I've enrolled at the institute of language to learn German (my family is mostly German, but I've grown up in Australia). I lived in Germany for about 2 years when I was a kid and picked up enough to have a conversation, but that was about 14 years ago now.

Two things I've come across that confuse me a little:

  1. The use of euch and du. They both mean you, but how should they be used?
  2. Words like Spiel. This word can mean multiple things based on it's positioning. For example, spiel ein Spiel -> play a game. Could someone help me out with an explanation on how this works for Spiel and similar words?

Also as a side question if anyone can offer suggestions: are there any good CDs that I can buy and listen to in the car? I take 2 hour trips twice per week so I could get a fair bit in.

  • 9
    About the side question: You might want to create a new question from this. And specify whether you're looking for music or audio books, or self-study things. Remember that this is not a forum - it's a question-answer site. Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:58
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    Also please note that it's best to ask a separate question for each topic. Your #1 and #2 would each make a good question! Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 12:10
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    Ask two questions, else it gets confusing what the discussion is about, when the question is answered, who deserves the crown for the best answer. Or rename the title of your question to Marty's questions Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 1:15
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    Ich stimme für Schließen. Wir sollten Fragen, die die Regeln so offenkundig verletzen, schließen, bis sie geheilt sind. Später, mit bewerteten Antworten, verletzt man viel mehr Leute, wenn man die Frage schließt. Die beste Antwort ist vielleicht noch gar nicht gekommen - eine gute Antwort für die 2. Frage wird nicht akzeptiert. Richtig ist es, die Frage zu schließen. Der Frager überarbeitet sie, und stellt nur noch eine Frage - die andere separat, und dann wird die Frage wieder geöffnet. Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 23:46
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    This question is remarkably off-topic by today’s GLU.SE standards. Both differences are comprehensively explained in any dictionary. Also, for spielen/Spiel compare to work/work.
    – Jan
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 11:36

3 Answers 3

  • du: singular you, as in "you are a wonderful person"
  • euch: plural you, as in "you guys"
    • accusative and dative form of the "plural you" ihr, as in "I want to give something to you guys", not as in "you guys are great"
  • spielen: verb, "to play"
  • das Spiel: noun, "game"

ein Spiel spielen, spiel ein Spiel

Nouns are capitalized, so are easy to pick out in written form. The verb spielen simply conjugates to spiel here and happens to be pronounced the same as the noun Spiel. Similarly confusing in English: "game the game". If you know the sentence structure you can't confuse them though. Hint: ein is followed by a noun.

  • Thanks for that, does spiel ein spiel sound as bad as game the game does? As in should I be using spielen at all times?
    – Marty
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:16
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    @Marty spiel ein Spiel just by itself is kinda weird, as it expresses the command "play a game!" Spiel ein Spiel mit mir would be fine, but seems somewhat stilted to me. Outside of example sentences you probably won't hear either expression a lot. And no, you can't freely substitute one for the other, the grammar is very strict on that. :)
    – deceze
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:20
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    euch is more likely to be used in a sense like the you (plural) "I have something for you"
    – ddeimeke
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:47
  • @ddeimeke Important distinction indeed, added a note.
    – deceze
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:55
  • Now +1 with the last edit. Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 8:56

spielen:to play.

Das Spiel: {What is] played (i.e. a game).

"Play" and "game" seem like two different words. But when you look at it in the above fashion, you realize that spielen and Spiel are two different versions of the same word.

There are a number of other combinations where you have a word that seems to have two different meanings, until you "redefine" one of the words so that its meaning comes into line with the other.

Here (in my opinion) is another example: Do the noun 'Reich' and the adjective 'reich' have a common origin?

A third example: halten: to hold, and Halt: stop. But another definition of "stop" is to "hold up."


Du is you in singular (one person) in the nominative case

Otto, du bist nett - (Otto, you are nice)

Euch is you in plural (more than one person) in the accusative/dative cases

Ich vermisse euch alle - (I miss you all) accusative

Ich gebe euch den Ball - (I give you the ball) dative

The full case conjugation of these words are

  • du (nominative) - dich (accusative) - dir (dative) - deiner (genitive)
  • ihr (nominative) - euch (accusative) - euch (dative) - euer (genitive)

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