I am reading a fragment of Ganz unten and it contains the sentence:

Spaß muss eben sein.

It is Ali’s reaction when customers throw ashtrays on the floor and he has to clean them up. They laugh, and Ali writes the above sentence in the book.

When I translate it literally, I get:

Fun must be precise.

That does not seem to be what it means. So I’m wondering what it actually means.

  • 2
    Just wondering how you came up with "precise". The adverbs "precisely" or "exactly" do make sense (not in this context though), but if a dictionary suggests "precise" as an adjective, it's probably not a good one.
    – Em1
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 18:53
  • 1
    @Em1 Pretty sure it's an attempt of translating 'eben' which is much closer to 'just' in the example.
    – Tarok
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


We’ll get to the role of eben in a moment, but for now let’s consider the sentence without it:

Spaß muss sein.

Its meaning is rather clear: literally fun must be, idiomatically fun is necessary.

Now we add eben. It is a word like just: It can have a concise meaning but it is often just added to sentence for added effect. In this case, it is kind of like saying:

Well, some people just have to have fun.

In the end, it’s Wallraff’s reaction to being mocked. There’s an implicit sigh in the sentence and some impicit eye-rolling. All of this is added by the eben.


A more literal translation would be "Fun just has to be" or "Fun simply has to be".

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