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I want to say, 'Today I will talk about why it is a good idea to learn german.'

'Heute spreche ich über warum es ist eine gute Idee, Deutsch zu lernen.'

I know it sounds funny, so could someone please help with a better translation?

  • It is not the why that you find sounds funny in the sentence, but rather it is the über / about. – jera Jan 25 '16 at 10:00
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    Nothing wrong with warum. However, the word order in the question clause isn’t correct, and über can’t be on its own. – chirlu Jan 25 '16 at 10:03
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Just change the über to darüber and change the position of ist and it works:

Heute spreche ich darüber, warum es eine gute Idee ist, Deutsch zu lernen.

Alternativeley, you could say:

  • Heute spreche ich über die Frage, warum es eine gute Idee ist, Deutsch zu lernen. (Today I will talk about the question why...)

  • Heute erläutere ich die Frage, warum es eine gute Idee is, Deutsch zu lernen. (Today I will elucidate [the question] why...)

Note, that in your question you intuitively changed the future tense in your english sentence to present tense in the german sentence. This is totally fine, just bare it in mind. You could also form you sentence with future tense.

  • Heute werde ich [...] sprechen/erläutern.
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    I would've used the exact same words (german native), but thinking about it, I am not quite sure, why "darüber" is being used in this context, rather than "über". Especially, since there is the alternative Version "über die Frage" or "über den Fakt" etc.. Is there a general rule for non-native speakers? – BenSower Jan 25 '16 at 10:02
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    Also, the first alternative "...über die Frage, warum..." does slightly change the meaning of the original sentence. The originial sentence was conveying, that it is a fact that learning German is a good idea. Even though the same meaning will be interpreted and definitely understood, the first alternative creates some doubt, since it is not a fact anymore, but topic of a discussion/question. If you want to be really really pecise (and therefor act very very german :-P) in your translation, I'd rather not use the alternatives. – BenSower Jan 25 '16 at 10:07
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    @BenSower You are absolutely right! I was at odds with this slight change of meaning too, but I considered it neglibible since this is a sentence a german native would use. Concerning the rule for non-natives, unfortunately, I cannot give you one. I would say that it is _da_rüber because there is no noun representing the question as in "über die Frage"... but that is more or less a feeling. – jera Jan 25 '16 at 10:12
  • Shoot, I was hoping for a good answer, since this thread german.stackexchange.com/questions/10364/… does also not give exact rules, but does create an interesting connection to english forms like "thereby" and "thereabouts". – BenSower Jan 25 '16 at 10:27
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    @BenSower I remember a question about exactly that. Bottom line was: Some people will allow the use of über, others will require darüber. The reasoning for people like me is that über requires something so if there is no direct reference, use darüber to supply one. – Jan Jan 25 '16 at 13:28

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