Questions about common expressions used in conversation and colloquial speech.

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22
votes
4answers
14k views

Kann man sich entschuldigen oder nur um Entschuldigung bitten?

Achtung: Folgende Frage könnte als Haarspalterei oder Spitzfindigkeit empfunden werden. Ich frage mich, ob der folgende Ausdruck sich entschuldigen eigentlich richtig ist. Man hört ihn sehr ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the German equivalent of the English “aka”?

In English, the abbreviation aka means "also known as". A literal German translation might be "auch bekannt wie". Is this, in fact, the correct German equivalent? And is the abbreviation ABW (or the ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

“Toi, toi, toi” – was genau bedeutet dieser Ausdruck?

Ich habe gerade "Toi, toi, toi" gehört, und habe keine Ahnung, wie ich das nehmen sollte! Ist es gut? Schlecht? Wenn man im Englischen "Tut, tut, tut..." hört, es ist nicht so prickelnd. Hat dieser ...
16
votes
2answers
516 views

What does “Ich brauch mal Storno” mean?

Ich war heute bei Kaufland und habe blah blah... ich brauch mal Storno gehört. Bedeutet das so etwas wie "Kaffeepause" oder mehr in Richtung "Pinkelpause"? Oder ist die Bedeutung eine ganz ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Natural way to deny help from a shopkeeper

When browsing a shop, it is common for a shop assistant to ask “can I help you?” or similar. In English, it is quite natural to say: No thanks, I am just looking. I am looking for similar ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How would you translate “to judge someone” to German?

In English, "to judge someone" often implies a negative opinion, as in "Don't judge me!". Is there a German equivalent for this? How would you translate the example? My dictionary gives "jmdn. ...
12
votes
4answers
528 views

Expression for someone with very broad and detailed knowledge

Are there any well-known German expressions for someone who is very board and detailed in knowledge? for example: He is a human database
11
votes
3answers
207 views

Terms for “Nicht-Verstehen signalisieren”

As I read here: The first two sentences are classified as "Nicht-Verstehen signalisieren". Are there other widely known terms or interjections to signal you didn't understand something?
11
votes
2answers
150 views

Bei XY unterm Sofa?

Ich hatte in mein Notizbuch diesen Ausdruck geschrieben: "Wie bei Heini Geiger unterm Sofa" (C'est le bazar!, Es ist sehr unordentlich) Es scheint unmöglich zu sein, mithilfe von Google mehr ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Expression of extreme surprise (possibly vulgar, but without being insulting)

Is there a formula or expression that I can use to express these English sentences? What on earth did you just do? What the heck did I just hear? What the hell just happened? or, in ...
10
votes
5answers
7k views

How should we apologize in German?

The most common phrase in german phrase book for apology would be es tut mir leid or tut mir leid to mean "it does me suffering". From the questions on the difference between "entschuldigen" or ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How would you translate “you have my vote” into German?

In English, you'd say to candidates that you'll vote for them. How would you say this in German? Something like: Hey Stefano, go for it. You have my vote.
9
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the literal meaning of “Hau ab!”?

If you want to tell somebody to go away you could shout: "Hau ab!" However this is considered as not very polite, much like "Get lost!", or "F*** off!". I am wondering where German "Hau ab" ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Was ist das Gegenteil von “hervorheben”?

Beim Schreiben meiner Arbeit bin ich auf folgendes Problem gestoßen: Wie drücke ich (als Verb/Adjektiv) aus, dass etwas nicht mehr hervorgehoben ist oder wird? Es geht dabei z. B. um das Hervorheben ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “auf Habacht” mean?

I saw this in a book as a sort of military order, but can't find it in dictionaries: auf Habacht What does it mean and why isn't it mentioned?
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the best way to translate “To do list”?

The closest translation I can find so far is Aufgabenliste which is more literally "Task List". Is there a more commonly used, native way to express the common english phrase "To do list" when using ...
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Online resource which has easy German to read with its English translation

Is there any resource online which has easy German (should use most common words in daily setting) and also has its English translation alongside?
8
votes
6answers
35k views

How does a German say “Nice to meet you”?

In English it is common to reply with "Nice to meet you" when you were introduced to somebody. Likewise you say "Was nice to meet you" on leaving. Are there any similar phrases a German would use in ...
8
votes
5answers
190 views

Is there a non-regional German expression for the Swabian term “Gschmäckle”?

Is this term only well-known in Southern Germany or also in the deep North? Is there short alternatives for modern High German? Does anyone know a similar English short expression?
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Meaning of schon in “das schaff' ich schon”

Watching Futurama, one of the characters said: "das schaff' ich schon!" What exactly does this mean, and how does "schon" change the meaning? (I don't remember, but I think it was Fry, which ...
7
votes
6answers
181 views

Beschreibung extremer Langsamkeit

Gibt es noch andere Worte/Redewendungen als "im Schneckentempo", um extreme Langsamkeit auszudrücken?
7
votes
3answers
456 views

“used to [verb]”

How would one say "used to", as in I used to live in Kiev. Previously, I was told you would use früher: Früher lebte ich in Kiew. But upon looking it up just again, dict.cc says you'd use ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

“Das ist kein Thema” - What does it mean?

Recently I moved to the Konstanz area, and what I noticed is people saying "Das ist kein Thema" for everything. So, what exactly does it mean? And when to use it?
7
votes
3answers
5k views

What could be expressed by “Ja, klar” in different situations?

If I say "Ja klar", What are the different meanings expressed by this expression?
7
votes
2answers
232 views

Is there a difference between “Schuld haben” and “schuld sein”?

There are two expression which a very similar in German Schuld haben and schuld sein Is there a difference in meaning, maybe a subtle one? Why is the first "Schuld" capitalized and the ...
7
votes
1answer
176 views

Origin and Usage of “i wo”?

A colloquial way of answering negatively/dismissing an offered statement can be the use of the word(s) "i wo / iwo". The meaning of "i wo", according to Wiktionary, is this: (umgangssprachlich) ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Ursprung von “Nicht verzagen, … fragen”

Bei einer Diskussion kamen wir letztens auf den Ausspruch Nicht verzagen, [Name] fragen. zu sprechen. Aus purer Neugierde überlege ich nun, ob das ein Zitat ist oder einfach nur eine aufgrund ...
6
votes
3answers
374 views

How does one say “Five cubic metres”?

I found myself on the telephone today attempting to explain the volume that a bunch of furniture would perhaps occupy in a truck, and I used Fuenf cubisch Metern But it was fairly clear to me ...
6
votes
2answers
610 views

Was bedeutet “wär von Vorteil”?

Ich habe diesen Kommentar ein paar Mal gesehen: Wär von Vorteil. Was bedeutet er?
6
votes
2answers
639 views

Mut, Tapferkeit, Sicherheit, Porzellankiste?

Im Ausdruck: Vorsicht ist die Mutter der Porzellankiste (er könnte indirekt von Shakespeare kommen aber ich finde diesen Artikel nicht schlüssig) Warum hat die Porzellankiste Tapferkeit oder ...
6
votes
1answer
346 views

A kind of – German Expressions

Whenever I try to say something like ‘A type of car’, or ‘a type of food’, I end up saying ‘eine Art + nominative singular’ or ‘eine Art von nominative singular’ but I’m not really sure about it. ...
6
votes
1answer
110 views

Precise terms for “Sachebene”, “Implikationsebene” and “Textebene”

To begin with, I just "invented" these three expressions, maybe an example helps: "Er erledigte seinen Auftrag und entsorgte seine Waffe. Dann stieg er in seinen Wagen. Er fuhr davon." So the ...
5
votes
3answers
524 views

What would be an appropriate translation of the expression “strike the iron while it's hot”?

What would be an appropriate translation of the expression "strike the iron while it's hot" in German?
5
votes
3answers
699 views

How to say “Sorry, not now, I am too busy”

I would like to be able to express Sorry, not now, I am too busy, or simply the idea that I am busy right now. I am not sure what to choose between besetzt and beschäftigt to say busy. I don´t really ...
5
votes
2answers
126 views

What is “Hacke, Spitze, eins, zwei, drei”?

I’m currently learning the German language as I’m new to Germany. Learning something new from the public every day is really cool! Yesterday I happened to hear bunch of kids playing across the street ...
5
votes
2answers
279 views

Ist es “die” Webseite und “der” Link?

Ich habe all meine Computerkenntnis in den USA erlernt, und deshalb verstehe ich kaum, wie man technische Sachen nennt, und ob man die, der oder das sagt. Könnte mir jemand helfen, die folgenden ...
5
votes
1answer
66 views

Warum erstinkt man Lügen?

Am Wochenende haben wir Mäxle gespielt (das wohl in anderen Regionen Deutschlands Meier heißt – warum auch immer), und an einer Stelle habe ich einen Viererpasch zurückgewiesen mit den Worten: Das ...
4
votes
2answers
220 views

Chatty expression in German

There are chatty expressions in English, like in the middle of a conversation someone says: [Getting angry] Does it work the same in German? as in [sauer werden] Or such a thing isn't ...
4
votes
2answers
180 views

“I am undecided between X and Y” - Expression

Let us say you are buying something and talking with the seller behind the counter. How would you express your indecision between two items? Is "Ich bin zwischen dem X und der Y" correct?
4
votes
2answers
38 views

Meaning and construction of a proverb

I have a couple of questions about the proverb: Den Toren packt die Reisewut, indes im Bett der Weise ruht I couldn't find a translation for die Reisewut. It seems composed by two words, die ...
4
votes
3answers
266 views

“To go rogue” in German

How could this phrase be translated into German? I can think of zu einem wütenden Einzelgänger werden or similar combinations with different adjectives, but none of them are nearly as concise ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

What should one say when someone arrives from a quite long trip?

When you see a friend who is going to travel, you'd say: Gute Reise. What would you say to someone who has arrived from a quite long and exhausting trip?
4
votes
2answers
274 views

Differences between “erwachen” and “aufwachen”?

I was trying to read Die Verwandlung in German and in the first lines I encountered this word in this context: Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, ... I'd like to know ...
3
votes
7answers
7k views

How should I ask politely for a moment of someone's time?

How should I politely ask for someone's time to interrupt them, like in English: Do you have a minute? May I bother you for a moment even though you're quite busy?
3
votes
1answer
145 views

»Das geht leider nicht« vs. »Es geht leider nicht«

In German, there is an expression: Das geht leider nicht. To my knowledge, this means one of the following: Unfortunately, this is not possible. Unfortunately, it won’t go. But what does ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

How to say “to check the mail”?

I did a Google search for this and all of the hits related to checking one's e-mail. Can anyone tell me how to say "to check the mail" correctly in German? I think I've seen prüfen used for "to ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

How to write an allergy notice label?

What is the correct expression, maybe some sort of a cliché, to warn consumers about possible allergens, something like: Don’t use this product if you have an allergy to one of its ingredients. ...
3
votes
1answer
431 views

Why “ein Uhr” and not “eins Uhr”

Why is it that "one o'clock" is ein Uhr and not eins Uhr? It is understandable that it's not eine Uhr, since we're not referring to one clock. But why is it that we're just using ein here?
2
votes
3answers
169 views

Wie beschreibt man das Futur mit der Vergangenheitsform?

Wenn man etwas, das man vorhatte, ausdrücken will oder eine in der Vergangenheit stattfindende Geschichte erzählt, kann diese Form in Englisch verwendet werden: I was going to go to the library. ...
2
votes
2answers
169 views

»Ich habe frei« vs. »frei habe ich« vs. »ich bin frei« vs. »frei bin ich«

Which of the following phrases are correct: Ich habe frei Frei habe ich Ich bin frei Frei bin ich The original meaning is « I'm free ». What is the difference between them? Are ...