The prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’

Whist learning German, grammatical queries do come up. I would like use this opportunity to illustrate another topic that students ask me during their German courses: What is the different usage of the prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’? The preposition ‘nach’ can mean after when used with time; for example: Nach dem Fußballspiel gehen wir ein […]

In German: Is a Beemer he, she or it?

A Beemer, or BMW, made by the famous German car manufacturer Bayrische Motorenwerke in Munich is a popular accessory for many and certainly complements the German language learning experience. With the car’s satnav and onboard systems set to German it helps to pick up new vocabulary and and learn the German imperative when the friendly […]

Grammar terminology (part 4)

Grammatical gender of nouns is indicated by the definite articles. Der – masculine noun, die – feminine noun, das – neutral noun. Grammatical and biological gender ought not to be mixed up. However, with people, grammatical gender coincides with biological gender. Tenses are forms of verbs indicating when something is taking place, has taken place […]

Do German nouns have gender identity issues?

Sometimes whilst teaching German, I am being asked why German nouns change genders. It is ‘die Tür’, a feminine noun, and suddenly somewhere mid sentence it is ‘der Tür’. ‘Der’ being the definite article for masculine nouns. Do German nouns have gender identity issues? A justifiable question from an unsuspecting student or a precocious question […]

The Hairy Wife and Reflexive Verbs

Quite early on when learning German, you will have come across reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs do also exist in English and can sometimes be translated by ‘myself’, ‘yourself’ etc. For example: He is pouring himself a cup of tea. – Er schenkt sich eine Tasse Tee ein. What does the term ‘reflexive verb’ actually mean? […]

The brothers Grimm and the German dictionary

The brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm are, of course, famed for fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella, which are known and loved by children the world over some 200 years after the brothers published their first collection of folk tales. However, the brothers were not just storytellers. They were also trained […]

The prepositions ‘an’ and ‘auf’

During my lessons I see students struggle with the German prepositions ‘an’ and ‘auf’. Both are used to describe locations and require either the Accusative or the Dative case. If we can ask ‘wohin’ (where to), then the preposition requires the Accusative and if we ask ‘wo’ (where) then the Dative is required. This begs […]

Accusative and Dative in German

Whilst providing German tuition, students often ask me what the Accusative and the Dative is. Accusative and Dative are cases and they tell the function of nouns in a sentence. Many languages use cases, including English. In German, the direct object requires the Accusative case and the indirect object requires the Dative. Consider the following […]

German Adjective Declension

Declining adjectives is one of the most challenging parts of German. Most students taking up German courses or private lessons with us struggle with that aspect of the language, even intermediate and advance learners. How adjectives are being declined is depended on the article that precedes the adjective. There are three ways of declining adjectives: […]

‘Present Perfect Continues’ in German

During many years of teaching German to English speakers, I found that many students tend to struggle with the same aspects of German due to the different structure of English. This blog serves to highlight recurring problems to help learners of German to overcome these challenges. Yesterday, for example, I was teaching a regular student […]

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