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For example, how would one phrase the sentence, "I am getting better at riding a bike." in German? I have a feeling the flow of the sentence wouldn't be very similar to English at all.

Ich werde besser beim Fahren des Fahrrads.

I have no idea if "bei" is right here, or another preposition would be more appropriate. Assuming whichever appropriate preposition is used, this still seems like a really awkward (possibly wholly incorrect) sentence.

How do you represent this notion in German?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As Carsten pointed out above, I would rephrase this in german as

Ich verbessere mich (beständig) im Radfahren.

or

Ich werde im Radfahren immer besser.

The structure with beim Radfahren could also mean that you improve (in whatever) while cycling. Of course one usually implies the other here, but consider the following:

Ich habe die besten Ideen beim Radfahren.

Here, the cycling is only a method to help you in something, but the improvement is not in riding the bike.

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Ich werde besser beim Fahren des Fahrrads.

This sentence indicates that you are getting better while driving. You actually don't say anything about at what you are getting better. beim Fahren is an adverbiale Bestimmung der Zeit and it would come before the predicate. I think this is why the sentence sounds odd.

Beim Fahren des Fahrrads werde ich besser [...].

The brackets need to be filled with at what the speaker gets better at.

Let's see another example

Als ich gestern die Straße überquerte, streifte mich ein Radfahrer.

this can be put

Gestern, beim Überqueren der Straße, streifte mich ein Radfahrer

The context tells, that the action Überqueren was accomplished by the speaker (streifte mich) and in both cases the meaning is the same:

when I was crossing / while crossing

The question you would ask actually is

At what are you getting better? (action) At riding a bike.
Worin verbesserst du dich? (Handlung/Tätigkeit) Im Radfahren.

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Meine Meinung: Das würde man ganz anders ausdrücken: Ich kann jetzt schon viel besser radfahren.

Hier irgendeine Form von Gerund zu gebrauchen wäre für gesprochene Sprache ganz untypisch.

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Well, at least from my knowledge there is no real 1:1 translation for the at something thing. In your example most of the Germans would say Ich werde besser beim (Fahrradfahren/Radfahren) I think. But your proposal seems to be fine. In most cases I'd say beim followed by nominalization version of your verb.

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I realize that it's not going to directly translate. I am interested in how Germans would convey the same message. If what you say is right then I'm amazed at how close I came :P –  StrixVaria Feb 21 at 19:53
    
I think beim is the best solution for this case. –  Thorben Feb 21 at 21:16
7  
Nein, die deutsche Konstruktion ist “im Radfahren“. –  Carsten Schultz Feb 21 at 21:36
1  
"gut in -> besser in -> verbessern in" –  c.p. Feb 22 at 19:27

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