In Context: Dative Articles and Adjectives

These are intended to be grammar examples only: they reflect possible, correctly declined phrases rather thanphrases that Germans are likely to use in everyday conversation.  The idea is that by changing only the key parts of a sentence, the grammatical meaning becomes easier to understand intuitively.  At least, I think it helps me…

Example phrase: Sie bringt ___________ einen Kuchen.

Singular, definite article:

  • der freundlichen Frau
  • dem freundlichen Mann
  • dem freundlichen Mädchen

Singular, indefinite article:

  • einer freundlichen Frau
  • einem freundlichen Mann
  • einem freundlichen Mädchen

Plural

Again, the adjectives forms match for all genders, so these can be used with any plural.  Also, the Dative plural noun always ends in “n,” even when the regular plural doesn’t.

Adjective sets:

  • keinen freundlichen
  • den freundlichen
  • freundlichen

Dative Plural Noun forms:

  • Frauen
  • Männern
  • Mädchen

In Context: Accusative Articles and Adjectives

These are intended to be grammar examples only: they reflect possible, correctly declined phrases rather than phrases that Germans are likely to use in everyday conversation.  The idea is that by changing only the key parts of a sentence, the grammatical meaning becomes easier to understand intuitively.  At least, I think it helps me…

Example phrase: Sie isst __________.

Singular, definite article

  • die große Torte
  • den großen Kuchen
  • das große Eis

Singular, indefinite article

  • eine große Torte
  • einen großen Kuchen
  • ein großes Eis


In plural, all adjective forms match all genders.

Accusative plural adjectives:

  • keine großen
  • die großen
  • große

Accusative plural nouns:

  • Torten
  • Kuchen
  • Eis

In Context: Nominative Articles and Adjectives

It helps me to understand German grammar if I have an example to work from.  These are intended to be grammar examples only: they reflect possible, correctly declined phrases rather than phrases that Germans are likely to use in everyday conversation.  The idea is that by changing only the key parts of a sentence, the grammatical meaning becomes easier to understand intuitively.  At least, I think it helps me…

Singular, definite article

Example phrase: __________ bringt mir ein Eis.

Possible subjects:

  • Die kleine Frau
  • Der kleine Mann
  • Das kleine Mädchen

Singular, indefinite article

Example phrase: __________ bringt mir ein Eis.

Possible subjects:

  • Eine kleine Frau
  • Ein kleiner Mann
  • Ein kleines Mädchen

Singular, no article

Example phrase: __________ schmekt mir gut.

Possible subjects:

  • Deutscher Eis
  • Deutscher Kuchen
  • Deutsche Torte

Plural

Example phrase: __________ bringen mir ein Eis.

Possible subjects:

  • Die kleinen Frauen
  • Keine kleinen Frauen
  • Kleine Frauen

Since all genders use the same form in plural, “Frauen” here could also be “Männer” or “Mädchen.”

In Situ: Adjective Endings

A few examples of real-life adjective declination from a recent trip to Ulm

Rauchfreier Bahnhof

(“Bahnhof” is masculine, nominative; there’s no article; therefore “rauchfrei” ends in “er.”)

Tee mit doppeltem Rum

(“Rum” is masculine, dative; there’s no article; therefore “doppelt” ends in “em.”)

Practice Reading: Climate Change

I found the attached article in our local German newspaper.  Although I wasn’t able to understand every nuance, I found it to be about the “right” reading level (for me, anyway).

The full article can be found on www.mein-wochenblatt.de on this page. (There are, of course, numerous other German-language articles in this newspaper — but the the rest seem to be at a somewhat higher reading level.)

Reading guide (aka words that I had to look up):

zuvor: beforehand

der Forscher: researcher

zunehmend: increasing

das Treibhaus: greenhouse

die Dürre: drought or arridity

die Fläche: flat or expanse

Die Deutsche Sprache

Since I’m living in Germany, I’m learning German.  I’ve been slowing gathering useful tidbits about the language — examples of real-life use of grammatical constructs, made-up examples that help me better understand what I’m talking about, and so on.  I’ve decided these might be useful for other people as well, so I’m going to start publishing them here.  I’ll probably avoid updating Facebook with each of these examples, because I expect to write short, frequent posts which are no interest to most of my friends…. If you’re among the exceptions, grab the RSS feed here: feed://peasandhoney.com/blog/category/deutsch/feed/ (or just check the category page: http://peasandhoney.com/blog/category/deutsch).

Photos from Ulm

The wonderful thing about living in Europe is that other, interesting cities are only a short train ride away.  Today we took a trip to Ulm, which turns out to be the most appealing example of the German tendency to blend modern and ancient styles.  The city center is compact and walkable; the cathedral is impressive, even for Europe.  We found an assortment of sidewalk cafes and pedestrian walkway along the Danube, shops and more cafes scattered around the city center.  There were, in fact, so many cafes that we had some difficulty finding a place to eat a full lunch — which we definitely needed after climbing 768 stairs to the top of the Cathedral spire.  Ultimately, we found a Spanish restaurant, which was about to close its kitchen but had a few limited — and it turned out, delicious — lunch options available.

More photos are here: http://paigemorrison.smugmug.com/Travel/Ulm

Bavaria Photos

We traveled to Bavaria last weekend.  It was a fun, relaxing trip.  It rained on-and-off the whole time, so we didn’t feel much pressure to see all the sites — and instead treated it as a scouting trip for “next time.”  Still, we couldn’t help but bust out the cameras from time-to-time.

You can find these pictures and more at: http://paigemorrison.smugmug.com/Travel/A-Weekend-in-Bavaria

Drinking in Germany

Believe it or not, the Germans (or at least the Swabians, who live in the Stuttgart area) have beverage traditions other than beer and wine.  One of the first purchases M. and I made after I arrived in Germany was a soda siphon bottle; I love “fizzy” water, but carrying it up the hill seemed silly when we could just produce our own in the kitchen.  (Or, prior to getting the kitchen set up, in the bathroom.)  When I discovered that the German apple juice (Apfelsaft) is ridiculously tasty, I immediately started mixing it with our home-produced sparkling water .  I thought I was bringing a little slice of my childhood to Germany, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that juice or wine (but most commonly apple juice) mixed with sparkling water is a classic regional beverage.  It’s so classic, in fact, that it has a short name: Schorle.  Every restaurant menu includes it, as far as I can tell.

It’s odd how you can come to a new country prepared to embrace new traditions and find that those “new” traditions harken back to Thanksgiving dinners drinking sparkling apple cider while the grownups enjoyed champagne.

Some local traditions are, of course, more appealing than others.  The other local beverage specialty — well, excluding beer and wine — is a cola/orange soda mix called “Spezi“.  For people who actually enjoy the taste of cola, it’s probably not bad; for me, it falls into the “at least I can say I tried it once” category.

Tipping in Germany

I’ve read the guide books, of course.  I’ve even traveled to Europe before — but I still haven’t gotten the hang of tipping.  The theory is that you round up a bit, leave your spare change on the table, or maybe leave about 10% of the total bill.  So I try to do that, and I usually finding myself cheating up a bit — 12% really isn’t that much more than 10%, right?  Ok, if I do the math: maybe it’s more like 12.9%.  But who’s really doing the math anyway?  And what’s an extra 50 cents to me? It’s not really about the money, though.  It’s more that it’s hard to shake the idea that not leaving a sufficient tip is completely rude — that it’s actually making a stronger statement to leave a small tip (say, around 10%) than none at all, since that implies that you could have left more but chose not too.

I’m trying to re-train my brain to understand tipping in the German context. The German word for “tip” is Trinkgeld, which roughly translates to “drink money.”  Somehow, by thinking of the tip as leaving a few Euros for a drink, I can overlook the additional non-tipped money.

My take on tipping here is about 180 degrees from how other non-Germans see it, though.  The other day in German class, we were discussing tipping practices.  Generally speaking, most of my classmates found the customs in Germany significantly more generous than those in their home country.  (The other students are predominantly from other European countries and Turkey.)  In Germany, people generally tip their hairdresser (my reaction: “duh;” other students: “are you kidding?”), taxi drivers, and so on.  The list includes most of the professions that I would expect to tip; the amounts are just lower.

A few weeks ago, I went to pay our pizza delivery person. (Side note: we’ve figured out how to order in, and it’s been fabulous to have another food option!)  I realized as I went to pay the man that I didn’t know how much of a tip to leave, so I guess at something between 2 and 3 Euros (probably around 10% of the bill, maybe a bit more).  When I came back upstairs with the food, I described the amounts to M., and noticed his expression shift a bit.  “Was that not enough?” I asked.  “I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I’m afraid I totally stiffed the guy!”  M. grinned at me.  “Nope,” he said, “that was definitely enough.  I would probably have tipped about half as much.”

Sigh.  I wonder, sometimes, what the Germans think of me.  M., who has a good ear these things, says my accent (although noticeably foreign) doesn’t sound “American,” though I’m sure my tipping behavior is.