Mastering expression of likes and dislikes in German

One of the challenges English speakers face when learning German is expressing likes or dislikes. It’s not uncommon for learners to find it tricky to differentiate between saying they like doing something and saying they like something, as English does not distinguish between them. When expressing a liking for an object, German uses the transitive […]

The German prepositions ‘zu’ and ‘nach’

Whist learning German, grammatical queries do come up. I want to 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 […]

German Modal verbs

Studying German, learners come across modal verbs expressing desire, ability, obligations or probability. In German, we conjugate the modal verb, which retains the second position in the main clause. The main verb is added in its infinitive form to the end of the sentence. For example: Ich darf meine Hausaufgaben nicht vergessen. Challenges What is […]

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 complements the German language learning experience perfectly. The car’s satnav and onboard systems set to German helps to pick up new vocabulary and learn the German imperative when the friendly satnav lady reminds […]

German grammar terminology (part 4)

Genus The definite articles indicate the grammatical gender of nouns. 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. Tense Tenses are forms of verbs indicating when something is taking place, has taken […]

The Perfect tense German

The perfect tense (das Perfekt) is the past tense that German speakers most often use when describing events that have been completed. Language learners sometimes get thrown by using two different auxiliary verbs, or helping verbs, when forming the perfect in German. The helping verb, together with the past participle, in layman’s terms, sometimes referred […]

Do German nouns have gender identity issues?

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

The Hairy Wife and German Reflexive Verbs

When learning German, you will have come across reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs also exist in English and can sometimes be translated as ‘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 verb has an […]

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, known and loved by children around the world 200 years after the brothers published their first collection of folk tales. However, the brothers were not just storytellers. They were also trained lawyers and linguists, […]

Irregular German Verbs in the present

Irregular verbs, sometimes called strong verbs, have irregularities in the present tense indicative or the simple past indicative and the past participle. In today’s blog, we would like to look closely at irregular verbs in the present tense indicative. Indicative means that we are stating facts when using that verb. If you are not already […]

The prepositions ‘an’ and ‘auf’

I see students struggle with the German prepositions ‘ an’ and ‘auf’ during my lessons. Both 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 needed. This begs the question […]

Accusative and Dative in German

Whilst providing German tuition, students often ask me what the Accusative and the Dative are. Accusative and Dative are cases that 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. The direct object in […]

German Adjective Declension

Declining adjectives is one of the most challenging parts of German. Most students taking German courses or private lessons with us struggle with that aspect of the language, even intermediate and advanced learners. Adjectival declension is dependent on the article that precedes the adjective. There are three ways of declining adjectives: with a definite article, […]

‘Present Perfect Continues’ in German

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