Grammatik 1-1 ~ Introduction to German grammar
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
- Heinrich trifft Karl auf der Straße. Heinrich und Karl sind Freunde.
- Heinrich: Guten Tag, Karl. Wie geht es dir?
- Karl: Guten Tag. Danke, es geht mir gut. Und dir?
- Heinrich: Danke, es geht mir gut. Auf Wiedersehen.
- Karl: Auf Wiedersehen!
In this conversation we learn several simple greetings exchanged between friends meeting very briefly on the street.
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)
auf der Straße on the street Auf Wiedersehen Good bye Es geht mir 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?
Gespräch 1-2 ~ Die Studenten
- 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
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
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.
NOUNS 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
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?
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.
- Good day, Mark! How are you?
- Thanks, I am well. And you?
- Good bye, Henry!
- Catherine needs cheese.
- She understands the lesson well.
- So long, Mark! Until we meet again.
- Where is he going?