1

Der Haushalt ist für ihn aber nicht so wichtig. Wenn er keine Zeit hat, bleibt der Abwasch schon mal liegen.

Source: "Direkt", LektorKlett, a story about a boy who lives alone

  • 3
    what exactly are you having trouble with? Abwasch = dirty dishes, liegen = to lie, bleiben = to stay, remain – Emanuel Jul 30 '14 at 12:20
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He doesn't take care of the washing-up immediately, leaving the dirty dishes (in the sink, we may presume) for now, putting it off.

  • And what "schon mal" means? Is it used for emphasis? – user9065 Jul 30 '14 at 12:32
  • @user9065 Simplified: "schon mal" => "sometimes" (in that context) – Em1 Jul 30 '14 at 12:43
  • Can I ask for the non-simplified answer? On dict.cc (dict.cc/?s=schon+mal) I've found it can mean "ever". – user9065 Jul 30 '14 at 13:33
  • It means, literally, "on occasion", i.e. it happens. – Ingmar Jul 30 '14 at 13:54
  • @user9065 "ever" is another translation in another context. "Have you ever been in London -> Bist du schon mal in London gewesen" – Em1 Jul 30 '14 at 22:55
7

Das kann schon [ein]mal vorkommen.

is a colloquial way of expressing that something may happen once in a while. It also implies a certain carelessness and/or fatalistic attitude in respect to the event and its consequences. How frequent exactly this "occasional" event is expected to happen depends on context - from the wording in your example, I'd guess you shouldn't be overly surprised to find dirty dishes in/around the sink more often than not.

Your confusion with the translation as "ever" you found in the dictionary comes from a different use case:

Hast du das schon [ein]mal erlebt.

is a way of asking if you have ever(literally "once") experienced this before.

1

Additionally, in Germany, we often use "bleibt der Abwasch schon mal liegen." not only for dishes. Sometimes, "bleibt der Abwasch schon mal liegen." is a general sentence to tell, that we dont have time to keep the house clean.

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