dauernd vs. dauerhaft and the German suffix -haft
At our Stammtisch last week, one of our attendees, Edvin from Slovenia, asked me if I could quickly clarify the difference between some words. Thinking it would only be a few words, I said sure. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a page long list of words he wanted to know how to use correctly.
I quickly told Edvin to e-mail them to me and I would work on answering his questions in this blog. He did just that and also sent me a link to his personal blog, in which he writes about adjusting to life in Switzerland in German. This is fantastic! I encourage all of you learning German or any foreign language to write a blog or a journal for three reasons:
- You’ll practice thinking in German and reflecting on what you’ve already learnt.
- You’ll look up new vocabulary that is important to you. Vocabulary is more important than grammar – remember my skiing analogy: Vocabulary is the basic moves you need to get you down the hill in one piece. Grammar is the feel and natural responses that you get over time that make you look good coming down the hill.
- You can practice the grammatical forms you’ve already learnt.
The first question Edvin has is: “What’s the difference between dauernd und dauerhaft?” Great question that will also allow us to investigate the suffix -haft in German and allow you to expand your vocabulary.
The difference between dauernd & dauerhaft:
The first thing to notice here is the root word: die Dauer — 1. a specific length of time, period of time 2. permanence, perpetuity (no plural)
- Die Dauer des Krankenhausaufenthaltes ist noch unbestimmt. (The length of the hospital stay is still undetermined.)
- Dieses Glück hatte keine Dauer. (This happiness was short lived.)
Once you see the root of the word you can start to guess what dauernd might mean. It should be related to the notion of time.
dauernd = adjective: 1. used for something that stays the same for a long period of time, constant; 2. something that occurs often; again and again.
anhaltend; beständig; bis in alle Ewigkeit; (medical) persistent; (scientific/formal) periodisch.
1. Die Gefahr war dauernd vorhanden. (The danger was always present.)
1. Er hat hier seinen dauernden Wohnsitz. (He has his permanent residence here.)
2. Markus kommt dauernd zu spät. (Markus always comes too late.) [Not literally always, but figuratively].
2. Beim Restless-Legs-Syndrom stören die dauernden unwillkürlichen Bewegungen die Architektur des Schlafes. (With restless-legs-syndrome the continual involuntary movements of the legs disrupt the architecture of sleep.)
dauerhaft = adjective 1. permanent, stable, steady, long-lasting
andauernd; auf Dauer; (formal) invariant, kontinuierlich; (colloquial) am laufenden Band, in einer Tour, rund um die Uhr; (slang) am laufenden Meter; (emotional) ohne Unterlass.
1. Der Friede war nicht dauerhaft. (The peace didn’t last long.)
1. Das Ziel ist eine dauerhafte Regelung, die zur regionalen Stabilität beiträgt und den Sicherheitsinteressen und legitimen Forderungen Israels und der Palästinenser Rechnung trägt. (The goal is to find a permanent regulation that contributes to regional stability and takes the security interests as well as the legitimate demands of both Israel and the Palestinians into account.)
Looking at the two you’ll notice that they are very similar. However, their usage is not exactly the same. Dauernd conveys the meaning of reoccurring again and again. Dauerhaft, however, is more for continual without any stoppage.
The German suffix -haft:
The German suffix -haft is often used to turn nouns (Nomen) into adjectives and sometimes to turn verbs into adjectives. It usually gives the meaning if something being “like” the noun (traumhaft = like a dream/dreamlike/heavenly)
- Beispiel (example) + haft = beispielhaft (exemplary)
- Gönner (patron) + haft = gönnerhaft (patronizing)
- Mangel (fault/defect)+ haft = mangelhaft (faulty/defective)
Building adjectives with haft:
1. Eliminating the “e” [e-Tilgung]
- when the last e is not stressed (unbetont) an n is added before the haft. For more direct suffixation the e is dropped.
- Erde (earth) + haft = erdhaft (earthy)
- Stimme (voice) + haft = stimmhaft (voiced/vocalized)
- Sünde (sin) + haft = sündhaft (sinful)
2. Eliminating the “en” [en-Tilgung]
- Only with the word schadehaft is the unstressed en dropped. For all other words ending in en haft is simply added.
- Schaden (damage) + haft = schadhaft (faulty/defective/damaged)
- Schatten (shadow) + haft = schattenhaft (shadowy/shady)
- Märchen (fairytale) + haft = märchenhaft (fabulous/magical/fairytale-like)
3. Linking elements [Fugenelemente]
- An en is often used to combine the suffix –haft with nouns. If the word already ends in an e just an n is added.
- Held (hero) + en + haft = heldenhaft (heroic/valiant/courageous)
- Katze (cat) + n + haft = katzenhaft (catlike/cattish/feline/slinky)
- Puppe (doll) + n + haft = puppenhaft (dollish/doll-like)
4. Exception (Ausnahmen)
- There are few exceptions to the rules above. Here are the five exceptions that you may encounter. Notice the linking element is either er or s.
- Geist (spirit) + er + haft = geisterhaft (spectral/phantasmal/ghostly/spooky)
- Gespenst (ghost) + er + haft = gespensterhaft (ghostlike/ghostly/spooky)
- Frühling (spring) + s + haft = frühlingshaft (springlike)
- Gefühl (feeling) + s + haft = gefühlshaft (emotional)
- Jüngling (youth) + s + haft = jünglingshaft (youthful)
5. With verbs
- The suffix -haft is not often used with verbs, but when it is the en is dropped.
- glauben (to believe) + haft = glaubhaft (believable)
- lachen (to laugh) + haft = lachhaft (laughable)
- schwatzen (to palaver/to chatter) + haft = schwatzhaft (chatty/loquacious)
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