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Frohe Stunde

Yesterday, I was walking in the October sun miraculously blessing Hamburg with its autumn presence this year, when I noticed the board from the picture outside one of the coffee/cocktail bars. I am a real fan of the German language and find it annoying how it seems to “swallow” all kinds of unnecessary English rubbish […]

Mal mal wieder!

Hello again, we’re back to German spelling. Spelling of the word “mal” may be tricky in German. That’s why I decided to list a couple of rules with examples: 1. The noun Mal (das Mal) is capitalized (as any German noun): Zum ersten Mal nach 15 Jahren reiste deshalb ein türkischer Ministerpräsident nach Kairo. Wir […]

Zusammen oder getrennt?

This is a valid question not only at the end of a meal in a restaurant that we shared with others… This question also applies to German spelling. Do you know how to write verb combinations like kommen hören, sitzen bleiben or kennen lernen? The German spelling reform that was supposed to give definite answers […]

German relative pronouns – was or das?

When to use was and when das as relative pronouns? 1. das relates to a single, definite and neuter noun as in the following examples: Die Botschaft, die der Papst mitbringt, ist viel mehr Wert als das Geld, das wir hier ausgeben. Wir hatten eine Auseinandersetzung über das Erbe, das meine Generation hinterlässt. Das Abkommen, […]

Time expressions in German – the key with correct answers

Remember our last week’s sentences with time expressions? Below you’ll find the correct sentences with short explanations. 1. Eines Nachts macht sie sich tatsächlich auf den Weg. Nachts here is the genitive form of the noun die Nacht, nowadays only used in this time expression (in other instances the grammatically correct form is einer Nacht). […]

Time expressions in German

Some time expressions in German are really misleading and I have to admit that I keep forgetting the correct spelling and the rules behind it. I collected a couple of sample sentences with typical time phrases including both the correct and the wrong spelling versions: 1. Eines Nachts/ Eines nachts macht sie sich tatsächlich auf […]

Correct German Spelling

Following up on our last week’s topic – spelling – I continue with words that are difficult not only for learners of German but also Germans themselves. genau so / genauso When the so in genau so is stressed and further described (e.g. by the phrase introduced by wie) it’s written separately: Alles läuft genau […]

Your vs You’re, It’s vs Its etc.

Inspired by a comment by The Honourable Husband (thank you!) under one of my January posts on mistakes often made by German natives and by a mistake I noticed on a blog of an English native, an English teacher too boot!, (I’d rather not link to it, why promote mistakes?) today, I decided to write […]

Weißt du, wie viel Sternlein stehen?

It’s a tricky issue with the spelling of how much/how many in German. But there are certain rules that should be remembered and followed: 1. according to the reformed spelling we always write wie viel and wie viele separately Wie viel Zeit hast du noch? How much time do you still have? Wie viel Geld […]

Looking for Janus words

Have you heard of Janus words before? They are also called auto-antonyms, contranyms, antagonyms, enantiodromes, and self-antonyms and refer to words that have opposite meanings. So, a Janus word is a word is a word with two meanings, one of which is the complete opposite of the other. Janus was a Roman god with a […]

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