Questions tagged [idiomaticity]

For questions about the what is the most natural or common way to say something.

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32 votes
3 answers
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Natural way to deny help from a shopkeeper

This question also has an answer here (in German): Wie kann man im Geschäft einem Verkäufer korrekt sagen, dass man sich zuerst nur umschauen möchte und noch keine Hilfe braucht? ...
CptLightning's user avatar
22 votes
10 answers
11k views

What is the appropriate German phrase for letting you pass crowded areas?

When passing crowded areas populated with English speakers, one would usually say "Coming through!" to clear the path; it's not as offensive as "Move away, give me some room", but still is rather ...
andselisk's user avatar
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15 votes
5 answers
3k views

“Especially because” in German

I often want to express a sentiment like: It was so nice to be outside this summer, especially because the winter was so cold! Literally translated, especially because would be insbesondere weil …...
Phil Braun's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

What is the German equivalent of the proverb 水清ければ魚棲まず (if the water is clear, fish won't live there)?

The proverb's meaning is that just as fish prefer muddy waters and avoid clear streams, people generally do not associate with those who are too ideal in terms of ethics, manners, and habits. In other ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 1,065
14 votes
3 answers
7k views

Wie kann man dem Kellner sagen, wieviel Trinkgeld man ihm gibt?

In einem Restaurant ist es gewöhnlich, dem Kellner ein bisschen Trinkgeld zu geben. Mir ist aber unklar, wie ich höflich erklären kann, wieviel Trinkgeld ich gebe. Sagen wir, dass die Rechnung 19€ ...
Fabio says Reinstate Monica's user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
94k views

Is there an equivalent in German to "I hope this message finds you well"

In English, these two variants can be said in a letter/message: I hope this message finds you well. I hope this message finds you in good times. In trying to translate, I skipped the first as my ...
Dustin's user avatar
  • 2,957
12 votes
5 answers
3k views

Warum heißt es »mein Lebtag« und nicht »meinen Lebtag«?

Beschreibung und Beispiele Der Ausdruck Lebtag wird in der Redewendung »mein / dein / ihr… Lebtag [nicht]« verwendet, um auszudrücken, dass etwas das ganze Leben lang oder bisher noch nie der Fall ...
Philipp's user avatar
  • 5,699
12 votes
2 answers
986 views

Werden Regeln gebogen oder gebeugt?

Kürzlich schrieb hier jemand: „[…] Stefan Zweig is bending the rules to his purposes […]“ Als ich daraufhin die Frage gestellt hatte, welche Regeln Zweig denn gebogen haben soll, hat man mich ...
Björn Friedrich's user avatar
11 votes
7 answers
3k views

German proper name or funny paraphrase for a slightly stupid dragon (Zmey Gorynych)

I’m trying to translate a sci-fi novel from Russian to German as a new hobby. Sometimes there are expressions which allude to cultural references which do not exist in German. In general, the novel’s ...
Photon's user avatar
  • 464
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Usage of the word "Dialekt"

Consider the phrase … sprachen wie alle Einwohner des Dorfes Dialekt … Would you say sprechen mit einem Dialekt or rather sprechen Dialekt? PS: This is my first day on this stackexchange, in case I ...
WOWOW's user avatar
  • 213
11 votes
1 answer
8k views

Are websites “Auf deutsch” or “In deutsch”

If I have a website and want to offer options for translation, should the option for translating it to German be “Auf deutsch” or “In deutsch”? Most websites just say Deutsch or German, but our ...
Adam's user avatar
  • 225
11 votes
2 answers
339 views

How to find which variations city names are used in daily speech?

The Wikipedia page for Staaten der Erde contains a couple of options for the names of some capitals. Since I’m not a native German speaker, I wonder how I can find out, which of the options are most ...
Nilzor's user avatar
  • 213
10 votes
7 answers
11k views

German equivalent of “It works”

In English there is an idiom: It works. Or more likely: That/It works for me. I think that the following is wrong, as arbeiten seems rather literal, but would it be a correct translation? ...
HalkScout's user avatar
  • 103
10 votes
3 answers
6k views

Yiddish phrase for "turn out the lights and go to sleep"

My mother grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at a time when the neighborhood was largely inhabited by Yiddish-speaking Jews. This led to the amusing situation of her Irish-born grandparents, and a ...
Wad Cheber's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
611 views

Expression for blindly following rules

Is there any expression which denotes either The act of blindly and dogmatically following rules/instructions without regard for the practicality of doing so (For example, this would be an epithet ...
errantlinguist's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
892 views

Expression for "little people"

What is an idiomatic way of expressing "little people", not as in people literally of small stature but people who are in reality important while still being "officially" unimportant?-- most notably ...
errantlinguist's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
16k views

Sagt man "Was ist Ihr Name"?

Normalerweise sagt man auf Deutsch Wie ist Ihr Name? aber ich habe überlegt, ob Was ist Ihr Name? auch möglich ist. Ist es das?
mle's user avatar
  • 1,777
8 votes
4 answers
3k views

What is the German equivalent of 干物女 (dried fish woman)?

Literally meaning dried fish woman, the popular slang 干物女 is used to call a woman in her twenties or older who, as nicely summarized in Wikipedia, has many of the following traits: メールの返事が極端に遅い、短い (...
Mitsuko's user avatar
  • 1,065
8 votes
2 answers
244 views

Is it permissible in German to compare apples to pears?

In the below excerpt from the taz.de article "Kein Kapitalismus, nur Götter", it seems that economists are compared to a discipline. Even though it's quite clear what the point of the sentence ...
Eugene Str.'s user avatar
  • 6,042
8 votes
4 answers
380 views

Is the word “erkrankte” dated?

I had to make a translation to German and my teacher corrected me saying that “Ich erkrankte” is not proper German as this word is old-fashioned and I should use krank werden instead. I’ve looked it ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 2,695
7 votes
5 answers
2k views

no days off : translation?

In short: What would be the idiomatic German equivalent of "no days off!" if it means "you have to work/exercise every day"? Is there anything better than "Kein Tag ohne ...
suizokukan's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Difference between two possibilities for a warning label

The tripmeter on my car must not be reset when the vehicle is moving; otherwise it may break. I am wondering what an appropriate warning label for this quirk of German engineering would read, in ...
Jared S's user avatar
  • 73
7 votes
4 answers
11k views

What if someone says "Ich bin" as a self-introduction?

If someone who doesn't really know German says Ich bin [name] instead of Ich heiße ... to introduce him/herself, is this an error in German and how odd does it sound?
Dave Delaney's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
5k views

Idiomatic usage of ‘über’ vs ‘an’ when thinking

I recently started a Duolingo tree, and for prepositions they used the sentence Ich denke an dich. rather than Ich denke über dich. Prior to this point, I would have used über without ...
rob brown's user avatar
  • 361
7 votes
1 answer
278 views

German idioms like "Draining the swamp"

Are there any (incriminating) idioms in German similar to "Draining the swamp", which is American for "weed out all the bad guys"? Besides similar phrases, is this idiom itself ...
user610620's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
8k views

Correct usage: "für die Menschen" or "für den Menschen"? Accusative or dative (idiomatic exception)?

When reading Was für eine Krankheit ist Diabetes?, I came across a sentence: Traubenzucker ist lebenswichtig für den Menschen. [emphasis added] German grammar tutorials, for example: Prepositions ...
Barn Monkey's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
6k views

Different ways to say “are you ready?”

The only option that comes to my mind is Bist du bereit?, which is the literal translation. Are there other commony used ways to express a similar meaning? I ask this because I’m following a ...
Cindie's user avatar
  • 521
6 votes
1 answer
703 views

Best way to say 'to move up' as in 'reschedule for an earlier point in time'

Let's say I would like to reschedule an appointment, but to make it sooner, rather than later. I would like to know the most natural way a German speaker would say this. I'm familiar with "...
laur34's user avatar
  • 309
6 votes
2 answers
836 views

"a warm presence in our lives" – can I use "Präsenz"?

My mother is writing a condolence letter and wants to say that [the deceased] was always a warm presence in our lives. She used Präsenz but this sounds odd to me. I looked up presence on Dict.cc ...
MissMonicaE's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
244 views

Idiomatic usage of “müssen”

I’m watching “Deutschland 83”, and one of the characters said “Du musst geh nach Berlin”, which confused me because I had always learned that modal verbs always kicked the second verb to the end of ...
rob brown's user avatar
  • 361
5 votes
10 answers
3k views

What is the best way to say "a large number of [noun]" in German?

In my current project I want to translate the phrase "a large number of tents are set up." This is part of the text of a video game, specifically the narration. But looking at dict.cc, I see ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

„Eine Datei hinlegen“ oder „eine Datei legen“

Wie sollte man richtig in informeller IT-Mail-Korrespondenz folgenden Satz schreiben, mit hin- oder ohne? Ich habe die Datei unter C:\work hingelegt. vs Ich habe die Datei unter C:\work gelegt. ...
Roman T's user avatar
  • 701
5 votes
1 answer
230 views

“sehr wundervoll” — idiomatic?

To me, the combination of sehr and wundervoll sounds a bit odd/clumsy and I’m wondering: Am I alone? If not, what could be the reason for it being odd? Are there other adjectives that can’t be ...
Emanuel's user avatar
  • 29.7k
5 votes
4 answers
20k views

How to say "Sorry that I am late"?

I would like to know how to express “Sorry that I am late” in German. What would be the best and most common way to say that? Would any of the following be right? Entschuldigung / Entschuldigen Sie,...
E.V.'s user avatar
  • 4,847
5 votes
5 answers
602 views

Should it be ‘so bunt wie’ or ‘so bunt als’?

I came across the following sentence the other day, and my wife who is a native German speaker from Austria insists it is correct. But by the rules I have been taught it is wrong. Can someone explain ...
Terry's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

how to express an “astonishment”, “being amazed”?

I think “was für ein” is an actual question rather than expressing an astonishment or do you use this pattern as well? I’m trying to an express something like below Oh god! What a wonderful goal! ...
Dragut's user avatar
  • 2,533
5 votes
2 answers
11k views

How to ask about another person's job

What are the questions that one can ask to find out another person's job? Are the following correct/appropriate? (a) Was machen Sie beruflich? (b) Was sind Sie von Beruf? (c) Was machen Sie? (d) Was ...
boaten's user avatar
  • 14.7k
5 votes
1 answer
213 views

Sich damit beschäftigen vs. sich widmen

Laut bilingualen Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbüchern bedeuten sich damit beschäftigen und sich widmen + Dat. fast das Gleiche. Ich bin mir aber nicht sicher, ob die folgenden Sätze die gleiche Bedeutung ...
Lalo's user avatar
  • 747
4 votes
3 answers
11k views

How can I say "I am learning German in my spare time" [closed]

The literal translation appears to be "Ich lerne Deutsch in meiner Freizeit". Is this a natural sentence in German?
user16563's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
560 views

“die Wäsche einfüllen” or “die Wäsche in die Maschine stecken”?

I am looking for the most common way to say: to place the laundry in the washing machine. In my German book Schritte 6+, I found the translation die Wäsche einfüllen, unfortunately though I didn’t ...
E.V.'s user avatar
  • 4,847
4 votes
4 answers
3k views

Nachfolgend vs folgend

Im ersten Augenblick scheint es, dass die folgenden Ausdrücke synonym sind, gibt es aber irgendwelche Unterschiede zwischen den beiden? (a) In der nachfolgenden Arbeit (...) (b) In der ...
Lalo's user avatar
  • 747
4 votes
2 answers
86 views

Techn. Übersetzung: to serve a document

Ich übersetze momentan eine kleine Dokumentation für ein Softwareprojekt zur Entwicklung von Webanwendungen. An einigen Stellen heißt es in Bezug auf Webserver: "to serve a document", womit die ...
user3147268's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
780 views

What can be a better way of saying "what can and can't I do?"

I would translate: What can and can’t I do after this day? → Was darf und darf ich nicht nach diesem Tag machen? I think it is grammatically correct but I’m not so sure that’s the way native ...
garci560's user avatar
  • 153
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

ein Problem angehen vs. an ein Problem herangehen

+Laut Wörterbuch könnte man sagen, dass ANGEHEN und HERANGEHEN als Synonyme verwendet werden können. Es scheint aber, dass ANGEHEN ein größeres semantisches Feld hat. In den folgenden Sätzen, zum ...
Lalo's user avatar
  • 747
4 votes
2 answers
5k views

Wie den eigenen Namen am Anfang einer E-Mail erwähnen?

Da es mir unumgänglich schien, am Anfang einer E-Mail meinen Namen zu erwähnen, suchte ich nach einer Alternative zum üblichen »mein Name ist«. Es fiel mir folgende Formulierung ein: Sehr geehrte ...
pasterlit's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
150 views

Genug pausiert oder Deine Pause ist vorbei

Bei einer Anwendung möchte ich dem Benutzer sagen, dass seine Pause vorbei ist bzw. er genug gearbeitet hat. Es handelt sich dabei um eine Timerapp. Zurzeit sind die zwei Benachrichtigungen: Genug ...
Informatiker's user avatar
4 votes
5 answers
233 views

"If you kinda want something, you kinda get the results" auf Deutsch

"If you kinda want something, then you will kinda get the results you want." Ich habe einige Ideen, zum Beispiel: Wenn du es nur halbherzig willst, dann erzielst du auch nur halbherzige ...
user2874061's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
223 views

How to express the following phrase "I don't like to do something"?

I have found several choices to express this phrase like "ungern etw machen", "nicht gern etw machen", "es nicht mögen, etw zu tun". Which choice of these sounds the most ...
user32804's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
100 views

Kasus beim 'wie'

Ich habe in Thomas Bernhards Roman Korrektur das Folgende gesehen. An ihr hing Roithamer mit der ganzen Liebe, die einem Menschen wie er möglich ist ... Meine Frage ist nun, ob das 'er' das einzige ...
Fraeulein Hoeller's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
442 views

"in a 4:1:3 ratio" in German

I'd say: Die drei Ingredienzien müssen im Verhältnis von 4:1:3 vermischt werden. ... to express the idea of: Mix them in the ratio of 4:1:3. --- {numbers following the word "ratio"} {or}: ...
Con-gras-tue-les-chiens's user avatar