Word of the Day – “voll”

vollHello everyone,

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

voll

 

Voll is of course the German version of full, and it wouldn’t even be worth talking about it, if it wasn’t for… it’s other meaning and the fact that the following is a proper, nice German sentence.

  • Die Bahn war voll voll.

Yep… we really do say that.
So are you ready to find out what’s up with that? Then let’s jump right in.

But of course the really interesting part comes at the end. First, we’ll pad… I mean… enrich the show with a look at the normal-voll.
Here are a few examples

  • Mein Glas ist voll.
  • My glass is full.
  • Ich bin voll.
  • I am full.
  • Thomas war gestern total voll.
  • Thomas was totally wasted yesterday.

Clearly, the two line up really well. But there is a slight difference if you want to add the material that fills something up. IN English you usually say full of, in German people tend to say voll mit.

  • Ich möchte ein volles Bier bitte und nicht das halbe Glas voll mit Schaum.
  • I’d like to have a full beer please and not half the glass full of foam.
  • Das Glas ist voll (mit) Wasser.
  • The glass is full of water.

And of course, the German voll, unlike its English brother, can get adjective endings.

  • Der Film ist ein voller Erfolg.
  • The movie is a total/complete success.
  • Das Keyboard hat einen vollen, warmen Klang.
  • The Keyboard has a rich, warm sound.
  • Er hat einen Vollbart und volles Haar.
  • He has a full beard and thick hair.

And while both languages can use the words as a second part to a word, like English helpful for instance, they do it for DIFFERENT words, so you can’t really translate one to one or make up your own words.

  • The book was very helpful.
  • Das Buch war sehr hilfreich (not: hilfvoll!)
  • Dein Vorschlag ist nicht sinnvoll.
  • Your proposal is not reasonable/ sensible (not: senseful)
  • Marc ist sehr humorvoll.
  • Marc has a lot of humor.

And while we’re at it, let’s also mention the adverb fully. Usually, German adverbs are no different than adjectives, so schön can be both beautiful AND beautifully.
Voll is kind of an exception though, because there is the special version völlig. But in daily life, people are actually more likely to use words like ganz, total or komplett or the fixed phrase voll und ganz… especially when the sentence has a not in it.

  • I fully agree.
  • Ich stimme voll und ganz/komplett zu.
  • I don’t fully understand that.
  • Ich verstehe das nicht ganz/komplett.
  • This video fully explains it.
  • Dieses Video erklärt es komplett/ voll und ganz.

Now that I think about it, there are actually a bunch words with voll in them like vollends, vollständig or vollkommen that all kind of mean complete(ly). But I don’t want to dig into that too much.
Let’s instead now get to the thing that’s everyone is actually interested in… the special meaning of voll.

The second meaning of “voll”

Here’s the sentence from the beginning again:

  • Die Bahn war voll voll.

Sure, you probably wouldn’t say fully full in English. But you would say completely full, which is not too far away.
And from there it is but a small step to the more general very full. Which is what the sentence means.

  • The train was very full.

Because the other meaning of voll is as a intensifier, like very, so or really.
And it is REALLY REALLY common in colloquial German.

  • Der Film war voll langweilig.
  • The movie was soooo /really  boring.
  • “Kommst du noch mit uns in die Bar?”
    “Boah ne alter, ich bin schon voll müde.”
  • “Do you come to the bar with us?”
    “Wow no dude, I am really/damn/freakin’   tired already.”
  • Tik Tok ist voll lame!
  • Tik Tok is super lame!

And here, for the fun of it…

  • “Wie war die Party.”
    Voll leer.
  • “How was the party?”
    Really /sooo empty.”

Now, as I said, this voll is really common. But it’s also quite colloquial and informal and it can easily sound a bit too “basic”. Like… you wouldn’t necessarily use it in a business meeting or  when you talk to your professor…

  • Die Prüfung war ziemlich schwer, Herr Professor. Besonders mit der dritten Frage hatte ich große Probleme.
  • The test was quite difficult, Mr. Professor. I especially had big problems with the 3rd question.

But with your buddies, that story would probably sound like this:

  • Die Prüfung war voll schwer. Besonders mit der dritten Frage hatte ich voll die Probleme.

And this example actually showed another really cool feature of voll. Did you notice it? The example said “voll die Probleme”. Because voll can actually also intensify nouns or verbs.

  • Ich habe voll keine Ahnung von Chemie.
  • I have so no clue of chemistry.
  • Ich habe heute voll Appetit auf Fisch.
  • I really have an appetite for fish today.
  • Maria hat am Telefon voll geweint.
  • Maria really cried on the phone.

These phrasings are really common as well. And actually, some teenagers use voll so much that it borders on being a filler. Here it is in combination with one of the other big fillers: so.

  • Maria is voll so die Kuh ey, voll krass arrogant und so. Gestern ha’ich so mit ihr inna Schule so geredet so und sie so voll so voll scheisse  unfreundlich so.
  • Maria is like such a freaggin bitch, like really like arrogant and shit. Like yesterday in school I like was like kinda like talking to her and she was like all like really unfriendly and stuff.

Now, please don’t try to talk like that, though. First of all, it’s cringe if you’re not a teen. And it can be double cringe because you’ll probably get it wrong.
You see, you cannot just randomly throw the filler words into your sentence. That doesn’t work. On the contrary… enriching ones utterances with a small yet powerful variety of fillers and have that sound genuine is a task that requires A LOT of feel for the language.
But if you throw in a voll here and there to intensify, that’ll raise your native-ness quite a bit. Especially voll voll and voll leer. If you pop those at the right moment, your friends will be really impressed.

And I think that’s actually it for today. This was our little look at the meanings of voll. And I am 100% sure that you’ll hear the intensifier from now on, if you’re in Germany.
As usual, if you want to check how much you remember, you can take the little quiz I have prepared for you.
And of course, if have any questions or suggestions, I would be voll happy to read a comment because my comment basket can never get voll enough.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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Toranome
Toranome
2 years ago

Could one say, “Gestern Abend war die Bahn voll voll voll vollen Idioten?”

Cathy
Cathy
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Wow…

Stephanee
Stephanee
2 years ago

Danke shoen Manuel. Das war voll hilfreich

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

Very good

Spandy97
Spandy97
6 years ago

The example about Maria being a freaggin bitch made me laugh so much hahahaha. Better not be Thomas saying that.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

As far as the battery goes, I’m not too sure. You could easily say – “my battery is full” – but usually you say – “it’s charged” – or – “it’s finished charging”. I think the fullness of the batter is more often mentioned when it is not full, i.e. – “It wasn’t fully charged!”.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I definitely wouldn’t bat an eye at somebody saying that a battery is “full.” I think especially with battery gauges on phones these days, it’s hard not to think of your battery as though it were a tank that contains a certain amount of… well, “juice” is the usual metaphor. :)

Diego
Diego
8 years ago

Nice post!
Every time I read one of your entries, many gaps of my ‘under contruction german’ get fulfilled.
But I have to warn you, I realized the existence of this post by reading some comments at the end of the ‘ganz’ post, there is no link to this one at the WOTD page, so it took some time for me to find it.
That’s all this time, I really like your work, so please, please, please… keep going…
Thanks a lot.

Bob von USA
Bob von USA
8 years ago

Excuse me. I meant two S’s. Sorry for the bad typing.

Bob von USA
Bob von USA
8 years ago

English: Glass is spelled with 2 L’s (two examples given by you).
Battery: Fully charged would be more specific. Full (of what?) Acid?
However, what I was really looking for here was the difference between “voll” and “völlig”, which I did not find. Could you please explain the exact difference between these two similar words? Thanks

Jana P
9 years ago

And I thought I was asking a simple question. Oh Deutsch!

Jana P
9 years ago

Thank you for this lovely website. One question more: how do you say ‘full of’ something? As in, ‘a station full of people’ or ‘a pot full of holes’?

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I have always had a hard time with this, mainly because the case seems so ambiguous. Obviously “ein Glas voll mit kaltem Wasser,” but once you drop the “mit,” is it still dative?

– ein Glas voll kaltem Wasser
– ein Glas voll kaltes Wasser(s)?

And what about just “ein Glas Wasser”?

– ein Glas kalte…s?…m? Wasser

It seems like it just doesn’t quite fit the normal rules.

Micha
Micha
7 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

A quick Google fight between “Eimer voller kalte(s/m) Wasser” gives the advantage to the dative. Go figure.

Kevin
9 years ago

A battery is fully charged. A glass is full. English is highly irregular; your command of idiom and slang is excellent. Thanks for the posts, they are very helpful!

sjuniperj
9 years ago

Heute ist dein Blog voll interessant. :) Tolle Beispiele, wie immer!

Filipe
Filipe
9 years ago

Hey, how are you?

Good work with “voll”. I didn’t know it was such a useful word… until know :)
Look, in this sentence “Ich heute voll Appetit auf fish.”, shouldn’t there have a verb?

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