1

In English we frequently "that's all" to indicate something was not more than something another person fears that it is. I'm finding it very hard to even find the right keywords to search for a similar phrase in German.

For example:

Mary: "You were really upset yesterday. I thought you were breaking up with me."

Joe: "Oh, sorry! No I just had a big fight with my family, that's all."

Or less dramatic yet still the same concept:

Horst: "Wow, your German has really improved lately!"

Evan: "No, not really. I just memorized by heart a few complicated songs, that's all".

So in either example, the speaker is using "that's all" to point out that the impression the other person has of something they did or something that happened they were involved in, is not what the other person thinks it is/was.

Specifically, they are expressing the sentiment that the underlying truth or facts of the matter that has triggered the other person's "inflated" or "exaggerated" perception is something much more mundane than what that other person (the witness to the event) believes it to be.

The closing phrase "that's all" is a way of finalizing and cementing that sentiment. It could also be expressed in English as "it only seems that way but it's something much less interesting or shocking".

Is there a similar phrase in German that communicates the same sentiment or message?

4

Principally, you can simply say

Das ist alles

in German, as this term is very well in use there, too

If you seek for valid replacements anyway, here are two:

Your first example:

Maria: Du warst aber sauer gestern. Ich dachte schon, du machst Schluss.

Josef: Oh, das tut mir leid. Ich hatte bloß Zoff mit meiner Familie, halb so wild.

Your second example:

Horst: Wow, dein Deutsch ist in letzter Zeit viel besser geworden!

Eva: Ach, nee, glaub' ich nicht. Ich hab bloß ein paar Lieder mit komplizierten Texten auswendig gelernt, mehr ist das nicht.

But somehow I feel like "Das ist alles" would be the more natural expression in both cases.

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3

In your examples I would just insert einfach (or halt) in German.

"Oh, sorry! No I just had a big fight with my family, that's all."
--> "Oh, das tut mir leid. Ich hatte einfach einen Streit mit meiner Familie.

Or:

"No, not really. I just memorized by heart a few complicated songs, that's all."
--> "Nein, nicht wirklich. Ich hatte einfach ein paar komplizierte Lieder auswendig gelernt."

It means that there is no reason to worry much or look for a more profound explanation than the one offered.

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  • 2
    Thought out of the box! Good! – Christian Geiselmann Sep 6 '19 at 20:07
  • I'd argue that "einfach" is the translation of "just": "I'm just tired" -> "Ich bin einfach müde", so your translations miss the additional "that's all" part. It doesn't add meaning, but puts more emphasis on the "just". Although "just" can also mean "recently" ... – Sentry Sep 9 '19 at 10:12
  • @sentry: Maybe, but I don't think that the German translation has to have the same degree of redundancy as the English original. The desired meaning is well-enough conveyed by "einfach" - whereas "just" could be miscontrued as having a temporal meaning. – Frank from Frankfurt Sep 9 '19 at 11:17
3

Other possibilities that you may come across are

1) Das war es schon (Das war's schon)

Probably closest to that's all. It's also pretty short. In this case, es refers to the underlying facts, your relevation. Schon emphasizes further that that was really all and there was nothing more to it.

2.a) Mehr nicht

When you want to keep it really short. Most colloquial one of the expressions. Maybe even shrug when saying it. Since it's so short, it's a good candidate to use when the exaggeration causes you some discomfort and you want to be over with it as fast as possible. Needn't refer to something in the past, but you can leave away the ist.

2.b) Mehr war nicht

Slightly longer than the above option but else pretty much the same, but indicates that it was in the past. Preferable if you want to put emphasis on one of the words (Mehr war nicht).

Sometimes, the t is omitted (Mehr (war) nich.)

3) Lediglich / bloß

Inspired by Frank's answer, these are other options. Bloß is a more colloquial synonym of lediglich.

Let's look at your examples:

Joe: "Oh, sorry! No I just had a big fight with my family, that's all."

Nein, ich hatte nur einen einen großen Streit mit meiner Familie,

1) Nein, ich hatte nur einen einen großen Streit mit meiner Familie, das war's schon.

2) Nein, ich hatte nur einen einen großen Streit mit meiner Familie, mehr (war) nicht.

3) Nein, ich hatte lediglich / bloß einen einen großen Streit mit meiner Familie.

(if just doesn't mean nur, but gerade, you can keep it like ... ich hatte bloß gerade einen ...).

Evan: "No, not really. I just memorized by heart a few complicated songs, that's all."

Ich habe nur ein paar komplizierte Songs auswendig gelernt,

1) Ich habe nur ein paar komplizierte Songs auswendig gelernt, das war's schon.

2) Ich habe nur ein paar komplizierte Songs auswendig gelernt, mehr nicht.

3) Ich habe lediglich ein paar komplizierte Songs auswendig gelernt.

Since option 3 is so different, you could combine them, e. g.

2 & 3) Ich habe lediglich ein paar komplizierte Songs auswendig gelernt, mehr nicht.

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1

While the other answers already address each of the examples given, I'd like to answer the question given in the original headline. If you want a full sentence, to express that some cause was not as dramatic as the other party seems to assume, it would be:

Mehr steckte nicht dahinter (colloquial).

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