Word of the Day – “alle”

Hello everyone, this strawberry cake is alle

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:

alle

 

No need to beat around the bush here, alle looks a lot like the English all and the two words mean the same.
Except when they don’t.
Which happens quite sometimes.
And then there’s also this ganze thing. Which also means all. Sometimes.
Yeah… definitely something to clear up, so let’s friggin’ jump into it.

And let’s get one thing out of the way right away because it’s a BIG mistake: not at all is translated NOT translated with alle. It is translated as überhaupt nicht.
Alle
does NOT MAKE ANY SENSE in that context.

With that out of the way let’s first look at all that all and alle have in common and yes this phrasing was on purpose.

Alle means all, but with one big constraint: in German whatever is all has to be a plural.

If the thing you talk about is just one thing as in all my life or all my body, alle is not the correct word. In these cases you have to use ganze.

If you are not sure as to what the difference is then check whether you can replace all by the whole and if so ganze is your word.
Now what about non-countable things like water or money… feels strange to label money as non countable by the way but you cannot have 3 moneys so… :). Anyway… in these cases you can use either one so alle or ganze is fine with the little adjustment of taking away the e of alle.

As you can see in the example above alle and ganze are in different positions… not that I am going to explain that difference… I mean of course I know… it’s just… well… uhm…  we have more important things to do.

So let’s get back to alle and talk about that a little more because it also often occurs as everyone… and it can dress up in cases.

Now what is the difference to the other everyone – jeder/s/e/m/.. you may ask? Well, I think the shortest answer is that alle focuses on the group as a whole while jeder puts a little more emphasis on each individual. Important to realize is that alle is a plural so the verb has to be used in the they-form. For jeder it would be the he-form.
By the way, if you have to say everything or you are using all in sense of everything you have to add a little s to alle to get the correct translation… alles, and this is a singular word.

And just as all is relative so is the word alle… yeah that expensive transition-seminar starts to pay out…. In sense of time alle is the translation of every.

Thus far we are not so far away from all as we all… sorry just can’t resist… know it. But the following meaning sure as shit is.  Beeeehooooooold:

And yet again German has easily won the stupid looking phrase of the day. The sentence is correct, understandable and might be uttered this way in daily conversation. But what does it mean? We had 3 cakes but now they are all all? No! Because the second alle means finished in this case. There is not really a good one word translation for this meaning of alle in English. You would use a phrasing like out of something or all gone instead. Examples:

It is even used for persons in a way.

To wrap this up I want to give you 2 of the many useful idioms with alle.

Just to make sure… it is alles as the English all could be technically replaced by everything and it is allem because it is case 3. Why is it case 3? Because it is in and we are talking about a fixed location here. No idea, what I just said? Don’t worry… I will get to it my On-line course and then it won’t be any miracle anymore.
The second idiom comes very handy in inner city traffic:

Garnished with a little “du Idiot!” you have a formidable version of

  • Are you mad?
  • He is nuts!

And just because the construction might be a little confusing, here is the blue print… just fill in the person of your choice. The words in parentheses are options for the sound. They do not really mean anything here. You may use all three at once

  • ____ hat sie (doch)(wohl) nicht (mehr)alle!

And thus we have reached the end. Das war alles für heute.
If you want, you can take our little quiz and see how much you remember :).
And as always, if you have questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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What are the two main ideas that alle can express?

How do you translate:
I don’t like working at all.”

All kids go to school.” in German is...

How do you translate the sentence:
“I was sleeping
all day.”

What hack can we use to know whether to use  ganze or alle in a sentence?

Which sentence is correct if you give a piece of cake to everyone?

Which sentence is the correct translation for this:
Everything is relative.”

What does this sentence mean:
“Mein Geld
ist alle.”

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“Der hat sie doch nicht mehr alle!” expresses that:

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Periannan Chandrasekaran
Periannan Chandrasekaran

Another germ from you! You really have an unsually clarifying way of explaining subtle things! I now got why they say “alle 5 Minuten” when you have put it after examples with “everything” ans said “alle” also means “every”.

Jurgen
Jurgen

Hey Emanual,

Ich habe mal eine Frage: du sagst dass man “all” nur verwendet mit Dinge die man nicht zählen kann (so wie Geld und Wasser) sonst soll man “alle” benutzen. Aber als ich ein Lied von Eisbrecher gehört hatte, war es mir aufgefallen dass sie da das Folgende singen: “Trotz all meiner Taten, die Hölle muss warten”.
Nun frag ich mich ob das wohl richtig ist denn Taten kann man doch zählen? ( eine Tat, mehrere Taten) Oder irre ich mich jetzt?

Vielen Dank im Voraus!

Ketaki
Ketaki

I have recently started learning German. I stumbled upon your blog. It’s brilliant. Now I visit it everyday and learn something new.
You have truly made learning fun !
Thank you so much :)
xoxo

Luca
Luca

Dig your style! Today for the first time I have accidentally come across of your blog and I am going to visit here again and again. Ciao!

Conrad
Conrad

Love the site……..is the following correct?

Ich habe allen alle meine Süßigkeiten gegeben.

(I gave all my candy to everyone.)

Danke!

jag041
jag041

Hey Emmanuel
Warum ist es “ich habe allen etwas gegeben” und noch “Alles in allem”? Weil das erste ohne eine Präposition ist, und das zweite mit “in” ist?
Beide sind übrigens Dativ… Richtig?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you for providing such a nice service to those of us who want to improve our German. Well Done!! George

Chris
Chris

What are the cases of alle? (Accusative, dative etc?)
For example, why is it: Ich gebe allen ein Stück Kuchen.
instead of allem or alle?

Deon
Deon

Ich vermute, dass du “expensive” und nicht “expansive” verwenden zu wollen.
Expensive = teuer
Expansive = vast, far reaching

Dein Blog ist super. Es ist dreieinhalb Monate her, dass ich Deutsch beginne zu lernen und ich mach viel Spaß dabei. Jetzt will ich bei der Goethe Institut in Kapstadt eine Reihe von Vorlesungen laufen, weil ich auch gern die Sprache üben will.

Viele grüße aus Südafrika

Bill Kammermeier
Bill Kammermeier

I’m confused as to the meaning of “___ hat sie nicht alle”. What does this actually mean? “He has not all”? How does that mean someone is crazy? Is it kind of like English expression “he has nothing up top”? As meaning “he has not all” being he has no sense or nothing in his head where “all” is representing all the intelligence (or lack there of) in his head? Just trying to wrap my head around this. What is the signifigance of the extra “sie” in there. Why not just Er hat nicht alle?

Sheena
Sheena

So far, this is the best online language teaching course I have ever found! Thank you!

az
az

Thanks for the wonderful explanations! Always a lot of fun, and coincidentally helpful ;)

I have a question about expressing “all [children]” and “all of the [children]”. In English there is a different meaning here: The former is more like “all children, anywhere, ever” and the latter is “all of this group of children”. But, in the course of learning German, I’ve seen “alle Kinder” translate to either of those. Sometimes in those discussions, someone mentions “alle die Kinder” and everyone gets grumpy.

Is this just one of those situations that requires context or extra descriptive words to avoid ambiguity, or can it be done with a combination of articles/determiners/all those other little ones?

cam147147
cam147147

Agreed. New here. This is a secondary source for my Germany studies, but if I ever have confusion over any topic, I can be sure to solve it here.

Omar
Omar

Hello,
I like this site so much, an important topic like this everyday would be very helpful in a short time and simple method, thank you so much, your explanation is very brilliant.
can you please check if I got these correct:
ich habe mit allen meinen freundin geredet
ich habe alle vergessen
ich habe allen geglaubt

and if want to say: do you have all of the star trek movies?
hast du all die star trek filme ?
hast du alle star trek filme ?
both are correct ?

and the last issue please, when using “alle” to mean “every”
Ich sehe ihn alle zwei stunden = ich sehe ihn jede zwei stunden
is this correct ?
Vielen dank, bis heute , werde ich jeden tag hier kommen :)

Novothatjogo
Novothatjogo

Hi Emanuel, thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into these articles. You’ve helped me learn so much so far, and I was hoping you could help me once again. I came across the phrase: “in aller Regel.” Translations on the internet say that it means “as a rule.” However, after looking it up on google, I found similar phrases like “in aller Frühe,” and “in aller Kürze.” As an English speaker, these phrases are pretty confusing, but “in aller Regel” is the absolute worst. “In all rule”? Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof!

You usually have a VERY good way of explaining these things in an intuitive way, and I was hoping you could help me do the mind yoga that’s necessary to understand that phrase. After reading the translation, it’s kind of like knowing that 2 + 2 = 4, but only knowing it as a memorized fact rather than really understanding the true meaning.

Is it similar to “in all honesty?” The “in all” in that idiom seems to mean something like “without anything else.” So, just pure 100% honesty. Is “in aller Frühe” kind of like pure earliness? In aller Kürze is like pure brevity? If that’s the case, then what is “in aller Regel?” The understanding to these questions will probably come with time, but I figure asking about it won’t hurt. Danke im Voraus. ^^

Brian M. Vibert

Can you explain “für alle da”? I understand it means everybody, but I don’t really understand why. And I don’t understand why you would use it instead of Alle, Jemand, or Jeder.

Brian M. Vibert

Oh, I think I understand a bit better. I found your lesson on Da: https://yourdailygerman.com/2013/07/30/meaning-da

So I think then, “für alle da” is using the ‘being present’ use. I still don’t know when you would want to use which, but at least I’m not trying to translate it as “For everybody there”.

faerystorm
faerystorm

Thanks for this blog post. I was wondering if you would recommend any books or resources for learners which discuss the differences between German (Germany) and Austrian German? The reason I ask is that most online resources for learning German have a focus on Germany. Due to money issues, I want to learn German on my own as much as I can before, enrolling for a German course in Vienna. I have a small German dictionary (Austrian German). Thanks for your time and help in advance.

PeterB58
PeterB58

Thanks, Emanuel, for a great article. I’m still on my way to the intermediate level, and your articles help me a lot.

I’ve checked in Leo, and it seems that “alle” could also be used in singular, perhaps in the sense of “each”, as in “Aller Anfang ist schwer” or in other expressions “bei allem Respekt”.

So, I guess it would make it even more similar to “jeder”, as you write. And as you write “alle focuses on the group as a whole while jeder puts a little more emphasis on each individual”. Based on that, “bei jedem Respekt” would probably not work, but perhaps “Jeder Anfang ist schwer” is possible, although perhaps, this is not what people use. Please let me know.

OK, so just googled it, and at least, there is a song “Jeder Anfang ist schwer”.

Duaa
Duaa

Wonderful article <3 I never really liked the whole (all and its inflicted forms) thing because in Arabic it's sooooo easy! There is one single word that can be used as "each/every" or "all" and is uninflicted so same for m, f, singular, plural, countable and uncountable :P

ubk
ubk

“Alle Kinder gehen in die Schule.
All kids go to school.”

There is a difference in English between “All kids go to school” and “All kids go to the school”. In the first one it may be different schools that the kids go to but in the second it is one specific school (perhaps you are talking about kids in the neighborhhod and the local school). Thus, I am confused about why the article was used in German but not in English. Does the German mean just school in general or some particular school? If it definitely means one or the other how is the other meaning said in German?