I teach English to German children. Therefore I would like to know what is the most natural way to tell them to:

  1. Write (something) down.

  2. Color the picture

I suspect that it is not enough to say...

  1. Schreibt es.
  2. Malt das Bild.

as some "trennbare Verben" would sound more natural in this context, i.e.

  1. Schreibt es hin.
  2. Malt das Bild ein.

Am I right or is there a better (more natural) way to express it?

  • 1
    "Und dann schreibt ihr/schreibst du es auf". "Und dann malt ihr/malst du es aus". That is not so harsh. Apr 8, 2018 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


Schreib es hin!

Hinschreiben is a very harsh action. The sentence above means you are already impatient. Consider:

Setz dich hin!

Sit down!

Better use:

Schreib es (bitte) auf!

Schreib es (bitte) in dein Heft (hinein/rein)!


Color the picture.

must be translated as

Färbe das Bild (ein)!

But this is rather formal language, 6-year-olds go better with:

Mal/Mach (bitte) das Bild bunt!

  • Your sentence: "Schreib es (bitte) in dein Heft (hinein/rein)!" implies that the verb "shreiben (in ein Heft)" comes with "Akkusativ". Would it be a big mistake if I were to use "Dativ", as in ""shreiben (in einem Heft)"?
    – Pax
    Apr 9, 2018 at 6:39
  • 1
    You are mistaken here. Schreiben takes a dative object and/or a prepositional object (and/or an object clause). A prepositional object has the case directed by the preposition. I used accusative for in because writing something is like putting your thoughts into something. A direction. Dative is not wrong but implies you are focusing on the exact location instead of the thoughts. Schreib im Heft, nicht auf dem Tisch! All three types of object in one sentence: Schreib ihr in deinem Brief, dass es dir gut geht.
    – Janka
    Apr 9, 2018 at 6:55

With respect to part 1 of the question I agree with Janka. I only have to remark that write down can also be translated literally as niederschreiben but this is rather formal so hinschreiben is to be preferred here.


Color the picture.

my preferred translation for this situation is:

Malt das Bild (farbig) aus.

Einmalen does not work. Einfärben is OK, but indeed a bit formal.

  • The translation in German depends if you're talking to a group "Malt das Bild aus" or a single person (child) "Male das Bild aus".
    – Uwe Plonus
    Apr 12, 2018 at 17:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.