The Accusative Prepositions

Published by Roslyn Green in January 2023

Seven German Prepositions that Trigger the Accusative Case ➡️ ⏸️ ⬅️

Mnemonic*: DOGFUBE

Below are seven essential prepositions that are followed by the accusative case. The example sentences clarify their meaning and illustrate their usage.

* The everyday word for mnemonic in German is Eselsbrücke, literally donkey’s bridge.

Präpositionen und Beispielssätze

KEY: Masculine Nouns Feminine NounsNeuter Nouns Plural Nouns PrepositionsAccusative Pronouns

D

durch

O

ohne

G

gegen

F

für

U

um

B

bis

E

entlang

durch ➡️ through; because of

Examples

Der Radfahrer fährt durch den Tunnel. – The cyclist is riding through the tunnel.

Ich kann deine Musik durch die Wand hören. Kannst du sie bitte leiser stellen? – I can hear your music through the wall. Can you please turn it down?

Durch deine Hilfe habe ich mich in Mathe wirklich verbessert. – I have really improved in maths because of / through your help.

ohne ➡️ without

Examples

Ich gehe nirgendwohin ohne mein Handy. I don’t go anywhere without my mobile.

Ohne dich hätte ich die Deutschprüfung nie bestanden. – Without you, I never would have passed the German exam.

Die Kinder stammen aus armen Familien, deshalb kommen sie ohne Schuhe zur Schule. – The children originate from poor families; that’s why they come to school without shoes.

gegen ➡️ against, towards

Examples

Junge Chinesen protestieren gegen die Corona-Politik ihrer Regierung, auch wenn sie dafür im Gefängnis landen könnten. – Young Chinese people are protesting against the Corona policy of their government, even though they could land in prison as a result.

In einer Apotheke: Haben Sie etwas gegen Kopfschmerzen? – In a pharmacy: Do you have something for headache? In German, you say “against headache”.

Der Schreiner lehnte die Leiter gegen die Mauer. – The carpenter leaned the ladder against the wall.

für ➡️ for

Examples

Die Schokolade ist für dich. – The chocolate is for you.

Wir fahren für zwei Wochen in den Urlaub. – We are going on holiday for a fortnight.

Der Computerkurs ist für ältere Menschen. – The computer course is (intended) for older people.

Ich schäme mich für mein Verhalten. – I am ashamed of my behaviour. In German: “ashamed for my behaviour”.

um ➡️ about, around, at

Examples

Letztes Jahr haben meine Eltern eine Reise um die Welt gemacht. – Last year, my parents took a trip around the world.

Die Kleinen gehen um acht (Uhr) ins Bett. – The little ones go to bed at 8 (o’clock).

Der Roman geht um eine irische Familie während der Kartoffelkrankheit im 19. Jahrhundert. – The novel is about an Irish family during the potato blight in the 19th century.

Mein Freund kommt gerade um die Ecke. – My friend is just coming round the corner.

bis ➡️ until

Examples

Bis nächste Woche! – See you next week. (Literally: Until next week.)

Die Bibliothek ist von neun Uhr morgens bis acht Uhr abends geöffnet. – The library is open from nine in the morning till eight in the evening.

Bis dahin müssen wir versuchen, allein zurechtzukommen. – Until then we must try to cope on our own.

Wir sind bis spät in die Nacht aufgeblieben. – We stayed up till late in the night.

Note: When bis is used before another preposition, such as in (above) or zu, the second preposition determines the case that follows: for example, in bis zum nächsten Wochenende, the preposition zu triggers the dative case.

entlang ➡️ along

Examples

Wir gehen die Straße entlang und gucken in die Schaufenster. – We are walking down / along the street and looking in the display windows.

Auf dem Elbe-Radweg kann man den Fluss entlang fahren. Dort sieht man kleine Dörfer, große Felder, Kühe und Schafe mit schwarzen Gesichtern. – You can cycle along the river on the Elbe bike path. You’ll see small villages, large fields, cows, and sheep with black faces.


Quiz

Quiz: The Accusative Prepositions

In this quiz, learners can practise choosing the correct preposition and accusative article or pronoun in example sentences.

Corresponding Worksheet: A version of the online quiz as a downloadable PDF

Separable Verbs ✂️

Detachable Verbs: A Gentle Introduction

Published by Roslyn Green in December 2022

One Entity or Two

Just like a cup and saucer, the two parts of a German separable verb can appear as one entity or they can be detached and work as two separate parts. The dictionary entry is under the whole verb.

  • Tee zubereiten – prepare tea
  • die Kerzen ausblasen – blow out the candles
  • den Kuchen aufessen – eat up the whole cake
  • die Tasse und Untertasse abwaschen – wash up the cup and saucer

Separable Verbs in the Present Tense

In a present tense sentence, the base verb is conjugated and placed second, while the detachable prefix is sent to the end of the sentence.

Sentence Patterns

Key: conjugated base verbdetachable prefix

  • mitkommen – to come along: Ich komme gern mit. – I’d like to come along.
  • aufmachen – to open: Er macht die Tür auf. – He is opening the door.
  • aussehen – to look, appear: Du siehst hübsch aus. – You look lovely / pretty.
  • anfangen – to begin: Im Januar fängt sie ein neues Studium an. – In January she is starting a new course.

Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Four Types of Sentences

vorlesen to read aloud, read out

Present: Die Großmutter liest die Geschichte vor. The grandmother reads out the story.

Future: Die Großmutter wird die Geschichte vorlesen. The grandmother will read the story.

Add a Modal Verb: Die Großmutter möchte die Geschichte vorlesen. The grandmother would like to read out the story.

Perfect Tense: Die Großmutter hat die Geschichte vorgelesen. The grandmother (has) read out the story.

Image by Daniel Hannah from Pixabay

One Base Verb, Many Meanings

Base Verb: sehen – to see

The same base verb can have many separable prefixes. Here are just a few examples with sehen:

  • ansehen → to look at
  • aussehen → to look/appear
  • absehen → to foresee
  • fernsehen → to watch TV
  • hochsehen → to look up

Image by Petra from Pixabay

One Prefix, Many Meanings

Prefix: durch – through

The same prefix can be used to create many detachable verbs:

  • durchblättern – to leaf through, turn over pages  
  • durcharbeiten – to work through something, go through it thoroughly
  • durchdenken – to think something through, think something over
  • durchhalten – to hold on, stick it out, persevere

A Highly Recommended Video

Video: Trennbare Verben | Separable Verbs

Inap from Deutsch mit Inap provides a very clear introduction to separable verbs, working through many useful examples.

Thirty Useful Separable Verbs: A Shortlist

abfahren – to depart
wegfahren – to go, drive away
aufmachen – to open
zumachen – to close
Bilbo macht die Tür zu.
ausgehen – to go out
mitkommen – to come along
anmachen – to turn on
ausmachen – to turn off
  • abfahren – to depart (vowel-changer: Der Bus fährt bald up)
  • abholen – to fetch, to pick up
  • absetzen – to drop off
  • anfangen – to begin (vowel-changer: Du fängst mit dem Essen an; er/sie/es fängt an)
  • ankommen – to arrive
  • anmachen – to turn on
  • anrufen – to ring up
  • (sich) anziehen – to get dressed
  • aufhören – to stop
  • aufmachen – to open
  • aufräumen – to tidy up
  • aufstehen – to get up, to stand up
  • ausgehen – to go out
  • ausmachen – to turn off
  • aussehen – to look like, appear (vowel-changer: du siehst toll aus)
  • (sich) ausziehen – to undress
  • einkaufen – to shop, go shopping
  • einladen – to invite (vowel-changer: Wen lädst du zu deiner Party ein?)
  • glattgehen – to got smoothly, to go off without a hitch
  • mitbringen – to bring along
  • mitkommen – to come along
  • mitmachen – to take part, to participate, work together
  • schiefgehen – to go wrong (literally: to go crooked)
  • vorbereiten – to prepare
  • vorschlagen – to suggest (vowel-changer: Was schlägst du vor?)
  • wegfahren – to go away, drive away (vowel-changer: Fährst du in den Ferien weg?)
  • zubereiten – to prepare food
  • zumachen – to close
  • zurückbringen – to bring back
  • zurückkommen – to come back, to return

Quizzes

Drag and Drop Quiz: Separable Verbs in Present Tense Sentences

Construct present tense sentences by dragging and dropping words into the right spaces.

This quiz is based on the examples on the page titled A Day of Separable Verbs.

This Quiz as a PDF Worksheet: A Day of Separable Verbs


Quiz: Using Separable Verbs in Sentences About Appearance and Personality

Practise using separable verbs in present tense and perfect tense sentences as well as in sentences containing a modal verb.


Quiz: Trennbare Verben: Ein kurzer Überblick | Separable Verbs: A Brief Overview

This is a simple multiple choice quiz with examples to clarify how separable verbs work in various types of sentences.

Page Picture Acknowledgements:

COVID-19: A-Z 🦠

Published by Roslyn Green in December 2022

Talking about COVID-19 in German

Public domain picture of virus provided by CDC

When a world-changing event such as the Covid-19 pandemic takes place, speakers and writers naturally coin new words and word combinations. For a language nerd like me, their choices are intriguing.

The Germans, for instance, coopted the word Lockdown and made it masculine. On their children’s program, Die Sendung mit der Maus, there was a discussion about whether the word Virus is masculine or neuter. The answer was that it can be either, but never feminine. Now there’s one issue that the English-speaking world never has to consider. Jump to links and videos to find out more about Covid-19 in Germany and its impact on the German language.

But first, in the Bildlexikon below I’ve collected some essential wording for talking about life after the world changed.

Roslyn Green, November 2022

Bildlexikon: Die Pandemie


Masculine NounsFeminine NounsNeuter NounsPlural NounsVerbsAdjectives

  • die Ansteckung – infection
  • sich anstecken – to be infected
  • ansteckend – infectious

Public domain picture from CDC

Ich habe mich mit dem Virus angesteckt.

→ I have caught or been infected with the virus.

Abstand halten – to keep one’s distance, to socially distance

Photo from Broken Hill, Australia

Wenn man einen Abstand von 1,5 Metern zu anderen Menschen hält, senkt das Risiko von einer Ansteckung mit Covid-19.

→ Keeping a distance of 1.5 metres from other people reduces the risk of contracting covid-19.

das Beatmungsgerät – respirator, ventilator | die (künstliche) Beatmung – artificial respiration

Schwerkranke Patienten benötigen möglicherweise eine künstliche Beatmung, um Sauerstoff zu bekommen und atmen zu können.

→ Seriously ill patients may require artificial respiration in order to gain oxygen and be able to breathe.

das neue Coronavirus – the novel coronavirus

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Das Wort „Corona” stammt aus dem Lateinischen und bedeutet „Kranz” oder „Krone”.

→ The word Corona is derived from Latin and means “wreath” or “crown”.

die Dunkelziffer – number of unreported cases

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Die Dunkelziffer ist wahrscheinlich hoch, wenn der Anteil der positiven Tests mehr als 10% beträgt.

→ The number of unreported cases is probably high when the proportion of positive tests is more than 10%.

  • die Erkrankung – illness, disease, see also Krankheit
  • erkranken – to fall ill

Image by Aart Beijeman from Pixabay

Im Allgemeinen erkranken ältere Menschen schwerer an Covid-19 als jüngere Menschen.

→ In general, older people become more severely ill with Covid-19 than younger people.

  • der Fall (die Fälle) – case(s)
  • die Fallzahlen – case numbers

Image by Vinzenz Lorenz M from Pixabay

Wenn eine neue Covid-Variante entsteht, steigen oft die Fallzahlen wieder an.

→ When a new Covid variant emerges, the case numbers often rise.

der Fernunterricht – distance learning, learning from home

Image by Hatice EROL from Pixabay

In vielen Ländern waren die Schulen für eine Weile geschlossen. Viele Kinder haben durch Fernunterricht gelernt.

→ In many countries, the schools were closed for a while. Many children learned from home.

  • die Gesundheit – health
  • wieder gesund werden – to get better

Image by Silvia from Pixabay

Ich hoffe, du wirst bald wieder gesund.

→ I hope you get better soon.

  • die Halsschmerzen – sore throat
  • der Husten n. – cough
  • husten v.– to cough

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

Häufige Symptome einer Ansteckung mit Covid-19 sind Halsschmerzen und Husten.

→ Common symptoms of an infection with Covid-19 are a sore throat and a cough.

das Handdesinfektionsmittel – hand sanitiser

das Desinfektionsmittel – sanitiser

Handdesinfektionsmittel sind vor allem nützlich, wenn man unterwegs ist und sich die Hände nicht leicht waschen kann.

→ Hand sanitiser is especially useful when you are out and about and cannot easily wash your hands.

  • die Impfung – vaccination
  • die Impfpflicht – requirement to be vaccinated
  • impfen – to vaccinate
  • geimpft werden – to be vaccinated

Image by Silvia from Pixabay

Ich bin froh, dass ich meine Corona-Impfung endlich bekommen habe.

→ I’m glad that I’ve finally had my vaccination.

  • sich infizieren to be infected
  • jemanden infizieren – to infect someone
  • sich isolieren – to isolate oneself

Image by Mumtahina Rahman from Pixabay

Sie hat sich auf der Geburtstagsfeier infiziert.

→ She was infected at the birthday party.

  • die Intensivstation – intensive care
  • das Intensivbett – intensive care bed

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Schwerkranke Patienten müssen auf der Intensivstation behandelt werden.

→ Seriously ill patients must be treated in intensive care.

  • die Krankheit – illness, sickness
  • die Kopfschmerzen – headache

Image by SAIYED IRFAN A from Pixabay

Eines der häufigen Symptome der Krankheit ist Kopfschmerzen.

→ One of the common symptoms of the illness is a headache.

  • die Kontaktperson – anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19
  • die Kontaktbeschränkungen – restrictions on social interaction between people

Image created from those by J’Von Jones and Yvette W from Pixabay

Aufgrund der Kontaktbeschränkungen durften sich einige Familienmitglieder nicht sehen.

→ Due to the social contact restrictions, some family members were not allowed to see each other.

die Kurve abflachen – flatten the curve

RCraig09, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Das Ziel war es, die Kurve abzuflachen, um das Gesundheitssystem nicht zu überfordern.

→ The aim was to flatten the curve so as not to overburden the health system.

der Lockdown – lockdown

Image by Bob McEvoy from Pixabay

Während des Lockdowns mussten die meisten Menschen zu Hause bleiben und sich von anderen isolieren.

→ During the lockdown, most people had to stay home and isolate themselves from others.

  • die Langzeitfolgen – long-term effects
  • Long Covid – usually without an article (feminine or neuter)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Zu den Langzeitfolgen von Covid gehören Müdigkeit und Gedächtnisprobleme.

→ The long-term effects of Covid include fatigue and memory problems.

  • die Maske – mask
  • die Maskenpflicht – the requirement / obligation to wear a mask

Entry only with a mask: Image by S. Bartels from Pixabay

Eine Maske kann infektiöse Tröpfchen abfangen.

→ A mask can catch or intercept infectious droplets.

niesen – to sneeze

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Eine infizierte Person hat häufig Symptome wie Niesen, Husten, Halsschmerzen und Fieber.

→ An infected person frequently has symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, sore throat and fever.

die Pandemie – pandemic

Eine Pandemie betrifft die gesamte Welt, eine Epidemie hingegen nur Menschen in einem bestimmten Gebiet.

→ A pandemic affects the entire world; an epidemic, however, only people in a specific area.

die Quarantäne – quarantine

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

Die Infizierten stehen unter Quarantäne, das heißt, sie müssen sich zu Hause isolieren.

→ Those who are infected must go into quarantine, which means that they must isolate themselves at home.

  • die Riechstörung
  • riechen

Image by Julio César Velásquez Mejía from Pixabay

Infizierte Personen erleben manchmal Probleme mit dem Riechen und dem Schmecken.

→ Infected people sometimes experience problems with smelling and tasting.

  • der Schnelltest – rapid antigen test, RAT administered by professionals
  • der Selbsttest – RAT administered by oneself

Image by Tom from Pixabay

Durch einen Selbsttest kann man ein schnelles Ergebnis zu Hause erhalten.

→ By doing a RAT, you can gain a quick result at home.

das Tröpfchen – tiny droplets or aerosols that hang in the air

Image by Masum Ali from Pixabay

Wenn eine infizierte Person spricht, singt, niest oder hustet, atmet sie winzige infektiöse Tröpfchen oder Aerosole aus, die in der Luft schweben.

→ When an infected person talks, sings, sneezes or coughs, they exhale tiny infectious droplets or aerosols that float in the air.

  • der Verlaufein schwerer / milder Verlauf – course, progression (of the illness) → a severe form or course / a mild form or course
  • die Variante – variant, strain

Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

Bei einem schweren Covid-Verlauf muss man ins Krankenhaus gehen, aber die meisten Menschen haben eine relativ milde Erkrankung und können zu Hause bleiben.

→ If your COVID infection is severe, you have to go to hospital, but most people have a relatively mild illness and can stay at home.

der / die Wissenschaftlerin– scientist

der Wellenbrecher – literally wave-breaker; refers to all the measures taken to control the fourth Covid wave Word of the Year | Wort des Jahres 2021

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Alle Maßnahmen, die wir gegen COVID-19 treffen, können wir als Wellenbrecher bezeichnen.

→ All the measures that we take against COVID-19 could be described as wave breakers.


Quizzes

Quiz: Describing the Pandemic in German

This quiz draws on the vocabulary presented above. Click on the lightbulb on the quiz screen to see a list of the vocabulary specific to the quiz.


Audio Quiz: Das erste Jahr der Pandemie

The story of a Year 12 student’s experience in Melbourne, 2020: Covid lockdowns, learning from home, taking one walk per day, missing friends – and sometimes even missing teachers. – Recorded by Charlotte Yates

Was isst du gern? 🥑

What do you like to eat?

Posted by Roslyn Green in October 2022

Key Verbs

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Simple Sentences:

  • Ich esse gern Schokolade. → I like eating chocolate.
  • Esst ihr gern Suppe? → Do you like eating soup?
  • Wann isst du Frühstück? → When do you eat breakfast?

Key Verb: essen – to eat

Note: The verb essen is a vowel-changing verb. This means that for du and er/sie/es, the stem vowel changes from e to i.

ich esse
du isst
er / sie / es isst
wir essen
ihr esst
sie essen

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Simple Sentences

  • Ich trinke gern Mineralwasser. – I like drinking mineral water.
  • Trinkst du lieber Tee oder Kaffee? – Do you prefer to drink tea or coffee?
  • Er trinkt keine Milch. – He doesn’t drink milk.

Key Verb: trinken – to drink

Note: The verb trinken is completely regular in the present tense.

ich trinke
du trinkst
er / sie / es trinkt
wir trinken
ihr trinkt
sie trinken

Simple Sentences

  • Ich mag gern Süßigkeiten. – I like sweets.
  • Was magst du lieber auf deinem Brot, Käse oder Schinken? – What do you prefer on your bread, cheese or ham?
  • Er mag am liebsten Vollkornbrot. – He likes wholemeal bread best.

Key Verb: mögen – to like

Note: The verb mögen is irregular in both its stem and its endings. So you need to learn the conjugation by heart. Notice in particular that there is no -t ending on the er / sie / es person.

ich mag
du magst
er / sie / es mag
wir mögen
ihr mögt
sie mögen

Questions and Answers

Frühstück | Breakfast

Question / Frage:

Was isst du zum Frühstück? – What do you eat for breakfast?

Answer / Antwort:

Normalerweise esse ich Müsli mit Joghurt und Milch. Ich trinke immer eine Tasse Kaffee. – Usually I eat muesli with yoghurt or milk. I always drink a cup of coffee.

So früh am Morgen esse ich lieber nicht. – I prefer not to eat so early in the morning.


Mittagessen | Lunch

Question / Frage:

Was isst du zu Mittag? / Was isst du zum Mittagessen? – What do you eat for lunch?

Answer / Antwort:

Zu Mittag esse ich ein Brötchen oder ein Sandwich.– I eat a bread roll or a sandwich for lunch.


Abendessen | Dinner

Question / Frage:

Was esst ihr zu Abend? / Was esst ihr zum Abendessen? – What do you eat for dinner? (referring here to more than one person)

Answer / Antwort:

Zum Abendessen essen wir gern Hähnchen, Nudeln oder Pizza. – We like to eat chicken, pasta or pizza for dinner.

Recommended YouTube Videos

Video: Was isst du zum Frühstück? | What do you eat for breakfast?

Through his Deutsch mit Inap channel, Inap teaches you the key words and phrases for talking about breakfast in German.


Video: Was isst du zu Mittag / zu Abend? | What do you eat for lunch / for dinner?

Inap from Deutsch mit Inap provides an overview of lunch and dinner foods, with the help of pictures, spoken phrases and written words.


Quizzes and Activities

A Pin and Label Quiz with Speaking Clues: Deutsches Essen A-Z | German Food A-Z

Actually, there isn’t a food for every letter. It was hard to fit 26 pictures on the screen. All the same, this is an easy way to learn many key nouns for food. The pins are colour-coded: masculine | feminine | neuter. So you will learn the genders as well.


Quiz: Was isst du zum Frühstück? | What do you eat for breakfast?

First, revise your memory for breakfast foods. The letter labels are colour-coded according to noun gender: masculine | feminine | neuter.

Then practise using the correct wording for asking and answering questions about breakfast.

Worksheet: This quiz reworked as a PDF


Quiz: Was isst du zu Mittag? | Was isst du zu Abend?

Learn the names of some essential lunch and dinner foods. The letter labels are colour-coded according to noun gender: masculine | feminine | neuter | plural.

Then focus on the conjugation of the verb mögen and practise using the correct wording for asking and answering questions about lunch and dinner.

Taming the Vowel-Changing Verbs 🦁

Dealing with the Vowel-Changing Verbs in German

Posted by Roslyn Green, September 2022

Bildlexikon – Picture Dictionary

helfen – to help

Er hilft seinem Freund.

→ He helps his friend.


fahren – to drive, ride, travel

Er fährt gern BMX.

→ He likes riding a BMX.


essen – to eat

Sie isst gern Eis.

→ She likes eating ice cream.


lesen – to read

Das Kind liest mit einer Taschenlampe.

→ The child is reading with a torch.


Non-Conformist Verbs

The vowel-changing verbs in German remind me of children who misbehave, but only at certain predictable times, like toddlers who always throw a tantrum at the supermarket checkout.

If you focus on when these verbs fail to follow the normal rules, you will be able to use them with ease.

These verbs only “break the rules” in the second and third person singular. Otherwise they are utterly regular, predictable and conformist. They retain the normal endings for regular German verbs; they just have that little vowel mutation in their stem in the second and third person singular.

In English we have a couple of verbs that act like this too. For instance, “I say” becomes “he says” (sez); “I do” becomes “she does” (duz).

Below is a short list of some common verbs that are affected by this little quirk, along with a quiz that will help you to tame them.

Er schläft tief und fest. – He sleeps deeply.

Vowel Change: a becomes ä in…

  • tragen – to wear, to carry (du trägst, er/sie/es trägt)
  • fahren – to drive, to travel (du fährst, er/sie/es fährt)
  • schlafen – to sleep, (du schläfst, er/sie/es schläft)

Vowel Change: e becomes ie in…

  • sehen – to see (du siehst, er/sie sieht)
  • lesen – to read (du liest, er/sie liest)

Vowel Change: e becomes i in…

  • nehmen – to take (du nimmst, er/sie nimmt)
  • helfen – to help (du hilfst, er/sie hilft)
  • essen – to eat (du isst, er/sie isst)
  • sprechen – to speak (du sprichst, er/sie spricht)

For a longer list of the most useful stem-changing verbs, go to this German website. In German, the term for these verbs is Verben mit Vokalwechsel.

You may also like to watch this simple explanation from Deutschlernen mit Heidi on YouTube.


Online Activities


Audio-Quiz: Am Wochenende mache ich gern nichts

Practise conjugating the vowel-changing verbs in a fairly challenging text about a laid-back teenager. The audio is embedded in the quiz and was kindly recorded by Carolina Seez.