New to german, learning difficult words

  • Hi, Im totally new to german and I was looking forward to English-Deutch course because french one was amazing. But I knew some french when I started and im improving it very much since lingvist, but with german its..aaagh, Im learning words like GOVERNMENT and 17 diffrent ways of saying ALREADY but i dont even know the first thing about german. Does it get better trough learning or will i be confused forever?

  • Hey.. don't worry too much. German has it's difficulties - but if you study hard you will see that you will speak it pretty soonish. Just an advice.. on you can find nearly everything you need to know about German grammar.

    Grettings from Bolivia!

  • works@Lingvist

    You are spot on, @maksim. I personally could not agree with you more, although it seems that Germans - at least in their writing and outward communication - are very business oriented, focusing quite heavily on politics, finances and soccer @dev_temp!

    alt text

    While frequency lists is something we are working with and it is more of a given (no chance to list sources, @dev_temp, we’ve analyzed vast amounts of contemporary language), we have a lot more room for adapting the course when working with context sentences and the tone, as you’ve highlighted, @maksim.

    I am currently creating the extension to the German module and would like to ask our German learners for a few things:

    1. Let me know your opinion on learning the names of countries and cities? Currently, and as I am big on geography, many countries are taught, whereas cities are not. Opinions? Important? Not so much?

    2. If you remember specific terms and sentences that were too “English” for you, please let me know. We will see how we can give the course a more German charm.

    And finally, if you could learn German (or another language for that matter) that only teaches words and context from a certain field or subject, what would it be? For example, Travel (Wie komme ich zum Flughafen)? Sports & Outdoors (Wir müssen noch den Schlafsack und den Kocher einpacken!)? Living in a foreign country (Was ist nochmal rechts vor links?)? or something different?

    Post below, would be super curious about your input!

  • I think if we're talking about a list of 5000 words, there's no need to rely too heavily on any (one) list, editorial judgement is important. The other thing is, it's not just the choice of words, but also the choice of context sentences, which is open to some degree, which determines the 'tone' of the course.

  • That is the catch with frequency lists - they might be biased towards the materials you build them on. If you build a frequency list on a bunch of scientific articles, you'll learn the German words for dark matter and black holes, but wouldn't get a remotest idea of the kitchen sink or a grocery, If your list is based on a business literature, you'll get all the business vocabulary, and if most of it comes from English, that is what you'll get. I wonder if the source of that list could be revealed. I assume it my be commercially classified. But at least a hint if it's home brewed or a publicly available source like google nrgram is welcomed.

  • Having finished the German course up to its current end-point, I have to say, it has too much business jargon. It has more than other courses I have tried eg. French and Russian. It's dispiriting to be given sentences which are full of anglicisms like 'Marketing und PR'. This is surely the worst aspect of modern German, and it's weird to see it emphasised in a language course. Of course people have to know about 'Zinsen' and 'Immobilien', but how about some descriptive and literary words to balance it out?

  • Business-related vocabulary tends to look strange in different European languages. In English you can think about "undertaking" that definitely has that "under" part, and even in your mother tongue word "предприятие[1][2]" has that weird two-part structure. I would guess that it's about accepting consequences before you start to act, or that you have to take before you can give something, or maybe one just sells from under-the-counter who knows?

  • works@Lingvist

    I've just seen the German word for "company". Does it have several stems? The "unter" in the word makes me ask this question. 0_1486655236193_Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 17.46.49.png

  • works@Lingvist

    Hi @Gaja-Rihar !
    Thanks for writing in. I totally know your frustration, in particularly with ‘government’. 😉 When I started the Spanish course at Lingvist ‘gobierno’ was like the third card that came up and I thought to myself ‘What in the world?!’. 😉
    My suggestion is to not let complicated words like that scare you off. They are there because they are used incredibly frequently in our society. And for the German course, it actually comes as the 174th card. Maybe it helps that knowing vocabulary such as ‘Regierung’, will allow you to converse and understand German so much quicker than learning much more basic words that are barely used.
    And as for the 17 alreadys – there are two terms for already in the course currently. Bereits and schon. Here is a quick grammar note about them to hopefully help you distinguish them:
    Bereits means already and is a bit fancier.
    Schon means already as well, a bit more colloquial and sometimes can also mean really or actually.

    For example:
    Das habe ich schon gesehen. (I’ve already seen that.)
    Das habe ich bereits gesehen. (I’ve already seen that.) Here, they have the same meaning and are interchangeable.
    Das ist schon toll. (That is really neat.) Here, schon takes on the meaning of really and bereits cannot be used in this case.

    But, honestly, if you are just started out in German, don’t worry about such minute differences. They both mean already and in the course are also designated as synonyms, meaning that you can put in either answer and it will be counted as correct 🙂 .

  • @Daniil I'd be extremely surprised if you completely understand German grammar after using just Duolingo or Memrise.

    Grammar is probably the toughest part of German; vocabulary is easy once you get the hang of it and understand how most words are formed by using basic "building" words. Same goes for pronunciation: 98 percent of words are pronounced the same way they are spelled without any silent words unlike French, although the gender can be difficult to remember sometimes.

    But grammar is a different story, and probably one that'll take some time to master. Still, it does not mean that you cannot build basic sentences using only accusative, nominative and- on occasion- dative. Genitive can be quite tough at times, and is mostly used in literature and "von" is used to replace this case in daily speech.

    If you really want to understand German grammar, I highly working through the A-Grammatik, B-Grammatik and C-Grammatik books by Anne Buscha and Szilvia Szita. Hammer's German Grammar and Usage is a more academic reference that you can add in if you want to go beyond daily usage of the language.

    Lastly, reading books on a Kindle is very helpful to gradually developing a more intuitive sense of grammar for any language.

  • The first step to learning any language is to master correct pronunciation of the alphabet.

    German is probably one of the easiest languages when it comes to to pronunciation: almost all words are pronounced in full, i.e. there rarely are silent letters or "trick" in pronouncing.

    The exception is some words that are borrowed from e.g. French like "Engagement", "Government", but they are a tiny minority.

    Check out for correct pronounciation of words by native speakers of German. An alternative is Forvo, but for German is your best bet to improve pronounciation.

    Lastly, the only way you'll learn a language is to speak it yourself. I understand that as a complete beginner it is hard, but you can still record yourself and compare the recording to that of native speakers on the website I mentioned above.

  • Lingvist graduate


    Try Duolingo, they have En-De course that teaches basics of German grammar. I didn't use anything but Duolingo and Memrise, and I feel pretty comfortable with the grammar in the course, even though I often google the meaning of words that I don't totally understand.

    The course definitely lacks explanation of difficult words that have a lot of meanings, almost every way of saying Already is actually unique and can be used only in certain situations.

  • Lingvist graduate

    Lingvist focuses primarily on enhancing your vocabulary. It teaches you words. So you should definitely supplement your learning with a textbook or a grammar book at least.

Log in to reply

Recent topics: