Month: March 2016

The story of the lottery ticket



One day in the cafeteria of the company as I pay my lunch, the lady at the counter tells me:

“Es gibt eine Verlosung heute. Möchten Sie mitmachen? Sie können ein Kochkurs in die Kantine gewinnen!” 

There is a tombola today. Would you like to join? You can win a cooking class in the canteen!

I think yeah great, I am not interested in the prize but a lottery ticket I would never refuse…just for the fun of opening it.

As I open happily my ticket, I check out if my colleagues do the same. Überraschung! (=surprize). They don’t even have a ticket. They didn’t want to take the risk…to win such a prize. :))

But as I take a look on my ticket I discover I had luck. I didn’t win! Pfeew! My ticket says:

Nicht verzagen – nochmal wagen! 

Don’t give up – try again!

When I read the ticket to my colleagues I made the following mistake – I said “Nicht versagen”. Both words exist. Just they have different meaning.

versagen = to fail (at sth.)

verzagen = to give up hope

The word verzagen was new to me, that’s why my brain automatically replaced it with the very close word that I knew (versagen). As my colleagues explained me, the word verzagen is not really used. The more common one is:

aufgeben = to give up

So my recommendation is: don’t try to remember the word verzagen.  But pay attention to the fact that in german there are many synonyms that express the same ideea slightly different. Totally puzzled I asked my colleagues what is the difference then between verzagen and aufgeben. The answer was: verzagen expresses more the state of dissapointment when somebody really gives up hope. Meanwhile aufgeben means simply that you abandon something.

To be sincere I was many times angry about the fact that after so many years learning german new words pop out like this. But this is due to the fact that german is a very accurate language. It can express things very precise due to o huge vocabulary and a complex grammar structure.

A german guy once told me:

“Many times when I try to express a thing in english is difficult because they have too few words. I am searching a word in the dictionary and I can not find exactly the fine meaning that I want. But the people talking english say: Die blöden Deutschen! Die haben 10 Wörter um das gleiche auszudrücken. Dafür brauchen wir ein einziges Wort (the idiot germans! they have 10 words to express the same thing. For that we need only one word.)”



Erbsen auf halb 6


I want to recommend you this great movie.


First time I saw a german movie I had no great expectations. Germans are well known for punctuality, precision, beer, sausages…but not for movies. Well…surprize! The first movie I liked a lot, the second one also and so on. All the german movies have an emotional depth and a sensibility that impressed me.

Erbsen auf halb 6 (Peas at 5:30) is one of my favourites. The subject is sad but the movie is funny, captivating and well played. It’s actually a comedy that tells the story of Jakob, a young film director that loses his sight in an accident. But despite the tragedy of the situation good things also come along. He finds the love of his life and begins to “see” things different using other senses.

                                                                ErbsenAufHalbSechs(The wonderful story of a blind love)

The Berliner are (not) in Berlin, the Krapfen are in Bayern



Berliner = doughnut

(der) Krapfen = doughnut

Did you know that in Germany there are different words for doughnut?

Well…yes! In different parts of Germany they have different names. Take a look on this doughnut map. The funny part is that in Berlin they are called “Berliner Pfannkuchen” and shorter only “Pfannkuchen”.

Pfannkuchen = pancakes

Yes, I know is confusing (es ist verwirrend)…You may think “if I order this what do I get? Doughnuts? Pancakes? ” Anyhow, as a conclusion I can tell you if you ask for Pfannkuchen in Berlin you will get doughnuts, if you ask for Pfannkuchen in München you will get pancakes. In München the doughnuts are called “Krapfen”.

Remember John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1963 in Berlin?

John F. Kennedy‘s words “Ich bin ein Berliner” are standard German for “I am a Berliner”. Mentioned in Len Deighton‘s 1983 novel Berlin Game, an urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as “jelly doughnut”, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. This is wrong, when leaving out ein, the meaning only changes slightly. The normal convention when stating a nationality or, for instance, saying one is from Berlin, would be to leave out the indefinite article ein.

However, Kennedy used the indefinite article here correctly to emphasize his relation to Berlin.[5][6] Additionally, the word Berliner is not used in Berlin to refer to the Berliner Pfannkuchen. These are simply called Pfannkuchen there[7] and therefore no one from Berlin would mistake Berliner for a pastry.

                                                                                                                                    Source: Wikipedia, link

People wondered: in Hamburg he would have said: Ich bin ein Hamburger?

Football Match (Fußballspiel) FC Bayern – Juventus Turin


Today there was a match in the Allianz Arena in München.You can immagine many people were heading to the match and the metro was full but put attention to the (funny) message displayed on the screen.

Here you have the transcript:

“Liebe Fahrgäste, heute ist wieder ein Spiel in der Arena in Fröttmaning. Spielbeginn ist um 20:45 Uhr. Sollten Sie mit der U6 fahren wollen, stellen Sie sich darauf ein, dass die U6 Richtung Fröttmaning ab ca. 17:00 Uhr sehr voll sein wird.”

“Dear passengers, today there is again a match in the Arena in Fröttmaning. The match starts at 20:45. If you want to take the U6 be prepared that the U6 towards Fröttmaning will be very full starting at about 17:00.”

This is a text that shows the german language in all its splendour.

Notice the following:

  1. Spielbeginn -> beginning of the game (typical german – compound words). Here you find a link to the Germany’s longest compound word
  2. in german, nouns are always written with capital letter also when they are in the middle of the phrase!
  3. the german verb ist in the above phrase corresponds to “is” in english. That’s easy! Heute ist = today is. But take care the verb in infinitive is “sein” = to be.
  4. in der Arena = in the Arena. In english we have the definite article “the”.  This article in german is conjugated and can take different forms depending on the grammatical case. This is complicated in german! 😦
  5. sein wird = will be (future)
  6. voll = full (some words are very similar in english). The v in german is pronounced f [foll]
  7. fahren wollen = want to go
  8. stellen Sie sich darauf ein -> sich darauf einstellen = deal with the fact that/prepare yourself/adjust to the fact. Einstellen is a compound verb. You will see in many phrases the prefix of such verbs hanging separate at the end of the phrase . Typical german! Difficult! People learning german forget to tell the prefix and that is a big mistake.
  9. um 20:45 Uhr = at 20:45 hour. You could never say that in english. Is more correct at the hour 20:45 but you would also not say that in english. Get used to it! In german that is the standard way you write it. But you pronounce it differently: 20 Uhr 45. Tricky!
  10. fahren would be translated in this case like “go”. But there is a speciality in german. You always say fahren when you go with a transportation somewhere. (fahren also means “to drive”). There is another word for “to go” in german: gehen. You use always gehen when you go somehwere by foot. You can never use it like this: Ich gehe nach Italien = I go to Italy. Then the germans would ask you: do you go by foot to Italy??? You have to say: Ich fahre nach Italien in case you go by car or Ich fliege nach Italien in case you go by airplane.
  11. Richtung = direction

Great text, isnt’t it?

P.S.: you can also listen to some people talking about Macbook Pro in the video :)) but it’s not intended as surreptitious advertising.

A Word to begin


Hello everybody,

In this blog I would like to help people trying to learn german. We all know that the easiest way to learn a language is living in that country where the language is spoken. But what if you cannot just move there? I am living in Germany since 5 years now and I want to offer all of you the possibility to learn german relaxed. That is – everyday little by little. By seeing things, by learning them in a context…as if you would be here.

I am going to post pictures taken on the streets, conversations, phrases, sometimes grammar, funny situations that I encounter in my everyday life but also infos about how things work here in case you just moved to Germany. And hopefully like this you can learn some german meanwhile you have fun reading some stories.

This being said I wish you lots of fun and let’s get started!

Regards from München,


P.S.: by the way, that’s Englisher Garten (in Munich) in the picture above.