German Explained in a Sentence

by André Silva

German Grammar the Twitter Way.

Keeping It Short and Tweetable

Nowadays we are used to accessing information fast and at the distance of a fingertip. We prefer information that is visual, succinct, yet rich in meaning. It is has become an art to be able to express yourself in bite-size phrases.

So why not try and summarize the German language rules in a similar way? We came up with a couple of tweets that will introduce you to some of the things you'll learn in our courses.

German Language in Six Tweets

  • Every time you introduce yourself in a formal context in Germany you are recreating an iconic scene: “Mein Name ist Müller, Gertrud Müller''

    Indeed, in a formal setting (retail, bureaus, with elders, at school) people introduce themselves by presenting their surname first. And yes, German has a formal “you” (Sie) and also an informal “you” (Du). Our Language School Manager and editor par excellance Rosa wrote an article about this. Have a read here.

  • If English woke up one day with German grammar (I): “Paul gives his’m Oncle a’n new’n Computer”

    It’s all about signaling! And German does it really well. Legend has it that English also had this characteristic until the Norman invasion in the 11th century displaced Old English by introducing Anglo-Norman, causing significant changes to its vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and orthography for centuries to come.

    The idea behind this signaling is to clearly indicate the subject, the “receiver” of an object, and the object itself. Or to put it in a simpler way: “[Who] gives [whom] [what]”. I am not going to name things just yet, but you will hear about these fellows and their different applications often in your German class, for example in one of our A1.2 online classes. So be patient and don’t be shy to ask your teacher about this over and over again!

  • If English woke up one day with German grammar (II): 

    “I can today to Rehearsal not come”

    “No Problem! Today can I also not!”

    You will have a great time with verbs! They are habit creatures and don’t like moving around (though they can be amazing shape-shifters). You will ALWAYS find them right after or right before the subject (ok, there are three exceptions to this, but they are pretty straightforward). And, if there are two (or more!) verbs, then they prefer to be apart from each other: one stays in the aforementioned place — parenthesis opens — and the other one at the very end — parenthesis closes. So be patient and listen to a sentence until the end! Otherwise, you might not know exactly what the other person is trying to say.

  • If English woke up one day with German grammar (III): “Freddy has his Homework not made and Maria is to the’m Park went.”

    Now that you know where verbs like to spend their time, you might also have just noticed that when talking about past situations you need two verbs to make it work: One in the beginning and another one at the end of the sentence (you know this, right?). The tricky bit is knowing how the verb is conjugated, meaning what shape it is going to get. But hey “I go to the bank now. My business partner went there this morning. Oh no! The money is gone”. The trick is to structure this learning journey into small, very achievable steps and great examples!

  • If English woke up one day with German grammar (IV): 

    “Who is my Phone?” 

    “It is on top of the’m Table, Treasure. Wait! Where is this Tina?”

    As we already mentioned in this article, you will have trouble with these false friends at first: In German “Wer” is “Who” and “Wo” is “Where”. But it is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship and soon you will surely get the hang of it. And while no one lovingly calls their partner “treasure” in English, “Schatz” is one of Deutschland’s favorite pet names!

  • Friendshiprelationships ofmy Residentialaccomodationflatmates 

    German is a compounding language, word on word on word. To be more precise: noun on noun on noun. It’s hard to recognize the words used at first, or even read them properly, but if you go syllable by syllable (Ger-man se-pa-ra-tes them by vow-els), it will help you find the right place and make it easier to recognize words. Give it a go: FreundschaftBeziehungen meiner WohnheimMitbewohner (we have capitalized the new word just to help you out).

Ready for More?

So, now you know that German is a James Bond loving language that not only likes to signal words according to their function in the sentence but also to have things tidy and with specific positions in a sentence. Moreover, it might also have some similarities to English (you would be surprised), except, of course, in those lengthy words that actually appear mostly in written form (think lengthy law codes). And, have you noticed that all nouns were capitalized?

Well there you have it, your first cheat sheet to master the understanding of German. So now it's time for the real deal — click below to book one of our courses and put this knowledge to the test, Schatz!

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