Word of the Day – “brauchen”

brauchen-gebraucht-verbraucHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. A very special one because….
it is number 200!!!! Wohooo! The 200th post.
And to celebrate that, let’s look at one of the most important words ever. A word you’ll need every day.  Get ready to explore the meaning of

brauchen

 

When you look up brauchen in a dictionary, you’ll find that it means to need.
And it does mean to need, but there is one very crucial grammatical difference that leads to a LOT of mistakes.
But that’s not the only thing we’ll talk about.
We’ll also look at some really cool relatives like verbrauchen  and der Gebrauch  and we’ll explore the family ties that bind all the meanings together. And that’s actually what we’ll start with. So are you ready for a little trip in time?
Perfect, then let’s jump right in.

And I have a really crazy family reveal for you. Like… soap opera level crazy.
Are you ready to get your mind blown?
Okay, so here it goes… brauchen is related to … drum-roll please… fruit.
Sounds crazy but it’s true. And we can see it a little better when we look at the German word for fruit: die Frucht. Brauchen – Frucht. I mean… they’re not exactly twins, but there is a resemblance.
Now, how did we get such a crazy relation?
Well,  at the start of it all is the ancient Indo-European root *bhrūg which had a really interesting double meaning: fruit and enjoy. Makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. The hunt hasn’t been too successful. Only an old skinny rabbit and a few chewy roots for the whole cavemen family. Another meager dinner. But then young Grok comes back from collecting firewood and says: “Grok find many fruit!”.
And everyone is like: “Yeaaay. Fruit, fruit, fruit.”
Now you might be like “Ewww fruits are gross.” but that’s only because we are oversaturated with sugar… sodas, ice cream, chocolate, cake, BBQ-sauce. But our ancestors didn’t have that. For them, sugary food was something really special and so it makes sense that they used the same word for fruit and enjoy.
Now, this double meaning of fruit and joy completely carried over to Latin and it’s even still kind of visible in the English word fruition. Today, fruition  means something like completion but it used to mean enjoyment a while ago… which is what you feel if you plan comes to fruition.

And what about brauchen?
Well, the evolution of the meaning of brauchen pretty much mirrors the development of an addiction.
At first you’re like “Man, I really enjoy a good piece of chocolate. As a special treat.
But then comes a stressful situation, like… say… a lockdown and before you know it, you sound more like this:
I eat (use) chocolate every day… don’t know why… because it’s there, I guess.“.
And then, after a while, you actually get nervous when there’s no chocolate
I need chocolate… helps me relax.“And you buy more.
That’s roughly the path brauchen took.
From really enjoying, to using everyday, to needing.
And actually, the second step, the using is at the core of most prefix versions.
But let’s look at some examples for the normal brauchen first.

  • Ich brauche ein bisschen Zeit.
  • I need a bit of time.
  • Wie lange brauchst du?
  • How long do you need?

In phrasings like this one, the two verbs are exactly the same. But there is a BIG difference when it comes to using them with other verbs (we’ll get to that later).
And they’re also different with regards to related words.
English has a noun the need, and German has a noun der Brauch. And they certainly are gonna be translations for each other. Right? RIGHT?
Well… nope!

  • There is no need to worry about it.
  • Das ist kein Grund, sich Sorgen zu machen.
  • For the time being, the bank is in no further need for cash.
  • Die Bank hat vorerst keinen weiteren Bedarf an Bargeld.

The translation for the need depends on context, but it’s definitely NOT der Brauch or any other word based on brauchen.
Because the relatives of brauchen – and there are quite a few of them – are about something different…

brauchen – related words

Do you remember the evolution of brauchen? From enjoying, to using to needing?
Well, the need-meaning is actually fairly “young” and the secret of to all the related words is that they kind of got stuck with the second stage… the using.
And that’s why  der Brauch does NOT mean a need, but instead  custom, in the sense of tradition. A habit or behavior people “use” regularly.
And while Brauch is not that useful in daily life, the word gebraucht is. Yes, it’s the ge-form of brauchen, so we do use it as to need.

  • Thomas war nicht da, als Maria ihn gebraucht hat.
  • Thomas wasn’t there when Maria needed him.

But gebraucht is also used as an adjective in the older sense of used and it’s THE word for second hand in German.

  • Das Fahrrad ist gebraucht.
  • The bike is second hand. (lit.: used)

Now, to be really precise, this second-hand gebraucht is technically not the ge-form of brauchen but of gebrauchen. Yes, that’s a thing, as well. A while back,  brauchen and  gebrauchen both meant to use, and while brauchen went on,  gebrauchen didn’t change. It’s not used as a verb that much, but the related words are REALLY common.

  • Das kann ich nicht gebrauchen.
  • I don’t need that/I have no use for that.
  • Jim ist Gebrauchtwagenhändler.
  • Jim is a used car salesman.
  • Ich verstehe die Gebrauchsanweisung/-anleitung nicht.
  • I don’t understand the user manual (lit.: “use-instruction”)
  • Vor Gebrauch kräftig schütteln.
  • Shake well before using.

Cool.
Another really important one is verbrauchen. The ver-prefix adds its idea idea of away to the sense of using and boom… we got ourselves the German word for consume, use up. 

  • Dieser Tesla verbraucht viel Benzin.
  • This Tesla uses a lot of gas.
  • “Hast du Maria mal gesehen?”
    “Ja, die sieht voll verbraucht aus.”
  • “Have you seen Maria lately?”
    “Yes, she looks totally depleted.”

  • Der Verbraucherschutz in Deutschland ist ziemlich gut.
  • Consumer/customer protection in Germany is pretty good.
  • “Zu verbrauchen bis:  3. 4. 2018″
  • Use before: April 3rd 2018″

Besides verbrauchen, there is also aufbrauchen which is quite literally to use up and at least in context of food it puts a slight stress on using as opposed to throwing it away. But it’s not used all that much in daily life anyway.
So yeah, these are the most important related words for brauchen and you’ll definitely need those. There are some others related words out there, but with the idea of using in mind, you’ll be able to get them from context, I think.
So let’s rather turn back to brauchen and talk about the issue many many people are making mistakes with… to need in combination with activities.

Where we need to be careful – brauchen and verbs

In the examples that we had for the verb brauchen, we were talking about people or things. 

  • Ich brauche jemanden/etwas.
  • I need someone/something.

In that regard, brauchen and to need work exactly the same.
Now, to need can also be connected with activities.

  • I need to sleep.

And this does NOT work with brauchen. Like… not at all!!

  • Ich brauche zu schlafen…. is WRONG

People might understand you but it sounds really really really wrong.
The proper word here is the “standard” German word to express obligation… üssen.

  • Ich muss schlafen.
  • I really need to start learning vocabulary.
  • Ich muss wirklich anfangen, Vokabeln zu lernen.

Many people are really used to this phrasing with to need and they kind of use brauchen automatically. But that’s only half the reason for why there are so many mistakes.
The other half is the fact that German is totally inconsistent.
Because while this doesn’t work…

  • You need to hurry.
  • Du brauchst dich beeilen.NOPE

… the following DOES work

  • You don’t need to hurry.
  • Du brauchst dich nicht (zu) beeilen.

And to make it even more confusing, this also works.

  • You just have to hurry.
  • Du brauchst dich nur zu beeilen.
  • You have but to hurry. (lit.)

So apparently, nicht and nur have magical grammar changing powers and when they’re in the sentence it’s suddenly okay to connect an activity. And honestly, I have no idea why…. it’s just how it is, in all its random, inconsistent beauty.

  • You  need to wait.
  • Du brauchst (zu) warten uber wrong :C
  • You don’t need to wait.
  • Du brauchst nicht (zu) warten... just fine :D

In writing, müssen is probably the better pick but in daily conversation people do use nicht/nur brauchen.

 

  • “Ich kann Bier mitbringen.”
    “Brauchst du nicht. Ich habe eine Kasten.”
  • “I can bring beer.”
    “You don’t need to. I have a case.”
    (this one is pretty common)
  • Wenn du erst zwei Tage vor dem Test anfängst zu lernen, brauchst du dich nicht (zu) wundern, wenn du verkackst.
  • If you start learning only two days before the test, you don’t need/have to be surprised if you screw up. (lit.)
  • Wenn dir die Musik zu laut ist, brauchst du es nur (zu) sagen, dann mach’ ich sofort leiser.
  • If the music is too loud for you you just have to say it and I’ll turn it down right away.

And after looking at these examples, I think most of you are low key having the same question … what about the zu?
Does it have to be there or not?
Well, believe it or not but it’s actually up … us, the speakers.  WE can decide. Our will matters. Power to the speakers, hooray.
No need for a stupid and complicated rule. Take note, Mr. Grammar and tremble, for if you can be beaten here you can be beaten anywhere. You shall bind us no more. We’ve tasted freedom of rules. A very sweet taste. Henceforth we’ll speak the way we want. And no one …. shall….  correct uuuuuuuus!!!!!!
To the barricades, comrad… oh… oh… I uh… I think I had too much coffee. I need it to function, but I think that last quadruple esperesso was too much.
But hey.. “I need coffee to function”… that sentence actually reminds me of another issue with translating to need.
If we see sentence…

  • I need coffee to function.

…we’ll most likely understand that coffee is a prerequisite for us functioning.

  • I need coffee (in order) to function
  • Ich brauche Kaffee, um zu funktionieren.

But the phrasing actually has a second meaning. It can also express that we want to the coffee to function.

  • I need coffee to function… so go away with all that decaf-crap.

The coffee example might not be the best  so here’s a more practical one…

  • I need you all to be quiet.

This is a request, a demand toward the people. Kind of a mix between

  • You all must/have to be quiet.   and
  • I want you to be quiet.

This phrasing does NOT work with brauchen,  neither in the positive or the negative. The best match is again müssen.

  • Ich brauche euch alle leise zu sein… is wrong
  • Ihr müsst bitte alle leise sein… is correct. 

So yeah, maybe it’s best if you think of brauchen as JUST needing things or persons and stop using it with verbs completely until you have enough sprachgefühl.

And with that said, I think we can wrap this up :).
This was our German word of the Day brauchen. It comes from a word that meant fruit and joy. Then it changed to to use, a meaning which is still present in Gebrauch and verbrauchen, and then brauchen shifted again and became to need. Tune in in 300 years to find out what it’s gonna mean next.
If you want to recap and check how much you remember, just take the little quiz I have prepared for you. And of course, if you have any questions about brauchen or the prefix words or if you want to try out some examples just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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JamieMiller
JamieMiller
1 year ago

Ever since embarking on my German journey, I’ve enjoyed noticing how archaic, idiomatic phrasings in English often end up feeling extra German:

“You need not go” (Du brauchst nicht zu gehen)

“I think not!” (Often used when preventing someone from DOING something, not just disagreeing with them. I highly doubt a literal translation like “Ich glaube/denke (doch) nicht!” works at all, but the sentence structure of [Subject] [verb] [negation] is very rare in English and very common in German)

“Such is life” ([ ] [verb] [subject])

It’s almost like the languages are related…

JamieMiller
JamieMiller
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

And just like that, I suddenly find myself watching Youtube videos about Frisian. Very cool!

anonym
anonym
1 year ago

Hallo

Ich weiß, dass Sie gesagt haben, dass “brauchen” nicht mit “zu” verwendet werden kann (außer mit nicht oder nur). Aber ich habe das Folgende gelesen:

Ich brauche die Sonne zum Fotografieren. 

Kann man “brauchen” und “zu” mit einem nominalisierten Verb verwenden?

Danke im Voraus

ubungmachtdenmeister
ubungmachtdenmeister
7 years ago

Another great post as always. It has actually cleared up several mysterious brauchen meanings for me. As for the brauchen ohne nicht oder nur, i think i already knew that, but just kind of implied. Ive not tried an example on here for ages and i’m feeling one today so here goes.
Wie hast du es machen, so schön zu funktionieren?
Das brauchst du nicht zu wissen. Es funktioniert ganz gut. Du musst doch nicht mehr wissen!

How did you make that work so well?
You don’t need to know that. It works really well. That’s all you need to know.

In my imagination it is 2 programmers looking at the operation of a machine, and 1 keeping his cards close to his chest.

Wie wäre das?

ubungmachtdenmeister
ubungmachtdenmeister
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ah man! did i leave out the ge- form again? Das kann doch nicht wahr sein! I thought the doch kind of added a snappy-ness to the reply. Like, even if you did need to know, i wouldn’t tell you anyway. Particles are a real pain in the ass. I think you just absorb them over time, well, a long time anyway. Even english ones are tricky at times. Take for example when you believe something to be true.
Is that true?
yes i do – fine
Yeah i think – wrong
Yeah i think so – correct but why?
The so just needs to be there, maybe it connects to the previous statement or something but it has to be there. Also it is super ueber wrong to use that in the german translation.

Ist das wahr?
ja – definitely ok
Ja, das denke ich. – i think is fine
ja, ich denke so – im sure this is wrong, like maybe the so is speaking about how the way you think is similar rather than about the actual question
Ja ,ich glaube es so – i think is maybe not wrong but a different angle on the reply. like “i believe it to be like that” or something.

Weisst du, was ich meine?

Ubungmachtdenmeister
Ubungmachtdenmeister
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Du auch und ein glückliches neues Jahr! Heute habe ich schon 5 großen Teller Essen weggefressen und bin jetzt nicht fertig mit dem weinacht-essen. Oh Mann! Schlafflos sei ich nicht.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

The history of “fruit” and “enjoy/use/need” is very interesting, especially seeing how it influenced different Indo-European languages. For example, the Spanish verb for “to enjoy” is “disfrutar,” which makes sense when viewed in this context. I didn’t realize the extent to which Latin and other historic, non-Germanic languages influenced German itself!

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

check this out German Rocket languages course!
highly professional
click here to see more [link removed]

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Please release the next article on the 17th

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It was my birthday on the 17th))

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It’s OK) I didn’t check it on the 16th, only the 17th so I was still happy to see an article particularly useful to me. Thanks))

Kuichen
Kuichen
7 years ago

Es wird bald Weihnachten sein und ich brauche nicht (zu) sagen, wie schwer es ist, um ein passendes Weihnachtsgeschenk für meine Freundin herauszufinden. Nach dem stundenlangen erfolglosen Surfen im Internet habe ich mein Geduld endlich verbraucht und habe mich entscheidet, den ersten Artikel auf der Auflistung von Ebay zu kaufen. Hier ist die Artikelbeschreibung: Fallschirm, nur einmal gebraucht, nie geöffnet.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Kuichen

Drei kleine Korrekturen: 1. “um” muss weggelassen werden, 2. meine Geduld, 3. entschieden.

Nun ist die Frage eher an Emanuel: passen “herausfinden” und “vebrauchen” zu dem Zusammenhang? Das mit der Geduld – wenn, dann sollte es nicht eher “aufgebraucht” sein? Und herausfinden kann man ein Geschenk aus einem Geschenkehaufen. Abstrakt kann man sich einen solchen sogar vorstellen, aber ob das Verb trotzdem passt…

Jae Lee
Jae Lee
7 years ago

From few series back, you told us that you are trying to publish a book (like a compendium of all of the contents written in this blog. I wonder whether you have an interest in publishing the contents for people who cannot speak English as well…? I am pretty confident that the approach you are taking would be effective to students from Asia as well.

jamie
jamie
7 years ago

Where do you learn everything about the history of these words?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  jamie

There are various etymological dictionaries. E.g. there is one at DWDS.de

jamie
jamie
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Oh wow, I didn’t know etymological dictionaries existed. I even found one for English. So interesting to read this stuff. Thank you!

Maria T.
Maria T.
7 years ago

Your posts brighten my day in those moments when I’m trudging through some German grammar, hopelessly confused. Luckily, laughing makes German grammar less painful and I find your humour well…quite humurous….so thank you for that, and I also think that you have a real gift for being able to explain things very clearly and succintly without losing precision. Can’t wait to keep learning through your posts!

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Besides paypal, which I dislike, is there another way to donate?

berlingrabers
7 years ago

Oh, also, how would you describe the difference between “Bedarf” and “Bedürfnis”?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago

One more thing that could be useful in an article like this is the mention of the colloquial subjunctive form of brauchen: bräuchten.

“Ich bräuchte mehr Geld, als ich habe, um das zu kaufen.”

The official form is, of course, “brauchte”, but since it coincides with the simple past form, it’s pretty useless, so instead of “ich würde brauchen” everyone says “ich bräuchte”. It’s built by applying the rule for many strong verbs (turning the root vowel of the simple past form into umlaut) to “brauchen”, which is a weak verb. I would even suppose that an average German sees this as the only true form.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

> What makes you think “brauchte” is the official form?

Like, every reference work :)

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

> What makes you think “brauchte” is the official form?

Just for fun:

Duden: http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/brauchen (note however that they include bräuchte in their conjugations table without any problem, even as they always mark it as umgangssprachlich in the comments; Duden is therefore the most progressive of the standard works on this issue)
Wahrig: http://books.google.de/books?id=sZGwuIt2FEMC&lpg=PR7&pg=PA269#v=onepage&q&f=false (umgangssprachlich)
PONS: http://books.google.de/books?id=A4JlrVYewZcC&lpg=PA251&pg=PA252#v=onepage&q&f=false http://books.google.de/books?id=JoNmAwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA30&pg=PA30#v=onepage&q&f=false (falsch, grammatisch nicht korrekt)
And online (but still fine! ;)
Canoo: http://www.canoo.net/inflection/brauchen:V:haben
Wiktionary: http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/brauchen

I suppose in 20 years it will also be an (or the) official form, but today it’s still not.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

> But seriously… for all learners reading this, you will not do yourself a favor sticking with “brauchte” because it will not be understood correctly at least half of the time.

And moreover, they will be corrected by the Germans ;)

My personal choice is to use bräuchte in speech and in online conversations, like here, but whenever I need to use the subjunctive in more official contexts, I would use “würde brauchen”.

Almost the same with the genitive after “wegen” (except I would also use it here, but not in some other, even less formal online “watering holes”) :)
It’s a matter of style/speech mode.

PS: I suppose from various comments about “bräuchte” being South-German, that the subjunctive “brauchte” may still be used in, say, Northern Germany…

PPS: As for Belles Lettres, it’s true that he is sort of “anti-establishment”, but for me he’s not much different from, say, Sick. Like Sick, he tries to establish some “rules” for the German language (nothing wrong with that! I like rules :) ), it’s just that his preferred principles are different (for Sick it’s “Duden says so”, even as he so often misuses it; for the BL-guy it’s “it’s (not) in accordance with these and these and these sciency principles”). One of his last pieces, the one about gender in German, sort of coincided with my reading of Wustmann’s Allerhand Sprachdummheiten, and also reminded me of Sick. I would put all three into one category – that of the people, who complain about how other people speak or write, even if their reasons may be different. Though again, I don’t find anything wrong with it in principle. And anyway, time is the ultimate judge, which is why Wustmann’s book looks so comical now. So probably will our discussions in 100 years :D

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Nope, haven’t read the FB group. And yes, he sometimes writes that there is such and such rule without giving any reference, even though the alleged rule is the main point of the article.
All that said, his site is informative enough to overlook the problematic aspects (same with Sick). Everything can be useful when used critically and with a modicum of common sense.

No, I haven’t heard of KEGLI. Thanks for the tip. Whenever I google for some “linguistic” topic concerning German, I (almost) always find that there is a whole book (or several!) devoted to it. Like, the “non-standard weil”, the compound nouns of types adj+noun or verb+noun, brauchte vs. bräuchte ;) and so on. Unfortunately, most are not available online (even in the “pirate” libraries). Too obscure, I guess.

BTW, I found this article yesterday which reminded me of our discussion of möchten:
https://doc.rero.ch/record/30664/files/N_f_Anton_-_M_chten_ist_nicht_m_gen_ein_siebtes_Modalverb_im_Deutschen_20121121.pdf

Oh, and this one popped up just now:

http://www2.rz.hu-berlin.de/linguistik/institut/syntax/krakau2006/beitraege/reviczky_balogh.pdf

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I was searching for that first article and unexpectedly found this one as the first result :)

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

“I’ll need a hammer” has the same sort of nuance as “ich bräuchte mal einen Hammer”, I think. At least by implication – “If you want me to do the thing you want me to do, I’ll need a hammer…”

“I’d need…” sounds hypothetical. But “I could use…” also sounds like an implicit request, at least if you’re saying it to someone who’s in any position to provide what you could use.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I guess it’s yet another highly context-driven thing. You could definitely say “I’ll need a hammer” if the nail is right there – that’s exactly when it would have the force of a request, assuming you’re supposed to do something about the nail. I don’t think you could draw a “need = use” equivalency, though. All you’re really saying is, “Unless you can get me a hammer, I can’t do anything about this.” So it’s probably the best all-around translation for “Ich bräuchte mal” – it would also work for the customer-service example in your other comment:

– “I’ll just need your 4-digit customer PIN.”
– “I can’t remember it.”
– “OK, then I’ll need your birthdate and address.”

“I could use” would sound lightly ironic, sort of admonishing – so it would work in the hammer example if it’s your friend asking you for help with a nail but not handing you a hammer, but it would be rude from a customer-service person.

“I’ll need X” can mean you don’t need it now, but only if in context you’re talking about a future task or situation. I think it takes a present meaning often because “I need X” tends toward sounding like a general reality in your life (“I need coffee to wake up in the morning”). “I need a hammer” just sounds like you don’t own one and that’s a problem. It could definitely mean you need one right now for this here nail, but the sentence doesn’t tell you that by itself. Similarly, “I could use a hammer” can of course mean “Using a hammer would be a possibility for me,” but the “I need” meaning is so common that you’d need more context to tell you it doesn’t mean that:

– “How are you going to get that beer bottle open?”
– “Hmm… I could use a hammer.”

Funnier:

– “How are you going to get that beer bottle open?”
– “I’ll need a hammer…”

Changing topics slightly, would you say the real/written past form is more common for “brauchen” when you’re talking about something you needed in the past? Since “gebrauchen” is a separate verb, “Ich habe gebraucht…” is ambiguous, isn’t it?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel
berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I think I see what you mean there… but future “I’ll need” is just so broad and feels the same whether there’s any implication of use there or not:

– I’ll need the full cooperation of your staff.
– I’ll need total silence.
– I’ll need some assurance that you’re acting in good faith.

It’s really just setting a condition, like I said (assuming, again, that it’s not just predicting a future need). Honestly, the simple present version feels closer to your suggestion to me.

MacFeagel
MacFeagel
7 years ago

It’s snow? I thought I was having a stroke.

berlingrabers
7 years ago

Ich brauche den Schnee! (Just kidding. But I like it.)

“Der Brauch” as “custom” is actually pretty intuitive for me (at least, knowing the “use” dimension of “brauchen”) – a custom is something that you’re used to doing, or that you always used to do. :) Obviously, “use” has lost its connection to habit/custom in modern English aside from those two phrasings (“be used to” bzw. “used to”), but it pops up in older texts now and again.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Hi Emanuel! Is there a faster way to see all the titles of your blog entries? Right now to see what you have written it seems the only way is to click on the “Older posts” link again and… again…

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yeah I saw that. But it seems quite many of your posts are not listed there (I’m pretty sure this “brauchen” and “kennen vs wissen” are not there). Does it happen automatically that every time there’s a new post it will be added there?

scryx
scryx
7 years ago

Please turn of the snow, my computer is dying :(

Segun
Segun
7 years ago

Hi, fantastic blog! I love these in depth analysis of verbs or expressions. I think it is the only way not to feel lost when trying to use them.
I think they really encourage to finally start German some day :)

Just about Du brauchst dich nicht (zu) beeilen, I was wandering… Doesn’t it seem this apparently nonsense usage related to the dich introduced here. It seems like a kind of reflexive form, so sticking somehow to the rule need someone / something, in this case oneself. Looks like a colloquial variant to the written form with muss. Perhaps when having nicht and nur, in the oral usage, usage has dropped the reflexive pronoun for the sake of language economy… wait, nop, this is German! ;)

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago
Reply to  Segun

It is a reflexive form, but it belongs to beeilen. I don’t see the problem.

lotrf3
lotrf3
7 years ago

I would always say “Ich brauche Kaffee” to myself. But then one day I started doubting myself; do I actually have a silent verb in my English “I need (to drink) Coffee”? So I started saying “Ich muss Kaffee trinken”. Then I wondered if I could omit the trinken, like I could in English… haha… yeah, right, ’cause German is gonna let me get away with that one.

But as soon as you mentioned the addiction-like history of brauchen, I knew found my home right back in “Ich brauche Kaffee”

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I for one ALWAYS have to coffee in the morning…

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
7 years ago

missbrauchen