Common mistakes

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Saaropean
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Common mistakes

Postby Saaropean » 2011-08-12, 18:02

This is a collection of frequent mistakes. Please do not post comments or questions in this thread.
Hier werden häufig gemachte Fehler gesammelt. Bitte schreibt in diesen Thread keine Kommentare oder Fragen.



Ja? Nein? Doch!
If a yes/no question is phrased without a negation, "ja" is the German word for "yes", and "nein" means "no". You needn't repeat the verb.
But if there's a negation in the question, the affirmative answer is "doch". The negative answer is usually "nein", but logically speaking it's ambiguous, because you may be negating the negation - negative multiplied with negative is positive.
Wenn eine geschlossene Frage ohne Negation formuliert wird, bejaht man mit "ja" und verneint mit "nein". Das Verb wird dabei nicht wiederholt.
Wenn aber in der Frage eine Negation ist, wird mit "doch" bejaht. Eine Verneinung ist in der Regel "nein", logisch betrachtet ist das aber zweideutig, weil man auch die Negation verneinen könnte - negativ mal negativ ist positiv.

Examples/Beispiele:
Liebst du mich? - Ja. (Do you love me? - Yes, I do.)
Liebst du mich? - Nein. (Do you love me? - No, I don't.)
Liebst du mich nicht? - Doch! (Don't you love me? - Yes, I do.)
Liebst du mich nicht? - Nein, tut mir Leid. (Don't you love me? - No, I'm sorry.)

The negative article
0 is a positive number in German. You can have 0 children: "Ich habe keine Kinder" means you haven't got any kids. This negative determiner is declined as an indefinite article, as you can see below the German translation of this paragraph.
0 ist auf Deutsch eine positive Zahl. Man kann 0 Kinder haben: "Ich habe keine Kinder". Dieser negative Artikel wird wie der unbestimmte dekliniert:
Nominativ: (f) keine Frau, (m) kein Mann, (n) kein Kind, (Plural) keine Häuser
Genitiv: (f) keiner Frau, (m) keines Mannes, (n) keines Kindes, (Plural) keiner Häuser
Dativ: (f) keiner Frau, (m) keinem Mann, (n) keinem Kind, (Plural) keinen Häusern
Akkusativ: (f) keine Frau, (m) keinen Mann, (n) kein Kind, (Plural) keine Häuser

Schule ≠ school
Although colleges and universities are called "Hochschulen" in German, they are not considered schools. Only primary, secondary and vocational schools are considered Schulen in German, where Schüler(innen) are taught by Lehrer(innen). Academic institutions are Universitäten or Fachhochschulen (colloquially Unis or FHs), where Student(inn)en (gender-neutral "Studierende") visit Vorlesungen and Seminare held by Professor(innen).
Abwohl man auf Deutsch von "Hochschulen" spricht, werden diese nicht als Schulen betrachtet. Nur Grundschulen, weiterführende Schulen und Berufsschulen kann man als "Schulen" bezeichnen, wo Schüler(innen) von Lehrer(innen) unterrichtet werden. Akademische Einrichtungen sind Universitäten oder Fachhochschulen (umgangssprachlich Unis oder FHs), wo Student(inn)en (geschlechtsneutral "Studierende") Vorlesungen und Seminare von Professor(inn)en besuchen.

studieren ≠ to study
In German, you don't study languages, you only learn them. Unless you're pursuing a university-level degree. But then you don't use the normal language names, but you say "Ich studiere Germanistik, Anglistik, Romanistik" (all stressed on the penultimate syllable) for German, English and Romance languages, respectively.
Auf Deutsch studiert man Sprachen nicht, man lernt sie nur. Außer man strebt einen Universitätsabschluss an. Aber dann benutzt man nicht die üblichen Namen der Sprachen, sondern man sagt "Ich studiere Germanistik, Anglistik, Romanistik" (Betonung jeweils auf der vorletzten Silbe) für Deutsch, Englisch beziehungsweise romanische Sprachen.
:arrow: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philologie

Visiting a country
Germans visit people. They don't visit cities or countries, they just go there. If you want to know if I have ever visited the United States, ask if I've been there: "Warst du schonmal in den USA"?
Deutsche besuchen Menschen. Städte oder Länder besuchen sie nicht, sie fahren/fliegen/gehen einfach hin. "Warst du schonmal in den USA" heißt auf Englisch "Have you ever visited the U.S.?".

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Saaropean » 2011-12-18, 10:06

3 words for "when"
The interrogative pronoun "when" is "wann". The relative pronoun is "als" for events in the past, "wenn" for events in the present and future.
Das Fragepronomen um nach der Zeit zu fragen ist "wann". Das Relativpronomen ist "als" für Ereignisse in der Vergangenheit, "wenn" für Ereignisse in der Gegenwart und in der Zukunft.
Examples/Beispiele:
Wann kommst du zurück? (When are you going to come back?)
Ich weiß nicht, wann ich zurückkomme. (I don't know when I'm going to come back.)
Besuchst du Lukas, wenn du in Graz bist? (Are you going to visit Lukas when you're in Graz?)
Als ich jung war, war ich ein großer Fußballfan. (When I was young, I loved soccer.)

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby MillMaths » 2012-01-13, 13:25

"When" is not a pronoun. It's an adverb in the interrogative case, and a conjunction in the other cases.

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby mōdgethanc » 2012-01-15, 2:36


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Re: Common mistakes

Postby MillMaths » 2012-01-15, 9:56

It is a pronoun only when it means "on/during which", e.g. "the day when it snowed" – der Tag, an dem es schneite. None of Saaropean's examples uses when in this sense.
Last edited by MillMaths on 2012-01-15, 16:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Qaar » 2012-01-15, 14:30

Nach/Zu/Am

When somebody says "Ich fahre zu Hamburg", I feel like I won't be happy, ever again.
Dialectically, it's fine, but, in the standard language, please, use "nach". "Zu" is not the same as English "to", even though what seperates them is the shift of "t > ts". Seriously, it's not the same word. Cognate, yes, but not the same word.

Gift

"Ich mag Gifte" - I love poisons?
Same as with "zu", except there is no sound that seperates "Gift" and "gift". German "Gift" means "poison", due to a paradigm shift in MHG, where "Gift" was an euphemism for "poison" - so, you'd gift a König, and he'd die, unless you put too little of the gift or it wound up in someone else's hand.
You don't give "Gifte" to your German soulmate, you give "Geschenke" or "Spenden", unless they're not your soulmate :twisted:

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby dunkelwald » 2012-01-26, 1:13

I never thought I would log into Unilang ever again in order to post, and I'm supposed not to write comments or questions in this thread, but -- how can I not to with all the desinformation that's being spread here?

Sophie wrote:"When" is not a pronoun. It's an adverb in the interrogative case, and a conjunction in the other cases.

I saw that "interrogative case" is used for something strange in other languages (mostly Romance languages where it may make sense), but in German we have four cases, and the interrogative case is not one of them. Even if one random grammar book does it, there's no reason for imitating this. The four cases are the four grammatical cases of words that can be declined, and interrogatives such as wann can't be declined.

In German school grammar, wann is considered a so-called "Interrogativpronomen" when used as a question in the way Saaropean described. Maybe "interrogative adverb" is a better word than "interrogative pronoun", because it actually asks for an adverbial or an adverbial phrase such a PP, but speaking of an "interrogative case" doesn't make anything better.

What I think isn't much better, either, is the fact that Saaropean describes als and wenn as relative pronouns. They are temporal conjunctions (or subjunctions or subordinating conjunctions if you will, and wenn can obviously also be a conditional conjunction, but that's another topic). A relative pronoun refers back to the noun of a noun phrase, reference to which also occurs in the relative clause which is part of the noun phrase, such as in Der Mann, der keine Hunde mag, lebt nicht in diesem Haus "The man who doesn't like dogs doesn't live in this house" where Mann besides occuring in the main clause, is also made reference to in the relative clause by means of der.

Saaropean, seeing that you are moderator here, feel free to delete my post as you want this thread to be void of discussion, but, please, at least correct the part about calling als and wenn relative clauses, and delete or clarify the references to the "interrogative case" (maybe noting that the German school grammatical terminology, actually calling words like wann interrogative pronouns would help as well). This way it's only going to confuse people who are trying to find a list of common mistakes.

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby loqu » 2012-01-26, 6:27

So glad to read you again, dunkelwald :)

Just to add my two cents in, I don't think Sophie meant there is any interrogative case in the grammatical sense (btw, there's none in the Romance languages I know of); I'd say she meant "it's an adverb when it's interrogative, and a conjunction otherwise".
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby dunkelwald » 2012-01-26, 11:09

Yeah okay, and to be fair, Sophie actually talked about the English when, rather than the German wann. Still, I wouldn't talk about the existence of an interrogative case either way. I find that very confusing, to be honest, although I find some 8000 results on Google (not all refer to a a linguistic expression, though).

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby dunkelwald » 2012-02-03, 23:42

Sorry Sophie and loqu, I was just pointed out that I had parsed the respective sentence incorrectly, and I hadn't even thought of the correct interpretation. What Sophie said is correct, under the interpretation that she didn't refer to an "interrogative case", rather than "In the case that it's used as an interrogative" (Be cursed, morphosyntactic ambiguity!). I got the interpretation wrong, so Sophie's correction is completely right. Apologies to you, Sophie, if you read this.

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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Schalksnarr » 2012-03-04, 19:05

Saaropean wrote:Visiting a country
Deutsche besuchen Menschen. Städte oder Länder besuchen sie nicht


Sind Sie sicher?

“Kanzlerin besucht China”
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausl ... 34983.html

“Merkel besucht Kosovo”
http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/mer ... 68328.html

“Barack Obama besucht Deutschland”
http://www.bild.de/politik/barack-obama ... .bild.html
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby FruitBat » 2012-03-04, 19:15

Schalksnarr wrote:“Kanzlerin besucht China”
“Merkel besucht Kosovo"
“Barack Obama besucht Deutschland”


True, but still, in everyday language you cannot ask "Hast du schon einmal China besucht?" Having said that, maybe politicians do talk to each other like that.
[flag=]de[/flag][flag=]en[/flag][flag=]ja[/flag][flag=]pl[/flag][flag=]ru[/flag][flag=]lt[/flag][flag=]el[/flag][flag=]fr[/flag][flag=]es[/flag][flag=]pt-br[/flag]
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Schalksnarr » 2012-03-04, 19:27

FruitBat wrote:
Schalksnarr wrote:“Kanzlerin besucht China”
“Merkel besucht Kosovo"
“Barack Obama besucht Deutschland”


True, but still, in everyday language you cannot ask "Hast du schon einmal China besucht?" Having said that, maybe politicians do talk to each other like that.


Indeed! The thing is that this was not explained in the original post.
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Bao » 2012-03-04, 20:09

Schalksnarr wrote:
FruitBat wrote:
Schalksnarr wrote:“Kanzlerin besucht China”
“Merkel besucht Kosovo"
“Barack Obama besucht Deutschland”


True, but still, in everyday language you cannot ask "Hast du schon einmal China besucht?" Having said that, maybe politicians do talk to each other like that.


Indeed! The thing is that this was not explained in the original post.

That works because it's not the country they visit, but its current representatives. When Merkel goes to Australia for her holidays, you shouldn't call it besuchen either.
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby linguoboy » 2012-03-04, 20:53

Bao wrote:That works because it's not the country they visit, but its current representatives. When Merkel goes to Australia for her holidays, you shouldn't call it besuchen either.

I was going to say that even in English we call such affairs "state visits". But saying you're making a "visit" to country instead of taking a "trip" there wouldn't be acceptable outside of this very specific context either.
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Bao » 2012-03-04, 21:22

linguoboy wrote:I was going to say that even in English we call such affairs "state visits". But saying you're making a "visit" to country instead of taking a "trip" there wouldn't be acceptable outside of this very specific context either.

I thought of the word Staatsbesuch as well, looked it up and realized it's only used in a very specific context and that there are other kinds of official 'visits' as well, so I decided not to mention it.
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Re: Common mistakes

Postby Järvi » 2016-08-11, 14:52

Tense in sentences with "seit"
A mistake that I have already heard several times is the Perfekt together with "seit". On English you use the present perfect (have + past participle) but on German you use the Präsens!

Ein Fehler, den ich schon einige Male gehört habe, ist das Perfekt zusammen mit "seit". Auf Englisch benutzt man das present perfect, aber auf Deutsch nimmt man das Präsens!

I have lived in Berlin for 3 years.
= Ich wohne seit 3 Jahren in Berlin.
I have lived in Hamburg since 2010.
= Ich wohne seit 2010 in Hamburg.


If you use the Perfekt on German, the action is completed.
Wenn man auf Deutsch das Perfekt benutzt, ist die Handlung abgeschlossen.
Ich habe 3 Jahre lang in Berlin gewohnt.
= I lived in Berlin for 3 years.
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