“So fresh and so clean“
and welcome to day 7 of our epic advent calendar, and today, it is time for some house chores.
Come on, you know it needs to be done. Christmas is coming. And it’s more fun, if we do it together, so let’s get up and start cleaning.
Nah… kidding of course. I already cleaned in September, so I’m sitting pretty.
But cleaning is indeed part of the pre-Christmas routine for many people, and so today, we’ll do a little round up of
German Cleaning Words
You’ve probably heard most of them, but it’s important that you know when to use which, if you want the best cleaning results :).
Then let’s jump right in with the first one:
Waschen is simple. It is the brother of to wash and you use it for the body and for laundry, which fittingly is called die Wäsche.
- Ich wasche mir die Hände.
- I wash my hands.
- Ich muss Wäsche waschen.
- I have to do laundry.
Useful relatives are die Waschmaschine (the laundry machine) , das Waschmittel (the detergent) and the verb abwaschen, which is about doing the dishes.
If you want to know more about that – I’ve actually talked about it in one of the firstest articles ever on this site. I’ll leave a link below, for later.
Sounds really similar to waschen, but the core of this one is wiping over a surface. And by itself, it is the main word for mobbing the floor. You know… like… hey floor, you loser, having fun letting people walk all over you? I bet you don’t even have a girlfrie… what?… Oh it’s mopping the floor… ohhhh… yeah, that’s much nicer.
- Maria hat das Bad gewischt.
- Maria wet wiped/mopped the bathroom.
A useful related word is der Scheibenwischer (windshield wiper), but for most other surfaces, abwischen is the more idiomatic word.
Now, wischen actually has a couple of side meanings and a few other useful prefix versions, so if you want to dig a little deeper… I’ll leave a link to my article about wischen below.
Sometimes, there is so much dirt on the floor though, that it would be bad to mop it right away.
And that’s where the next one comes in.
Fegen is what you do with a broom, and it’s ONLY that.
- Thomas hat die Küche gefegt.
- Thomas swept the kitchen.
- Ich fege die Scherben zusammen.
- I sweep the shards together.
The word for the broom itself is der Besen and the small version is called der Handfeger.
And in religious contexts, you might also come across the word das Fegefeuer, which is the German word for the Christian purgatory. And I’m no expert on this, but I think it’s basically a “cleanse” you have to go through if you’re not “good” enough for heaven but not bad enough for hell.
Anyway, the word Fegefeuer quite literally means cleansing fire and it gives a glimpse of the older meaning of fegen, which was a more general sense of cleaning.
And that was also the original sense of the English relative of fegen, which is…. drumroll please…
the word fair. Like… fair lady or fair weather.
So, when you fegen your room, you make it fair.
But okay… let’s be honest here for a second. Most people don’t fegen their room these days, working their side abs and loosening the shoulders while doing it.
Most people today get themselves sciatica by using a vaccuum cleaning.
And that’s the next word on our list.
Staub saugen, staubsaugen
Staub means dust, and saugen means to suck. So this verb is as literal as they come, much more so than to vacuum.
“Honey, FYI, I vacuumed the living room.”
“Oh, okay I’ll put on my space suit then.”
I mean… vacuum does make sense, but Staub saugen and staubsaugen are much better.
And the big question now is of course, why there’s two versions? Are both correct? Do they mean the same?
And I have to be honest here, I had to look that up myself, and I’m not fully convinced of that yet. But it did make sense, so here it is:
If you take Staub saugen as a phrase, you have the verb saugen with Staub as a direct object (Staub). That means that you CAN’T add another direct object to it.
- I vacuum the floor.
- Ich sauge den Boden Staub… NOPE
So then, conveniently, Staub saugen turns into the inseparable prefix verb staubsaugen.
- Ich staubsauge den Boden.
Why not a separable prefix verb? Like
- Ich sauge den Boden staub?
Well… it’s just not idiomatic, is all.
Whereas if you just talk about the act of vacuuming in general, you can use the two word phrase.
- Ich sauge heute Staub.
- I vacuum today.
You could also say it using the verb
- Ich staubsauge heute.
And some people do do that, but I think overall the first version is more common, mainly because it has this nice “arc” with the second part of the verb (Staub) at the end.
And if you now feel this memorizing anxiety well up and you feel like you need to remember these confusing bits… you do NOT!
Seriously, don’t worry about it. Think of it like gossip about the Royals or Cardi B or whatever. It’s interesting to read, but it’s nothing to make an effort over.
Now, our flat is already pretty clean, but there are a few more cleaning words actually… all the more general ones.
But this was long enough already and had way too much grammar at the end, so we’ll save the rest of the verbs for some other day. In this calendar. Or another calendar. Or just randomly, when you don’t expect it.
Anyway, that’s it for today :).
Let me know in the comments, if you have any questions or suggestions.
Have a great day, and I’ll see you next time.
Word of the Day – “der Staub”
Word of the Day – “wischen”
Word of the Day – “kehren”
Word of the Day – “der Abwasch”
I find the German word for vacuum hilarious, dust sucker. I told this to my German spouse who just looked at me blankly. For them it’s just a word that doesn’t have the separate meanings. I’ve been teasing them by referring to our vacuum as a dust sucker. I think I’ll just keep this name instead of vacuum. Hilarious.
Ha, maybe it’ll catch on in English, too. I could picture an American company selling “German grade” dust suckers.
“All that dusk sucks? Well, now you can suck BACK! With the dust sucker. Engineered in Germany.”
Ich war überrascht zu lesen, dass das Bad zu wischen bedeutet, den Boden mit einem nassen Mopp sauberzumachen. Ich hätte geraten, dass es bedeuten würde, den Staub von den Oberflächen im Bad wegzuwischen. Das Wort dafür ist anscheinend abstauben, was logisch genug ist, aber ich denke, dass wischen oder abwischen genauso logisch wäre. Als ob Logik eine Rolle in der Sprache spielte…
“das Bad” insgesamt bezieht sich in dem Kontext auf den Boden. Und einen Boden wischt man nie “ab”. Das klingt echt komisch für mich :)
Oh, just for clarity on Purgatory: in Roman Catholic doctrine, if you are in Purgatory, you are definitely going to heaven. You’re just receiving the temporal consequences of your sins so as to be purified and prepared for heaven, but your eternal destiny isn’t unclear or undecided.
I’m actually following a big online reading project through Dante’s Divine Comedy (see 100daysofdante.com) and just started into Purgatorio a week or two ago. It’s really surprisingly cheerful, especially after you’ve been hanging out in the Inferno for a couple of months…
Oh, so technically, if I was a sinner a few hundred years ago, I could “donate” the least amount possible, the amount that just gets me into Purgatory, instead of paying a full “Ablass” to get to heaven right away.
I imagine it must have been REALLY hard for a priest to determine where the line is between hell and purgatory :).
I don’t want to get too polemical, because as a very committed Protestant I’m hardly neutral… but the purpose of getting an Ablass (“indulgence” in English) was actually about reducing someone’s time in Purgatory who was already there.
As I’ve generally heard it, Catholics nowadays tend to either deny that indulgences were actually being sold or argue that Tetzel & Co. were really out of bounds of Catholic teaching, something like that.
Oh, so you’d pay for, say, your dead brother who had (mildly) sinned?
That’s even more complicated then. Like… how do you know that someone is in purgatory and not in hell?
As for Catholics denying…. that sounds like something Catholics would do (I mean the organization of course, not the normal person).
This whole concept of Ablass-Handel is way too common knowledge to not have taken place. Out of bounds or not, I’m pretty sure they at least tolerated it. People are people, have been people and always will be people with all our flaws.
On the mobbing/mopping thing: actually, at least in AE, it’s idiomatic to say “they mopped the floor with the other team” to describe a crushing (sports) victory.
(although I’m wondering if “wiped” is more normal)
Yeah, I’ve heard that many times :)
Would you also use saugen in a sense of “that’s bad or sad” i.e. someone gets fired and their friend says “that really sucks”.
Nee, das ist überhaupt nicht idiomatisch :)!
Aber es gibt “saugt an meiner Energie”… das geht, aber einfach nur “saugt” geht nicht.
Was hoping to see how to use „sauber“ here. New to german and I’m following the Duolingo way of learning (too cheap to go to a language school, until i get to germany, maybe). It‘s the first word related to tidying up but I’d like to know its limitations In use, like you showed with Staubsaugen.
There aren’t any that I’m aware of. It lines up with English “clean” pretty well. If you have a specific context in mind, let me know and I’ll tell you if it works or not.
It would be interesting to see what Tobi says, but from having been learning German from DuoLingo for 3 years, I’d just say… The glass is clean. The fork, spoon, knife is clean. These are petty typical examples from Duo. They don’t, and I wish they did, get into sucking up dust or anything. ;-) Just plenty of opportunities to refer to nouns that are clean. ;-)
Let’s not forget about “The mother is clean”. Not that I’ve seen this on Duolingo, but I have seen sentence that were as weird :).
Fegen vs kehren?
In context of cleaning, there’s no real difference. “fegen” is maybe a little more about “broom” while “kehren” leans toward a hand broom. But they overlap a lot.
Oh, the chimney sweep is Schornsteinfeger or Ofenkehrer… so yeah, no real difference.
In my experience, kehren is the go-to word for “sweep” down south, or at least in Bavaria.
Also, in the Bavarian accent, gehören sounds just like kehren O_o
Also in “Schwabenland”… they have the “Kehrwoche” in all their neat tidy villages.
Bit of trivia… in the former GDR, houses would get a golden plate for being the cleanest house on the block. So tenants would clean up their hallway and the street in front of it.
I don’t know how often this award was given, but I remember seeing plenty of these plates as a kid (not in my building, though).
Now, Berlin clearly doesn’t have any of that anymore. And I don’t care, but people from the South tend to find Berlin “super dreckig”.
Meanwhile our American visitors were always oohing and aahing over how clean Berlin is…
Yeah, I can see that. I was shocked in New York about the MOUNTAINS of garbage on the street… in Manhattan, the good parts. Not to mention the metro system.
And just to add one more thing about DuoLingo. While I have encountered plenty of things that were schmutzig. It was a pleasure to learn about “dreckig”. And, I can’t help but wonder what the difference is… but, I suppose there is always the dictionary. ;-) But, learning from you, here, is so much more enjoyable. :-)
Hmmm, I can’t think of a difference between “schmutzig” and “dreckig”. I use “dreckig” much more, but that might just be regional or personal preference.
sehr interessant, dein Beitrag. Als Muttersprachlerin möchte ich noch hinzufügen, dass man tatsächlich auch einfach “saugen” benutzen kann. Und das bleibt interessanterweise transitiv, auch wenn °Staub” wegfällt. Man ersetzt dann das Objekt Staub durch ein anderes Objekt.
Ich will heute noch saugen.
Ich will heute noch den Boden saugen.
Ich sauge nachher noch das Zimmer. / Ich sauge nachher noch (Staub) im Zimmer.
Ja, stimmt. Das ist auch, was ich oft sage, aber irgendwie habe ich das total vergessen, als ich geschrieben habe :).
Danke für die Ergänzung!!
Immer schön, wenn Muttersprachler hier auch lesen. Warum liest du denn, und wie bist du hier gelandet?
Dein Blog wurde mir irgendwann mal empfohlen und ich habe deinen Newsletter abonniert. Seitdem lese ich sporadisch. Heute war die Gelegenheit mal günstig und die Zeit hat auch das Kommentieren erlaubt. :-)
I love it… Ich habe das Katzenspielzeug ausgesaugt. While translating as vacuumed the cat toy… I can see that it’s really saying.. I sucked up the cat toy! ;-) Awesome. It’s what I love about learning German. At first, words are recognized literally, until they become the concept.. vacuum. Ich sauge Staub. There’s no getting around that one… it’s too literal. Ich sauge Katzenspielzeug. That can’t be right… or can it? No thank you?
“aufgesaugt”, not “ausgesaugt”, I think :)
– Ich sauge Katzenspielzeug.
That sounds like there’s lots of Katzenspielzeug around and you set out to suck it all up. Poor cat is gonna be so bored :).
“Mobbing” is an interesting one. I have heard Germans use this word in English before because I think it is quite a catch-all term in German for general bullying but in English (at least BE) it is not so common and more favoured by sociologists. Its meaning in English is restricted to harassment of an individual by a group (a “mob”), such as in the workplace or school. Non-sociologists tend to use terms like “ganging up” or “marginalisation” for this since “mobbing” has a bit of a chin-stroking academic feel to it.
“has a bit of a chin-stroking academic feel to it.”
Not at all in German. It’s THE term for coordinated, intentional mistreatment at work.
I never realized that it was related to “the mob” but it makes perfect sense.
Still, in German, one person can “mobben” another one.
Yes it’s the most correct term for that in English too but it hasn’t quite cut through outside sociology studies and lectures from the HR department. “Bullying” would be way more popular despite the lack of precision in that word.
I only think of “mobbing” as a large crowd gathering around something to get at it, (like a sale on a much in demand toy at Christmas). Not at all academic, but I have been out of the workforce for 10 yrs. (in US)
I didn’t realize mobbing was an English word with this meaning at all – Sociology English doesn’t really count as a language XD
“Bullying” is absolutely the normal word for what’s meant in German by Mobbing.
I thought bullying ends at a certain age.
Would you also call it bullying, if a team leader makes some sophisticated moves to make one colleague feel unwelcome?
Like, no threats of violence and nothing?
I guess “bullying” does sound a little childish, although I think you could use it in that situation. Possibly something like “harassment” in the workplace scenario, although that tends to have a pretty specific range of official meanings…
According to Wiki the inventor of the term was the Austrian scientist Konrad Lorenz studying birds and animals displaying this behavior in the wild. He created a new “English” word in so doing.
Those Austrians…. they’re something special!
And two Swedes applied the term in the 1970s to collective bullying among children and in the workplace. Meanwhile England be like: “Thanks for this new English word Austria and Sweden. We’ll start using it really soon. It’s gonna be a huge hit”
XD XD XD.
The price you pay for being the go to language of the world at the moment.
I think English actually made up some terms that sound Latin but aren’t really. Can’t give you example but yeah, if a language has such an influence, it’s normal that other people start making stuff up.
Let’s clean up this text:
“a little round of up” (a little round of up – not sure if the “up” is surplus or if you meant “cleaning up”)
“mop right away” (mop it right away)
“loseing the shoulders” (loosening the shoulders)
“I vacuum to floor” (I vacuum the floor)
How do you actually clean up a text in German? What’s the verb?
So the technical term is “korrekturlesen/Korrektur lesen” (no idea whether it is one word or not, and I don’t care).
But in our context here, I think the best match is “aufräumen”.
“I vacuum [the floor] today” sounds kinda Denglisch, though… i think ‘I’m vacuuming in the floor today’ sounds more natural.
Oh, well yeah, that’ something that my brain just doesn’t do naturally. Denglish for sure!!
“I vacuum the floor today” sounds just fine in English. The other sentence with “in the floor” is the one that doesn’t sound right.
I’m pretty sure that “in” was a typo, but yeah… what region of the English speaking world are you from?
I mean, it’s not wrong… but it doesn’t mean the same as “I’m vacuuming the floor today,” at least to me. “I vacuum the floor today” sounds like “I vacuum the floor every Thursday, and today is Thursday.” Or maybe it’s something momentous: “Today is the day on which I at last vanquish the dust-bunnies on my floor.” Or possibly you’re narrating a past experience in present tense.
That’s for part two!
And I‘ve learned that the pp is: (drumroll)
One would want to say „staubgesaugt“ but I‘ve only heard gestaubsaugt.
“Gestaubgesaugt” sounds really clunky. Which happens for a lot of German words anyway!
What about “Ich habe gestern Staub gesaugt”? Is that one right then?
Yes, that’s what I would say.
But as soon as you add “das Wohnzimmer” for instance, you’d have to use “gestaubsaugt”.
You can also just use “gesaugt” in that case. Forgot to mention that in the post.
– Ich habe die Küche gesaugt.
– Ich habe Staub gesaugt.
That’s uber idiomatic, at least for me.
Jes, Elsa, “Ich habe Staub gesaugt.” ist perfect.
“gestaubsaugt” oder “Staub gesaugt” depends on which verb form you take as starting point.
“Staub saugen” is a verb with a direkt object, the past forms are “saugte, gesaugt”
Therefore you say: ich habe Staub gesaugt
“staubsaugen” you can see as a whole verb, which has the past forms “staubsaugte, gestaubsaugt”
Or you can see it as a separable verb (because of the stress on staub, I suppose), the you would say: saugte staub, staubgesaugt
Which again is very similar to “Staub saugen.”
I would say, that the Forms of Staub saugen /staubsaugen are more common. But maybe only in my generation 40+ :-)
Maybe in the younger generation there is going on a certain hesitation between the forms.
Ich habe noch eine Frage über diese Sorte Verben , die sind aus zwei Teilen ausgemacht: Nommen + Verb, Adjectiv +Verb, oder Verb+Verb .
Zum Beispiel : Staub saugen, Fein hacken, Kennen + Lernen ….etc.
Was sind die korrekte oder umgängliche Vergangenheit diesen Verben ? Ich meine Allgemeines Format ( template) ?
Im Voraus , ich danke dir .
ich glaube, das musst du ein bisschen präzisieren. Meinst du Kombinationen wie “Klavier spielen”, oder meinst du ein Wort “kennenlernen”?
Ja ich meine solche kombinierte Verben . Gibst einen allgemeines Muster ?
Danke und schönen Grüsse
Muster für was denn genau? Wann sie zusammen und wann getrennt sind? Wenn es das ist, was du meinst, dann ist die Antwort nein… ich weiß selber manchmal nicht, ob zusammen oder getrennt. Da gibt es eine Grauzone :)
Ich liebe ” Grauzone “! Es lässt viel Zeit daran nachdenken oder interpretieren.
Vielen Dank , bis Morgen .
wenn ich dich richtig verstehe, fragst du nach der Vergangenheit der Verben. Die richtet sich immer nach der Form des jeweiligen Verbs.
also: saugte Staub, hat Staub gesaugt / hackte fein, hat fein gehackt / lernte kennen, hat kennengelernt
Das ist eigentlich ganz einfach, wenn man die Verben mit ihren Partizip II-Formen kennt.
Schwieriger ist schon die Frage, wann das Substantiv noch als Substantiv geschrieben wird, wann die Verben noch getrennt oder schon zusammen geschrieben werden. Und das ist, vor allem seit der letzten Rechtschreibreform in den 90er Jahren, tatsächlich ein weites Feld. Viele schreiben seitdem eher getrennt, aber andere empfinden das dann als falsch…Ich kann dir jetzt aus dem Kopf keine Regel dafür sagen.
Habe ich deine Frage beantwortet?
Erst herzlichen Dank für deine umfangreiche Antwort . Ich verstehe jetz besser die Komplexität diese kombinierte Verben .
Ich suche nur die konjugation diese Verben besser beherrschen. Irgendwie sind diese vergleichbar bei den trennbaren Verben, einerseits, und den untrennbaren Verben andererseits. Und gibt’s
nicht eine einzige Antwort des heutigen Gebrauchs der Deutscher Sprache .
Nochmal vielen Dank
Moin, BirDo! Toll dich kennenzulernen.
Diejenigen, die (in HH) “gestaubsaugt haben” sind 50+ und es gibt noch eine, die in HH wohnt aber aus Berlin kommt, ist 80+.
Vielleicht auch ein regionaler Unterschied? Rate ich.
Wer weiß – sehr schon ist Deutsch immerhin! Meiner Meinung nach: eine der schönsten Sprachen der Welt!