Advent Calendar 15 – Cancelling 101

Cancelling 101

Hello everyone

day 15 of our Advent Calendar. And of course, the title was click-bait – I wasn’t cancelled.
But today, we’ll learn how to properly cancel someone in German.
And it’s easier than you think.
Take a bad German teacher for instance… just login to your Twitter and post this:

“My incompetent German teacher couldn’t even tell me why languages are different.
Wrong job? Look into that @goetheinstitue “

And boom. They’re cancelled.
Nah, I’m kidding of course.
What we’ll really talk about is how to translate

to cancel

One of you recently asked about that in an email and it’s a good question because there are actually several options. Like… the dict.cc has 10 inches, actually.
“OMG, did the German teacher just talked about 10 inch wieners in a lecture?! This needs to STO…!”
Chill out Karen, I said dict.cc… it’s a dictionary.
Anyway, of course we can not go over every single one of them and talk about all the nuances, but I can give the most common options and when to pick which one. Because we can actually distinguish between three types of cancelling:

  1. cancelling appointments
  2. cancelling contracts
  3. cancelling in context of TV

For the first one, when the two most common words are absagen and ausfallen. Absagen is what the person who cancels it does and it can be used for dates as well as for really official fixed dates like a concert for instance.

  • Ich sage das Date ab.
  • I cancel the date.
  • Das Konzert wurde wegen Corona abgesagt.
  • The concert was cancelled because of Corona.

Ausfallen is what the event itself does. So if I absagen a concert, that concert will ausfallen. In English, the counterpart for ausfallen would be “is/was cancelled” and it’s actually kind of handy, if you don’t or can’t say who actually cancelled it.

  • Die Filmpremiere ist ausgefallen.
  • The movie premiere was cancelled.

Cool.
The second type of cancelling is about nullifying some form of contract. If the contract for something you already have, like a work contract or a Netflix subscription for instance, then the word for cancelling it is kündigen. And if it’s just a “planned contract”, an order, then the most common word is stornieren. That works for hotel bookings for instance, but also for orders in general.

  • Maria kündigt ihren Netflix-Account.
  • Maria cancels her Netflix-subscription.
  • Kann ich meinen Flug stornieren?
  • Can I cancel my flight?
  • “Da ist ein Bier zuviel auf der Rechnung.”
    “Oh, tut mir leid, das storniere ich.”
  • “There’s one beer too many on the bill.”
    “Oh my apology, I’ll take that off.”

And then, last and kind of least, we have the cancelling in a context of TV series. And the most common option for that is absetzen.

  • Die Show wurde nach einer Staffel abgesetzt.
  • The show was cancelled after one season.

Mixing up these words does sound quite weird and might not even be understandable for a native speaker. So try to really get a sense of the three different groups.
Here they are as an overview again:

  1. cancelling appointmentsabsagen, ausfallen
  2. cancelling contractskündigen, stornieren
  3. cancelling seriesabsetzen

And that’s it for today. Now you have an idea of how to properly cancel in German :).
If you have questions about this or about some other translations for to cancel, let me know in the comments.
have a great day and bis morgen.

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Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago

There is another idea that confuses me … idea of happining ,existing, occuring …. let’s say vorkommen , geschehen,passieren,stattfinden,erfolgen,vorliegen,sein,existieren and also vorhanden/gegeben sein … which is common for what
did you discuss that before?

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Dr.Rami

add bestehen, es gibt

Dr.Rami
Dr.Rami
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

ok .. this helps

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
1 year ago

In AE one can bag something, as in „bag the fries“ – when you realize fries are fattening you bust tell the waiter to bag the fries you just ordered with your veggie burger.

If you are in the wrong state, you‘ll get them delivered to your table in a bag, next to the basket with the burger in it.

You can also 86 something. Cancel it. Kill it.

Where do they come from? Who cares – etymologists make it up as they go along because they know people will believe anything they claim.

My guess? „86 it“ comes from the Celtic word „Shoal“ and yadda yadda.

See
What
I
Did
There?

Randall
Randall
1 year ago

Prima! This was a perfect lesson during this pandemic because I have had to cancel, or had things cancelled. Do you have a good resource for writing letters?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

OK, sag mir bitte: warum haben wir dann so viele wörter für dieses Konzept?

Zuckerbaby
Zuckerbaby
1 year ago

There are always exceptions to rules of English grammar. As to split infinitives: of course, the “Star Trek” example is for emphasis. “boldly to go…” sounds a bit effete; “to go boldly…” sounds casual. “To boldly go…” works. I’ll have to look up to see what the rest of the statement is.
The post from LCantoni is really funny.

Stanzie
Stanzie
1 year ago

I discovered your blog last week. I got “addicted” right away. The explanation are so simple, yet complete at the exact level of what I need.(By the way… English is my third language, so to say that the way to explain is great for me!!!!!) Thanks for that wonderful humor that makes us understand with a smile. Being myself a teacher I “high five” that method!

Roger H
Roger H
1 year ago

My German speaking attempt was in Day 12 … a long way down … Look for the poem …. I wandered lonely as a cloud …. in English … followed by my horrible German :-) Try not to loudly laugh !!! Oops aaaargh !!!

C J
C J
1 year ago

This type of article is what brings me back every time, hoping you’ve done one. I love them. If you ever do “to request,” I can die happy.

Anne Maxwell-Jackson
Anne Maxwell-Jackson
1 year ago

As always, really useful. Will you please say how abbrechen fits in, as it was the first word for cancel that i was taught.

Mari
Mari
1 year ago

Vielen Dank für den Artikel! Du hast alles super erklärt.

PS “to properly cancel” klingt 100% richtig…

Mischa
Mischa
1 year ago

Hallo, Emanuel!
In deinem Artikel über den Verb “streichen” habe ich dieses Beispiel gelesen:
“Bitte streichen Sie unseren Auftrag!”
:-)

LCantoni
LCantoni
1 year ago

Aw, gee, I was hoping for a quiz where a unicorn had to cancel a Broadway show about squirrels because he accidentally cancelled the order for nuts, then turned the show into a TV series that got cancelled because the squirrels breached their contract.

cvickery
cvickery
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

When everyone questioned my authority on chipmunk being “little unicorn” in German, I did some research and, among other things, learned that Google thinks “Eichh” means “Welsh” in German. Is that true? Wieso? (Etymology, please)

cvickery
cvickery
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Sorry for the delayed response: If you start typing “eichhönchen” in google translate, when you get as far as “eichh” it says that means Welsh, which is the official language of Wales. Further research indicates that Google thinks Walisish is the German word for Welsh, so maybe eichh is some sort of AI fluke rather than the proper basis for an etymology question!

cvickery
cvickery
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

You’re absolutely right, of course. It was more interesting when I didn’t know what I was talking about, though.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

When do you use abbrechen?

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
1 year ago

cancelling appointments – absagen, ausfallencancelling contracts – kündigen, stornierencancelling series – absetzen

Frage: Kann man alles oben durchstreichen?

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Mit “alles oben” – habe ich appointments ,contracts, series gemeint..
Zum Beispiel : Wegen einen Computerhack müssen Fluglinien Interflug und Lufthansa alle Auslands Flüge nach Einhornshausen heute durchstreichen.
In welchem Sinn passt durchstreichen? Oder in gar keinem?

JuanMa
JuanMa
1 year ago

Thanks for this good explanation of the different varieties of cancelling, including new ones for me. Regarding the introduction to this article, I’m now curious about how would you say “to cancel someone” in German.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I also hear canceln sometimes in the sense of absagen.

Maria
Maria
1 year ago

Vielen dank! This is very helpful. I always look forward for this type of explanation. Very clear and precise so i wont make mistakes in using the terms.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
1 year ago

Guten Tag lieber Emmanuel,
Ich kannte schon Kündigen( einen Termin), Absagen, Sich/Abmelden . Aber die drei andere Verben, nämlich Ausfallen, Stornieren, Absetzen, sind neu für mich . Das erweitert meinen Wortschatz. Ich bien sehr dankbar dafür.
Bis Morgen

Pia
Pia
1 year ago

Wer vergaß 2020 absagen?

Mark
Mark
1 year ago

Danke für den sehr hilfreichen Artikel. Ich finde das Wort “kündigen” im Zusammenhang von “to cancel” übrigens lustig. Man verwendet dasselbe Wort im Zusammenhang von “to quit (a job)”.
“Lieber Chef, ich kündige!”
Naja, ich gebe zu, dass ich manchmal davon träume ;).

Peter Lobl
Peter Lobl
1 year ago

looked up cancel culture on dict.cc – interesting…
“Cancel Culture {f} [systematischer Boykott von Personen oder Organisationen, denen diskriminierende Haltungen vorgeworfen werden]”
i sometimes forget Kultur is inherently feminine, unless you deal with it indirectly – then it’s suddenly masculine – of course!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Unless the comment is about “der Boykott”, I guess?