Category Archives: What is the Difference

On this section we look at words that seem to be the same and yet there is a clear difference…

Word of the Day – “wirken”

wirken-germanHello everyone,

and welcome to our German word of the Day. This time, we will have a look at the meaning of


Looks like a lot of work. No… wait. I meant it looks a lot like work. Seriously, it is the usual thing we can find for a lot of Germanic verbs… the consonants give the frame, the foundation, the core. The vowels kind of just fill in the blank
or add some meaning facet or something.

  • w_rk

In English, o works. In German it was once u and now it’s i… but who cares… it’s the same frame :).
The frame comes from an ancient Indo-European root that looks like a vomiting sound… *u̯erg̑. This is also the root for the word worm and the original meaning was something related to winding. People would wind bast fibers or something to make a fence. That was the start. But the word broadened a lot and soon meant pretty much the same as work means today. And what does work mean today? Exactly. Work. … okay, that sentence was kind of pointless. Continue reading

Word of the Day – WitD Special – “erst, nur, einzig”

difference-nur-erst-gleich-Hello everyone,

and welcome to another German Word of the Day “What is the difference”-special. In these specials we look words that seem to have the same… blah blah bla …. yada yada yada… ‘ll look at the difference  between

  • erst, nur and einzig

What’s that? Oh don’t think it is a problem?  Well, I do because my students keep making mistakes like this one:

  • “Ich war die nur Spanier im die Kurs.”

As always, I then say something along the lines of “Geez, what a big, dumb mistake. Can’t you even get one sentence correct?”
Seriously…  I’ve lost a lot of students because of that mistake. That’s why we’ll try to clear that up today. So… take a seat, turn of your phones, take out your pen and paper
and get ready for half an hour of good, old fashioned Frontalunterricht.
It’ll be the super fun.

The problem:   people mix up erst, nur and einzige/r/m/s/c/φ/♥.
The cause:        all three words are translations for only.
The solution:   look at all 3 words one by one

We’ll start with.. hmmm… let’s start with einzige..uhm… I mean “Class! We shall commence with einzige and we shall skip the whole ending tail now.” Continue reading

Word of the Day – Prefix Special – “kriegen”

kriegen-meaning-germanHello everyone,

and welcome to another German Word of the Day Prefix  Verb special. That means we’ll take a basic German verb look at it’s meaning and then prefix it up in every way imaginable. And today we’ll take a look at the verb


And I’m gonna tell you right away… at the end, there will be a little surprise. A nice one. But it’s not there yet because… you know… we’re live.
Kriegen means the same as bekommen and bekommen means to get as in to get something / to receive.

  • Ich habe zum Geburtstag ein Buch gekriegt.
  • I got a book for my birthday.
  • Hast du meine Mail gekriegt?
  • Did you get my mail?
  • Wenn ich Stress habe, kriege ich Pickel.
  • When I am stressed, I get pimples.

Now,  kriegen looks a lot like der Krieg and in fact both words are related. Krieg means war but it hasn’t always been that way. Much like in a real life, in the beginning there is insistence and perseverance. Then comes resistance and  obstinacy, then discord and then the armed conflict. And that is exactly how the word Krieg has changed over the last 1000 years. The verb kriegen started out as something like “to make an effort”. Just like Krieg it became more and more confrontational for a while… Continue reading

Word of the Day – “allerdings”

allerdings-picture-germanHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of


Allerdings has two translations. Or wait, let’s say, it stands for two idea. Two ideas, that shouldn’t be too big of a problem… unless… they seem to be opposites. Imagine there were a word that means white AND black. What a whacky idea…. (get it? Whack as in white plus b.. not funny? … never mind then) .

Allerdings has the ideas of confirmation and contradiction, so let’s take a loot at it and see if we can get a hold of it, shall we? Great. Continue reading

Word of the Day – “überhaupt”

ueberhaupt-german-pictureHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And it’s time for another one fo those words that people use every day but that are kind of below the radar when it comes to learning vocab. Today we’ll look at the meaning of


Überhaupt consists of the two parts über and Haupt. Über is a preposition and for those little fellows there is never THE ONE translation…  but über is quite consistent as it means over most of the time.
Not always!!!
Just making sure :).
Now for Haupt. I think the one word with Haupt that most of you know is Hauptstadt which means capital. That makes sense because Haupt and  capital are related.  The original meaning of Haupt however is head.  That makes sense because they are related. And there are other wor…  Wait what? Haupt is related to capital and Haupt is related to head. That means that capital is related to head? That’s … uhm… unexpected. But then again, there is per capita income meaning per person income and the old Germanic keyboard has c and h right next to each other and they barely had spell checking… except for some shamans, maybe …get it?… like… spell like magica… gee, you guys are soo serious all the time. Continue reading