie schon fertig?

General questions:

Wie motivieren Sie sich? Was treibt Sie an?

Was ist Ihre größte Schwäche?

Was ist Ihre größte Stärke?

Was erwarten Sie von mir als Chef?

At the end of the conversation the employer usually says something like:

Wir melden uns bei Ihnen!

If you need professional assistance for a job interview in German, feel free to contact me!

Word of the day – big pond

Have you ever asked yourself how you could say “the big pond” In German? No? Me neither. But I was delighted when I came across it while reading the Norwegian best seller book Die Geschichte der Bienen. Look at the translation below. It’s sweet to know, right? Especially if you already know what Teich means (pond).

der große Teich = the big pond (the Atlantic ocean); über den/dem großen Teich = across the pond / on the other side of the pond

Are you Interested in more words of the day?

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Learning new words – tips & tools

Author: Jadranka Bokan

Tips & tools for learning vocabulary

Learning words is very important if you wish to produce (speak and write) in any foreign language. I would dare to say that it’s more important than learning grammar.

If you are learning any foreign language you must have found yourself in a situation like this. Don’t worry, you are not the only one.

This post contains tips and tricks for people who are learning by themselves without the professional help and  assistance of a teacher and without the support of the group (in a course). It considers all learning types together and not separately: visual (learns with pictures), auditory (learns through hearing), reading/writing (learns through dealing with words/text), kinesthetic (prefers movement), communicative (likes to talk) and analytical (needs to understand in order to be able to remember).

Even experts like professional translators know this problem very well. If you are translating some text it is never grammar that gives you a headache.

Some numbers for the start

It is said that native speakers use 2000-3000 words in their everyday life. Knowing that 8 words are recommended to be learned at once or during one learning unit, then you could expect to reach that number in one year by learning just 5-8 words per day. Before you can say that you really know a word, you have to use it 10 times in a sentence. But first you need to remember it – more on it is to come.

Continue reading this post and you will find out where to find online:

– original word pronunciation

– authentic example sentences

– learning partners

– how to create your own flash cards and always keep them with you

-how to organize your words in mind maps

– which tools for learning words you could use while doing anything else on your computer or while using your mobile phone

– word lists for exams at levels A1-B2 (only for German)

-and of course, this post is filled with many useful learning tips

The following web sites and tools will be mentioned:

free online dictionaries

-record yourself: Audacity

-sentence dictionary: Foboko

“Search” feature on Twitter

find a speaking partner – websites

Quizlet app

Semper app

flash cards tool

free online picture dictionaries

add-ons for Chrome: Eachword, myVocabu, ReadLang

-create mind maps: GoConqr

– App for learning words at the level A1 (powered by Goethe Institute): Deutschtrainer (only German)

Wortliste A1 (only German)

Wortliste A2  (only German)

Wortliste B1 (only German)

Basic German Vocabulary (B2)

Aaaand finally… Here goes to the tips:

Learn the correct sound of the word. 

Make sure that you learn the correct pronunciation of the word that you are learning. Online dictionaries make this possible. All you have to do is to find the new word and then click on the speaker icon in order to hear the correct pronunciation. 

When you are trying to remember the sound of the word, make sure to talk with the sound and repeat it 4 times. The more you sound silly the better. Your pronunciation will become perfect with time.

The sound is so important that it is said that you would need to listen the language passively before you start learning it actively. This would mean that you first listen to podcasts, music and news in the foreign language that you plan to start learning and concentrate on its melody. That way a center for that particular language is being created in your brain and only after that your brain is really ready for active learning.

Audacity is the perfect tool for recording your own podcasts. Just read the lesson that you are currently learning out loud and record yourself. That recording you will be able to play later while driving a car, bike or doing anything else. This tool is absolutely free.

If you don’t learn the correct sound of a word you will sound funny. Know that feeling? Me too!

Pictures, associations & emotions.

Our brain cannot learn by heart. It can’t remember new things separately, but only if we connect them to the things that we already know and that is why associations are so important. The largest regions in our brain are associative and that is the way how we should learn. The old method with lists of words in notebooks along with translations in our mother tongue is not something that is suitable for our brain. We should associate words with pictures, either just in our head or really on a piece of paper. And if we include emotions, then it’s even better. For example, if you are learning the word “love”, you should think about the person that you love and connect that word with that person.

Look how this works in this video:

Learn in context – “sentence mining”

Always write down (and try to memorize) example sentences for a new word and preferably choose to combine that new word with words that you already know well.

For example, if you should learn the word das Vergnügen (pleasure), try to memorize it within at least one example: das mache ich aus purem Vergnügen or das Buch ist ein tolles Lesevergnügen.

If you don’t like the example sentence that you have in the textbook, please note that free online dictionaries always contain many example sentences. However, they can be sometimes complicated, like in DUDEN. That is why I recommend PONS. PONS also contains an online vocabulary trainer.

If you can’t find as many examples as you wish or if you are not sure that the examples that you have are the most common ones, you could use the Search feature at Twitter. Just type in the needed word and press Search.

You could look for suitable sentences as examples at Foboko too. It is a so called ‘sentence vocabulary’. Just pick the language and type in the word that you need examples for.

This search for example sentences is also known as “sentence mining”.

Attention: don’t try to memorize all possible meanings of the new word that you are learning. Concentrate on finding as many examples as possible for just that one meaning of the word that you are currently learning and preferably find the one example that you like most and that you will be able to remember easily.  Otherwise you will end up frustrated and will eventually give up.

Make sure to learn a new word in a whole sentence.

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Repeat newly learned words regularly.

As soon as we learn something new, we start to forget it. The so cold short term memory lasts for about 20 minutes. That is also when we should repeat the new words for the first time in order to transfer them gradually into the long time memory.

Forgetting is like a “thief” that comes in certain intervals of time. Since we know that, we can prevent forgetting and “be at home”, when it comes to “visit” us.

In other words, we should repeat the words when the odds to forget them are the greatest: 1 day, 7 days and 21 days after learning.

Attention: make sure that you don’t get bored.  Don’t repeat words that you have already repeated many times over and over. There are some apps that remind you in intervals, like Memrise, however they cost some money.

There is one old technique, that is pretty time consuming and cumbersome: you could buy or create your own word cards and organize them in 3 piles – the newest ones that should be repeated tomorrow, then the ones that you have already repeated once and that need to be repeated in one week and those that need to be repeated in 3 weeks. For this purpose you could use a “word box” – you don’t have to buy it, you can just use an old shoe box and place your flesh cards in it. I must admit that this method never worked for me. What i prefer these days is given below in the “Keep your words always with you” section.

When we are talking about the time management, I want to emphasize something that generally speaking it’s better to learn a bit every day, than to learn once i a while for a couple of hours.

Forgetting is like a “thief” that comes in certain intervals of time. Knowing that, make sure to repeat your new words after 1 day, 7 days and 30 days.

Pomodoro technique. 

This learning technique divides your learning time in intervals. You should learn for 25 minutes and the take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat that cycle 3 more times (4 intervals in total). After that you can take a break for up to 30 minutes. In the meantime make sure that nothing distracts your attention while you are learning. The learning intervals can be shorter or longer – you can determine them yourself. The first fatigue when learning a foreign language appears after 20 minutes. This is also how long the short time memory lasts. Thus, after 20 minutes you should take a break and repeat what you have learned.

Learn ‘relevant’ words.

“Relevant words” are those which you need in a daily conversation. How can you “recognize” them? Here is how: when you  are speaking to a person and would like to tell something but you can’t  find a word – that is the relevant word. tollpatschig (clumsy), sich emportarbeiten (to work hard and succeed), Quereinsteiger (career changer) were my relevant words which I needed always when I was talking about myself in German. I learned them instantly and never forgot them.


Mind maps are an ideal solution for you to keep an order among many words or phrases (Redemittel).

GoConqr enables you to create your own mind maps online which is ideal because you can correct mistakes if you make them or even save and edit your mind maps later. All you have to do is to navigate to the above site and sign up (you can do so via the Facebook button). Once you are in, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the mind maps icon.

Mind maps can help you organize a larger number of words or phrases.

Keep your new words close to you <3.

Write new words on sticky notes and attach them to the things which surround you in your apartment or on walls (near to your bed or in the bathroom). This is a good method when you are learning simple words. The situation gets complicated when you start learning words with abstract meanings.

As we all got used to, you can create flash cards for your new words. You could either buy sets of empty cards and write your new words (with many examples) on them or you could use some online applications or even create your own paper flash cards.

The latter solution is much better because you can install the app in your phone and keep your words always with you. That way you can repeat them while waiting in a traffic jam, at the post office or anywhere else.  I would recommend that you use the Quizlet app. It enables you to create your own flash cards or use flash cards from other users (both learners and teachers); you can also use images as ‘translations’ and record your own voice; you can practice your words through several different types of games (flash cards, write, spell, match and test).

Keep your words always with you.

If you would like to use existing flash cards online, try out free online picture dictionaries where you will find words that are associated with pictures which is very convenient.

If you prepare your words in an Excel file you can create your own flash cards by using this flash cards tool.

If you prefer flash cards with pictures, then you could create your own photo cards.

In addition, there is a Chrome add-on that is a must. If you are working long on your computer, you could install the Eachword add-on for Chrome. After you add your words to the list (one by one), they will appear out of the blue on your screen in intervals that you determine by yourself which is very convenient.

Words pop up by themselves? Yes, if you are using the Semper app or the Eachword add-on for Chrome

There are also other useful Chrome add-ons: My Vocabu and ReadLan.  They will help you in real time while you are reading new texts on the Internet. Just highlight the word in the text that you are reading and its meaning will show up. Those words will then be stored in a list that you can then work on and learn at a later point. To find out more about these add-ons, where to find them and how they work, click here.

Also, there is another app that can be installed on your mobile phone and make words from your Quizlet list pop-up on your screen every time when you unlock the screen or start other apps (Facebook, Viber etc.). It is called Semper and it is supported by Android. If you are using i-Phone, please check whether it is available in your country.

You can learn anywhere. Pixabay

Use new words actively.

It’s important that you use the words that you learn actively which is why it is so important that you find a learning/speaking partner. With a bit of a luck, you will find a native speaker as a speaking partner.

However, if that doesn’t work, find someone who you can trust and practice with them or just speak to yourself (yes, you can engage in a dialogue with yourself).

Also, try to use new words and not the old ones. Check out how your German can sound more like A2 than A1.

Attention:  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes!

Use words actively. Pixabay
Use words actively. Pixabay

Learn and practice for exams – A1 to B2 level – only for German

If you would like to learn and practice your vocabulary from A1 to B2 level, try out this Vokabel Trainer. Memrise can also guide you through different levels of learning German and you can even create your own flash cards (mems) and embed them in the application.

Goethe Institute has provided an app for learning and practising words at the A1 level. Goethe Institute has also provided lists of words for different levels: Wortliste A1Wortliste A2 ; Wortliste B1

Basic German vocabulary provides you with a solid list of words that you should know at the B2 level. Used examples cost about 25 EUR.

You are big now! You are not baby-learner any more

After you spend some time learning German and you reach the A2 level, you are not at the A1 level any more. As you become more confident you feel the urge to say some things differently as before. This will, of course, happen only if you actively use the language by writing and speaking it.

“Dress to impress”

The words that you know for a long period of time just won’t leave you alone and you keep using them over and over every time you need to say or write something. You have every right to be unsatisfied with it because you invest time in learning which results you just cannot show.

Pump up your vocabulary

Here is the list of words that I come up with by working with my students that could help you talk and write “smarter” German:

Consider saying:

winzig instead of (<<<) sehr klein: er hat winzige Augen.

riesig <<< sehr groß: eine riesige Menge Leute bewegt sich auf der Straße.

neulich / vor Kurzem <<< vor 2 Tagen / gestern: neulich bin ich nach Rom gefahren.

häufig <<< oft: diese Möbel sind für Menschen, die häufig umziehen.

bereits <<<schon: ich war bereits da.

verbringen <<< sein, bleiben: ich habe 2 Tage in Rom verbracht.

sich befinden <<< sein: er befindet sich in seinem Büro.

Add “be-” to these verbs and make them simpler

sich ereignen <<< passieren: etwas Schönes hat sich ereignet.

aufessen <<< ganz essen: hast du die Lasagne aufgegessen?

aufhängen <<< irgendwo hängen: ich habe das Bild (an einem Nagel) aufgehängt.

deswegen <<< deshalb: der Bus fuhr nicht pünktlich ab. Deswegen komme ich zu spät.

hübsch <<< schön: sie ist hübsch.

preiswert <<< billig: sie sucht nach preiswerten Schuhen.

Durcheinander <<< Unordnung: was für ein Durcheinander in meinem Zimmer!

es geht um <<< es gibt: es geht im Film um große Liebe.

dauernd <<< imer wieder: ich vergesse dauernd Geburtstage


dauern (to last: meine Reise dauerte 2 Wochen), normalerweise (usually), danach (after that), plötzlich (auf einmal, all of a sudden), vorher (before that: natürlich darfst du Computer spielen, aber vorher mach bitte noch deine Hausaufgaben), zumindest / wenigstens (at least), bislang/bisher (until now: ich war bislang noch nie verliebt).


10 times easier with “be-“

Author: Jadranka Bokan

We spend a lot of time learning verbs with their obligatory prepositions. However, there are some situations when we can just add the prefix “be-“ at the beginning of a verb and make things much easier. It’s useful to know that all verbs that start with “be-“ require plain Accusative-Object (all except begegnen which require a Dative-Object: ich begegne meinER Freundin). Take a look at the below list and be wiser!

bezahlen (für etwas zahlen): ich bezahle die Miete.

bereisen (etwas durch Reisen kennenlernen): Städte, Länder, Welt bereisen

besprechen (über etwas sprechen): Ereignisse, ein Problem, eine Frage, Einzelheiten besprechen.

beachten (auf etwas achten): Spielregeln, Vorschriften, Prinzipien, Sicherheitsmaßnahmen, Verkehrszeichen, einen Ratschlag, ein Verbot beachten

beenden (mit etwas enden): das Studium, den Krieg, das Gespräch beenden

beantworten (auf etwas antworten): eine Frage beantworten

behandeln (von etwas handeln): der Roman behandelt ein Liebesthema

betreten (auf/in etwas treten): das Zimmer, den Rasen betreten

bekochen (für jemanden kochen): Karl hat die Gäste bekocht

besiegen (über jemanden siegen): einen Gegner, eine Krankheit, Angst besiegen

bezweifeln (zwifeln an etwas): ich bezweifle seine Angaben.

beraten (jemandem einen Rat geben): er hat mich gut beraten.

beeinflussen (Einfluß ausüben auf): dieses Ereignis beeinflusste die Verhandlungen.

besteigen (auf etwas steigen, über Treppen in etwas gelangen, in etwas hineinsteigen): den Turm, die Festung, das Fahrrad besteigen

Dilemma resolved

Author: Jadranka Bokan

“die” or “das” E-Mail?

Both variations are correct. The version with “die” is more common in Germany, while “das” E-Mail is being used in Austria and Switzerland.


Learners are often not sure whether they should use ALS or WIE  in some sentences. This is very common dilemma because these words are being used in similar scenarios i.e. when you try to describe somebody/something:

Ich arbeite als Arzt. / Ich bin stark wie ein Bär.

If you look closer at the above examples, you will be able to understand the basic difference between comparisons with ALS and WIE.  There is only one “main” word (ich) in the first example, which is described with ALS + noun (als Ingenieur), while there are two “main” words (ich, ein Bär) in the other sentence and they have been compared with the same attribute (stark).

Thus, we could say that there is a rule of thumb that could help you: ALS should be used when you want to describe somebody/something (that word is basically the MAIN word) with another word which comes after ALS (that other word is basically the ‘attribute’);  WIE is being used when you want to compare TWO THINGS on the basis of THE SAME QUALITY. Can you feel the difference?


ich arbeite mit ihm als leitendem Arzt
meine Aufgabe als Lehrer ist regelmäßig in der Unterricht zu gehen
ich habe als Mädchen (in meiner Mädchenzeit, als ich ein Mädchen war) immer davon geträumt
du fühlst dich als Held
ihre Leistung wurde als hervorragend beurteilt
die Geschichte erwies sich als wahr

weiß wie Schnee
stark wie ein Bär
das riecht wie Benzin
seine Hand streifte wie zufällig ihren Nacken
da geht es dir wie mir
wie durch ein Wunder blieb sie unverletzt
ein Mann wie er
in einer Zeit wie der heutigen
ich fühle mich wie gerädert
er macht es wie du
so schnell wie möglich
sie ist doppelt, nur halb so alt wie sie
er kam wie immer zu spät
das schreibt man mit »N« wie »Nordpol«
er kann spielen wie keinerwie selten einer


You probably already know that in German language masculine and neuter nouns get the suffix -s in Genitive Singular.

And you have most probably notices that sometimes it can be -esinstead of -s.

“How can we know when to put -es and when just -s?” you might ask yourself. 

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Well, there are some scenarios when the nouns get the suffix -es:

  • nouns that end in -s, -ß, -x, -tsch, -tz, -z, -zt (e.g. das Glas – des Glases, der Fuß – des Fußes)
  • many monosyllabic nouns (e.g. das Kind – des Kindes, das Volk – des Volkes)
  • nouns that end in -nis and -us (e.g. das Ereignis – des Ereignisses, der Bonus – des Bonusses)

!! Please note that nouns that end in -us and -os do not get any suffix in Genitive Singular (e.g. das Epos – des Epos).

Perfekt or Präteritum?
They both express the past. However, we use them differently:

in spoken language (when you are talking to someone):
– in every day communication (dialogues): Frage: Was hast du heute gemacht? Antwort: Ich habe meine Tante Ema besucht.
– longer personal texts : Ich bin um 7 Uhr aufgestanden. Dann habe ich Yoga gemacht und gefrühstückt.  Danach habe ich mit meiner Mutter telefoniert. Um halb 9 bin ich zur Arbeit gegangen…
*also in personal e-mails and letters because it’s as if you would “talk” to someone who’s not there.

in written texts:
– in newspapers, stories, fairy-tales, books: Es war einmal ein König. Er hatte drei Söhne. Der jüngste Sohn hieß Teo…
These texts are usually impersonal. In addition to that, please notice that it’s also more practical to use Präteritum (one word) than Perfekt (two words) in written texts. If we would use Perfekt in written texts they would be much longer 😀

One final remark: there are some verbs that we should ALWAYS use in Präteritum:
haben, sein
modal verbs
some other verbs like denken, heißen, finden, wissen

liegen or stehen?

When we are learning about Wechselpraepositionen (they require Accusative or Dative) and doing exercises with them, we are often uncertain should we use liegen or stehen with a particular object. For example, if we are describing a picture, should we say about a particular book, bag, vase, box or anything similar that – ‘es liegt’ or ‘es steht’? Well, the trick is – if the object touches the surface (of the table, the floor etc.) with its larger side – we can say that it’s lying (‘die Tasche/das Buch liegt’). However, if it touches the surface with its smaller side – we could say that it’s standing (‘die Tasche/das Buch steht’).

Familie/Team/Jugend/Jugendliche/Kleidung/Jeans – Singular or Plural?

Beginners often think that Familie is one of those words which have only the plural form, like Eltern (parents) and Geschwister (siblings) because it refers to more than one person. However, Familie is singular and should be used that way: meine Famile wohnt in München. Something similar happens with Kleidung (clothes) because this noun is also Singular although it refers to many items: körperformende Kleidung kann der Gesundheit schaden. The same applies to the word Team. Another issue comes up when we talk about youth. There are two words in German for youth: die Jugend and Jugendliche (please don’t mix up these two with derJunge = boy). Jugend is Singular, while Jugendliche Plural is: unsere Jugend ist verwöhnt (spoiled). Jugendliche sollen mehr lernen. There is also another word which is giving us hard time: die Jeans. Is it Singular or Plural – that is a good question! Jeans is a feminine noun (thus Singular!) which is mostly being used as a plural noun in German. Take a look at these examples from Twitter:    ich habe nur leichte Schwierigkeiten in eine bestimmte Jeans reinzukommen, die mir seit fast 12 Jahren als „Waage“ dient; ein T-Shirt tragen und dazu eine Jeans; ich kann einfach nicht so lange eine Jeans oder so tragen; Es ist für mich ein sehr komisches Gefühl eine ganz normale Jeans zu tragen; wo sind/ist denn bloß meine alten/alte Jeans? (; There are also many occasions where you cannot see the difference: sie trägt am liebsten schwarze Jeans. 

 kämpfen UM or FÜR?

How can we decide whether we should say kämpfen für or um? There is a difference. kämpfen für means to fight for one’s cause (sich einsetzen für):  wir kämpfen für ein geintes Europa, für Gleichberechtigung, für eine bessere Zukunft, für den Frieden. On the other hand, kämpfen um means to struggle for smth. (um etwas ringen): um mehr Selbständigkeit, um sein Recht, um Anerkennung, die Mutter kämpft um ihr Kind, der Arzt kämpft um das Leben des Patienten. 

Wann bist du geboren?  in 1985 or im Jahre 1985 or just 1985?

If someone asks you Wann bist du geboren?  answer just with the year, for example: 1985 or with im Jahre 1985 because only these two are correct. Und wann bist DU geboren? 

Main Verb in Past Participle or Infinitive?

If used with a main verb in the same sentence, modal verbs build Perfect without Past Participle, plus: both verbs are in the Infinitive form and the auxiliary verb is haben: ich habe gut schlafen können. There are some other verbs that can appear with another verb in the same sentence (and that another verb is in the Infinitive form), like: lassen, sehen, hören, gehen, bleiben: er lässt sein Auto reparieren; ich sehe sie die Straße überqueren; ich höre sie singen; ich gehe schlafen; bleiben Sie sitzen. How do they build Perfect? lassen, sehen and hören like modal verbs: er hat sein Auto reparieren lassen,  ich habe sie singen hören, ich habe sie die Straße überqueren sehen. Unlike modal verbs, gehen and bleiben builden Perfect (if used with another verb) like this ich bin schlafen gegangen; Sind Sie sitzen geblieben?

müssen or sollen?

Learners usually aren’t sure when they should use müssen and when sollen in sentences. These verbs have a similar meaning and express that something needs to be done/should be done. Although there is translation into their mother tongue, when prompted to choose between them in an exercise, people often do not know which one to use. Rule of thumb is that müssen has to do with some obligation which is related to some outer circumstances (Die Prüfung ist morgen. Ich muss lernen; der Reifen ist kaputt, ich muss einen neuen kaufen), to authorities (Du musst die Rechnungen bis Ende des Monats zahlen) or to your personal feeling (Ich muss mehr Zeit mit meinen Kindern verbringen). On the other hand, sollen should be used if another person expects that you do something (die Sekräterin zu ihrem Chef: “Herr Becker hat angerufen. Sie sollen zurückrufen“) or if they are giving you some advice (Du sollst besser zum Arzt gehen).

du sitzT or du sitzST in Present time (Präsens)?

Well, this is odd, but it’s usual for some Verbs. You have certainly learnt that you say “du heißt” and “er heißt”. However, has it occurred to you that you should say “du sitzt” and “du tanzt” too? This is because all verbs which end with -s, -ss, -ß, -z or -tz get the ending -t (insted of -st) when they correspond to “du” in Present time (Präsens). This is totally odd but it’s true.

holen or bringen?    

These verbs imply that something is going to “come” to you, but in a slightly different way. bringen means that somebody is going to bring you something (from point A to point B where you are): ich bringe den Wein! (I am in the kitchen, you are in the living room and I will bring the wine to you),  while holen means that somebody has to go to pick something up first in order to bring it to you (from point B goes to the point A and returns back to B): ich hole den Wein aus dem Keller (we are both standing here (A) and I will go to the cellar (B) in order to take the wine and come back – to the point A). So, basically bringen and holen mean the same, it’s just that holen implies one extra “step” (and additional effort)!

doch or nein?

An affirmative question can be answered with ja or nein: Hast du eine Schwester? – Ja, ich habe eine / nein, ich habe keine.  However, if someone asks you a question in a negative form, you should use doch or nein: if you wish to negate that negative question, then feel free to use doch (instead of nein): hast du keine Schwester? – Doch, ich habe eine. This means that doch has the same value as nein, just in another context. On the other hand, if you want to agree with a negative question, then use nein (instead of ja): hast du keine Schwester? – Nein, ich habe keine.

gleich or sofort?

If you want to express in German that you are about to do something, you can use either gleich or sofort. However, there is a difference between them: gleich means that you will do something after you finish something else (which will last a couple of moments), while sofort means immediately. For example: if you are sitting at a table and doing something and someone asks you to come, you can tell: ich komme sofort (right away) or ich komme gleich (after I finish something).

Wipfel or Gipfel?

Both means the peek/top, it’s just that Wipfel is the top of a tree, while Gipfel is the peak of a mountain. In order for you to remember the difference, you could use this trick: Wipfel starts with W and Wald starts with W – and both have to do something with trees.

sehen, sich ansehen, zusehen or beobachten?

sehen means to see (to notice something with your eyes) for example (e.g.): ich sehe, dass er ihre Hand hällt. On the other hand, (sich) etwas ansehen (where sich in Dative and etwas a direct object is), means to look at, to watch,e.g. sehen wir uns dieses Foto an or ich habe mir diesen Film schon angesehen. Zusehen which is being used with an indirect object in Dative means to watch carefully while something is happening in front of you: ich sehe ihm beim Arbeiten zu or wir sehen dem Feuerwerk zu. Beobachten is very similar  to zusehen, means to watch something carefully for a certain period of time with the difference that it goes with a direct object and it doesn’t imply necessarily that something is happening actively in front if you – i.e. the object doesn’t have to move at all: er hat sie (lange) beobachtet.

How can I remember that clocks are being put back in winter?

The answer is simple: Im Sommer stellt man die Gartenmöbel „VOR“ die Tür. Im Winter stellt man sie „ZURÜCK“ in den Schuppen.

wissen, kennen, können or sich auskennen?

These verbs can be easily confused. They all have to do with knowing something or somebody, however, there are some differences in the way they are used. wissen schould be used for giving or asking for an information: weißt du, wann der nächste Zug fährt? ich weiß, wie alt sie ist. kennen means “mir ist etwas bekannt”, “I know it from my experience”: ich kenne sie seit dem Kindegarten/ihre gute Seite/diese Wörter/die Welt; können should be used for some activities or skills: ich kann gut singen/kochen; sich auskennen is like a synonym for kennen, it just implies knowing many related things at the sametime and is being used for some areas of expertise or for some fields: ich kenne mich gut, nicht aus hier; sie kennt sich bei uns aus; in dieser Materie kenne ich mich aus; sie kennt sich gut mit Jungs. 

ES or DAS?

You aren’t sure when to use ES and when DAS in a sentence? Here are some rules that will help you master that: apart from replacing some neuter noun: ein Mädchen ist gerade angekommen.Es sieht schön aus , ES is either an obligatory part of an expression: hier geht es um uns; es gibt nur einen Weg, or it is a part of an expression that announces some other information: es scheint so zu sein, dass Europäer immer weniger Kinder bekommen; er ist wieder zu spät gekommen! Ich sage es dir, so geht das nicht mehr weiter. On the other hand, DAS relates to something that has just been said: unsere Nachbarn sind Diebe? Das kann doch nicht wahr sein! and can be emphasized (use the exclamation mark: !). 

spenden or spendieren?

Be careful when you are using these verbs because they don’t have the same meaning. spenden means to give something (Geld, Blut, Kleidung) without expecting anything in return. spendieren means to pay for somebody, for example: jemandem eine Flasche Wein spendieren; er spendierte den Kindern ein Eis.

planen or planieren?

These two verbs also sound similar but they mean something completely different. planen means to plan something: ein Projekt planen, hast du etwas für das Wochenende geplant? On the other hand, planieren means to  flatten / to bulldoze something, for example a street.

mitbringen or mitnehmen?

It could easily happen that you confuse these two verbs, especially if you are a beginner. Why is that so? Because both verbs imply that somebody holds something in their hands and it has something to do with you. What is the difference? If you use mitbringen that means that somebody is bringing something to you: kannst du bitte dein Kursbuch mitbringen? On the other hand,  mitnehmen means that somebody is leaving the place where you are and is taking something with them: das Frühstück/die Jacke (denn es ist kalt) mitnehmen. 

teilnehmen or mitmachen?

teilnehmen means to participate in something: er hat AN einem Wettbewerb teilgenommen (=er war Teilnehmer).  mitmachen means something more like mithelfen: er hat BEI einem Wettbewerb mitgemacht (= er hat als Aushilfe bei dem Wettbewerb gearbeitet, er war kein Teilnehmer).  

ausgehen or hinausgehen (rausgehen)?

These two could be considered as synonyms, however, it might be easier for you to distinguish them and remember that ausgehen means to go out and have good time (es ist Samstag Abend und sie geht aus), while hinausgehen means just to leave the house in order, for example, to work in the garden or go to the supermarket: sie ist aus dem Haus hinausgegangen; geh hinaus und genieße die Sonne! 

ausführen or durchführen?

This is another example where the dictionary says something like “these two are synonyms”. However, if you are using language actively you will notice that these two verbs are being used differently. ausführen means more to fulfil, to execute some order: er musste einen Auftrag / Befehl ausführen, while durchführen means to make something happen according to the plan, to realise: er musste einen Test / eine Operation / Kontrolle durchführen.

kündigen or entlassen?

These two verbs have everything to do with the end of employment. How do we use them? both verbs can be used for the employer’s side: die Firma hat ihn fristlos entlassen; er wurde fristlos entlassen, You can however also say: die Firma hat der Frau Meier fristlos gekündigt.  On the other hand, for the employee’s side should only kündigen be used: er hat schriftlich bei der Firma gekündigt. 

mindestens oder wenigstens?

mindestens means not less than and its antonym is höchstens:  das Programm dauert mindestens 3 Stunden. ; wenigstens (=zumindest) means at least: du kommst nicht aber du könntest wenigtens anrufen!

Wand or Mauer?

die Wand is the wall inside some building and it is attached to other walls, while die Mauer is a free-standing wall which is not attached to other walls. The most famous examples are the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) and the Great Wall of China (Chinesische Mauer).

sich entscheiden or beschließen?

sich entscheiden means that you need to chose between two or more options: die Frau hat sich für den stärkeren Mann entschieden. On the other hand, beschließen does not imply that you should chose, it just means that you decided to do something: ich habe beschlossen, mir keine Sorgen zu machen. 

Balkon or Terrasse?

It’s easy to remember the difference between these two. Der Balkon is a platform on the outside of a building, with access from an upper-floor window or door, while die Terrasse is on the ground – it’s a level paved area in front or behind a building.

probieren, ausprobieren or anprobieren?

anprobieren is easiest to explain because it should be used only with clothes: ich probiere das neue Kleid/neue Schuhe an. In contrast to probieren, ausprobieren means that you will put some effort in something and it mostly refers to some devices: ich probiere das neue Rezept/das neue Fahrrad/eine Sportart aus. On the other hand, it is safest to use probieren with food: probier mal die Suppe! man kann auch ein Medikament, eine Szene probieren.  

einfallen or sich erinnern?

The first verb with the meaning to remeber that you will learn in German will most probably be sich erinnern. This verb requires the preposition an + Accusative: ich erinnere mich an meine Kindheit. However,  with the time you will find yourself in a situation where you have forgotten something and then it occurs to you unexpectedly. Well, in this situation you should use the verb einfallen. It requires Dative: mir ist eingefallen, dass ich keinen gültigen Paß habe; ihm ist eingefallen, dass er seine Freundin nicht angerufen hat. 

sich überlegen or nachdenken?

These two verbs are also very similar. However, they don’t mean exactly the same which means that they won’t be used in the same way. sich überlegen requires a direct object and sich is in Dative: ich weiß noch nicht, wohin ich in Urlaub fahren will. Ich muss mir es überlegen. As you may guess, überlegen means that you have to think about something – briefly, not so deep and in order to resolve something which is not pretty difficult. On the other hand, nachdenken requires the preposition über + Accusative and implies that you have to contemplate something and think deeper: ich denke über dich / über die Zukunft nach.

sehen, sich ansehen, zusehen or beobachten?

sehen means to see (to notice something with your eyes) for example (e.g.): ich sehe, dass er ihre Hand hällt; (sich) etwas ansehen (where sich in Dative and etwas a direct object is), means to look at, to watch, e.g. sehen wir uns dieses Foto an or ich habe mir diesen Film schon angesehen; zusehen which goes with an indirect object in Dative means to watch carefully while something is happening in front of you: ich sehe ihm beim Arbeiten zu or wir sehen dem Feuerwerk zu; beobachten is very similar  to zusehen, means to watch something carefully for a certain period of time with the difference that it goes with a direct object and it doesn’t imply necessarily that something is happening actively in front if you – i.e. the object doesn’t have to move at all: er hat sie (lange) beobachtet.

heiraten or verheiraten?

You can use both verbs. The difference is only in the way you should use them. heiraten should be used with a direct object (er heiratet sie), while sich verheiraten is a reflexive verb and it is used with the preposition mit (er verheiratet sich mit ihr). Of course, you can also say: sie heiratet ihn and sie verheiratet sich mit ihm.

annehmen or aufnehmen?

Do you know that awkward feeling when you are not sure whether you should use “annehmen” or “aufnehmen” in some specific sentence? Both verbs require a direct objects (Accusative). Here is something that could help: ANNEHMEN means accept (Angebot, Geschenk, Trinkgeld) or agree on (Hilfe, Einladung, Wette, Herausforderung, Urteil, Methoden). AUFNEHMEN means start (Kontakt, Studium, Kampf, Verhandlungen) or accommodate, take, include (Flüchtling, Patienten im Krankenhaus, Eindrücke, einen Punkt in die Tagesordnung, das Kind in den Verein).

Stahl or Eisen?

First of all, it’s der Stahl and das Eisen. I just wanted to point that out because I myself am never sure of it. EISEN means iron and STAHL means steel.

geliked or gelikt?

The answer is: only and utterly gelikt. Because the verb is “liken” and if you apply the rules for building a Past Participle in German you get “gelikt”. Thus, the German sentence would sound like: “Hast du mein Foto gelikt?”

nutzen or benutzen?

NUTZEN kannst du: eine Gelegenheit / den Vorteil / jede freie Minute / eine Chance.  This means that you use “nutzen” when you want to express that you will use an advantage of something abstract / immaterial.
BENUTZEN kannst du: die Toilette, die Seife, die Zange, den Fön, das Werkzeug, den Eingang… which means that you should use “benutzen” when you want to tell that you are making use of one material thing with its specific purpose.

Cousin or Neffe?

These two have 2 things in common: they are little boys and apart from that – one and the same boy can be Neffe and Cousin at the same time.  It depends completely on the perspective because – Neffe is the son of my brother or sister, plus: the same boy is also Cousin to my kids. Thus, basically it is the same boy – his family status depends on the other person.

Bahnsteig or Gleis?

If you repeatedly cannot remember what Bahnsteig and what Gleis is, then we should make one thing clear: there can be several Bahnsteige on the same Gleis. Is it better now? Let’s try with this: the synonym for Bahnsteig is Perron, thus – it is the place from where the passengers enter the train, while Gleis is the name for the rails on which the train moves.

tauschen or austauschen?

tauschen is when I give you something and you give me something in return, like: die Fußballspieler tauschen ihre Trikots. austauschen is when something needs to be replaced because, for example, it does not work any more, for example: ich muss die Glühbirne austauschen.

deshalb or weil/denn?

These two are logically inseparably connected. In which way? weil/denn is always placed in the sentence which contains the cause (reason), while deshalb is placed in the sentence which contains the consequence (effect). For example: Ich bin krank. Ich kann nicht arbeiten.=> these sentences can be combined in the following way: Ich bin krank, deshalb kann ich nicht arbeiten. or: Ich kann nicht arbeiten, weil ich krank bin/denn ich bin krank.

S-Bahn or Straßenbahn? 

S-Bahn is the abbreviation of Schnell-Bahn, and that is the train that connects cities. Straßenbahn also known as Tram runs on tracks along streets in one city.

noch or schon? 

Träumst du NOCH oder lebst du SCHON? noch – expresses that something still lasts, but that it should be over soon: ich wohne noch mit meinen Eltern; sie ist noch wach. schon – expresses that something is happening faster than expected: ich bin schon 2 Jahre in Wien; sie kommt schon heute.

Present time (Präsens): How do I change the verbs which end with “-eln”?

When I build the form for “ich” I do not know how to do it correctly. This is simple – you cannot make a mistake here. For example, if we take a look at the verb “wechseln”, you can say either “ich wechsele” or “ich wechsle”. Both versions are correct. However, the latter version is more often in use.

What is the difference between “biegen”, “abbiegen” and “einbiegen”?

When you are new in town and ask someone to explain you how you can get to some place, they can say “Biegen Sie links/rechts ab” and “Biegen Sie in die erste/zweite Straße links/rechsts ein”. Combination if those two are incorrect. You can of course also say “Nehmen Sie die erste/zweite Straße links/rechts” which the alternative way to use “einbiegen”. In addition, you can say “Biegen Sie um die Ecke” – that is the only correct way to use “biegen” for describing a route.

Word Puzzles

1) combinations with the verb fordern

fordern means “haben wollen, verlangen, to demand” and it should be used in formal occasions: ich fordere die Erklärung / die Entschädigung / die Erstattung der Kosten. auffordern zu / zu + Infinitive means  “to make somebody do something”: ich habe die Nachbarn zur Ruhe aufgefordert / ich habe die Nachbarn aufgefordert, die Musik leiser zu machen / ich habe einen Jungen zum Tanzen aufgefordert. anfordern means something like “bestellen” just in a formal way and related to some important papers: ich fordere eine Kopie meines Arbeitsvertrags an. erfordern  means something like “brauchen”, however, it should be used only with things: diese Aufgabe erfordert hohe Konzentration.

2) combinations with the verb räumen

The verb räumen comes from the word Raum which means Zimmer or – which is more important in this context – space (space where you put something). The verb räumen has everything to do with the word space because it implies  “to make some space”. We can Bücher vom Tisch räumen (move books from the table and thus make some free space on the table), Wäsche in den Schrank räumen (to put it on some particular space), you can also das Zimmer / die Wohnung räumen (remove all furniture and leave it empty and then move somewhere else) or you can also say die Polizei räumte die Straße (so that there are no people or things on the street any more). Apart from this, the verb räumen can also appear with some prefixes and transform into aufräumen, einräumen and ausräumen. You most probably already know what aufräumen means and that you can dein Zimmer aufräumen (return every thing on its place) but did you know that you could also deinen Koffer aufräumen (to put it aside after you come from a trip and don’t need it any more). Also, if you are using a dish washing machine, sooner or later you might want to say that you put the dish in it: das Geschirr in den Geschirrspüler einräumen or es aus dem Geschirrspüler ausräumen (put in and take out something from somewhere – a machine, a container, case etc so that it remains empty). There is also abräumen – for example: den Tisch abräumen (nach dem Essen).

3) You already know what kaputt means. But  do you know how to say when something is old and ruined by time? Here are some words that might be interesting for you: vergilbt (Fotos, Papiere, Gardinen, Farbe);  durchgessesen (Bett, Sofa);  baufällig (Gebäude, Haus, Treppe); marode (Wirtschaft, Firma, Gebäude).

4) variation of die Tür aufmachen (to open the door) / zumachen (to close the door):

die Tür aufbrechen (to break open): der Einbrecher bricht die Tür auf.
aufgehen: die Tür geht auf (by itself).
die Tür aufschieben (to push open): die Tür war gepolstert und er schiebt sie vorsichtig auf.                                                                                               die Tür aufreißen (to open with one violent move): Jemand stand vor der Tür. Viktor atmete tief durch und riss die Tür auf.                                                                                                                                                                                               die Tür zuschlagen (to slam): das Mädchen war böse und schlug hinter sich die Tür zu.

5) variations with the same root: gespannt = curious (people), tight (situations) (ich bin gespannt, ob es ihr gelingt / die Lage wird immer gespannter); angespannt = tense, stressed (ich bin so angespannt, dass ich nicht mehr richtig atme) / tight (die Finanzlage ist angespannt); entspannt = relaxed (er ist ein total entspannter Typ; wir sehen die Entwicklung sehr entspannt); spannend = exciting, interesting (der Film ist spannend).

6) variations of schlafen:

einschlafen = to start sleeping (das Kind ist eingeschlafen);  ausschlafen = to sleep enough (ich habe ausgeschlafen); durchschlafen = to spend sleeping (du hast die Tage durchschlafen); verschlafen = not to stand up on time (ich habe verschlafen) / to spend sleeping (sie hat den ganzen Vormittag verschlafen) / to miss (einen Termin, eine Verabredung, die Revolution) ; schlaftrunken, verschlafen = sleepy

Differences between the German language in Germany (D), Austria (A) and Switzerland (S)

Here are the most important differences:

pan cakes: Palatschinken (A) = Pfannkuchen (D)

university-entrance diploma: Abitur (D) = Matura (A)

spritzer: Weinschorle (D) = Spritzer (A)

potato: Kartoffel (D) = Erdapfel (A) = Härdöpfel (S)

apricot: Aprikose (D) = Marille (A) = Barille (S)

pepper: Paprika (D) (A) = Pepperoni  (S)

cucumber: Gurke (D) (A) = Gugummere (S)

tomato: Tomate (D) (S) = Paradeiser (A)

mushroom: Pilz (D) (S) = Schwammerl (A)

roll: Brötchen (D) = Semmel (A) = Weckli / Brötli (S)

tire: Reifen (D) (A) = Pneu (S)

breakfast: Frühstück (D) (A) = Morgenessen (S)

medical practice: Arztpraxis (D)(S) = Ordination (A)

hospital: Krankenhaus (D) = Spital (A)(S)

bus stop = Haltestelle (D) = Station (A)(S)

bicycle = Fahrrad (D)(A) = Velo (S)

advertisment: Anzeige (D)(A) = Annonse (S)

mayor: Bürgermeister (D)(A) = Stadtpräsident (S)

congratulation: Glückwunsch (D)(A) = Gratulation (S)

driving licence: Führerschein (D)(A) = Führerausweis (S)

German word of the day

Vocabulary is the most important part of the foreign language. If you would learn only one German word a day it wouldn’t be enough, however, if you would learn one EXTRA word a day, that would be great! This is the place where you can find those “extra”, interesting and a little bit “crazy” words that could make the difference. They come from the everyday life and lean on the words that you already know.

einen Purzelbaum machen

die Anziehpuppe

das Kennwort = password

der große Teich = the big pond (Atlantic ocean)

vorziehen – opposite of verschieben: einen Termin [um eine Stunde] vorziehen

das Kätzchen, / (Katzenjunges, Jungkatze)= kitten

der Proviant = lunch packet, packed lunch (in der Schule: das Pausenbrot)

der Pizzabote, n = pizza boy

der Unternehmer, -/ = entrepreneur

vorziehen = to prefer: ziehen Sie Kaffee oder Tee vor?; Ich ziehe ihn seinem Bruder vor; ein gutes Buch ziehe ich jedem Film vor.

gebraucht = second hand, used: gebrauchte Bücher/Autos/Möbel (ver)kaufen

der Spitzname, n = nickname: Wer kommt aus Wien und kennt ein Mädel, rothaarig, Spitzname “Karotte”?; Wie ist dein Spitzname?; mein Spitzname in der Nachbarschaft ist “Gärtner Pötschke”, ich muss ihm dieses Jahr mal wieder gerecht werden.

zugefroren = frozen: die Donau ist zugefroren; in den letzten 50 Jahren ist die Donau nur 3 oder 4 Mal zugefroren; der See ist zugefroren; die Frontscheibe von Auto ist von innen zugefroren; Achtung! Der See ist nicht dick genug zugefroren!

der Feinschmecker, / = gourmet, a person who likes to eat fine food and drink fine drinks.

das Büffet = buffet (when there are no regular meal courses, but everything the guests could eat is set on one or two tables, this is typical for some hotels).

vorspulen (! without Umlaut) = (to press the) fast-forward (button),  zurückspulen = rewind


mitschreiben = to take notes while somebody else is talking: jemand ruft an und will etwas Wichtiges sagen. Du nimmst einen Stift, um es mitzuschreiben; auch so: Studenten schreiben den Vortrag mit. Synonym ist: Notizen machen, but you can use this other expression also when nobody is talking at the same time…


die Untertasse, n


tollpatschig, unbeholfen = clumsy


igitt! = yuck! (an exclamation of disgust in regards to an offensive odor, taste, sight, or thought)


puzzeln / ein Puzzle zusammensetzen = to do a jigsaw puzzle


die Fangfrage = trick question: ist das jetzt eine Fangfrage?

knifflig = tricky






(ist) gebongt = OK: sehen wir uns heute um 5? – Gebongt!


aufgeschlossen (offen) = outgoing; openminded: er war an diesem Abend heiter und aufgeschlossen (zugänglich); einem Problem aufgeschlossen gegenüberstehen; antonym: verschlossen


wählen = to vote (example: ich gehe wählen)
die Wahlen = elections (example: die Wahlen in den USA)
der Stimmzettel = voting paper (ballot) (example: ich gebe meinen Stimmzettel ab.)
das Wahllokal = place where you go to vote (polling station) (example: das Wahllokal ist geschlossen.)
die Wahlurne = ballot box (an die Wahlurne gehen = to vote)


gesprächig = talkative, chatty: sie ist gesprächig (she loves to talk). Antonym: wortkarg = taciturn


den Tisch decken und abräumen = to set the table (before eating) and to clear it (after eating)



mäßig = moderate: ich esse/trinke/rauche mäßig.


deklarieren = to declare:  haben Sie etwas zu deklarieren/verzollen?; den Kaffee beim Grenzübertritt deklarieren


die Uhr umstellen = to adjust the clock: in 5 Tagen sollen wir unsere Uhren auf Winterzeit umstellen; die Uhr eine Stunde zurückstellen/vorstellen


der, die, das Dings = that thing: gib mir mal das Dings da!; sie fahren im Urlaub immer nach Dings, ich weiß den Namen nicht mehr.

das Ringelspiel (in Austria), das Karussel (in Germany)


der Steinschleuder, /


der Schlaumeier  / Besserwisser = wise guy, someone who wants to make an impression that he knows everything, an obnoxious know-it-all (in every day language); pejorative: der Klugscheißer (wise ass)


durchbrennen = to run away: Sie hat ihn betrogen und ist mit einem anderen Mann durchgebrannt.


nach unten schauender Hund = downward facing dog


aufrunden = to bring up to a round figure: eine Summe [von 9,60 auf 10 Euro] aufrunden


verkehrt herum = upside down: das Buch steht verkehrt herum im Regal; einen Pullover verkehrt herum anziehen


das Häkeldeckchen = small crochet tablecloth





qualitativ hochwertig = high-quality: die Firma bietet qualitativ hochwertige Produkte zu günstigen Preisen an.


zunehmen = to gain weight, abnehmen = to lose weight: ich hab’ 5 Kilo zugenommen! Ich muss unbedingt abnehmen!


der Untersetzer


hochladen = to upload; runterladen = to download (ich habe diese Datei hochgeladen/runtergeladen)


das Hallenbad, ä-er = indoor swimming pool





rangehen (for example: geh ran!) = to pick up (answer) the phone; auflegen (er wollte noch etwas sagen, aber sie hat schon aufgelegt) = to hang up


Blumen gießen (goss, hat gegossen) = to water flowers


der Bierdeckel, /





der Quereinsteiger, / = career changer. That is a person who makes a carrier in a field that is not his/her primary field. For example, great managers in large companies are “Quereinsteiger”.


der Bademeister, / = life saver


braungebrannt = tanned





ausrutschen = to slip (auf einem nassen und glatten Boden ausrutschen und hinfallen)


die Goldgräberin = gold digger (woman who is looking for a rich man)

gold-digger (1)

eine Arschbombe machen 





hochgeschoben -> die Brille (example: Alessandra Abrosio trägt die Sonnenbrille lässig auf den Kopf hochgeschoben)

die Hummel, n = bumbleebee





den Kaffee aufsetzen (to put on) = auf den Herd stellen (examples: Kaffee, Tee, Milch, das Essen, einen Topf mit Kartoffeln aufsetzen)

aufsteigen = er ist auf das Fahrrad aufgestiegen;                                               absteigen = sie ist vom Fahrrad abgestiegen.

die Garderobe = place where you hang your clothes (example: Hut und Mantel an die Garderobe hängen)


das Kleingeld = very small amount of money (mostly Münzen); das Wechselgeld = change (money that you get after you pay for something); klein machen => können Sie mir bitte diesen 100-EUR-Schein klein machen?


das Sweatshirt, s


die Boardshorts (Pl.)


der Kondensstreifen, / = chemtrail


der Rolladen, ä-/


der Mitbewohner, / = flatmate


das Dachvorsprung = eaves


einladen = to ask out (example: er hat sie eingeladen.)


Schuhbänder binden = to tie shoes

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die Brille aufsetzen = to put on glasses


der Geisterfahrer, / = driver that is driving in wrong direction on the highway or on any other street. This situation is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage. And yes, it is a very common German word. You can hear warnings in the news almost on a daily basis.


das Bier vom Faß = draft beer


das Maßband, ä-er


das Freibad = open air swimming pool


der Streunerhund, e = stray dog; synonym: Straßenhund = street dog


makaber  = morbid

der Morgenmuffel = person who doesn’t like to get up early and is grumpy in the morning (example: Ich bin ein Morgenmuffel.)


der Feierabend = part of the day after work


das Tablett, s = tray


der Bandwurm = tapeworm (example: ich habe einen Bandwurm. Deshalb esse ich Eis. Ich will ihn dadurch erfrieren lassen.)

Taenia taeniaeformis

das Kaff (slang, pejorative) = a boring place where nothing happens and where no one wants to live


durchstöbern = to comb through, to browse something: er hat den Laden (nach einem Geschenk) durchtöbert

das Guthaben, / =credit; example: das Guthaben fürs Internet, fürs Handy (prepaid)


das Polizeirevier,e = police station

verschollen = lost, missing


der Kofferraum = car trunk

der Roller, /

die Käsereibe, n


die Selbstgedrehte, n (self made cigarette): er raucht Selbstgedrehte (he smokes self rolled cigarettes).


die Klobrille, n (toilet seat)


das Hosenbein, e (pent leg)


German Particles

German language ‘loves’ particles (Partikeln). They are like salt & pepper to sentences and our German friends just love to use them. There are so many of them. Sometimes they cannot even be translated properly.  Learn how to use them correctly.

DENN occurs only in questions and it expresses somebody’s interest and amazement. Its purpose is to make the question sound informal (and compassionate): Was machst du denn da? was ist denn aus ihm geworden? wie geht es dir denn?

JA expresses that somebody is convinced of something: das ist ja immer so. 

EIGENTLICH softens the sentence: bist du eigentlich verheiratet?

ETWA in questions expresses that you have expected something else, doesn’t sound friendly: haben Sie etwa keinen Führerschein?

WOHL expresses criticism and irony: Ein Kind malt auf der Tischdecke in einem Cafe. Was sagt der Kellner wohl, wenn er das sieht?; er arbeitet wohl (aber nicht sehr fleißig); er hat die Prüfung wohl bestanden (aber nicht sehr gut); hat sie das Buch wohl gelesen? Wann hat er wohl Prüfung?

BLOSS intensifies requests or questions– wo bleibt sie bloß? was soll ich bloß machen? geh mir bloß aus dem Weg!


  • it underlines the message in declarative sentences, questions, commands or wishes i.e. expresses a certain emphasis : Das hast du doch gewusst; sie ist doch kein Kind mehr; es wird doch nichts passiert sein. 
  • in exclamations it expresses resentment or amazement: Du musst doch immer zu spät kommen!
  • in interrogative sentences (questions) it expresses hope that the answer will be positive: Sie kommen doch heute Abend?


  • expresses an easy going character of the declarative sentence and softens its seriousness: er will die Arbeit mal abschließen; du mußt mal zum Arzt gehen.
  • in requests it lessons the seriousness and expresses the encouragement: komm mal her! ; geh mal zum Arzt!

Sources: and Helbig-Buscha: Deutsche Grammatik