Word of the Day – “da”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Da…y. And this time we will take on one of THE MOST words the German language has to offer… most what you ask? Well, most common, most confusing, most short and al-most in every sentence.  We will look at the meaning of:

da

 
It can translate to there. But also to here. And to then. And of course also to because. And then there are the dreaded da-words.
Seems pretty confusing. But it actually makes sense, so let’s jump right in, shall we?

The origin of da is a a really old Indo-European sound that was basically just the verbal counterpart of a pointing finger. And it’s the root for pretty much all the “definite” pointers we have today. So the, this, that, there, then, thus or the German der, die, das, dort, dann and so on. The original sense of da, as the Germanic tribes used it, was there in the sense of “not here”.
But the Germans have taken a particular liking in da and started using it in a bunch of contexts that were beyond just location. So it was basically evolving – just backwards.
But let’s go step by step and start with the original meaning.

“Da” (and “dahin”) as “there”

So, da started out as there in a sense of not here. And it still has this meaning.

  • Das Kino ist da hinten.
  • The cinema is back there.
  • Letzten Sommer war ich an der Ostsee. Aber da war es mir zu voll.
  • Last summer, I was at the Baltic Sea. But it was too crowded for me there.
  • Sind wir schon da?
  • Are we there yet?

In all three examples, the da basically functions as a kind of verbal index finger. In the first one, you need a real index finger pointing somewhere to give it “content”, in the other two, the da points back to the location that was established earlier.
But yeah, it’s basically a verbal pointer and it gives us information about location.
So far, there’s no difference to there.
But not every there translates to da. In fact, that’s a pretty common mistake. And it has to do with  German’s OCD with location.
If you’ve studied with this blog for a while, you might have come across this concept already because it keeps popping up.
German is compulsilvely precise about location.

You see, here are three possible “types” of location:

  • origin (where from?)
  • current location (where?)
  • destination (where/where to?)

And the thing with German is that German ALWAYS marks in some way or another which of the three we’re dealing with.
And that has an impact for translating there, as you can see here.

  1. I’m there.
  2. I’m going there.

As you can see, there can refer to a currect location AND a destination. It can answer where? and where to?.
Da can ONLY answer to “where?”.
If your asking for a destination , da by it can NEVER be a fine answer.

  • I’m going there.
  • Ich gehe da…. is really really wrong.

If you want to use it for a destination, you’ll have to mark that in some way. And the most generic option is dahinda… you mark it so it is clear that you are talking about destination and in this case the mark is the most common and most generic destination marker we havehin

  • I’m going there.
  • Ich gehe dahin.

Da  can only answer to what place, not to what place. Try to keep that in mind, because it’s a REALLY common mistake.
Here’s another example.

  • Im Park ist ein Konzert. Thomas ist da.
  • There is a concert in the park. Thomas is there. (where is Thomas/ What‘s Thomas’ location)
  • Im Park ist ein Konzert. Thomas geht dahin.
  • There is a concert in the park. Thomas is going there. (where is Thomas going/what‘s his destination)

Cool.
Now, before we get to the other meanings of da, let’s quickly address that da has a rival… dort.

Dort is ALSO a translation for there in the sense of “not here”. So what’s the difference?
Some people might argue that dort is like really far away while da is only sort of away…

  • Marie war letztes Jahr in Autralien. Sie hat da/dort als Au Pair gearbeitet.
  • Marie was in Australia last year. She worked as an AuPair there.

but I’m not so convinced. I ain’t no expert in geography, but I think Australia is kind of far away from Berlin and still da AND dort are perfectly fine in the example.
To me, it’s mostly a matter of tone; dort sounds more stiff and formal to my ears. But there’s also research that suggests it depends on region (find it here).
I would recommend you stick with da, and leave dort for the boring books, but you can do whatever you want. The only thing that does matter is that dort is 100% about location. So it does not work as a replacement for da in the other contexts… which we’ll get to know :)

“da” as “here” – and why it’s not weird

I said in the intro that da doesn’t only mean there, but also here. So imagine you sit in German class waiting for your teacher Hans and then all of a sudden, I walk in the door.

  • “Hans ist heute nicht da, ich bin seine Vertretung.”
  • “Hans isn’t here today, I am his substitute.”

We could also use hier, but using da is WAY more idiomatic in a context like this one.
So… we’ve learned that da means there and now we learn that it can also mean here.
Is that just another instance of German being needlessly confusing?
Well… not really. In fact, English kind of does the same thing.
Take this situation: two people are standing next to the stove looking into a pot…

  • There is still a little vegetable broth (left). Would you like some more?”
    “Oh yes, you bet I do.”
  • “Es ist noch ein bisschen Gemüsebrühe da. Willst du noch was?”
    “Oh ja, auf jeden Fall.”

Both people are clearly very close to the soup. So from their perspective the soup definitely qualifies as “here”. And yet, even English uses there.
And I have another example. Two Hours later, the same two people. They are in bed. Naked. Sweaty. All cuddled up. Looks like they did some sports. One starts speaking…

  • “Thanks for making me vegetable broth honey!”
    “Hey… you know I’ll always be there for you, don’t you.”
  • “Danke, dass du mir Gemüsebrühe gemacht hast Schatz!”
    “Hey, du weißt doch ich bin immer für dich da.”

What does that mean? What place is there referring to? Is it really a there as opposed to here? Like… wouldn’t here make more sense in the cuddle-context?
And I have a third example…

  • “Is there a good bar here?”

Here, we have here and there in one sentence. And clearly this is a very common phrasing.
The point I am going at is that also English DOESN’T only use there in a sense of over there as a contrast to here.
In the examples, we can see there in a very generic sense of being present… kind of like this.

  • Is an ATM present somewhere here?

And that idea of being present is the key to German da, as well.

  • Thomas ist/war nicht da.

You can say this sentence in the meeting Thomas was supposed to attend, but also at home when you tell your partner about how Thomas wasn’t at the meaning. In either case, you use da even though the perspective on the location changed. But the actual sense of the German sentence is

  • Thomas is/was not present.

Da sein is a really common phrasing in German, and sometimes the translation is there, other times it’s here. But the core idea is being present.

  • Ich bin gleich da.
  • I’ll be present right away (lit.)
  • I’ll be there right away.
  • Weihnachten ist da.
  • Christmas is here.

And there is even a noun in German that is based on that idea.

  • Das Dasein als Star ist nicht immer leicht.
  • Being a star (the existence as a star) isn’t always easy.

So, this generic idea of being present is the key to understanding why da can translate to here and there. And we’ve seen that English there has this core idea as well.
One key difference is that in German, as soon as there is a location in the sentence, da does mean the classic there as in at that location. So in these instances, the proper translation for “there is” is “Es gibt” in German.

  • Ist noch Suppe da?
  • Is there still some soup?
    (no location specified)
  • Gibt es hier einen Geldautomat?
  • Ist hier ein Geldautomat da.sounds really strange
  • Is there an ATM somewhere here?
  • In Berlin gibt es viele Bäume.
  • In Berlin sind viele Bäume da... NOPE
  • In Berlin, there are many many many trees.

But hey… these are nuances and you’ll just need to develop some feeling for it. The main point of this segment was that you understand that it’s NOT weird that da sometimes translates to here because it can just carry the very basic notion of being present.
All right.
Now… the examples we’ve seen so far were all about location.
But da is actually not limited to that at all.

da – the verbal index finger

You might remember that I called da a verbal index finger in the first segment.
Well… this verbal index finger can be used to point at pretty much anything.
A prime example for this are the da-words.
I have talked about those in a separate article in detail (link below) so I’ll keep it brief here.

Da-words can point to things (or replace them if you will) and actions that have been mentioned before (or are about to be mentioned). And English has them too.

  • Ich esse um 8 Abendbrot. Danach sehe ich fern.
  • At 8 I eat dinner. Thereafter, I watch TV.

There does not point to a location, it points to  “(eating) dinner” .
English doesn’t use its there-words that much, but German LOVES its da-words and we use them all the time. So English says for that, we’d say dafür and so on.
Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s also kind of practical because you DON’T have to worry about cases and gender. Like… you don’t have to think about whether you need dem or den or der or das or die. Da-words don’t care ’bout that.

Sadly, they also don’t care about … like… staying together. At least in German, there’s this trend recently to split up the da-words and put the parts far across the sentence. Like so:

  • Ein eigenes Pony – da träume ich seit Jahren von.
  • Ein eigenes Pony – davon träume ich seit Jahren
  • My own pony – I’ve been dreaming of that for years.
  • Deutsche Grammatik – Da habe ich immer noch viele Probleme mit.
  • Deutsche Grammatik – Damit habe ich immer noch viele Problem.
  • German grammar – I still have lots of fun with that.

I’ve talked about this split in more detail in another article, though, so I’ll just leave the link below.

Let’s get back to da as a verbal index finger and look at some examples that are not da-words.

  • Die 3 Geschlechter im Deutschen sind ganz schön anstrengend, aber da muss man durch wenn man die Sprache lernen will.
  • The 3 genders in German are quite exhausting but one has to get through that if one wants to learn the language.
  • Thomas hat gestern Marias Sex and the City DVD Box verbrannt. Da war sie ganz schön sauer.
  • Thomas burned Maria’s Sex and the City DVD box set yesterday. She was really angry (then).

  • Thomas hatte gerade angefangen zu duschenda klingelte das Telefon.
  • Thomas had just started taking a shower, when the phone rang.
  • Ich machte die Kühlschranktür auf. Das Sixpack Bier, das ich vor 1 Stunde reingestellt hatte, war weg. Da wusste ich: mein Mitbewohner hat ein Alkoholproblem.
  • I opened the fridge. The six pack of beer I had put inside an hour before was gone. It was then that I knew: my flat mate had a drinking problem.

As you can see, it can point to all kinds of elements… fact, events, time. Even reasons. And in fact, that’s how it took on the meaning because.

  • Da ich Hunger habe, esse ich.
  • Because I am hungry I eat.

The da basically points to the reason. The only difference to the “normal” da-s is that it actually changed into a functional word and became a synonym for weil. Same meaning, same structure. The only difference is that da sounds a bit more formal. da-sentences also tend to be in front of the main sentence while weil sentences are more often placed after it. And, da-sentences are usually a bit longer and they sound more official.

Anyway…  so da can be used to point at pretty much anything… anything BUT two things. The first one is living beings, because we’d use the proper pronouns in these instances (more on that in the post on the da-words )
And the other thing da can’t point to is manner, mode – the answer to how?.

  • You can’t just take the exam without ever having attended the classes. It doesn’t work that way.
  • Du kannst nicht einfach die Klausur schreiben ohne jemals in der Vorlesung gewesen zu sein. Da funktioniert das nicht….

I used the same logic as before but still this is not just wrong… it is not even close to being understandable. The German word to point at how-related things is … drumroll… so.

  • So funktioniert das nicht.

And I almost feel weird saying it but… I have talked about so in a separate article so I’ll leave the link below :).
Cool.
So now I think we have a pretty good impression of what da is and that it’s super mega common.
Which of course begs the question why.

Why do Germans love their da so much?

And I think it has to do with the fact that Germans have a general love for anything “location” – a love that shines through everywhere in the language.
The question word wo, for example, means where so it asks for a location. But you can find examples in abundance in which wo is not really related to location. For one thing, there are the wo-words (yup, separate article)

  • Woran denkst du?
  • What are you thinking about?

but not only that. In daily speech, people often use wo for time:

  • Heute ist der dritte Tag in Folge, wo ich  nicht arbeiten muss.
  • Today is the third day in a row that I don’t have to work.

and some dialects in the southwest use it to refer to… people…  really really really nasty stuff :)

  • Der Mann, wo mich angerufen hat, ist mein Vater.
  • The man, where called me, is my dad (lit.)
  • The man who called me is my dad.

And that’s just one aspect of German’s obsession with location. Another example are the two way prepositions. Or the marking of origin, location, destination that we came across earlier in this post. German is a very “3D-Space” language and when people talk they use their verbal index finger da to point at things in this language space.
Does that mean that you should use da all the time? Well, in fact not.
As far as actively using it goes I’d suggest to stick with the local meaning and the da-words for now. Using da for time or other stuff needs some feel for the language. Sometimes it works perfectly but sometimes it sounds horribly out of place too.

All right. I think that’s enough for today. This was our German Word of the Day da and at its core it’s a verbal index finger that can point to locations and other stuff. And it can also carry a general sense of being present. And by the way, I’m curious if this is actually a universal feature. How is that in your language? Is the word for there also used without any specific locational meaning… for stuff like:

  • I’ll be there for you.

Let me know in the comments. And of coure, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave me a comment, as well.
I hope you liked it and see you next time…

And have fun with you new Ohrwurm :D… I don’t know why they did it.. maybe they just loved the word soooo much

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNYcviXK4rg]

 

further reading:

Da-words Explained  – a thorough, once and for all look at the German da-compound
German da-words undone – a look at how da-words are split apart in spoken German
The meaning of “so” 
Wo-words explained – a thorough, nerdy look at the German wo-compounds

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Ben
Ben
6 months ago

A few years late but…can you help me with the following message from a friend. I understand what she means, largely due to the context and past conversations, but not why. How does ‘da ist die’ in the sentence below mean something like ‘Would you’? And why ‘ist die’?

Ich: Das Haus meines Bruders (mit ein Foto)
Sie: Oh das sieht ja toll aus. Und da ist die eine Wohnung in der Stadt lieber?

Kiki
Kiki
1 year ago

Emmanuel, bist du single? :))

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Dort = yonder (in English)?

PK
PK
1 year ago

omg this blog is just the best, wondering if you could be my skype teacher. Do you still teach / write????!!!
I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this blog, really <3

Walker Stoduto Marques
Walker Stoduto Marques
2 years ago

Echt Dankeschön

absolutelysundu
absolutelysundu
2 years ago

https://www.echocharlie.com.au/articles/culture/where-does-your-tongue-sit/

Here is an interesting article that talks about tongue placement for english, french and german.. This may help in nailing the accent,

Now i know why french had their tongue on other people’s mouth..

Mohammed Alshati
Mohammed Alshati
3 years ago

A great article…… As usual :)
Thank you for the clear explanation.
Btw Answering your question about the universality of this da usage. I noticed for the first time that it is also present in Arabic as the word هناك, which means “there,” can also mean “present” as in…

هناك اناس في المطعم
There are people in the restaurant
Da sind Leute im Restaurant

mudr_abdulghani
mudr_abdulghani
5 years ago

Ohhh so nice and clear, but still hard to use :))

just have one question, please

can we use “das” instead of “da” in this following sentence: “Die 3 Geschlechter im Deutschen sind ganz schön anstrengend, aber da muss man durch wenn man die Sprache lernen will.”?

Thanks alot one more

Daniel
Daniel
6 years ago

Hallo Emanuel, kurze Frage – Ich habe die Tendenz die sogenannten getrennten Da-Wörter zu benutzen. Ist das in einer Prüfung, die eine formelle Diskussion sein soll, überhaupt angemessen? Sollte ich mich lieber damit zurückhalten oder einfach loslegen? Dazu noch eine kleine Anmerkung, und zwar glaube ich, dass du auch erwähnen solltest, dass die getrennten Versionen der Da-Wörter ein “dr-” am Anfang dran gehängt bekommen, wenn sie mit einer Vokal anfangen.

zB Da solltest du dir wirklich nichts draus machen.
Genau da sind wir drüber geflogen!
Da habe ich leider gar nicht dran gedacht. Tut mit leid.
Da gibt es nichts interessantes drin, schau lieber nicht hinein.

Daniel
Daniel
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Danke für deine schnelle Antwort! Ich wohne gerade in Australien, aber gucke ganz oft ein paar YouTuber die aus Berlin kommen, die oft so sprechen. Habe auch einen sechswöchentlichen Austausch in Marburg (in der Nähe von Frankfurt) gemacht, könnte auch daran liegen. Wir sollten in der Prüfung Hochdeutsch sprechen und deiner Antwort nach passen solche Konstruktionen da wirklich nicht rein. Sehr interessant, dass man einige Versionen mit r- gegen das dr- austauschen kann. Das hab ich schon sehr oft gehört aber nicht immer verstanden, da ich längst zurück in Australien bin und umgangssprachliches Deutsch tagein und tagaus nicht mehr höre, und lese stattdessen recht viel. Ich werde das öfter beachten, und werde hoffentlich dabei eine Interpretation bzw Regeln daraus formulieren. Nochmals Vielen Dank. :)

glossolaliac
glossolaliac
7 years ago

Somebody may have asked this in the comments already and you may have addressed it, but I’m so sorry, I couldn’t read all the comments. :P So here goes.
I’ve seen “da” used in some contexts other than to point to something. As I can’t find a better example at the moment, I’m going to make do with an excerpt from an article I found on Der Spiegel:
“…So sieht das statistische Gesicht der Wettbewerbsverzerrung von Bayern München am Wochenende in Freiburg aus: 79:21 Prozent Ballbesitz zu Gunsten der Bayern, 667:127 angekommene Pässe, 17:9 Schüsse, 10:2 Eckbälle. Da am Ende allerdings bei aller Zahlenspielerei ein 2:1 für den SC Freiburg gegen den Meister herauskam, bleibt das böse Wort von der Wettbewerbsverzerrung im Raum stehen. ”
(I felt I had to include all that to give you the zusammenfassung”)
Now, I know what all that means and what the writer is getting at (I think), but I’m not sure I could use that “da” in the “Da am Ende…” like it is here. How exactly is it used in this context? Or rather, what is the context? :D

On a side note, I’ve decided that Zahlenspielerei is going to be my word of the week. :D

Thank you so for much for your blog. Big fan!
P.S.: If you’ve answered a similar question already, let me know. I’ll look harder :D

glossolaliac
glossolaliac
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Alles klar! Danke :)

Sam Hardman
7 years ago

I recently had some of my german corrected by someone online who put “da” right at the from of a sentence but I’m still not really sure how this “da” works or how I know when to use it.

Originally I wrote: “Jetzt Weihnachten und Silvester vorbei sind, muss ich leider zurück in die Arbeit gehen, aber das waren tollen zwei Wochen!”
which was corrected to: Jetzt, da Weihnachten und Silvester vorbei , muss ich leider zurück in die Arbeit gehen, aber das waren tollen zwei Wochen!”
In English: Now Christmas and New Year are over I have to go back to work, but they were a great two weeks! (referring to the Christmas holidays).

So my questions are, does “da” here mean “weil”? How would I know when to use “da” like this? and why is the sentance wrong when it has no “da” at all (I ask because it sounds fine in English?)

I would appreciate some help with this!

Sam Hardman
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thank you! That helps a lot. I think you are right that the English sentence does need a “that” to be really correct, although in speech I wouldn’t always say it. I guess it could be a colloquial thing, or just a British thing, I’m not really sure!

I was going for the latter of your translations and I think in this case translating “da” to “as” works well and translating it to to “that” works even better. e.g. “Now, as Christmas and New Year are over, I have to go back to work….” or “Now that Christmas and New Year are over, I have to go back to work….”. Both sound good to me.

Thanks for your help!

berlingrabers
7 years ago

I think any of those suggestions work well, maybe with slight rephrasing in context.

Learning the three genders in German is quite exhausting, but…
– you’ve got to hang in there…
– you’ve got to pull through…
– you’ve got to tough it out…
– you’ve got to get the hang of them…
– you’ve got to power through it…
– you’ve got to bite the bullet…
– you’ve got to get through it…
…if you really want to learn the language.

Honestly, “get through it” probably fits best from my perspective, even though it’s the most boring. :) A lot of the other ones feel a little funny with an activity like learning German grammatical genders – maybe just because I know by experience it’s just about impossible for a non-native ever to truly complete the task. “Hang in there” doesn’t quite have the sense of accomplishing a task, even though it does mean “persevere.” “Pull through” has the idea of completion/survival, but it tends to be used in situations where you don’t actually have control over the outcome (you might “pull through” a serious illness or surgery or something). “Get the hang of” is specific to this kind of task, not really synonymous with “get through.”

“Tough it out” and “power through” both work well in terms of meaning, though they’re a bit goofy and over-dramatic. :) “Bite the bullet” isn’t bad, but it’s more about facing an unpleasant experience than accomplishing a difficult task. (So to me, it fits the situation…)

Just one more reason “get” is the best verb ever. Just the sort of all-purpose verb for all those situations where German doesn’t even bother with a verb at all.

Ich wünsche dir auch ein schönes Thanksgiving! Bin heute wie immer sehr dankbar für deinen Blog. :)

berlingrabers
7 years ago

My son (20 months old as of this writing) says “da” a lot (sometimes it means “that,” sometimes “there,” often “yes”). He’s clearly going to be a natural at learning German when he goes off to Kita next year. :)

One Redewendung that doesn’t quite work in the post: “one has to go through with that” doesn’t mean what “da muss man durch” does – I think you’d be better off to say something like “one has to get through/endure/deal with/get the hang of it.” To “go through with something” (Leo has “durchziehen” or “zu Ende führen” but I don’t know if those really work either) means to do something when it would be understandable (or at least unsurprising) if you didn’t. It does need to be an action that can be completed (like “zu Ende führen” would indicate), especially something with lasting or serious consequences, which is maybe also part of why it doesn’t really feel right with learning the German genders.

– Thomas knew that if he moved to Germany, he’d have no choice but to figure out the three German grammatical genders – but he still went through with it.
– Maria was totally freaking out the night before her wedding. I’m kind of amazed that she went through with it at all.

Malek
Malek
8 years ago

It’sso good to finally understand the whole concept, thanks mate .. [^_^]

Malek ..

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago

Nothing like that in Russian. But then in Russian we can drop subjects or even verbs from sentences altogether and still stay cool. Ok, this will be simple sentences but still… So I guess there is not so much need for fancy words with fancy meanings. We rather ciao them goodbye once and for all :) There is dort/there for location, but da as being present does not exist. We either say “here/there” or “in the neighborhood” + “is” if it concerns things or “present” / “is” if it concerns people. Or just “is” but it might not always klingen. Or even simpler … we just say “something/somebody (in Genitiv) no” which has exactly the meaning of not being present. Like “kein Geld”. It is a perfect sentence in Russian. Everybody will get the meaning of it

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Sergei

Now thinking about this “kein Geld” stuff. The verb “to be” in Russian is actually a tricky one. It looks to me like it is assumed by default da sein but requires a special sentence structure. E.g. “long road” would be an incomplete sentence. But “road long” is fine and “is” is assumed to be present there. So in such simple sentences “to be” it is just goodbye’d. In longer ones it is replaced with “-“. Obviously we do not say “minus”. It works only in written texts.

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Skipping of “to be” and derivatives is very common. In spoken language it works fine but mostly for simple sentences. In written literature it is all over the place. As I said in long and complex multi-level sentences it is perfectly fine to substitute “to be” with “-“. Actually, it will be strange and ugly if you do not do it. It will be out-modish. I really mean it. Like 1000 years old a-la old religious stuff noone can understand today.

As for other verbs, we need them to build proper sentences. Otherwise sentence has no action and little meaning. But we are much easier with subjects and they can be derived from the context. Like for “do you want a beer?” we would just say “will beer?” Makes lots of sense, right? Hm.. Actually, might work in German – “willst ein Beer?” oder? Or “wanna beer?” in English

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Sergei

Cannot say for Italian. But Russian is really easy about subjects as well as the order of words. Both in spoken and written. This is particularly so in songs and poetry where common sentence structures are bent to extremes to find better forms :) In this sense all of the following is grammatically correct in Russian:
– Ich hab gestern Nudeln gekocht
– gekocht Ich hab gestern Nudeln
– Nudeln gekocht Ich hab gestern
– gestern Nudeln gekocht Ich hab
and so on with all possible permutations. There is simply no required words order in Russian. There are though some structures which might sound like “what?!” But they still work in songs and poetry and similar.

As for your question… No, we are not supposed to skip it. You can always say it/write it. However, there is a type of sentences which is even not allowed to have a subject. E.g. “it is getting cold”. There is no thing in Russian which can be made responsible for the “it” part. There is no abstract “it”. Such sentences are kind of reflexive in their logic without a reflexive part. If that makes sense.

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Sergei

No, I have no problems with abstract “it” whatsoever. It is Russian which is more flexible here, not German or English :)) But you are right, I do not understand that sentence. Though not for “es”. Schlafen in Passiv?! What the heck..

Moving things around is very powerful. One can really stress meanings in written language the way it is typically stressed on spoken. That is probably why you need so many little and meaningless on their own words in German and there is none in Russian. And btw prepositions are not movable. So here German in a sense gets an extra point for nuanced meanings :)

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Sergei

Argh… There is no real continuous time in Russian. Just simple past, present and future. There is also no real passive. Just a simple reflexive. “A letter is being written” would be “A letter writes itself”. You can even do a “sleep self” action to yourself and it is not just a grammatical Witz but a commonly used thing. Like “To me slept myself not really good tonight” which is pretty much equivalent to “I did not sleep well tonight”. And notice the total absence of object in the first case :) Ahh and that Konjunktiv stuff is made by one extra two- and sometimes even one-letter word added to the sentence with the verb in the past tense and …. done! That is why all these verb structures, and esp. in German, look so much awkward to me. Not that I have big problems understanding the underlying logic but it just feels soooooooo redundant…

Sergei
Sergei
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Interestingly it does not work with positive statements, i.e. one cannot say “Maria da” (da=yes) in the sense Maria is present here. I mean you surely can answer a question with da :) but cannot make a statement. You need some verb. But interestingly… it sounds somewhat ugly with “to be”. I mean you can say it but not in a general sense, rather for specific contexts. So it feels like in unpresent statements of “Maria no”, where Maria is in genitive, “no” takes over the function of action and verb.

Marija
Marija
8 years ago

These are really the best German lessons I’ve ever had!

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

Interesting, and helpful! :) Just to take this point a little further and add another word into the mix:

Could I also say:

– Morgen klappt bei mir nicht vor um 5.

-Mein Plan hat geklappt.

Which avoids the potential confusion (at least in this 2nd example) from other interpretations of “gehen”

In my mind, I initially thought of funktionieren to be best used for technological or mechinical devices (moreso to be used for things that physically function). Definitely good to know that it fits with conceptual applications as well (plans, approaches, ideas).

Sam
Sam
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hahah that one could be a doozy.

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

Relating an example here to the “angehen” article:

Du kannst nicht einfach die Klausur schreiben ohne jemals in der Vorlesung gewesen zu sein. So funktioniert das nicht…

Could one also say “So geht das nicht…” ? Are funktionieren and gehen more or less interchangable?

FlameOn
FlameOn
8 years ago

Good. Though I must say Scheiss auf da. This has cleared up a couple of portions (foggified some ones that were previously clear too :D) Though, Im reading a book now and I know about “da” at the start of a sentence meaning “because” or “since” (instead of “there” but I understand you used “there” because it’s the theme of the essay), however I didnt know about it altering the structure the opposite of “weil”. Wow, was fur eine verdammte Sprache.

Falcão Ruíz
Falcão Ruíz
8 years ago

I am also a native Spanish speaker and I’ll have to say I don’t agree with what Carlos is saying. At least in Mexico (and I’m pretty much convinced in other Spanish-speaking countries) we have a word that works very similar to “da” in this example and that word is “ahí”:

“I’ll be there for you” can be translated into “(Siempre) estaré ahí (contigo)”. The “contigo” can be removed as it can be understood from context. Also “siempre” is not really needed, it just helps convey the idea that you will ALWAYS be there for someone (always =siempre) .The “ahí” word doesn’t have a specific localization here, so it serves the same purpose as da or there.

As for other Romance languages, one could argue they have similar words for this type of constructions:

French: y = j’y serai (pour toi)
Portuguese: aí = eu vou estar aí (com você)
Italian: ci = io ci sarò (per te)

Maybe some native speakers of those languages can correct me if I’m wrong. :)

Norah
Norah
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I was thinking about “eso” as a translation of “da”…. Dafür = por eso… Damit = con eso…. At least on the case of da + preposition…. For “da” alone, I guess can be “ahí”….
Thank you for your amazingly clear and funny explanations…. I am a huge fan of your blog!