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The German Approach to Fun

At some point while learning German, it may have dawned on you that there isn't exactly a German equivalent for the adjective "fun." There is, of course, the noun der Spaß, which is used to describe how someone can "have fun" (Spaß haben) or something can "be fun" (Spaß machen):

 

Ich glaube, auch die Erwachsenen haben Spaß an dem Film.

I think adults also have fun with this film.

Caption 11, Michael Mittermeier: Hexe Lilli

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Und ich hab auch gelernt, dass es mir Spaß macht, vor der Kamera zu stehen,

And I also learned that standing in front of the camera is fun for me,

Caption 20, Anja Polzer: Interview

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The adjective spaßig does exist, but is more specific, meaning that something is either "merry" or "celebratory," or "jocular" or "playful." Es hat Spaß gemacht is therefore not really the same thing as Es war spaßig

 

Und spaßig ging es auch in der Festhalle weiter.

And it continued merrily in the Festhalle too.

Caption 24, Rheinmain im Blick: Live-Entertainment-Award in Frankfurt

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In terms of adjectives, however, there are a few other contenders. The adjective lustig can mean either "funny" or "fun" depending on the context.

 

Es ist einfach lustig und immer wieder da zwischendurch kommt trotzdem wieder ein Fund.

It's just fun, and time and time again in between, another find is still made.

Caption 64, Ausgrabungen: Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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The adjectives amüsant and unterhaltsam also play a role here, as they describe something or someone being fun in the sense of being entertaining. 

 

Er ist sicher wahnsinnig locker und unheimlich amüsant.

I'm sure he's incredibly easygoing and incredibly entertaining.

Caption 28, Weihnachtsmann gesucht: Bist du verliebt?

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So unterhaltsam kann Lernen sein!

Learning can be so entertaining!

Caption 5, Theaterstück über gesunde Ernährung: Henrietta in Fructonia

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Für die knappe Stunde Flug ist die Außenansicht unterhaltsam genug.

For just under an hour's flight, the view outside is entertaining enough. 

Caption 10, Galileo Zug vs. Flugzeug: Von München nach Berlin

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Further Learning
On Yabla German, you can find many examples of how Germans cleverly use Spaß machen and Spaß haben to describe various fun occurrences and events. What has been fun for you in the last months? How would you tell someone about it in German?

Two different plurals for das Wort

The German word for "word" is das Wort, as you surely already know. But had you noticed that there are two different plurals for it: die Worte and die Wörter? It's hard to know which is correct without understanding the distinction in meaning between the two possibilities. Let's take a look at some examples, starting with die Worte

 

Worte sind jetzt fehl am Platz...

Words now are out of place...

Caption 26, Florian Bronk: Du und ich

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Und Worte können das nicht ändern, nein.

And words cannot change that, no.

Caption 22, Luxuslärm: Einmal im Leben

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So, liebe Anja, vielen, vielen Dank für deine netten Worte.

So, dear Anja, thanks very, very much for your kind words.

Caption 62, Anja Polzer; Interview

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Flüchtlinge können bei ihrer Ankunft oft nur wenige Worte oder gar kein Deutsch.

Refugees can, upon their arrival, often speak only a few words of German or none at all.

Caption 3, Flüchtlingskrise: Deutschkurse für Flüchtlinge

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And moving on to die Wörter

 

Kennt ihr diese kleinen Wörter?

Do you know these little words?

Caption 4, Deutsch mit Eylin: Pronomen

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Nun kennt ihr also die Wörter für die wichtigsten Farben.

So now you know the words for the most important colors.

Caption 40, Eva erklärt: Farben

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Hierfür werden dir einige Wörter vorgeschlagen.

For this, several words will be suggested to you.

Caption 40, German Intro: Cettina

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Hier, ein Notizbuch für alle neuen Wörter auf Deutsch.

Here, a notebook for all of the new German words.

Caption 14, Nicos Weg: Wo ist der Bahnhof?

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As you may have noticed above, die Wörter is usually used in a context of learning German and relating to a specific word—to the words themselves as such: Fremdwörter, Lieblingswörter, Modewörter, Passwörter, and Reimwörter are some compound word examples.

 

Die Worte, on the other hand, is talking about the context of words in terms of quotations, ways of speaking, or entire topics: Bibleworte, Ehrenworte, Grußworte, Nachworte, and Zauberworte, for instance.

 

A few words even allow for both types of plurals. For instance, if you are making a list of keywords for a website, you'd use Stichwörter. But if you are talking generally about keywords in the more abstract sense of concepts or guiding principles, you'd use Stichworte

 

Further Learning
Try and guess the meaning of the compound words listed above that use das Wort as their root, and then check your dictionary to see if you got it right. You can then go to German Yabla and find other examples of the words discussed above to see them used in a real world context.

 

If you're feeling extra brave, you can read the (as always) brilliant article by Der Spiegel author Bastian Sick about Worte vs. Wörter. As he so cleverly puts it: Wörter bestehen aus Buchstaben, Worte aus Gedanken.

Before, Part II: bis, bisher, ehe, früher, vorhin, & zuvor

A few weeks ago in Part I, we looked at the most common ways to say "before": vor, vorher, and bevor. Let's take a look today at some more German words that are commonly translated into English as "before."

 

Warum hatte man bis vergangene Woche denn so wenig von ihr gehört?

Why had we heard so little from her before this past week?

Caption 65, Coronavirus - Kommentar zu Angela Merkels Rede

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The preposition bis, usually requiring the accusative case, is also often translated as "until."

 

Ist natürlich ein besonderer Umstand, nur mit Leuten, die man bisher nicht kannte...

Of course, it's a particular circumstance to only be with people you didn't know before...

Caption 11, Anja Polzer - Interview

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The adverb bisher is sometimes translated to English as "previously."

 

Ehe du einschläfst, wollte ich dir schnell bloß sagen,

Before you fall asleep, I just wanted to quickly say to you,

Caption 51, Janoschs Traumstunde - Post für den Tiger

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Not to be mixed up with the noun die Ehe ("the marriage"), the conjunction ehe is sometimes spoken in a shortened form as eh

 

Alles das, was früher war

All that was before

wischst du einfach weg

you just wipe away

Captions 20-21, Adel Tawil - 1000 gute Gründe

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The adverb früher (which is also seen as an adjective) is sometimes translated as "previously" or "earlier," depending upon the context.

 

Die hatte ich vorhin an, zum Beispiel beim Umzug

I had it on before, for example during the parade

oder als wir noch 'nen Auftritt hatten.

or when we had an appearance.

Captions 14-15, Bretten - Das Peter-und-Paul-Fest

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The adverb vorhin sounds similar to vorher, which we read about in Part I, but expresses something that happened in the very recent past—just seconds, minutes, or perhaps a few hours previously.

 

All das wird auf die Probe gestellt wie nie zuvor.

All of this is being put to the test like never before.

Caption 5, Coronavirus - Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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The adverb zuvor is often translated as "previously" or "beforehand," depending upon the context.

 

So voll Energie, so hoch wie noch nie

So full of energy, as high as never before

Caption 4, Beatrice Egli - Wir leben laut

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The German phrase noch nie would translate literally as "yet never," but that doesn't make any sense in English and it is usually translated as "never before."

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and search for some of the words above that are commonly translated as "before" to get a better feel for the contexts in which they are used in a real-world context.

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