Advent Calendar 7 – So fresh and so clean

So fresh and so clean

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Hello everyone,

and welcome to day 7 of our epic advent calendar, and today, it is time for some house chores.
Hooray!
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 :).
Sounds good?
Then let’s jump right in with the first one:

waschen

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.
Great.
Next.

wischen

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

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.
All right.

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.

 

further reading:

Word of the Day – “der Staub”
Word of the Day – “wischen”
Word of the Day – “kehren”
Word of the Day – “der Abwasch”

4.8 18 votes
Article Rating

Newsletter for free?!

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Your Thoughts and Questions

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
64 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Desdra
Desdra
7 months ago

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.

Scott
Scott
7 months ago

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…

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago

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…

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago

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.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

(although I’m wondering if “wiped” is more normal)

Sue
Sue
8 months ago

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”.

Sue
Sue
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke!

Tobi
Tobi
8 months ago

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.

Chip
Chip
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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. ;-)

Jim
Jim
8 months ago

Fegen vs kehren?

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Meanwhile our American visitors were always oohing and aahing over how clean Berlin is…

Chip
Chip
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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. :-)

BirDo
BirDo
8 months ago

Hallo Emanuel,
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.

Viele Grüße,
Birke

BirDo
BirDo
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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. :-)

Chip
Chip
8 months ago
Reply to  BirDo

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?

aoind
aoind
8 months ago

“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.

aoind
aoind
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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.

michele
michele
8 months ago
Reply to  aoind

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)

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  aoind

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.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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…

aoind
aoind
8 months ago
Reply to  aoind

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.

aoind
aoind
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

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”

Elsa
Elsa
8 months ago

Hello,
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?
Bis morgen!

Thor Rudbek
Thor Rudbek
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

“I vacuum [the floor] today”  sounds kinda Denglisch, though… i think ‘I’m vacuuming in the floor today’ sounds more natural.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago
Reply to  Thor Rudbek

“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.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

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.

Mark
Mark
8 months ago

Kein Putzen???

Amerikanskan
Amerikanskan
8 months ago

And I‘ve learned that the pp is: (drumroll)

Gestaubsaugt.

One would want to say „staubgesaugt“ but I‘ve only heard gestaubsaugt.

Elsa
Elsa
8 months ago
Reply to  Amerikanskan

Really?
“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?

BirDo
BirDo
8 months ago
Reply to  Elsa

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.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
8 months ago
Reply to  BirDo

Hello Birdo
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 .

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ja ich meine solche kombinierte Verben . Gibst einen allgemeines Muster ?
Danke und schönen Grüsse

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
8 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ich liebe ” Grauzone “! Es lässt viel Zeit daran nachdenken oder interpretieren.
Vielen Dank , bis Morgen .

BirDo
BirDo
8 months ago
Reply to  Ahmad Mazaheri

Hallo Ahmad,

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?

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
8 months ago
Reply to  BirDo

Hallo BirDo,
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

Amerikanskan
Amerikanskan
8 months ago
Reply to  BirDo

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!