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 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’.”
- “No, beer is das not die.”
“Ohhhhhhh, I see.”
- “Dein neues Profilbild… du hast Angela Merkel geküsst?!?!”
“Nee, das ist ein Double.”
- “Your new profile picture… you kissed Angela Merkel?!?!”
“Nah, it’s a double.”
“Ohhhhhhh, I see.”
- “Ich war gestern in diesem 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.”
- “You can order food at Twitter now.”
- 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.
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?”
“Ach Papa, bitte.
- “Can I have an Überraschungsei?”
“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.