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…

Prefix Verb Shorts – “aufmachen”

aufmachenHello everyone,

and welcome to a  couple truths:  German has a plenty of prefix verbs that need explaining and summer is coming. Shabamm.
Time for a series that tackles both.

Prefix Verb Hot Pants

I mean shorts. Prefix verb sho.. whatever.
Every learner knows the problem… German has bazillion of these things and while not all of them are enough material for a whole Word of the Day many of them are really really useful and worth a look. And that’s exactly what a Prefix verb short is going to be. A short, quick look at the word. No fluff, no bullshit, no fun. And because they are so… well… short, we’ll probably do more than one a week. Or maybe just throw some in here and there so you get to learn more. Isn’t that great? So let’s get right to it with a look at the meaning of

aufmachen

This one really is pretty simple but that’s good so we can get an impression of the format. First we’ll always take a look at the parts. Which basic verb do we have, which prefix and what notions does this prefix have in store.
So … let’s do that for aufmachen, and maybe a warning right away:

!!!    Aufmachen does NOT mean to make up   !!!

Make up one’s mind, make up an example, make up for something … if you used aufmachen for these it wouldn’t even be understood. So what does it mean? Well, we have auf and machen. Continue reading

Word of the Day – “Teil 2 – teilen”

teilenHello everyone,

and welcome to the second Teil of our look at the Teil-family, and today is going to be just as awesome and inspiring as eating leftovers… exactly…  not very much. Meh. But what can we do. There’s nothing else so let’s dig in.
In the first part we learned all about the noun Teil, like… that it’s related to deal, that it means part, we learned that das Teil is for tangible parts while der Teil is for the rest and we learned a all those really useful Teile like Vorteil, Nachteil or Hinterteil. Today we’ll take a l… what? Oh right, we didn’t learn Hinterteil. Well, it means rear part.  This one.
What? Oh, right… NSFW. Meh, too late I guess. Sorry :)
Anyway, so today we’ll talk all about verbs and the basic one is of course Continue reading

Word of the Day – “Teil”

teil-meaning-germanHello everyone,

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

Teil

Teil is the German word for part and it is related to the English word deal. Wait, the business deal?  Yeah, that one. A few centuries ago deal was much closer to the original “not as ancient as Indo-European but still freaking ancient”-Proto Germanic root that was all about share, part, amount. And in fact, this notion is still visible today. Just take these phrases:

  • That helps a great deal.
  • A good deal of  movie’s success is due to the excellent cast.

These are not  not about trade. These are about large parts. The helps solved a substantial part of the problem and a substantial part of the success is thanks to the cast. The business-deal was … uhm… coined some 200 years ago, probably based on the meaning amount, which is not that far from part.
We’ll see even more connections between Teil and deal once  we get to the verbs. But the noun Teil is really really cool and useful and there’s a lot to say about it. Let’s start with the gender. Yeay. That annoying gender that all the nouns have . Well guess what.  Teil is an exception!
Now you’re like “Wow, really. A word without gender? AWESOME!!! That is the start of the revolution!!!” but then you see my face all serious and emphatic and you begin to realize… “It has two genders, doesn’t it?” Continue reading

Word of the Day – “werben”

werben-werbung-meaning-germHello everyone,

welcome everyone to our German Word of the Day. This time we’ll have a look at the meaning and the family of

werben

Werben comes from the super ancient Indo-European root *uer. The core meaning of that was  to turn, to bend and a lot of words came from that like whirling, worm or the German werfen (to throw) which is basically talking about bending your arm.
Now, werben very early on shifted from the idea of turning in circles to the idea of running around and back and forth. Not much later people started adding the notion that you do all the busy running because you want to get something and so the word eventually became “to be busy in order to get something“. And very soon this took up the core notion of advertising.

  • Der Ritter wirbt um die Liebe der Prinzessin.
  • The knight courts the princess.

Literally, this means that the knight is all around the princess, being all nice, bringing her flowers, singing her songs, writing her poems, slaying her dragons and opening her gown… Continue reading

What is the difference – “wissen and kennen”

click picture for creditsHello everyone, and welcome to another German Word of the Day – What is the Difference Special. Today we’ll look at the difference between kennen and wissen A real problem… unless your mother tongue is, say, Spanish or Italian or French or Portuguese. Or Swedish or Norwegian or Finnish or Hungarian. Because all these languages have two words as well. That’s right English. Can’t give German the “Really?? Two words for one thing?“-look this time ;). Anyway, for a native speaker of English having two options for to know is really something to get used so today we’ll look a pretty straight forward way to tell them apart. And if you’re mother tongue is one of the above, you could read it anyway and share in the comments whether that would work for your language as well. Sounds good? Cool. Continue reading