knowing German vocabulary is an important part of language learning. The richer your German vocabulary is, the more skilled you become in speaking and writing your German language. Learning German is certainly no exception to this idea. But German vocabulary development and enrichment do not entail merely the memorization of word lists. Since most people gain more from studying phrases and sentences that illustrate the specific use of a word, this article provides examples that place new German Words in a practical context. Moreover, each word list is usually composed of items that can be “plugged into” a useful pattern sentence that is provided. For example, the nouns shirt, blouse, pants, and skirt are useful German Words to know. But just memorizing that list is not as useful as applying the words to practical sentences:
Tom hates ironing cotton shirts.
Mary hates ironing silk blouses.
I hate ironing pants.
Do you hate ironing pleated skirts?
Although grammar is not stressed in this book, on occasion a brief grammatical explanation is given to describe more precisely how a particular word or phrase should be used: for example, how Germans say to like. As much as possible, words are illustrated in a form that shows a link or commonality among the provided words. Also, the chapters describe words that combine with others to form new words or that are derived from a base word. This is a significant concept in German, which uses many types of words as prefixes for new German Words:
die Sprachenschule = language school
ihre englischen Sprachkenntnisse = her knowledge of English
die Sprachlehre= grammar book
sprachlich = linguistic
There are twenty chapters on a variety of traditional and contemporary topics. Each one is a building block for your new German vocabulary storehouse. In each chapter are exercises that help bring your new
German vocabulary to life. The questions not only are general ones that anyone can answer but also involve your personal experience. In either case, you have the opportunity to put your new words to practical use.
German vocabulary about Family
Die Familie The German extended family consists of a variety of people, both young and old, just like any other family. Naturally, the basic family unit is made up of parents and their children. But beyond that small circle is a large group of relatives who affect family life to some degree: the extended family. Let’s look at the German vocabulary that describes a typical family. First, we’ll meet the oldest members of the family:
die Urgroßeltern = great-grandparents
der Urgroßvater = great-grandfather
die Urgroßmutter = great-grandmother
die Großeltern = grandparents
der Großvater = grandfather
die Großmutter = grandmother
der Schwiegervater = father-in-law
die Schwiegermutter = mother-in-law
der Senior = senior citizen (male)
die Seniorin = senior citizen (female)
Sometimes the grandparents are called by more affectionate names:
der Opa = grandpa
die Oma = grandma
The word groß is also used as a prefix for other members of the family who are more than a generation apart:
der Großonkel = great-uncle
die Großtante = great-aunt
der Großneffe = great-nephew
die Großnichte = great-niece
der Großenkel = great-grandson
die Großenkelin = great-granddaughter
Parents and their children are the hub of family life. They each have a specific name:
die Eltern = parents
der Vater = father
die Mutter = mother
Just like the grandparents, sometimes the parents are called by more affectionate names:
der Vati = daddy
die Mutti = mommy
der Papa = dad
die Mama = mom
The children have diff erent names depending on their relationship to other members of the family:
das Kind = child
das Baby = baby
der Sohn = son
die Tochter = daughter
die Geschwister = brothers and sisters, siblings
der Bruder = brother
die Schwester = sister
der Schwiegersohn = son-in-law
die Schwiegertochter = daughter-in-law
der Enkel = grandson
die Enkelin = granddaughter
The word Gebrüder is a collective noun meaning brothers. It is no longer used to talk about
a group of brothers in general. But it still functions in company names:
Die Gebrüder Keller = The Keller Brothers
When two people combine their families into one, the word Stief is used as a prefix:
der Stiefvater = stepfather
die Stiefmutter = stepmother
die Stiefkinder = stepchildren
der Stiefsohn = stepson
die Stieftochter = stepdaughter
die Stiefgeschwister = stepbrothers and sisters
der Stiefbruder = stepbrother
die Stiefschwester = stepsister
The families of the brothers and sisters of one’s parents make up another segment of the
die Verwandten = relatives
der Onkel = uncle
die Tante = aunt
der Schwager = brother-in-law
die Schwägerin = sister-in-law
der Neffe = nephew
die Nichte = niece
der Vetter, der Cousin = cousin (male)
die Kusine, die Cousine = cousin (female)
German vocabulary about Friends
Die Freunde Friends are an important part of one’s life. People share signifi cant moments with friends and rely on friends in times of diffi culty. But there are diff erent kinds of friends and diff erent levels of friendship. They can be very close to you, or they can be just acquaintances. German has as many words for these various kinds of friends as English does.
Remember that German has three pronouns that stand for you.
They are du, ihr, and Sie.
Use du with family members, children, and close friends, as well as in informal situations. Ihr
is the plural of du. Use Sie in formal situations and with adults who are strangers to you.
Don’t forget that Sie is used both with a single person and with two or more persons in a formal situation. Th ese pronouns are the clue that German diff erentiates close friendships and new acquaintances.
If you have just met someone, you will probably use the pronoun Sie with that person. There is a verb to describe this: siezen (to address someone with Sie). Although in English you might refer to a person you met recently as a friend, that would not be the case in German. Freund is not the appropriate word for someone you just met. Use these words instead:
der Bekannte = acquaintance (male)
die Bekannte = acquaintance (female)
Use these words with close or longtime friends:
der Freund = friend (male)
die Freundin = friend (female)
The word Bekannte comes from a past participle (of the verb bekennen), which like other participles can be used as an adjective. Th e adjective form is then used as a noun. But because it is an adjective, the influence of ein words and der words on adjective endings becomes important in its noun usage. Compare the following declensions, one with an ein word and one with a der
word, especially noting the nominative case:
NOMINATIVE ein Bekannter der Bekannte
ACCUSATIVE einen Bekannten den Bekannten
DATIVE einem Bekannten dem Bekannten
GENITIVE eines Bekannten des Bekannten
When these different forms for the word friend and acquaintance are used in sentences, Germans immediately understand what kind of relationship exists between the parties:
Das ist ein Bekannter von mir. = That’s a friend (new acquaintance) of mine.
It is understood that the speaker probably just met this person or still uses the pronoun Sie when speaking to the person. But in the following sentence, the person mentioned clearly is a close friend because the noun Freund is used:
Das ist ein Freund von mir. = That’s a friend of mine.
The word Freund indicates that the relationship between the speaker and the friend is close and
that they probably use the pronoun du when addressing one another. Th e verb used in such a relationship is duzen (to address someone with du). Compare the following sentences:
Mein Chef und ich siezen einander. = My boss and I address each other with Sie.
Gudrun und ich duzen einander seit drei Jahren. = Gudrun and I have been addressing each other with du for three years.
When you specifically mean that your friend is the person you are dating or is the romantic interest in your life, you also use Freund and Freundin:
Mein Freund hat einen neuen Wagen gekauft .
My boyfriend bought a new car.
Wohnt deine Freundin noch in Oldenburg?
Does your girlfriend still live in Oldenburg?
Let’s take a look at a series of words that describe a variety of friends and acquaintances:
|der Nachbar||die Nachbarin||neighbor|
|der Kollege||die Kollegin||colleague, coworker|
|der Klassenkamerad||die Klassenkameradin||classmate|
|der Mitarbeiter||die Mitarbeiterin||associate, coworker|
|der Mannschaftskamerad||die Mannschaftskameradin||teammate|
|der Genosse||die Genossin||associate, party member|
|der Wirt||die Wirtin||landlord, landlady|
|der Mieter||die Mieterin||tenant|
|der Mitbewohner||die Mitbewohnerin||fellow lodger|
|der Zimmergenosse||die Zimmergenossin||roommate|
|der Klubkamerad||die Klubkameradin||fellow member of a club|
|der Landsmann||die Landsmännin||fellow countryman, compatriot|
The following nouns do not have separate forms for males and females:
das Mitglied = member
der Mitmensch = fellow human being
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