Grammar Jargon

This section aims at explaining the grammar terminology and to clarify the concept behind the linguistic terms. These concepts are most of the time surprisingly simple, their names however make them seem as if they are some ancient Greek or Latin voodoo. Try to read the article on Finnish grammar on Wikipedia if you want to know what I mean.
Don’t get me wrong, linguistic terminology is an indispensable tool to describe and compare languages. For the average language learner though they might be counterproductive. Grammar Jargon sure is a language of its own and  you are already busy learning another.

In this section we will talk about in a lingo that everyone can understand. The focus will be on the stuff you need for German, but lots of the concepts are universally applicable. So sit back, relax and disclose the secrets of grammar jargon.

What the heck are cases?

This article shines some light on the idea of cases in general. It doesn’t talk about cases in a specific language too much but rather gives an overview of how cases can and do work all around the world. We’ll look at what they do, how they do it and we could do do dodge ’em.

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What the heck is “to conjugate”

Conjugation is one of the things you are confronted with in any language class… unless you learn Swedish. It is pretty simple and the term might sound familiar to you but maybe you can’t quite put your finger on what exactly it means. So if you need an update on that… check out the link above.

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What the heck are prepositions

The term is thrown around a lot in language courses and you need them everyday in German and English… and they cause a lot of trouble for language learners. Misuse of prepositions is one of the biggest source of error in German and it is by far the most confusing… get a case wrong … well ok. But get a preposition wrong and it might alter meaning.
This article won’t solve all these problems but it will explain, what prepositions do, how to recognize them, compare German and English ones and answers the question whether prepositions are necessary at all :).

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What the heck does “transitive” and “intransitive” mean?

This opinionated post takes a look at the terms transitive and intransitive. We’ll see what it means and if it is really necessary to use these words…

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coming up at some point:

– What the heck is a complement

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Niya
Niya
6 years ago

Thank you very much for this great Blog. I find the way you explain in English the most useful. Your site has helped me quite a lot. I was wondering whether you had a detailed write up on dadurch, in dem and somit also ohne dass and ohne zu. I always struggle to use them in a sentence simply because I don’t know the difference! I would greatly appreciate it if you could post something on this. Vielen Dank im Voraus :)

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Hey, very nice blog you have here. Thank you for your effort. But you could please explain how to use “bei” ? there are a lot of situations when germans use it in very different situations. Much appreaciate!

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

Will you do a blog on explaining Dativ and Akkusativ AFTER a preposition? To round out the cases blog, which has that area left out? B…b…b…bitte?

novellizator
7 years ago

I habe einen anderen Vorschlag – “What the heck is a ‘modal verb’?”. Warum gibts verschiedene Modalverben in verschiedenen Sprachen? Woran kommt es drauf?

novellizator
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

hahaha, danke!

vardhini
vardhini
7 years ago

Wow! This site’s really great

Nicole
Nicole
7 years ago

I don’t understand how you know which preposition to use and where :/ help please?

Cathleen
7 years ago

Hi there,
I am learning German in a German college and I really am struggling to get my head around vor zeit eninen eninen ect could you please help

Best wishes
Cat x

Confused
Confused
8 years ago

Is there one for when to use ‘bei’ or ‘in’ or ‘von’ or ‘zu’ or ‘mit’ or ‘fuer’ or………? I’m constantly lost and confused…

Marco
Marco
8 years ago

Just a though: why some of your blog entries that relate to this section (like what the heck are adverbs) are not here?
Same for the online course; It’s a mistake or you didin’t want to do it at all?

undsoweiter
undsoweiter
8 years ago

Yup, knew I was right! Thanks for the confirmation!

undsoweiter
undsoweiter
8 years ago

I want to go back to passive land for a second…I was told, and perhaps told incorrectly, that a first-person or second-person pronoun cannot be used in a passive sentence. I mean when someone says ich werde von etwas verbrannt (I’m being burned by something) that cannot be used as a passive but one can say das Haus wird verbrannt (the house is being burned). Só my question is, is it technically passive a pronoun is in the nominative (subject), or does good ol’ regular vorgangspassive only apply to 3. person objects?

´Danke im Voraus :)

germerican48
8 years ago

I looked around, but I don’t see anything about Konjunktiv II (real/irreal/gegenwar/vergangenheit….blah). Do you have something on that I am missing? If not, it would be awesome if you did. :) You have a great way of explaining things, so maybe you have a trick for remembering it. To me, these sound like the same thing:

– Ich wäre gern in deises Konzert gegangen, wenn es noch Karten gegeben hätte.

– Ich würde gern in dieses Konzert gehen, wenn es noch Karten geben würde.

My German tutor keeps explaining the subtle difference, but it just won’t stick in my brain!

Thanks for all your helpful German knowledge!

germerican48
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

That’s great! That part is clear, but when to use wäre/wurde/hätte, etc., is so confusing when I actually try to construct a sentence on my own. Like this other example:

Wenn ich als Kind bei den Eskimos gelebt hätte, …

First, I am not sure how to finish that sentence – using “würde ich something something verb würde” or wäre or hätte. Second, it is confusing because it is in the past, so it uses gelebt hätte, but it didn’t actually happen…brain explosion. While the concept makes sense, the sentence structure does not.

germerican48
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks!!

Vasile
Vasile
8 years ago

Hi Emanuel,
my name is Vasile and I would like to ask you to explain the diathesis in german. I could find it somewhere else on the internet, but I really like the way you name things so please be so good and shed some light over it. Here I found for the first time that german has multiple diathesis http://conjd.cactus2000.de/showverb.php?verb=machen&var=0&pas=3&sen=1 and i didn’t get what the fork the Aktiv, Aktiv refl. Akk., Aktiv refl. Dat., Vorgangspassiv and ZUSTANDSPASSIV means. Save us master!!! :)

Vasile
Vasile
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It helped very much, thank you. An interesting thing I found now searching on wikipedia and namely here http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aktiv_und_Passiv_im_Deutschen where is said that you can form the vorgangpassiv with verbs bekommen and even with kriegen. I think though that those are not widely used. Thank you again!

Breezy
Breezy
8 years ago

*relating to…

Breezy
Breezy
8 years ago

I read your lesson on the da words and it was very helpful. Although, could you please clarify dadurch? Specifically with it real ring to modalsätze dadurch…dass and indem, I am confused on the sentence structure of the dadurch dass satz and in which situations one would use dadurch…dass versus indem.

isotta
isotta
8 years ago

finally I can say that my 8 years of Latin are useful. Cases come from latin, like much of the German structure. I might need 3 days to remember a word I never heard about but it took me 10 minutes to understand the whole German structure of a sentence ;)

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Context is EVERYthing, and I appreciate this insight more than I can say. Thanks!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

But I’m always willing to consider other possibilities and will take your note under advisement. Thanks!

carlastockton
8 years ago

It’s in Mit der Geschwindigkeit des Somers, by Julia Schoch. I translated it as enduring or steadfast or persistent. It refers to an image fixed in the narrator’s brain of a dead sister. . . Gleichmäßig was actually easy — refers to plastic bags, shimmering in the rain.

carlastockton
8 years ago

How would you translate immergleich and gleichmäßig?