Wednesday, June 22, 2011

German Lesson of the Day

When people learn that I live in Germany, one of the first questions they ask me is "So, how is your German? "

My standard response has become "It's okay, I know enough to be polite.  As long as the conversation stays on a very surfacey level, I'm rather fluent!" 

I often joke that people who speak to me in German must find me to be a bit shallow considering my limited ability to comment beyond the most basic of issues.  

If you read my Booter post, you know I still have a ways to go.  However, I will have you know that recently I have had a few occasions where I successfully requested butter without getting a blank stare.  This is quite an accomplishment and one I am rather proud of thank you very much.  

German is not an easy language to learn.  English, by the way, is a pretty easy language to learn.  At least that's what I'm told.  The structure and grammar are fairly flexible, although I do hear that our tenses (i.e. I go, I went, I have gone, I was going) often trip people up.  But, for the most part, it's pretty straight forward.    

German is not so straight forward.  The pronunciation and grammar is not always very forgiving. It is a very structured language, which I suppose makes it a bit easier except that the structure is completely different than English.

In German, the verb always comes in the second position.  If you have more than one verb, the first verb goes in the second position and the rest go at the end.  This is one of the most difficult things for me when I am speaking German because it is so hard to retool the way I  put sentences together in my head. 

I know, that all doesn't make a lot of sense, so let me just give you an example. Or two.  Or three.  

In English we might say something like: 

Today, I went to the grocery store.

In German, that same sentence would read:

Today, have I to the grocery store gone.  

Weird, right? "Today" is considered to be in the first position, "have" is the verb in the second position and "gone" gets moved to the end.

How about this one:

I would like to buy a raincoat because it rains too much in Germany.

In German you would say:

I would like a raincoat to buy because it too much in Germany rains.

Remember how I said the verb always goes in the second position?  Enter an exception to the rule:  Whenever you use "because" all verbs that follow automatically go at the end.  

The same thing is true when you use "If" or "When" which you will notice in the following example.      

English version:

If I had a rain jacket, I would not have gotten wet on my way home today from the grocery store.  

The structure in German would read:

If I a rain jacket had, would I not today wet on my way home from the grocery store gotten.

(This is where you will have to use your imagination since Blogger is not letting me insert any pictures and imagine me and my bike standing outside the grocery store looking at the pouring down rain that we then had to ride home in.  Thank you weather app for being 3 hours off on your prediction.  The rain that you said would come at 6:00, actually started at 3:30 and then poured and poured right up until 6:00, after which it was a lovely evening.  Good work weather man, good work.)  

So confusing.  The German I mean.  But so fun to learn.  

And there you have it.  A little peek into what my poor brain has to go through every day. Happy Hump Day!  

Hope you're getting extra sunshine where ever you are cause it sure ain't been shining here. 

For you Germans reading this post, I have to apologize, because that was very bad, bad, bad English I just used right there.  Please don't speak like me.  Always remember: "Ain't ain't a word and ya' ain't supposed to use it."  

And there you have it, a mini English lesson as well.  Aren't you all so lucky.  :)


Laura said... Best Blogger Tips

I am a German girl (I am going to turn 20 on Sunday:) ) and I found your blog yesterday :) I love it! I wish you and your family the best.

It is quite funny to read about your experiences in German everyday life (e.g. eating boiled eggs with a spoon). It is also a very personal blog and I really like the way you write. Your more serious blog entries make me think about myself.

By the way, you are a beautiful women :)

Laura said... Best Blogger Tips

*woman , of course :)

See, I have been learning English since about 6 years and still... ;) However, my last English lesson was in March since I have graduated from Gymnasium (similar to High School) at the end of March... Haha, but usually my English is quite good I think.

Laura said... Best Blogger Tips

(Like you said, the tenses are the problem... Sometimes it is kinda hard to decide which one you have to use! I apologize for the grammar in my comments, I hope it is not too wrong ;) )

Cara said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Laura! Welcome to my blog. Your English is perfect! Very impressive :)

Dad said... Best Blogger Tips

Great blog Cara! Also, I appreciate all of Laura's posts.

Laura said... Best Blogger Tips

*for 6 years by the way ;)
Thanks, I mean it is not perfect but O.K. :) I am a little out of practice maybe.
It is great that you are enjoying learning German although it is not an easy language to learn (at least that's what lots of people say)!

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