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Making Mistakes In German Posted by on Mar 7, 2018 in Language

Guten Tag! Today’s post is about mistakes. Sometimes we are aware that we might be saying something incorrectly in German, like muddling up words that sound similar but have different meanings. What we are not so aware of is what we are actually saying when we do this – which can lead to us feeling mortified when we find out! So today, using the topic of expressing feelings and emotions with ‘Ich bin’/’mir ist’ (‘I am/I feel’) and ‘es ist’ (‘it is’), I will tell you what you will end up saying should you muddle any of these up. Treat this as a bit of fun – but fun you can learn from!

 

Peekaboo?

Foto: winstonavich on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

 

To talk about yourself you use either Ich bin or Mir ist. To talk about something, you use Es ist. We will start with Es ist, along with Ich bin.

Es ist = It is
Ich bin = I am

There are several words which look similar in German, but have different meanings depending on how they are used grammatically (such as ‘tired’ and ‘tiring’ in English, for example). Here are some examples:

Es ist stressig = It is stressful
Ich bin gestresst = I am stressed

Should you use these the opposite way around (use ‘ich bin’ where ‘es ist’ should be, and vice versa) you will actually be saying the following:

Ich bin stressig = I am stressy, stressful
Es ist gestresst = It is stressed

Here are some more examples. The main (‘correct’) pair is first, in green, and its opposite second, in red.

Ich bin interessiert = I am interested.
Es ist interessant = It is interesting.

Ich bin interessant = I am interesting.
Es ist interessiert = It is interested.

*

Ich bin überrascht = I am surprised.
Es ist überraschend = It is surprising.

Ich bin überraschend = I am surprising.
Es ist
überrascht = It is surprised.

As you can see, mixing up the ‘es ist’ is not such a big deal (though it may confuse people – are you referring to yourself as an ‘it’, or talking about something else entirely?) but using the wrong word after ‘ich bin’ can create some funny comments about yourself (‘I am interesting’ when you’re meant to say ‘I am interested’ could cause a few giggles)! We’ll look at this some more now with Ich bin vs. Mir ist.

Ich bin = I am
Mir ist = I am (I feel)

Larissa explains very well the difference between Ich bin and Mir ist in this blog post. I recommend you read that before carrying on with this one! As now I’m going to show you what happens if you mix up Ich bin and Mir ist.

Firstly, the correct way to say the following:

Mir ist heiß = I am hot

Mir ist kalt = I am cold

Mir ist langweilig = I am bored

Mir ist schlecht = I am unwell

Basically, ‘Mir ist’ describes your mood & how you’re feeling. Now, here is what you would unintentionally be saying if you used ‘Ich bin’ instead of ‘Mir ist’!

Ich bin heiß = I am hot (‘I am attractive’!)

Ich bin kalt = I am cold (‘I am cold-hearted’)

Ich bin langweilig = I am boring

Ich bin schlecht = I am bad (‘I am a bad person’)

As you can see, it can be pretty amusing! But I am not writing this to scare anyone. I think that, if you are aware of the mistakes you could be making, they will not seem so bad if you eventually do make them. Plus, mistakes are a natural part of language learning, and when the mistake is a bit of a funny one, it can really help to break the ice between yourself and the native speaker. And as you can see from the examples above, it is not the end of the world if you muddle something up. Most native speakers will know what you were intending to say, anyway. So don’t be scared of making mistakes!

I hope this has been interesting! Have a good week. 🙂

Bis bald

Constanze

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Brunold:

    I enjoyed this article…

  2. Michael Quinlan:

    Constanze, I would have used the “Ich bin” instead of “Mir ist,” and then have no idea why everyone is laughing, so this is a great post for me. Thanks.

    • Constanze:

      @Michael Quinlan That’s exactly why I thought it would be useful to point out the unintentional meanings of the mistakes! I’m so glad you found it useful. Thank you, Michael. 🙂

  3. Sourav Das:

    Thank you for your valuable post.I am beginner in Learning german it definitely help me from making mistake.


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