The word this has a couple of meanings in English. Wiktionary states 5.
I am specifically interested in the translation of the fourth meaning:

A known (thing) (used in first mentioning a person or thing that the speaker does not think is known to the audience). Compare with “a certain …”

I met this woman the other day who’s allergic to wheat. I didn’t even know that was possible!

There’s just this nervous mannerism that Bob has with his hands, and it drives me crazy.

This description led me to certain, which translates to bestimmt. Is it safe to say, that “Ich traf diese bestimmte Frau” means “I met this woman”? I am worried it does not.

I actually need this because I don’t know how to say the following:

In my country there is this tradition …

In meinem Heimatland gibt es diese bestimmte Tradition …

Is this correct?

  • Man kann beobachten, dass 'bestimmt' sehr oft als reines Füllwort verwendet wird, ähnlich wie 'natürlich', und genau das Gegenteil der Fall ist, nämlich Unbestimmtheit. Stilistisch dürfte 'there is this tradition' auf Englisch ähnlich schwach sein (gegenüber 'there is a tradition ...') wie im Deutschen, imho. Nov 17, 2015 at 20:22

3 Answers 3


I can think of three possibilities: diese eine (this single one), jene (that) and — as mentioned in a comment — (so) eine (~such a).

Take the first one if you think that the thing you refer to is unknown and possibly quite unique.

Und dann traf ich diese eine Frau, die allergisch auf Weizen reagiert. Ich wusste gar nicht, dass es sowas gibt.

Take the second one if you talk about something/someone where you think that everyone can think of something/someone else they know and have a vivid idea in their mind.

Bob hat jene nervöse Eigenart mit den Händen rumzufuchteln, die einen einfach in den Wahnsinn treibt.

Take the third one if you talk about something/someone where it’s possibly unknown but not necessarily unique.

In meinem Heimatland gibt es (so) eine Tradition, …


No need to make things so complicated. German has exactly the same paradoxical use of this/diese, so literal translations will do. The only thing that’s tricky is translating “there’s just” in the third sentence, but this has nothing to do with the demonstratives involved:

Ich traf neulich diese Frau, die allergisch gegen Weizen ist. Ich wusste nicht einmal, dass das möglich ist!

Bob hat einfach diese nervöse Angewohnheit mit seinen Händen, und das macht mich wahnsinnig.

In meinem Land gibt es diese Tradition, … [better: bei mir zu Hause, in meiner Heimat, in meinem Heimatland]

I have consciously let pass a few opportunities to make the translation better by using differently constructed German idioms, but again this has nothing to do with this particular use of demonstratives.


You could use

Ich hab neulich diese Frau getroffen (weitere Erklärung).

For example:

Ich habe neulich diese Frau getroffen, von der ich Dir schon erzählt habe.


Ich habe gerade diese Frau gesehen, die ich mich nicht traue, anzusprechen.

Or for your second phrase:

Wir haben da diese Tradition (weitere Erklärung).

For example:

Wir haben da diese Tradition, dass man jemanden, der unter einem Mistelzweig steht, küssen muss.

  • 1
    You could say so, but no native speaker would say it (except when translating and being too close to the English original). Depending on context, ein would be used or so ein.
    – chirlu
    Nov 17, 2015 at 11:58
  • Thank you both very much. chirlu, would you mind writing an example? Nov 17, 2015 at 12:04
  • @chirlu if you google "neulich diese Frau", you will quickly see that you are wrong.
    – Burki
    Nov 17, 2015 at 12:07
  • I googled this and I fail to see where he is wrong. Please explain. Actually, it's the opposite. The sites that show up contain the phrase "Ich habe neulich eine Frau getroffen..." Nov 17, 2015 at 12:17
  • 1
    @Burki: The statement may well have been a bit too strong, but the first few results (with “quotation marks” – not hy-phen-s) don’t disprove it. They either include a photograph that dieser refers to, are translations, or by non-native speakers. But today, everything is being said. ;-)
    – chirlu
    Nov 17, 2015 at 12:23

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