Advent Calender 2019 – Allow

Written By: Emanuel Updated: April 6, 2021


Hello everyone

day two of our epic Advent Calender. Today, we’re actually going to peek into the book I am working on at the moment (aka the last 5 years). Please don’t ask when it’s done. My inner critic is strong! But 2020 is the year.
Anyway, today  we’ll find out the secret behind the verb erlauben.
Viel Spaß :)



Erlauben means to allow and the two really look like they’re related. But they’re actually not. To allow is a fusion of the Latin based words to allocate and to laud, created by French and then imported into English. Erlauben on the other hand actually belongs to the family of  love and lieb and it was originally about the notion of getting into a state of liking or appreciating.
Soon, it took on a notion of showing that love outward, and from “showing some love” it’s not very far to “give blessing” and finally just giving permission.

die Erlaubnis – the permission
erlaubt – permitted

  • Ich erlaube das nicht.
  • I won’t allow/permit that.
  • Maria hat mir erlaubt, ihren Computer zu benutzen.
  • Maria let me use her computer. (lit.: “permitted me”)
  • Ich habe mir erlaubt, deinen Computer zu benutzen.
  • I took the freedom to use your computer.

By the way: the word der Urlaub (vacation) is actually the noun version of erlauben and it originally meant “the allowance to leave work”. That’s why children can’t have Urlaub – they’re not working. What they get is Ferien. They can “fahren in den Urlaub” (go on vacation) with their parents though.


Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about that.
Have a superb day and wir sehen uns morgen!

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