and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:
And although it doesn’t really have a direct one to one translation in English it won’t take long... and yes, the color is on purpose. Because this is kind of like the meaning of dauern.
Dauern is to take an amount of time. Its origins are Latin. The word durus meant hard, solid and the related verb durare first meant to become hard, solid, lasting and then it took on the meaning of to last or to take an amount of time.
Quite a useful verb so even after the Roman empire had stopped … ahem… lasting , all Roman based languages kept a version of it. And the German tribes, even though they had their own word währen for the concept, were like “Hmmmm…. this dur-thing is pretty cool.” So they imported it from French and in medieval German as well as in Old English and other Germanic languages there was a verb dūren. The Germans then made some adjustments to it…
They added an a and changed the order of letters a bit to dauern… because they figured that with aue it would be 10 % more fuel efficient, and even longer lasting. A huge success. Währen lost a large part of its market-share. It still exists as a verb but it’s kind of rare and its true legacy is certainly the IMPORTANT word während… which means while and during.
- Während meiner Präsentation sind die Leute eingeschlafen.
- During my presentation people fell asleep.
- Ich bin sauer, weil du, während ich den Abwasch gemacht habe, nur dumm rumgesessen hast.
- I am mad because while I was doing the dishes you did but sit around like an idiot.
Now, while the Germans were huge dauern-fanboys, the Brits didn’t like it all that much and decided to just use to take [time], while duren was soon forgotten. Only the verb, that is. There are a bunch of words based on this root. The most obvious one is duration which would be die Dauer in German. Then, there is the verb to endure which still has the whole lasting idea in it. But the most fascinating word is… during. Think about it.
- During the day,….
Sounds like an everyday phrase. But it is nothing but a regular -ing-form with a weird sentence structure… a poetic one… or at least it seems poetic to me. Let me embarrass myself real quick:
And as I entered the God-forsaken borough,
I tell you,
I saw plenty I didn’t expect to see
drinking, the men; drinking, the women; drinking, even the children;
drinking from barrels, from bottles, from puddles
and even from a goat’s teat.
My point it that during actually used to be a verb and during the day was something like “the day was lasting/during”, if that makes sense.
“Emanuel… can we talk about dauern, now?”
Oh… sure. Sorry.
So, I said the best translation would be to take an amount of time.
- Es hat eine Weile gedauert, sich an die Deutsche Satzstruktur zu gewöhnen.
- It took a while to get used to the German sentence structure.
- “Dauert das lange?”
“Nee, nur 5 Minuten.”
- “Is it gonna take long?”
“Nah, just 5 minutes.”
- Da bist du ja endlich… das hat ja ewig gedauert.
- There you are, at loooong last… that sure took forever.
Actually, it even works without any indication of time, but then it will often come with a coloring words that implies that something takes or took long.
- Irgendwann will ich perfekt Spanisch sprechen, aber das dauert noch.
- I want to be able to speak Spanish fluently at some point, but it’ll take a while (still).
- Das hat ganz schön gedauert.
- That sure took a while.
Now, in English you can easily add a person to the whole thing by saying “it takes someone [amount of time]“. Makes sense to add that information but from a grammar point of view it is a really strange phrasing. And because German is nowhere near as open minded as English with grammar, it is no surprise that this does NOOOOOT work in German. You have to use brauchen (to need) in these sentences.
- Writing this sentences takes me 30 seconds.
- Ich brauche 30 Sekunden, um diesen Satz zu schreiben.
Es dauert mich 30 Sekunden,… is wrong
The second one is so weird, there is a good chance that they won’t even be able to guess what you’re trying to say. Why? We’ll see in a bit. So … here’s a direct comparison:
- That takes 5 minutes.
- Das dauert 5 Minuten.
- That takes me 5 minutes.
- Dafür brauche ich 5 Minuten.
And that’s not the only pitfall. Dauern also doesn’t work for the phrasing “X takes [amount of time] to do.”. Like here….
- The cake takes 10 minutes to prepare.
- Der Kuchen dauert 10 Minuten um gemacht zu werden…. is pretty wrong.
In German, you’d rephrase into “it takes [amount of time]to do x.”
- Es dauert 10 Minuten, den Kuchen zu backen.
- It takes 10 minutes to bake the cake.
So basically, dauern works in the following pattern
- Es dauert [insert time], …. zu tun.
- It takes [insert time], to do …
- Es dauert [insert time], bis/ehe….
- It takes [insert time], until/before
or, if the stuff that is done has been said already:
- Das/es dauert [insert time].
- That/it takes [insert coin].
And just to make sure… it does NOT work as “it takes me [amount of time]”.
Now we already mentioned die Dauer, but dauern has quite a few other related words that are pretty useful. So let’s take a look.
First up, we have dauernd and it’s brother andauernd. Both words mean about the same and their translation, at least to me, is a slightly negative sounding casual all the time…. in sense of not literally all the time but a lot and reoccurring.
- Es hat (an)dauernd geregnet.
- It was raining all the time.
- Mein Computer stürzt (an)dauernd ab.
- My PC keeps freezing like every 10 minutes.
- Ich kann nicht arbeiten, wenn ich (an)dauernd E-Mails kriege.
- I can’t work when I get E-Mails all the time.
- “Dauert’s noch lange bis das Essen fertig ist?”
“Wenn du dauernd fragst, dann ja.”
- “Is it going to be a while longer until the food’s ready?”
“If you keep asking all the time, then yes.”
A similar word is dauerhaft but this carries no negative overtones and the meaning is more like lasting or there to last (dict.cc has like 20 translations for it). But it’s more for the newspapers and you will understand it when you see it so we’ll skip the examples.
Another really really useful word is die Ausdauer. It can mean endurance or stamina, in a fitness context it also means cardio. But it is not limited to the physical so it can also be perseverance or similar words.
- What’s an MC if he doesn’t have stamina…
- Was ist ein MC wenn er keine Ausdauer hat/ohne Ausdauer…
- Ich mache Ausdauertraining.
- I’m doing cardio.
- Es braucht einiges an Ausdauer um Deutsch zu lernen.
- Quite some patience/persistence is needed to learn German.
And of course, there are also prefix version. For instance andauern and überdauern. Überdauern means to outlast or outlive.
- Die alten Kathedralen haben viele Jahrhunderte überdauert.
- The old cathedrals (out)lasted many centuries (and are lasting still).
Andauern is harder to translate. The dictionary Leo.org suggests a bunch of words like continue, last, hold up, stand or linger. And each one might at some point be a valid translation of andauern. But andauern will almost never be a good translation for any of those words. It is rare anyway, so we can just put it on our passive-pile.
Last but not least, we have bedauern. Which is to regret or to be sorry for. It often sounds slightly formal and it is not as strong and “personal” as bereuen, but still you’ll probably hear it in everyday life.
- Ich bedaure, dass ich nicht zum Meeting kommen kann.
- I feel (slightly) sorry that I can’t come to the meeting.
- Vielen Dank für ihre Bewerbung. Bedauerlicherweise müssen wir Ihnen mitteilen, dass wir schon jemanden gefunden haben.
- Thanks a lot for your application. Unfortunately we have to inform you that we’ve already found someone.
And now the big question most of you are asking themselves is … HOW. Like… how does this meaning tie in with the core idea of lasting. And the answer is: it doesn’t. Bedauern is actually related to teuer (expensive) and has nothing to do with the lasting.
And making a connection between expensive and regret is not that hard. I just need to look at my new yacht for instance. That was such a waste of money. I should have taken the kebab instead, but what can you do when a unicorn is whispering in your ear.
Hmmm…. I feel like this article just got really confusing. Time to wrap it up :)
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.
** vocab **
dauern – take [amount of time]
die Dauer – the duration
jemand braucht [amount of time] – takes someone [amount of time]
dauernd/andauernd – incessantly, continuously, all the time (often with a slightly negative tone)
überdauern – outlast
die Ausdauer – the stamina, cardio, perseverance
bedauern – to be sorry for (deed/person
das Bedauer – regret, compunction
bedauerlich – [it’s a] pity
bedauerlicherweise – unfortunately