German/Lesson 1

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<< Vorwort | Lektion 1 | Lektion 2 >> |

Auf der Straße

Grammatik 1-1 ~ Introduction to German grammar

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Knowing the parts of speech (how words function in a sentence) is important for anyone attempting to learn a second language. English speakers will find many strong parallels between their language and German. However, as noted in the introduction, German grammar signals—how words indicate their function in a sentence—are more complex than English, and identifying the meaning of words in a German sentence is difficult without understanding these clues or signals to word function that come from the grammatical rules. The basic lessons (Level II) of this textbook are set up to first introduce the parts of speech, and then bring in the rules that govern these. Pay particular attention to both word endings and sentence word order as you progress in learning the German language.

Following is a short conversation piece (Gespräch). Play the audio file first, then attempt to repeat what you hear, reading the spoken parts of the conversation. Go back and forth (listening and then speaking) until the German flows easily from your lips. This may take considerable practice. Refer to the vocabulary (Vokabeln) below to understand the meaning of the German sentences you are hearing and speaking.

Gespräch 1-1 ~ Die Freunde

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Heinrich trifft Karl auf der Straße. Heinrich und Karl sind Freunde.
  • Heinrich:       Guten Tag, Karl. Wie geht es dir?
  • Karl:       Guten Tag. Danke, mir geht es gut. Und dir?
  • Heinrich:       Danke, mir geht es gut. Auf Wiedersehen.
  • Karl:       Auf Wiedersehen!

In this conversation we learn several simple greetings exchanged between friends meeting very briefly on the street.

Vokabeln 1-1

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This first vocabulary (Vokabeln) may seem a bit long considering you have been presented with only the brief conversation piece above, but it also contains all of the German words you have encountered up to this point in the Level II textbook, including words in photo captions and lesson section headers. The layout of the Vokabeln is explained in the Lesson Layout Guide in the German~English textbook introduction, but the four parts of the Vokabeln are labeled in this first lesson to reenforce the concept. Note that column 3 may contain (in parentheses) additional notes about a word in column 1. Also, you can find the greeting phrases that appear in the simple conversations above (and many others) in Appendix 2, a German-English phrase book.

der Anhang, die Anhänge      appendix, appendices      (singular and plural)
die Brücke                   bridge
der Freund, die Freunde      friend, friends           (singular and plural)
das Gespräch, die Gespräche  conversation, conversations
die Grammatik                grammar                   (note irregular stress) 
die Lektion                  lesson                    (note irregular stress)
die Straße                   street
das Tor                      gateway
die Vokabeln                 word list, vocabulary
das Vorwort                  foreword, preface         (introduction to a book)
             SHORT PHRASES
auf der Straße               on the street
Auf Wiedersehen              Good bye
Mir geht es gut              I am fine                 (lit: 'It goes with me good')
Guten Tag!                   Good day                  (greeting)
Und dir?                     And you?                  (implied: 'And how are you?')
unter Freunden               between friends
Wie geht es dir?             How are you               (lit: 'How goes it with you?') 
Wie geht's?                  How are you?              (casual, but more commonly used)
gehen                        go                        (geht is "goes")
treffen                      meet, come upon           (trifft is "meets")
             OTHER "SMALL" WORDS (adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, etc.)
danke                        thank you; thanks
dir                          (with or for) you
einfach                      simple
es                           it
gut                          good
mir                          (with or to) me
und                          and 
wie?                         how?
      Pronunciation Guide >>

Gespräch 1-2 ~ Die Studenten

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Markus ist Student. Er studiert Biologie. Er begegnet Katrin. Sie studiert Mathematik. Markus und Katrin sind Freunde.
  • Markus:   Hallo, Katrin! Wohin gehst du?
  • Katrin:       Ich gehe einkaufen. Der Kühlschrank ist fast leer. Ich brauche Wurst und Käse. Und du? Wohin gehst du?
  • Markus:   Zur Uni. Ich habe viel zu tun.
  • Katrin:       Gut! Dann bis bald. Tschüss.
  • Markus:   Tschüss, Katrin.

Here again, two friends (college students) meet casually and discuss briefly what each is doing.

Grammatik 1-2 ~ Word Order in Questions

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Basic or normal word order in simple German sentences is the same as in English—subject then verb then verb object:

Ich habe Käse ~ I (subject) have (verb) cheese (verb object = what you "have")

Unlike with English sentence structure, a question sentence in German is formed by reversing subject and verb:

Hast du Käse? ~ Have (verb) you (subject) cheese?

This is called inverted word order. Examples are provided in Gespräch 1-1 and Gespräch 1-2. As another example, consider the statement: Er studiert Biologie ('He studies biology'). A question statement might be: Was studiert er? ('What studies he?'; although in English, we would usually say: "What is he studying?"). The normal word order of subject (er or "he") then verb (studiert or "study") is reversed and, in this case, an interrogative (was or "what") added onto the front replacing the unknown (to the speaker) object (here, "biology"). Additional examples of questions formed from basic statements illustrate inverted word order:

Wie geht es dir? from Es geht mir gut. ('It goes well with me.')
Wohin geht sie? from Sie geht einkaufen. ('She goes shopping.')
Was ist fast leer? from Der Kühlschrank ist fast leer. ('The fridge is almost empty.')
Was brauche ich? from Ich brauche Wurst und Käse. ('I need sausage and cheese.')
Versteht sie mich? from Sie versteht mich. ('She understands me.')

Grammatik 1-3 ~ Introduction to pronouns

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A pronoun (Pronomen) is a short word that takes the place of a noun previously mentioned in the sentence, paragraph, or conversation. A pronoun substitutes for a noun or noun phrase and designates persons or things asked for, previously specified, or understood from context. A specific pronoun in English as well as German has person, number, and case. You will be encountering all of the common German pronouns in the next several lessons, so we will track these as they appear. The following familiar personal pronouns are introduced in this lesson (Lektion 1):

 ich – I      (1st person, singular, nominative case)
 mich – me    (1st person, singular, accusative case)
 mir – me     (1st person singular, dative case)
 du – you     (2nd person, singular, nominative case)
 dich – you   (2nd person, singular, accusative case)
 dir – you    (2nd person singular, dative case)
 er – he      (3rd person singular, nominative case)
 sie – she    (3rd person singular, nominative case) 
 es – it      (3rd person singular, nominative case)

Pronoun person describes the relationship of the word to the speaker (that is, 1st person is the speaker; 2nd person is spoken to; and 3rd person is spoken about). Pronoun number refers to whether the word represents one (singular) or more than one (plural) person or object. Finally, case indicates how the pronoun is used in a sentence, as will be explained over the next several lessons. For now, note in the examples you have already encountered, the three cases of 1st person singular pronouns in German: ich, mich, and mir. In English these are: 'I', 'me', and (to or with) 'me' — in essence, there are really just two cases in English: subjective ('I') and objective ('me'). You will shortly see that there are similarities, yet distinct differences, in the cases as used by the English and German languages.

Vokabeln 1-2

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die Antwort, die Antworten   answer(s)                 (singular and plural)
die Biologie                 biology                   (note irregular stress)
die Freundin, die Freunde    (female) friend, friends  (compare der Freund)
der Käse                     cheese
der Kühlschrank              refrigerator
die Mathematik               mathematics               (note irregular stress)
das Pronomen                 pronoun                   (note irregular stress)
der Student, die Studentin   student, (female) student
die Uni                      university                (a short form of die Universität) 
die Übersetzung              translation               (lit. "over-setting")
die Universität              university                (note irregular stress)
die Wurst                    sausage, banger
             SHORT PHRASES
Dann bis bald!                then until (we) soon (meet again) ("until then")
zu tun                        to do
begegnen                     meet
brauchen                     need, want, require
einkaufen gehen              go shopping
haben                        have
studieren                    study
verstehen                    understand
              OTHER "SMALL" WORDS
an                           to (towards)
bald                         soon
bis                          until
dann                         then
du                           you
er                           he
fast                         almost
hallo                        hello
ich                          I
leer                         empty, vacant
mich                         me
schön                        beautiful                 (in this case, 'nice' or 'fine')
sehr                         very
sie                          she                       
tschüss                      so long                   (good bye)
viel                         much
was?                         what?
wohin?                       where?
      Pronunciation Guide >>

Übersetzung 1-1

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By referring back to lesson examples, you should be able to write out the following sentences in German. On a piece of paper, first number and write each English sentence. Then review the lesson above and produce a German sentence that says the same thing as each English sentence. After all seven lines are translated, follow the Antworten (answers) link to compare your work with the correct ones. Do not be too concerned at this point if your spelling of the German verbs do not match the answers. You will learn all about German verb forms in later lessons.

  1. Good day, Mark! How are you?
  2. Thanks, I am well. And you?
  3. Good bye, Henry!
  4. Catherine needs cheese.
  5. She understands the lesson well.
  6. So long, Mark! Until we meet again.
  7. Where is he going?

(edit template) Level II Lessons (discussion)

II.0 Introduction

Section II.A: II.1 Einfache Gespräche II.2 Fremde und Freunde II.3 Die Zahlen II.4 Zürich II.5 Wiederholung

Section II.B: II.6 Die Wohnung II.7 Mathematik II.8 Mein, Dein, Sein II.9 Einkaufen gehen II.10 Wiederholung

Section II.C: II.11 Verbtempus und Wortstellung II.12 Fragewörter II.13 Mein Arm schmerzt II.14 Tiergarten II.15 Wiederholung