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Wine and German — What you like and would like

Every spring and autumn there is a wine exhibition in Zurich. Its a great place to go and try new wines, see what is available and even buy wines. A good sales person won’t try to sell you on the

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Saying “there” in German (da vs. dort vs. hier)

When learning any new languages, one of the hardest things for most people to do is to stop translating word for word from their first language to the new language. Even if you have a large vocabulary doing this will


No “Not Jokes” in German — The Placement of nicht

If you’ve seen the the Sacha Baron Cohen film Borat, you are probably familiar with the “Not joke.” One of the most confusing things in German word order is where to negate, that is where to place the word “nicht”

word cloud

Noch einmal — Danke schön!

When I studied in Germany I had a friend who would always say “Danke schon” when the waiter or waitress brought him his cappuccino. I’d always wait till the server left and tell him, “Danke schön”, emphasizing the o with

Reflexive Verbs Word Cloud

I buy me a coffee — The reflexive in German

When I lived in Vancouver I had a German friend who would always ask us the following question: “I’m going to buy me a coffee, would anyone else like one?” We always tried to explain to him that English unlike

Der Die Das


If there is one thing that I stress when teaching German it is the importance of learning nouns with their articles. Like French, Spanish and many other languages German has genders. What makes German just that little harder though is

Pronoun Word Cloud

Personal Pronoun Clarification — The many meanings of “sie”

I’ve gone on and on on about how German is a very precise language where one word generally has one meaning. At the same time you’ve probably been thinking that I’m full of it. German has words that are incredibly

Form Word Cloud

The many forms of German words

There are many things that make English a difficult language to learn: English speakers tend to use an extraordinary amount of idioms, there are more tenses and subelties in their usage than with other languages, there are many homonyms and

liegen, sitzen, stehen

German Linguistic Precision Part II — Saying where things are in German

Last week we learned that the German language has three words that are generally used for “to put”. In English once something is put somewhere it is usually there.

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German Linguistic Precision Part I — The German word for “put”

How does one say, “Just put that down over there.” in German? Though the sentence is quite simple it is the source of much frustration to English speakers learning German. What is the German verb for “to put”? Type “to

Punctuality Word Cloud

German: The language of punctuality

If there is one stereotype that doesn’t seem to be negative about Germans and the Swiss is that they are punctual. As writer Paul Bilton notes, “The Swiss are so punctual that they have a concept incomprehensible to lesser nations,

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