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I am having trouble in translating to the German equivalents of these phrases. Any help is appreciated!

  1. "Two and a half weeks" -- or any other similar combinations with hours, days, months, years, etc., and also with quarter, three-quarters, one-fifth, etc.

My guess is: zwei und eine halbe Wochen?

  1. "three days ago/later" -- also other combinations with different units, e.g., minutes, hours, etc.

My guess is: drei Tage vor/später?

  • 3
    again, these are two questions rolled into one. "Any other similar combinations" is not really what this forum is about. If you cannot find a translation for a phrase in your dictionary, then please feel free to ask here, but don't ask open ended questions like that. This is like "What is the German word for 'a' and also any other word in the dictionary?" – teylyn Jun 8 '11 at 11:29
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    I'll be happy to answer these questions once they're their own questions. They don't really have anything to do with one another. – fzwo Jun 8 '11 at 11:33
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    @teylyn: Although this is indeed two questions (both denoted "1"), I don't see any problem with asking for "similar/other combinations" here. "Three days ago" isn't translated very different from "five hours ago". – Tim Jun 8 '11 at 11:33
  • apparently I'm not the only one with this sentiment. – teylyn Jun 8 '11 at 11:38
  • @teylyn: I recommend not using the term "forum" at all. That's part of the "problem". – Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 14 '11 at 10:04
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1.) "Two and a half weeks"

That's "Zweieinhalb Wochen" in German. Works as well with hours, days, etc.

It's:

Eineinhalb (= 1 1/2)

Zweieinhalb (= 2 1/2)

Dreieinhalb (= 3 1/2)

Viereinhalb (= 4 1/2)

...

also possible with "quarter", then it would be:

Eineinviertel (= 1 1/4)

Zweieinviertel (= 2 1/4)

2.) "three days ago/later"

ago:

  • drei Tage zuvor/davor ("before/ago")
  • drei Tage früher ("earlier"
  • vor drei Tagen ("ago")

later:

  • drei Tage danach ("after")
  • drei Tage später ("later")
  • in drei Tagen ("in three day's time")

Seriously, you should get a better dictionary. ;-)

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    There is also 'anderthalb' but I don't understand why it's used. Perhaps this will help - wer-weiss-was.de/theme143/article2229709.html – paul Jun 8 '11 at 12:27
  • True, "anderthalb" is even more common, I think, although it sounds more colloquial to my ear. :) – ladybug Jun 8 '11 at 12:33
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1) Zwei-einhalb Wochen

2) vor/in drei Tagen

I general, this question is much too broad for an all-encompassing answer. I doubt that anyone will provide all possible combinations with "hours, days, months, years, etc., and also with quarter, three-quarters, one-fifth, etc." and "different units, e.g., minutes, hours, etc."

At some point you'll have to do your own homework and understand how it works in German in principle.

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    Just to clarify, it's zweieinhalb, without the hyphen. – fzwo Jun 8 '11 at 11:37
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just to clarify, zwei und eine halbe ... is in principle not wrong, but unusually unidiomatic, and leads to the impossible (frequently posed) question of how to align the disagreement in number. It would be most often however rarely, ''pl. Noun'' zwei und ''sg. Det.'' eine halbe "sg." Woche*. However this rests on the false interpretation of the usual zweieinhalb woche-n (plural!), modeled after anderthalb, which has quite the interesting etymology (that I have forgotten at the moment, because it's unbelievable when one is biased by the false interpretation; DWDS/anderthalb), which itself can be found reeinterpreted as eineinhalb.

Overall, half a week does not make sense anyhow, one should rather say

"zwei wochen und drei/vier/dreeinhalb Tage".

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    +1 für „zwei und eine halbe Woche“, -1 für den Rest. – Carsten S Aug 26 '19 at 21:05
  • @infinitezero I was not contradicting myself then and I am not now when I say that your tone is barely tolerable and that the criticizm in another tone would still not be accurate. Whether ... und dreeinhalb Tage is pedantic or whatever is out of the question. The quote is supposed to show that zwei X und ein Y as well as dreieinhalb Y are perfectly idiomatic. Whether a half week makes sense is not precisely a matter of language and so not a critical point of the answer, though my tone is critical. I'd probably say irgendwann/ in ungefähr/gut zwei Wochen if that's what I meant. – vectory Aug 26 '19 at 21:49
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    Correction of my previous comment due to autocorrect: You're contradicting yourself. In your first you sentence speak about unidiomatic constructions while in the last paragraph you advise against the idiomatic and often used phrase "in zweieinhalb Wochen" which is perfectly fine and depending on context is accurate enough. On the contrary I highly doubt anyone would say "in zwei Wochen und dreieinhalb Tagen" in a serious conversation. – infinitezero Aug 27 '19 at 6:45
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Your first examples translates to

Zweieinhalb Wochen.

It applies also to hours, days and any other time units. For other ratios we say

Zweieinfünftel Tage oder dreieinviertel Monate.

Aber:

Es ist drei viertel fünf.

Refer to canoonet

Your second example would be translated to:

Drei Tage später/früher.

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    "Three days ago" is not "drei Tage früher", is it? Moreover, note that "es ist drei viertel fünf" will only be understood in certain (large) parts of Germany. – Hendrik Vogt Jun 8 '11 at 11:37
  • Yes, "Three days ago" can definitely be translated to "Drei Tage früher". You'll see that in English movies translated to German frequently. – Deve Jun 8 '11 at 12:05
  • OK, but this is when the full phrase is "Three days ago", isn't it? I was thinking of something like "I bought a new bike three days ago." – Hendrik Vogt Jun 8 '11 at 12:17
  • Sure, but both translations are correct. You're right that depending on the context one or the other has to be chosen. The original poster just asked for a translation of three days ago. I admit that my answer isn't complete but as others have also stated in their comments, the question seems to be too open as to give one compact answer. – Deve Jun 8 '11 at 12:23
  • Keep in mind that wording like "Drei viertel fünf" is part of a regional accent found in Berlin for example. The more common way of saying it would be "Viertel vor fünf" instead of "Drei viertel fünf". When giving minute numbers, go for the closest hour milestone and keep the minute number given as small as possible. "Drei viertel fünf" requires people to calculate to get to the result of 45, then subtract that from 60 for the end result of 15 minutes. "Viertel vor fünf" does all that for the listener already and gives information about hour milestone and minute amount immediately. – Kevin Kevin Aug 26 '19 at 10:44

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