Advent Calendar 15 – “8 – t”

Hello everyone,

day 15 of the epic German is Easy Advent Calendar. That means, we’re heading into the last third and that means it’s time for the really cool stuff. And we’ll start today with a look at

ach

Ach is kind of the German equivalent of oh. It’s core idea is to express some form of insight into reality and just like oh it’s not really a word but what linguists call an injection. I think the name was chosen because these things inject a whole lot of colloquial into your spee  … What? It’s called interjection? Ohhh, I see. Or as you’d say in German: ach soo000.
Hmmm…. I see, ach soo. Just by the looks, these could actually be kind of literal translations :).
But they’re not. Ach so is probably the most famous use for ach. 
Whenever you make a false assumption or something of that sort, and you get corrected you can say ach so.

  • “Nee, Bier ist ‘das‘, nicht ‘die’.”
    “Ach sooooooooooo.”
  • “No, beer is das not die.”
    “Ohhhhhhh, I see.”

  • “Dein neues Profilbild… du hast Angela Merkel geküsst?!?!”
    “Nee, das ist ein Double.”
    “Ach
    soooooo.”
  • “Your new profile picture… you kissed Angela Merkel?!?!”
    “Nah, it’s a double.”
    Ohhhhhhh, I see.”

  • “Ich war gestern in diesem Fischrestaurant.”
    “Welches Fischrestaurant?”
    “Na das bei dem Park.”
    Ach die Sushibar, ach soooo.”
  • “Yesterday, I was at that fishrestaurant.”
    “What fish restaurant?”
    “Well, the one at the park.”
    Ohhhh, the Sushi Bar, I see.”

The second example already shows it – just like ohhh, you can add ach to pretty much anything to express this moment of insight, of seeing reality.

  • “Bei Twitter kann man jetzt auch Essen bestellen.”
    “Ach echt/was?”
  • “You can order food at Twitter now.”
    “Oh really?”

  • Ach ja/da/deshalb/morgen/Bier/E=MC².
  • Oh that’s right/ there/ that’s why/tomorrow/beer/E=MC².

Now, this kind of engaged interesting insight is not the only insight you can have. There are also the ones that are more about resignation. And ach is also used for those.

  • “Ich versteh’ nicht, warum Maria sauer auf mich ist”
    Ach Thomas… du bist einfach ein Idiot.”
  • “I don’t get why Maria is angry at me.”
    Oh Thomas… you are an idiot, no denying.

  • Ach ja... Deutsch ist einfach nicht so einfach.”
  • Oh well... German simply ins’t that easy.”

And ach is used for insights in context of (slight) shock.

  • Ach je /Ach Gott. 
  • Oh nooo.

These are not very strong though. Like… if your friend just found out that her crush has a boyfriend,  “Ach gott” is fine. If she found out that her boyfriend has a crush,  “Ach Gott” could easily be a bit dismissive.
All right.
Now, there’s one more use for ach. I don’t really know how to tie it into the whole insight thing but again, oh is a pretty good match. The context is that someone is asking for something and wants to kind of brush away resistance. Not in a serious way… more in a nagging way.

  • Ach komm, bitte komm mit.
  • Come on, please come with me.
  • “Welchen Film gucken wir heute abend?”
    “Das ist eine Überraschung.”
    Ach komm, sag  schon.”
  • “What movie are we gonna watch tonight?”
    “That’s a surprise.”
    Oh, come on, tell me already.”

  • “Kann ich ein Überraschungsei haben?”
    “Nein.”
    Ach Papa, bitte.
  • “Can I have an Überraschungsei?”
    “No!”
    “Oh, dad please.”

And that’s it for today.  I hope you got a bit of an impression of how to properly use ach. The most important one is definitely the whole idea of “Oh… I see” and you should really start mixing that in here and there because it sounds super native. And then, when you tell people that German actually isn’t your first language, they will be like

“Ach echt?! Ach soooo.”

What are your experiences with ach so far? Did you know it? And do you like ach so as much as I do? Have you had a great Ach so moment recently? Let me know in the comments and maybe win today’s little giveaway.
Ich wünsch euch einen super Tag und wir sehen uns morgen.

 

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cam147147
cam147147
5 years ago

“Ach so” and “Echt” are my two favorite little phrases. I use them as much as possible to pretend I know how to speak German. :)

parisbongi
parisbongi
5 years ago

Ach du Lieber (Gott)! A classic exclamation I thought.

person243
person243
5 years ago

Ach, Menno! [disappointed] Was that already everything for today? I am only joking, today was a great post. Ja, ach nee! [sarcastic] As if there would have been any bad post here before. Ach [reminiscent], and what good posts that were. Ach [forgetful], and I almost forgot. What did I want to say. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Ach [dismissive], wasn’t that important.

dalyag
dalyag
5 years ago

Was ist der Unterschied zwischen ‘Ach so’ und ‘Na so was’? Ich hatte beide in ähnlichen Situationen gehören.

person243
person243
5 years ago
Reply to  dalyag

“Na so was.” and its brother “Na nu.” are mild expressions of surprise. You see something revealed before your eyes. Like you open a box and find something very unique in it, and say: “What have we here? What a surprise.”
On the other hand “ach so” is about understanding something. It normally follows an explanation of some sorts and is placed inside of a talk. If somebody suddenly called: “Ach so!” without context, there would be astranged looks from the spectators. Insofar it is a bad translation of “Heureka!”.
So you will find that “ach so” will never open a discussion while “na so was” or “na nu” very much can, especially if you are in a Scooby Doo movie looking around at an attic.

dalyag
dalyag
5 years ago
Reply to  person243

Danke für die Erklärung!

Valentin
Valentin
5 years ago

Hello, I am happy to be here. I spent almost the whole last night (until 5 AM) reading articles here. I just could not help but keeping reading, so interesting is the way of writing. So for me it is a great gift the membership I received from the scholarship fund raised by the well-intentioned already existing peers.

I speak Romanian as my mother language, Russian and English by catching them somehow from the environment and some basic French which I learned in school. But only now I start to become really fascinated by how people speaking totally different languages apparently, invented, developed and used in fact the same mechanisms (for the languages I speak at least). I could found grammar an interesting matter before also, but now, with so in-depth and all-round explanations, and with this tone of writing which makes you feel the sincere “wish of good”, I feel honored to be in contact with you and really became I fascinated and very enthusiastic about learning German. The path that you show demands itself to be followed with the strongest will from our side. Congratulations, and thank you for making use of your talent and for increasing our faith in humanity! Best wishes and best regards!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Ach soo? Thanks Emanuel… I will definitely try to stick with it and try Assimil as well. Vielen Dank! :-)

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Oh Btw, check this out…..not the same as your lesson for the day, but good for a chuckle :-) comment image?odnHeight=450&odnWidth=450&odnBg=FFFFFF

Fran
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Oh, don’t quit! I started studying in March, to prepare for a trip to Berlin in May. I did a lot of on-line work (Memrise and Duo Lingo), plus worked with teachers on Italki.com. I knew I’d be nowhere near fluent, but I wanted to at least be able to ask directions and exchange pleasantries. I enjoyed it so much, that I’ve kept on. I’ll struggle along, then suddenly a few things will pop together — like recognizing separable verbs or *finally* remembering a couple of words that I recognized but could never place. It’s very exciting when those bits and pieces happen. I do some other things, like find YouTube videos with English subtitles (The Heute Show is the German equivalent of The Daily Show and some of them have English subtitles) Yabla.com is another on-line resource that has a huge library of subtitled videos at all levels. And radio.garden is an on-line wonderment! It live streams radio stations from around the world. I tune into some German stations and let them play like I would any other radio station. I don’t try to translate, more to just get used to hearing German as it is used daily. It’s not hard to figure out ads. If you want to try reading the Learning German with Stories series on Kindle is really nice. A series of books with 10 short stories about a young Italian guy moving around Germany while he tries to learn the language and get a job. Lots of notes on vocabulary and very witty stories.

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Yes I have tried your online courses as well and I consider myself in the very beginner level. It is so difficult trying to remember to all the different pronouns because of the male/feminine words etc. Not to mention trying to pronounce all the long words Germans are so famous for. Is there an easy trick to accomplish this seemingly impossible task? Other than giving up?

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Hi Emanuel…….I have a question for you. As a teacher, how long does it usually take for you to teach one of your non German speaking students to be proficient in the German language? Even with some of these “easy” exercises, I seem to be lost. Maybe I am a getting old or a slow learner or both….I feel discouraged because I am lagging behind. :-(

Katrin Knauer
Katrin Knauer
5 years ago

The Scots say it, too, and so does my American husband sometimes – ach is GREAT :-)

Derek Hardman
Derek Hardman
5 years ago

Es hat mich lange gedauert, “ach” richtig zu verstehen. Aber jetzt sehe ich wie nützlich es sein kann. Einerseits ist es quasi ein Satzzeichen (!, ?, usw.). Anderseits gibt es einer Äuserung zusäztliche emotionalen Untertöne.

5 years ago

In Ireland, they say “ach well”.
A sort of resignation, and/or a reply to a statement of the obvious.

“We cannot go out to play today, because its raining”.
“ach well”.( I did not want to go out anyway, AND it is ALWAYS raining)

berlingrabers
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Definitely. I think it’s pretty common in Scotland, too. “Ach” has seeped into my English too…

Jen
Jen
5 years ago

Danke, ich habe mich mal gefragt wie genau ich “ach” verwenden kann. Ich habe auch “ach komm schon!” gehört. Ich annehme, dass man sowas sagt, wenn man ein bisschen verärgert oder ungeduldig ist.