Natural German Conversation

Posted on 22. May, 2015 by in Language

12102008944 bitte waren, bitte sprechen

Please Wait – – Please Speak. Photo by denicide on flickr.com

Every conversation has natural interjections, reactions and filler words. This is what makes language feel natural. Here is a list of German words and phrases that you can slot into conversations to make your German flow more naturally. Please note that some of these aren’t meant to be full, grammatically correct sentences, but fragments. Just like we might say “Doesn’t matter” in response to something in English, in German we’d say “Macht nichts” without the “Es” at the beginning that makes it into a complete sentence (“Es macht nichts” – It doesn’t matter).

 

Also – So
“Also, über was haben wir geredet?” So, what were we talking about?
“Also, gehen wir?” So, shall we go?
“Also, was willst du trinken?” So, what do you want to drink?

***
Ist schon gut – It’s alright/Don’t worry/Forget it
“Ich habe dein Buch nicht mitgebracht!” I didn’t bring your book with me!
„Ist schon gut! Du kannst es nächstes mal mitbringen!“ It’s alright! You can bring it next time!

Geht schon – It’s OK / It’s fine

Wird schon – It will be OK / It will be fine / You will get there.

Macht nichts – Doesn’t matter

Egal – Either way is fine / I’m not bothered
“Magst du Marmorkuchen oder Pflaumenkuchen?” Do you want marble cake or plum cake?
“Egal” I don’t mind.
Longer version: “Das ist mir egal.”
Also used in anger to tell someone you don’t care: “Es ist mir egal, was du willst!” I don’t care what you want!

***

Was ist denn mit dir los? – What’s up with you, exactly? (If someone seems a little ‘off’).

Was denn? – What is it? / What do you want? (If someone calls your name, for instance: “Ludwig!” – “Was denn?”)

(Und) Was noch? – (And) What else?

(Und) Was jetzt? – (And) What now?

Genau! – Exactly!

Echt?! – Really?!

Im Ernst? – Honestly?

Ja, wirklich! – Yes, really!

Das ist ja schlimm. – That’s bad.

So ist es. – That’s the way it is.

Ja, und? – Yes, and?

Na? – This little word means hello, hey, well?, and how are you? all in one. It’s a sound of acknowledgement more than anything. It’s best explained when used in a sentence:
“Na, alles klar?” Everything alright?
“Na, was machst du?” What are you doing?

Ähm… – Umm…/Er…

***

Naja – An interjection with no real translation, signifying agreement or disagreement, usually pronounced with an extended second ‘a’: “Najaaa…”
“Erich ist blöd.” (Eric is stupid)
“Naja, so blöd ist er nicht!” (Come on, he‘s not that stupid!)

“Ich habe keine Lust, heute tanzen zu gehen.” (I don’t want to go dancing today)
“Naja, du brauchst nicht jede Woche gehen.” (Well, you don’t need to go every week)

***

Nein! Hör zu..No! Listen..
Used if someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, and you’re slightly irritated at having to repeat yourself again.

Stört das? – Is that bothering you?

Das macht mir nichts aus – I don’t mind that / That doesn’t bother me

Warte malHang on / Wait a minute

Machen wir’s so: – Let’s do it like this:

Das ist zum Verzweifeln! That makes you despair!
(This one sounds more natural in German than it does in English…)

Das hat keinen Sinn! – That doesn’t make sense! / That’s pointless!

Ja so was (von)! – What a cheek!
This little phrase is used to express outrage. It can be said with or without the ‘von’.
“Martin hat gesagt, ich bin faul“ Martin said I was lazy
„Ja so was! Du bist überhaupt nicht faul!” What a cheek! You’re not lazy at all!

Über was haben wir geredet? – What were we talking about?

Das sag ich dir später. – I’ll tell you that later.

Weißt du, … – You know, …
“Weißt du, ich mag ihn eigentlich nicht” You know, I don’t actually like him

Das kann ich glauben! – I can believe that!

Das kann ich nicht glauben! – I can’t believe that!

Wahnsinn! – Crazy! (In the sense of amazing, astonishing, etc.)
“Hast du gesehen, wie schlank Hannah jetzt ist?“ Have you seen how slim Hannah is now?
„Ja! Wahnsinn!” Yes! Crazy!

Ich muss jetzt abhauen – I’m off now/I need to get off now.
This is a cruder way of saying “Ich muss jetzt gehen” (I need to go now). It’s the German equivalent of “I need to bugger off now”.

Mach’s gut! – Bye! Take care!
An alternative to the simple Tschüß. Literally, ‘Make/do it good!’

 

Mach’s gut!
Constanze x

Untranslatable German: Schnapsidee & Alkoholleiche

Posted on 17. May, 2015 by in Language

Guten Tag!

I’ve gone a little off track with the untranslatable German words lately, so here are two for good measure! Even though I’ve already written about roughly 5,567 of them, rest assured there are always more quirky, fascinating German words to be discovered. :)

These two words revolve around the theme of Der Alkohol – alcohol.

1. Die Schnapsidee

Schnapps

Schnaps (German spelling) / Schnapps (English spelling). Photo by andrew-garton on flickr.com

What does Schnapsidee mean?
A Schnapsidee describes a really daft idea you had while you were drunk – or, more commonly, a really daft idea you had when you were sober but that was so stupid you might as well have been drunk when you had it. It’s basically used to describe any kind of silly, foolish or unrealistic ideas.

What is the literal translation of Schnapsidee?
Its literal meaning is schnapps idea, referring to schnapps, the spirit. It is made up of the words der Schnaps – schnapps, and die Idee – idea. In Germany, Schnaps is a generic term for any clear spirits distilled from fermented fruits, which is probably why the word is Schnapsidee, to refer to alcohol in general, and not Bieridee, for instance (although die Bieridee sounds good too, right?!).

How would you use Schnapsidee in a sentence?
“Was ist denn das für eine Schnapsidee?!” – What sort of a schnapps idea is this?!
“Diese Schnapsidee kannst du vergessen!” – You can forget about that schnapps idea!

 

Now onto the second word. If you have too much Schnaps at a party you might end up one of these…

2. Die Alkoholleiche

Passed out drunk

Alkoholleiche. Photo by 24293932@N00 on flickr.com

P1010031

Alkoholleichen. Photo by benchfrooser on flickr.com

What does Alkoholleiche mean?
An Alkoholleiche is a person who has passed out from drinking too much.

What is the literal translation of Alkoholleiche?
Its literal meaning is alcohol corpse. Quite appropriate, isn’t it? It is made up of the words der Alkohol – alcohol, and die Leiche – corpse. Another word that’s often used instead is die Schnapsleiche – the schnapps corpse.

How would you use Alkoholleiche in a sentence?
“Nach nur 125 Minuten musste die erste Alkoholleiche am Oktoberfest behandelt werden” – The first alcohol corpse had to be seen to after just 125 minutes at Oktoberfest.
“Wie soll ich die Schnapsleiche aufwachen?!” – How am I supposed to wake up the schnaps corpse?!

What is the nearest English equivalent to Alkoholleiche?
We just don’t have any nouns as cool as Alkoholleiche in English. But in context, it might be used to refer to an intoxicated/hungover friend in a light-hearted, teasing manner, so an equivalent might be: “How am I supposed to wake this pisshead up?!”

I can not for the life of me think of an English equivalent (noun) for Schnapsidee. If anyone has one, I’ll add it to this post!

Prost! (Cheers!)

Bis später!

Constanze

German Writing Exercise: Keep A Diary

Posted on 11. May, 2015 by in Language

Guten Tag, liebe Freunde!

One of the things I’m really interested in at the moment is finding ways to integrate language learning into our daily lives, so that it feels more natural and we see progress with it more quickly. Sometimes I get asked “How can I make faster progress with my German?” and recently I was asked about how to practise writing in German, specifically.

This had me thinking. Listening, reading and speaking are all pretty diverse. You can use podcasts, audio tapes and films (listening), books, blogs and magazines (reading) and chat to other German speakers or learners (speaking). But writing is a strange one, because the most common options for language learners are rather restrictive: 1) Do some writing exercises from a textbook (which will most likely be tedious exercises like Write about your daily routine! or Tell me what you did on holiday!) or 2) Find a penpal (e-pal?) to write letters to. Option 2 feels somewhat outdated and reminiscent of middle school German, and option 1 is not very inspiring, let’s be honest.

Schreib einfach ein Tagebuch!

Zuckersüß! Tagebucheintrag: Hotelbewertung - Gästefeedback der kleinen Anna

Tagebucheintrag: Diary entry. Photo by chiemseehotel on flickr.com

My suggestion is to write a Tagebuch (diary) in German. Why would this work? Because it’s something you’re emotionally invested in, which makes it engaging, and because it’s privat (private), so the emphasis is on expressing yourself rather than writing things perfectly. You will strive to find the right Wörter (words) and Ausdrücke (phrases) to express yourself with, and in doing so you’ll have learnt new words without even realising it. You might not have written everything perfectly, but the feeling of Erreichung (achievement) you’ll have at the end of each Eintrag (post) will inspire you to write mehr und mehr (more and more), and that will, in turn, help to improve your German.

Think it’s a good idea? If you’re new to diary writing, then here are some ideas to get you started.

What to write about?

This is a list I found here:
• Sie können schreiben, was um Sie herum passiert (you can write about what’s going on around you)
• was Sie denken, (what you think)
• was Sie fühlen, (what you feel)
• was Sie mit anderen Menschen erleben, (what you experience with other people)
• was Sie glauben, (what you believe)
• was Sie hoffen, (what you hope for)
• was Sie sich erträumen, (what you dream of)
• welche Ziele Sie haben, (which goals you have)
• welche Enttäuschungen Sie erleben, (what disappointments you experience)
• was Sie ändern möchten, (what you’d like to change)
• worüber Sie glücklich und dankbar sind, (what you’re happy and thankful for)
• was Sie gelernt haben, (what you’ve learnt)
• was Ihnen gefällt, (what you like)
• was Sie nicht mögen, (what you don’t like)
• über Veränderungen (about changes)

Tipp: Write exactly as you would in your own language, with your own style and your own personality. The challenge is to express yourself in German.

Tipp: If you can’t find the word for something in German, write ‘around’ it by describing it using words you do know, instead. Then look up the word later on in a dictionary. You won’t forget it again.

The diary of a psychopath, day 1 (#15/365)

Lass es raus – Let it out. Photo by mrseb on flickr.com

 

So now you’ve got an idea of what to write about, here are some basic words and phrases to help get you started with your German diary:

Date – Das Datum
*The date format in German is as follows: Montag, der 11. Mai 2015 or Mittwoch, der 4. Oktober 2015*

Dear Diary – Liebes Tagebuch

Today I am… – Heute bin ich…
Today I was… – Heute war ich…
Today I will… – Heute werde ich…
I feel… – Ich fühle mich…

Mood – Die Stimmung/Die Laune

Happy – glücklich, froh                     (Very) good – (sehr) gut
Content – zufrieden                     Nervous – nervös
Sad – traurig                              Angry/annoyed – geärgert
Thoughtful – nachdenklich                     Tired – müde
Bored – gelangweilt                    Jealous – eifersüchtig
Ill – krank                                Alone – allein
Lonely – einsam                     Stupid – dumm/blöd
Confused – verwirrt                     Ecstatic – ekstatisch
Weird – seltsam/komisch                     Drunk – betrunken
Hormonal – hormonell                     Restless – unruhig
Relieved – erleichert                     Thankful – dankbar

because… – weil…

So a typical entry might start like this:

Montag, der 14. Juni 2015

Liebes Tagebuch
Heute bin ich sehr verwirrt, weil…

Obviously it would be impossible to include everything you might say in a diary here, and all of the ways you could say it, so if you do have any specific requests for phrases, words and other diary-related vocabulary, just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you. As it’s such a personal thing I don’t want to tell you what you ‘should’ be writing, rather just help you along with it.

I hope you like this idea, and that you’ll try it as a way of improving your German writing skills. Let me know if you do decide to write a diary in German, or how it’s going if you already are. Do you think it’s a good idea? What other methods do you use to practise writing in German? How could we help you with it via this blog?

Bis bald!

Constanze x